fears and vp

Tonight, I have a little writing group meeting with a couple of newly-friends I made from the MRK intensive weekend. We are all applying to Viable Paradise this year, so we’ve set up weekly meetings to check in with each other and give critiques with quicker turnaround than our other groups.

And in that vein, I suppose I should tell you I’m applying to Viable Paradise this year.

I’ve hinted at the fact that I was working on an application to something for a little while now. I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to be secretive about it.

Well, scratch that. I felt like I needed to be secretive about it because what if I didn’t get in? Then I would feel a little bit like an idiot, and I would have to deal with hypothetical disappointment. From whom? I don’t know. Most likely from myself, but that I’m projecting onto other people.

None of it makes any sense, but that’s just how my jerkbrain works.

I’m still holding onto a lot of fear in my heart of hearts. Fear of disappointing anyone. Fear of wanting anything too much. So much fear.

Fear of disappointing anyone is somewhat straightforward. I have such a great support system and so many people who believe in what I’m doing, and I don’t want to let them down.

The fear of wanting something too much is a bit of a strange one. As though, if I admit that I want something, the universe will somehow conspire to take that thing away from me. And/or, if I admit that I want something and then don’t get it, I have to admit to myself that I’ve failed. Whereas if I never actually say that I want anything, if I never actually admit it to others or to myself, I can always maintain the illusion that I didn’t want whatever it was to begin with.

But the terrible, insidious thing about this fear is that it presumes failure on my part to begin with, doesn’t it? My jerkbrain has already decided that I’m not going to be able to accomplish whatever it is that I want to accomplish. It’s already decided that I’m not enough. This is one of the bits of self-sabotage that I have the most trouble getting over.

So. I guess that’s why I’ve decided to tell you. I don’t want to be held hostage to this fear.

I am applying to Viable Paradise this year. I’m nervous and excited, and I want to get in so, so much. That part is out of my hands, but I’m working hard to put together a good application. And I’m trying to get a handle on this fear. I don’t want to let it stop me from doing the things that I want.

writing recap 2019: w17

Another rather productive week.

I finished drafting another short story. I like it, but it’s not as long as I originally wanted. Many of the short stories that I’m writing right now clock in at 2000-3000 words, and I’m trying to structure one of 5000-6000 words. Oh well. I’m still pretty happy with how it came out.

I also outlined a different story that’s an expansion of one of the pieces of flash I wrote last October. I’m playing with rearranging the narrative timeline — I don’t want to tell it linearly — but I also don’t want to turn it into a series of confusing flashbacks. Part of the solution there is I have to figure out where (or when rather, as in when in the timeline) to start the story. I’ve written parts of it already, but I’ll likely end up scrapping what I have so far and starting over.

But as Brandon Sanderson says, Every word is valuable.

an aside

Why is writing a cover letter (or personal statement or the like) so much more difficult than writing just about anything else? The first draft always sounds like a prolonged apology. I am terrible at talking about myself without immediately diving into self-deprecation. This is one of the many reasons I hate it when interviews or conversations include periods of time where I’m just supposed to monologue. I invariably feel like I’m taking up too much time and space.

I’ve been so socially/culturally trained to downplay my achievements and desires and expectations that I can’t even be forthright about them to a metaphorical piece of paper without apologizing for having them in the first place.

writing recap 2019: w16

I have not been very good about blogging in between these writing recaps. I’m also kind of rethinking whether or not to do the weekly recaps. I started these as a way for me to track progress and keep in mind what I’ve accomplished during the week, but it all feels so vague and hand-wavey since I can’t really share the stuff I’m working on here.

Hrm.

In any event. Had a productive week. I finished the piece of flash I was working on for submission, got some eyes on it, and am going to do a final polishing pass before submitting (likely tomorrow).

Now that that’s done, I have to work on my application for a writing workshop this fall. I’m nervous about that, but I’ve gotten very good feedback so far, so. Worst case scenario, they say no, right? (I love that that phrase is used as a friendly platitude. Most days, I can take it as such. Some days, my brain is like YES YES THAT WOULD BE THE WOOORRRRRRST.)

In other news, had the first meeting of the new writing group yesterday. It was fun and productive. We did some structured critiques and caught up on life since the intensive. I think this is going to be a good thing.

ALSO. Butterscotch Shenanigans released Levelhead into early access on Steam on Thurs! If you like challenging platformers a la Super Meat Boy, you should check it out. There’s also a level-editing component, so it nicely fills the Super Mario Maker shaped hole in the PC market. I got caught up in the excitement of watching the launch, and lost a good day and a half to it. (See it here. Link opens a Steam page.)

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This upcoming week is going to be a busy one. Lots of life stuff scheduled, which ends up breaking up my day and making it so I feel less productive. I’ve also lapsed somewhat in the writing of morning pages. Probably something I should get back into, though right now, my brain is saying we’ll be okay without them. But then, I’ve heard that before.

resistance and love

Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.

The more Resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you — and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.

– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

writing recap 2019: w15

Something of a tough week. Mechanically rather than creatively. I spent the majority of it finishing a short story that I started during the MRK Short Story Intensive. This story really did not want to be out in the world — each word was like pulling teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth. Requiring lots of heavy machinery. Or, if you’d rather, I really had to mine for each word.

I’m not sure exactly why this is. I had the same feeling writing the beginning of this piece during the intensive, and I was convinced that it was terrible because it felt so hard to write. But when I went back to read it, it was fine. I received good feedback from my fellow MRKers too.

I’m wondering if it’s because I’m trying to use a specific outlining technique. Normally when I write, I start by discovery writing to find a direction. Well, scratch that. I start by noodling on an idea, holding it in my brain and feeling some of the edges. Usually, I catch on something and I go with that. Then I discovery write to figure out where it wants to go. But what ends up happening is that my arc lacks meaningful conflict and tension (so more of a line than an arc, I guess). Or, for longer form works, I get lost in the middle and I’m not sure where to go.

This is an issue I’ve run up against repeatedly.

And this is where the MRK Short Story Intensive* came in.

Continue reading

mistakes

Be proud of your mistakes. Well, proud may not be exactly the right word, but respect them, treasure them, be kind to them, learn from them.

And, more than that, and more important than that, make them.

Make mistakes. Make great mistakes, make wonderful mistakes, make glorious mistakes. Better to make a hundred mistakes than to stare at a blank piece of paper too scared to do anything wrong, too scared to do anything.

– Neil Gaiman, “2004 Harvey Awards Speech” from The View from the Cheap Seats

writing recap 2019: w14

THIS. PAST. WEEK. I’m still reeling.

Last weekend, I took Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Intensive. It was absolutely amazing, and I’m still processing it and trying to figure out how to put it into words. It was a legitimately intense couple of days, but I got so much out of it, and it fueled me for this entire week. STILL SO AMPED.

I started my flash fiction April project, which has been going well. The piece that I wrote on Wednesday, I’m going to polish and submit to a contest. I’m clarifying some of my writing goals and working on nailing down deadlines for myself. I’m going to start submitting this month.

The intensive introduced me to a great group of fellow writers, so we’re forming a critique group together. I spent a good amount of time figuring out the logistics of that — our first meeting is next weekend.

Also, one of my friend’s from residency came for a short visit to apartment hunt since she’s moving to St. Louis this summer!

just reach out

There are a limited number of plots (some say seven, some say twelve, some say thirty). There is no limit to the number of stories. Everybody in the world has their story; every meeting of one person with another may begin a story. Somebody asked Willie Nelson where he got his songs, and he said, “The air’s full of melodies, you just reach out.” The world’s full of stories, you just reach out.

– Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft

camp nano april: flash fiction challenge

Camp NaNoWriMo starts today!

For this camp, I’m going to do another flash fiction challenge like the one I did during Inktober. It was a good way for me to play with ideas on a small scale, identify recurrent structural issues I have, and practice a little flexible creativity.

If you want to participate alongside me, here are the details.

THE CHALLENGE