If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Maddie Day (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

When Writers Get High by Carla Damron

Writers get high. We may not volunteer that little fact about our private, writerly life, but it is a fact. It isn’t something we can consciously control—at least, I haven’t figured that out—but it happens, and it’s an amazing, almost out-of-body feeling, almost impossible to describe. And—here’s the best part—it doesn’t involve using substances.

The last time it happened to me was when I was working on an essay about a frightening experience when I was on a plane with an out of control passenger who nearly caused us to crash. Because it was hard to talk about, it was hard to write about, which made it IMPORTANT to write about. After dancing around the narrative for a few hours, I dove in. It was almost like re-experiencing the trauma itself, only I knew the outcome, so it was safer. I studied every moment from an analytical perspective—what did I feel? What did others feel? What did I see and smell and hear? I used the words often chanted when I was in graduate school: Dig deeper.

The digging helped me excavate somethings about myself: my need for control. My need for human connection. My drive to connect the dots: why did this happen? What did I learn? What was revealed about me—good and bad? How am I better for it? Not all my questions were answered, but the search freed something in me. Again—it’s hard to describe.

I entered “the zone.” (This is the getting high part.) Time became irrelevant. Weather/news/the outside world didn’t matter. I swam in words, in images, and in ideas. My breathing changed. My heart rate increased. I can’t tell you how long it lasted—that’s part of the altered time thing—but much of the afternoon was done when I came out of it.

And my essay draft was complete.

Leaving the zone felt bittersweet. I missed it. I didn’t know when I’d be there again. I studied the draft and did what always helps—reached out to some writer friends. “Would you take a look at this? Anything stand out? Any place where it sags?” Several immediately responded, giving me ideas for strengthening it and suggestions for a title. One had recommendations for submitting it once I was done. Another called me to discuss the project—which meant the world to me. She wanted to hear more about what happened, and had ideas for tweaking the flashback sections so that the energy was sustained. For a moment, in that conversation, I was high again.

I ran into a friend the other day who is an amazing, gifted poet. “How’s the writing?” I asked.

A soft, reflective expression fell across her face. “It’s good. I’ve latched on to something that’s got me up at 4 AM writing. I like where the poem is taking me.”

I gave her the knowing nod of one writer to another. The zone. The high. The random-intermittent-reinforcement that’s nearly impossible to extinguish.

The reason we love to write.


Have you entered “the zone”? What was it like? 

8 comments:

Jim Jackson said...

What you refer to as “getting high” I think of as being all in. I first experienced it playing games. Time had no call on my attention. I was fully engaged and surprised when the street lights came on, or the coach blew the whistle for the half’s end. When I was working, I’d be shocked when a colleague knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to grab a bite for lunch. Now at home I’ll be working on a project and realize I have skipped breakfast and missed lunch.

I keep track of what I am doing when that happens, because those are the things I want to be doing.

~ Jim

Margaret Turkevich said...

The writing zone is elusive, never appearing on demand. If I walk the dogs or scrub grout in the stall shower, frequently everything I've stewed about falls into place, and I drop my sponge and scribble notes before grabbing my laptop and letting it fly.

Carla Damron said...

It is elusive, Margaret. And Jim, I should have taken up sports!! Sometimes I've felt it doing music, but not like when I'm writing.

Gloria Alden said...

Carla, so often I start a chapter not sure where it will go, and then all of a sudden it just takes off with my characters saying what they want to say. That always makes me feel so good when I finish the chapter. Unfortunately, sometimes the next chapter pops into my brain when I'm trying to fall asleep at night and then I'm awake for an extra hour or more thinking about it.

The other high I experience is when someone I only casually know approaches me in the grocery store or at church and raves about my latest book or begs me to hurry up with my next one. I always leave smiling.

Kait said...

The Zone - a sacred place. Illusive and all the more precious because of it. I sometimes find it in running as well, and I cherish it most in editing. It makes me feel safe to say, "Yep, this chapter is finished!"

KM Rockwood said...

Sometimes I slip into my character's lives and stop thinking about what is going on in the "real world."

Unfortunately, when I reach that point, I'm so engrossed in the story that I'm not thinking about writing, either. I just live it out in my mind. I have to "come back down to earth" before I can start writing it out.

Warren Bull said...

I've been there with sports (very rarely) music (not often) and writing (occasionally.) It is an experience I cherish.

Shari Randall said...

Dancing does that for me ;)
Writing, too. It's wonderful when I look up and it's dark outside and I wonder where the time went. That's a good writing day.