Monthly Archives: November 2018

Weird Directions

It’s early days on the new WIP, which is always exciting, and things are going pretty smoothly. They usually do when I’m just getting started, because I can jump right in on all the scenes that I’m particularly excited about and know just how to do. The tougher work will come later, so I’m enjoying things like the 2,000 word morning I had today while that lasts.

I also recently had an idea that would change the WIP a fair bit. I think it’s pretty cool and I like it a lot, but it would also make the whole thing a good bit weirder. I mentioned this on Twitter and most of my writer friends responded with variations on ‘do the weird thing’ which should not be a great surprise coming from a) creatives and b) writers of primarily SF, Fantasy, and horror.

Now, you might argue that I might want an unbiased opinion, but honestly, however much I know they do tend to love weird shit, they are also professional creators of this kind of thing and if their advice is to steer into the weird, it’s an idea worth giving a lot of weight.

I do think, generally, that you have to write what excites you, or it won’t be as good as it could be, and if the idea that is making me ‘ooh, yes please!’ at the moment is something pretty out there, well, so be it. Maybe the sober reflection on suburban life will be next in the queue. (It will not be next in the queue.) I also think, from my fairly limited experience, that it’s easier to dial things back in terms of how daring and intense they are than it is to turn up the volume on later drafts. So I’d rather write this thing as weird as I can conceive of it and figure out where to pull back on it if it turns out to be too much than write something where the primary feedback is ‘well, it’s a bit dull’.

All of which to say that I’m going with the pretty weird idea and steering the WIP in a direction that will make it very different than the way I originally imagined it, probably riskier in terms of whether it is going to work or collapse into a glorious mess, but will also definitely be a more unique tale. Those are the ones that are the most worth telling, I figure, so off we go.

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New Project!

This blog started out as a public accountability component to my stated intention to complete my first novel. In other words, I figured saying I was going to do it publicly would help shame me into sticking with the project even when I didn’t necessarily feel like it. I’ve decided to engage that function of the blog again this week, as I get set to seriously begin my next WIP.

Now, astute readers will know that I did already start working on another piece during the summer, and no, this is not that. That project got back-burnered when I had editing to do on Heretic Blood, and now I have another idea I’m a bit more excited by. It may not be exactly Best Practices to switch over like that, but if I have learned anything about my writing process it’s that I do best when I’m working on an idea that I’m excited by in the moment. I still like that other story, and I expect I will get back to it in time, but right now I’ve got this other idea burning a hole in my imagination and I sort of want to jump on it while the excitement holds.

It also makes starting to learn Scrivener a touch easier if I’m starting fresh with a new project instead of working out how to import an existing document into this new program. So, hopefully, I can sort of accomplish two objectives at once. Of course, that depends on ruthlessly carving out the time to really give this new project significant attention, because If I’ve learned a second thing about my writing process, it’s that if I leave a project for a while, I lose that elusive ember of excitement, and then it takes a while to stoke it up again. So if I’m going to do this, I need to attack it consistently, which is what I did with King in Darkness and Bonhomme Sept-Heures and even (mostly) with Heretic Blood.

I hope that this will start tomorrow; I’m meeting a friend in the morning for a writing session of the sort that gave me the final push through to finishing Heretic Blood and bashing it into shape to start sending out into the world. I’m pretty excited to see how this story goes; it will be quite different from anything I’ve written in a long time.

I haven’t written a lot so far, but (unconventionally for me) I did start at the beginning, so here’s a little taste. I’d love to hear what you think.

We were nearly cornered by armed goons and whether any of us lived through the next few minutes depended entirely on whether the old guy in the filthy coveralls was the right kind of crazy. And look, instead of ‘armed goons’, some people would insist I should be saying ‘law enforcement officers’, sure. And the old man, yes, he might theoretically be one of the most valuable people in any system. But so far, we’d had to basically drag him up three flights of stairs and down a whole bunch of corridors, and his main contribution had been to scream at the top of his lungs and make sure everyone knew exactly where we were. I’ve had relationships get off to better starts. And as situations go, well, I had my gun, and I had my ship, and usually that’s enough. But this was not great.

I think I’m going to call it Spacebender, and I think it’s going to drive my friend Derek Kunsken insane. I’m excited to get started with it, and I’m already looking forward to sharing more of it with you.

Thanks for reading.

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Tools

Not much of an entry again this week; I’m still swamped at work and now also sick into the bargain, so this has been a far-from-productive last few days. I guess the only significant Writing Thing I did recently was taking the plunge on buying myself a copy of Scrivener. (Let no-one say that I don’t do retail therapy, at least a little)

At least in theory, I think it might be helpful for me. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I tend to write my stories out of order, doing whatever scenes I feel inspired to write or have clarity on as they come to me. Then eventually I stitch them all together. I am given to understand that Scrivener will make this a bit easier as you can have parts of your overall document defined as scenes and then easily shuffle them around. Sounds good, if I can teach myself how to use it.

A lot of emphasis is sometimes placed on tools, and sometimes we attach identity to them. I have seen various people say something along the lines of ‘if you’re a serious writer, you must get Scrivener’. I’m sure that’s not accurate – obviously lots of people thrived as writers before it existed, and many still do. I wrote King in Darkness and Bonhomme Sept-Heures on nothing more complicated than Open Office, and although Heretic Blood is probably not in its final form, I’ve created it the exact same way.

More importantly, I’m not sure it’s *helpful* to suggest that in order to be taken seriously at any particular craft, you have to use a particular tool or set of tools. For writing, all you really need to do is write. It doesn’t matter how you do it, and you should probably look around at different options and try some different things to find what you’re most comfortable with, but as long as words are ending up on the page, nothing else matters. Getting a tool doesn’t get you anything if you don’t use it, and you can do a lot of work done with really basic stuff as long as you just keep at it. I suppose I’m just a little tired of seeing suggestions that people are Doing It Wrong.

I didn’t pick up Scrivener for any reason other than that I am at the start of a new project and now is the time to try it out. (Well, also that retail therapy thing) We’ll see how it goes. My guess is that at first it’s going to slow me down as I learn to operate it, but hopefully down the line it will make things go more smoothly. And if not, well, Open Office is still always there.

That’s it for this week; I hope to have a little more to talk about next time. Thanks for reading.

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Doldrums

Short one this week, as I have been neither very productive nor feeling very inspired the past few days. Some of this is purely ‘real life’ related: we’re in the busy part of term for me and a lot of my energy is going to that. Some of it is a bit seasonal in another way; it’s cold and wet right now, I’m not doing the long outdoor runs that I enjoy so much through the summer, and while I’ll adjust, it’s a bit grim just now.

It’s also true that since I have more or less stopped work on Heretic Blood (or at least, the work is now in the ‘find someone who would like to publish it’ phase), I don’t have a go-to project that is sitting and waiting for me whenever I have some writing time. I’m in the process of figuring out what that next project is going to be, and I have a few ideas I think might be cool, but nothing that I’ve really gotten a lot of traction with yet.

I could probably sit and force myself to grimly pound out some stuff that I wouldn’t be feeling too excited about, and would probably read exactly like something that I really didn’t feel like writing. I’m not convinced it’s a worthwhile investment of time, though. Some people will insist that you gotta grind out stuff regardless of context, and while I do think it’s important to keep working on my writing as often as I can, I also think it’s basically fine to recognize the times when I’m not going to do good work, and put my energy elsewhere. Clean the house. Run the errands. Read some stuff that might get me excited to get back creating.

So, while it’s fair to say that I’m in a bit of a writing doldrum right now, the best thing I can do for myself is keep in mind that this is ok. I’m never going to be equally productive all year round. There will be periods where I write a lot, and times where, for a variety of reasons, things don’t go as well, or I may be needing to put my energy elsewhere. It doesn’t really mean that anything is ‘wrong’, it’s just part of the respiration of my creative process. Some times are not the right time for me to create. That will change, and what’s important is to take advantage of the times when I do have the energy and inspiration to write stuff that I can take pride in.

Or so I keep telling myself.

Hopefully I’ll have gotten back into a bit more of a creative mode, and have a meatier blog for you, in another week.

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