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September 2019
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Aerden [userpic]
What's Going on in My Head

The post I wrote earlier today was rather cryptic, so I'll try to explain some of what I've been thinking about and what I meant by 'the creaking of rusty gears.'

I've known this myself, but reading through wen_spencer's journal made it plain: I have not been acting like someone whose goal is to become a professional writer. I haven't been for several years.

I've been writing things, but I haven't written them with any considered thought given to organization and structure, to pacing, to stakes, or anything else. I have not been writing with any sense of, "First I need to achieve this goal, then this goal, then this goal, so that I can earn enough of a reputation as a professional for a publishing company to risk buying a novel from me."

Sorry, but Nanowrimo doesn't cut it. Nano is fun, and I enjoy doing it, but there's more to writing a novel than just getting the words down on paper. There really is work involved, and I haven't been doing it.

So I've decided I need to restructure my life. Start practicing the basic craft of writing the short story. Master the short story. From there, work on one novel concept at a time and master the novel. Start submitting them for publication. Stop sitting around on my ass.

I know part of this period of the doldrums was due to the cataract. The only fiction book I have really read in at least six or so years was Order of the Phoenix. Purchasing it was my gift to myself, my act of faith that the cataract surgery would be successful. The surgery did succeed, but my sight isn't as 'good' as it used to be. Reading unaided is difficult now, instead of the effortless thing it used to be. Now, magnification equipment is a distinct help.

For this reason, I haven't read much fiction in years. I've spent my money on non-fiction because 1. It interested me and 2. I didn't want to expend the energy that reading now requires on entertainment. If I was going to go through the effort of reading something, I wanted to learn interesting facts about the real world from it, not read a fantasy story. I had to justify the tiredness.

This is a silly attitude, I know. Writers read fiction not just for enjoyment, but to learn from it--to observe and study what works in a novel and what doesn't--and to study why it does or doesn't work, so they can apply that wisdom to their own novels. One of the few books I did read, which was along these same lines, was Donald Maas' Writing the Breakout Novel, which is a brilliant book that I recommend to anyone who wishes to become a professional writer.

So anyway...I need to practice writing short stories for real, once more, and I need to start reading fiction to learn. I need to start studying the markets, and I need to start submitting what I write for publication. I'm supposed to get a CCTV for my home soon. When I do, I need to put it to an efficient use.

Current Mood: determineddetermined

Have you tried "reading" audiobooks?

As for starting with short stories and working up in length: That didn't work for Patricia C. Wrede. When she gave up and wrote a novel without going up through the lengths properly, she sold her first novel. She is now able to sell about half the short stories she writes.

If it works well for you, then go for it! But if it doesn't seem to be working, try something else.

I've been learning that the best writing process for me isn't what seems most reasonable to me. Nor is it what I like best. For example, I love worldbuilding. But I do better making up background details on the fly.


Yes, I am set up with Talking Books, though I don't really need them anymore, and I should probably just send the tape player back to the Austin State Library. I've found that I'm a really visual learner. If I just hear something being read to me, it will go in one ear and out the other, and while I might find it interesting at the time, I don't remember it well. To remember something, I have to either read it or else hear it and write it down and then read it. So I can listen to a book for pleasure, but to really study one, I much prefer to see what I'm reading. If I ever go totally blind, I'll become a Braille junkie.

*pauses* Okay, if I go totally blind, I'll have to switch to audio books, because they just don't print heavy-duty medical books in Braille. :P But I won't like it. :)

What amazes me the most about my own writing is the seemingly subliminal nature of it. As I write, I will come up with various ideas which seem to have no relevance whatsoever to each other, and then suddenly, I'll understand a basic, core plot point, and several disparate things will abruptly 'click,' and it then makes perfect sense that they should work together, even though I never planned it that way. I will start off not understanding why X, Y, and Z are so, and then halfway through the story, I'll suddenly know why. To me, that is just wonderful and awe-inspiring.

I think I'll do what you suggested--try selling a few short stories and then see how a novel does.


Suse--I agree totally. Writing has to be about getting the story our of your head, more than anything else, because that's the story you love. If you don't tell the story you love, All I'm saying is that I want to be able to sell the stories which are burning a hole in my head. :)

By the way--I hope you'll write a book about the In'ree someday. You really made them come alive in IMS, and I miss them a lot.