Sharing stories

I know, I’ve been awfully quiet. Partly because nano was draining, but also because of nervous tension; I turn into a hermit when I get anxious, lol.

The local nano group has morphed into a local critique group. That means we’ll get together once a month, and critique each other’s work, all done in a positive, meaningful way.

The first meeting happened earlier this month. I was nervous, as we went from a regular group of 5 nano’ers to 8 people who want to read each others stuff. Three strangers, five people I expect to see regularly during nano, reading my stuff? Scary.

We spent the meeting discussing how the system was going to work; emailing out our pieces a few weeks ahead of time, privately sharing the actual critiques, then at the next meeting, we’ll each have 15 minutes to discuss them.

It was amazingly difficult to pick out something to send. Because we didn’t want to overwhelm each other with reading, we limited the selections to 1000-1500 words. Lol, most of my scenes are 2 or 3 times that! Trying to find something that was short yet also cohesive was… interesting.

Finally I picked a piece. And then I read it and reread it obsessively, trying to tweak it into shape. I’ve never done editing before, and I have to say it kinda sucks. Cutting out a sentence here, rephrasing something that was too awkward, trying to find better words than ‘thingie’; these are all hard!

I finished the edit yesterday, and then sat on it for 24 hours for no particular reason. This morning I refused to think about it too hard and, taking a deep breath, sent it out to be read and critiqued. Gah.

On the plus side, I’m now looking at writing more of that story, as scenes keep building in my head. On the downside, at some point I went from writing in 3rd person to 1st person, which I didn’t notice before I sent out the piece (the piece was all 3rd, but later scenes switched to 1st person). Now I’ll have to think about fixing that too.

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Doing it one outline at a time

So, now that I’m trying to think outside of the Nano box, I’ve decided to start small, and create outlines for each of my stories. I’m going to look at each one and scribble info down; either it’ll turn into a complete outline or it’ll show it needs some more brain-simmering time. It’s not writing, but it’s a step in the right direction, I think.

Writing outside of Nano give me a lot of anxiety, just one of those fun little aspects of life. It’s like stepping onto a rooftop and realizing it’s covered with fog and I can’t see the edges. But outlining gives me a lot less stress; it makes it feel like I’ve got some direction, rather than just floating, or falling, away.

On to the outlines.

So far I’ve done up two outlines for older stories, and it’s fascinating how much I remember of the original idea, but also how much I could see that needed tweaking. Though I’m only doing very simple outlines, I’m already creating better flow, and solidifying weak points that I hadn’t realized existed. I also have a more experience now of how a story arc should go, which helps a hell of a lot.

I’m also finding myself reinvested in writing the stories, now that I’ve been reminded of the vivid scenes I imagined, with new, clearer ideas added in. I was kind of afraid the old idea would be complete junk after a few* years sitting unwritten, but they actually have something.

10, quick practice by Miles-Johnston

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*A few years, hahahaha. I dunno, does a decade count a as a ‘few years’?

Social Contagion

Depression can be catching, sort of like a cold, but with less snot.

I’ve been having to deal with several depressed people on a daily basis for the last couple of months, and it’s definitely getting to me. I’ve become depressed because it’s really depressing to deal with depressed people all the time. It turns the world a different, greyer, colour. It makes getting myself to do things just a little bit harder, day after day. It snuck up on me because, really, there’s nothing in my own heart to make me sad, it’s just that I feel bad for not being able to fix things for them, which triggers the downward spiral.

Now that I’m aware of it, I think I can start to separate out what’s my own actual emotion and what’s just from being around depressed people. It’s not my job to fix these people (I’m not a doctor or a counsellor or anything remotely like that), and I know they’d be horrified to hear that I’ve been getting depressed myself. The guilt I feel is pointless, and we’ll all be better off if I allow myself to be happy.

So I’m going to concentrate on the things I enjoy, which includes writing (fiction & blogging), and focus on my own life again.

Of Epic Proportions

No, my April nano story’s not a disaster. Though it is rather messy.

But it feels like it goes on and on forever without ever actually getting to the dammed point.

I think this is just a skewed perception, as I’m about halfway ish through this story, about 55k of words, all rough draft. So really, it’s not as huge an amount as it feels like. Another 55k or so of words might actually get me to the end! I know that modern novels tend to be about 80k, so it’s long, but not insanely so. And after the dreaded editing process, it might be shorter.

I’m just glad I’m being anxious over a dumb thing; I never thought of myself as a epic-style writer. I hated Beowulf in college*, waded my way through Dostoevsky, and various other weighty tomes.

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*loathed it with all my heart, I’m afraid.

Another update

I’ve gotten behind on blogging, which is a sign of anxiety, I think.

Anyway, I’ve been in a cycle of not writing for days, and then pushing out the wordcount I need in bursts that keep me up way too late into the night. Reluctance, anxiety, blah blah blah. All stuff that keeps hitting me and I have to stop for a bit, then struggle to get back into it.

You can have NO idea how much I’m looking forward to the end of April!

I’m more or less where I’m supposed to be though, which is nice if surprising.

I think part of my struggle is the desire to fix things. I’m looking at the frantically thrown out words I’m writing, and all I can think about is how I got it wrong. But I’m being smart; instead of going back and rewriting things, I’m keeping a list of the areas I don’t think are right and what I think the proper tone/missing bit is.

Arcana by Charlie-Bowater

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April something or other

I’ve kinda gotten off track with my writing this month, which resulted in me avoiding making a post, because then I’d have to admit it.

My three days of stress didn’t simply lift and float away, making writing a breeze. I felt a huge kind of relief for the first hour or so, and then I got a headache, as all the muscle tension of three days of stress finally started to come out, and I spent Friday in a bit of drugged haze.

So I didn’t write.

Continue reading

Day 2 of stress

It’s the 2nd of 3 days in a row of dealing with someone I prefer to avoid, and the stress makes me want to curl up in a ball and sleep.

Ugh.

So hard to write, its not an escape at the moment, because I have this person in my head, and its totally antithetical to the writing. I’m in the middle of happy stuff, setting the scene so that when it all gets hit with a crisis later on, it has more impact.

Writing happy stuff when I’m mired in Crappy Stuff is hard. I want to feel the joy as I write the happy stuff, not feel like crap and try to do it anyway. When I did try to write the happy stuff and be happy, it screwed with my head while dealing with the Crappy Stuff because I wasn’t in the right mindset.

I’m going to try to jump over the happy stuff, and write some of the crisis stuff, see if it suits where I am in my head more.

UPDATE: Writing later, grimmer stuff worked. Yay.