Inferior Origins

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Kira at the Gelfling Wall of Destiny (screenshot from The Dark Crystal)
Kira at the Wall of Destiny

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Who doesn’t love a good origin story?

Whenever I get into a fictional universe, be it books, movies, TV shows, or video games, I dig deep.  Those characters with shady or mysterious pasts are the most intriguing; we want to know how they became the person we know now.  If you’ve read (and enjoyed) The Symphony of Ages series by Elizabeth Haydon, you probably want to know Achmed’s full backstory more than anything else.  We get tantalizing hints, but no more.  Tolkien’s book The Silmarillion explores the history of the elves and Middle-Earth in almost excruciating detail.  People clamored so much for more stories about Drizzt Do’Urden that R.A. Salvatore gave them the drow ranger’s backstory in the form of The Dark Elf Trilogy.  Amazing RPGs like Mass Effect and Dragon Age cover the history of their worlds, the aspects of the places explored there, and the characters you encounter.  And isn’t that what a lot of modern RPGs are all about?  Exploration?  How was this world created?  What happened before the story that we see?  A good origin story is a fascinating and rewarding journey.

Of course, the key word here is “good.”  Not knowing parts of a universe’s history or the origins of a character leads to all kinds of juicy speculation, head canon, and fan fiction.  Sometimes the creators even deign to answer those burning questions for us.  That’s fine and dandy, but there is a dark side to it.  No matter how much I may want to know, “What happened?!” a part of me is always a bit wary when official works drop in to fill the gaps.

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#BlogHop – Current Works In Progress

Welcome to the final edition of the #BlogHop for #Writers hosted by Ruth L. Snyder!  Many thanks to Ruth for hosting, to Cate Russell-Cole for sharing the existence of the BlogHop, and to everyone of you who have come to read and comment.  I appreciate your time and words, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed these entries.

Talking about works in progress is always a little intimidating for me.  I say “works” because I tend to flit between projects.  My ability to focus has deteriorated over the years so, to keep things fresh, I end up having several stories going at once.  When I get tired of one, I set it aside for a while and work on something else.  So right now, I have three WIPs to share:
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Sending a submission is like fighting the Empire…

…there’s always another Star Destroyer.  The battle is never-ending.  A victory for the Rebel Alliance, no matter how epic, doesn’t mean the end of the war.  That’s a bit how I feel right now after finishing my 10,000-word submission for the Jim Henson Dark Crystal Author Quest.  I feel like those cheering Rebels on Hoth right after they hear the announcement:  “The first transport is away!  The first transport is away!”

Yes, the first one made it through.  And that feeling of victory when facing impossible odds is euphoric.  But they have to try to get the rest through the blockade as well.  And even if they make it off Hoth, the rest of the Empire is still out there, waiting for them.

This might not seem like a victory.  After all, I’m just one among many.  I have no idea what is going to happen next.  Will my entry be considered?  Accepted?  Ultimately win or be rejected?  I have no way of knowing.  But I started writing my Dark Crystal entry 5 months ago.  July 1, 2013, I used Camp NaNoWriMo to pound out half the novel.  I kept writing all the way through September.  October was sporadic writing followed by editing, then November was dedicated to my wonderful beta readers.  Their feedback helped me chose what portion of the novel to send as my submission.  I hit the “Submit Your Entry” button on November 30, exactly five months after starting this project.

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How to Track Your Editing Progress

Last time, I shared David Greenshell’s invention of LeNoWriCha (the Legendary Novel Writing Challenge) as an alternative to or supplement for NaNoWriMo, to give more motivation to write via a more customized reward system and positive feedback loop.  So far, it’s been working really well.  I tend to stay more in the Easy and Normal range with a few more Incomplete days than I would like…but I also get a few Heroic and Legendary days in there, so that makes me happy.  I’m still plugging away on my Dark Crystal Project, and am reaching the end of my first draft.

Which means very soon I’ll begin editing and revising.  Which opens a whole new kettle of fish.

I now have LeNoWriCha to track my daily writing progress and give me rewards.  But what about editing?  How do you track that?

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The Legendary Novel Writing Challenge!

Whew!  I somehow managed to survive Camp NaNoWriMo for July 2013.  It took a lot of burning the midnight oil and frantic cramp-inducing typing on my part these last few days, but I made it!  (Day 28 I spent all day, from 8:00am until 11:30pm writing.  I got 8,876 words done in a single day!  20 pages!  Heilige scheisse!)  Just goes to show that the habits of college haven’t worn off yet; I still put everything off until the last minute.

This Camp NaNo was really stressful and I was way behind my word count for about 2 weeks.  Trying to catch up once I feel behind was probably the biggest stressor, and even though NaNoWriMo always stresses that you get major kudos for trying, I still don’t like falling short of a goal I set for myself.  My writing group can attest to my depression and complaining throughout the month.

However, a good thing did come from all the stress.  Well, two good things, actually.

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Guilt, Measurements, and New Projects

Have you ever started something and then wondered why?

I’ve been feeling like that about writing.  I’m one of those people who loves to have written, but often hates the actual process of writing.  The times when writing feels smooth and effortless, when I actually feel happy and satisfied with my writing while actually writing are few and far between.  I usually rely on favs, likes, and comments to keep my spirits up.

And there’s always punishment.  I’m not Catholic, but sometimes it feels like I “got enough guilt to start my own religion.”  It’s not fun, it’s not pretty, and I wish I wasn’t wired that way.  I’ve used fear of punishment for failing to drive myself forward for years, and the worst demon is the one inside your head.

Needless to say, this is not the most healthy way to be productive.  In fact, it’s becoming counter-productive since my energy levels are dropping and my life is more topsy-turvy than it’s ever been before.  Being unsettled means that the delicate schedules I weld into place quickly fracture under life’s pressures, which only acts as further discouragement.  I also have a bad habit of taking on too many projects when I’m feeling good, projects that I can’t always handle when I’m depressed, and when I have to cut back or don’t meet those goals, that only fuels the depression.

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