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: 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


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: The Right Revision

I apparently struggle with revision.

So, it’s not hard to conceptualize a pattern of¬†how to revise.¬†I theoretically break revision up into multi-steps, to address more detailed attention. Like start with making sure the structure works, and so and so until you reach sentence structure. So, yeah, I get that.

But I realized there’s an aspect of revision that really throws me:

how do you know what the right order of a story is?

I can string events in order in my mind, especially if I write it out, but how do I know whether that order — event to event to event — is the best order for the story to unfold in? My criteria right now is whether it flows smoothly; does it seem as if it fits together and does the previous events seem to hook up with the following event. But how do I know for sure it’s best?

Some of this is probably predicated by how I feel writers (and creators) often operate on a “what if?” scenario basis. Which is really odd to me. If I write a story one way, that’s the way it is. Characters might change. Ambitions might change. Plot might change. If it changes as a result of discovering and revising the story, sure. But consciously sitting down to play out different scenarios is kind of…weird to me.

I guess what I’m getting at is that my impression of writers is that they mix and match events (or scenes) to get the best string of events (or story).

My question is then, how do you know which pattern is the best story?

And that gums me up in revision because I don’t know. Or don’t feel like I know. I wish there was a criteria to let me know when I’ve reached the best string of events for my story. That would really help. But I don’t think that exists.

As always, feel free to share your experiences or thoughts. I can’t guarantee I’ll respond quickly, but I wanted to extend the offer.

Writerly Notions: Characters & Negativity

One thing I’ve found out about myself, and which is part of why I’ve begun to think that I’m not future-author material, is that I can’t see the appeal of writing about sad or difficult things.

To be a little clearer:¬† if I’m feeling crummy, why would I want to actualize my dense, dragged-down, twisted, tangled feelings into words? Won’t it just leave me more exhausted and drained and defeated?

Additionally, why would I want to write about characters’ (whom I like) suffering, be it mentally, physically, or emotionally? (Okay, that’s not entirely true; there is a kind of…satisfaction from watching a character go through struggles and change as a result.)

I suppose it’s truer to say that I have a hard time getting why a writer would create characters who do intentionally terrible things.

I can get characters doing what they think is right or characters acting on their own sense of identity and integrity. But that that identity or sense of right would be to compromise the humanity of others…like¬†why?¬†What’s the appeal?

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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.

Surviving Objectives

Day 39: March 11

Flowers flare like fire, ignited inspiration and potential; many objectives suddenly bloom, busy and bustling as bees. But the fire, in a short while, dwindles until there is only a flickering ember. Of the many inspired flares, perhaps one survives. And the others fade from memory, a repetitive scars of scorched earth building over and over atop one another, on and on and on…