Friday, August 5, 2011


Stressed at work, stressed about starting the new job, stressed about money, stressed about NaNo. Hard to be creative when there's so much going on. Hoping to catch up on some word counts this weekend, but it's always hard to predict how productive I can be when I'm staying with my family. We'll see.

NaNoWriMo is hard.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One of the best things I've ever read. Ever.

"Sugar" writes an advice column over on The Daily Rumpus, and I've been going through the archive. This column, "Write Like a Motherfucker", is...well, it's true, and it's inspiring, and it's devastating, all at the same time.

Direct quote from the column:

"Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig."

I hope I'm able to write as well as her someday. That woman is amazing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Time theft, sensitivity, and ass-in-gearedness.

Okay. Haven't gotten much writing done in the past week. Not much of a surprise there - I was full time at the bank, and then we had a holiday weekend. I haven't had three days off in a row in...a few months, so it was pretty much a given that I was just going to clean, hang out by the river with my boys, and play video games.

I think, though, that I'm way too specific about the circumstances I need in order to be able to write. On the one hand, it's fine to know that you need a certain level of organization, quiet, or whatever, but on the other hand, using the fact that EVERYTHING IS NOT PERFECT AND I CANNOT ART UNDER THESE CONDITIONS as an excuse is just sad. And it's totally what I do. So once I get a work area put together at home (right now I have no desk, no special area, no nothing, really, and woe is me), this business of not writing has got to stop. I mean, when I was using my work desk (not, ahem, the best thing to do, just so you know) as my Special Writing Place, I was getting a shit ton of writing done. It was great. I'd go home at the end of the day raving about how productive I was. Not at, you know, working, which is what I should have been doing, but at writing.

But those days are over. I've never gotten in trouble for writing at work, but now I have enough [work] projects going simultaneously that I just don't have time - and once I get going with writing at work, I really seem to get going, and it always eats up more time than I was planning on giving it. So now I have time for occasional blogging, which is maybe okay, but that's it. Technically, I probably shouldn't even do that. I don't know. I'll have to think about it.

Current projects:

1. The Story. We're still in major brainstorming mode, but this one is always ongoing, and therefore always top priority.

2. My small zombeh story.

3. The Fullmoon adaptation, which I have not properly started, but damn, has it been percolating in my brain for ages.

4. I'd like to dust off the Lighthouse story soon and start a proper rewrite.

5. The random fairytale-Tanith-Lee-ish story that I started somehow started planning in my sleep a few nights ago. Not sure if that one has any potential.

So...yep. Those are my projects.

Oh, and one last thing: there is a guy at the teller line with hair down to his waist. It's terribly impressive.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ingredients of Magic

The ingredients of magic are:


-David Petersen

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Well, I've lost my writing momentum. Due to a variety of things, I haven't done any writing for the last five days. It sucks, but...that's how it goes, I guess. What makes it strange is that I stopped writing right after having a period where tons of ideas were coming really quickly, so maybe I burned myself out for a little bit? Being sick didn't help, of course, but...five days. That's a lot of catching up to do.

I think I'm going to try. Later, when I'm off work and the dog's all exercised and chill.

Best and most difficult words of writerly advice:

"Writers write."

I just have to remember this.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Brief update.

Okay, I posted those two scenes by accident - thought I was posting on the 'Writing' blog, but I'm going to leave them there because one, I can't edit posts on this computer, and two, eh, why not.

Yesterday was pretty much a bust as far as writing is concerned - the dog's been getting into the trash again, so he's been sick, and it's been 100F or above for the past three days, so my brain was just fried. So we spent yesterday's writing time on planning, which was a really good move even though we didn't get a terrible amount done. We had a bit of a "Wait a second...OH NO" moment when we realized how much planning we had yet to do, considering that we're writing a goddamn epic fantasy.

Yeah. I hadn't realized. This story is...much bigger than I thought. Which is kind of overwhelming, but I think that once we get all of our characters really nailed down and we have a much better sense of the scope of our world, the writing is going to come much more easily.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more relieved I am. When we weren't working on it so much, The Story was kind of this vague, amorphous blob that sat in the back of my mind. It was like, Yeah, this is the big thing that I want to write. It's going to be finished someday. Of course it is. Yeah.

And then I'd go watch some TV or pick up another book and not work on it.

But now I have this relief because I'm not sitting on my ass anymore just waiting for a writing career to fall into my lap. I'm sitting on my ass working on my writing career.

And that is a good feeling.

Two scenes.

Okay, I'm just playing with this, but I had this idea that maybe the medium that Tarn and Lisanna went to is actually a siren in Ethri form, and she's doing a little bit of reconnaisance for them because the Caisharad have found ways to block the sirens from seeing what they're doing. I don't know. Obviously nothing is set in stone - I just wanted to get some writing done for the day, and this was what occurred to me, lol.

594 words.


Sisters, attend.

Soft hisses, echoing through the distance that separated them. A taste of a gentle wind over sea that made her ache for her home. But no awareness of her call, not yet.

Sisters, ATTEND.

Suddenly their presences were there in her mind, recognizable only by the flavors of their various annoyances at being called away from their own work.

Wwhhaaat issss it, sssister? Their many voices blended into one.

I have news. The Queen’s consort came to see me.

Sibilant laughter verging on dismissive. Wwhhaat did he want?

He brought a girl with him. She came from Tyrra, an escaped slave. He wanted me to channel her voice so he could know her story.

Now there was an undercurrent of fear and anger to their hisses. You did not comply. It was not a question.

She felt her own first stirrings of fear, and hesitated.

I did.

There was something melodious about even their screams of rage, though she flinched as their voices banded together once more. EXPLAIN YOURSSSELF.

She took a deep breath and reminded herself that she had had a reason for handling the consort the way she had. A good reason. Her sisters could tear her apart in this frail Ethri shell if they chose, but they would have to have their Queen’s approval to do it.

She just wasn’t sure how forthcoming that approval would be.

I channeled the girl’s voice, but had time to meld a small controlling spell into her trance.

She could feel her sisters’ disapproval all around her, tinged now with a slight flavor of curiosity.

She told the consort her story, but I was able to change a few of the more important details. It is my hope that he, in turn, will bring this story to his queen.

There were soft murmurings, with a few sharp hisses of dissent. The sounds of their discussions swirled around her, and she let herself drift, not interested in trying to focus on one argument or another. She had expected them to disagree on her actions; her sisters were all aggressively opinionated, and she had never seen them all reach the same conclusion on anything at the same time.

Finally, there was silence. She waited, not wanting to be the one to break it. Some decision had been made, and way the quiet stretched on made her tense.

Then one voice reached across the divide and gently touched her mind. She recognized it as belonging to one of her oldest sisters, one who had sung the tides for so long that her voice was now more wind and sand than siren.

We will speak to the Queen.


Elydra bolted upright in bed, gasping for breath and grabbing at the Queen’s Stone. It was like a burning coal in her hand, the surface so hot she was unable to touch it long enough to pull it away from her chest. The light that was coming from within it bathed the bed in a sickly, pulsing red glow. One more heartbeat and Tarn was also sitting up, his arm supporting her as she cried from the pain of the stone against her chest.

“Elydra? Elydra!”

She wanted to respond to the panic in his voice, but the pain was beating at both her body and her mind, distracting her while something else tried to suck her down into unconsciousness. So she did the only thing she could do: she ignored him while she tried desperately to remember her name-song and protect her mind.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tropes, Traditions, and What's Working So Far

Okay, one more post over here for today. Recently, I've been thinking about the structure of The Story so far, and while I don't have fun, catchy names for tropes the way they do on TV Tropes (you know, the best movie/tv/book deconstruction site evar - not "deconstruction" in the sense of, like, deconstructionism, but just...pulling things apart and looking at the bits), I do want to try to list the ones I've found so far.

We have:

An Ancient Evil

Some Traitors

A School for Magically-Gifted Youngsters

A Matriarchy

An Indolent Long-Lived Race

An Arranged Marriage

A Stubborn Queen

A Magical Blight

An Exile

There are more, but those are the really big ones I could think of right now. I think knowing what the big ones are will make turning some of them on their heads a bit easier, when we're going back and editing. Because while this is, in many ways, a very traditional fantasy story, we don't want it to be too traditional.

Writing Update

Well, the writing challenge is going well so far: We're five days in, and I'm supposed to be sitting at 2,500 words so far. Just tallied up my counts, and I'm at 3,102, which puts me 602 words ahead of schedule. None of these are particularly large amounts, but it's very heartening - I think I respond well to numbers, and writing amounts are very easy to track numerically, even if the quality of the writing can't really be tracked at all (at least, not at this point). We're still doing the spotty non-linear writing, which has been both really fun and really great for world-building.

I think today is going to be one of those busy days at work where it's just one thing happening after another, but for some reason, those days make me even more determined to get my writing done while I'm here. It's weird. We'll see how that goes today.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It begins tomorrow.

But you know what? I'm going to start today.

I'm too excited and impatient to wait until tomorrow to start my 500-words-a-day journey through June.

I just wanted to say that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

New goal for June.

Okay. We've decided that we're going to be doing a mini-NaNo during June, to practice for July's official summer camp program, and I've decided to shoot for 15,000 words total. That's exactly 500 words a day. I've noticed that writing daily, when I get into a scene I like I tend to stop naturally between five and six hundred words, so if I'm a little over or under (though hopefully not EVER under, right? EVER), it should even out. I know I've tried setting writing goals and whatnot before on this blog, and I haven't succeeded to date - life keeps getting in the way, or I keep letting it, or something. But this is one isolated 30-day block, and I'm going to do it. That's really about it. It takes less than an hour a day to write that much, and I'm going to do it.

I even made myself a rough little calendar - nothing polished and official-looking, just a tool to keep in my binder. If I make it to 500, I get to circle 'Y'. If I don't, I have to circle 'N'. Then I'll put my word count below, so I can get my totals on the 30th. Fun, right?

Yes. Fun.

Edit: You know, I think it's something about how my work computer runs scripts that I'm not allowed to put images anywhere other than at the top of posts. Very annoying.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stuff and things.

I'm starting to get that itch again. The one that's like, you know what you haven't done in a really long time? Actually applied yourself to some writing. It usually starts with my reading picking up, which is has - I read The Invisible Ring, though I really should have known better because of course I had to go straight to Daughter of the Blood from there. These are the first books I've really gotten into since Tender Morsels, which was back in what, March? Yeesh. But yeah, first the reading, then the dreamy reminiscences of "Two Captains" and the Original Story, and then really small ideas usually start to arrive - most often when I'm in the middle of doing something else, but whatever.

Fortunately for me, though, it looks like we're settled enough to give writing the time and attention it deserves. We're doing the summer NaNo, which is really exciting, and hopefully will give me more to talk about on this blog.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Linky to Excellent Thoughts on Procrastination

When I read this, all I could think was, Oh my god, this this this this this this this this to the moon and back. It is so incredibly, monumentally, inarguably true.

I want to print out this whole blog post and make it a poster so that I can look at it every day, it is THAT applicable to me.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Conflation of Voice and Author

Seated round the great table, nobody paid heed to the boy, who crouched by the wall and watched them with hunger-wide eyes. If scraps were thrown to the floor, both cat and boy would spring for them, and I reckon the cat were never half as grateful for those meager, greasy bits as the boy.


When I'm reading, I don't usually have a problem confusing the voice of the book's narration, be it through character or third-party, with the voice of the author. When I'm writing, however, I'm always paranoid that whatever I write will either sound too much like me, therefore being indicative of my life experience, my philosophies, or my personality, or not like me at all, therefore leading those who know me to conlude that I'm trying to hard or something.

The above snippet has been floating around in my mind for over a week now, and while I know that stylistically it's probably derivative of Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, which I'm currently reading, it also doesn't sound anything like me. So basically I'm just projecting self-judgments onto whoever would read that, because it would be ludicrous to think that anybody would actually be able to surmise anything about me from it.

I think that one of the most telling ways in which authors become present in their own works ("present" in this case meaning "apparent to the reader") is through their handling of philosophies, ideas, and ideals. This was a huge talking-point in my literary criticism class a couple of years ago, when we tackled Heart of Darkness. There are many schools of literary criticism, but we focused for a brief time on the opposing views of Formalism versus New Criticism. The relevant area in which they differ, for this post, is in the importance they place on the author. Formalism treats the author essentially as part of the work, taking into account aspects of their biography; New Criticism, on the other hand, tries to completely remove the author from the interpretation of the work, insisting that it stand and be analyzed as a completely separate entity.

Personally, I tend towards a more Formalistic approach to literature. When I read something, I immediately want to know about the author, their philosphies, their experiences, the cultural context of the work, and anything else that occurs to me. It helps me to put the work in perspective, as well as to demolish any false ideas I may have developed about them while reading.

My guess is that this tendency is what is causing much of the writing problem I'm having now. Why it is, well, that's a different question, and one that I'm not really prepared to answer. I just hope that I can get past this. Forcing myself to put more of a separation between work and author could be, I think, the first step.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two Captains

Or, as I affectionately see it in my head, "Two Catpains". (That which has been seen...)

Okay, I'm just going to come out and say it: I freaking love this thing. I love it. I will never stop loving it. It is, in all of its typo-ridden, grammatically sketchy, angsty, melodramatic glory, one of my favorite things in the world. And I am so, so sad to be finished with it, once and for all.

The alternate ending turned out really well. Like, really well. I'm proud of us, and I hope that it isn't too confusing for people who haven't read the novel itself (it's almost 200,000 words, I can totally call it a novel, thank you), because I think it really does manage to stand on its own as a story, as well. And going back and rereading the whole thing, I'm rediscovering things about the story that make the alternate ending even more meaningful, both for us and for the characters. Is it even legal to do that with one's own writing?

Actually, I'm still having some trouble believing that, nearly a whole year after we posted the final chapter, we sat down and plunked out another 34 pages. Miguel is completely to thank for that - she's the one who found the Fandoms Fight the Floods project and urged us to do it. And the best part, aside from giving the characters lives and families post-adventures, was what wonderfully maddening fun it was. And I think that feeling, more than anything else, is why I want to be a writer. It's the most enduring feeling of accomplishment I've ever had.

And this was only a fanfiction.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Tardy Post

I haven't posted since Monday. Way to be consistent, right? I've still been writing this week, though - our deadline for the Australia Flood Relief project is coming up this weekend, and I think we have somewhere between 5-10 pages to go? I'm not sure.

I don't know. My mind has just been on other things. A lot of it is close to home - family conflict, trying to get a car to replace the two that winter so handily destroyed this year, the upcoming move, trying to deal with my best friend, writing partner, and roommate moving halfway across the country. That one is probably the biggest. Like, no matter how much I understand that we have a lot to do before the end of March, I still want to put off packing as much as I can, because if we leave things alone, if the way the apartment looks doesn't change, I can pretend that nothing else will. For a little while. And it sucks. We'll probably never have a writing situation this good again. That might be too pessimistic, but seriously. I just don't understand how it could happen (though if it ever did, I would be so incredibly, ecstatically thrilled).

So we're going day to day, doing the things that we love to do, like getting coffee and watching TV shows and writing, and the end of March is just looming there the whole time. Like something that you can't avoid seeing, no matter how much you want to look away, but you pretend that you can't see it anyway because it's just too much to deal with. (Oh my god, on that note, why did I look up anything having to do with The Human Centipede. Seriously, why. Nightmares forever. If I ever see that movie, which I won't, I may actually expire from terror.)

Anyway, the point of all of that was that of the big changes coming, that is the one that I'm the most not okay with, and it's messing with my concentration and everything else.

When I think about trying to write anything original, I feel like I've hit the edge of the world. You know how in Coraline, when the Other Mother's world starts to unravel and Coraline finds herself walking through nothing? Everything is just gray or white and blank? It's like that. I have nothing new in my brain to work with, and nothing new to say. I know that you're "supposed" to just plug away and keep working through periods where inspiration is lacking, but...I can't. At least right now, I can't. So instead, I'm going to read. That seems like a much better use of my time. I'm in a bit of a YA kick right now, and I'm fully planning on unashamedly enjoying it. Here's my list for the next couple of weeks (some of the books have been ordered but haven't arrived yet, and some I still need to track down):

Salamandastron, by Brian Jacques

Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce (Holy crap, this one came in the mail today, and best cover art ever or best cover art ever? I love it.)

Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan

Living Dead Girl, by Elizabeth Scott

The Sky Is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson

The Things a Brother Knows, by Dane Reinhardt

I also just finished Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins, and it was a whole lot of fun, though it made me sad that I am not, nor will be in the near future, in Paris. Damn it all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lightkeeper: A Love List

So today is Valentine's Day, and while I, like so many others, tend to deride the commercialism of it, I also have absolutely zero beef with the celebration and expressing of love. Because this is my writing blog, however, I'm going to channel this in a particular direction. A while back, I read a suggestion by an author that went something like this: if you feel like your interest in a story is flagging, it can be helpful to make a list of all of the things that drew you to the story in the first place. Like a reminder of why you two decided to get together in the first place.

I'm going to make my list about Lightkeeper, the solo novel that I started for NaNoWriMo back in 2009, and the one that keeps coming back to bug me because it just needs to be written so badly. Here's what I love about it:

It's got a lighthouse. Like, a really big one. Lighthouses are the best. I love them forever.

Really big, craggy rocks that jut out of a cruel and temptestuous sea.

Small islands in the north that are mostly cut off from the mysterious main continent.

An inscrutable agent of divine powers carrying out an awful, but necessary, punishment.

Three protagonists with no knowledge of each other.

Tragedy and guilt stemming from something that was completely out of a character's control; parallel quests for redemption.

Loneliness, estrangement, and suicide.

Ships and nautical adventuring.

It's based on a song by one of my top favorite bands ever, Sonata Arctica.

So, um, yeah. Kind of a crap list, now that I look at it, but it's what I've got. I'm sure there are probably all kinds of reasons why I shouldn't talk about the contents of stories I'm working on, but...screw it. If I can't ramble about my work on my own blog, then I don't want to do it. I'll still try to keep it kind of vague, and I won't post snippets of Actual Things, but this is about what you can expect to see from time to time.

You know what the biggest problem this novel has so far is, though? Hold on to your hair, it's a doozy.


Seriously, I have a conflict that gets the protagonists out in the (as-yet-mostly-undefined) world, but I have no idea what they're actually fighting against.

This is a serious problem, and it's one that I've encountered a few times. I think I may need to start coming up with the villains and main conflicts before the rest, because my brain seems to shy away from them like there's a Doctor Who perception filter blocking me from seeing the whole thing. Like I'll get part of it, and then when it comes time to look at what, exactly, the climax of the story will be about, sorry, what was that? Was there a story there? I could have sworn there was, but I sure as hell don't see one now.

And that is why there is not more of this novel so far.


Words Written Today: 520
Category: Two Captains Alt. Ending

Friday, February 11, 2011

In Tribute to Brian Jacques

I am but an orchard shadow in the sunny
tide of noon,
The dust of olden seasons on a stone.
My paw is light and silent as a waning
autumn moon;
I walk the halls of memory, alone.
- Brian Jacques, Salamandastron

I've been stalling on writing this for a few hours now, because I'm not sure I'll be able to do it justice. Therefore, I think I'll keep it simple and short.

When I was about eight years old, a friend in elementary school introduced me to the Redwall books. I'm not going to pretend to remember the details; it was probably Mossflower, but it really doesn't matter. What does matter is that these books have given me some of my best memories - getting in trouble in class for reading under my desk, staying up way past my bedtime with a flashlight under the blankets, zipping through new releases in a day, borrowing people's copies and lending out my own, making makeshift cloaks and going out into fields with friends to pretend we were on quests (duck and weave, guys, duck and weave!), trying to recreate some of the Abbey recipes in the kitchen, memorizing the poetry and setting some of the songs and riddles to my own melodies - the list goes on.

Brian Jacques passed away on February 5th, and while I regret never meeting him, it's okay. I think it's very possible that anyone who's read a Redwall book knew him, just a little, through his stories.

These books, with their roving, fighting heroes, dangerous quests, and treacherous villains have left an indelible mark on my life. They've shaped the way I read and write, and the way I experience stories. Brian Jacques left behind an unbelievable legacy, and if I ever have children, I'll be proud to share these adventures with them.

Rest in peace, Mr. Jacques. You will be missed.


P.S. For a much more elegantly worded tribute, check out Jason Pinter's piece in the Huffingtom Post. It made me cry.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who is qualified to write about writing?

First thing - the monster cold seems to have mostly cleared up, and [almost] all of the cotton has been cleared out of my skull! It feels so good! Also, the weather for the upcoming week is looking extremely promising: the day after next, it's supposed to get into the high thirties and actually stay there. I am so ridiculously thrilled. Minnesota winters are just brutal.


My question for the day is whether or not it's productive to assign levels of qualification when it comes to writing about writing. It's kind of meta, I guess.

Most successful writing blogs that I've seen have been run by one of several kinds of people. There are the authors, the ones who without a doubt have the greatest authority when it comes to dispensing advice on the nuts and bolts (hmm. I think I might hate that phrase) of writing. They're the ones that newer writers look to when we want to know about the creating and refining process from those who have been there. Their advice is a step up from those who are on the same level as the unpublished writer because whatever they've done has, obviously, worked for them.

Then there are the veterans of the publishing industry, the agents and editors. Their perspectives are invaluable for learning what to expect from the querying point onward. An author can tell you how to survive on a demanding book tour; an agent or editor can tell you what needs to be done to make the tour a reality in the first place.

This question, however, is one that I've been struggling with for a while, especially as it pertains to my prospective place in the blogging world. (I refuse to say "blogosphere". I know it's the correct term. I just...refuse. Ugh.) Specifically, am I qualified to have a blog on writing?

On one level, of course I am. Anyone with an interest or hobby is well within their rights to write about that interest, even in a public venue like a blog. The process of writing out questions and issues encourages deeper, more critical thinking on those issues, and stands a good chance of increasing the likelihood of their solving. Furthermore, if one can establish a rapport with a group of readers of like minds, there's much to gain from the sharing of these ideas. It's a positive learning cycle, and I'm of the opinion that it will be an absolutely essential tool for me as I work on improving my work ethic, my understanding of the publishing world, and, most importantly, my writing.

However, as anyone who's read the first post of this blog knows, I am not a published author. I'm not even close. I'm a youngish writer struggling with one of the biggest impediments a writer can have: a reluctance to actually write. Starting so far at the beginning of the process, I have to wonder if perhaps I'm shooting myself in the foot before the race has even begun. I'm not likely to garner much of a readership here, and I'm okay with that - frankly, I don't think I'm at the point where I could really handle one. But one of my biggest fears is that this blog will fizzle and die, and I'll be left with yet another unfinished project to discourage me in the long run.

To prevent this, I've put together a long list of topics that I'm planning on tackling in future posts with every ounce of raw, inexperienced enthusiam I've got in me. A couple of them may even turn into series, and I've decided that this blog will be updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm going to dedicate to my collaborative blog, Songs of Silence, and the weekends are going to be for me. In between, I'll make short posts on word counts, just so that I have a record of them. My goal is to write approximately 500 words a day. It's not a huge amount, but it should be enough to get the ball rolling. I'll make my first word count post later today, as an addendum to this.

So, to conclude: Sure, I'm qualified to write about the process of writing. It's a shared experience that anybody can discuss, and it is most definitely counterproductive and defeatist to tell myself that what I have to say about it isn't worth sharing. What I am not qualified to do is dispense writing and publishing advice that I don't have personal experience with.

Words written today: 320
Category: Miscellaneous fiction

Monday, February 7, 2011

Self-discipline and Extenuating Circumstances

Disclaimer: I am loopy on cold medication right now. If this post is incoherent or confusing, please accept my sincere apology. I'm going to try to keep this one short.

Word count since I last posted: approx. 55, on the collaborative Aussie flood-relief project.

Yeah, I know. It's awful.

The intersection of self-discipline and (seemingly/sometimes) extenuating circumstances is something that I come across fairly frequently when it comes to writing.

Example: I have had a cold since I last posted on Friday. My boyfriend, with whom I've been in a long-distance relationship for quite a while, came up to visit. The cold got worse, and has shown no signs of abating so far. I have enough trouble concentrating when things are normal; adding factors like this to the mix have basically guaranteed my inability to get any writing done.

What I'm asking myself right now, though, is this: if one is aiming to drastically improve one's self-discipline, where does one draw the line when it comes to reasons (not excuses) for not getting things (specifically writing, in this case) done? Is it okay not to write if you're sick, or should you just power through? Is it okay not to write if you want to spend time with your significant other?

You know, now I'm not even sure why I'm asking this. The answer seems painfully obvious. Clearly, my sinuses were working to obfuscate my reasoning powers. Of course it's okay. There are no black-and-white cut-and-dried rules for this kind of thing. I don't think it's counterproductive to the goal of building self-discipline to say, No, not today. Now is not the time for this. I'm choosing to use this time for resting/recovery/relationship/whatever. It's the conscious delegation of the time for the purpose that's important.

Now, I'm going to go watch a movie and work on my knitting. And on getting better. This cold is pretty ridiculous. And if I feel up to it - and only then - I'll work on writing.

Hmm. I may not be totally resolved on this issue, actually. I'll have to come back to it another time.

Friday, February 4, 2011

What stops me from writing?

I want to write. Better yet, I want to be a writer, in much more than the sense of "someone who writes" (I mean, heck, I already do that. Sometimes). But lately, I've noticed that in both my solo and collaborative projects, I'll think about writing - I'll think about it a lot - and I'll read some articles, and I'll feel really good about reading these articles on writing and thinking about writing and getting warm fuzzies about all the writing I could do and ...and then I just...won't do it. It's like there's some serious cognitive dissonance going on there: I want to do this, but I don't want to do this.

A big part of it could probably be explained away by laziness: writing is hard, and it gives me a headache, and it's time consuming! Another part could be perfectionism: writing is hard, and it gives me a headache, and it's time consuming, and it won't be perfect the first time, and I might end up completely scratching what I've just put time into, so why try at all?

But I think that the biggest problem, the mother of all the problems, is fear. It's a visceral, multi-layered fear that makes my stomach clench up and my fingers automatically gravitate towards my mouth so that I can tear the nails apart. Sometimes it keeps me up at night, and sometimes I go to sleep just to avoid it.

Like most people, I'm afraid of failure. Deathly afraid. What if I write, and by some miracle of strength and determination actually finish a draft, and then revise until I'm bleeding from the eyes, and get outside opinions and good advice that I do my best to heed, and I still can't get published? What if I write a novel, get it published, and then find out after the fact that everyone thinks it sucks? What if - what if - what if - what if -

To which the stronger, better part of me gives a resounding SO WHAT? The laws of physics state that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (I know this isn't a perfect analogy, but stay with me, here. I'm gonna make this work). So say that the writing, and all of the work that goes into the writing, is the first reaction. It's the product of my desire to write, almost a reaction to that. What comes after? Well, obviously something will. The time that I put into that novel is not going to disappear into a void. I can't get it back, but I won't want it back, because I'll have something better: the draft of a novel. And that is something that I really, really want. So there's payoff #1.

Now, say that novel is no good. Say it actually really blows, and there's no way in hell that I'd ever even try to get it queried. The important thing to remember is that the time I spent working on it was still not wasted. It was put to very good use, because during that process, it's almost impossible that I will have completely avoided learning things about myself: the ways that I work best, the things that inspire me the most, how much I love seeing the words that I've put together marking the pages (okay, maybe I already know this one), and, hopefully, what I can do to improve the next novel.

I have a strong feeling that that is going to be so much more than worth all of the pain and time and headaches.

So what are my goals for this blog?

First off, I'm going to use it to keep track of the words that I write per day. It's not the best measure of productivity, but I'm only going to count those that belong to current projects, and I'm going to try and meet my minimum every day. I may give myself one day off per week, but I'm not sure yet.

Secondly, I'm going to use it to narrow down which projects I most want to work on - I have two solo novels, one collaborative novel/trilogy and one short story, and at least three solo short stories started right now. Some of these just need to be finished. Here is where I'm going to talk (to myself) about my projects: what I love and hate about them, ways to improve, probably some outlining, and lots of lists.

And thirdly, I'd like to use this to start building a base for myself. I'd ultimately like to have a writing group, but I'm going to work slowly towards that. Mostly, I'd really like to hear from other aspiring authors, and get some discussions going about the ups and downs of the craft as we experience them.