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
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.
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
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!
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 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.
- Write a piece of flash fiction daily for the month of April — 30 first drafts for 30 days.
- Each flash fiction piece should be <=1000 words long and must contain an arc/plot/conflict (vignettes and slice-of-life stories don’t count).
- If you need help deciding what to write, here are a few sources:
- Try to go two to three layers down from where your brain first goes with the prompt.
- Share the piece: to your blog, to a kind friend, to an internet rando. Let someone know about the work you’re doing!
Getting my recap post up early this week since the weekend is going to be pretty busy.
I’m realizing that I need to figure out a more organized plan for the pieces I have revised, that need to go out to beta readers, and that need polishing. Plus a way to organize things when I start submitting.
Trying to figure out the markets is an intimidating prospect, but it’s also fun since a lot of my research is reading short stories to see if my work might fit in a potential market.
Did I do it backwards? Should I have done more market research first and then written towards a market? There’s so much conflicting advice…
In other news, Camp NaNo is about to start. I’m planning to do another flash fiction challenge month. Forthcoming post on that next week!
It is your job, usually through revision, to make the improbable credible and convincing. And from being credible and convincing, you must go on to make it inevitable.
– Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop
Finished a short story this week. Finished revisions on a couple more pieces of flash. I’m starting to get antsy about the fact that next up is putting stuff out into the world for other people to read. A necessary step, obviously, but one that is making me have feelings.
Also, there are a few things coming up in the next few weeks that I’m excited/nervous about. Next weekend, I’m doing Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Intensive, and I’m pumped for that. Then, April is Camp NaNoWriMo, and my plan is to do another flash fiction month. Mid-April, there is a flash fiction submission deadline that I need to hit.
The reason we read stories is ultimately a selfish one. On the surface, we want to be entertained or enlightened, but deeper down, we’re looking for a mirror. We want to see our stories reflected back at us. Changed, maybe. Tweaked in some way, or reflected in reverse. Possibly we’re looking for a larger mirror–one to reflect not just our individual stories, but the story of who we are collectively, the story of where we are in place and time, a story to make sense of things.
– Chuck Wendig, Damn Fine Story