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: 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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January Summary

a day late

As part of the Every Day Challenge, instigated by the-cassandra-project, I set up two challenges. The second one, or Challenge #2, focused on Nights of Heroes — revision, outlining, character development. I posted about my progress it every couple days. These posts can be found here at my writing journal.

Other general writing posts can be found here.

My Challenge #1, which was to write 100+ words every day, can be found here (among other material and inspiration related to the story.)

Finally, I made character aesthetics.

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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Chronicle #2: 9 Oct 2016

To get right to it:

  • finished (for the most part) the third story in my NaNo 2015 novel; I’ve started to finish the fourth story which I’m excited about (I have a loose outline of events)
  • touched up a character head-shot for Romance of Three Jewels
  • reformatted an old story I’m thinking of going back to revise and edit (exciting!) mostly because I’ve realized that I still care a lot of about the subject and themes (what happens to invasive species if they adapt to a new environment and fear of the unknown/night and the monster’s pov in a legend)

(I promise that 1. I’ll explain what my stories are, and 2. I’ll try to figure out a more consistent time to post these.) Much good will and thanks to all!

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.

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. 

Writing Demons: Meaning

So after everything I’ve been talking about, why do I use the term “demon” to refer these creatures?

After a certain Disney cartoon episode aired, I finally realized how demons can be simultaneous with terror. Admittedly, it was more weird-horror (which is apparently not something I care for), but it still made me see for the first time how a creature classified as a demon might actually be frightening.

And I mean frightening in a way other than how bears can be frightening because they’re stronger and deadlier than a human physically  and operate on completely different comprehension of the world.

Which, interestingly, points out precisely where my conception of my demons originates: biology.

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Writing Demons: Human Perspective

Since this is the month of Halloween and it’s a holiday with roots in the dead (ancestors or saints), I keep thinking of demons that have associations with those kinds of themes: death, the supernatural, a taste of horror.

And the two types that come to mind immediately are the valyysk and the kresvyk.

The valyysk because of their association with “vampiric” monsters. I’ve always been leery of referring to them like that, not because they can’t absorb the life force of other creatures, but because of the connotations associated with the term “vampire”, especially with the new supernatural romance genre in Young Adult Literature.

And the kresvyk because of their bloodier tendency toward apparent slaughter. I’ve also been leery of explaining them, not because I mind their nature, but because it easily fits into the theme of “demons-as-ruthless-monster.” And that’s not really how I see my demons.

The catch is that some of their more demonic designated traits are derived from a human point of view, which boils down to biological differences that inform different species’ cultural perspective.

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