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
This is a little short and not as self-reflective because I have to get ready to drive Adam to the airport for GDC, but I wanted to get this post up before that.
The allergy shots are causing horrific looking bruises at the injection site, which I haven’t experienced before. So that’s interesting… It has nothing to do with writing, but still.
Started a new short story this past week which I’m feeling pretty good about. It needs a round of editing and then I’ll ask for some second opinions. Finished revising a couple of flash pieces. Caught up on Writing Excuses.
All in all, a pretty good week.
I didn’t do as much work this past week as I should have. Feeling like I’m in a weird kind of slump (though did end up working on some poetry). Although, by week’s end, I’m starting to feel better. That might just be the Twitter hiatus talking.
I’ve been getting allergy shots for a little over a month now, and they just upped the dose this last round. Since then, I’ve had this vague malaise kind of feeling and I can’t tell if it’s related to that or if I’m coming down with something.
Will probably take some ibuprofen, make some kimchi jjigae, and try to ignore it.
The imagination is infinite–it can encompass all you want it to encompass, if you let it. Everything we see around us, whether functional or decorative, once existed in someone’s imagination. Every building, every fixture, every chair, every table, every vase, every road, every toaster. In fact, the world we live in is largely a manifestation of many individual and collective imaginations applied to the task of altering preexisting reality. So the question becomes, How can you position yourself to dream well?
– Jeff Vandermeer, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
More of the same this week. I think I’m hitting that threshold where I have to step away for a little bit and come back with fresh eyes. So I might just take this next week to work on something new and shiny, and then finish up revisions after that. I still want to get some other eyes on the pieces before I start submitting and whatnot.
I haven’t yet figured out how to task switch in an effective way, but I’m thinking that I might generally work better if I have more than one thing going on i.e. something with production and something with revision.
“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground. This
is our unalterable task, and we do it
And they went on. “Listen,
the heart-shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but
lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,
Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.
– Mary Oliver, “WHEN THE ROSES SPEAK, I PAY ATTENTION” from Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
Ugh. This has been the week of errands and interruptions. I did not get as much done this week as I would have liked. Revisions and rewriting still going slowly — it’s all starting to feel very lateral and like stalling. But, like we’ve talked about before, I have no perspective.
Because that front isn’t feeling very satisfying, some of my structures have slipped, and I find myself spending time in the afternoon and evening scrolling mindlessly through Twitter (I am very much a lurker). Which not only is wasting my time, but is putting me in a negative mental space. But like all dopamine drips, once I started doing it, it was hard to put the phone away. So I think this upcoming week is going to see my phone in another room and strict observation of no social media. Gotta break those habit loops.
Speaking of Twitter, did y’all see the whole #CopyPasteCris debacle? Courtney Milan kicked it off when she discovered that someone had plagiarized parts from her book The Duchess War. She named names and posted side-by-sides in a blog post. Then Romancelandia Twitter started compiling receipts and discovered that over twenty authors (and inexplicably, a couple of recipes and a couple of articles) had also been plagiarized (What in the actual fuck?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?). The list includes many well-known romance authors including Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Kresley Cole, Loretta Chase, and Sarah MacLean. And. Nora Roberts. Who does. not. suffer. fools. It’s a saga, and you should check it out.
As for the charge of escapism, what does escape mean? Escape from real life, responsibility, order, duty, piety, is what the charge implies. But nobody, except the most criminally irresponsible or pitifully incompetent, escapes to jail. The direction of escape is toward freedom. So what is “escapism” an accusation of?
– Ursula K. Le Guin, “It Doesn’t Have to Be the Way It Is” from No Time to Spare
Revisions are just a wholly different beast than writing new stories. It’s hard to feel like I’m making progress because I’m losing perspective. I made several lateral revisions today — I didn’t feel like they made the piece better or worse necessarily, just different. It’s a whole different skill set to work on, it feels like.
That’s left me feeling kind of listless this week because I’m having trouble figuring out how to mark progress. Anyone have any tips?
We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort.
And that is why we write.
– Neil Gaiman, “Telling Lies for a Living… And Why We Do It: The Newbery Medal Speech, 2009” from The View from the Cheap Seats