Friday, July 29, 2016

Knitting a story idea

When you have an idea, and it doesn’t make sense, do you give up on it? Should you?

I think it is conventional wisdom that, if the idea seems like it doesn’t make sense, you move on. You don’t want to spend a lot of effort on a thing that’s going to strike readers as false, right? And that’s okay. Sometimes ideas actually don’t work. But I believe that just because sussing out what the plot is takes time, effort, and a little mental gymnastics doesn’t mean it’s always not worth doing.

For example, my initial inspiration for Cassidy was literally, “Acid rain, and a girl with prosthetic legs and amnesia.” Figuring out who she was and why she had amnesia was like sitting on an egg, combined with kneading dough. The most important part actually came to me while I was on the elliptical machine at the gym. There have been times in the writing process when it seems like I’m trying too hard, and the end product is going to feel contrived because I keep having to make room for things, or force things in. And I do think it’s true that when something is forced in, it shows—but that’s what rough drafts are for! You put it in so that you don’t forget it and maybe in a subsequent draft you figure out exactly how it fits.

Say you have an idea, and it’s predicated on a conflict and a character’s reaction to that conflict, and you’re excited and happy and plotting things out in your head… and you realize after an hour or so that the whole foundation for the idea seems contrived, that no sane character would react the way your character reacted. What do? You could start over, try to figure out what the appropriate response would be. You could scrap it and move on. Or… you’re the writer, you’re the worldbuilder, who’s to say that reaction isn’t appropriate? What would have to change to make their reaction appropriate? Would it be internal to the character, or external? Like, maybe your character is mentally ill, or something like that.

Don’t force the ideas that don’t feel right, but remember—you’re the god here. If you want something to work, figure out how it would work, and write it that way.

Happy writing!

Word count: 17,869 (䗍)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Writing! Again!

Hey guys, so this is exciting!

I wrote 2,222 words yesterday.

The last words were “the end,” not because I finished the draft but because otherwise I’d have only written 2,220 words and well, you can’t have that.

I don’t know if what I’m writing is any good. I have a very hard time having a feel for that while I’m writing it. I usually imagine my future readers making fart sounds and rolling their eyes when they’re reading my feeble attempts at misdirection. But… it is not mine to judge, only mine to write it down as it comes to me.

I’m going to have almost twice the words for this upcoming Writers’ Group meetup as I had for the last, hooray! And honestly, if I’m going the wrong direction this time, I’m just going to finish the draft and give up on the damn story because there’s just no pleasing you people. (And by “you people” I obviously mean myself and the craft of writing at large. No personal offense intended.)

I saw the Ghostbusters movie this last Friday, and it was awesome. At a couple of different parts I had to remind myself that it wasn’t the original and it wasn’t trying to be, and with that in mind, I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better movie.

Oh yeah, then there was MuckFest.

Guys, MuckFest was great this year. The venue was perfect: flat, grassy, wide open. The weather was perfect: warm by 9am but we got out before it got hot. The mud and water were perfect: refreshing but unarguably on the warm side. We brought our shower tent and shower bag and man… that was great. I was the #1 fundraiser (*takes a bow*), so I got to have a hot shower, and there could be nothing better. That’s definitely a keeper.

The Racing Snails were in the top 10 fundraising teams, and Elly Conley was in the top 10 fundraising individuals! Thanks all my donors! I (obviously) couldn’t have done it without you!

On Sunday, Branden and I went to the Adele concert with my parents. She is a great performer, very very fun. We were sore and shell-shocked from Saturday’s Muckening, but we muddled along and had a great time. Overall, my weekend was packed but kicked ass anyway. Viva los Ghostbusters, amigos, and I'll see you when I see you.

Word count: 15,633 (㴑)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Everything but writing

So, creativity.

I have it. Boy, do I. I have been creating and creating and creating. I’m reflooring rooms! Painting rooms! Building fences! I’m knitting a scarf (right) that requires twenty-three strands of yarn. I even built a little tool dealie-bob to help me keep all them strands organized and untangled. I’m growing plants. Growing kittens. Designing shirts for the MuckFest. I’m learning 3D modeling. And now I have a deep and burning desire to build bookshelves with lumber and screws.

You know what I can’t seem to do? (I think the title gave it away a little bit.)

That’s right: write. Yesterday, Becky and I had a writing date, for the first time in several weeks. Instead of writing, I wrote a Java program for formatting HTML. Because, you guessed it, I’m straight bonkers. I stayed up till 2am finishing that program, specifically to improve an HTML file that was already 98% there and that I’m not going to bother updating anyway. (The good news is that it can be reused in the future, so that’s nice.) Anyway, I finished it, and now I wish I could coax Becky into writing with me again, because I recognize that I totally wasted what may be the only time this week that I’ll have any motivation to write. (Our dates provide motivation of the external variety, which is essential at times.) And I would have loved to chat about things instead of having my entire brain absorbed in mind-bending code. But… I also love the way I feel when I’m that engaged. It feels like fatigue doesn’t matter, like my life doesn’t have to matter as long as I feel that way forever.

But that’s sorta edging into other topics, so I’m gonna call it here. Now I have to go do chores for the rest of the day so that our cleaning lady can… you know, clean stuff.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Out of gas

When I was in the grips of creative construction earlier this week, I felt like I could work forever on my project. I felt like I had discovered the secret to reclaiming my old energy. I felt like all of my previous problems boiled down to “chronically bored.”

Today, I know better.

We are 98% finished in the cat room. We only need to apply one touch-up layer of silicone in some parts of the room, and we’re done, finally. Then we can move all the stuff back in, and not a moment too soon, considering that we accepted five bottle babies yesterday. But it’s a good thing that the silicone still needs about twelve hours more to dry, because I just don’t have the up-and-at-’ems needed to finish this project alone.

I am not complaining, I’m not feeling bad about myself. I’m just realizing that nothing is magic. There is a good chance that my capabilities are greater than I’ve been allowing myself to explore, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still need to take it easy and keep an eye on my spoons throughout the day or week. It’s been a really nice visit back to the world of pseudo-normalcy this week, but the fact that it was only a vacation isn’t much of a surprise to me. Honestly, right now, it sorta feels like I improved my time on some kind of race: a success, not a failure. Which is a very nice change in my habitual thinking. I might actually be getting good at this.

So, today I am looking forward to knitting and watching NetFlix and feeding kittens every three hours. Everything else can wait.