Don’t Believe Everything You Think

My Inner Critic's Name is Sheila and she's an asshole

This is an older post from two years ago, but it still rings true.

Don’t believe everything you think. Go ahead. Reread that sentence a few times and let the idea marinate inside your cranium for a bit. It’s an interesting concept.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Sounds easy, right? Not quite. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. Especially if your inner critic’s an asshole.

A while back, I started working on a new writing project–a romance novel that I’d set aside about a year ago. Elements of an estranged sister story that I’d been planning out at the tail end of the previous year were eerily similar to that tossed aside romance, so I decided to go back and finish the original story. With a little searching, I found the file on one of my flash drives and read the close to 30K words that I’d written. It was the start of a crappy first draft, but some of it’s really not that bad. However, I hated the opening scene so I’d decided to scrap it and write a brand new one.

Beginning a story is something that I struggle with and it’s when my inner critic–aka Sheila–is most active. Here’s how a typical writing session goes:

Me: After ten minutes of staring at a blank Word document, types the word “the”, stares at it for five minutes, deletes it, continues to stare at blank page.

Sheila: “You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?”

Me: Types the full name of main character. Stares some more. Notices the thick layer of dust that’s blanketed every surface in the room. Contemplates searching for a Swiffer duster.

Sheila: “Can’t figure it out, can ya?”

Me: Squirms around in seat, sighs heavily, deletes main character’s name.

Sheila: “You’re never going to pull this off because you CAN’T write. I only tell you this because I’m your friend and I care.”

Me: Closes Word document, shuts down computer, goes to bed and lies awake agonizing over the thought of not being able to write. Decides to give it up.

Sheila: “I knew you’d see the light. You’re no Stephen King, Nora Roberts, et cetera, et cetera, and you never will be. Come to terms with it and move one. You’re a bad writer and no one cares what you have to say.”

Me: “Go to hell, Sheila.” Four hours later I fall asleep. Wake up next morning, hop in shower. An idea strikes!

Sheila: “You’re wasting your time.”

Me: Takes world’s fastest shower and races to computer. Opens up Word document and types the following:

No matter how hard she tried, Kate couldn’t shake the shroud of impending doom that had plagued her all morning. 

Sheila: “Whoa…wait. Where’d that come from?”

Me: “Not bad, huh?”

Sheila: “Meh. Though I will admit you’ve piqued my interest. But you’re gonna have to come up with more than just one measly sentence. And I doubt that you can.”

Me: Rereads sentence, decides it’s a good enough start, and begins tapping away on the keyboard. Over the next forty-five minutes, three pages emerge.  They’re rough, but it’s a start. I sit back and smile and I’m feeling pretty darn good. “Hey Sheila, how do ya like me now?”

Sheila:  Radio silence.

That’s actually a watered down version of what happens.  Sheila can be brutal.  Sometimes it’ll take days for me to come up with the right words to begin my story and, more importantly, silence Sheila.

The point is, no matter how harsh my inner critic tends to be, I have to ignore it, otherwise I’d probably never leave the house.  Reminding myself that it’s nothing more than my own insecurity rearing its ugly head allows me to distinguish between what to believe and what not to believe.

Sheila will always be there, invading my thoughts, trying to keep me from moving forward.  There’s nothing I can do about that.  Ignoring her, telling her to fuck off every now and again, and proving her wrong are the best defense I have against falling for the BS and believing what I think.

Book Review: Sparkling Cyanide

  • Title: Sparkling Cyanide
  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Year Published: 1945 (under the title Remembered Death)
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars (a.k.a., I liked it)

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie is a classic “whodunit” story centered around Rosemary Barton, a beautiful heiress who committed suicide one evening during a dinner party. It’s one year later and her husband, George, has received several anonymous letters stating that Rosemary did not take her own life, instead, she’d been murdered. Enlisting the help of Colonel Race, ex-Army colonel and MI5 agent, George embarks on a plan to find Rosemary’s killer.

I’ve read a few of Agatha Christie’s books and found this one slightly tedious, mostly because of the cardboard characters. I think it’s pretty well known that no great character arcs happen in an Agatha Christie novel. People read them for the puzzle aspect of the story, and that’s why I stuck with this book. I needed to find out whodunit, and she kept me guessing throughout the entire novel. Early on, I thought I knew the identity of the killer, but was proven wrong in the end. That’s what I like about Agatha Christie’s novels. You get a chance to play detective, and, to me, that’s what makes reading her books enjoyable.

All in all, this was a fairly good read and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys traditional mystery novels and likes to solve a puzzle. This one is sure to keep you guessing the entire time.

Hello Blog World, My Old Friend

It’s been eons since the last time I wrote an actual blog post, and, surprisingly, I’ve missed it. I first started blogging way back around 2006. I had an Etsy shop selling handmade jewelry, and that’s what I started writing about. Then I’d started a craft blog, which became the focus of my writing for a few years. At some point, the act of blog writing resurrected my dream of writing fiction–something I’d given up on long before I’d begun blogging.

Eventually, the craft blog played itself out and by that time I was really focused on fiction writing. So what do you think I did? You guessed it–I started another blog. The original purpose of this blog was to chronicle my journey on the road to publication. But then life got in the way and the blog fell by the wayside once again, and, for a time, so did my fiction writing.

During my blogging hiatus, I did pick up writing once again, even finally completing the first draft (a pretty crappy one, I might add) of a romance novel. I was pretty elated when I’d finished that draft, even though it stunk, was half the length it needed to be, and read more like an outline rather than a story. I didn’t care. I’d finally finished the draft of a novel, something I’d been trying to do for years.

I set the draft aside and during those few weeks realized I had no interest in revising the book. At first, I thought what a colossal waste of time. I’d spent a few months on the project, why the hell wouldn’t I want to revise it. I kind of anguished over this dilemma for a few days and then finally one thing became clear to me.

I want to write mystery stories, not romance. Not even romantic suspense.

There is a certain allure to writing romance–the popularity of the genre, the voracious appetite of romance readers, it being one of the best selling genres of fiction–but, even though I love a good romance novel, it’s not what I desire to write about. So, I’m switching gears and immersing myself back into the world of mystery fiction, both reading it and writing it. I’m a mystery fan. At one point that’s the only genre I ever read, and I want to get back to writing those types of stories.

I also want to get back to blogging, so I’ve decided to do just that. Only this time I won’t be posting exclusively about writing or my road to publication. I’ll be sharing book reviews, classic movies that I enjoy, a few old posts that I’ve scrubbed from this site, thoughts on crime fiction in general, and anything else that comes to mind but slanted in the realm of mystery storytelling.

A few things to know about me and how I operate as a blogger:

  • I don’t plan to post on any kind of regular schedule. When I have something to say, I’ll post it.
  • I do try to add something of value for the reader in each post, but sometimes I might just post an aimless ramble (kinda like this post), it’s a crapshoot, really.
  • I do have a foul mouth and have been known to drop an F-bomb from time to time. So consider yourself warned in that respect.

That about wraps up this long-winded introduction. By the way, in case you’re wondering about the meaning behind the blog name that I’ve chosen, Sparkling Cyanide is the title of an Agatha Christie novel, one that I will likely be reviewing in the near future.

Under Construction

After being away from this site for a very long time, I’ve decided to resurrect this blog. All of the old posts have been cleared out and soon I will be posting new content slanted toward mystery fiction, film, and, of course, writing.