Thursday, July 1, 2010

Take a Guilt Trip with Guest Blogger Lorrie Struiff

Ready for a Guilt Trip? Author Lorrie Struiff joins us today to tell us how we can Let Go of Writer's Guilt.

Here's what she had to say...

Letting Go of the Guilt

Most fairly new writers are prone to heed the advice they read on famous author blogs, or in the “How to” books they read. When I was in that position, I was no different.

One piece of advice I had read/heard at conferences and practiced religiously was to “write every day,” to discipline myself and no matter the garbage that flowed from my fingertips, I had kept to the discipline. I exercised so as not to allow that blank page to daunt me. I told myself, “Just spew on that blank screen, gal. There is no such thing as writer’s block, and something will click in your brain even if you fill up the pages with nonsense. It’s the routine that matters, and who knows, you may get a usable paragraph or sentence out of it worth keeping.”

I carried my computer on family vacations and such, and once to the hospital while spending long days with a recuperating family member.

If I missed a day, oh my, the guilt was unbearable. I was a writer for gosh sakes, I had to write every day. The guilt of missing a day due to real life only added to the pressure of those oh so wise words.

Guilt is a horrible burden. It enhances the blank page to look even blanker, if that’s possible. When I started filling pages with-- Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party—I realized I was losing it. So, that’s when I smartened up. I gave myself the permission to not write every day. I told myself, “It’s not like you’re earning enough to quit your day job. This is supposed to be fun, indulging in your passion.”

It took a while to believe myself, but it finally sank in. I write now when I’m in the mood, or I have a brilliant idea for a plot line, or a great character who wants to tell his/her story. Or if I’m writing an exciting scene and I can’t wait to finish and find out what my characters are going to do next. Or, when I’m so caught up in the story, I can’t wait to get it all down on the pages.

In the meantime, I enjoy my family more, take the real life interruptions as they come, and even take time to smell the roses. My stories are much better for my permission to take time off, and the guilt, the pressure is finally gone. I can once again truly enjoy my passion.

A Note from the Book Boost: Very inspiring story, Lorrie. I, too, suffer from guilt trips about not writing as much as I "need" to. What I've found is that if I force myself to do something that I'm not inspired to do--it shows in the quality. You're right on point here. Thanks for sharing your writer experience with us. Won't you please tell us all about your book?


Everyone has secrets.

Homicide Detective Rita Moldova has a secret, a crystal amulet from her Roma bloodline that shows her the last image a victim had seen before they died. Now, a ritual killer is terrorizing her town and the crystal’s magic has suddenly stopped.

FBI agent, Matt Boulet, is sent to lead the task force and gives the group strange orders. Worse, Rita senses he is holding back a deep dark secret about the killer.

When she confronts her seer mother’s advice, she learns another secret about their clan that she finds impossible to swallow.
Rita swims through a whirlpool of confusion as the investigation continues. Can Rita deny the lore of the ancients? Can she deny her growing feelings for Matt Boulet?


Doc read from the screen. “Body completely exsanguinous. Time of death between eleven p.m. and one a.m.” He looked up at Rita and pushed his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose. “Like the others, this woman was alive when the killer began extracting the blood from her jugular. Once drained, he excised the vein with a sharp instrument, postmortem. Why does he bother?”

Rita shrugged. “He’s performing some sort of a ritual, then taking a trophy. Doc, I still think the women had to be unconscious or bound while he took their blood. Any rational woman would fight, or run like hell.”

“The evidence disagrees. There are no ligature marks on the wrists or ankles of any of the bodies. The bruises on the arms indicate a frontal assault, as if they were pinned or held still. Other than the bruises, no needle marks were apparent, no drugs in any of the stomach contents, no contusions on the heads to indicate they were unconscious until the loss of blood weakened, then killed them. Lack of tissue under the nails also indicate they didn’t struggle at all.”

“This doesn’t make any damn sense.” Rita shivered, imagining the women awake, not fighting, as the life drained out their bodies.

Doc rubbed his jaw, shook his head. “And, no matter what weapon I come up with, nothing matches the excised wounds. All evidence so far suggests the killings took place elsewhere, then the bodies were moved.”

“That’s what my gut is telling me, too.” She glanced through the glass at the woman on the table, the Y incision was puckered and ugly under the harsh lighting in the examining room.

“The jogger who found this one on the river path yesterday freaked. Can’t say as I blame her.”

Rita had become familiar with a few of the prostitutes during a previous case and found the women to be friendly and open, once they knew she wasn’t there to hassle them. When she had inspected the first victim, the dead woman’s eyes reflected another working girl Rita had met before. Carmella.

Carmella told Rita that she had bummed a cigarette from the woman before a black van pulled to the corner. Her brief glimpse as the interior light of the van flashed on revealed a dark-haired man with a noticeable bump on his nose. Carmella didn’t bother to look at the plates. The woman who had entered the van turned up dead in an alley a day later. Rita had confirmed Carmella’s alibi.

Her confusion deepened with a different reflection in the eyes of the second dead prostitute. The pizza delivery boy remembered seeing the woman at the Ridge Motel, but his alibi also proved solid.

She should see the last person the victim’s eyes captured--the killer’s. Damn. The crystal had never failed her before. She rubbed her arms to ward off a feeling of dread creeping over her skin.

Rita glanced at her watch. A little after twelve. She had time to find out how good ol’ Bobby
Driscoll fit into this scenario.

She jumped when Doc nudged her elbow.

His thin lips tightened into a scowl. “I’m still trying to determine the gouging tool. We’ve made the impressions, but nothing matches. Tell the Chief I’ll fax what I have to him in a few hours. You know, he’ll want you on the task force.”

“Yeah. He already set up the meet.”

The only ones who knew of the crystal’s abilities were Chief Lipinski, Rita’s mother, and her uncle. Her gift had spooked the Chief, but he had sworn to keep her secret. If the others found out, she may as well have “Freakazoid” stamped on her forehead.

Rita patted Doc’s hand. “Thanks, I really appreciate the heads-up.” They left the cubicle. She looked at the dead woman again and sighed. “Damn it, Doc, we need to nail this dude’s ass fast. The newspapers are already calling him ‘Keyport’s own Jack the Ripper.’”

Want More Lorrie?

Pick up your copy of Gypsy Crystal today! Click here!

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Unknown said...

Hi, it's so lovely to be here today. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Yes! No more guilt.
And to those of you in the U.S., have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend.

Nightly Cafe said...

Another great post Lorrie. Guilt can be a great burden sometimes. Thanks for sharing, and you too have a great July 4th. :)

Margaret Fieland said...

Lorrie, when I read the bit about the "come to the aid of the party.." I had to laugh. I once wrote a poem in the shape of a typewriter that is composed of silly variations of those

Margaret West said...

I agree with that when you're not inspired to write..don't. I stop when I feel myself getting too tired. I used to push on and the next day realise I'd written a load of hurried rubbish. I don't feel guilty nowadays if I don't write something every day. I do feel like I'm bunking off lol But hey, we all do it once in a while.

Unknown said...

So true, Lorrie. I tried the 'write a minimum of 500 words a day' - made it a month with nothing that I would line a bird's cage with.
Mind you, I still spend a lot of time producing stuff I wouldn't line a bird's cage with - I just don't feel guilty any more :)

Tabitha Shay said...

Congrats on ur new book, Lorrie and best of luck with it...Girl, when r u going to wind down? I see u's a good thing, tho....Hugs...Tabs

Unknown said...

Thanks Nightly.

lol, Maggie, I'd love to read that poem.

You can bunker off anytime you want Margaret, you're writing is good enough for that.

Come on, Dave, be serious, lol, I've read your stories. No birdcage lining with them.

Tab's, I'm not winding down until the first week in August.

Thanks for dropping by folks. See I'm writing today. On the blog. No guilt. lol.

Cellophane Queen said...

Ah, yes! Conventional wisdom is not always a good thing.

I do try to do something writerly, if not actual writing. This includes reading blogs such as this one to keep up on what's going on in the publishing world.

Writerly stuff can be whatever you want it to be that day, including taking a walk and smelling the roses.

By the way, if you haven't read Gypsy Crystal yet, why not? It's a terrific book.

Frances Macias Mossman said...

Great interview by author Lorrie Struiff. "Gypsy Crystal is a fast-paced paranormal thriller. Lorrie's insight into her writing process is one many can relate to!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks for giving me permission to write when my brain is actually thinking something worthy to write and not just mush. Great post.

Cate Masters said...

Time off definitely puts the spark back in the old neurons. Great post, as always Lorrie.

Tom Olbert said...

Thank you for sharing, Lorrie. I agree, you can only write when something's inside you screaming to get out. 'Sounds like you had plenty to say with "Gypsy Crystal." Congratulations and thanks for the excerpt. 'Sounds like a great read.

Tom Olbert

Miriam Newman said...

Lorrie, my muse knows all about guilt. She carries a whip and wears stilettos and isn't above using both of them. She's not with me all the time, so I can only conclude she's making the round of other authors, punishing them, too. I hope she reads your post.

Unknown said...

Thanks for commenting folks. lol, Mariam, hmm, a dominatrix for a muse. How novel. Mine is such a slouch. Yep, let's hope yours reads the post.

Destiny Blaine said...

Great post, Lorrie. Your message is one I can certainly relate to.

Destiny Blaine

Maggi Andersen said...

Someone said writing is harder than working on the roads. Not physically perhaps, if my rear-end is anything to go by, but it can be pure slog. If I write when I'm in the mood it just flows beautifully, and when I'm not I edit. But as a successful playwriter friend of mine said, if you want a career as a writer you have to sit down every day and do it! But you're right about the guilt, Lorrie, I try not to give in to it.

Kelly A. Harmon said...

But it's so hard not to feel guilty! :)

I do impose a word count goal on myself daily - but I'm not usually blocked when I write.

If I don't know where a project is heading and the words aren't flowing well, I'll switch between projects (or start a new one) to help the words come.

Darla said...

Hi Lorrie,

I remember just a few months ago, I was on a roll, writing every day for quite a few hours. I was loving it. Then it was like someone turned off the switch and I went blank. For days, ok, maybe weeks (it all kind of blurred together), I tried to find that motivation to get my ideas back. I would sit and stare at the blank screen for the same amount of hours I had spent when I was inspired. I would force myself to write something...anything. I would end up highlighting and deleting. I tried switching to other stories but I longed to finish the short one that I started. I could focus on nothing else.
My brain was fried. I ended up giving myself a cuple days off. Much needed days. When I returned to it, you could see it in my writing. It didn't read like a bunch of words mushed together just for the sake of putting something on the page-which is what it had read like.
So now, if my brain is blank, I take the day off. Spend it with family, curl up with a book or just rest (that's my version of being a couch potato spending the entire day watching movies). :) Guilt Free.

Haha I love Marva's post. If you haven't read Gypsy Crystal yet...why not? She's right, ya know, it is a great book.

All my best,