Camp NaNo in April didn’t go so well. In fact, I haven’t done so well on my writing for a while. I’ve been trying to move ahead with “quick fix” projects, the ones that on the surface don’t look like they require as much time and effort and therefore would be ready for the “Agent Auction House” sooner. I seem to have creatively shot myself in the foot trying to take these shortcuts. I made the mistake of getting caught up in the idea of production, of “being productive” and just pouring out words. And there is a time and a place for that. But I’ve been wallowing in these isolated shallow pools for a long while now, not willing to take that step back into the ocean.
I am not quite sure how to broach this topic. On the one hand, I think it is a legit concern. But on the other hand, it also sounds like privileged whining. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which it is, if the truth lies somewhere in between, with both, or with neither.
I’ve been having trouble working on Seahawks and Storms. I wrote the requisite 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo 2017, but most of it is poorly written garbage. I’m not feeling or hearing the characters like I should or have for other projects. And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. I know I haven’t spent as much time with Samuel and Amaris as I have with Ryn and Scion. But even then I had something to work with. Now I just sit and stare and pull them through motions that don’t feel real. As I wrote, they were becoming less and less fleshed out rather than more. At this point, I’ve pretty much shelved the project and moved on to another.
Then I remembered something I saw at WDC 2017. There was a project going on at the conference called “Vulnerability is Sexy.” There was a wall of black paper and a submission box. You could write a secret on a slip of paper, put it in the box, and then artists from the project wrote the secret on the wall in an artistic, illustrated way, kind of like an illuminated manuscript. When it was done, you could see all of these secrets without ever knowing who they belonged to. Many of the secrets resonated with me, but one in particular stood out: Continue reading “The Scrutiny of a Thousand Eyes”→
While most people are excited for the coming of pumpkin spice, winter, or the season premiere of The Walking Dead, I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo, which begins in (gasp!) only eight days. I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk since April when I finished Courting the Moon, and only nibbled at the edges of projects. But National Novel Writing Month (especially in conjunction with the Legendary Novel Writing Challenge) usually gives me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track.
So, to facilitate this imminent frenzy of vomit-typing, I picked a project that I only have the vaguest idea about: the second book in my planned Mariner Sequence series entitled Seahawks and Storms. Now, even though this is the second book I’m writing in the series, Seahawks and Storms takes place about 600 years before the events of the first book, Ravens and Roses. It will tell the story of the first Admiral of the Mariners, Samuel Tempest, his wife Amaris Seahawk, and the founding of their new home, the land eventually called “Marina.” If you’ve ever read The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, you’ll see that the relationship between my two books is in a similar style. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, in publication order, or in chronological order, and should all still make sense. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for. Continue reading “Of Prep and Prequels”→
Yeah, I know, I’m not exactly jumping up and down with joy. If anything, I’ve been rather subdued about it. Not sure why. I mean, Courting the Moon is the culmination of two years of work. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But while I feel a certain amount of satisfaction, I’m not experiencing anything close to “joy.” Maybe it’s because the worry about not finishing was gone by the time April rolled around, and without that tension, it was a forgone conclusion. Maybe it’s because I know I still have plenty of other projects waiting in the wings, namely Ravens and Roses. Or maybe I’m mentally burnt out and just don’t want to think about it anymore.
I haven’t written anything for weeks.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I reread my draft of Ravens and Roses, which pleased me because what I had still held up after being neglected for so long, but it also made me sigh because now I can see just how far I have to go for it to be finished. And I suppose I have been writing a little bit. I’ve started writing down scenes for the Star Wars fanfic that’s been circulating in my head literally since I was thirteen. But that’s about it.
Some random news pieces:
– I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and liked it.
– I got to go to Free Comic Book Day for the first time, albeit in the evening so most of the events were over, but that was fine with me; I don’t care much for crowds.
– But these days, most of my brain has been consumed with watching The Clone Wars in chronological order in the hopes of actually finishing the series this time. (When I started watching it a year or two ago, I stopped midway through Season 3, and for some inexplicable reason never went back to it until now.)
While part of me feels a little guilty for not working on the synopsis for Courting the Moon, or researching agents, or continuing work on Ravens and Roses… another part of me says, “To hell with it; I’m going to veg.” (Being stricken with allergies doesn’t help with the brain-fog either.) Of course, a writer’s mind is never truly still. Even when we seem to be passively engaged with something like television or a movie, we are absorbing more story ideas and elements, adding them to the primordial ooze that is our brains.
So I think for now I will go ahead and gorge myself on Star Wars until I feel ready to tackle writing again.
“Terry [Pratchett] was many things, but he was not a jolly old elf. I think each of us tends to take something and use that as the place where you begin making your art. If you’re going to make good art, it’s likely that you’re going to go to the place where things are dark, and use that to shine light into your life and, if you’re doing it right, into other people’s lives as well. For Terry, it was always anger. There was a deep rage in him that allowed him to create. For me, it tends to be sorrow or loneliness or confusion.”
The pat answer that I’ve often seen given by writers, either in person or via books of advice, is that their art comes from joy or curiosity or wonder or passion. The emotions referenced are often positive or at least neutral. This seems to be the more socially acceptable answer. It’s a little more unusual, even slightly morbid, to hear someone say that their art, regardless of the tone of the end product, stems from a darker source. Usually we think that your emotional state should match the emotions evoked by your creation. I mean, really, would you have guessed that the hilarious absurdity of Discworld stemmed from a man’s rage? It certainly surprised me.
That surprise made me stop and reflect on what emotional core drives my own creativity. While all emotions are necessary to craft a convincing piece of fiction, I was curious to know what the wellspring consisted of. Did my writing come from joy, sorrow, anger, loneliness, despair, amusement, fear, cynicism, or some other emotional core? Was this consistent or did it vary from project to project?
I’ve turned the question over in my mind, and as I trace down the central emotional motivation for characters in my various works-in-progress, I think that the answer might be fear. The main characters in Ravens and Roses, All’s Fair, Astral Rain, Rinamathair, Jewel and the Skyrunners, Moon’s Fire/Moon’s Water… almost all of them are all driven by fear of something. For many of them this fear is about losing something or someone, and almost all of them are in denial about it. Some of them manifest this by being shy and adverse to risk while others become bold and abrasive in an attempt to hide what they see as a weakness. A good portion of their narrative journey is spent recognizing that fear, admitting it to themselves or to others, and then working to overcome it. Some succeed; others don’t, at least not completely.
I don’t generally share the same specific fears as my characters, but the sensation is the same. Even though I prefer to write while feeling happy or content rather than angry or depressed, the underlying motivation is fear. It’s a little weird, since I’ve never run into anything truly dangerous in my life so far. But the sensation, be it a small, niggling sense of unease or full-blown panic, is always there. And as I think about what Neil Gaiman said in these two articles, I think that might be my fuel, the part that gives the stories and characters I create that little extra push into realism. The soul-spark that makes them come alive. Because fear, like anger or loneliness, is a universal human emotion.
Oh my gosh, I am so excited that I don’t know where to begin. I guess the title of this entry says it all: I’ve actually completed a draft of a novel! Yep, All’s Fair (AFiLaW) is the first one. While I’ve spent a lot of time working on Ravens and Roses and have called each stage its own “Draft,” that story is still missing pieces of it and therefore should probably not be titled as such. But that’s just splitting semantic hairs, so moving on!
I hammered out the plot and characters for All’s Fair in October 2015 and started writing on November 1, 2015. As of January 31, 2016, I have a complete story ready for beta reading. Wow. That’s 170 pages written in 92 days. There aren’t any gaping holes that need to be filled in or scenes that haven’t been written. Obviously things may be adjusted, dropped, or added during the editing process, but you can actually read it from beginning to end. I’m still a little stunned at this; the only other complete novel-length stories that I have finished are fan fiction. (Yes, I know, I need to get back to “Nakishojo.”) And those took me years to complete! The fastest I’ve ever written was for the Dark Crystal Author Quest back in 2013, which took three months, but was still not really complete. Not like All’s Fair.
Okay, seriously, who keeps making off with all this time? Feels like the year just got started and we’re already on the cusp of 2016! (And from what I’ve heard, this sense of time distortion only gets worse… ugh.)
I am definitely in a better place at the end of 2015 than I was last year. Many of my 2014 goals have been reached, and it feels like I’ve got a better handle on life in general, which is a massive relief! I want to give a huge thank-you to all of my friends, readers, subscribers, and followers. You make this all worth-while.
Wow. I… haven’t written an entry in a while. In fact, I haven’t really posted anything online for at least a month. No blog entries, no Audio Editions, no #ThrowbackThursdays, no new fanfic chapters… I regret that last one, especially since I’d made a point to say I wouldn’t make my readers wait years for the completion of a fanfic.
But, obviously, I haven’t kept up with much of anything online. Because reasons:
I’m sorry that I’ve been so bad about keeping up with The Cat’s Cradle, the Audio Editions, the #ThrowbackThursdays, the fanfiction chapters… pretty much everything that I somehow managed to do in the depths of depression but now find almost impossible to focus on. Part of this is because I have been doing a lot of editing work on Ravens and Roses. Any free creative time I have goes towards that. The other part is because of a lot of tension at home which I find difficult to mentally detach from. So pretty much anything creative has fallen by the wayside, and I apologize for that.
I don’t know how long this funk will last. I really want to get back into the groove and get all these things done, plus transcribing my dad’s stories for publication and writing more short stories of my own… I think music by David Arkenstone is the only thing keeping my muse around at all. (Absolutely gorgeous.)
Anyway, yeah. Updates will be sporadic, if they happen at all. I will make every effort to keep up, but Ravens and Roses has top priority.
I hope to have better news and more inspiration soon. Thank you very much for your patience.