Archive for July, 2014

It’s Okay to Slow Down

It’s already been a very long week, and my brain is tired, so I was commissioning ideas from my various writing peoples, and the Word Ninja over at Full Coverage Writers suggested I write about why a quill and ink is better than pen and paper.

And then someone else, who goes by the name Kami (which I have new appreciation for, after being in Japan), said she misread that as “quails and inks” and had momentarily gotten very offended on behalf of the quails.

To which the Word Ninja replied that quails could write too, if they really wanted to.

But I did ask him why a quill and ink was better, because I couldn’t think of a single reason why it would be. Writing with a quill, or a brush, is extremely frustrating, in my opinion. The ink spreads unevenly. It gets all over everything (invariably your hands, and then everything you touch forever because the ink also does not come off). It can smear before it dries.

And he said that it forces you to slow down and think about what you’re doing.

You know what? He’s right. I mean, I don’t think you need to resort to a quill and ink, but even switching to handwriting is a much slower process.

(Also, it is really hard to find a decent quill. Just throwing that out there.)

It seems like so much of writing these days is output. How many words you can crank out in a month. How many books you can write a year. And everyone gets bogged down on this, and if their output is slower, people get depressed. Feel like they’re not a real writer because they can’t keep up.

But you know what? I’ve found that a lot of the most prolific people don’t ever truly finish anything. They’re great at writing, but they don’t edit. They look at what they’ve written, declare it a mess, and move on to the next thing.

There is something to having a little bit of a plan, to paying attention to what you’re doing and where you’re going and making sure that it makes some semblance of sense. Makes for less work later. And as many smart people over the years have said, there is always joy in the journey as well.

When we were in Japan, we had the opportunity to go to Saiho-ji, which is a temple on the outskirts of Kyoto. It’s known as the Moss Temple because it has what is probably the best moss garden in the world. To protect the moss, they closed it to the public. To get in to see the gardens, you have to mail a postcard at least a month in advance asking for entrance on a specific day. Then, assuming there’s room (as they only accept a certain number of people each day), when you arrive you need to copy some Buddhism sutras (using a brush and ink, so same concept) and participate in some Buddhism prayers with the monks. And THEN you can go see the garden.

My Japanese calligraphy and/or skill with using a brush are both terrible, apparently. It took me about an hour and a half to copy my sutras. My husband and I were literally the last people done.

But you know what? It was kind of fun. And we got the gardens to ourselves because everyone else had already left.

(And the gardens were totally worth the complication of admission.)

So don’t forget that it’s okay to take things slow, to enjoy the process and the journey. We write because we want to, because we need to. And it’s all right to do that in whatever way works best.

Under Her Protection Cover Reveal and Announcement

I am pleased to announce Turtleduck Press‘s newest anthology, Under Her Protection, being released on August 1. Under Her Protection is the longest anthology TDP has ever produced, and contains stories about men in danger and the women who rescue them.

Under Her Protection coverSometimes men are the ones trapped in a tower, or bound by a curse, or doomed to stay in the underworld. Damsels or not, they need rescuing too. And these are just the women to do it…

A swordswoman and a scholar.

A grim reaper and a dead man.

A maidservant and an inventor.

A new university grad and a prince.

Fantasy romance stories from four indie writers about strong women…and men who need their help.

Under Her Protection will be released on all ebook platforms, and will also be available in print. Pick it up when it comes out next week!

So Far, So Good

Well, squiders, we’re into week 2 on my class (and Lord of the Rings Online) and I have yet to get completely sucked into the game.

Part of this may be because I’m in the Shire at the moment, and the hobbit quests are about the most aggravating things ever. I mean, MMOs are kind of repetitive at best because you’ve got to complete quests, and a lot of times that consists of running around, killing a bunch of the same things. The hobbits want you to take things places, and they time you, and there are other hobbits that can walk out in front of you and ruin your quest after you’ve been running around for five minutes with the dang thing.

Normally I like hobbits as a species. But the game kind of makes me want to light the whole Shire on fire.

Anyway, so there’s a level of frustration that is helping me play for a reasonable amount of time. And thus far, the in-game class requirements have been more about exploring the gaming experience. I was a bit worried that we were going to have to be at a certain level each week, or something, but that’s not true as of yet.

I’m really enjoying the non-gaming content of the class as well. We’re talking about mythologies, hero’s journey, remediation of different mediums–all things that interest me. And the reading thus far has involved both Lord of the Rings and a bunch of epic poetry, which has been neat. Yesterday I downloaded a bunch of classic fantasy books onto my Kindle that we talked about in class (just kind of off-hand) to read when I get the chance.

So I’m happy with the class, and LOTRO doesn’t seem to be eating my soul, and I finished re-outlining my edit, so things seem to be all good in this neck of the woods.

How are you, squiders? (Also, if you’re interested in the above, you might jump in on this class too.)

The Video That My Inner Editor Loves (Plus a ROW80 Check-in)

Well, my edit’s hit more bumps. I’ve decided it’s best to add in a new character who’s got to be integrated into at least two of the subplots, so I’m going back through and making new conflict arcs for him, and then I’ve got to re-outline the entire story past when he shows up. (Which is chapter 6 or 7, I believe.)

His addition is going to give a lot more depth and strength to the two subplots in general, but it’s still a pain. Oh well.

So ROW80 has been pretty much a miss for me so far. I need to get my act together. Hopefully next week I’ll have good news.

I need to focus on that right now, so I’m sharing Weird Al’s new music video with you. As an editor, it makes me more happy than it probably should.

 

The Trouble with MMOs–Or Why I Haven’t Touched One in 10+ Years

Well, dear Squiders, I have a bit of an addictive personality. This sounds like a lovely thing, like people think you’re so great they just want to hang out with you all the time, but unfortunately what it really means is that it’s easy to get hooked on something to the detriment of the rest of your life.

Luckily for me, mine has always been pretty minor, and I’ve trained myself to be responsible even when I don’t want to be. It’s also extremely sporadic, and my “addictions” don’t tend to last very long.

Video and computer games tend to be a weak point for me, but I’ve found ways around this, such as playing games with episodes (typically beatable in a few hours as most) or online games where you only have a set amount of energy so you can’t play for that long. And I am royally terrible at any games that require me to use a joystick to move around, so that frustration also helps.

But MMOs–especially MMORPGs–are the worst. Basically, these games are giant worlds where you create your own character and run around doing quests for NPCs. There’s also a main storyline, if you want, and you can join guilds, fight other players, or work beside them to take down bosses and dungeons.

There’s always something more to do, and there’s no set break points, so it’s easy to run around for hours, killing spiders and carting letters between villages and learning how to farm or make armor.

In college I played an MMORPG called Dark Ages of Camelot, which was brilliant and lovely and very interesting, but it ate up all my time. Sure, I made it to class and practice, but I would get sucked in and eke out play time whenever I could. It wasn’t good. I swore off MMOs.

And I hadn’t touched one since. Til yesterday.

I’ve talked about Coursera here before, but I started a class that compares video games to literature and also explores storytelling across different mediums. (Or so the course promises, anyway.) And I’ve been really excited for it. But part of the class is to play Lord of the Rings Online which is, you guessed it, a MMORPG.

So I installed the game, created my character, and completed the tutorial. And then I spent another three hours running around, killing spiders, yelling at hobbits (hobbit errands are the worst, I’m going back to Bree-land), and also getting my butt handed to me by said spiders.

On one hand, I’m really interested to see how playing LOTRO ties into the subject matter of the course. (Maybe we’ll even discuss the tendency of people to get addicted to MMOs. That would be helpful.) But on the other hand, I’m worried that this is a bad idea, and that I’m getting myself into something that is going to negatively impact my life.

On yet another hand, one long gaming day does not mean anything. I mean, I played five hours for two days on Skyrim, and then never touched the game again. (Skyrim is fairly similar to an MMO, except without the other people. Also, you can teleport between places you’ve been, which MMOs should really get on because boo to running all over the place.)

Should I get out while I still can, Squiders? Or do I give myself the benefit of the doubt for a little longer, see how the gameplay ties into the the coursework? (In the interest of full disclosure, playing the game is not a required part of the class, though it does seem like you’re missing out on most of the content if you don’t.)

Dream Structure

I don’t know if we’ve talked about this before, Squiders, but I dream in stories. It’s very odd.

(The main plotline for Shards came directly from a dream, actually.)

Not all the time, certainly, but quite often, especially if I’m aware that I’m dreaming. As such, a lot of times I am not directly involved in the events of my dreams myself, but function more as an outside observer, like I’m watching a movie. And if I am lucid dreaming, I can change plotlines to make more “sense” (as much as anything makes sense in a dream).

(Have you ever had those dreams, where you’re stuck on a problem, and you spend your whole night dreaming about a solution for said problem, and then when you wake up you discover that your brilliant solution makes no sense in the real world? That drives me crazy.)

Sunday night, however, my dreams threw in another twist.

They gave me a prologue before the dream’s main plot began.

I mean–what. Just…what the heck, brain.

I mean, I have no idea how dreams work, but it seems extremely optimistic to think that my brain had the entire dream planned out enough where it could put together an accurate prologue–and it did end up working. Though I don’t know how much of that may have been because the dream changed to reference the prologue.

(To be perfectly honest, I could have done without this dream and its storyline altogether, because it was creepy and I didn’t need to spend all night on that, thank you.)

Does anyone else dream in stories? If so, have you ever adapted a dream!story into something real (a novel, short story, game, drawing)?

The Hidden Layers of Stories

As both a reader and a writer, I’m always interested in what doesn’t make it into a story.

The fact is that, in order to give your story depth and realism, you need to know a lot more about your world, characters, and backstory than you could ever stuff in.

I mean, Tolkien made up entire languages for Middle Earth.

And I love when we get little glimpses into that process, because everyone works differently. I love learning what influenced people to write the story they did, what mythology or other media they referenced. I love knowing the evolution of characters and storylines.

And, perhaps logically, I like looking back through my own notes, to see where I started in comparison to where I ended up.

And I’m always surprised by what I’ve forgotten. Take, for example, this short story I have coming out in an anthology in August. I wrote the first draft in April and apparently I’ve already spaced on the whole experience, because I found my notes in a notebook last night.

There was a map, showing the main character’s journey, and I’d marked three spots on said map where the main characters runs into issues. And next to each spot I’d labeled what type of conflict it was–physical, mental, or emotional.

And until I found that map, I’d completely forgotten that I’d made a conscious decision to make sure each problem she encountered challenged something different to help with her character growth, even though this is not a story that I haven’t touched in years (in fact, I’m approving the copy edits on it today, so).

I just find the whole process of story creation utterly fascinating. Don’t you?

Any neat story process tidbits you know, Squiders? Anything interesting from your own stories, if you’re a writer?