Trials

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“A writer is one for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

–Thomas Mann

Guess I’m a real writer.

J

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The Foolish Man

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I’m at a weird point in my writing process, one I haven’t been at in a rather long time: the very beginning.  I’m trying to write a brand new book, in a whole new universe, with characters I’ve barely begun to conceive, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.  Most of what I’ve written in the past has fit into one of two story universes (my epic fantasy and my superheroes) and even when I started new books, they still fit within those universes and involved at least one character I had worked with before.  Outside of the books I’ve written for those two series, I tried starting two other books that were potential works for my Goddard thesis three years ago when I started the program (I made some progress on Drowning Sarah), but I didn’t get very far with either of those.  In addition, in the past decade, I’ve started three stories for NaNoWriMo that were brand new and I lost with all of them because I couldn’t get past 20-30k.

This new story feels important.  I want to write it, but I think it’s beyond me.  For reasons I’ve mentioned previously, I need a fresh start in my writing.  I need a new story that doesn’t have any association to my previous writing life or to my previous self or relationships.  I need something that I can write that won’t make me feel dragged down by the past.  The problem is, every time I’ve come up with a successful new story idea, I had a writing partner to work me through the tough bits.  Getting through much of this program without a writing partner was a struggle, but I had all the work we’d done in the past to fall back on and we had a brief attempt at reconciliation, during which, I was able to work out the rest of the major issues with my book.  I can’t write on my own.  I spent three years and more money than I’d care to think about becoming a better writer, but I still can’t write on my own.

So here I am, with a brand new story–and I need a brand new story–about something that is deeply important to me and in a way I haven’t seen in much literature and I think it needs to be out there, but I don’t know how to write it and I don’t know how to proceed with this story without someone who knows me and my writing to work through it with.  I am writing random scenes as they come to me and beginning to ask the big questions about the story, consider potential plot elements, flesh out the characters and the universe, and at every turn, I come up against a massive, insurmountable wall.  All the other times I got stuck, I could just look at where the characters ended up or consider what else is going on in the world at the time that could affect it or would be affected.  But I haven’t got any of that.  It’s like trying to build a brick house on sand.

Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this.  Accountants don’t have this kind of trouble.

J

Baker’s Dozen

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Happy Friday the 13th!

I love Friday the 13th.  Thirteen has always been my favorite number and I love going against the superstition, so I have always loved Friday the 13th since the time I learned about it (which was probably from an episode of Shining Time Station; yes, I’m that old).  I want to say something commemorative or something about the day and how I’m celebrating, but it’s been a fairly chill day and I have nothing more to say on the topic.

You’ve heard a lot from me lately with the big stuff going on, so I’m popping in with a quick post just to keep up the habit and to let you all know what I’m up to, but I don’t have a lot to say.

Now that I’m graduated and have to be responsible for keeping up with my writing on my own, I have three basic angles I’m using to approach my writing:

I would like to do a web series.  One of the faculty at Goddard told me it’s probably my best option to break into screenwriting, so now that I have a chunk of free time, I’m going to be working on that.  Right now, it’s all in the brainstorming stage, so I have no idea what it’s going to be.  But it’s a thing.

I’ve been told a good way to break into the fiction world is write short stories and get them published in magazines, so I’m planning to work on that.  It is my brain to try to write some short stories, I just have no idea what to write them on.  I’ve basically written one short story ever.  So I’m thinking about how to approach this very different form of writing (which I think would feed the whole web series idea pretty well, since both are very short forms of fiction, which I have no experience writing).

And lastly, I want to write a new novel.  I’ve been trying to figure out what to work on.  I have a bunch of books in my Supers series, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but I feel like I need to take a break from that one.  I need something fresher.  So I have been mulling over old ideas I haven’t done much with and some potential new ideas and this morning, I’ve been thinking about revisiting the ghost story I was working on in my first semester.  It feels like a novella, so it wouldn’t take a huge amount of time to put it together and finish it.  I just need to figure out what the actual story is.

So that’s my writing life.

Happy Friday the 13th!

J

And There You Have It.

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“All you need to be a writer is perseverance, a low-level alcohol dependence, and a questionable moral compass.”

–Anna Kendrick

And there you have it.  All you need to be a writer.  I already adore Anna Kendrick, but this just made me extra happy.  I guess I’d better work on my perseverance.

J

Change and Excuses

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And in response to my whiney rant last night:

“If you really want to do it, you do it. There are no excuses.”

— Bruce Nauman

*     *     *

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

— Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

On Sharing

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“Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.”

—Paulo Coelho

I haven’t been nearly as dedicated with this blog as I’d intended, but then we all know what they say about intentions…

I always have excuses: life is busy, I can’t think of anything to write about, nobody’s reading so why should I write?  It goes on, but mostly, I just forget.  I used to have get a weekly reminder from WordPress to make sure I wrote regularly, but for some reason it stopped, so now I forget to keep it up.  In the beginning, I was excited about writing a blog and excited about writing, so I had the motivation to keep it up, but the novelty has worn off now.  The semester will be over in three weeks and I won’t have regular deadlines to remind me to write—creatively or here—but I still want to keep it up.  I  just need to find a way to stay motivated to do it.  Maybe if I go back to posting quotes with some regularity.  I also think that writing prompts or maybe flash fiction (I’ve never tried it before, maybe it’s a good exercise?) might be a good idea.  Do any of you out there have any thoughts or suggestions of what you’d like to see here?

In 4 days, NaNoWriMo starts and then I’ll be writing insane amounts on a daily basis.  Maybe that sort of creative output will prompt more output here.  I guess we’ll see.

Happy writing, happy reading, until next time…

J

10 Ways to Prep for NaNoWriMo 2014 by D. H. Sayers

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This is a nice thorough list of things that will help you get ready for NaNoWriMo. I’ll write my own post eventually, but I keep putting it off, so enjoy this one from a fellow NaNoer for now.
J

D. H. Sayers

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

So, you’ve bit the bullet, pulled the trigger, logged into the site and signed up! Congrats! You have done something only a small percentage of the population has done in a long time, you’ve made a commitment to your passion. 50,000 words in 30 days, however, from this side of November, can look daunting. I am here to tell you that it can be done. I did it myself last year and will do it again this year.

So from one Winner to another, and you are a winner, don’t let any Internet Troll tell you otherwise, I am going to share some of the things you can do to ensure that you succeed. So, without further ado, I am going to lay out for you 10 ways in which you can prepare to win National Novel Writing Month!

  1. Know the Journey – If you think about it, NaNoWriMo is…

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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

Long Time, No See

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I realize it’s been a rather long time since I posted and I need to do something about that.  After last semester ended, I didn’t have much Writing stuff to write about because I wasn’t doing it regularly and, obviously, didn’t have school stuff to write about.  I intended to get back into the routine once school started up again, but that didn’t really happen.  I’ll try to do better now that school is in full swing.  (Btw, I’ll be more motivated to keep it up if I know I’ve got readers, feel free to say hi!)

So, quick updates: I believe I posted about Residency.  Again, it was AWESOME and reminded me why I’m doing this.  Now that I’m actually doing this and not partying with all my writer friends, it’s a little harder to remember and the motivation is slipping.  Always looking for motivating suggestions!

My first packet of the semester was due last Monday.  I finished it up on Friday (after a rather violent battle with my printer and quite a few tears.  Note: I intend to buy a new one before the next packet is due.) and got it to the post office 30 minutes before they closed.  I assume it is now in my advisor’s hands and that at some point, it will make its way back to me.  Hopefully with some positive feedback.  As far as that packet, I am proud to say that I turned in 4 annotations (the most I’ve ever done in one packet!  Also, that puts me at 5 so far for the semester which is 1/3 of the max I could do, and that’s in my first of five packets, woohoo!), the usual process letter (5 pages), and 18 pages of creative work (6 of Sarah, the rest of William).

Now, I’m bogged down with 4 days in a row of 11+ hour shifts, so it’s all I can do to stay alert enough to take care of the baby.  I’m listening to and reading 3 books at the moment, because at least I can listen while I entertain the baby and then he’s being educated too, and then, hopefully, by next week, I’ll have a few books I can write annotations on.

I still have creative work to worry about.  I haven’t written much new since Residency and now that I’ve decided on my thesis, there’s all this pressure about what I write and that it has to be good and worthy and all, so I’m feeling paralyzed and blocked about the work and basically just terrified to even try, so I’ve been focusing on the other requirements (mostly the reading because it’s so time consuming).  I really need to get back into the habit of writing regularly because even if everything that comes out is crap, at least I’ll have something to work with and if I know it’s going to be crap and I’m going to write it anyway then I won’t worry about it and maybe something good will come of it.  In the words of Sarah: ugh.

And, last but not least, this semester I have to write my 20-page Long Critical.  I have never in my life written such a long essay so the very thought of it overwhelms me.  I’ve had a general topic since the beginning of last semester.  I discussed it with my advisor as an option for one of the two Short Criticals (5+ pages each) and we both agreed that it was a more suitable topic for the Long Critical.  So I’ve had that sitting around gathering dust for six months or so, but now I need to refine it.  I have a few ideas on how to narrow it down, but nothing solid yet and I don’t even know where to begin my research.  I need like two secondary sources but it is NOT a “research paper” as the teachers at Goddard have made very clear, so, I really don’t know what it is.  I guess it’s a Long short critical and a short critical is just a long annotation.  So, it’s one of those 3-page papers I’m writing all the time now, only stretched into 20 pages.  God help me.

And so, with that, back to work and thinking about writing.  I will try to be more diligent about the blog.  And about writing my thesis.  And breathing.

So long for now…

J

 

Excuses, Excuses

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I haven’t written much lately; I’ve been very blocked and it’s my own fault.  At least that’s what it comes down to.  I don’t know what to write.  I’m at the point in both of my stories that I don’t know enough about the story to write it, but I’ve come up with enough that I can’t just write anything and start from scratch because they are already stories and I need to stay, at least somewhat, true to the story that is and wants to be.  At the same time, I’ve got all the advice and suggestions from my advisor this past semester rolling around in my head and I don’t know how to apply it to my writing and every time I start in one direction, I remember something he said that makes my thought not work and so I give it up.  My absolute surety that I’m a crappy writer and just can’t possibly measure up to my idols is keeping me blocked and keeping me from even trying.  So, I’m very blocked and the most likely reason is that I’m thinking too much and writing too little and everything else is just excuses.

But I still have my excuses and I don’t even want to write.  I’m questioning more and more that I can even be a decent writer and my decision to pursue that, even if I haven’t got any other directions worth going.  I don’t want to write, but I need to write as much as I can before the next semester starts in 3 weeks because shortly after that, I’m going to have to make a decision and I don’t know either of my stories well enough to choose one to work on for the rest of my degree.

But I don’t want to write.  And the stories don’t want to be written.

J