Do The Work!

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I follow a couple of writer’s groups on Facebook, and I find some of the questions a little strange.  (Yes, we are back on those wacky writers and their funny ways.)

“Should I write in 1st or 3rd?  Past or present?  Close POV or can I have a narrator?  What genre should I write in?  What plot should I use?  How many pages in a chapter?  How many chapters in a book?  Do I have to include diversity?  Can I still write about vampires?  Can I have a prologue?  What should I name the character?  Am I required to have a map?”

It just seems strange to even be asking these kinds of questions of other writers, as if there is a strict structure for storytelling.  All of these questions get answered by YOUR STORY, as it gets told by YOU!

Stop asking questions and WRITE!  If you are new and haven’t finished a story, JUST WRITE!  Finish!  And when you do, shelve that story and write another.  When you finish the second, pull the first off the shelf and compare them.  Did you get better?  Is the first story salvageable or should it be hidden in a drawer?  Does it need a different POV or style?  Is it YOUR style?  Is it worth the effort to revise it until it’s publishable?  Are you happy with it?  Can you do better?

No matter what you decide, start the next story, and write more, and repeat…

Asking other writers their opinions isn’t doing the work.  It’s just collecting opinions, and writers have opinions like they have obsessions; in numbers that frighten mental health care professionals.

Do the work.  Discover yourself.  Your style.  Your faults.  Your strengths.  Your voice.  Words are tools; learn to use them.  Do the work.

Even people whose jobs require the use of words; journalists, scientific or technical paper writers, editors, etc… complain about how hard fiction writing is.

It’s not easy, Cupcake.  It is a painful, tedious slog, but you do it IF you are a writer, because you are a self-absorbed, narcissistic, masochistic, sociopath with delusions of fame.  Nobody will write it for you (unless you pay them).  Get to work, dammit!

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Head-in-the-Clouds Musings

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I had a startling thought the other day.  One of the Facebook writing groups had a post asking for confessions of clichéd tropes we secretly liked.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out mine.  For all the modern whining about “the Chosen One” and “Mary Sue” and other criticisms of the Hero’s Journey, I actually love the moment when a character realizes and accepts that they have a destiny, or finds that they have a real gift to save others.  That sense of hope of finding your place in the world.

I guess it’s something I wish I had.  Reading and writing are the closest I ever come to that feeling.  I have to remind myself that you can get away with anything if the readers like it.

In other news, a Facebook meme prompted me to make a declaration I may live to regret.

The joke was that a writer had used up all the good words while writing a sex scene and couldn’t write another, the implication being you shouldn’t use the same words over again, to avoid annoying the reader.  A friend commented that the good words must have been “thrust,” “thighs,” and “BBQ sauce.”  (Hahahahaha!)  My declaration was that I would use those same good words in my next fight scene, along with “moist,” “throbbing,” and “lave.”  (I adore “moist” as much as I loathe “lave.”  “Throbbing” is likely to spark giggles, even at forty-nine.)  More friends have added “ream” and “lather” to the list.  Challenge Accepted!

Accepted–mostly–because I said I would write them into a fight scene, not that they would survive the revision/editing process, or get published, but I am hopeful.  Honestly, I try to write fight scenes and erotic scenes in much the same way; as visceral as possible.  I have ranted on a similar topic before, in my old post “Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Spell Casting Scenes.”  (It’s rough and snarky, but I was new to blogging.)

The fight scene is shaping up nicely; it’s a new character, so her personality is still malleable.  I’m enjoying letting her tell me about this one time she had to fight bad guys while in this oddly erotic mental state.  I’ll keep you posted.

Also, I’m up to a hundred followers.  Yay!

Unless someone backs out…  Hey!  Where ya going?

Happy writing!

That’s How We Roll…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is a very important thing I have taken away from all of my hours researching writing and writers–especially published writers–is that writers keep on writing.  Yes, there are pauses, breaks, blocks, family obligations, day jobs and all kinds of things that take time away from writing.  But, if you are a writer, you keep on writing.

Keep writing!  Even if it’s in the nooks and crannies of your life, you keep writing.  Maybe you have a place to write it down, or maybe it’s just an ongoing story writhing around in your head, but you keep writing.  Because it’s what you ARE, not what you DO.

It is both a tremendously liberating concept, and an incredibly restrictive one.

The reason I’m on the subject is I missed a deadline for an anthology I wanted.  I found out last Friday that the slots were full, and the pre-promotion had begun.  Ouch.  Saturday was busy with family, and Sunday I just read most of the day.  There was some internal whining about writing too slow, and generally sucking.  Whatever.

But this morning I wrote another six hundred plus words on that short story.  I like it.  I think I’m getting better, and I want to finish it.  I don’t plan on pulling a Bradbury, and writing several short stories a week, and using that to pay my bills, because he was an amazingly prolific writer.  But I do want to write more than one kind of story.

So, I’m going to finish it.  I’ll take out the bit that it needed to be in the anthology, send it to a beta or two, revise and edit, then start submitting it out to magazines or anthologies as I start the next writing project.

Because, that’s how writers roll.  You are right, Fortune Cookie fortune, and Mamma didn’t raise no fools.

Happy writing, y’all!

Shhhhh! I’m Busy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShhhh!  I’m busy writing, or at least typing.  The writing happened last week.

The rough draft of the short story came together, all at once, in 1600 words worth of missing scenes.  The rest of the week was spent in re-reading and taking notes.  I don’t remember exactly what was the tipping point.  Doesn’t really matter, since that is not the kind of thing you can re-create on the next project.  Each project requires a different set of circumstances.

Now I’m on to the second draft, typed this time.  What you should know about me is this is almost harder than the rough draft.  I’ve never worked in an office, so computers and technology are not my everyday tools, although I did take a typing class way back in high school.  My keyboarding style is best described as “Monkey-Chicken Hybrid on Caffeine.”

But, before I go, let me type up a few thoughts that occurred during the week.

Writing is work.  If you don’t also enjoy the process, please, go find something pleasant to do with your time.  Save your sanity.

Editing/revision is where you make sure the words are fit for another brain.  YOU understand the story, but will another person just reading the words–without your brain–understand what you are trying to say?

Watermelon is the food of the Gods.

Teenagers are crazy.

Graphic novels are pictures and story, and I LOVE them.

Punctuation, grammar, and slang should reflect the target audience.  Anything else is just making it harder to be read, understood, and enjoyed.

I gotta get back to typin’.  Have a good ‘un.

 

 

Word Count Update #4: But I Don’t Want To Write Today!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABack again?  Seriously, are y’all still reading this?  All right.  Let’s muck about in my brain and get our feet dirty.

  • Day twenty-two.  A crazy day at the day job paired with trying to get the blog out sucked up my day.  Re-edited #2 a thousand times, took 42 photos to get a few decent shots, re-edited a couple of thousands times more, then took a deep breath and hit “publish.”  It made me sick to my stomach, but I kept going with my day.  I call this day a Failure on word count, but an author win!
  • Day twenty-three.  Wrote a blog about the Bechdel-Wallace test with 560 words.  Word count goal WIN!  Had some fun conversations with other writers on Facebook.  I was reminded of a blog I wrote a year ago, about the merits of outlining.  A good day to be a writer.
  • Day twenty-four.   Wow, my motivation has completely left me.  I know I need to write something–ANYTHING–but can’t find the urge.  Not on e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, articles I’ve saved…  I think we have a Fail.
  • Day twenty-five.  Urg.  Emotional stuff has me in the doldrums.  No motivation to write, unless it’s some super-secret-my-eyes-only journaling.  (Ended up venting about 600 words, so goal Win.  I figure it’s a form of communication, even if it’s only with myself.)
  • Day twenty-six.  A blog written about how cool my writing friends are.  Seriously, y’all rock!  Anyway, goal Win, with 502 words.
  • Day twenty-seven.  Urg.  Today’s chosen blog topic only netted 321 words, so I’m short and too tired to think of another.  I may have done enough additional writing on some of the other blogs, but it’s too hard to count words during revision.  Technically it’s a goal Fail, but only in the strictest sense.  I definitely wrote today.
  • Day twenty-eight.  Caring for an elderly and failing pet has left me without anything in my head but worry.  No writing.  Fail.

Officially it’s three wins to four fails, but two of those fails were only technical.  In essence I spent five days of this week feeling like a writer, and that feels pretty damn good.

For the month that is ten wins and eighteen fails, but on a lot of those fail days I was still making progress. I also have a nice stable of blogs to post once they get some revision.  My motivation is now good, and taking the time to write is becoming easier.    I’m hoping to do better in the next few weeks.  If you missed the purpose of this little experiment here’s the original post, and updates #1, #2, #3.

Committing to writing isn’t easy.  Successful writers are the ones who don’t quit forever.  You may stumble, or stop completely for a while, but if the words keep pushing their way out, try to give them an outlet.  Give yourself permission to tell your stories; you are the only one who can.

If you are one of my writing friends who doesn’t have this particular problem I’ll try to start posting more interesting content.  Meanwhile, give yourself a nice pat on the back, have a treat, and keep an eye out for the rest of us to catch up.  (It is so hard to not say something really, really snarky to y’all.  Bless your hearts.)

I didn’t plan on extending this update series past week #4, but I hope it gave you a chance to snicker at a writer in “action”.  Frankly, it’s going to be more of the same slog; good days, bad days, and in-between days.  I don’t think I can keep these updates going without it sounding like incessant whining about being a writer, and that’s not fair because I do love it.  I’ll keep track of my goal, but I may not post updates.

Happy writing!

Word Count Update #3: Daily Writing Sucks!

Back again, exposing my shortcomings for your amusement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?  (My daughter, too shy to draw a monkey for last week, decided to help this week.)

  • Day fifteen.  Still considering picking up one of the rough drafts to give me something daily to sit down and work on.  Don’t want to use my most productive time for the day job, but mornings are so much better for writing, too.  Evenings are just not happening. No word count, so fail.  Published #1 of the updates, despite nausea at the idea of people reading it.
  • Day sixteen.  Why can’t I just sit my ass down and write?  Surely there is a half hour somewhere that isn’t filled with job/household/family obligations?  I’ve had this!  I’ve done this!  I want this!  Why can’t I do it again!!!!!  FAIL!!!!!
  • Day seventeen.  Ok, calm down.  One, you are adding something difficult to an already full life, it’s going to take some time to adjust.  Two, publishing is still a long shot, so there isn’t anything to help you feel the writing will pay off–eventually–except self-belief.  It may be delusional to believe in yourself, but most writers are, so you are right on track.  Anyway, word count fail.
  • Day eighteen.  Spent some time putting longhand blog ideas into my drafts files.  It’s technically re-writes, but at this point I’ll take it.  As the old writer adage says, you can’t expect water without turning on the tap.  Word count at 526, so that’s a win.
  • Day nineteen.  Job, family time, and general life stuff was like a tidal wave.  No word count.  Fail.
  • Day twenty.  Typed up some random thoughts from my blog idea notebook totaling 608 word count for the day, so that’s a win.
  • Day twenty-one.  More random thoughts turned into blogs, one is a list of things I’ve learned about social media, the other about gladiatorial slugs.  Word count 700, so winner, winner, chicken dinner!  I can’t really imagine publishing them, but that’s not really the purpose of this goal.  Feels good to be putting words into strings that somewhat make sense.  Yay, Me!

Ok, there is some strange and random thoughts recorded here, but you are just getting the thoughts that are directly related to the daily writing goal.  (My blog, my rules.)  Any way, if you are keeping score, that’s three wins to four fails, so some progress is being made.  Starting a daily writing goal SUCKS!  (And here would have been another good place for the bendy straw pic.  Oops!  I’ll get to it.)

I actually felt good at the end of the week that I seem to be hitting the goal when I can actually sit to write, but the hard part is carving that time out of my day.  And late evening writing (the last chance saloon of the writing highway) has started working for me instead of against me.

If you are wondering how this all started, or are interested in starting a daily writing goal, check out this post, and the #1, #2 and #4 updates.  (Didn’t you expect some self-promotion by now?  Don’t you like my blog?  My very amateurish photos?)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy favorite bit.  “Nope.”   Thank you, Sweetpea.

Word Count Update #2: Dance, Monkey, Dance!

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So, I guess I’ll continue this series for a bit.  I hope it is helping someone, and not just me dancing for the like button.  Dance, monkey!  Dance for the likes!

  • Day eight.  Rounded out miscellaneous blog posts for about 146 words, and posted the original Word Count Rant.  No other writing.  This is frustrating.  Can’t seem to find the groove.  Embrace the stink of failure. 
  • Day nine.  Stupid comments on Facebook and Twitter is all I seem to write.  Writing IS a pit of despair.  Maybe 40 words.  Another day of failure.
  • Day ten.  Tried to write a post about women warriors, but my blog rants are rambling and non-sensible.  For fuck’s sake, I’m 49.  Surely I’ve figured out something about life by now. (You haven’t, and stop calling yourself Shirley.)  Still, it’s 604 words so I’ll count it as a goal win since I didn’t delete it right away.
  • Day eleven.  More snarky comments and pointless conversations while wasting time on Facebook.  Trying to help a new friend launch a Dyslexic writers group, but not many bites.  Re-read some of my WIP character bios, but can’t seem to force myself to start the next revision.  That’s fine, because I really want to recapture the freedom and joy of writing a first draft.  Revision is a slog, but you can’t get published until it’s ready!  Word count fail.
  • Day twelve.  Another rambling/ranting blog, this time about slurs, both gendered and racially motivated.  I just want to help people find a way to convince themselves to write, not become a ranting social troll.  Yes, I want to promote social justice, but honestly, humans can’t even agree on what is basic human rights.  Still, it’s 504 words, so I will win the goal today.  I’ll decide later if anything can be salvaged from it.  Mornings still seem to be the best for new writing, when my brain is fresh.
  • Day thirteen.  Maybe I should clean up and publish my rants.  According to my WordPress stats my most looked at post was the rant-y The Hidden Hero.  (Yes, that got turned into a shameless plug.  Bite me.)  But, jeez, there is sooooooo much random ranting on the internet these days.  To tired from family stuff to think of something to write other than catching up on this log.  Word count is 80.  Fail!
  • Day fourteen.  Maybe I am relying on passion too much for daily writing, and trying to rough draft things that just aren’t ready to be written.  Maybe a long project would work better, like taking one of the longhand novels and typing it up into a second draft would get me back into the habit of daily writing.  Anyway, another day of FAIL!

 

It’s not pretty folks.  Two days of Win, five of Fail.  Making the decision to write everyday is just the first step.  Don’t treat it like a New Years Resolution, and drop it the first day you screw up.

If this rambling post confused you, here is the daily word count post where I decided to encourage other writers to try it while pushing myself, and update #1.  (More shameless plugs!  Yay!) Here is update #3.

Meanwhile, I still haven’t caught up on months of email backlog, or checked out the new people who follow my blog (Hey, everybody!), posted reviews for a couple of books/stories (Sorry Sarah, Alice, Matt and Joe!), or done the beta read of the two new chapters for an incredibly patient writing friend (Sorry, Orlando!), but I’m trying, and that’s all anybody can ask.

And, yes, I know that’s a Chimchar, not a monkey.  Work with me, people!  Sheesh!