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Category: Writing

Jumbled Mess

I feel like my brain has been a jumbled mess for the past few months. The AWW weekend was awesome and I was fired-up to get back into writing and other creative pursuits.

Then things sorta slipped away from me.

It started with our betta fish dying. May you rest in peace, Bob the Feared. The fact that I had been part of a team to keep this fish alive for 10 months was a big deal given that the last time I tried to take care of a fish, it died within 2 days. May you rest in peace, Jaws, and I am still sorry for overfeeding your fish, Jamie.

Then the much bigger event happened. My stepfather passed away. That was tough. He had been sick for quite some time and seemed to have just tanked this year. I was watching this unfold from more than a thousand miles away and felt completely helpless. Not that I could have done much if I was there, but still. You know what I mean. After he passed, there was an odd mix of emotions and it was interesting watching how other people reacted. I’d like to write more about that in its own post, but need to put a little more time between those events/observations and writing about them.

What I Learned this Weekend at AWW 2017

This past weekend I attended the Antioch Writers’ Workshop (AWW) 2017 Saturday seminar, as well as the keynote and craft class with Hugo Award winner John Scalzi. My head just about popped with all of the knowledge poured into it by some fantastic speakers. Creative WritingI can’t imagine what it would be like to attend the full week, but I hope to find out one of these years.

After taking some time to mentally digest the new knowledge, I wanted to share with you three things I took away from the weekend. There were far more than three things I learned, but these are the ones that stood out.

1) Find a process that works for you.

Sometimes I worry so much about doing things the “right way” that I get discouraged and don’t move forward. This is a useless approach to getting anything done. Even though I know better, I still get caught up in this trap. Silly. 

Who am I?

No, this isn’t a post about an existential crisis or Les Miserables. It’s about who I am as a writer.

I recently attended the Antioch Writers’ Workshop Spring Seminar and two recurring themes throughout the day were “be a good literary citizen” and “figure out who you are as a writer.”

Being a good literary citizen includes doing things like spreading the word about books you are reading, writing online reviews of books, helping other writers with advice and encouragement, etc. Basically, be a good person as a writer. In the interest of being a good literary citizen, I have tried to promote other books and writers on Twitter more. I realized I have been a complete slacker about writing reviews, so I plan to review books I have read on Amazon, Goodreads, and on my blog. I have also had the chance to write author profiles for LiteraryMama.com, which has been a lot of fun.

So being a good literary citizen was the easy theme of the day to deal with. The more difficult one was figuring out I am as a writer.

Some of the people there talked about how they spend a few hours in the morning writing, or they get up at 4:30 a.m. to have some quiet time to write. I have a full-time job outside the home, so I can’t devote large chunks of the day to writing. As for the early morning, I’m pretty sure me being awake at 4:30 a.m. on a regular basis is one of the signs of the apocalypse. I also have a family and I make jewelry, and I’m not willing to give up time for either. Let me be clear and note I am not saying that people who write give up time with their families. I admire those who do get up at crazy early hours just so they can still have time with their families. My unwillingness to be up before the buttcrack of dawn just to write left me questioning my commitment and wondering if I really am cut out to be a writer. It bothered me enough that I was having a hard time sitting down to write a post about the seminar, even though I really enjoyed it.

Okay, maybe this post is a little bit about an existential crisis as a writer.

Took a Little Break from Writing

Blank JournalI ended up taking a little break from writing after NaNoWriMo this year. It wasn’t really planned, it just happened.

NaNoWriMo was a success for me again this year in that I wrote almost every day in November and managed to type just over 50,000 words in the process. I didn’t really like my story, though. I think the problem was I wrote it in the first person as a 15-year-old high school student. There is not enough money in the world to make me want to go back to high school again, so that likely tainted my perception of the experience. I think the general story has potential, but there were times when I just struggled with what to do with some of the characters. After all, it has been many moons since I was in high school and the world has changed so much in that time. I think I will revisit it again some day but rewrite it with the main characters as adults. We’ll see.

I also did not work on editing my story from NaNoWriMo 2015. I did find it crossing my mind. A lot. I miss the characters. I can relate to them better, probably because there is a lot of me in the main character. Does that make me narcissistic? Maybe. No more than any other writer who puts bits of themselves into their characters, though. I just grabbed my printed copy with notes and put it on my desk so I can get back to this.

Socially Awkward, Even in Cyberspace

I tried writing in a journal a few times when I was younger, but it seemed like someone would always manage to read it. Each time someone else read one of my journals, it felt like an incredible violation of privacy. It also usually resulted in that person being mad at me for what I had written, which didn’t help. So I stopped writing down my thoughts and feelings and just kept them to myself. Journal with ones and zeros

Then along comes this internet thing and along with it social media and blogs. Now journals aren’t just little books with cute, easy to pick locks on them. They are 1’s and 0’s out in the open for the whole world to read.

The whole flippin’ world.

The thought of it was and still is horrifying to me. But I put on my big girl panties and dutifully signed up for social media accounts and even posted a comment now and then.

Several years have passed since joining the cyberspace society and so far I haven’t completely pissed off anyone with anything I have posted online. At least not that I know of. Yet. I got brave about a year ago and started a blog. It was a big deal for me to do this, but I wasn’t writing anything terribly personal. Just talking about stuff I made and having fun with it. Still haven’t completely pissed off anyone that I know of.

Then I recently decided to make a go of this whole being an author/writer thing, and started this blog. I also set up a Twitter account dedicated to it. It has been interesting “meeting” new people via Twitter and seeing what others are sharing. I see all of these people tweeting back and forth and I find I’m still mostly standing on the sidelines. Still the shy girl who is afraid to write anything that someone else might read. (I have already thought about just deleting this post and not publishing it because this is the most personal thing I have ever written online.) 

Lack of Conflict

I don’t like conflict.Clashing hands of fire and water

At all.

And I recently realized it shows in my writing. But not in a good way.

I have been going through the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year and noticed a couple of the characters getting along way too well in parts of the story where one of them should have been super pissed off at the other. It nagged at the back of my head a little bit when I was writing it, but I didn’t fully see it until reading through the whole story again. (This is why we edit, right?)

This also struck me as a bit funny because one of my favorite writing moments from last year involved the first big argument between these same characters. I was happily typing along letting the story unfold as my fingers hit the keys when I thought, “These people have been getting along really well. Almost too well.” And within a few sentences one of the characters started a rant with “Oh, f**k off!” I paused for a second and thought, “Okay. I guess they are going to fight now.” I think I actually giggled because it was such a cool feeling to have the story just flowing onto the screen like that. Then I quickly went back into the rant and finished the scene.