Passion where art thou?

Following through on a complete re-write of my third book after taking a free course online, I’m back to that word — passion. The voice in my stories, the voice that needs to grab the attention of the reader, the voice that makes me stand out in a pile of stories vying to be published. I have rejections, not as many as some, but more than I want.

The common theme between the three stories that have been submitted, is they lack passion, which translates to my voice is not coming through. But, who am I? I never thought what I had to say was important, hence my ability to listen. Where is my passion?

After following a few links about the “voice” in my stories, I learned the passion is my inner-self spilling out on the page. I wonder about that, oh, I have passion. Passion for the stories, the characters, my husband and children. Do I have passion for myself? Recently I have mentioned that blogging is therapeutic the thoughts and words seem to come out because I’m not trying to “build” something, it’s suggested that blogging is a great warm up to writing, I can see that.

So, I assume if you don’t have passion you can’t write, or at least your stories won’t be read. I tend to do more for others than I do for myself. I guess I’m dull, until you get to know me. I have passion for what is unjust, for family and friends. I once threw my three year old into the family van and drove 1,000 miles to see a friend who was sick. I stepped into the circle where a nasty girl had surrounded another girl and was beating her, and stopped it — I was twelve. I wanted children and couldn’t on my own. I managed to get two children through adoption, that was passion — it wasn’t easy, it took ten years, but made my life worthwile.

Desire: wanting something so badly, is passion. I’m trying to analyze why my passion — my voice, isn’t coming through in my stories, I keep getting the same reaction, your stories are good but not great– “I’m going to pass.” I need to write great, I’m rambling, hoping it will be cathartic. I’m also patient, I can wait. I don’t have to have that red sweater in the display at the local department store. Usually what happens to me is when I finally go there with the money, I don’t want it that badly anymore. However, I did manage to get the Tickle Me Elmo for that same three year old, that year when they flew off the shelves — that was desire, determination and passion.

I do love my story, this one, Flaked Tuna. I think others would too. This is the second major edit I have performed on this story. It’s funny, it sat while I sent query after query, now it’s back to a wip, every time though I think I’m improving it, where at one point it was at its zenith.

I read a blog, How to Find Your Voice, among all the great suggestions was one comment that was distinct. They wanted to know why anyone would have to wonder about their voice as a writer. It should come naturally. I determined, obviously not because this one off comment was among fifty other helpful comments. If you sing, think of writing as a song, if you paint, treat your writing like a work of art. Find the passion in your life and transfer to your words. Write, daily, hone your skill the passion will arrive and people will know it was your work, without looking to see who wrote it.

Nothing is easy in life, if you want something, you have to go out and get it. Complacency is not an option.

Does talking about passion — make it so? I’ll let you know.

Finding myself busy

I am encouraged. I have spent the last several weeks finding short story contests to enter. I have spent a lot of time taking stories I have written and scaling them down. I decided to have a professional edit and received the response yesterday, I was surprised. There was positive feedback. The dialogue of my characters was good, my story was enjoyable, there’s that word again, I’m getting the picture that my stories are enjoyable, now I have to get them beyond enjoyable into the ecstatic realm.

Again Twitter comes to the rescue, I found a free, one week revision online class offered by Joan Dempsey. It is a first step for me to be structured in the analysis of my story Flaked Tuna, that is the story I ripped apart, put it back together and thought I had a gem. After a few rejections I thought I would go back to the drawing table. I have the MS printed out, along with a check list from the workshop, it is a 50,023 word story and a daunting task, I’ll take it one step at a time. Macro – Plot, Character, etc. and Micro – syntax, punctuation etc. I mentioned in an earlier blog, the Goal – Conflict – Disaster scene by scene destruction of my story which helped, I had a sagging middle and non-existing end. The process brought it all together but it is still not good enough. I will go through the process and see where I can improve, however, no one has seen any of the story beyond the first three chapters. I won’t know how the book is perceived until I can get an agent to look beyond the query, the pitch and the first few chapters.

Also the online workshop allows comments with other writers and the feedback is good. I am surprised at the interaction and the

Looking Forward

I am a unique individual, I thought my experience that I have documented in my blog would be unique as well. I’m beginning to think that my path is shared by many others and not so unique.

Since I think I’m still somewhat unique, I’m thinking I need to find an agent who is unique as well. Someone who finds the passion in the same stories as I do. I have mucked up the field by querying three different stories at the same time and perhaps rushed them out, however I always edit before sending out the next submission. I only need to filter the queries and responses, perhaps a spreadsheet, as has been recommended, is needed. Presently, I have a little black book — somewhat antiquated.

I have written a new short, it’s a memoir and for the first time I took the option of a professional edit before I enter the Short ( 4000 words) Memoir Contest. This is a result of me being a listener first, that is why the Caldwell quote struck a nerve and is posted at the top of my blog.

Twitter provides many suggestions with links to contests, surround yourself by following like-minded people and organizations. I have found other contests by perusing the internet.

I have finished an edit of an excerpt I’m entering in another contest deadline Dec. 31. The section was 10,000 words and I managed to reduce it to 8,000 words which is the maximum for this contest. As I mentioned before it is a monumental task to strip 2000 words out of a document, however the deletable becomes evident and I now have a streamlined section which is more direct, succinct words matter.

Speaking of words, I have found a word that I really like, I had never heard of it until it appeared in a book I was reading, since then I hear it often. It’s almost the same as when you buy a new car and suddenly the highway is riddled with them, different colors, but then there it ‘s in your rear view, the same color as yours and it’s passing you.

inexorable

adjective in·ex·o·ra·ble \(ˌ)i-ˈneks-rə-bəl, –ˈnek-sə-, –ˈneg-zə-rə-\

: not able to be stopped or changed.

I have since used it in my writing — once so far.

I am also waiting to hear from a Short Fiction Contest I entered two months ago, it should be any day now, if I’m a finalist. The final announcement is due two days before Christmas. That would be a gift that is inexorable. That story was written for the contest however, it is now 22,000 words extended from the original 4,000 words because I had to find out what happened to the two main characters. In order for it to qualify as a story for publication I need to add another 10,000 words which is intriguing as I think how I will embellish the story. My collaborator, muse and sister thinks it is the best one yet.

Show Me The Passion

Another rejection, set me back. I guess it’s only human to have a reaction that stops you in your tracks, makes you introspective and question your purpose. The agent enjoyed my pitch and three chapter submission, but wasn’t passionate about it and passed.

PASSION

a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything:

I was passionate when I wrote it, but somehow it is not apparent I think it is safe to say that is what is wrong with all my stories. I haven’t provoked a single “wow” in the opening chapters of my stories.

SELF HELP

The first two paragraphs of my latest edit.

A

She was obscure. Marta Skoyonavska wasn’t sure who her parents were. They both died in the plague of 1689 that was all she was told. No one seemed to care about her sense of being, they only cared if the food was on the table or the linens were clean. Was her father a grave digger or a soldier in the Swedish Army, was her mother pretty and kind?

The youngest of five, orphaned after the deadly disease hit Europe, was too much for her aunt, and at three years old Marta was given to Pastor Gluck to foster her, one hundred miles away. No one seemed to care where she came from, but she came with a curious allure.

WITH A LITTLE MORE PASSION?

B

Marta Skoyonavska gripped the arm of her aunt as she passed her to the man who agreed to foster her. She couldn’t handle the three year old, the four older siblings were enough. Marta pleaded to stay, grabbed the apron with the hand they had removed from her arm, her aunt untied the string and watched as she disappeared into the coach.

“I wasn’t expecting a scene Pastor Gluck, please take good care of her, I can barely afford to keep the others. This is the way it must be.”

“The plague has struck many families, we do what we can. I will make sure she is fed and cared for body and soul.”

Too much change, in too little time for such a small child. She fell asleep in the arms of Pastor Gluck on the long ride to her new home. A regimen of hard work and prayer would temper the child who radiated a curious allure.

Marta Skoyonavska’s story is a passionate one. There is not much known about her father and mother. There is not much known about the following twelve years of her life. She did get fostered by Pastor Gluck and worked as a scullery maid in his household. She was married to a Swedish soldier to get her away from the household at seventeen. She was too alluring for the comfort of Frau Gluck. The marriage lasted eight days. She was treated as a member of the staff, although the pastor taught reading and writing he never felt the necessity to teach Marta. The heights that Marta would rise to begs the question: What was it about her? No one would blame her if she died in the streets, she was abandoned and ignored, her natural beauty was used against her. She married the tsar and was the Empress of Russia for two years. She was a kind and competent ruler until her death, her Curious Allure is what makes this a story worth telling.

I still like A best. This is not the story most recently rejected, it was the Tea Room, I was passionate about that as well, it is a story that needs to be told — to my mind. I only need to convince one person, who happens to be an agent and works for a major publishing company.

The Edit

She was obscure. Marta Skoyonavska wasn’t sure who her parents were. They both died in the plague of 1689 that was all she was told. No one seemed to care about her sense of being, they only cared if the food was on the table or the linens were clean. Was her father a grave digger or a soldier in the Swedish Army, was her mother pretty and kind?

The youngest of five, orphaned after the deadly disease hit Europe, was too much for her aunt, and at three years old Marta was given to Pastor Gluck to foster her, one hundred miles away. No one seemed to care where she came from, but she came with a curious allure.

“What are you doing?” Marta asked Johann the pastor’s son.

“Oh, come on Marta, I have been watching you for years, and you have been watching me.” he claimed.

“If I’m watching you, it’s only because you are always in my way, now get out so I can finish up.” she pushed his hand away.

“Marta, you are a wicked girl.” Frau Gluck announced.

She grabbed Marta by the arm and dragged her out of the kitchen, taring at her son as they passed.

“Go now, I don’t want to see you, do whatever it is you do, you will learn your fate when the pastor gets home.”

When the pastor arrived, his wife had plenty to say.

“She has to go, she is using her allure to tempt Johann. She has the devil in her and we have to do something.”

“I have an idea,” the pastor insisted. “The Swedish garrison is at full capacity in Marienberg. I will make inquiries, she will garner a good price even without a dowry. I will bring her with me tomorrow and find her a husband before she is spoiled.”

“You are blinded Johan, she is not innocent, look at her she is a temptress.”

The pastor didn’t argue about the danger Frau Gluck alluded to. He didn’t doubt the attraction Johann felt, she was a beautiful girl, her dark hair, pale skin and curves that bloomed overnight were a temptation to any man. He knew her and believed it wasn’t her fault, she was determined to make her own way and never gave him a reason to believe that she had given into the pleasures of the flesh. He couldn’t say the same for his son, unlike his wife, he knew the truth of the situation. He owed it to Marta to find a suitable match and get a good price, he knew he had a gem.

The soldiers at the Marienberg barracks at were on high alert, getting ready to move out if the Russians decided to attack. The pastor knew the General and brought Marta before him, he didn’t have time for this, but he knew of a soldier who was the son of a friend. He was immature and not yet a man, a wife might make the difference. In his haste the General agreed and Marta was to come the next day, he would make arrangements to get her.

It was 1702 and the Great Northern War between Sweden and Russia had been raging for two years. The decision to retreat was made to spare the Latvian town from enduring a battle in the streets of the occupied town.