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. ūüôā

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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: Stress & Focus

This morning I spent a few hours calibrating and analyzing what causes me stress and my stress levels. Or more specially “needling things that send me into a mental whirlwind panic/confusion.”

I won’t go into the details. Suffice to say, the categories of Creator, Writer, and Promotion feed off one another to create the highest levels of stress and the highest amount of stress. Additionally, as with this blog, some of the trouble comes from the simple question of: what am I doing? What do I intend? (I hope I’ll be able to post my thoughts on that, which have been waiting in my drafts, soon.)

A few, unrelated tidbits I learned about me and my writing today:

  1. a playlist I made of songs I can listen to over and over without getting sick of them lend themselves to worldbuilding and character development in Nights of Heroes. Which is interesting since it may imply that if left to it, I might think about that series a lot.
  2. I realized the third section in my recently complete novel (which is in revision) is more incomplete than I realized. Getting a handle on the chronology has helped a whole bunch (i.e. cementing dates so they don’t wiggle around; I have a tendency toward flexible dating…) Additionally, I realized why the second section comes off as different than the rest — it has subplots! The trouble is I’m unsure how much the content of those subplots plays into the larger story. So anyway, it gives me focus. I can work with that.

Sorry if this was a short and brusque.

I took an iPad photo of by analysis notes, if anyone’s curious.

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Writerly Notions: Worldbuilding & Copying

I’ve realized why my writing often lacks a “spark”. Most of the writing sources I follow or consume (and how my mind interprets them) indicate that¬†fantasy¬†— culture, customs, history — are just copies of this world. And copies are just reflections. More to the point, it’s hard to believe a copy-world is real on its own terms. Which makes it hard, I’d wager, for others to believe in fantasy world that doesn’t feel real, that is only a copy.

On one hand, I want to create real imagined fantasy, advice and convention tell me I have to copy. But if that’s all I have to do, why would I write at all? (If I wanted to do historical fantasy, that would be great, but I think I lean more toward imaginary fantasy. That is, fantasy that isn’t heavily historical.)

Once I started trying to “get serious” about writing a lot of the spontaneous imagination dropped out. While research is necessity for good writing, if the initial groundwork is just trying to copy the exact replica that is (or might be) the inspiration for a fantasy culture, will that seem real?

For me, a lot of rooted worldbuilding comes from percolating off nature and creating myth (the moon is a dragon’s eye, four bats created the world). Or if not nature, than fairy tales. And if not fairy tales, than just…ideas? (flurma birds that roost on the tips of crystal trees where fluff grows, whose plumage turns blue before they migrate)

The trouble is figuring out¬† what this-world culture I’m inspired by and taking conscientious actions. Often with humans, I do know, but that’s in a copy-&-paste way, rather than deep roots. (Other than one or two fantasy human cultures.)

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.

Fairest: Levana’s Story

by Marissa Meyer

Welp, I read this in four hours. I think I was looking forward to reading this one a lot more than the others, even Cress.

What held me in the story was the tease of what had happened to Levana to cause her to be disfigured and what exactly she looked like. I knew at some point the story had to let me know the details, so I kept reading.

Spoilers below

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Scarlet

The Lunar Chronicles

by Marissa Meyer

I started reading this and then stopped because I wasn’t compelled by Wolf as representation of the wolf from “Little Red Riding Hood.” This was mostly because he felt like a clich√©:¬†dangerous¬†but still alluring. Plus, his status as part of a group with outdated wolf terminology turned me out of the story. (e.g. alpha, beta, etc.)

But once Wolf and Scarlet¬†finally started on their way to Paris…the story picked up.

Spoilers below

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Cinder

The Lunar Chronicles

by Marissa Meyer

Back when I started reading Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, my initial impression of Book 1 boiled down to: the action is very impelling; so much happens in the first few chapters that I was hard-pressed to put it down.

Now what does that mean to me as a writer?

Spoilers below

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Worldbuilding

Day 18: Feb 18

History unfurls in knots of speciation and categorization, inspired by the myths of those who speak of each knot. It is their history, their ontology, their way of knowing and living in the world. But to one who lives outside the knots, how does one know what is the literal division of life, of species, of creatures? Or is the mysterious nexus, the uncertainty, where it is strongest in a story?

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I have renewed these in lieu of the Refugee Ban in the USA. Inspired by the-cassandra-project and their Every Day Challenge, I am writing every day to raise money for the Urban Justice Center. You can donate here or please spread the word. Thank you.

Ash

by Malinda Lo

Today’s the 67th Anniversary of Disney’s animated Cinderella. While not one of my favorites renditions, this post seemed appropriate.

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I finished this book a couple years ago and I’ve been meaning to reflect on it.

First it was simply good, and second it was very much a retelling of Cinderella. 

That is, I could tell where there were little twinges of the original¬†Grimm¬†tale, such as the presence of the mother’s grave being important and the symbolism of trees. It made me want to read more novel length reinterpretations of fairy tales (which I have done)¬†and write a more fairy-tale focused story myself (which is still gestating).

At the same time, now that I’m beginning my foray into novel-length reinterpretation on fairy tales (yay!), I have to admit that¬†Ash¬†also appealed to my artistic writer sensibilities.

Spoilers below

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Ocean Ancestors

Day 13: Feb 13

Tales of the past — sometimes the recent past, if she‚Äôs honest — curl across the floor, dainty, almost fanciful words, so wondrous and unbelievable that they seem capable of cracking under the slightest inspection. But they are true; she knows so. She has lived part of this recent, unbelievable story herself. Though it is the older stories, the ones interwoven like flashes of silver on the sea among the recent one, that keeps her attentive: astounding voyagers across the vast ocean, colony and kingdom founders, dropping words and letters on their journey. They were the first to understand the sea and what lay beneath. A tiny silver glimmer flashes inside her; she is glad they play a part, however miniscule, in her story, too.

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I have renewed these in lieu of the Refugee Ban in the USA. Inspired by the-cassandra-project and their Every Day Challenge, I am writing every day to raise money for the Urban Justice Center. You can donate here or please spread the word. Thank you.