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Just do it.

16 Feb

Okay, so in May of 2010 I had an idea. It was brilliant. It is still brilliant.

It’s a story. A young adult story. (Real world fiction, not fantasy with elves and dragons, urban fantasy or in any paranormal romance sense.*) Sort of a coming-of-age thing.

I have characters I love, a setting that totally works for me and enough of a plot to journey through my protagonist’s life (well – the part I’m going to shed some light on in this story).

Seriously, this story has not left my brain. For almost three years. It’s always there, always evolving.

The problem?

I can’t fucking start it. I’ve tried, from all kinds of different angles, multiple times. I’ve tried starting at the beginning, I’ve tried starting in the middle, I’ve even tried penning some small character vignettes to get into the groove of the story.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you had an idea (for anything: writing, sewing, scrapbooking, music…anything) that you just can’t get out?

I’m not worried about “the perfect story” here, folks. I put that dream to bed a long time ago. First drafts aren’t supposed to be pretty, that’s not what they’re there for. They exist to get the sketch of an idea on “paper” so that you can go back six or seven (hundred) times to flesh out and prettify things later. (Ask any writer, they will tell you that their first drafts of anything are pretty dismal. If they don’t, they’re lying to you.)

How do you overcome this obstacle? Do you pour yourself a cup of tea (or gin) and plow forward? Do you have a meditative routine that helps you centre your creativity and motivation? Do you work on something else, exercising your mad skills, until this project is actually ready to be created?

I am going to try to plow through again. I’m going to start writing, however ridiculous and inconsequential the subject matter, and hope that I can get into the groove of this story. I’m going to try…againBut! If you have any tips or tricks, I’d be thrilled to read, or hear them!

Happy creating, Lovelies!

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.
– Anne Lamott Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Serena Ryder – Good Morning Starshine

UNT.

*I have two “fantasy”-esque stories in the works, too. They’re easier to write.

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Thirty Days of Writing: Question Number Four

16 Sep

Number 4→ Your first stories/characters. 

My first story.

Wow.  There’s a blast from the past.

I have absolutely no idea what my first story was, but I can tell you the one that I always remember the most fondly.  The one that hinted that maybe I could do this.  It was called Midnight Cove.  A story about a sea monster (distant relative of the Ogopogo) terrorizing San Diego.

Pretty much guys, pretty much.

Unfortunately I don’t have the submission date written on the final draft (oh yes, I still have the final draft and oh no, you will not be reading it), but I am pretty sure I wrote it in grade seven.

At any rate?  It’s not too terrible.  I mean the plot could be better and I did end it with a wedding, but the foundation’s pretty solid.  (And hey, I got an “A” for it – booyah!)  Pond scum that may someday become a complex life form, folks.  We all have our roots.

What about you?  Do you remember your first stories and/or characters?  Do you still have the old drafts and do you still read over them from time to time?

Allure feat. Christian Burns – Power of You

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A survey and a writerly meme!

3 Aug

A Survey!  (Originally seen here: Getting To Know You Day on Authentic Experience.)

1. How long have you been blogging?
Four years. Ish.

2. Did you go to college?

  (Image @ Zelda Lily: Feminism in a Bra)

Why yes, yes I did.

3. Where have you traveled?
I have trekked over quite a bit of our fair Canada, have seen a wee bit of the USofA and have visited Germany and Austria.

4. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
My house.

5. What are your three biggest pet peeves?
a) Tailgaters.

b) People who leave their blinkers on LONG after their turn and/or lane-change has been made.

c) Not being the centre of everyone’s universe.  It’s just wrong, guys.

6. What is your favourite movie?
Hackers.

7. What is your drink of choice; wine, beer, or liquor. Or Water, Soda, Tea?
Strange list.

I like water.  For more fun, I’m all about the DP. (Dr. Pepper, that is.)

8. What is something you enjoy to do when you have me time?
Write.

9. If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, which store would it be?
I’d love to say Books & Co., but I think Home Depot and Ikea are wiser choices. (If I have to spend it in a store and not refer to Question 4.)

10. Share with us an embarrassing moment of your past?
I was once ashamed to admit that I dig (It’s) Britney (Bitch) Spears.

11. What day would you love to relive again?
June 29, 2002.

12. If your life was turned into a movie… what actor would play you?
Anne Hathaway. Because this is the only way I will ever walk with any semblance of poise, or speak with a hint of eloquence.

13. What are the jobs you had in high school/college/the early years?
In high school I rocked an art gallery front desk (and gift shop) and college (university) saw me building pizzas or making salads, depending on which city I was in at the time.

14. Show us a picture from high school or college.
Okay. OLD uni picture, from the Residence Semi-Formal I attended in my second year.

15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go?
The answer to this question depends on the day it’s asked. Today? Nova Scotia.

16. Show us the most current picture of you or you, or your family, or anything of meaning to you.
Okay.  Me and Nephew-Bug (on July 27, 2012)!

17. Where do you see your life 5 years from now?
I’m hoping to see it in a happy and healthy bosom of personal success. (Here’s a hint: YFN vyxen’s idea of personal success has very little, if anything, to do with financial gain.)

~*~

A Writerly Meme!

<Measurement of Time> 03 → How do you come up with character names? 

I used to use http://www.babynamenetwork.com/.  I tended to choose an origin based on the traits I had envisioned before naming a character and then I would start with a favourite letter and sift through the silt.

Now I use 55, 000+ Baby Names.  Because I picked it up for $4.99 and books are more fun than the internet (and it’s super fun to randomly sift through a baby name book in front of mephy).

Five Finger Death Punch – Bad Company

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In which YFN vyxen answers seven questions and begins a series.

24 Jun

First!

Some questions:

(The questions came from here!  You should answer them too, they’re fun.)

1. What do you do when you’re sick? (Do you act like a baby? Tough it out? Have any weird cravings? Cry?)
I tough it out. I live with a man, and so tease Mr. Man about how wimpy men are when they’re sick. I’d feel like a douche if I wasn’t She-Ra when sick. (Fuck you, Horde – Ima wreck you.)

2. What do you do to find motivation when you feel you’ve lost it?
In the case of RFN I make myself work. I’m a little sad and the last thing I want to do is sit down and write. (I’d really like to curl up and bask in the glory of Netflix.)

3. Do you wish time away or do you savour every moment?
I wish it away. There’s so much I want to do and I’d really just like to do it now, not savour The Now and wait. (I do wish – see what I did there? – I could savour every moment and I have tried, it’s just not working out so well for me.)

4. If you could be any mythological creature, what would you be, and why?
Chupacabra. ‘Cause that BAMF is a mythological Latin American Honey Badger.

5. What is your current biggest weakness and are you working on fixing it?
I have wavering self-esteem. It’s funny because today I was almost confident about a few things, but that’s just been shattered (it’s temporary – I’ll get over immediate disappointment). At any rate, my lack of self-confidence is debilitating.

As for fixing it? Yes, I’m working on it. I’m trying to be less “meh” about my talents. They’re real and they’re strong, I need to recognize that and hone in. I’m trying. Really hard. (It’s even been working.  Off and on.)

6. How do you greet someone when meeting them for the first time?
With a chipper “hello” and a hearty handshake.

7. How do you grocery shop? (Do you write up a list? Go in with no idea what you’re looking for? Have meal plans? Bring your own shopping bags?)
(I LOVE to grocery shop!)

I meal plan, so I like to pick dishes and then I build my grocery list around that, while taking into account work lunches for me and mephy and general household odds and ends (like Reese PB ice cream. A necessity in any household) – and yes, I bring my own shopping bags. I’m a little sad that $100+ can fit into only four (canvas) bags, but it sure saves on trips up and down the stairs when I bring it all home.

AND THEN!

(Yes.  And then.)

So I was wandering the vastness of The Online (a dangerous pastime, I know) on a quest for another survey-type-thing to fill out for you.  But this brilliant 30 Day Writing Challenge distracted me.  I feel this is a fantastic series to take part in, so I will!  (This will absolutely not be a 30 Days INAROW Writing Challenge though.  I am not a daily blogger.  I MAY be able to do 30 WEEKSINAROW, but we’ll see!  What I can promise is that I will complete each section of this challenge!)

(You should consider taking part as well, I want to read what you have to say about these things!)

Day 01 → Your favourite writ­ing project/universe that you’ve worked with. 

Honestly?  My absolute favourite environment to write in was for a play-by-post role playing game called Forest of the Moon (FotM).  Inspiration for that game was taken from Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (not coincidentally, my introduction to our beloved Gaiman), so it will surprise (some of) you very little to learn that the story took place in Faerie.

It’s actually because of FotM (and Stardust) that I’ve become so smitten with Fae mythos.  This is the only occasion that I’ve taken to writing faeries – I’m usually strictly only a reader of fantasy – and it’s been so much fun.  The plotlines are endless, the themes from which to draw are innocent and naïve on the surface and dark and foreboding only one layer beneath, and there’s just so much wit and whimsy involved.  It feeds my soul.

Alas, because I am usually strictly only a read of fantasy, this has been my only foray into Faerie.  Perhaps my deceitful little Fae will make a strong comeback in my personal writing – there are avenues I’d love to explore in her backstory – but am thrilled to always have theForestof the Moon.

In terms of personal writing?  In the last year I’ve begun to play with a pair of characters who dabble on opposite ends of the same spectrum.  They, and their little universe, have become my favourites in my offline writing.

I feel like this subject can’t be concluded without a respectful shout-out to an old favourite.  There was a time, eons ago now, when I did tinker with the worlds of fantasy.  I created a character that I still hold dear.  I can’t write her worth a shit (mephy actually does an amazing job of writing her and has incorporated her into a storyline of his own), but she will always be on a high pedestal in my creative world.  (I love her.  I want to be her.)

Queen – Another One Bites the Dust

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YFN vyxen On Writing

19 Jun

(Image @ Bill Watterson)

mephy and I had a pretty cool conversation the other evening.

I had, you see, sent a piece of writing to Friend last weekend.  While I was bemoaning Friend’s busy schedule and consequential lack of free time with which to edit silly stories, mephy looked at me blankly.  “You know, that story?”  I rolled my eyes.  He maintained blankness.  Apparently I had not shared that one with Mr. mephistopheles.  (My bad.)  Naturally I remedied that and sent him all of the wine writing that related to that piece (there is the initial, the second, and the subsequent two re-writes of the second).

(I don’t go overboard at all.)

Here’s where The Fun came in.

I asked mephy what he thought.  Not ever one for straight answers, he started listing the things that should stay and the things that should perhaps not stay.  I asked him to tell me if he liked it or not and he shot me a look.  mephy is smart and respects me, my passion, and our relationship enough to not sugar-coat things.  He gets to the meat of the situation.  It’s why I share things with him.  (It’s also why I sometimes do not share things with him.)

The gist of it?  mephy believes that I blog better than I write (creative fiction).  He’s actually not wrong.  Not only does blogging come more easily to me (most of the time), it reads better.  My fiction just doesn’t have the same finesse.  (Guys, I’m not saying I’m a BAMF when it comes to The Blogging, it just really does read a helluva lot better than my creative work does.  …more’s the pity.)

Now!  This revelation will not make me give up my dream of creative fiction writing.  It will, however, make me take The Blogging more seriously.  Blogging, for me, is fun.  It’s just whimsical bullshit that I get to do.  The writing writing is something different.  I get all seriousface about that.  (I suspect this is probably where the problem lies.)  Blogging is also what I do most often.  I’ve been away from the writing writing for a long time, out of sheer intimidation.

I am out of practise.

That is the part that makes me excited.  Being able to harness my blogging voice and throw it into creative fiction writing!?  THAT is badass.  I mean not only do I get to keep practising the writing writing, but I get to be not-half-bad at one kind of writing and incorporate that into what I want to do (when I grow up).

Cool beans!

PotUSA – Kitty

UNT.

Of Starbucks writers and Richard Madoc.

28 May

I can’t fucking write.

This is basically what I tell myself every time I open a Word document.

Over the last month, or so, I’ve gone on a handful of pretentious writing dates with a friend.  Friend clack, clack, clacks away while I sit and stare at the blank white page of Word and wonder why it can’t look like Word Perfect (circa 1992).  Friend then shares what he’s written: a charming piece ripe with vivid description.  I look back to my document, now tainted by various disjointed thoughts hastily strung together by an unpractised hand and disappointing vocabulary.

I am reasonably certain Friend does not mean for this to be my immediate reaction to his writing.  The “charming piece ripe with vivid description” bit yes, but not my instant self-loathing.  Friend is a good guy.  He goes on writing dates as much for me as for him.

This is such a load of crap.

I’ve always been bad for gauging other people’s lawns in comparison to mine.  They always look so lush.  The trick is to walk over them.  That’s when you realize the grass is the same; it’s the environment that’s different.

I can write, but I write differently.  I tend to steer pretty clear of descriptive prose, favouring things a little more plainly written.  Friend loves Tolkien – you know, the guy who could describe a patch of grass for thirty-or-so pages?  It stands to reason that Friend would be more inclined to write lovely description, it’s what he studies.  I prefer one or two fewer words.  It’s not worse or better, just different

Right?

I am beginning to come to terms with the theory that “life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself” (author unknown).  While I believe in Fate, it’s unreasonable, and completely lazy, to think that you will miraculously come across your lost self while skipping rocks over a lake some sunny afternoon.  Self is something you have to work at.  You have to study, try and fail then try again, love and lose then love again, break bones, suffer heart ache and crawl back up from your lowest points to become the self you seek.  (It would be lovely if your self was sitting in the middle of a Cracker Jack box though, wouldn’t it?  Easy to find and sprinkled with caramel sugar!)

Writing, for me, is a lot like not finding yourself.  I’m not going to Richard Madoc my way into a glowing narrative.  I’m going to have to work for it.  I’m going to have to bleed and sweat for it.  I’m going to scream and cry out of desperate frustration.  I’m going to have to make myself stay motivated and seek out inspiration.  I’m going to have to work my ass off.

Will I?  I suppose I can’t say for sure, the future’s a hazy sumbitch, but I like to think I’ll try.  I’ve stuck it out this long and the itch just keeps getting stronger.  It’s just work.  Everything worth having in life requires a little elbow grease.

(Image @ George & Doris Hauman)

Savage Garden – To the Moon and Back

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Sidenote: after I posted this, WordPress told me that I had successfully written 185 posts.  (Woohoo!)  After it told me that, it gave me a quote.  I would like to share that quote with you because it is so serendipitously appropriate:

I do not like to write – I like to have written. 
– Gloria Steinem

When I rock the mic, I rock the mic right.

5 Nov

I either have dissociative identity disorder or bipolar disorder.

Hear me out.

When I went to bed last night I was done with writing.  Done.  I had some tears, but mostly apathy.  Shit, I was ready to box up all of my How To Write references and donate them to . . . somewhere.  I woke up this morning completely jazzed about life and writing again.

This is absolutely maddening, people.  This isn’t the first time this has happened and I’d be willing to stake a small fortune on it happening again (soon).

Earlier this week I had been playing with an idea I have since decided to implement.  Some of you are aware that I’m jacked to participate in NaNoWriMo this year and some of you are also aware that I have been entertaining house guests since Wednesday evening and have had very little time to do much of anything (better excuse than “I’m too tired after a long day of work,” right?).  So!  Fuck proper time constraints.  My NaNoWriMo is Nov 7 – Dec 6.  It’s not 3DNC and I’m only doing it to kick-start an idea I had a year and a half ago.

Seriously.  Try living in my head for five minutes, it’s a goddamn roller coaster.

Robbie Williams – Rock DJ

UNT.

Don’t that lady look surprised!?

11 Oct

I gave up my paid writing gig.

That was not an easy decision, as you might imagine.  I thought about it, and decided to persevere.  I thought about it more, and decided the pros outweighed the cons.  Then I thought about it some more, and decided both parties would be more successful if we ended our business relationship amiably.  (Thank you, so much, for first allowing me and then encouraging me to take on a creative role.  I will never forget and always appreciate that.)

Now what?

It’s no secret that I’ve been a little creatively dry these last months.  I let the teachings of the inspired Julia Cameron slip by the wayside.  In my first draft of this post I (perhaps unsurprisingly) got a bit melancholy.  (You can’t blame me too much, I’ve been watching a lot of Angel recently and brooding is almost second nature when you do that.)  I got all what’s-the-point and What Is The Meaning Of Life?  It was messy – you’re glad I didn’t post it, believe me.

I just had a bath.  Normally when I do that, at least lately, I’ve been reading me some Harry Dresden.  This evening I was dead tired and wanted something a bit more serial, so I picked up the October issue of The Writer (you can get it at Books & Co. and I suggest you do, it’s awesome – Owen would be happy to set a copy aside for you every month, just tell him G sent you) instead.  I read an article about how werewolves are the new vampires and/or zombies.

Okay, so as far as Great Literature is concerned it wasn’t that inspiring.  Point is?  People write.  Every day, in every circumstance.  Mothers, fathers, doctors, line cooks, cancer patients . . . they all make the time.

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year.  I have a friend who has so enthusiastically agreed to write with me, to be my motivation while I act as hers.  I’m not going to chince out.  I’m also going to hit up that aforementioned bookshop next week when I’m off work on vacation (this is your only warning Booksters.  You don’t know when I’ll be there, you don’t know where I’ll sit, you just know that I’ll show up.  Probably more than once.  My advanced apologies).  I need to get my shit together.  (I love pep-talk by blog.  It’s always so fun!)

Help me out, people?  Keep me honest.  Make me feel guilty by asking about the book, short story, poem or piece of erotica (rly?) I’m working on.  NaNoWriMo’s right, the more people you tell the more writing you’ll have to do . . . don’t want to look like any more of an asshole than you have to by promising productivity and not putting out.  It just ain’t right.  Write?

Stereo MCs – Connected

UNT.

PS. Because it’s been in my head ALL DAY (thank you Cotter and G-Lo):

You’re welcome!

The sky.

11 Sep

This one inspired by a prompt from Kendra (from a lifetime or so ago).

The sky.

Was blue.

Not just any blue.  The sky, today, was The blue.  “Once upon a time” blue.  The blue of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.  Blue that you just can’t help but smile about.

Today’s sky was a representation of hope.  Hope that the sun will continue to shine, that the orange, yellow and red of autumn will hold off just a bit longer, and that the temperature will allow for just a few more trips to the ice cream stand.

The sky this evening is a different story.

This sky begins at its lowest point with the pale yellow of a primrose dame, continues through a soft dusky pink into a smooth, murky indigo.  This is a comfortable sky, a sky that begs you to sit beneath it with a cup of tea, a notebook and a puppy frolicking in the yard beside you.  This sky is an old friend.

These skies act as mirror to a pretty flawless day.

(It’s been one of those great ones folks.  One filled with friends, family, music and awesome.  This has been one of those days I like to thank The Big Guy for more specially than the days that fill the gaps – this one was a gift.)

The Who – Undun

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Cultivating my inner artist.

29 Aug

I took a (small) break from TAW.  Taking the Little Black Monster to dog classes took a great deal of time (and energy).  I kept up on the Morning Pages and I still worked on personal creative writing projects, I just placed a bookmark in the text and shelved it for a few weeks, until I could get back to it with a fiery vengeance.

I’m back.

I’m on Chapter Three.  I though I would share one of the exercises with you!  (Lucky you.)  This one is intended to begin to “restore the persons we have abandoned – ourselves.”  (Ms. Cameron says that “when you complete the following phrases, you may feel strong emotion as you retrieve memories and misplaced fragments of yourself.”  She’s not wrong.)

Detective Work, An Exercise (p.73)

1. My favourite childhood toy was . . . (and always will be) Dusky.

2. My favourite childhood game was . . . cops and robbers on bicycle with the neighbourhood kids in the cul de sac.  Or My Little Pony.

3. The best movie I ever saw as a kid was . . . Masters of the Universe.

4. I don’t do it much but I enjoy . . . hiking.

5. If I could lighten up a little, I’d let myself . . . dance.

6. If it weren’t too late, I’d . . . re-watch Nightmare on Elm Street 4.

7. My favourite musical instrument is . . . the cello.

8. The amount of money I spend on treating myself to entertainment each month is . . . considerably less than it should be.

9. If I weren’t so stingy with my artist, I’d buy her . . . a new notebook a month, and a new pen to go along with it.  Guilt free.

10. Taking time out for myself is . . . not at all as easy as it should be.

11. I am afraid that if I start dreaming . . . my life will completely change (and I’ll enjoy the then more than I enjoy the now).

12. I secretly enjoy reading . . . Cosmopolitan.  (Is it that much of a secret?  Really?)

13. If I had a perfect childhood I’d have grown up to be a . . . veterinarian.

14. If it didn’t sound so crazy, I’d write or make a . . .book.  (It’s actually not as lame an answer as I initially thought it was.)

15. My parents think artists are . . . not something a productive member of society should aspire to be.  Not wholly.  Just as an after-work hobby.

16. My God thinks artists are . . . precious.

17. What makes me feel weird about this recovery is . . . taking time to do the things I want to do.  For me.

18. Learning to trust myself is probably . . . going to get me into a world of trouble in the end.

19. My most cheer-me-up music is . . .KISS.  Anything by KISS.  (And “Sex Bomb” by Tom Jones, but the version that features Mousse T.)

20. My favourite way to dress is . . . sassily.  I so rarely do, but I so enjoy it when I get to.

KISS – Domino

UNT.