Tag Archives: writing

Stumbling at the Crossroads

I’ve been very troubled lately. I wrote about it in Pagan Culture and asked for advice. I’ve come to a point where I have to make life changing decisions. I have the opportunity to go to school for 3 years, everything paid, and study pretty much whatever I want. My first choice was creative writing of course, then I started thinking about the future… will I be able to support myself, a family, with these type of work? Also, am I serving my fellow man by making such a selfish decision?

I know that sounds a bit extreme, but when I think about writing, I don’t see it as work. Don’t roll your eyes just yet—I write too, so I know that it is a whole lot of work and then some. What I’m trying to say is that my writing makes me so absolutely happy that I could care less if I don’t eat, as long at I can tell my stories. And the day they get published—and they will—then it will be glory! Regardless of how much many I make, or if I don’t make any at all.

All that would be fine, if it was just me; I could eat paper and drink ink and feel completely nourished. But would I be able to look at my kids (when I have them) knowing I could have done so much more for them? Would they resent me? Would I be able to live with myself if I don’t write? Would I be me if I go back to my traditional 9 to 5 and forget about fulltime writing?

I asked similar questions in the post I mentioned above. I wanted the readers of Pagan Culture to help me decide my future—huge request, I know. Not very many of them are writers, but they are all excellent people; their answers showed that much. I asked them if I should pursue a religious justice degree, for one of my other passions is the study of Paganism and religious fairness. They all said that writing could always be a part time job.

If you are a writer, you already know that there isn’t such thing as “a part time writer.” I read “It is a Jungle out there” on  C.H. Scarlett’s blog. I was almost in tears when I finished the short piece of truth. She explained that she was a writer because she wouldn’t know how to be anything else. Then I started laughing when she said that it wouldn’t be uncommon to find her “hiding in a break room jotting down a new idea for a book or adding to an old one” when she used to have an office job. I thought of the time I wrote a super sexy scene during a staff meeting and had to take a bathroom break because, like I said, the scene was just that hot. I need to write all the time.

So now I’m asking you the same questions I asked my Pagan Culture readers: “Is my path right in front of me and I just don’t see it clearly yet? Should I forget about a Masters and PhD in Creative Writing and pursue religious justice? As it is, I can always write fiction part time [Could I really?]. Should I think of myself, for once, and follow my artistic dreams? Will I be able to live with myself knowing that I could have done so much more? I know the decision is mine to make, but I really want your advice.”

Using Fiction to Explore Personal Issues

Guilty as charged! I’ve often used fiction to make sense of real life. Aren’t certain stories specially tailored for this purpose? Think about Cinderella, couldn’t this fairytale be used to explain the basics of karma? Or Shrek, if one wanted to be more modern; that movie fully illustrates that a “book can not be judged by its cover”. Even an unsavory looking ogre has potential for great kindness, right?

You are probably wondering where I’m going with this, so here is my point. Yesterday morning, I was combating the Manhattan traffic while listening to an interview on NPR. The traffic horror got most of my attention of course, which might explain why I forgot the name of the person being interviewed *sigh*. All I remember is that he writes children’s literature and has the cutest English accent ever.

Anyway, his accent was quite lovely, but what caught my attention was something he said. He suggested that brining personal opinions and/or issues into fiction writing would be “cheating” the reader. He continued to say that reading should be fun and using the writer’s—or someone else’s—reality to tell a story, pretty much killed the fun factor.

My first thought was Geez my stories must be a fun vampires! I pour myself into everything I write. I don’t necessarily share my deepest desires and frustrations, for if I did I would probably be committed or put in jail. However, I do use my stories to portray truths that are too difficult for some people to even fathom. Some of these veracities are actually simple, but they haven’t touched some individuals at a personal level, so they care little about them.

A good example is the story I’m working on. One of my characters is HIV positive. The story is not about HIV, but it does offer glimpses into what living with HIV might be like. Not the nightmare that most people have heard of, but a normal happy life if the individual takes care of him/herself. Also, most of my stories include Pagan elements. Could my writing excude Paganism, and my belief that HIV positive people are as normal  as everyone else? Probably; I just don’t want it to.

My writing is a reflection of who I am and what I believe in. If that is fun killer for some, then I’ll have to be happy writing for me and for those who are into reading dull fiction that touches reality every now and then. I understand that I can’t fight every battle with a story, but I know in my heart that to leave every personal belief out of my own writing would be the real act of fraud.

What do you think? Should fiction writers leave personal issues out of their stories? Or is the thought of it just an unlikely fairytale?

Lessons Learned

Bloodied Quill

I was going to go on and write something uplifting and spiritual this week, but I find myself totally drained of anything even remotely resembling happy or spiritual. Next month, I promise. 😉

For the past month, I’ve been drudging my way through the requirements of resigning my position at a small publisher. I’ve one small batch of emails to forward tomorrow, and one CD to burn, and then I can wipe my accounts and hard drive of any trace of those companies.

Sadly, I chose not to leave when I first drafted a resignation letter in October of 2008, only a short nine months after being promoted to editor in chief. I continued on until February, when a colleague talked me out of resigning once again. The owner then gave me a sham excuse to fire me, but keep me as editor. That got my Irish up, and I fought back. Eventually I realized it didn’t matter. We were fighting a losing battle with a company that doesn’t care about authors, contracts, or promotions. The bottom line – not even the bottom line matters, so long as they get their own way.

My heart has broken with each email I read from authors, former editors, former authors and even booksellers who write to offer support and encouragement. Each one tells a tale of horrible business practices.

I look back to the summer of 2007, not long after I began with the company, and I received an email from the owner. She’d noticed I’d done something in one of my edits that she didn’t approve of, and took me to task. I in turn asked the then-editor-in-chief, as I was simply following the guidelines given to me by her, and in fact, written by the owner.

I did receive an apology, with a weak excuse. I accepted it and continued on. Looking back now, I see it was the first warning sign, the first whisper from that inner voice that we should all listen to. Too often we ignore our own instincts in favor of doing what could be better for us.

Now, after late royalties, a bounced check, defamation (bordering on slander/libel) from other staff and those stories I mentioned above, it’s very difficult to find any faith in the publishing world at all. Even one as lucky as I have been – I’ve found another place to work really rather quickly – still feels the sting when something goes so horribly wrong.

Lughnasadh is coming up very soon, and I believe I’ll be burning the printed copies of edits in the bonfire at our gathering. Generally I don’t find the harvest months ones to learn lessons in, but this year, it seems that is what Morrighan and Dagda have in store for me. I’ve learned another round of lessons the hard way, and this time, I’m paying attention. A lesson learned in day-to-day life is sometimes far more harsh than those lessons dealt by the gods; this time I concede to the karmic go-round and thank my lucky stars that I’ve still got time to make up for the mess this job made of my life.

Take note, writers…and editors. If you get a bad feeling from an editor, publisher or company – follow it. Don’t squish it down and ignore it, thinking you’re doing what’s best for you. Do what your heart – and your head – are telling you to do. Research your potential market/boss/agent to the fullest extent. Don’t just walk into something without educating yourself, make sure you know what’s what.

Good luck.

Jodi Lee

The First Third Wednesday

bloodiedquill

Well, merry met, everyone, and before I forget – Happy Litha!

Since this is my first post, I thought I might just take the moment to introduce myself and tell you a bit about the projects I work on. Please excuse the rambling why my mind wanders… I’m quite a topic hopper when left to my own devices.

My name is Jodi Lee; that is my professional name as well as my actual birth name. I do have a last name, but I rarely use it, only when I absolutely have to. Like on government documents and signing permission slips for my daughters’ school activities. I’m a single mom, divorced for a couple of years, separated longer than that. My daughters and I are very close, and I always say we’ve had to be. Although their dad had them every weekend for the first year, gradually his interest in being a father waned, and for the past four years it’s been just the three of us.

We do pretty well for ourselves. I am a work at home mom, due to circumstances somewhat beyond my control, but I love the work I do, and hey, who doesn’t want to go to work in their PJs? 😉 I am a freelance editor and graphic designer. My more recent positions include editor in chief of LBF Books and senior editor of Lachesis Publishing, although I recently turned in my resignation for both those positions in favor of some very lucrative freelance work. I also run a small webzine, The New Bedlam Project.

Time flies, it really does. It was when I was working on notes for a project (I’ll get to that one in a moment) that I realized I’ve been pagan for very nearly 25 years. I’d say that’s not bad for someone my age, but it makes me feel a bit older than I actually am. 😉

My grove will celebrate it’s ninth anniversary this weekend. My daughters have been studying for going on two years now. I can look back and see where the time has gone, and yet still wonder how it went so fast. In the past nine years, under my chosen name, ierne LloerCariad, I’ve been involved with the Pagan Pride Project, WARD Canada, Gaia Gathering, and written nearly a hundred articles and twice as many book reviews. I’ve taught numerous forms of energetic healing. I became disillusioned with being a public pagan and stepped back from it all, only to find recently that I miss some of it.

So here I am, taking baby steps into writing more spiritual non-fiction, but tying it in to what I do every day. My daughters and I spent all of March working on a chapbook series, which we market as an ebook or handmade chapbook on Etsy and one of my websites. We recently launched the series by releasing Litha, just in time for the Solstice.

Over the past few years, I’ve had to reconcile my choice of genre with my beliefs. I write horror, usually what’s called ‘splatterpunk,’ meaning the very bloody, visceral fiction that doesn’t appeal to many folks. It is through that fiction that I’ve worked out a lot of issues, a lot of tension and anger. The Rule of Three is less likely to come into play if the victim is a fictional character. Occasionally I have twinges of guilt for manipulating the Hollywood-vision of a witch into something so very foreign to what we actually are. I tend to steer away from the gore then, and focus on mind-twisting paranormal thrillers.

I have a wonderful, unofficial mentor who I’m proud to call my friend and colleague. He has managed to work the old ways into his murder mystery series, and I shall ever aspire to do as well with what I write. Granted, my writing will never come to what his is, but… all I can do is try.

I’ll be stopping in here—with my mixed bag of tips, tricks and general musings—every third Wednesday, bringing what I can do this wonderful forum of fellow pagan writers.

Here’s a collection of my links, in case you are so inclined as to follow the breadcrumbs into the woods. I promise, I’ve kept the monsters at bay this morning, for now. 😉

New Bedlam – http://www.newbedlam.com

Sacred Triskele – http://www.sacredtriskele.net

My author blog – http://www.jodilee.ca

Our Etsy shop – http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=7269725

My portfolio – http://tinyurl.com/JodiLee

My design portfolio – http://tinyurl.com/LeeLite

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/bychwych

Myspace – http://www.myspace.com/jodileebleeds

Associated Content articles – http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/189545/jodi_lee.html