IWSG: To Nano or Not Nano

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It’s November again and that means NaNoWriMo, the event where thousands of people across the world try to write 50,000 words in a month. It’s also the first Wednesday of the month which means IWSG day!

The optional question of the month: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

Answer, I always finish something, but it’s never been anything I’ve considered publishable. This month, I’m writing “experimental fiction” – usually what I do in November, the kind of story I want to write even if no one else will want to read it.

I’m having a bit of a downer this week apart from NaNoWriMo insecurities. Other writing I’ve been doing for paying clients has not been going well and I am questioning my abilities as a writer. I keep hoping I’ll magically break out of this funk I’ve been in – but there’s a part of me that is saying, but what if I lack the talent to do this? Maybe I’m just seriously not good at this. I feel like it needs to be said. Maybe I love to write, because I do, but that’s where it ends – and that’s okay. I just need to look at other ways to make a living / make my mark on the world.

That’s where I am right now – and man this sounds horrible when I say it like that, but there’s a peace in entertaining the possibility, in saying maybe I can’t actually do this. I need to stop trying to force myself to be able to do something I’m not going to be able to do. I overthink things way too much, run down side trails way too easily – and that’s just who I am. Only by accepting that, maybe, I can start seeing a path that will actually work.

I really hope so.

 

IWSG: October Already?

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Yes, it’s October already and it’s Wednesday and that means it’s time for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post.

I am having a really hard time believing it’s October, a month with two digits, because that means 2017 will be over soon. What a year it has been.

This past month, I’ve changed my game a bit and been working with an online gamification site called habitica. It’s helping me to keep on top of my writing and other daily tasks, but unfortunately it does NOT remind me of IWSG Day, because I didn’t tell it too. I’m in a rut where I feel like my writing sucks but little things like this help me to keep plowing on anyway so I can check the boxes.

Do you have any aids and motivations you use to sneakily encourage yourself to keep going? Can you believe it’s October already?

IWSG: Total Eclipse of the Heart

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This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, where once a month we get together and share our hopes, dreams, successes, and (yes) insecurities with regard to writing.

I’m in a strange place right now, a real strange place.  I recently denied to renew WordPress and this domain name for one more year. My pen name is my mother’s maiden name, not my legal name, and do I want to keep that as my pen name? Also, am I even still trying to write fiction? I’ve kind of – okay – given up. But not really. But it feels that way – if that makes sense. I am doing some heavy editing of one my favorite WIP’s after giving up on the WIP I was working on, because frankly I think it sucks. And I might need a while.

So I’m not sure. Like, about anything right now.

On a not entirely unrelated note, I (very last minute) made a trip to Fort Louden, Tennessee for my first ever total eclipse. Over two minutes of “totality.” It’s one of those experiences they say changes you – and I feel changed. It reminded me of a song I wrote  about the divine feminine and strength revealed in weakness.

The optional question of the month is whether we’ve ever been surprised by our writing. And those are the surprises that always stick out to me, those moments when I said more than I intended, when later (years later) I think back or re-read and think, wow, I had no idea how meaningful that would be to me personally years later. If only I could also write things which are meaningful to others. If only I had any clue whatsoever what to do next. That would be great.

For now, here’s a great song I definitely didn’t write (before my time! =D) But which I also thought of in a new light. So to speak. And it is exactly how I feel right now about writing and other subjects.

IWSG: Happy July!

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Summer is here and so is IWSG Day! The first Wednesday of the month and the official day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to post about what’s going on in our writerly lives.
The optional question of the month for July asks us: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?
Even though it’s not a lesson per se, the first thing that comes to mind is how many interesting and varied people there are in the writing world. As a  young person, I had a picture in my mind of the writer as serious, intense, brooding and in another world entirely from the one where the rest of us live. I am always fascinated to discover how normal – and how strange – writers can be, the different lives of the people who write, their different styles and ways of going about it. There is no one-size-fits-all. I am especially humbled by the many successful writers who continue to stick around with us “aspiring” writers to give us tips and advice. I am always surprised by how much fun writing can be. Infuriating at times, maybe, but mostly fun.
What about you? If you’re a writer, what valuable lessons have you learned?

IWSG: Truth or Dare?

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This is my June  post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where on the first Wednesday of every month, like-minded writers come together and share advice, good news, and more.
This month, I have a question: What constitutes good storytelling? Is it more important to be factual or is it more important to have a really great narrative?
In the context of fantasy writing in particular, I am thinking of some of my favorite authors like McCaffery and Lackey, who both wrote in universes with magic systems designed with D&D like precision, where you could meaningfully turn it all into charts and numbers if you wanted to. It’s all very simple, all very clear-cut, and sometimes that bugs me – because real life isn’t always simple or clear-cut. In fact, it usually isn’t. In the real world, the good guys don’t always win in predictable ways in keeping with set formulas.
I do like stories to be unrealistic, to have beginnings, middles, and ends – despite the fact that my rational self is rebelling against this – like life doesn’t work that way! I privately can’t stand the kind of story I always seem to find myself writing where everything gets so deep and reflective and existential and is any of this even real? I’ve read Moby Dick for example, prone to existential tangents AND *all* of the research you could want on whales. (I think it’s an awesome book by the way – if you skim a few chapters here and there.)
I can think of several stories where the narrative got really strange and wacky – and how glad I am that they did. And others where I’ve thought – sheesh – couldn’t the writer have maybe cracked a book about life in the northeastern United States before writing that? I believe research and realism is important at service to the narrative, but the narrative is always the boss, but I’m having a hard time convincing my brain of this. What do you think? What makes a great story? What makes great storytelling?

IWSG: Happy May!

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This post is for the Insecure Writers Support Group where once a month, on the first Wednesday, we come together to share our hopes, dreams, fears, and various reassurances. This month’s optional question is: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

That’s tough, like what’s your favorite book/movie tough. The last cool/weird thing I researched is for a fantasy story. I wanted to know how it was possible for a habitable planet to orbit a binary star system, and if so, how that would work. Yes, by the way, it is possible according to the wise Wikipedia . This is weird research to me, because this novel is *fantasy* not sci-fi, but I had to know.

The weirdest things I can remember aren’t in books or online, though. One time, I was writing a novel set in Minneapolis MN, and because I was living in St. Louis at the time (about 4 hours away), I decided to drive up. Along the way, I kept seeing signs for Avenue of the Saints. The signs seemed to be following me wherever I went, even though the roads changed from time to time. And this really started to weird me out. (Was this some kind of church thing? If so, what church? Bear in mind there’s not a whole lot out there.)

Later, I looked it up and found out, yes, there is a continuous, four-lane route (including older roads, upgraded as necessary) between St. Louis and St. Paul / Minneapolis. Hence the name.

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Later, I decided to use both that route and the Mississippi River as magical routes between the two cities, because it sounds so magical. (So is the Mississippi River, but it has the downside of gossipy water nymphs who my MC would rather avoid.)

What about you? What is some fun research you’ve done? Happy May!

IWSG: All of This Has Happened Before and It Will Happen Again

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March is here and I feel like it is going to be an interesting March. This is my post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where once a month we come together to inspire and be inspired, to vent and share our trials too. Once again, this month’s post is my first time checking in on WordPress. I’m just getting to be terrible with social media.

This month, I’m going to go with the (optional) question of the month again

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I keep thinking of the Battlestar Galactica quote: All of This Has Happened Before and It Will Happen Again. If we do not learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

Has anyone else ever heard this advice: Don’t try to unearth and edit things you wrote before. Start over. You’ve changed too much, and it’s too frustrating.

The first story I sold in recent times was, “Do You Believe in Ghosts?” – a short story with a funny history as something I originally wrote as pure contemporary fiction, shortly after graduating with a B.A. in English with a prof who (I’ve mentioned this before) told me to stop writing fantasy. Years later, I came back to it and rewrote the story as paranormal romance mostly just because.

The short answer is yes, I have. The longer answer is something along the lines of – and why not? I think of famous authors (like Tolkien) who spent years off-and-on working on their projects. Maybe I’ll never get there, but I do have projects that I’ve been working on for years and sometimes it feels like – okay, I really need to let this one go, but … someday I’ll be able to do it justice. And those projects are the ones that captivate me most.

What about you? What do you think?