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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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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So, Nanowrimo…

tl;dr: Had one novel planned for Nanowrimo; at the last minute changed it to another one with a depressed character pov because I felt writing about her and working through her issues was more important, but in the first week I was more motivated to write 13 short stories instead. Currently, I am not doing Nanowrimo this month.

Had one novel planned (Nano.1) that was a detailed outline I was excited to get into. (Some of the details may have changed based on a comment raised whilst reading The Silmarillion.)

That novel was flipped at the last minute to a novel (Nano.2) about the conclusion of my Camp Nanowrimo because 1. it was easier to create character aesthetics and 2. I felt it would be more useful because it centered on a depressed/anxious character pov. i.e. it would be beneficial for me to write that story.

The trouble I now realize is even though I have characters and I have events staged for where the novel is supposed to go… It’s not really about anything except a character feeling like crap. (Okay, there’s a whole quest to find lost mirror shards that distort reality and emotion…) But I can’t figure out what it’s about.

Case in point: I compared Nano.2 to the other stories in its category (Lineage of the Moon) and this is what I got.

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Camp NaNoWriMo 2016: day 4

Today I wrote 1,324 words. At least I’m being consistent. 

I think this week I’d like to post some information about my story, especially concerning characters and locations. I’m not sure it will be entirely worthwhile, but I’d like to try.

Also, I remembeed why this story is significant (to me): my MC is probably the most autobiographical one I’ve ever written, at least in regards to how she thinks.

Camp NaNoWriMo: day 1

~1,332 words (I’m guessing since its handwritten).

Since I’m doing a first pov journal story, I’m amused that my character drew a map to explain where she’s going.

I also love her metaphors:

  • “…a crescent moon that had been tipped sideways like a turtle”
  • “It was brilliant against the snow, a river of the sky.”

Okay that’s all I can find. That’s all for now.

x-posted to tumblr

Fairy Tale Friday: The Ugly Duckling

Andersen’s Fairy Tales

by H. C. Andersen

This was an old Christmas present from my mom that I re-found at the beginning of the year. It’s a lovely old book, probably from a used book store. There’s a handwritten note in it dated to June 1961. And while I have other books with a lot of the same stories, there’s something adorable about this one so I’m going through reading all them. 

The Ugly Duckling (pg. 48-61)

“He did not know what the birds were, or whether they flew, but all the same he was more drawn towards them than he had ever been by any creatures before” (58).

It begins with a mother duck showing her ducklings the world, as far as she knows it. Sometimes a parent only knows what they know, which isn’t always right for their children. Mother duck confirms life is unfair and you can’t always get what you want. She wanted the eel head for herself.

She also introduces the ducklings to the society in the duckyard, especially the duck with alleged Spanish blood. As she says,

” ‘mind you quack properly, and bend your necks to the old duck over there! She is the grandest of them all; she has Spanish blood in her veins and that accounts for her size, and, do you see? she has a red rag round her leg; that is a wonderfully fine thing, and the most extraordinary mark of distinction any duck can have'” (51).

Does the red rag mean anything? Like is it as a sign of what is going to happen to her or what she’s there for, if anything?

That’s so unfair. Just because he looks different does NOT mean he should be whacked! To quote: ” ‘Very likely not, but he is so ungainly and queer,’ said the biter; ‘he must be whacked'” (52). Why are they so hung up on his looks? Why don’t they get to know him and then judge whether he should be made over or should be whacked? (Apparently I disliked that.)

I’m glad the mother defends him. A little. At the beginning.

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Inadequete Words

I wish I could express more clearly and eloquently how much this assignment to write a sentence for five aspects of my characters’ lives plus their short and long term conflict has wrecked my desire to work on my story, let alone think about my characters.

I know part of it is my bad habits: terrible focus and procrastination (hello, new trait!). Another part is my vicious despondency, which can make getting simple things done difficult. And another part is my weak characterization. 

So, yes, some of it is stuff I should improve upon. I should get into my characters, think about them as they would. As a writer relative told me yesterday, it’s partly letting the characters manifest. Which is something I have realized recently. Characters have to live. For me, I thought once I had a deep sense of who they were, whereby I had an instinctual idea of how they would respond to events and others, I thought that would be enough. But I don’t think it is. 

There has to be something conflicted or compelling. Characters can’t just be themselves. Something has to be going on with them or for them or you don’t have a story. And knowing when I’ve got a story or a bunch of facts is probably my biggest weakness. 

Finding a Character with Story

I’m supposed to write up five sentences, two additional ones that expand on the first, five contradictory sentences, and two more that expand on those for three characters in my novel. And snowflakes, was it hard. 

I’m starting to think characters are one of my weaknesses. Not imagining their history or personality or what they look like but creating complex stories about them.

For me, writing five sentences felt more like writing facts. In contrast, the examples showed sentences that exposed charater but also sparked interest (not my interest). But the idea seemed to be to experiment and explore the possibilities of what the sentences could mean. 

Like, if I wrote: He had cyclical health in his youth, so his parents could predict when and how he would get sick. There’s not a lot I’m going to deviate from or be curious about. I know what that means. It may shift in my writing of the story. But this character’s history and who and what he is, at the moment, is pretty set in stone. 

I’ve been learning that maybe imagining the various ways events or characters could evolve is what makes stories strong. Well, that, and also the fact that I’m not very good at character stories. And hence, I’m thinking I don’t make good well rounded characters. This is definitely an aspect I’ll need to work on.

I blame this on consuming too many fairy tales, mythology, epics, and folklore. I can read personality into Red, nameless protagonists, Enkidu, Hanuman, Rostam, Antar, Zaynab, etc because of their reactions, sayings, gestures, and mannerisms. Do modern characters work the same way?

Even if they do, I can’t shake the feeling that if I had to write five sentences about Achilles in five aspects of his life (hobbies, romance, religion, job, health, what have you) they wouldn’t be done in the right way. I could think of sentences but, again, they’d be facts not sentences that may be explored for plot or character complexity. 

Morning Shame [Day 28]

A SICKENING CHURNING unsettles her belly.

Gripping her midsection, Kisiluri wishes it away. But it gurgles and scolds: she should have known better, she should have done better, what point was there getting up early if she wasn’t going to use it well?

Biting her lip, she curls into a ball.

Written: 18 Sept 2015

Words: 51

Inspired: Kisiluri + life