Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I'm on a Boat

As I said in last week's entry, I'm currently on the Writing Excuses Out of Excuses 2016 Writing Workshop and Retreat.

See y'all when I get back.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

At This Moment: an Unfiltered Blog Entry

At this moment, I am preparing for the writing workshop/cruise that I'm flying off to on Friday.  My brain is largely scrambled because of everything this involves, so all I'm good for this week is an extended, scattered ramble about everything going through my head right now.  I'll understand if you pass on reading this.

At this moment, I am freaked the hell out because the thing I signed up for means a published author is going to read a little bit of STARWIND and give me advice on it.  I've never heard of this author and haven't read anything they've written; I put them on my list because I thought they sounded like they might like my work.  I have no idea how to handle this.

At this moment, I am fully aware that no matter how long a list I make or how much I try to prepare for the trip, I'm going to forget something or screw something up.

At this moment, I am kicking myself and have been for many days, because I thought we got to sign up for more than one critique thing on the cruise and we only got one.  This is what I get for not reading carefully enough.  I thought I'd get a group/peer critique of book stuff along with the author read.  I was wrong.  I'm not sure which of the two would be more helpful, but it's not like I'll find out now.

At this moment, I am suffering from one of the worst colds I've ever had.  I've been beating it down with medicine since Saturday and I hope it'll go away by the time I have to leave the house on Friday morning.

At this moment, I am wishing I'd never listened to a new song by someone whose music I usually enjoy, because it reminded me of everything I feel when I'm depressed and have completely lost faith in my work and am wishing I could quit writing.  A song shouldn't make me feel like quitting, like all the work I've done will never amount to anything.  But it did.  No, I'm not naming the artist, and I'm damn well not linking the song - I'm trying to forget I ever heard it.

At this moment, I am debating whether to buy the wi-fi package on the cruise ship.  It would be nice to keep a connection, but there's some appeal to being largely unplugged for a week.  But some of the cruise-goers are saying they've found having constant internet access on board to be helpful for communicating and all that, so I probably will.

At this moment, I am deliberately not taking out that piece of small paper that has story notes on a new version of the tale that's been frustrating me for months that I've talked about before.  It's a weird thing to not want to work on a story and still hope it works out somehow.

At this moment, I am really wishing tomorrow's therapy appointment hadn't been canceled.

At this moment, I am trying to figure out a story that started as one thing and developed an entirely new thing as I did some world-building.  I'm wondering if it's all going to end up compatible or if this will be yet another damn plot I end up ditching no matter how much I want to write it because I just couldn't make everything I created work together.

At this moment, I am more than ready to make some tea and then get to bed.  I've been exhausted since I got back from DragonCon and no amount of sleep has helped.

At this moment, I am done with this and wishing I'd come up with something else to write this week.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG: When to Let Go

This isn't the first time I've talked about this sort of thing, and it won't be the last.

As much as I don't like blanket statements, I think it's safe to say that we writers get attached to the things we're working on.  (Unless we're just doing it for the money, in which case we're attached to getting paid, and there's nothing wrong with that.)  That attachment can come in many forms; for me, it's always been the characters and who they are together that gets me hooked.  I've struggled more with finding stories for characters to exist in than any other part of the writing process.  It's far too easy to love these people who show up in my head and get fixated on telling their story above everything else.

Which too often makes it very difficult to recognize when their story just isn't working.

I've talked here about a plot-in-progress that was incredibly personal, something that could turn out to be deeper and darker than anything I've worked on before.  I devoted a lot of time (and a few off-kilter tweets) to working on this.  The plotting document for it is seventeen pages long, including cut text.  It's one of those things that came pouring out of my head in the early planning stages, complete with two characters showing up and saying no, the story was about them.

It's the sort of thing I hope for as a plotter, which is why it crushed me when everything started to fall apart.  The book was a way for me to tell the kind of tale I've wanted to tell for a long time - a school story.  It started off being about the teachers, but it was two students who took it over.  I spent a great deal of time trying to bend it into shape, making myself more and more miserable with every attempt.

I should have known when I sat down to write and could hardly make myself open up the document that it was time to set the story aside.  But I was so determined to get it right.  I wanted it so much.  But it was driving me mad.

It took spending most of a therapy session talking about the trouble I was having with that plot to get me to realize just how badly it was affecting me.  I hadn't felt genuinely depressed for weeks, but that plot brought me right the hell down.  So that night, I took one last look through it, and accepted that it was time to let it go.  It wasn't easy, but when something I'm plotting has me so torn up that I can't even read it, I'm defeating my own purpose by trying to make it work.  Call me crazy, but I think it's hard to be a writer when your own work keeps you from writing.

Things have been much better since then.  I have two plots I'm working on; one is revealing new depths to me as I delve into how its magic works and how that would affect the people living in that world, while the other is just plain insane and will likely have people accusing me of being on drugs if anyone ever reads it.  Both of them are shaping up to be the sort of stories they're meant to be, and I'm figuring them out a little at a time.

It's slow going sometimes, but I'll take slow going over the full stop.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Trip Through the Idea File, Part 2

Hello, all; happy nearly-the-end-of August.  It's especially happy for me because I'm headed off to DragonCon with some of my best friends in two days!  ...which means I'm frantically making sure I have everything set before the trip, not an easy task when I still have to work and plot and find time to relax and holy crap I need to get to bed soon.  O_O

So, in lieu of an actual entry, I'm going to take a bit from an earlier entry and grab a few interesting bits from my idea file to share with y'all.  These are presented without context or explanation, and especially without editing.  This is a brief glimpse into the inside of my head, or at least, what comes out of my head and gets formed into words.  I promise it'll be weird; I will do my best to keep it interesting.  Let's see...

"The knights find and awaken her, which unseals the great evil – her first words when she awakes are “You idiots”."

"All the past is only legends.  We didn’t rebel because we were now like them.  If you see a dragon, you’ve already lost.  The world is all theirs now, used to be ours but draconic magic changed everything."

"(Note that the slave must be of a species that has people who are also in the empire, showing that it’s not her race that makes her a slave, but her failure to submit.)"

"“How do you steal your own wedding?”"

"Then came the sound of someone knocking on all the doors in his apartment complex, and when he answered, a barbarian woman was there.  And she needed a ride."

"Not sure how the flying thing will happen, but I definitely want to still have her riding the bomb at the start of Act III."

"The magistrate’s daughter has ancient magical formulae tattooed onto herself in an attempt to both understand them and keep them from being lost again.  This will be significant and possibly life-saving at some point."

"At some point, this will involve a stolen gnomish magical autocannon."

And finally, this is from a specific story, but I think it could apply to most of the things I develop enough to start making into stories:

"This is crazy but it might work."

Hope everyone enjoyed this, or at least found it interesting.  :P  I'll be off for a long weekend of running around in costume and generally geeking out and staying up way, way too late.  Good times, of course; there's a reason we do this every year.  Bwa ha ha.

Next week: IWSG: When to Let Go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Plot Juggling

Before I get started, a quick thought on the comments from last week's entry:

With STARWIND mostly on pause until after the writing workshop, I'm back into plotting again.  I've spent the past few days working my way through the pile of yellow papers covered in scribbles that accumulated while I was editing the book.  There are a total of five different projects I have notes on, all in varying places in the process.

And dealing with this many plots at once is its own kind of highly variable hell.

I have a bunch of notes for a project that feels like it's a wash because I can't for the life of me figure out what the actual story is supposed to be.  Another idea might as well be directed by Michael Bay, as it feels like it's a lot of awesome things but no real substance.  A third could be interesting and unique or it could be just an excuse to try writing a poly relationship.  And the fourth is something I want to write so badly that having it not work out feels like something's going seriously wrong with my life.

The worst of that last one is that it started as something completely different.  I made up two sort-of secondary characters, and they swiftly took over the entire thing and said no, the story was about them.  And now I can't figure out what that story is.  I'm focusing on what needs to happen for these two, but it's like pulling teeth.  What's worse is that I can't help thinking anything that comes out of this plot will be yet another story of mine where I'm utterly fascinated with the characters and the way they interact but no one else gives a damn.  And I've written enough of those already - hell, I spent six months querying one.

The only good thing to come out of all the plotting is the sequel to STARWIND, which is coming along well.  I have an outline of the plot, notes on three new characters with more surely to come, and a scattering of events that need to take place over the course of the story.  I am incredibly thankful for this.  With everything else that's happening (or more precisely, not happening) with all the other plots, it's a huge relief to have something go right that could end up being quite important to have.

Especially if multiple sequential miracles occur and I actually get to do the seven-book series I have planned for this thing.

Next week: IWSG.  Depending on how the next week goes, it'll either be full of gushing encouragement or yet another bitter ramble.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

STARWIND Statistics

First of all: I'm sorry for not making it around to anyone's blogs for the past two weeks.  >_<  I've been ridiculously busy trying to get stuff done and half-melting from the heat (I though I left summers like this behind when I left Albuquerque), so... yeah.  I'll do my best to get back to it this weekend.

In better news, I finished the third round of editing on STARWIND on Sunday.  Yay!  Seeing as how I'm still a little worn out from the whole process and exhausted from work and my brain's otherwise busy feeding me stuff for books I might never get to write, I thought it would be interesting to run down some stats for the book.  Let's see...

First draft word count: 98,356
Current draft word count: 102,101
Chapter count: 26

Uses of the word "Starwind": 140
Uses of the word "gnome": 15
Uses of the word "fuck": 24

Characters wounded: 3
Characters killed: 3
Characters set on fire: 1
Characters whose names spellcheck hates: 9

Hugs: 5
Kisses: 14
Explosions: at least 2

Chekhov's Guns fired: 1
Actual guns fired by main characters: 0
Actual guns fired by everyone else: lots

Number of worlds visited: 7
Number of safe worlds visited: 3
Number of items required for the race: 5
Number of items required for the race the crew outright steals: 3

Fight scenes: 4
Bar scenes: 2
Bar fight scenes: 1
"Run like hell" scenes: 2

I think that's enough for now.  :P  I'm going to set the book aside for a week or so and finally take down all the plot notes I've scribbled over the past three weeks, then polish the hell out of this book in preparation for the writing workshop/cruise.  If all goes as planned with that, I'll have a bunch of people I don't know critiquing the first 2-3 chapters.  Wish me luck.  O_o

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Things All We Writers Know

A while back, I sent one of my co-workers a link to my pre-story for STARWIND, because we'd been chatting about books and stuff and she thought it sounded interesting.  She absolutely loved it, which was both awesome and kind of a relief, since showing my work to someone new is always nerve-wracking.  Yesterday, I sent her the link to STARWIND's first chapter.  While she hasn't had time to read it yet, the look on her face when she got it made my entire damn day.

It made me think, this is something I hope all writers know - what it's like to give a new story to someone who loves our stuff.  It's rewarding like nothing else, and makes a lot of the toil and trouble worth it.  And that got me to thinking, what are some other things all we writers know?

We all know what it's like to get rejected.  I'm not one for absolute truths, but I'm certain there's not a single writer out there who's never known rejection.  Unless they've never tried submitting their work, which seems a little like cheating.  :P

To go with that, I think we all know how personal rejection can feel.  It's never meant to be personal, but damn if it's not a kick in the teeth every time.  I know none of the agents I've submitted to actually hate me, but I've had moments where you'd have trouble convincing me of that.  >_<  Sometimes I can shrug it off, but sometimes I see the name of an agent I really wanted to work with show up in my inbox, and it's never been good news.

We all know what it's like to be unable to recall an idea we had.  And it's always a really good idea, sometimes one of those things you think of right as you're trying to go to sleep, and damn it that could have been an entire book right there. . . .  I've crawled out of bed to write things down before, and I'm sure I will again.

I hope we all know what it's like to reread our work and recognize that we absolutely nailed a scene, or a moment, or an emotion, or (if we're really good) an entire chapter.  I've had that a few times while editing STARWIND, and it makes me smile.  No matter how many things I cross out and scribble over with changes, it's always good to read something and think, no, I got this right the first time.

And to go with that, I think most if not all of us know what it's like to read our own notes and wonder what the hell we were talking about.  I've had times where I can't read what I wrote because I crossed it out three times.  Or when I just write "fix this", because I can tell it needs something more than just a few different words.  I need to switch that to "fix this with _____" and fill in the blank with something useful.

I'm dead certain that we all know what it's like to try to find someone who wants to read our work.  I worry about this because the stuff I'm working on is getting progressively weirder and I never know if what I'm writing will be to anyone's tastes, let alone a beta-reader.  I am so grateful to have four people who've already volunteered to read STARWIND.  ^_^

Speaking of which: I'm delaying the STARWIND beta read until September or October, after I get back from the writing workshop/cruise.  I didn't feel right giving my betas a deadline, and hopefully I'll learn some things at the workshop to make the book even better.

So, as always, your turn.  What are the things you think all we writers know?