Musings

[Blog] Scribbles

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When it comes to writing, I like to think of myself as a panster*. I much prefer coming up with a vague idea and running with it, mostly because by the time I come up with something that excites me, I really just want to go play with it, not hammer out all the details. (In other news, I also have trouble rationing out a stash of candy for any length of time. The two might be related, but I’m not admitting nothin’.)

The problem is, not planning things out in advance generally leaves me with gaping plot holes and/or sticky corners in which to get myself stuck. It would be fantastic, I think to myself, if all of my characters charged down the hill towards the big bad monsters in epic fashion. And so I have my characters do just that, only to realize in the instants before they engage the enemy that such an attack is tactically unsound, and either their leader isn’t the strategic genius I thought they were or they have some sneaky plot up their sleeve… which I’m going to have to figure out before I write much further.

And so, I stall.

So when I tell you that I managed to tame my giddier impulses and actually come up with something of a decent outline for the first several chapters of That Novel I’m Still Working On, I hope you understand why I’m so convinced that it’s a triumph. We’ll see how it fares when I try to force that outline into actual prose.

 

* (noun) one who writes by the seat of their pants

Musings

[Blog] Relearning Old Lessons

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Man. There was a time (last summer, actually) that I was doing a very good job of actually writing fiction every day. Part or most of that had to do with the fact that I’d finally started accepting that whole “the only good writing is rewriting” thing. And, of course, there was also a pretty solid understanding that it’s a lot easier to edit something that already exists.

And then I fell out of practice. I’m inclined to say that I had a couple of great reasons for it– world travel, moving, new job– but regardless of whether it made sense or not, the upshot is the same: it’s really hard to write. Again.

Sigh.

It’s a bit like working out. You get into the rhythm and the habit and it’s a bit easier. Your brain and your fingers know what it’s like to produce a regular wordcount, and whether or not its some great masterpiece, it’s getting better every day. And then something happens, maybe an injury, maybe something else. But whatever it is, it breaks the rhythm, and after a week, it suddenly seems so hard to just work out. You’ve already missed a few days, what’s one more?

And then one more, and one more, and one more…

And just like that, you’ve suckered yourself out of months of hard work at building a good habit.

For me, I think I’m slowly getting it back. Provided, of course, that I didn’t just jinx it by saying so. It helps to have encouragement and writing buddies (you all know who you are!), and the fact that I’m actually feeling pretty settled in my new routine with work and travel and such doesn’t hurt either. And I think there’s still a long climb before I’m as settled with it as I used to be, but for the first time since I fell out of the habit, I’m feeling a bit of it coming back. Which makes me really happy.

Musings

[Blog] The Buddy System

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Or: Misery Loves Company

I’ve been trying to figure out why I have so much luck doing NaNoWriMo in November, but when I try to participate in either of the Camp NaNoWriMo events in April and July, I seem to fall off the wagon before it even starts rolling. It’s mortifying, really, because I know I can will myself into performing great feats of writing, and every time April or July rolls around I promise myself that I’ll do better this time… and then I’m eight days in and haven’t written a word on my chosen project. As I said– mortifying.

And yet, that’s never been a problem in November. I’ll grumble and drag my feet and wonder why in the heck I’m putting myself through the insanity yet again, but I’ll write. I may even get behind, but that just means I write more later. (Some years I’ve gotten really behind and that’s when the aforementioned feats of writing prowess happen. It’s ridiculous, but I’m quite proud of the fact that I have written over ten thousand words in a single day multiple times. Please forgive my shameless bragging.)

At this point, I’ve got two theories as to why this is. The first is that the November event is a whole big to-do: fifty thousand words, thirty days, one novel. Go! Thousands of people participate every year, and we’re all in it together, encouraging each other, recommending our favorite writing music, exchanging wordcount updates. It’s a whole lot of momentum, and it’s always helped me keep at it. There’s a little of the same during the smaller events, but they’ve just never quite matched up to the excitement of the big one for me.

The second is that the Camp events let you set your own goal– which you would think would make it even easier to keep on task, but always seems to take away a bit of the excitement for me. It’s more of a personal challenge that way, but apparently I’m just more motivated by chasing the same goal as a bunch of different people.

All that being said, I’ve found a way around this. Sort of. My best (read: most productive) NaNo ever was in 2015, when I ended up with a complete, if rough, manuscript and a substantially higher wordcount than most years, and I got there because I spent the entire darn month racing with my sister who was doing the same thing. So this month, I suckered her into doing camp with me.

Her wordcount is waaay better than mine, but I have gotten work done on my own project too, so I’m pretty sure this is a win.

PS: Thank you, dear sister, for writing with me. I truly appreciate it.

Musings

[Blog] All the Different Stories

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As a self-professed introvert, it feels a little funny to say that one of my favorite things about my new job is all the different people I get to meet and all the different stories I get to hear about their lives. I get to interact and connect with all sorts of folks I’d likely never have run across otherwise, and I get to learn a little bit about the way they see the world. The same thing happened when I was driving for a rideshare service, too, so it’s not just limited to the medical field.

I, as I imagine most of us do, tend to gravitate towards certain groups of people– the sorts I get along with best, with whom we I the most in common. When something other than shared interests bring me together with someone, common interests may or may not be involved at all, at least not in the way they are when I meet people through something like a shared hobby. It’s a great thing for perspective. It makes it a lot easier to not caricature people on the “other” side of this or that divide.

Musings

[Blog] One Year

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Last week, WordPress sent me a friendly little message congratulating me on the one year anniversary of this blog, which left me simultaneously wondering where the time had gone and how it had only been a single year. To everyone who’s run across my adventures and stories and random musings during the last fifty two weeks, thank you all so very much. I can’t even begin to say how much your support means to me.

Going forward, I definitely plan to continue posting weekly on Fridays, but I’d love to hear from all of you regarding what you’d be interested in seeing. More writing prompts? More stories (I’d like that too…)? Book reviews? Thoughts on what it’s like for a former English Major to embark in a career in the medical field?

Please post your thoughts below! I’d love to hear from you, and I look forward to another year of sharing my nerdy speculations and silly adventures.

Writing Prompts

[Blog] Writing Prompts Open! (Round 2)

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I think it’s time for another round of writing prompts! (She says, shamelessly levying everyone else’s imaginations for ideas.) Same deal as last time: all you lovely people give me prompts– a song, a word, a phrase, a whole darn premise, whatever comes to mind– and I respond with a bit of flash fiction (100-200 words). Post your prompts in the comments!

Also, as it’s the middle of the month I have a full(er) length short story due. It’s mostly written and on its way, and I should be posting it over the weekend, so keep an eye out!

Musings

[Blog] Resistance is Futile

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One of my favorite tropes for fantasy or sci-fi stories is when the big bad has a penchant for assimilating its enemies. Well. I say favorite, but it might be more accurate to say that I find it to be thoroughly compelling and a great way to raise the stakes– it being a fate worse than death, and all that. Something about collectives of cyborgs bent on galactic conquest or races of giant AI spaceships intent on harvesting all organic life just gets under my skin and does a great job of making me root for their ultimate demise.

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Resistance is futile.

Oddly enough, my feelings regarding zombies and vampires aren’t as strong, which leads me to suspect that what unsettles me the most is the fact that their victims end up helping them realize their schemes of total conquest, not so much the loss of humanity of each individual victim. Dying’s bad enough, but if I could avoid joining the dark side and trying to kill my friends and doom the world in the process, that would be much preferred.

And given how effective these sorts of villains can be, it’s probably no surprise that I’m trying to do the same thing with my villain for The Seven. The obvious problem with this being that I have a very distinct idea in my head of the feelings I want these creatures to evoke, and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. I want them to create a feeling of dread in the people that have to fight them, and I want that feeling to go beyond just fear for their own survival. And if I want that feeling in the characters to be believable, they need to evoke that feeling in the readers as well.

Forgive the musings of the author neck-deep in worldbuilding questions. Or, if it strikes your fancy, ask me more! It’s harder to stick with the silly ideas when I have to explain them out loud.

 

Musings

[Blog] Balancing

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It’s been one heck of a week in the best of ways: I started a new job, with my first full day being this past Monday. Which basically means that the past five days have been absolutely nuts, filled to the brim with a billion new things to learn, new responsibilities, and one ridiculously excited Faith. Unfortunately, what it hasn’t been filled with is disciplined writing time. And for this week, I’m okay with that. Mostly.

Because as far as excuses for not writing go, starting a new job and keeping an 8ish to 5ish schedule for the first time in… a while is a brilliant one. It’s also a really good way for writing to drop to a back burner, and I don’t want that to happen. Which mostly just means that I’m going to have to find a balance. The hours are there, after all. I just need to use them.

Musings

[Blog] Threads

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It’s funny how certain things can end up having such a great impact on our lives. I realized a little while back that if I had found my way into a job as an EMT before I went to Armenia, there’s every chance that I wouldn’t have gone at all. At least, not until later, and perhaps not for as long as I did. That in and of itself is interesting enough, but it goes so much farther than that. I got certified as an EMT more than three years ago with the intention of finding work with an ambulance company or in a hospital, but as I already had a steady job with wonderful people, I was less than motivated to move on. That job itself was the one I’d gotten straight out of college that I more or less fell into after working various jobs in the same department as a student, mostly (at first) because I knew they were hiring most any student looking for work, and that was exactly what I was doing.

So really, you could say that I went to Armenia in the fall of 2017 because I was a student worker in the custodial department of my college. And you wouldn’t be far off. There is, of course, a whole lot more to it than just that, and probably a thousand other factors that I don’t know and will likely never know, but the connection remains. And I find that absolutely fascinating.

Musings

[Blog] Overpromising

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Despite copious amounts of evidence, I haven’t wanted to admit it. I’ve bitten off more than I could chew. But another month has streaked on past, and I haven’t managed to finish the one short story I’ve been working on since March, let alone anything else, and even I’m starting to realize that trying to hold tighter to my ideal schedule as it slips away is going to end up backfiring in a spectacular way, because much as I wish it would, stubborn willpower doesn’t actually add more hours to the day.*

So! Instead of throwing my metaphorical back out by pushing against something that clearly isn’t moving, I’m going to try something a little different. Starting this month (May?!), I’ll just be aiming for a single short story, to be posted up on the 15th or whatever weekday is closest to that date and not a Friday. The rest of my writing time will be spent on my novel. Because the darn thing desperately needs to be written. I desperately need it to be written.

My hope is that the specific schedule will help me keep on track and make better progress, and that the drop from two (or zero, I know, I know…) to one story per month will help me stay better focused, which will in turn let me get more done without getting caught in the cycle of panic that I’m not getting enough done. Theoretically. We’ll see how it goes! And to those of you who have stuck with me, thank you so much. Your support means the world to me.

 

 

* Being more carefully disciplined would help me make the most of the hours I do have, but it’s still only a stop-gap measure. I think. I may just need to figure out how to better make time for writing during this migratory time of life.