Tag: creativity

Decision Made

I’ve decided that I can’t go through the rest of the HTRYN process with this version of Witches. The distant POV and voice are just too much for me to ignore comfortably, even while revising. And the little voice in my head–I think it’s the Muse’s other personality–is jumping up and down and screaming so loudly that I can’t think straight. I even gave up on reading through the last ten chapters or so. I don’t think I have a copy of the very first draft of Witches, which is probably a blessing, but my writing has changed so much since this version, that it is proving difficult to read. My voice is SO different now!

I know it’s not always possible to “fix” a first novel, but I think this one is salvageable. If not, at least two of the characters are going to be extremely angry with me…

Update:  I just found my original first draft of Witches. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to read it…

All Fiction is Not “Fifty Shades of Grey”

If one more person tries to get me to read or watch Fifty Shades of Grey, I may have a screaming fit. No. I will not read it. I will not watch it. I would actually rather watch a Twilight marathon than do either (Yes, I’ve actually read the Twilight series. I am not a fan.) Please stop trying to get me to waste my time on something that, for me, has absolutely no value.  I think all authors have the right to write what they please. I do not think writers have the right to profit from other people’s ideas. From everything I’ve seen–for yearsFifty Shades of Grey started out life as fan fiction based on Twilight. (Please do not ask me what I think of that particular concept.) So, E.L. James has profited handsomely from Stephenie Meyer’s initial idea. That is not okay with me. I also do not read or watch James Patterson because I’ve read, many times, that he uses a team of co-writers to produce his plethora of work. I am sure those writers are well-compensated. But their name is not generally on the covers of those books. This is my personal reason for not reading either of these two authors.

Writing is hard. Anyone who doesn’t think so has no idea what they’re talking about. If I am ever so fortunate as to be published–traditionally or indie–I will be thrilled with my hard work and my ideas being appreciated. So, it offends me on a personal level when I see other writers not getting the credit they deserve. It’s like plagiarism. Seriously. And I do not support it.

Writing fiction can be magic. Words have value. Fiction has value. Just because I do not like a piece of fiction does not mean it doesn’t have value, it just doesn’t have value to me. I’m only one person out of several billion on this planet. Write what makes you happy. But write your own stories, not someone else’s. Don’t criticize someone else’s just because they aren’t your cup of tea.

And if you don’t read fiction, don’t tell me that writing it is pointless and has no value. Your argument is invalid, because you are making a judgment about something of which you have no knowledge.

Notice I did not say that Fifty Shades of Grey is poorly written or has a crappy storyline. I have never read it. I have no knowledge of it. It could be a lyrical masterpiece. It has value for an awful lot of people out there. Just because I do not find value in it doesn’t mean others don’t.

But please don’t tell me that writing fiction is valueless. Especially if you watch bad reality TV or the news instead of reading. Because everything on the news is absolutely true and not made up at all….

Finally…Progress!

I finally started writing again!  Granted, it was probably less than 300 words this morning, but it’s a start! Before I could write a single word, I had to re-read the entire (That makes it sound like so much) 67-page draft to get a feel for the characters again. That’s the problem with forgetting you even started a story and then trying to start it again:  you forget you ever knew the characters, much less the plot you had planned (assuming I had one planned.). SO I read the draft, then wrote a few hundred words. Not much, I know, but a start, and I know exactly what happens next, which is why I stopped where I did:  so I can actually start during my next session. I’m really happy to be writing again.

Today I will also start working through HTRYN with the draft of Witches. Wow. You know, I thought I was going to be working on a 300,000-word monstrosity, but it turns out, once I opened a document I hadn’t looked at in I-don’t-even’know-how-many-years, that this, the third version of the story, is only 188,000 words. Still way too long, but a definite improvement over my first thought. Whew.  Instead, after using a 10-point Times New Roman font, as well as single spacing it, the printed MS is only 269 pages. That I now have to read through as if I’ve never heard of these people before (And, let’s face it, after a break of years, that’s pretty accurate. I hope we’re old friends again soon.).

Writing After a Break

(I do not own this image, but the words are TRUE.)
(I do not own this image, but the words are TRUE.)

Have you ever taken a break from writing?

I have. To be honest, the “break” I just finished up was more of a three-year hiatus than anything. There were a lot of reasons for it–depression, a major health issue, school–but that doesn’t make me feel any better about taking it.

The thing is, I miss writing. An ex of mine used to tell me I needed to write if I started getting too grumpy, and that’s probably true. (Kind of explains my moodiness lately, as well.)  Blog-writing helps stave off the attitude somewhat, but getting eyeball-deep in fiction will almost for-sure “cure” the problem.

(I do not own this image.)
(I do not own this image.)

I’m eager to leap back into the thick of things, to pull a blanket of words over my head and just snuggle into them. Except, of course, I have no idea where I was going with the Siren story….

Not to mention, I want to revise Witches, and I haven’t touched it in years.

So, I think a bit of planning is in order, first. Wait. Pre-work. I meant pre-work. I already have a plan:  do all the things! NO. No. I need an idea of where the story is going, first, before I dive in and start writing. Otherwise, I’ll end up with another 300,000-word monstrosity to revise.

Okay, new plan:  HTRYN for Witches, brainstorm a general outline for the Siren story and work through HTTS for it. Okay. I have a plan.

Now I just need to implement it.

Getting My (Writing) Ducks in a Row

So…School is out. Vacation is over. Real life has started again. That means it’s time to get back to writing. Yay! In that direction, I went through the “Writing” folder on my computer on Sunday.

And found 67 pages of a story I don’t even remember writing, for NaNo 3 years ago. I read probably 15 pages before I believed that I actually wrote it. It’s a YA about the Sirens and Spartans, but set in the here-and-now. It was kind of like having an out-of-body experience, reading through something I have no memory of writing. (The writing took place about 6 months pre-stroke, and I stopped when my depression got really bad).

Yesterday, I found the story notebook for my newly rediscovered story. That’s the good news. The bad news…in it is one piece of paper with 40 words on it. Mainly character names. No plot ideas, no outline, nothing else. Also some printed out research on sirens and the like. It appears that I will be basically starting from scratch, because, let’s face it, I’m totally sucked into the 67 pages of MS I have. I was seriously like “Did I write this? It’s really good!” Guess what just got bumped to the top of my to-write list?

That’s not strictly true. I want to get going on The Fall again, too. I’ve only got a few chapters written, and I need to change some stuff that my Muse gave me over the past few months when I wasn’t supposed to be writing (my Muse is, apparently, a rebel). An outline would, perhaps, be helpful. Or, heck, even a basic idea of where the story was going. At this point, I’m flailing around in the fog, only able to see two steps in front of me.

I also discovered a tiny bit of another story, along with its notebook and partial outline, as well as a good bit of notes for a third story. I think 4 WIPs is a bit excessive, even for me. My Muse either fainted from excitement, or went on strike, I’m not sure which.
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Let’s not forget my to-be-revised list, which grows ever longer. Sigh…Think I’m gonna start with Witches,  though. Cutting down that 300,000 word behemoth is going to be…tricky, but the characters are talking to me. Or, possibly, I’m hearing voices….Yeah, it could be either one.

Writing question of the day:  does anyone else juggle multiple stories at the same time?  Some tips would be helpful. And very much appreciated.

Finally Summer.

This semester is finally over! I’m thrilled, to say the least. It’s funny, I couldn’t focus on writing with school stuff floating in the back of my brain, but the last two weeks, I’ve been feeling the writing itch going stronger, so I know the Muse is ready to get back to work. And so am I. This first “off” week, I plan to get everything situated and organized, and figure out exactly what I intend to work on this summer (Yes, I have to have a plan.). Then I’ll get started.

I can’t wait.

Currently…

So, finals are next week, which means I’ll (hopefully) getting back into the writing thing in a couple of weeks. Until then, I have essays to revise and a portfolio to put together. Eep.

It’s strange, considering I’ve never thought about a piece of writing as representative of my capabilities as a whole. Perhaps that’s because I generally write novel-length fiction, not short pieces. Long pieces of writing are easier to see as a whole, not as pieces of a whole, so looking at my writing in that slightly different way has been a learning experience.

I’ve finished the first draft of my long final essay–about my feelings on organized religion and why I feel the way I do. I’ve selected two essays to use in the portfolio–one a fictionalized account of two brothers in Hurricane Katrina, and one an account of my experiences with race in my hometown. (That one is pretty personal, but I am so happy with how it turned out.) I have to pick at least one more piece to include, which will probably be a literary analysis. Then I have to revise all of them and put the portfolio together.

So, I’ve been doing writing. Just…a horse of a different color, if you will.

Avoiding Cliché

So, I got feedback from my other essay yesterday, the one I was wondering about while waiting for feedback from the first free-form essay. It was highly favorable. The professor loved it, except for my next-to-last-sentence, which was, he said, the only one he would change. That sentence was a cliché, which slip into my writing without me even noticing.

Should I have caught it? Definitely. Was he right? Absolutely. Am I upset about the feedback? Are you kidding me? I’ve learned a lot from this class, especially from his comments. I got very detailed feedback, several paragraphs long, on this essay. He took the time to tell me how much and why he liked my voice, my setting, my characters…and what I did at the very end that erased all of that hard work. Knowing the positives about the essay, and what negated them, allows me to actually learn this lesson, instead of just getting the grade.

The point of his feedback:  cliché= laziness. Laziness is bad and undoes all of your hard work. So….don’t be lazy:  avoid cliché!

My Muse Left for Bora Bora

(I do not own this image. Image by Alquiler de Coches courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.)
(I do not own this image. Image by Alquiler de Coches courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.)

It’s funny to me, just how big an effect your brain can have on the creative process. Like, I have no problem at all with conjuring up worst-case scenarios. They often keep me awake at night, actually. You would think that being in a mental funk wouldn’t interfere with the brain’s ability to be creative, since it’s so good at picturing horrible things.

But that’s not true. Instead, for me, it seems to have the opposite effect:  if my mental state isn’t optimal, I can’t be creative to save my life. It just isn’t happening. The Muse goes on a (mental) vacation, and is not available for comment.

Currently, my Muse is probably on the beach somewhere in Bora Bora. Hammock. White sand. Blue water. Refreshing drink. Sounds about right…

Glad one of us is enjoying ourselves.

A Little Bit of Inspiration

So, I’m taking a short break from writing because of work and school. This session, I’m taking American Lit (blech) and The Art of the Essay (required for English/Professional Writing majors). I was not thrilled to be taking the class, as I’m really more into fiction writing than anything, but it hasn’t been so bad. We’ve read a few interesting selections, including “How it Feels to be Colored Me,” by Zora Neale Hurston, whom I’ve never read before. (No, not even Their Eyes Were Watching God. But guess what’s on my Kindle now…)

Obviously, we have writing assignments every week in this class. The normal, literary analysis-type assignments I don’t stress about, but a few weeks ago, the assignment was to write a short essay, emulating the style of one of the writers we’d covered. Suggestions for topics included issues in popular culture and natural disasters. My Muse grabbed onto that idea, and since I’ve lived near New Orleans, naturally Hurricane Katrina was my topic of choice.

So, I wrote my short essay about two brothers who didn’t evacuate before the storm, and who are now trapped in their house, listening to nature rage outside. I was pretty happy with the essay, but completely unsure what the professor would think of it. I’ve been waiting for the grade for two weeks, and I finally got it back.

I made a fantastic grade, which is awesome, but the professor’s feedback was even better. He said, “My goodness this is great. Homerun! What a terrific writer we have amongst us. Again, you have a unique ear–an ear that all great writers need to have. Nice pitch, tone, vocab decisions. Impressive. ” And, also, “Wow! impressive opening. You really have an ear for narrative voicings.”

Obviously, I’m happy with the grade, but the encouragement I got from the professor’s comments is even more valuable to me. I’m totally inspired now!