Helena is someone who came to my attention well before we were put together in an anthology. She is a writer of great skill and many abilities, and I’m certainly honored to have my story next to hers in Young Love, Old Hearts. even seasons authors have struggles, and Helena talks about them candidly.
Defeating Writer’s Block
When I stumbled across the Young Love, Old Hearts submission call, I was waging battle against the gods of writer’s block. I can only assume they felt neglected after a few months of solid writing and decided to exact punishment. And I, a mere mortal, felt powerless against them.
Rubbish. Although it sometimes seems otherwise, writer’s block is not an external force besetting us. Its power is only fuelled by our own actions. In my case, it was a combination of exhaustion, lassitude, and the persistent fear that I’d already written my best ideas and whatever came next would be drivel. The more I repeated this to myself while trying to come up with the next novel, the next novella, and the deeper I seemed to sink into writer’s block.
Pursuing submission calls and looking outside one’s playground can be a solution, but sometimes there are deadlines involved and writer’s block can’t simply be ignored. A few strategies have worked for me in that regard.
Food. Eat your feelings, as they say. I’ve found that going out or cooking something nice at home can take my mind off the problem I’m struggling with. Setting aside the troublesome white page sometimes unlocks the kinks in our minds on its own, but even beyond that, our brains need sustenance as much as our muscles. For some people, that’s coffee or tea. For me, it’s a good meal at my favourite restaurant, alone or with friends.
Reread. Chances are you’re not blocked on the first thing you’ve ever written. So go back, pick through the archives and see how you did it before, what ideas you tried out and took to their logical conclusion or dropped halfway there. I’ve rediscovered many old drafts this way, and some are now well on their way to becoming fully realized novels. Other times, it’s simply useful to have tangible proof that the inner bully is wrong.
Routine. It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re battling a lack of inspiration, but sometimes sitting down in the same spot every day and going through the motions of trying to write can wear down the inner critic. Once that’s done, it’s much easier to trust that whatever ends up on paper can be used or learned from or revised. Too often we treat first drafts as a measure of our talent because we compare them with published works. We don’t see the thousands upon thousands of words that our favourite authors balled up and tossed into the wastebasket on their bad days. We just focus on our own.
The biggest trick of all is not to be discouraged by writer’s block. I’m still working on remembering that myself. On my bad days, I set aside the manuscripts that won’t cooperate. On my good days, I try to remember that there was a time not so long ago when I could write without questioning every word I put on paper and remind myself that the slump won’t last forever. Apparently even cold November rain can’t do that.
Excerpt from The Arrangement:
Cyril brandished the bundled envelopes before he felt compelled to say something as inappropriate as that. “I wanted to drop these off.”
August cut his eyes to the package.
“You look well.” Cyril cleared his throat. “Probably should’ve led with that.”
“It’s kind of you to say.”
Yet August made no move to take the money from him. Aware of Lloyd watching them, Cyril lowered the parcel. “Please take it. Doesn’t feel right to keep it.” It hadn’t felt right whenever he slid it into his back pocket at the end of the night, right before letting himself out of August’s house like a cheap hustler, but he’d taken it.
August had made it plain when they started that the fee was non-negotiable.
The elevator doors slid open with a muted sigh, cleaving through the tension Cyril had felt building between them.
The sound distracted Lloyd from pretending he wasn’t eavesdropping.
August greeted his neighbours, but he was quicker to turn his attention back to Cyril. “Would you like to come upstairs? The way we left things… doesn’t sit well with me.”
There was a right answer to go with that request and it perched on Cyril’s tongue with a glut of colourful language.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the one he offered.
Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case
Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen
Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.
Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon
Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.
A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith
Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.
Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.
When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.
That December by Lela E. Buis
Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.
The Arrangement by Helena Maeve
When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.
New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen
Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.
The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz
1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.
Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese
Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.
Say You Do by Kassandra Lea
Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.
About the Publisher
Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.
“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.