Read chapters 4-6 of The Toad King to writer's group last night. Among the usual grammatical corrections, Gary let slip, "Sometimes, it's almost poetic."

"What's that?"

"Sometimes it's almost poetic..."

"Yes! Thank you!"

It's amazing how even a qualified praise can have a big impact. I mean, first of all, it was from Gary who isn't prone to lavish praise. Way back when I was writing "Led to the Slaughter" Gary said, "...this almost has some real depth."

Again, qualified praise I took to heart, because he was commenting on a passage of the book where I felt I had broken through to some real meaning.

Meanwhile, one of the things I'm noticing about my writing is that the more I do, the less attention I'm paying to the outside world. I don't really want to know if others have done what I've done, or how they did it, or take advice on what and when I should write.

Part of this is my age. I've spent 35 years between writing stints and I had a lot of time to think about it, to read umpteen books, to read advice about writing. Combined with my original research of reading every book about writing I could get my hands on, and taking classes and joining groups.

 I'm sort of backing away from all that. I'm trusting my own instincts now. 

I'm retreating into my own little bubble, exploring my own psyche, writing what comes to me without regard to anything else. Trying not to second-guess myself too much. Just letting my own ideas come out and hoping they are original and fresh enough to interest people.

Fortunately, my imagination coincides more often than not with what others might want. For instance, it isn't a stretch to write a "thriller." So I'm not just writing one only because I have a receptive editor, but because it's the type of thing I was getting ready to write anyway. (In fact, two of my most recent books were thrillers.)

I retreat further and further into my writing bubble. The real challenge to me is to unlock what I think is already there in my head. The only thing standing between me and a really good book is myself, my own hangups, my own getting in the way of my imagination. It's all there if I can access it, which means being free, being focused on my own dreams, not letting any critical elements stop me.

Which isn't what I expected.