Dear god!

Jul. 16th, 2011 11:03 pm
noctuary: (Prose)
God, I'm feeling too critical.

My editing is over. Now the proper rewrite of the end of Novel #1 is to begin in earnest. And it is hard.

Part of me doesn't want to do it. I can tell. Part of me keeps jumping up and down and pointing at another unfinished novel, insisting that polishing that to a sparkling shine would be easier. (To be honest, it probably would be.) This is in part because I'm having such difficulty just creating. Editing, now, that I can do... Now I have my hand in, I'm an editing god. But creating? Well....

I'm a good writer. I know this. Even my drafts are pretty well put-together. Sure, a few paragraphs need re-doing, and sometimes something needs to be rewritten to make sense, and bits and pieces need to be moved around. Overall, though? It reads well. And I'm a critical bitch. So on that score, I am happy.

But now I'm returning to a point of pure creativity, where I'm supposed to set aside the plans and the critical eye and the inner editor and just let the story flow. And it's really difficult re-programming myself to do that.

I remember a month or three ago complaining at how hard it was to edit when what I wanted to be doing was creating. Once I hit my stride, though, editing was a lot easier to do. Still exhausting, but I could get through five pages in an hour so long as I wasn't procrastinating.

Tonight I've written about 550 words. This surprised me. I didn't think I'd get anything done. I'd like to hit between 1000 and 2000 words a day. Hopefully that would mean finishing the novel within a month or two. I realise hitting that number might not always work, but I have to keep it there because if I don't have an aim, I won't get anything done. So I've written 550-ish words tonight. And MS Word is sitting there, open, ready for me to continue. Frustration welled up - and here I am.

Why so frustrated? I feel like i don't know where I want to go next. Now I have an eventual aim in mind, I just have to circle the novel back around to meet it. My character has two or three more works of art to meet, and I have to re-assess what I want those to be. All these ideas are almost blocking me. My character is lying there on the bed looking around herself with a lazy air - and that's good. Meanwhile I, the writer, am sitting here worrying over what has to be done and how I'm going to get there. I'm not sure what to do about that.

Obviously this is my problem, not the novel's problem. Once I can set those worries aside, I can breathe and let it flow. I also have to bring myself to put down/lock up the Inner Editor, as well, and leave a clumsy sentence as clumsy for the time being. I've put a marker into the text so I know what's been edited and what hasn't. This is very difficult for me, as I've always been a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to crafting an excellent sentence, and of late I've just been writing short stories, drabbles, bits and pieces. I've been paying great attention to the craft of those as I write them. Now I'm to stop that and just go hell for leather, I squirm. I don't waaaant to. But I must.

At least I now have the opportunity once more to say to myself "2000 words a day" and aim for that. Accomplishing a word goal is always a pleasing feeling. I will feel as if I have accomplished something - for a change.

noctuary: (Clocks)

@whereisjustin aka Anna aka Justyn (that'd be how I tend to think of her) was tired a night or two ago and requested a story about being tired. I have written a story about being tired. I know all the fuck about being tired.


~ Story temporarily excised ~


The difference between this girl and me is that I usually have my laptop next to me in case of nighttime boredom and I don't bother even trying to sleep until at least 2 or 3 in the morning. Fuck you, sleep disorders. Thank god I'm not working at the moment. I remember that special hell.

I found my old folder of short stories on my computer. Some of them are fucking good. But I still think I'll write a new one for this upcoming competition. Most of them seem to involve penises, for some reason. (Don't you judge me.)
 

On Writing

Jul. 4th, 2011 09:36 pm
noctuary: (Clocks)
I've been thinking lately. About things. Writing things, and so forth. I keep picking out lines I like in books that I want to capture the feeling of, I keep nailing down quotes about the craft of writing or about literature that I want to embody in my work. I've been highlighting things. I've been working out what I love but also what I want to write, and those aren't always the same thing.

I've begun understanding some of the reasons I love writing - and not just creative writing, but journalling, blogging, posting in forums, twitter. I can express myself in writing in ways I have difficulty expressing myself aloud... but I'm getting better at the latter. I've noticed more and more I'm beginning to speak more like the way I write.

One of these reasons is that often, there is a near-continuous stream of dialogue in my head. Sometimes all it does is scream "FUCK" over and over. I channel it into daydreams, sometimes. Which means sometimes my daydreams are just terrible things, and often they jump all over the place. I could never do to my book characters what I end up doing to the characters of my daydreams. I suppose because daydreams are much more fluid. I know when I'm feeling low sometimes because of how much shit I'm putting the Day Dream People through. But when I write, the dialogue shuts up. Well, not so much shuts up - the right words come instead of random words, and they line up properly in a way that is pleasing. The babble falls into the background. I have no issues with thinking as a matter of course, but I think better still when I write, whether by hand or with a keyboard.

But highlighting. I've been highlighting the odd line, or taking it down. Only books with ideas I want to draw from - not, for example, Mervyn Peake, whose every line is a masterful creation and yet whose marvellous style and themes are different from my own.

I find myself rereading Silence of the Lambs and impressed by his style. I think he has influenced by own more than I realise.

I've been coming across a lot of... I don't know, discouraging matters, I suppose. A lot of "don't expect to get anywhere", some of it from blogs of actual writers. A lot of "you will have to be a whore to become big or make any money". I appreciate the realities of life but if I accept them as inevitabilities rather than obstacles to be overcome I'll bury myself in doubt and lose all my dreams to the abyss of It's Hopeless To Try.

I need to do something like reread one of Amanda Palmer's blogs and remind myself that Art Is Worth It. Because it is. My greatest hope is to share that with others through my work.

noctuary: (Default)
I feel very guilty. I haven't been doing my exercises the past couple of weeks. I know, the only way to get around that is to just pick up the damn book and start over. I haven't done yet. But I will, just give me some time. As soon as I finish this post - I swear.

It's Yuletide, and a time for telling stories. Hopefully I'll get some good reading done this week, and some good writing too. It's all a part of the rich tapestry that is my religious tradition. Or whatever. I'm still not waking up anything like the time I want to and I often feel tired and frustrated because of this. I miss out on most of the day, which is not something I want to do; I may feel more awake at night, but I also don't feel particularly like working once it hits a certain hour. I'm also pretty sure that the "no liquor before five" rule should be changed for those of us who get up after noon. You know. Pushed back.

Sigh.

noctuary: (absinthe)
Sometimes I look at what other people take from prompts, and I feel like I don't have any imagination. Whatever they come up with always seems to much more rich and interesting and original. Then I look at myself and think myself a poor writer - "what sort of a writer has talent with words, but no imagination??" and get mopey and depressed. With non-prompty,-non-writing-exercisey short stories, I tend to have trouble coming up with ideas at all.... Short stories in themselves are difficult, because of twist endings and implied meanings and so on, but I like the freedom of construction and function they can sometimes present. They're exciting to do.

Today I took a prompt and did something I consider Interesting. That, along with my okay-idea-but-poor-execution drabble from the day before yesterday, make me think this collection of exercises could turn into a trove from which to pull ideas and concepts and drafts to shape into proper short stories one day in the future, when I feel the need to craft one and can't think of an idea. The little purple leather-bound book (jasart, pretty, soft, nice to hold and have but not the most satisfying to write in) I've been writing these things in is slowly turning into a trove. Not a treasure trove as such because there's going to be a lot of dross in there too. But a bible of ideas and possibilities for the future.

It's exciting, and I like that. I just have to keep up the scribbling of exercises and prompts, and allow myself to be truly free with whatever I scribble, because it doesn't have to be perfect or even good for me to use it for something great in the future.
noctuary: (Default)
Today's writing exercise - a 75-word drabble I may post in the future... or hell, at the end of this post - struck home one of my personal problems when it comes to writing short stories, and that is that I'm rarely sure when to stop. I often reach a point where I feel an end could be, but I'm unsure how to bring it about. I often also have more to say, so I keep going. Often it does come to a satisfying end, eventually. But one thing that often concerns me is whether something has been overstated. Do I ruin the story by keeping it going past the original point of "I-feel-like-the-end-could-be-here"? Is everything after this point just belabouring the idea, or spelling it out for the reader unnecessarily? Or is it the other way around.... if I stop too early, is the reader left wondering "what the fuck was that meant to mean?"? Am I failing to explain myself properly? Am I selling the story short (sorry) by not letting it breathe and take shape over more pages?

God even this post is awfully written today. It's just been an evening for it, I think. Forum posts a mess, brain all over the place with the wind. The wind is blowing a gale, and quite literally. It's fun and exciting and makes one feel warm and cosy, but it's just possible that it has also addled one's mind.

I think in the case of my vignette, I am happy with where it finishes - but I feel like there could be a lot more to it. I may well work it into a good short story in its own right. Of course, reading over the vignette itself, it's really awful.... Looks like it's a project for the future: to rewrite the entire thing as a genuine short story.
noctuary: (Default)
A success, in that I wrote something. It's shit, but it's something, and it's done and that's all I expected out of the situation.

A man dangled from a cliff. Another man helped him up. Princess Bride quotes were exchanged.

Then I thought to myself "Man, it's been fucking FOREVER since I've seen that movie".

Today is dooooone. DONE. Today sucks. God.
noctuary: (Letters)
One of the reasons I have been so slack the last couple of days (I tell myself as my eyes wander back to the Youtube tab, where another episode of Cheers beckons...) is that I have reached a page wherein I had apparently, writing my first draft, discarded my inner editor entirely (as is recommended) and just tried to get words down.

Fine.

But now I am left looking over the work and finding problems with every stilted sentence. I pour over thesauri because every paragraph has two or three words that just don't fit. I copy the odd sentence down into my notebook and sit with furrowed brow, poking and prodding, occasionally stabbing at the paper with a pen over and over and throwing the notebook across the room. I am tempted to print out these few pages just so I can have the tactile relief of balling them up and tossing them away.

It is frustrating: the right word proves had to find. This is the time I thought of to myself when writing the first draft, "That word doesn't sound good, but I'll worry about it later". This is later. Later sucks. All those bits and pieces, all those fragments of sentences I am so inclined to just worry about later cannot be pushed aside.

It is hard work. Each sentence needs to be teased apart. New sentences need to be inserted there, old ones need to be removed or totally remodeled. I can spend ten minutes on two or three words, trying alternatives, rearranging them, finally sighing and giving up only to stop halfway through the next paragraph and come back to hammer at them some more.

It is discouraging. I enjoy reading a half-page and thinking, with a warm glow, that I am a genius and that writing at top speed at 5 in the morning apparently works well for me. I like taking a paragraph that's already quite shiny and polishing it so I can see my face. Finding a page of dirty, tarnished paragraphs is disappointing.

But still. This is what we sign up for. And it may be frustrating, difficult and discouraging but when it is done I will feel I have actually accomplished something of merit. In the mean time, I think of my open word file with dread, and my mind tries to find me something else to do.

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