February 23rd, 2011

Guest blogger of the day - Doranna Durgin!

One quick thing before I move on to my guest-blogger for the day, and that's a HUGE congratulations to N.K. Jemisin, whose amazing debut novel, THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS, is on the Nebula Awards ballot for Best Novel.  Go, Nora!

And now, without further ado, I present to you Doranna Durgin, whose new paranormal romance novel, STORM OF RECKONING, released this month from Tor Romance!

      For I am the Corn Plant

Out in my living room, next to the wood pellet stove, sits a corn plant.


Well, to be more accurate, there sits a stumpy corn plant stalk with a handful of sprouting leaves.  And what's it doing there?


Being a giant metaphor for the writing life, that's what.


Friends gave me this corn plant shortly after I moved to Flagstaff in '00, and--although I'm sort of a brown thumb person--it and I got along quite well through the years.  It was my luxurious corner of household greenery, four feet tall and lots of graceful frondy leaves.


When I moved to Albuquerque in '09, it did even better, adapting and reinventing its growth habits.  But when I moved to the Sandia Mountain foothills a year later, during a severe cold snap…


Let's just say someone didn't realize that a frondy corn plant out in single-digit weather would, you know…die.  Within days its leaves withered and browned…pretty soon it was nothing but a thick palm tree-ish stalk.


I couldn't bear to throw it out.  I put it out by the back door and pretended not to notice.  It just looked…


Well.  Deader and deader.


Eight months passed.  No watering except the sparse rains, no protection…shade half the day, harsh sunshine the next.


And lo!  One day I noticed two stumpy little leave buds!  Shock!  With much haste, I hauled the pot back inside for pampering.


The leaf buds grew!


And lo...  My brain-injured old Cardigan, in one of his last spontaneous acts of obsession before  I lost him, ate one of the buds.


But!  The other one continued to grow!  And (four months later…) it's now NINE leaves' worth!


Here's the writing life:  Create proposals, put down roots in your world…get left out in the cold.  Or it's create proposals, sell something, put down roots in your world…watch the publisher shut down your line.


Or lose your editor.  Or see the television show for which you're writing tie-ins get canceled.  Or pull in numbers that aren't quite stupendous enough to lead to another contract.  Or…or…OR.


But the very first lesson of the writing world is persistence.  It's there in the process of finding an agent, finding a publisher, finding the right idea at the right moment in time.  You get left out in the cold, you freeze down to the bone…and then you draw on your roots and put out buds again.


And I've come to realize, as a writer, that my journey is to do the same thing to my characters.  I want to see what they're made of…I want to strip them down to the bone, and watch them draw on the root of who they are, see how they come back out of it.  I want them that strong, and that vibrant, and that willing to kick my butt on the way back out of whatever I've gotten them into.


Wow.  I really AM the corn plant!


For more fun, the STORM OF RECKONING book trailer....