The Impossible Dream

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I recently picked up a few books on writing that I thought might be helpful.  The one I’m reading at the moment is Writing Fantasy Heros: Powerful Advice from the Pros by various fantasy writers (including Brandon Sanderson and Orson Scott Card).  I’ve been very frustrated with my work this packet and wondering if it’s even worth continuing with my thesis because how can it ever live up to my hopes and dreams?  How can I create something good enough to finish this program, let alone publish?  But I came across this bit in the section by Ian C. Esslemont:

We who follow the path of writing must keep in mind that it is an on-going journey of discovery and refinement.  One never ‘arrives.’  We are all apprentices striving to improve our craft.  The lessons here are ones I must constantly keep in mind as well.  By way of encouragement I suggest you trust in our active fantasy readers who are among the best out there in their willingness to give you a chance.  They want you to succeed because they want that dream—just as much as you hope to achieve it.

So hey, maybe there is a chance.  Writing is seriously hard work.  It makes us doubt ourselves every single day.  To make it as a writer, other people have to actually like what we do and want to read (and buy) our work, which just puts that much more pressure on us to be amazing.  But you know what?  Somebody out there does want to read my story.  I can do this.  And so can you!

J

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A Day that will Live in Infamy

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It is 9/11 and facebook has been peppered with posts on where people were and what people were thinking when they got the news.  I wasn’t going to comment on it because it’s been such a long time and it wasn’t even 9/11 for me when it happened—in my timezone, it was 9/12—but someone on the Unofficial NaNoWriMo facebook page pointed out that experience makes for good stories and asked where everyone was etc.  My 9/11 experience was rather unique, and so I felt prompted to share, in brief, my experiences and thoughts on the attack.

There is certainly more to the experience and it’s been so long that the details have blurred, but the following was my response to the poster’s question:

I was 15 and living in South Korea. I had an early morning church class and my mom woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that I wouldn’t have the class the next day, but wouldn’t tell me why. I found out later the next day, but she didn’t tell my younger siblings. All military personnel were called to the base in the middle of the night and required to stay the next day and sleep in their offices while things were sorted out. For the first week, only active duty military were allowed on base, so we had no way to buy groceries or do laundry or anything like that. If any of us living off base managed to get on, we would call all our friends and offer to pick up supplies for those who couldn’t get on. After a week or so, they started letting people back on, but everyone had to enter through the same gate and wait for hours while they searched every car. After a few weeks, security lightened up and things got closer to back to normal, but within a month, they required all military families to move back to the states. I didn’t know anyone or lose anyone in the attacks, but 9/11 affected my daily life in a way it didn’t for most people. For me, it was scariest to be cut off from supplies and to live so close to an enemy country that had nukes and might choose to follow suit. I worried that my dad would be called away to war when they started sending in troops. I had many friends with fathers or husbands or brothers who were shipped off to the middle east, but fortunately, mine never had to go.

It was a horrible tragedy and in some ways, we are still recovering from it, but I was overwhelmed with pride at the way it brought us all together, if only for a short while.  Suddenly, we as a nation were under attack and so we rose to the occasion and became a unified nation.  Strangers reached out to help one another.  We realized how valuable our lives and are freedoms are and appreciated the sacrifices our nation has gone through to make them possible.  Everyone shouted out their pride to be Americans and their support for those who defend us and make us free, the firemen who saved so many lives and the soldiers who went out risking their own lives to make sure such a tragedy never happened again.

J

The Road to Hell

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As my plans tend to, this one got away from me.  I blame wordpress, because I had it set to notify me if I didn’t post every week and I haven’t gotten a notification in months.  With my busy schedule, I can’t be expected to remember AND actually go write a post…  Excuses, excuses, I know.  But here I am, just popping in with a quick update before I get back to watching Friends…I mean writing.

So, since the last post, I really don’t know, since I can’t be bothered to read my own blog.  I sent in packet 1 with 4 annotations and a fair amount of creative work.  I got that packet and response back and was fairly disappointed.  My advisor had less insight than usual and I’ve been so busy I didn’t really write any new creative work; I was planning to just edit the stuff from the first packet and send it in again, but he had very little to suggest in the way of corrections.  So, I spent a few days lost and frustrated—and complaining to all my writer friends—before I decided to just deal with it and do the work without the guidance I was hoping for.  I stuck with the same advisor as last semester because we worked well together and I could see I still had a lot to learn from him, so I think I need to be more clear about what sort of input I need during this semester because I gather that my advisor leaves things up to me because he seems to think that I’m rather insightful and have everything under control (soooo not the case…).

On top of that setback, Life Happened and I was required for some unexpected work and family responsibilities, so I ended up with really about 2-3 days total to spend on packet 2.  I usually spend a good portion of a week or two really focusing on the packet, so I basically just had a meltdown and questioned whether or not I was really cut out for this program.  Then I explained the situation and my ever-understanding advisor gave me an extra week to get this packet in.  So, I can breath a little, but I hate falling behind on the schedule and it’s odd while all my Goddard friends are chatting about sending in their packets when I have different deadlines than them.  In any case, I now have an extra week to get out this packet and my boss gave me a few days off to make up for all the overtime I did before, so I have a reasonable amount of free time to focus on it and can breathe again.

With that burden temporarily lifted, I got really excited about my thesis again and spent last evening/night discussing timelines and species etc with my writing partner, Amanda.  I also got a few inspirations on my nature walk yesterday afternoon (when the block hits, go for a walk in the woods.  Bring a notebook.).  I feel more capable and even if I don’t get a lot written, at least I have a lot brewing and I’m dealing with a lot of the planning and technical stuff that needs to be done.  I’m not super worried about writing a lot of my thesis this semester.  I know what I’m doing now (look at me, all sounding like I know what I’m doing) and I’ll pump out a zero draft in November.  After that, I can fill in the gaps and get down to editing.

So, I breathe again.  Sortof.

Now the issue is the critical work.  I’m still completely lost on the Long Critical Paper (LCP), but at least I have it scheduled out into 3 packets to get it done, so I should be okay about it, but I’m still freaking out at the moment.

Also, Annotations.  I really hit my stride last semester and figured out what I was doing.  I always got positive responses on the work I submitted and all was well.  This semester seemed off to a good start too, especially now that I’ve done 5 of the 12-15 required for the semester.  BUT, now I feel all annotated out.  I got so deep into seeing the world of stories in an up close and critical way, that it started to take the fun out of reading and then I burned out.  I’ve got two books to annotate in this packet and I haven’t a clue what to write about.  Not a clue.  And my brain just doesn’t want to be creative about it.  And I’m too tired (all the time, seriously, when am I not tired?) to get in there and do it, so I don’t even want to think about it.  And now that I’ve got an extra week to do the work, I have to actually turn in something decent.  It’s good to have the extra time, but at the same time, now there’s actual pressure to do a good job, whereas when I didn’t have time to do a good job, I stopped caring about the quality of it all and was ready to just BS my way through 25-30 pages and call it done.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at in this lovely Packet 2.  And we’ll see where it goes from there…

J