Writerly Notions: changing & categorizing

Writing, as a category in my head and my life (because who doesn’t do that, right?) encompasses currently at minimum eight aspects. Aside from writing, revising, worldbuilding, and submissions, of the four still unresolved aspects of being a writer, the two most complex and snarled are:

(1) what and how do I want to —– internet?

The best way I can explain this dilemma is to say me and the figuring out what and how I want to — whatever — with my writing (?) on the internet is like having a recipe that includes peppers. I have the recipe. I know what to do. But I have green and red peppers. But which color do I use?

Additionally, how do I cut them, since the recipe doesn’t specify? How do I want the recipient of my recipe to experience the peppers? As tiny minced pieces? As large pieces? As cubes? It’s like that, but applied to writing and my overall creative life.

Also, as I change, this answer will change. I will need to assess and process this, and someday this will change and I will have to assess and analyze regularly.

(2) how I want to be a writer and what responsibilities should I do and can I do?

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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: Revision & me

So, for awhile my approach to revising stories, be they short or long, was to either literally revise in-text or to re-write from scratch. The latter was not…the best idea. To wit, I rewrote a 68k word story, to make it fit better with where the story had gone (which is now obsolete), and it ended up at 111k words, having only made it to 2/3rds of the original plot. In other words, it became even more rambling than before.

Recently I came across a suggestion that for revision one should rewrite, not from scratch, but from the already written story. Which I took to mean following its scenes and its order, rather than letting the story meander on a completely new path. (Nothing wrong with letting a revision go to new places, I think, but not letting it just be a new story.)

I’ve always had a puzzle with revision. If I rewrite completely, with only a loose thread, I’m afraid it’ll be a new (worse) story. But if I do the rewrite I read about, it becomes the struggle of not rewriting each scene word by word from what I just re-read so I can remember what’s in the each paragraph/scene.

I wish there was a step by step procedure that would let me know I’m hitting the right “marks” to let me know when I’m revising my story in the right way. Or getting my characters right. Or whatever I need to do. It’s not very clear.

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Writerly Notions: What to do?

So I’m in a bit of a muddle. (Also, don’t mind me, I’m just clearing my thoughts.)

What should I work on? Okay, scratch that. Should I write the final section of my long, long, long overdue demon mythology story, even if I’m not 100% sure it actually makes sense, nor do I know what’s happening? Or should I try to make it all fit together?

And see, that’s the hitch. A lot of ideas I’ve had post 2010 (Romance of Three Jewels, The Painting Story, NIAR, 12D + Bluebeard) actually have structure. Story structure. Conflict. Character arcs. Story stages. Do I know every detail? Probably not. Do I have enough to see how the plot connects and how my characters will grow and get from one story stage to the next? Oh, yes.

But I have at least three major projects that came before 2010. And it’s a pain because they’re not, well, as well structured.

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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.

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?

[71]

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.

Beauty

A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

by Robin McKinley

“I finished rereading the Iliad and started the Odyssey; I still loved Homer, but Cicero, whom I read in a spirit of penance, I liked no better  than I had several years ago” (McKinley, 157).

I’ve read some of her books before and I had always meant to read her retellings of “Beauty and the Beast.” So when I couldn’t find Watership Down at a local library, I happened to see this one and thought: Hey, why not?

I really liked Beauty. Or more precisely, I could relate to her, which isn’t common among characters, book or otherwise. I’m not nearly as outdoorsy as she is while she’s living in the country, nor am I as fond of horses as she is. But her ordinary looks coupled with her love of reading and the Classics felt like someone reflecting my own interests.

This relatability also made me realize that living in an enchanted castle like the Beast’s would be wondrously grand. No worries about money, endless books and the free time to study and read and write, and a beautiful garden that doesn’t need any pruning or watering.

The plot was pretty basic. Although it did make me realize that the certain plot points of “Beauty and the Beast” are a bit odd.

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Taran Wanderer

The Chronicles of Prydain

by Lloyd Alexander

“quote that stands out, represents the book or chapter in my sense of it” (Author, pg).

Like the ones before, my original goal was to focus more on particular themes than plot. These would have included:

Identity – how one knows who they are.

What does it mean to create – the free comments

What makes life worth living

What is family? How should you feel to it? What duty to you have to it by blood?

Words:

source edited for better definitions

  • wordpt.of speech. 1. definition

Alliteration/Quote/Metaphor:

“TEXT” (pg).

Works Cited:

Alexander, Lloyd. Taran Wanderer. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967. Print.

What to write?

11 December 2016:

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a lot of my thoughts and feelings down. It felt as if I was pushing myself to really think and consider things: how I felt, what I felt, my situation, who I was, what I believed.

I didn’t post any of it; I never post those kinds of reflections. I have a writing document, or a journaling word document. It’s where I can work through thoughts and confusion and realizations. Or at least it feels like I am. I don’t have to worry if the paragraphs fit together, or if it makes sense, or if it has a unified topic, or if it is writerly or witty or just good writing. I don’t have to worry about if my feelings sound good. I can just focus on what I mean or what I feel.

Almost two weeks ago, I posted a verbatim one about my purpose and why I write. I hadn’t written anything since then.

Today’s the seventh Anniversary of The Princess and the Frog. It’s the only Disney movie that directly influenced my writing. That winter soon after it premiered, me and my immediate family went to Walt Disney World and stayed at resort near Animal Kingdom. It was an awesome place. (It was connected to the safari/savanna so there was a waterhole area outside where you could view animals; we saw a giraffe drinking on the last day.*) But it was really out of the way.

More importantly there was a lot of PatF stuff being promoted. So, the African décor, animals, PatF, and the Christmas lights and spirit mashed up in my mind to deter and take over the second book of my Aladdin-lyric story.

That’s a really bad working name, but it’s the best I can think of to explain it.  Essentially, I wanted to take the cut lyrics from Disney’s Aladdin and see if I could create a compelling story out of it. Or more precisely, if I could take a lazy character and a spoiled character and see if I could make them compelling. By the end, it had begun to deviant from that idea and sink into a strange fog focused on the early stages of my Dreams. Then PatF came out. And I got two new characters that changed the plot.

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Writing, Worth, and Purpose

Dying is easy. Or giving up is easy. The trouble is how to know when you’re wasting your time on something (even if it’s what you decided to do since you were ten) or whether you just need a good dose of focus and hard work.

That’s been my dilemma for years now. I’m at attempt #3 for finishing a few novels, connecting with other writers, connecting with others in general, connecting with the writing world, finding people to share my writing with –

(i.e. beta readers! Cause I realized that I can write easily; I can even see where and how my rough drafts need help, but I have the hardest time trying to 1. Figure out to actualize these changes, 2. Actually actualizing these changes, 3. Seeing how to alter and change content/plot/characterization/dialogue. Basically, I’ve been thinking I could benefit from another pair of eyes on my writing. But that’s really difficult because I could throw like 10 things at a beta reader: 5 novels, 2 novellas, and a sprinkling of short stories and snippets. And that’s just included finished rough drafts.)

Sorry. Got distracted.

So. It’s the eternal question. Why do I write? Also: is writing worth it? Or more precisely: is my writing worth it?

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