Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for July 29th, 2010

A Flurry of Ideas

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Sometimes, writing is tougher than it appears.

The last few days, I had a flurry of ideas that I felt may make up some good blogs.  The first was about the difficulty of writing while overtired, the second was about the craft of writing reviews, and the third was a specific look at writing humor — it may look easy in retrospect, but it’s not.

However, when I tried to nail any of them down, I was left with the equivalent of a mouthful of feathers instead of a whole, live chicken to work with — or, if you’d rather another analogy, instead of finding the grand prize, it was as if I’d found the booby prize instead.  Writing is like this, because sometimes you just have to struggle with the words until they come out.

This made me wonder if I was the only writer alive who had this problem for a bit (I know; ’twas a midnight thought) before I realized that every writer must have this difficulty time and again.  So how are we supposed to deal with it?

Getting to the three subjects I considered: in order to write humor, we writers often exploit tired, hackneyed, clichéd subjects.  Getting someone to laugh about seemingly nonsensical things helps get whatever truth remains in these older, seemingly-worn ideas and bring it into sharper relief. 

But it’s not easy to write humor, no matter how easily the joke or phrase or pun may fall off the page.  I know when I work out a good passage in “An Elfy Abroad” (sequel to “Elfy,” and as such another comic urban fantasy), I usually have to first figure out what’s going on, then write it down as best I have it, then re-work it as many times as need be in order to get both the jokes and the story right.

This may seem odd, but writing reviews often requires the same exact mind-set; it sometimes takes me several attempts to write a review.  Because I have to really consider what I’m going to say, oft-times I find that I have a slightly different written opinion than I do verbally.  I think this is because when I write, I think critically; when I am merely talking, sometimes what I say just comes out — and that’s not workable in any sort of credible review.  Once again, while writing a review may seem easy (everyone hates a critic), it isn’t, and most reviewers try very hard to give the best sense of a book, movie, piece of music or performance they possibly can.

Finally, writing while tired is something I try to avoid at all costs.  My definition of “tired” is “been up longer than eighteen hours” or “have had less than four hours sleep three nights running” — and the reason I avoid writing fiction, reviews or blogs during these times is because my words often come out not just wrong, but catastrophically wrong.

But when I can’t avoid it — the idea I have is too strong to ignore, or I have a new short story idea that must be written down or lost — I try to be as positive about myself and my writing as possible, while remembering to look over whatever I’ve written the next day (or maybe two) in order to get a better handle on it.  This way I’ve satisfied the need to write without completely driving myself crazy; I am a perfectionist and as such, writing while overtired is an extremely difficult and frustrating task.

All three of these subjects have in common one thing — the need to persist.   If I keep trying to get my humor right, the passage will come to me; if I keep trying to get the review right, I’ll be able to convey what I thought about the book as best I can.  And if I am able to bull through my body’s attempt to shut down my creative impulses (while doing my best to get as much rest as I’m able, of course, in the process), I’m going to eventually be able to work out the idea, passage, or story to my personal satisfaction.

The moral of this whole somewhat accidental blog about “the flurry of ideas” is simple: don’t give up.  Because the simple fact you have a flurry of ideas means you need to write about them, you need to comment upon them, and you need to realize that sometimes, writing takes as long as it takes.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 29, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Elfyverse, Writing

Quick Note about MuseItUp Publishing

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Some days, the best thing any writer can do is get up, peruse the writing boards, and congratulate people.  Because when we do — as I did today at Forward Motion, the writer’s group I’ve belonged to for seven years — we often find links to new publishing houses we’ve somehow missed hearing about in the past.

Such is the case with MuseItUp Publishing, which is maybe a year old (if that much), but already has a good reputation in the SF, fantasy and romance communities due to the strength of its publisher, Lea Schizas, affectionately called a “force of nature” by her writers.

At any rate, after reading about them, I queried MuseItUp regarding ELFY because ELFY has paranormal elements; can’t guarantee they’ll want to see it, but trying is the first step toward getting an acceptance.

Note that I normally do not discuss which agents or publishers I’ve tried here at my blog, but in this case I thought I would as I know many writers with works in the science fiction/romance, fantasy/romance and flat-out romance categories.  Not to mention straight-up SF, straight-up fantasy, etc.

This seems to be a reliable place with a solid reputation; they’re young, but growing, and they have the word of giving good quality feedback, which is why I have made an exception here.

Check them out at

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 29, 2010 at 12:27 am

Posted in Publishing, Writing

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