Tuesday, February 23, 2016

In Lieu of an Actual Entry.

Here's the thing: my plotting work lately can basically be summed up like this:
So instead of yet another entry detailing my frustration, here's a collection of random thoughts I've collected while attempting to make things work.

  • Across everything I've been looking at lately, I have at least four plots-in-progress that deal with gods as a significant part of the plot.  I have at least two, probably more buried somewhere, that take place at a college.  Yet I do not have anything that deals with gods at college.
  • Prehensile hair is going to be really hard to write.
  • In regards to the story wherein I swapped two characters' genders: the main cast (and, literally, the crew) of this thing includes two people dating within their gender but outside their species, one asexual, two characters whose sexuality I haven't bothered to define because it's not important to the story, and one character who has a gender identity but considers sexuality something only fleshy beings have to deal with.  And then there's the side character who needed a whole new set of pronouns.  Yes, I'm looking forward to writing this.
  • I get the weirdest ideas when I work out.  Some are useful.  Others are more like "I should have this otherworldly being quote Ozzy Osbourne lyrics."
  • It's weird to think how long I've been working on some of this stuff, or how far back it goes.  Some of these stories are the results of me refusing to give up on an idea, no matter how many times it didn't work out.  My second-latest idea started as me wanting to tell a story with a character I came up with in 1998.
  • I'm still trying to figure out what the opposite of time is.
  • My latest idea might or might not work out depending on if I can make a story's Act 1 feel like Act 3 of a much larger tale.  Of course, by the time I develop it enough to become a real story, it'll probably be something completely different.
  • I still have to stop myself from giving someone The Power of Rock.  Being able to solve everything with a song is a problem, it would never work well enough in print, and the copyright issues would be a nightmare.  But it's so damn fun to visualize.
  • Too often, I write up two to three pages' worth of notes for a new story, get really excited, and then never feel like looking at the thing again.  It's really frustrating, because I can't help thinking, how many good ideas am I just shrugging off?
  • I now have an idea for something involving gods at college.
That's enough for now.  Next week: IWSG, wherein I hope I'll be able to write something encouraging and not just go on about how much of a hard time I'm having of things.  And now, back to work.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What to Talk About and When

No, this isn't me talking about being shot for ideas for a blog post.  :P  I've been thinking about this since last week, as it started as part of last week's blog post but stopped when I realized it was getting way, way too long.

As introverted as I usually am, get me started on a subject I like and you might have some trouble getting me to shut up.

Anyway, today's question is a simple one: how much do you talk about what you're working on?  I've seen all kinds of answers, running the whole gamut from "not at all" to "talk about everything".  I've even seen the peculiar variant of "talk about it, but not with other writers".  That's one I really don't get.  Who else is going to understand all the stuff that's going on in our heads if not other writers?  Whenever I try to talk about the writing process with people who don't write, I get the kind of looks that make it clear they really don't understand.

Not everyone can keep universes in their head.  I get that.

Here's my thing: when I'm working on something I like, I get excited about it.  I want to talk about it.  Much of the time, this takes the form of tweets that make little to no sense outside of context, and I usually don't feel like giving context.  I rarely get responses to these, but I don't really care - it's the act of throwing little bits of my creative process out to the world that makes it worth it.

Also, the cynical side of me encourages this behavior, because the way things have been going for me, a tweet about what I'm working on is the most anyone will ever read of it.  Far too much of what I plan crashes and burns in the plotting stages, so I like the idea that I can hint a little at what things could have been.

But that causes its own problems.  I'm probably being too hard on myself here (which is a problem I know I have but I have no idea what to do about it), but when I start talking about things I'm working on and those things don't pan out, it's like failing twice.  Not only could I not find the story and/or make it work, but I could have written about something that someone wanted to read, and now they never will.

I have things I've mentioned on this blog a bunch of times that will, most likely, never pan out or actually work.  I'm at the stage in my "career" where I'm trying a bunch of things to see what does work, effectively throwing plots and characters against the wall to see what sticks.  And I need something to talk about on this blog, because a weekly rejection update counter would just be depressing for everyone involved.  (Current count for BoLR: forty "no"s, one partial I haven't heard back from yet, and one dodged bullet.)  So unless I want to try to make endless posts about the craft of writing, which would probably get really boring after two or three, I have the ongoing process of writing to talk about.

Which, inevitably, should include what I'm actually working on.

As always, this is when I turn to the rest of you: how much do you talk about what you're working on?  Do you think it's better to do so, or does it suit you more to keep quiet about it?  And what do you do when you've talked about something but are no longer working on it?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Walking on Eggshells

I wasn't sure if I was going to have a blog entry this week.  As melodramatic as I felt ending my last entry the way I did, it was genuinely what I thought at the time.  I mean, what's a writing blog when I can't get myself to write?

Thankfully, I'm doing a little bit better now.  But I couldn't have said that last night.  The only reason I'm typing this right now is because I had an epiphany in the shower.

...yes, I get a great deal of my writing ideas in the shower.  I've been getting jokes about that for as long as I can remember.

To rewind a bit, last Thursday, I had what felt like one of those moments of clarity you hear about in fiction.  In a movie, it would have started with me freezing all of a sudden (probably dropping a glass of some kind for extra comic effect), my eyes springing open wide as I got hit by a whole bunch of ideas all at once.

Thursday and Friday, I hammered out a few pages' worth of details on something brand new.  By Saturday, it was gone, and I spent Sunday and Monday struggling with everything.  I felt like I'd gotten back to what I wanted most, only to have it dashed away.  Last night, I sat here staring at the screen again, forcing out a few paltry sentences on places in the world, trying to make things work and feeling like this new idea was going to end up like everything else I've worked on lately - crashing and burning as I failed to figure out how it was supposed to go.  I didn't know if I would even try working on anything tonight.

Then, as I said, shower epiphany.  A song I'd been listening to while working out (if you've never worked out while listening to Pandora's "classic metal" station, I highly recommend it) wormed its way into my head, and I started applying those ideas to my new stuff.  And now, two and a half pages of history and mythology later, things have worked out pretty well.  Knowing where the world came from and why it's the way it is means I can figure out the rest of the story much more easily than when it was a blank slate.

I'm happy that things are going better, no doubt there.  What bothers me the most, though, is how much it affected me to have things go well and then crash again.

For years, whenever I'm having a bad time with my writing, I'm grumpy and depressed and feel like everything is horrible.  When my writing isn't going well, nothing in my life is going well.  The past few weeks have been the worst case of that I've ever had.  And it's really starting to bother me.

I hate the idea of so much of my moods and my life being based on how my writing's going.  Because that's going to make the bad times even worse, even harder to get through.  And I know I'll have those bad times again.  It really is a question of when, not if.  I don't want to walk this road again every time things get difficult.

As seems to be a common theme in my blog these days, I don't know what to do about this, and I'd appreciate any advice.  Even if this is just one of those "Congratulations, you're a writer" things; that doesn't mean I'm not going to try to counter it.  :P

Thank you all for the kind comments on my last entry; I replied to them last night when I was still feeling horribly down about everything, so anyone who gets notified when they get a response got something really cynical.  >_<  I don't know if I'm fully back to believing in myself yet, but I'm clawing my way up again, and that counts for something.

Finally, I hope that I won't fall like that again anytime soon.  I have enough to work on that's going well right now that I can switch between projects when things aren't working.  I did some good work on a plot on Saturday and I think that one's finally ready to be written.  (Amazing what a genderswap can do.)  I also figured out that one plot needs to be fully detached from the world I put it in, but haven't started in on that one yet, because now I need a new world.

Not yet sure how much I want to talk about any of this, but I'll try to figure that out in next week's entry.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

IWSG: The Cycle and the Break.

I have been here too many times.

This past Sunday, I got back to querying THE BOOK OF LOST RUNES, and as I noted elsewhere, it felt like an exercise in futility.  Not because of the usual round of rejections and silence; I'm used to that by now.  It felt futile because I can't think of that book anymore without wanting to toss it aside like everything else I've ever written.

I don't get it.  I really don't.  When I edited that thing, I thought I nailed it.  I was happy with most of how it turned out, and put it through some major revisions to make it better.  Now?  Now I see eighty-four thousand words' worth of flaws and mistakes.  I could go on and on about what's wrong with it, but I try to keep these entries at a reasonable length, and so much of what's wrong with it is the same stuff that's wrong with many of my other books.

So here I am, still querying a book I don't even want to think about any more, and strongly considering trunking it.  But to what end, I ask myself.  To spend another year trying to write something worth a damn?  To hope that somehow I figure out something I not only want to tell but to actually manage to get a coherent plot out of it, write the novel, edit and polish it, beg people to read it, wait for their feedback, further edit and polish the thing, and start this whole process all over again?

And it hit me, somewhere in the middle of all this, what the real problem is: I have completely lost faith in my own ability to write.

Trying to write again has only made this more clear.  Monday was supposed to be the end of my break.  I thought I'd be ready to sit down and work as soon as I got home.  No.  It was like nothing had changed.  I stalled.  I did whatever I could to delay.  When the time came that I forced myself to get started, I just typed out the notes I'd scribbled down since my break started and added a few more details.  Some of that was for a sequel to a book I probably won't ever write, some of it was for another story that's just another cluster of half-formed ideas.  Tuesday was no better - I typed out maybe three paragraphs on an idea that already feels doomed before giving it up.  I really liked the idea when I first thought of it, but as soon as I started writing stuff down about it, it just... died.

I don't know where to go from here.  Clearly taking a break didn't help; if anything, it didn't address the actual problem and probably made things worse, because now I know I can go without writing.  I'm a miserable fuck without it, but I'm a miserable fuck with it, so really, what's the difference?  Being a miserable fuck still chasing a dream and being no closer to it than I was when I queried my first book back in 2001?

Hell, I didn't even want to write this entry.  Talking about it like this feels melodramatic and overblown, and I'm surprised I even have readers here anymore, with all the damn whining I've done.  But I had to get this out, because I'm seeing the one thing I've ever wanted to do with my life die inside me, and I don't know what to do.

Next entry: I don't know.  I don't even know if there will be one.