Talking Writing with an Opera Singer

by - August 26, 2017

I chose a picnic table where the sun would shine directly on my back. It was too cold for August. I could see my breath at 8:30 a.m. Talk about depressing! But by 10, when I set myself up on that table behind the park pavilion, I could almost be convinced it was warm (though I wasn't about to take off my jacket).

Fall is nibbling the edges of summer and I am loathe to think I've allowed the months to pass without much personal project gain to show. I have excuses though. Maybe they're even good ones...?

  • my writer's group didn't meet regularly and I was a little lost without their motivating presence
  • baseball 
  • work
  • a week of playing music at a campground
  • exhaustion
  • my first novel is finally published AND I JUST NEEDED A BREAK

Really, it's all just noise. There's no excuse that matters. When you care about something, you make it happen.

Have I stopped caring?


I don't think so. Iris Carver* has her claws in my brain. I'm just trying to figure out how to unhook those talons and get them on paper.

More and more I find myself daydreaming of a full-time writing/publishing career. I really believe I could make a real go of it if I didn't have the distraction (and financial necessity) of a day job...

Yes, you're right. More excuses.

So I sat at that picnic table with my red pen and the printed proof copy of an anthology** to be released in September (hopefully!), working through final edits, feeling a little bit angry that I was focusing this precious block of time on other peoples words...then feeling guilty that I felt angry...then just thinking about putting my head down on the table and having a nap...

"What are you working on?" A man sat on the table opposite.

As I explained the anthology project, I felt a warm swell of pride. I am doing something. It does matter.

Our conversation carried into my novel, the work of self-promoting, the goal of a sequel, the struggle of time. He told me of the book he's writing and how hard it is to be consistent. As an opera singer (yes, that's right!) his schedule is scattered and inconsistent. "If I'm away from it for a week or a month I can't just jump back in. I have to reread and settle in again." I hear you, my opera singing friend. It's hard!

Dedication and consistency is everything!

Like this blog. Once upon a time I was good about posting. Now, my focus is pulled to other places. That's not bad, but in the switch I've lost something I actually really enjoy.

So what does that mean?

It means I need to set myself goals. I need a priority list and I need a calendar where I set deadlines for myself. I need to stop waiting for time to find me and reclaim the attitude that allows me to shut the door on everything else and just write.

You don't FIND TIME, you MAKE TIME.

I think I'll do that up in a fancy font and hang it on my writing room wall.

How can you help me?
  • Buy and read The Church in the Wildwood. Leave a review and beg me for a sequel***!
  • Ask me what I'm working on. Saying it out loud makes it matter more.
  • Donate a whole bunch of money so I can leave my day job behind and write more books! 
  • Subscribe to my literary magazine!
  • Invite me to your book club.
  • In every bookstore and library you enter, ask them if they carry my book. It will put my name on their radar, and perhaps lead to more distribution.
  • Share photos of my books or magazines across social media—there's nothing like seeing your work celebrated publicly. You may not think it's a big deal, but next to leaving a review on or Goodreads, it's the next best way to help an author feel appreciated, in turn, motivating her to continue producing share-worthy stories!

I'm going to view September as a fresh start. I've got some exciting things lined up that are sure to come with motivation and encouragement: I've booked a table at my local fall fair to promote myself as a local publisher; I'm visiting with a book club to answer questions and talk Wildwood; I'll be attending a one day writer's workshop with a friend; the Blank Spaces crew and I will be representing our brand at Toronto's Word on the Street Festival.

It's going to be a good month. Even if it does mean that winter is coming.

Digital issues of Blank Spaces are only $5!

*Iris Carver: tragic star of The Church in the Wildwood, the focus of my current W.I.P., The Ghost of Iris Carver.

** It occurs to me, that in my long absence from this blog, you may not know about the anthology. It's a collection of all the fiction, non-fiction, and poetry that appeared in the first year of my magazine Blank Spaces. An attempt to get those words in front of people who maybe don't want to spend money on a quarterly magazine but would enjoy those same stories in a trade paperback form. It's a little bit experiment and an 'easy' way to add titles to the publishing company I'm trying to gain some traction on.

***The Ghost of Iris Carver is not a sequel in the traditional sense. As a novella, it will be shorter than a full-length novel, and though it will include characters from Wildwood, its purpose is to create a bridge to Black Bird—a story that takes place in the same small town, dealing with more heavy family dynamics.

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© Alanna Rusnak