June 5, 2011

Mystery We Write Blog Tour: Jackie King

Jackie King loves books, words, and writing tall tales. She especially enjoys murdering the people she dislikes on paper. King is a full time writer who sometimes teaches writing at Tulsa Community College. Her latest novel, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE is a traditional mystery. King has also written five novellas as co-author of the Foxy Hens Series. Warm Love on Cold Streets is her latest novella and is included in the anthology THE FOXY HENS MEET A ROMANTIC ADVENTURER. Her only nonfiction book is DEVOTED TO COOKING. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, and Tulsa Night Writers.

Writing through the Muck
by Jackie King

Thanks, Beth for inviting me to share some thoughts on your blog. Today I’d like to discuss the importance of discipline in building and maintaining a writing career.

Many people have talent, but fewer folks have the determination needed to keep working on days when writing isn’t fun. The sad truth is: writing is hard work, and sometimes a person just doesn’t want to swim against the tide.

I’m that person. Even though I claim to LOVE writing, this morning I didn’t even want to look at my computer. I wanted to read, or to take a walk, or even to scrub the toilet—anything but write. This happens a lot to me, and because of that, I knew what to do. I made myself sit at my computer, read the last few pages I’d written yesterday, and began putting words on the blank screen. Everything I keyed seemed stilted, but I kept writing, focusing on my characters and doing the best I could.

In my mind this resolve to work, regardless of how I was feeling, makes me a professional writer. Tomorrow I’ll trudge on without judging what I wrote today. I wouldn’t dare edit it so soon; else I’d probably delete every word. When I write a first draft, I don’t worry about the quality of my writing; I follow my instincts and record the gist of the thing. You can’t be creative and critical at the same time. It’s impossible. After the draft is completed, I’ll begin what I call word-smithing. That’s when I fine-tune each word and perfect plot points. And for me that’s the fun part.

I’m finishing a rough draft of my second Grace Cassidy Mystery, SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. The writing isn’t going smoothly, it’s hard. My plot keeps self-destructing and my characters won’t cooperate. To understand what I mean, picture walking through almost-set concrete up to your neck. That describes writing days when ‘the muse’ deserts me and I’m left wondering what on earth made me think I could write. (Once I saw a cartoon in a writer’s magazine. A man sits frozen behind the steering wheel of his car and he’s saying to himself, “What on earth made me think that I could drive?”)

Life can also interfere with your schedule, and often does. Last Tuesday started smoothly. I had written about 400 words when the phone rang. It was my manicurist wanting to know if I could come for my appointment right then. She’s helped me out before by switching things around for my convenience, so I said, “Sure, let me save my work and I’ll be right there.”

I felt sure that I could come back and pick up the same thread immediately, the scene was so clear in my mind. But of course I couldn’t. However, I did work. I forced myself to write and finish my quota for the day. That gave me the satisfaction of knowing that I had done my part as a writer. I wrote—even when it wasn’t fun, even when it was hard, and even when what I wrote seemed banal and wooden.

Tomorrow I’ll write again. The curious thing is, after I finish the entire draft and read it through, I know that I won’t be able to tell which pages were written when I felt inspired and which I wrote when every word was a struggle. I know this, because it’s happened before, over and over.

This is a mystery to me: work that seemed like tripe at the time of the writing (mostly because I wasn’t in the mood) somehow morphs into words that can’t be distinguished from those easily written when the “Muse” favored me.

That’s one reason I LOVE writing. It’s magic.

Website: www.jacqking.com
Blog: Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness can be found at:
I’d love to have readers ‘friend’ me on Facebook. I’m listed as Jacqueline King

Jackie, your words really resonate with me. I wrote like that, every day and many hours over weekends because I was working full time, when I first started writing. Then, a few years ago, life interfered bigtime and I allowed myself to slack off more and more, partly out of neccesity but partly because–and listen to this, newbies–once you stop writing to a set schedule it is very, very hard to get back into that habit. Over time, it can become impossible.

Authors who become successful keep at it day after day after day, year after year and they are are the ones who win. The ones who have to start all over developing the same writing habits are the ones who have put off winning. You can never regain that same momentum until you start doing the same things you did before you lost the momentum.

So Jackie, thank you for reminding everyone who reads this blog that the real key to sucess is not always just having phenomenal talent. It’s the person who keeps at it who will find the key.

Folks, this week on the Mystery We Write Blog Tour, I’ll be featured at Jennifer DeCamillo’s blog: http://jenndicamillo.wordpress.com/. I hope you’ll come see me there because all of my blogs on this 12 week tour are very different, and as a reminder, whoever has posted the most comments on all the blogs on this tour will win a free print copy of RAVEN TALKS BACK.

I’m doing two things right now. Having my website blog updated to include my new book, and sending out review materials to various places AND trying to figure out the KindleBoard lists. I’m also having some of my grandkids here this week for a few days, that’s always fun and I can’t wait to see them!

I’ll tell you one thing right now though. I’ve been putting off starting the next book in the Raven Morressey series, but Jackie’s words have jolted me back to the reality of the real path to successfully writing books. I know she’s right.

A lot of starting a new book isn’t just sitting down and starting to write it. There’s a lot of preliminary work to be done. For at least four hours of every day, I’ll be sitting right here at my desk doing that preliminary work. You have to start your next book sometime, and sometime is now.

It is hard, though, starting a new book AND promoting the one that just came out. It’s incredible how much work an author has to do to get people to want to read her brand new book, and I want people to read RAVEN TALKS BACK because, as one reviewer has already noted, it’s my best book to date. And now I want to top it, because my competition is always myself and my last book. So far I’ve managed to do that.

So, with that said, I’ll send y’all a big, big hug, and I’ll see you here next week. I’ll leave the porch light on for you, and there will be goodies galore because I’m fairly certain I’ve bought more than the grandkiddies can possibly eat. Pop Tart, anyone? How about a Corn Dog? No? Well, how about a ham and cheese Hot Pocket? (We won’t even talk about how loaded my freezer is right now.)

Love you all, you KNOW I do!
XOXOXO, Beth, DenaliDawg aka Mr. Personality (who will be IN my next Raven book), Sarge and BooBoo.

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  1. Nice blog, Jackie. Every newbie needs to know that it isn’t talent that makes a writer, it’s plain old hard work that does it, with a little fun along the way.
    Pat Browning

  2. Jackie, great advice. Composing is difficult and there are so many distractions these days, e-mails to answer, blogs, phone calls, many amazing, valid excuses for a writer not to coax those morsels of wisdom onto the page. Thank you for reminding us that being creative is difficult for most of us. Only the strong thrive.

  3. Discipline, most needed and hardest to develop and keep.

    Good post.


  4. Beth, Thanks so much for hosting me today. I appreciate it. I see that I should have done more “wordsmithing” on this article. I keyed in “Disciple” when I meant to write “Discipline!” And that’s what happens when you trust spellcheck too much. So newbies, this is one more thing to watch for. (Do as I say, not as I do.) 🙂
    Hugs to all,

  5. Pat, thanks so much for stopping by. I value your opinion so very much.

  6. Sharon, you’re so right about distractios. And many of them are true responsibilities to others that must be met. One trick is to remember that you can write at odd times using a notebook or index cards. Steal moments when you can.

  7. Vivian, You can always be counted on to spell things correctly! It’s that sharp, editor’s eye that you have.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Jackie, What a wonderful post. Your honesty reminds me that we all struggle with these things. And I’m with you. When I’m not in the mood for writing, I just start typing so there’s something there, and I go back to it later.

    Good job!


  9. Thank y’all today for commenting on Jackie’s dynamite blog. I loved it myself, as you could probably tell. I had forgotten how strict I was with my own schedule in the very beginning. Like I tell students when I teach, it’s just too easy to stop, if you let youself do it. I’ve seen it too often through the years.

  10. Great blog and we all have those times when we can’t write. Fun hearing about anothers way of jumping back in again.

  11. Excellent advice, Jackie. Sorry to be late, but better late than never. I look forward to reading the Inconvenient Corpse.

  12. Beth, I love your site! You do your blog team proud!

  13. Marja, Thanks for stopping by. And most especially, thanks for saying such nice things. I needed a few strokes today. It’s raining. I seem to need sunshine.

  14. Marilyn, Writers sit in the “lonely circle of light,” most of the time and need other like-minded folk to communicate with. Thanks so much for letting me/us know that you, too, sometimes struggle.

  15. Jean, It’s never to late to post a comment! And I’ve been a bit overwhelmed this week too. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  16. Beth, thanks so much for hosting me this week. It’s been a privilege to be a guest on your excellent blogsite.
    Best Wishes,

  17. I’m always happy to host such a deserving person, Jackie, and to everyone who posted, thank you. It’s great for an author to reach even one person, not to mention a lot of them. It’s been a fun week. Come back again anytime, folks! We love to see you here.

  18. So true, Jackie. Determination and persistence are the key…I keep telling myself that on a daily basis! 😉







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