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Writing Hurdles

Published July 27, 2014 by Shannon

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of nudges from the universe poking me and demanding to know why I’m not writing. It started when I read a book recently with such awful characterization (there were not only one but two self-insert Mary Sue characters) and literally thought, “I am a much better writer than that.” I’ve also come to learn that Seattle is a font of awesome writers. I just have to, you know, find them.

But there have been things that I keep stumbling over, excuses that I know are just that… excuses. They range from the ones even I know are lame, (“Where is the tiiiiiiiime?”) to the spazzy (OMG someone else wrote about a chupacabra shapeshifter, that means I can’t write my chupacabra shapeshifter romance anymore!) But the one I find myself struggling with is the fact that I’ve taught myself bad habits about the kind of feedback I like to get.

For the better part of the last 15 years, i’ve been role playing online, in freeform collaborative storytelling ventures. It’s through the gaming that I’ve learned a lot about characterization and plotting. But the downside is that I’ve learned to expect almost immediate feedback in response to my writing, in the form of people taking my ideas and putting their own spins and characters onto them. As I try to write more by myself, without that more immediate feedback, I find myself flailing. I want to talk over every minute aspect of the story I’m writing with someone… anyone… to try to figure out if I’m on the right track.

I’m trying to figure out how I can make myself write more consistently and still get some of that feedback as the process goes along. I am also having frequent conversations in which I reassure myself that everyone’s process is different, and this is mine, and if my friends are tired of hearing about the foibles of my characters, they’ll tell me. i know a lot of writers don’t talk at all about their projects until they’re done, and I’m not sure I’d, say, post my thorny plotting issues on my blog, but I can’t be the only one for whom this is a thing.

I’ve considered that I might find it a useful exercise to write fan fiction (although honestly… I don’t know what fandoms I’d even write for), or else try to serialize some fiction on a site like Wotpad. I’m a little hesitant about that because I’d want to make sure I was far enough along in a project that I wouldn’t end up abandoning it when life got busy.

I don’t have any solutions. I suspect this is an ongoing thing that I’ll struggle with until I figure out what works for me. In the meantime, I guess I have no excuses. Back to writing!

State of the Shannon: Thanksgiving thoughts

Published November 29, 2013 by Shannon

Thanksgiving was lovely. I went over to Meka’s, and we spent the time not talking at all about certain zealous rapey paladins. Instead we had an excellent dinner with our mutual friends, who discovered that they are now grandparents for the third time on Thanksgiving morning. This weekend promises to be low key, except for a trip to the store, because I need a new suitcase, the handle of mine having broken off during my travels this week.

I haven’t done much writing because I’m deep in revisions. Mostly I want to change a thread of subtle misogyny that runs through my writing. My kind-hearted beta hero really seems not to appreciate the ladies in his life, and I don’t know why, because that was never my intent and the ladies are awesome. To that end, though, my Nano novel this year made it to a grand total of 5k words. There’s always next year, I suppose, and in the meantime I want to start writing longer, more substantive essays here on this blog. I don’t know if I’ll find something to deconstruct, or if I’ll just see where the spirit moves me, but essay writing is a skill I really ought to perfect.
Last week, I didn’t read much. I ended up deciding not to finish The Book Thief, because, while I’m sure the story is poignant and powerful, I knew there wasn’t going to be a happy ending, and I wasn’t in the mood for a good, cathartic cry. Similarly, The Omnivore’s Dilemma suffered the same fate. I might return to it at some point, but the fact that everything I eat is terrible for the environment and for everyone involved in its production, little say how terrible it is for me, was overwhelmingly depressing. At the moment, I’ve started Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano, and it’s BLOWING MY MIND. It’s a provocative book, and has made me uncomfortable in places, but then it’s supposed to, of course. It’s not quite what I had in mind when I was looking for books about trans* people being awesome,, but it does seem to feature an awesome transwoman telling her own story, and that is what I’d asked for after all. I want to read some fiction, and with a ridiculous amount of books on the TBR pile, you’d think I’d find something to read, but alas, not so much. That said, the library
is doing its quarterly brown bag book club, and I’m leading it. I wanted to pick a non-sappy holiday book, so we’re reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which I thought probably would go over better with the nice old couple who always come to those meetings than, say, Holidays on Ice,, which was also an option.

Lastly, it’s now officially the season for holiday music. Generally, this is the time of year when everyone plays the same old dozen chestnuts, which pretty much universally fail to put me in a festive mood. It’s been my mission in life to find obscure holiday songs that I like to counter some of that. In that spirit, I’ll share one with you today.

State of the Shannon: On dignity and putting myself out there

Published November 22, 2013 by Shannon

Hello from cold and frosty Seattle. This has been an interesting week. Let’s see if I can break it down.

  • 1. I finally started serious work on revising a novel I wrote with my friend Mia. I’d been holding onto it FOR TWO YEARS because I loved our characters so much and I didn’t want people like me to read about them and then mock us. But, whatever. It’s good. And Mia’s beta readers liked it, so there’s that. More news as the situation warrants.
  • 2. Needless to say, I have read fuck all lately. I started a well-regarded modern classic, but I don’t think I’m going to finish. Not because it’s a bad book, but because there is no way it will end well and I am not down for a sad ending. (The book is The Book Thief, if you were curious.
  • 3. On Wednesday, I had an appointment to determine if I am blind enough to get paratransit. Nothing like going to a hospital and showing some misplaced kindergarten teacher that you can climb stairs but find navigating four-way stops in unfamiliar areas to strip a girl of her sense of dignity. And yet, as a proper blind person, I am supposed to not express what utter bullshit this whole process is, because then it would appear I’m not grateful. (FWIW I don’t need paratransit often. Maybe once or twice a week, and more this time of year, when I actively feel unsafe going to the bus stop near my house because I worry someone will drive like an asshole Seattle driver and squash me like a pancake. Believe me, I am not looking for extra perks, because those vans are not places anyone in their right mind would want to hang out on for extended periods of time.
  • 4. I learned some shocking news about someone very close to me. I’m trying to process it, but it’s made me face some hard truths about myself, and some issues I need to work on. Which is never fun, but there you have it.
  • 5. Why did no one in my life alert me to the existence of Ana Mardoll’s ramblings? I discovered it at work today, and promptly developed a blogger crush, which will manifest itself in me having to work up the nerve to post a comment once every six months while reading religiously. See also, my relationship with Jenny Trout’s blog.
  • 6. Speaking of blogs, I have written something on the Internets that you can read. It’s a guest review for the book pushers, who are some of the nicest human beings in romancelandia and who were kind enough to let me wax long-winded over there.
  • 7. So excited for Thanksgiving. It’ll be a weekend spent with my bestie with lots of good food and hopefully some karaoke.

How has your week been? Hopefully, there were fewer dignity-stripping events for you to contend with.