Writerly Notions: blogs and purpose

tl;dr: I’ve tried various times to create and categorize writing (and related) blogs. But I can never maintain interest (except in ones I delete or revise the intention of). Until I know what I’m doing with my writing and my various categories of purpose (for me, for fairy tales, for sharing stories, for sharing experience), I won’t be updating this blog on a regular basis, if at all. Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my weird little posts. 🙂

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At the beginning of the year (February, to be precise), I typed up an initial post, which has been on my to-do list for…maybe a year?, about this blog. And it’s various incarnations.

The central question was why? Why do I even have this blog?

It started as a place to post detailed responses to books I’m reading or have read. But my motivation and interest in that only lasted so long.

Then it was supposed to be a writing blog, with posts of my writing, especially my daily writing exercises. The trouble with that was two-fold: making sure I didn’t publish anything online I wanted to publish in some other way (and the added analytical sieving to make sure the stories or vignettes I post/posted were not something I wanted to publish in some other way) and a lot of what I would post/posted weren’t really that important. About the most important bits I’ve posted about my writing is my Writing Demons posts.

Then it was supposed to be a place to post my experiences, struggles, and thoughts as a writer. But doing that felt too messy for a blog, so I made a writing journal. But that has since ground to a halt. Likewise, this blog’s venue as a writing blog has ground to a halt. And my question is why?

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Writerly Notions: Experts and Imagination

So I was re-reading Histoire d’Aladdin ou la Lampe merveilleuse (as one does), and I was forcibly reminded that writers need to know what they’re writing about. If say, I write about a character baking a cake, I have to know what kind of cake they’re baking and, more importantly, I need to know how that cake would be baked. And that’s where experts and connections and all that is important. Knowing who to ask and getting input from people who know what they’re talking about. Experts.

But what I think is interesting is that I couldn’t write:

She baked a werthor from a bowl of leftover isluuma blossoms, dried up after last winter’s molt and stored by her grandmother. After all adding a dollop of yurna berry juice, with just the right thickness to keep the center stiff, she popped the feathery dough into the fire-orb, watching as it expanded into a firm round werthor.

Because it’s not based on an actually recipe or method of baking.

Writing Progress: the poisoning 

I finally wrote an idea-event that I’ve been craving to write for years. (It wasn’t just a scene because the whole event covers three.)

What’s fascinating about it is that it followed an oral variant I told some family a few years ago. Not in a literal content, but the sentimentality of the main character’s (broken) friendship with the man who kidnapped his wife/fiancĂ©e was still there. So that was a surprise. (Though perhaps it shouldn’t have been.)

Threads of life

Day 208

PULLING THE PATTERNS out from inside the drawer, she peers into the shifting, glowing reflections:

She is a scientific researcher. Hours in the outdoors studying the flora and fauna. The pursuit of science and the taste of crisp, hypothesis-proven results. The scrap and scent of animals, and the calm and technical methods of space and stars. Details. Watching. Writing. Speaking out. It is strung with conservation and evolution, preservation and revolution…

She is a scholar. She roots around in old archives, digging up words and stories and historical accounts to spin into research and wonder. These she shares with colleagues, piles of details and comparisons and finely combed sources. Giving. Teaching. Hardworking. Preserving. A life of studious, exciting exploration and academic conferences. It thrives on the thrill of ancient tales and pristine books and languages no longer spoken. She walks along colonnaded halls, plows through ancient archives, and descends into the tomb of libraries… She wallows in the creak of old leather bindings and the crinkle of old curling script and the musky scent of the past… 

She is a witch. Gently caring for others, she lives in a small cottage. There are flowers, roses for certainty, growing along the cozy walls. A small garden, perhaps badly tended, flourishes with bees and butterflies and an occasional hummingbird. A yard of wild growth for rabbits and a bird feeder for sparrows and wrens and robins. The scent of peppermint tea or hot chocolate wafts through a window screen, while threads hums to life, sewn into dresses for fairies (or other small things), and paint and paper and ink enchant empty space, stories and scenes brought to life (sometimes meticulous, sometimes childish). Shells from the sea crinkle in a watercolor sketchbook, stitched with details and notes on nature. She is free, peaceful, quiet, and concocts wishes for the welfare of herself and others.


Written: 2 May 2016

Words: 311 words

Inspired: wanting to imagine (and write out) as many of the lives I’ve imagined for myself. The results are…interesting. 

Cold Spring Laughter [Day 180]

SNOW FELL DAINTILY over the lawn and the still forlorn forest behind the witch’s cottage. Leaves had yet to burst from the gray spotted limbs now that the stars and seasons had turned toward spring. 

But the daughter’s whose birth bordered the threshold of winter and spring was not yet ready to release the new growth of flowers and leaves that was her prerogative. Her fine, tinkling laughter could be heard in the spiraling ivory flakes: crisp but delicate, tempting to see but deadly to touch unprepared. She was enjoying the full majesty of her unpredictable nature today, the second day of spring.  

The witch cackled as she leaned on her cane and gazed out her window. A gray-white haze hung over the world, flecks of icy cold covering the edge of the forest. Perhaps, thought the witch, sipping honey tea, she has done it for her sister. 


Written: 21 March 2016

Words: 148 

Inspired: weather + Chthonic flowers + spring equinox

Sin and the Church

I woke up early where I am (there’s a three hour difference) and ended up thinking about His Dark Materials. I think it’s an okay trilogy, but there are three aspects of it I don’t like. One is the thematic conclusion about what sin is, which while interesting, never felt entirely original to me. So I thought to myself: what would you do, that would feel more unique?

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So the end of NaNoWriMo

I didn’t complete this year either, but I as a lot closer than I ever was – 40,739 words. And considering the days I didn’t write, if I had actually written every day I Maynard actually pulled off 50k words.

While I didn’t complete the full word count, I do feel that u learned a lot more from this NaNoWriMo than I have in previous two years.

I’ve learned that my writing works best when I recognize that: 

  • How characters matter, knowing them, who they are, in advance
  • Having a clear idea of what the story is about, preferably having done a scene by scene video outline in my head and then written it down (it can deviate as I write it, but I find it helps with the emotional punch of my writing if I play it out like a movie in my head beforehand)
  • Having a strong love for your characters and a plot doesn’t necessitate that the story is one you should be working on or is as alive (puppy) as other stories
  • Story should have vitality even if it’s confusing or uncertain (or have I never experienced writer’s block? Why should I, when I have other stories to work on??)
  • Focus on word count can lead to depletion of enthusiasm
  • Sometimes taking a break can help revitalize interest (even if my word output is slower than it used to be sometimes)

I’m also really looking forward to working on some writing I had to put on hold for November. 

Embalming and other fun stuff

A/N: I actually wrote this near the beginning of the month and meant to expand it with resources and links. I may do that later. But for now, have my preliminary research.

So, this NaNoWriMo my story is a homage to Over the Garden Wall, colonial New England autumn and anything to do with the dead. Since my main character is a necromancer in training.

From the beginning I knew that my MC was traveling through the lovely autumnal setting because he was going to get something as a means for the next (and final) stage of his initiation into becoming a full-fledged necromancer.

That, naturally, led me to a quick inspection of what ingredients were needed in preserving dead bodies — as I had an inkling that whatever it was, had some connection to body preservation, so as to ensure either easier transportation or …?

Either way, my preliminary investigation gave me these substances to work with:

  1. cinnabar
  2. bitumen
  3. various cedar oils

I have a feeling the final substance/item will be one of my own invention, with mixed properties of this world substances.

Last Day of NaNoWriMo

While trying to get my final stretch of writing in before the day ends, I realized that there’s a difference between not knowing where a story is going and not knowing what’s happening in a scene. 

Like I have a draft of a story from 2009 that has needless dialogue and terrible plot holes. But I recall that when I was writing it, I was never at a lost of what was happening in each scene. I knew loosely where the story was going, even if I didn’t know all the particulars. 

With my NaNoWriMo this year, it’s the first story I’ve ever written where I didn’t always know what was happening. Like I’ll stop in the middle of a scene or at the end of a scene, and when I’m back in the scene or onto the next scene, I can’t fanthom what’s happening. I know where the story is going but it was the first time I ever drew a blank on what was actually occurring in the scenes.

I don’t know if that’s a reflection on my NaNoWriMo story, my writing ability, the NaNoWriMo formula with a focus on a word count, or a change in my writing habits. But it’s certainly a peculiar sensation. What’s weirder is that I’d wager I could easily write other stories without too much trouble. Where even if I don’t know the particulars, the scenes will just…live on their own, you know?

Moon Day Meditations: NaNoWriMo Reflections

So after this I’ll try to write some more in my NaNoWriMo story this year.

I’m having mixed feelings about the story. I still love the idea of it and I still really like my characters. I just can’t shake the feeling that it’s a waste to keep writing it. I mean, I have other longer outstanding stories that need to be finished and revised. Why should I take so much time to write this new one when I should be putting the time and effort into my other ones?

Second, I’ve been wanting to post a cast list (inspired by the Nano Cast Lists at fixyourwritinghabits) but it’s hard because:

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