Do you ever get moments when your writing comes to a complete standstill? It's not writer's block exactly - you know where your plot is going - it's more like you just have no idea how to get there. There is a plot, you've just lost it. I suffered from this recently with my novel-in-progress, Thousand-Word Things.
I have just got back from Vancouver. My husband needed to go over for a couple of weeks to help out with a work project and so I tagged along too and the lovely folk at Deviant Art found me a desk in the office so that I could work on my novel while Paul was writing computer programs. For the most part, I found it productive to be working in an atmosphere where everyone else was working too, but for a while I did lose the plot somewhat. Having worked through this - thanks partly due to a timely pep talk from my American friend, colleague and talented writer Andy Stewart - I got my fingertips on to the edge of the plot, only to realise that in finding it, I had lost the art. The story was moving on but with no finesse, no beauty, none of those sentences that have you smiling long after you've finished the chapter.
So, at the moment I feel like I only have a tenuous grip on the plot and no grip at all on the art of writing. But apart from that, it's going well! I'm glad we don't have to get things right on the first draft, aren't you? Imagine if you were judged as a writer on your first drafts. Stuff of nightmares, right?
Usually, I'm the sort of person that can only work on one thing at once. But in Canada I found it refreshing to spend an hour here or there tidying up a few short stories. Editing can be a nice change from writing. Thus, I have managed to enter a couple of little competitions in the last few weeks, including the one run by ChocLit publishers. The challenge here was to write a story with the central theme of chocolate. Not a very inspiring subject, is it? That's exactly why I thought I should give it a go! Quirky challenges are good for the imagination. I'll let you know how I did when the results are out.
I have been hoping to find paying markets for short stories. I enjoy competitions but it would be nice to feel like I could get some professional work. Most SS markets seem to be quite niche though. There's a very healthy women's magazine market and a fairly big science fiction/fantasy/alternative market, but not much for general fiction. Those magazines that do take general fiction tend to be very literary and feature work from established authors which intimidates me into not submitting anything to them! Perhaps online magazines are the way forward? Any advice on the matter from people who have been there and done that would be greatly appreciated - I'd like to feel as if I'm branching out a little in 2012!