Sitting at my desk in lounge wear, a sage and citrus candle lit and sipping an illicit rum and Pepsi while I ponder. Not that I plan on embracing the cliche of the drunken writer – if I did, and I could stand the taste of anise, I’d choose Absinthe instead – just nice every once in a while. It’s been a long day, one where I woke up with not quite a headache, not quite a dizziness, but a sensation of being about two inches up and to the left of where my headspace should be. It was very disorienting and made our surprise day on the phones handling high-speed internet calls a frustrating experience. I’m still shaking that cold from two weeks ago, I suppose.
Anyways, today’s question: What Little Have I Learned?
And oh how little I have learned.
When I am bored and presented with no other options to amuse myself (like TV or video games or role-playing games or people), when it is up to me to entertain myself, I write and it is an effortless, open-minded, and experimental solo journey. It’s spontaneous. I have no idea where it’s going. I just submit. I let it run until it stops or I am forced to stop.
When I am trying to write, when I sit down with something preconceived, be it only the vaguest of ideas or the most concrete of outlines, it’s a crap shoot whether I slip into that blissful state or whether it’s an excruciating bought of writerly constipation. (Pardon the pun) I have learned that sometimes I can push through (again, sorry) and make it to that state of being secondary to the story, a watcher and not a writer. Other times, it doesn’t happen but the words come one by one, achingly slow. I have learned that either scenario can create good prose or bad prose.
(Compared to each other, of course, not to other novels. My sad little crab apples are nothing compared the heady, luscious satsumas and bergemots and key limes out there.)
But above all, I am a master at self-sabotage. I am easily distracted and often do not remove those distractions before setting down to work. I slip too quickly back into old bad habits, no matter how many times I try to shake them. I am terrible at keeping a schedule without outside prompting and when Todd tries to help I recoil at being told what to do. The only reasons, I think, I stuck through Sparrow King to its completion are these – I was home all day, leaving no excuse not to write 1,667 words per day, and once I’d reached 50,000, I couldn’t not finish it. It still took me about another month and a half to write the other 35,000 words, but I did it.
It’s been three weeks since I’ve written a word on Spirit Cats and I’m worried that it’s already lost to me. What used to come so quickly to my mind’s eye, so bright and breathless, now I grope after, half blind and in the dark. Sometimes I imagine the cast of my story looking back at me while they float ahead, expressions bewildered or infuriated or resigned (my main characters, Lily, Victorianna and David, in that order).
But that brings me around to something I think I’m just learning now – I think I keep picking the wrong stories to tell and the wrong way to tell them.
What do I mean by that?
Looking at all the writing exercises, I naturally slip into a tight 3rd person perspective time and time again. Right now? Writing 1st person. And what other pattern do I see in the exercises? Four times out of five what I’ve written is fantasy – be it medieval, Asian, or something wholly different, it’s fantasy time and again. Yet what sort of stories do I tend to try to write? Reborne, Wolf Killer, Spirit Cats – all modern fantasy, a genre I should admit that I don’t read often. I’d even say that the amount of modern fantasy I do read equates well to how often it pops up in the writing exercises. The ideas I get for stories skew differently – the raw pieces can be fantasy of any kind, science fiction or even horror while the ideas that have more legs tend to be either straight fantasy or modern fantasy. (And the modern fantasy I have read, for the most part, I’ve been disappointed in – but that’s another topic for another day.)
Not that I want to limit my writing but maybe I should do what comes naturally first. Hell, Spirit Cat started out as a 1st person story, then ended up coming out as 3rd person tight when I wrote the scenes at work, which then had to be converted back to 1st person.
Arg. I don’t know anymore. See, I wasn’t kidding about the little part. Maybe this is all massive time-squandering navel gazing! I suspect in some ways it is. Whenever I start over-producing journal entries, either here or in my paper journal where all the whiny-life-shit goes, I know I’m not writing. Why does it have to be all or nothing with me? Why can’t I find the balance between the two extremes?
Pray I find a little courage so I can stop hiding and start writing again. Tomorrow I have to walk the walk. La Fromagerie. I’ll let you know how it goes. Tomorrow’s (related) Topic: Workshopping or What The Hell Am I Afraid Of?