Fluffy Bunny Writers


Alright, so I need a little something to get me into the mood for Monday night writing, and what better way to do that than to ramble in a blog? Today’s topic is Fluffy Bunny Writers. I borrow the term from new age Paganism. A fluffy bunny witch is usually someone who is new to the practice of witchcraft and is more or less in love with the idea of it rather than the actual practice of it. Real witches take a great deal of pride in what they do, they study, practice, meet with others, for them it’s not a stylistic choice or a form of self expression, it is indeed a craft.


As of late, it seems like I’ve been coming across a lot of fluffy bunny writers on message boards. These are the sorts of people who continue to push the notion that we are artists and therefore free of any form of constraints on our writing. Industry standards, critiques, and studying the craft of writing are nothing but are nothing more than other people trying to stifle their creativity.

The great master, Christopher Paolini,
For some reason, when I typed "fluffy bunny" 
into google image finder, this came up.

But I also place another group into this category, and that is those who study too much, and who become far to high minded about their writing. There are publications that are beneath them, and those who write for them are “selling out.” These folks have thrown in extra Downey with their load of ---- and come up with the elitist fluffy bunny.

 What both warrens of bunnies fail to realize is that we all work for someone. If you don’t have a direct boss making you do things that you don’t want to do, you have customers demanding things that you don’t want to do, and if, by chance you have cut all ties from either of those worlds, walking the “true” path of the artist and only produce what you want, then you have to understand that the people buying what you create are indeed your bosses. If you don’t create what they want to consume, you don’t eat. Sure, you can sit around all day expressing your inner child by hurling monkey poo at a blank canvas, unfortunately few people are going to buy it. 

So please, in life, don’t be a fluffy bunny with your writing. The way I see it, there is no selling out, there is putting food on the table, making a living, paying bills, surviving. In order to live long enough to write that great masterpiece that no one will appreciate until long after your death, you have to do something to fund it. Maybe you work a day job not associated with writing because you see working in a field that does not produce what you are passionate about as a form of selling out. Guess what, you’re still selling out.


So knock off all of this feel good nonsense and get down to the business of writing. 

The obituary of "Spark"s beginning.


So I killed the first six paragraphs of "Spark" tonight. I gathered them up, took them out back to the chopping block, strapped their pecking heads down, and with one fail swoop of the delete key, ended their once productive lives. 
The lives they lived were good ones, good enough to get it published in Stanislaus' "Penumbra," and mend my shattered writer's ego, but they had far outgrown their usefulness. They scratched the story beneath their feet until not a single grub could be found, yet they yielded no golden eggs of wisdom. 
Paragraphs One through Six are survived by three new paragraphs that have started later and end earlier. These spring chickens are filled to the brim with questions and intrigue daring those that come across them to look deep into their eyes and try to say that they have no souls. 

Yeah, I needed another break from writing. The first two paragraphs of the "Spark" rewrite took me well over one-and-a-half hours to come up with. Actually, it was an hour last night of thinking and thinking and writing out first line after first line, and then starting in again with the same thing tonight for an additional hour-and-a-half until I found something that sung. I'll post them at the end of this blog so that folks can stop by and tell me what they think. I have a few people whose input I would greatly appreciate. 

Our real chickens who won't be having
their heads lopped any time soon, if ever.
And yes, that is a chicken ramp, someday
I'll post photos of the ultimate chicken coop
that I built to house our girls. 

But this entire notion of cutting the beginning got me to thinking about the notion of killing off sections of our stories. There are a number of people that I know who just can't bring themselves to do it. I've heard it put as "killing your darlings." The parts that you really think are great that no one else gets. The end goal, of course, is  to make sure that everyone else "gets it", so away they must go. 
When I first started writing, indeed, when I first started drawing, I absolutely could not bring myself to get rid of anything. Each scene, every line drawn were all the best that I could do at that moment in time and therefore the best work I could ever hope to produce. Only time has taught me that this is far from true. If anything, I find that the more time that passes, the more of my old work I would love to erase from the memories of those who have seen it. 
It is with this in mind that I now look at revisions of my work. Of course I believe it to be my best work when I submit it for critique, and indeed there is a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the initial criticisms, but I always come back around to this simple truth, "I will do better." 
I would also like to put forth the notion of practice words. I think that if we look at our writing that is never published or the scenes that lie in waste on the cutting room floor as practice as opposed to something wasted, the process of trimming away the fat and tightening up our plots becomes so much easier. 

Writing is one of those things that gets better with age. 

So always keep that in mind, "practice words," when you go to cull the excess, and I think you'll do just fine. I have four attempts at first novels taking up zeros and ones in my hard drive that have never seen the light of day and who knows how many short stories. At one point I saw this as a waste, and therefore I would not write any further. I refused to continue writing if I could not put for the absolute best, and what it got me was years of delay in my progress towards producing something great. Don't let the fear of less than perfect keep you from ever getting there. 

Happy writing. 

Time for a little compare and contrast, the first paragraph of "Spark" written over a year ago: 
Silas’ thirty-second attempt in the past three weeks ended in utter failure. One more and Cara would make sure that the name ‘Silas Penzack’ appeared on the roles down at the homeless shelter. He could not blame her really, it was simple, all he had to do was reach out and touch someone. Not like the phone commercial, but literally reach out and touch someone, human contact, flesh to quivering flesh. That oversimplified it a bit, but only a bit. But that was by no means the end of it, it was what happened when he touched people that was the problem. Not that it had been a problem before he knew what he was doing. Now that he knew, not only what he was doing, but also the potential consequences of it, human contact had not only become difficult it was almost impossible.

And now the latest revision:
Silas Penzack found himself searching for every imaginable reason to fail, even though he had spent his entire life trying to do just the opposite. For Silas, success was not only hard to come by, it was near impossible. But on that gray morning, so far away from the disdain swelling beneath a father’s eyes that had long ago ceased looking for a point of pride in his son, hidden amongst the high-rise buildings that blocked out the wheat fields of his childhood, he found himself trying to do exactly that: fail. Only one thing stood between him and that failure, Silas Penzack was the best at what he was sent to do and Cara knew it.

Opening to a new short

So, all that note taking I did in my journal led to the beginnings of the new short, "The King's Lottery." I thought I would post the first draft of the first paragraph here to see if I get any feedback or interest in the concept. Hope you like it. 

"If her father woke to see Gwen rifling through the chest at the foot of his bed, hands filled with mother’s old lingerie, the sight alone would be enough to send him into a tirade that would not only raise mother from her grave but put Gwen into one as well. Then again, if the dead really did watch over the living, what Gwen was about to do would have already called her mother from the beyond." 

I'm currently 506 words into this one. My goal for the next time I get to sit down with a clear head is to make my corrections to "Spark" so that I can start submitting it. Then I'll bounce back and forth between "Lottery" and "Diviner". 

As always, thanks for reading and happy writing. 

Finding Time to Write


I’m sitting at my writing group right now and though I’ll likely post this later, I thought I would take a breather to work on another blog. I find that I sometimes get a little too much writing in and have to stop to take a breather. I don’t necessarily want to stop writing, I just need to stop writing so carefully. So sending out emails or blogging is always a nice reprieve.

I’ve found a lot of time lately to write. Actually, it would be more apt to say that I’ve made a lot of time lately to write and seized opportunities when they presented themselves. Although, I often hear from other writers that they just don’t have the time. It always reminds me of something that Dan Wells of www.writingexcuses.com said during one of their podcasts.

“You can’t do anything professionally during your spare time.” 

Dan Wells in all his writerly glory.

I had to listen to that episode a few times before it finally sunk in, then a few more times before I actually did something about it. The first thing I did was set up a calendar on google calendars specifically for writing that I share with anyone who asks. (If you have a gmail account and want to keep tabs on me, send me an email and I’ll tell google to let you watch over me.) I set aside specific times of the day and night when I assume I’ll be able to write, usually ten to twelve every night after everyone has gone to bed. The house is dark, quiet, and free of distractions.

Lots of writing today! 

Of course, sometimes the little one throws a wrench into that plan and I have to kick the start time back. Or maybe something else comes up, guests from out of town, holidays, simple fatigue. Any time I miss my scheduled writing, I adjust or delete my entry accordingly. I find that this helps to keep me accountable. I can look back after a couple of days and see that, “Hey, you haven’t done anything!”

I’m also a typist. I tend to write best when sitting at a computer and typing away, mainly because my freehand is so painfully slow (just like how I read). Still, when left with no options, I find that keeping my journal with me helps immensely.

Ah sacred journal, what treasures do you contain?
And how many bad ideas will you keep secret?

Just yesterday I went with Mel to San Francisco to find a bride’s maid dress for my sister’s wedding. I broke out the trusty journal (a gift from Mel) and started writing away on a new short story concept. Time that would have otherwise been lost was capitalized on.

One of the best ways to insure writing time is to set it in stone with peer pressure. I know that it’s something that we’re taught to stay away from in grade school, but sometimes there is nothing like it to make sure you get done what you need to. I make sure this happens by involving myself with two groups, the first is a weekly meet up group that formed during NaNoWriMo. Once a week we meet at Panera’s and write away. You don’t have to share, or show anything that you’ve done, you simply have protected time to do what you need to do, write.

By being away from the house you can be sure that no one is going to ask you any questions, kids aren’t going to come crashing through the door, nothing save for a major catastrophe at home is going to interfere with your writing (especially if you turn off your phone).

Late night writing on the laptop in the kitchen.
Dark, quiet, peaceful, and above all warm 
because it's near the fireplace. A cup of cocoa 
is always a necessity. 

This writing group is supplemented with another, a fantasy writing group that I found on Yahoo. We meet every other week and critique one person’s work. Honestly, this schedule is a bit slow for me, but the feedback has been great. Eventually I would like to start a local meet up group that meets once a week and in which each of the participants get’s their work critiqued. It would be geared towards those writing a novel and each week we would all present one chapter of our work. And there you have it, the final piece of the puzzle, deadlines.

Deadlines are great for making sure that you set aside time to write. While writing is fun, it’s also not easy. So stop waiting for things to get easy and get to writing.

Just as I should be doing right now.  



While working on the rewrite of “Deviner’s Eye” I realized that I needed a visual reference for a female character. She would of course be attractive, but in my quest to make my characters as real as possible, I wanted her to be attractive in an unconventional way. I think that the world has seen more than enough Greek Goddess replicas in their escapism. Besides, I find that the most believable escapism is that in which the escapist can actually picture themselves a part of.

A little too much classical beauty,but look at those curls. 

So, I typed “curly hair” into Google’s image search and began my collection of images related to the one physical detail that I knew I wanted Maev to have. Granted, the young lady above is definitely full of classical beauty, but the first thought was to find some images of curly hair so that I could better describe it. 

Closer. The hair is getting rather crazy. 

Much better here. This is looking like someone
you might actually know. 

In time, that search led me to a couple of blogs maintained by women whose photos embodied just the right amount of quirkiness. One of which was Erica-Knits who not only became a partial inspiration for my character but also the inspiration for this blog.

As it turns out, Erica is a designer who creates wonderful fashions through the form of knitting. Her blog often exhibits many of the inspirations that lead to her work. That got me to thinking that it might be a nice release when I need to write for the sake of writing, to share some of my own process with the world at large.

Erica's Mittens

And so a great big thank you goes out to Erica for helping to inspire me through her sharing of her own inspiration and an even bigger thank you to you for stopping by. I hope that I my ramblings produce something of interest or inspiration to you.

One last shot of Erica. Be sure and check out her knitting.

I’ll likely use a bit of my art school training to come up with a couple of character sketches of Maev and post them here for all to see. We'll see how much of Erica and the above mentioned ladies make it into that character sketch. 

Happy writing.