Let Me Entertain You… Please…

I like telling stories.  Forming and telling stories is what makes me tick.  I see things, think of what lies behind them and what lies before them in the future, and from that I come up with stories.  It sounds strange when I phrase it like that, but it works that way for me, as I posted here.

We write our books (most of us) to entertain people. I am still blown away when I see that someone shelled out cash to read something I ‘made up out of my own head’, but maybe that’s just my oddness.  Our creativity is fueled by everything around us – whether stories our grandparents told us or myths we have heard or things we have read.  

Arthur O’Shaughnessy put it interestingly:

We are the music makers
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams; – 
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems

I am not sure that I would call myself a ‘Mover and shaker’ so much as an observer and reporter and ‘what if’ er.  I watch the world move past me, I catch glints of thoughts and I find the stories.  And I tell them.  I can’t help it: it is what I love to do, and I can no more not weave stories than I can stop breathing.

Everyone has something singular about him- or herself.  We are not all built the same, but we all have something that touches us, that makes us shine, that brings us to action.  Perhaps the hardest part (for me) is not to share this quirk, if you will.  It is rather like having a gift and wanting to give it, hoping that those who receive it will enjoy it and – somehow, some way – be strengthened or refreshed by it.

Listening to Poetry

I remember speaking with some others like me.  One fellow said that if people would only listen to him, trust him with their time, and let him entertain them, he would do it for nothing. I remember nodding.  I understood him.

But then someone else spoke up and said that, well, what was the point of doing that?  After all, there was ‘nothing to be gotten out of it’ that way.

I agree that no one should ever be sold short.  If you are producing something that people are willing to purchase, well and good.  Some things, however, go beyond buying and selling, and the pervasive ‘what’s in it for me?’ mindset troubles me. And I am encountering it more and more frequently in my own area of joy.

When will I start seeing money?  What do I need to do to get more sales?  Why aren’t people buying?  What are the contacts that I need to start selling?  Well, if people are reading this sort of work, then I guess I’ll have to write it!

I am not saying that it is wrong to sell your work.  I am not saying that it is wrong to seek ways to find more exposure, to make yourself known to others, to make your offerings available to more people.  There is nothing at all wrong with sharing, and there is much that is right about being paid for your hard effort, but I sense a serious disconnect or, perhaps, an area that has not been thought through.

Someone said, “If I can’t make any money, I don’t see any point in continuing.”

Is the measure of the worthwhile nature of an activity the amount that people are willing to pay for it?  In that case, I know of a great many athletes who might as well take up a seat before the television set and forgo their archery practice, golfing endeavors or horseback riding because they will never win The Masters or star at the Devon Horse Show’s hunter/jumper classes. They aren’t ever going to be asked to endorse anything in exchange for money.

What price agony?

And what of the singers who do not sell their recordings?  Singing for one’s own enjoyment or the enjoyment others is surely not pointless if others are enjoying it.  Causing agony is another matter and should be addressed as it comes up.  

But what of ‘the fire in the belly’ that makes me, at least, burn to bring my characters to life, to share them with others, to enjoy their antics and be touched by the things that they have done.  I am at this moment about to quickly jot a scene where one character, a man with a difficult childhood who discovered the constellations in the night sky, tells another man who is despairing and somehow has fixated on the blackness of the night as a sign of his own despair, that “the stars are there – right there! – behind the clouds.  Cassiopeia, The Swan, Orion – all are there, as they have always been.  Trust that they are and don’t rely only on your own sight.  I swear it!  There is never any need for despair!  I promise you–  I promise you!”

No one else will read it.  But I must write it.  Every little bit of joy must be savored…

…How Much is Too Much?

I must be crazy.

I have, going on at this moment:

The A to Z blog.  This is a wonderful event with hundreds of bloggers from all over the map who have committed to a post a day (except Sundays) in April with each day’s theme being a letter of the alphabet, in progression.  Some of them are hysterically funny, some of them are very educational (I am going to visit D.C. shortly, I think) some of them make you think, and all are pretty good.  For more info, check HERE .  It is a lot of work, but enjoyable.  I’m still in it.

The Small Celebrations blog hop.  This is an every Friday post where you celebrate something that might not be earthshaking but is nevertheless something worth noting.  It is the brainchild of VikLit  AT THIS BLOG (do visit the blog and the Friday Hop – well worth while).  I have had to drop out for the past three Fridays because of sheer busyness, but after April grinds to a halt, I’m back.  And perhaps sooner.

MOURNINGTIDE  is set to be published May 15.  I need to get things up and running (would anyone be willing to do a post for me?) and I am finalizing things. 

…and because I am bringing things into line for a series that I am writing (didn’t start out that way, but they’re all connected),  I am giving PHARAOH’S SON  a rewrite. 

I think that’s about enough for now.  We won’t mention a new job or other things.

…and yesterday I had a brainstorm for a story set in the timeline of my series.  After what I’m calling ‘Jubilee’, which is nowhere near being finished, and before LORD OF THE TWO LANDS, which is in the works and about 25% done.

Now, it is delicious to know that I still have ideas, and to see that the ideas are viable and could be very entertaining…  But I think I have enough on my plate.  Still…  The notion of two strong personalities grappling over a suddenly empty throne…  A hint of murder, a hint of betrayal…

And I wasted about an hour last night and today finding photos that would represent the two characters.  (The lady, on the right, seems formidable…)

I am a fool.

The Trouble With Characters in Stories that You Write…

…Is that you have endowed them with life, personality, virtues (and vices).  While they move through your imagination and by the reality you have given them shape the course of your stories, you can’t sit down with them, talk about your own trials, troubles, hopes and heartaches, and receive a response.

That is the drawback to characters.

You love them, follow them, mold them, and guide them – and they cannot love you back.

To shift away from this profundity, let me remark that I have only twice had characters from my stories appear in my dreams.

The first time, I dreamed that the receptionist where I worked had called me to tell me that I had…visitors…in the lobby.  I hurried out there to find:

an early renaissance mercenary
an ancient Egyptian archer
a Colonel of Cavalry in the Union army
a Norse type fantasy character

They had somehow heard that I was unhappy (not sure where that came from, since I loved the job).  I had to convince them that I was fine.  The Egyptian was still inclined to nock an arrow and patrol the office, his narrowed eyes moving back and forth.

The second dream was darker.  I had to meet someone, and I had to park on a dangerous street.  I was worried – until I saw the main character of my French story standing at a distance, watching…  I felt safe.