Me the Scatterbrain

Okay, last week’s blog was a bust.  No video connection.  That teaches me to have a backup plan.  Of course that doesn’t mean I ever will.  I’m a writer, dangit!  Doesn’t that mean I’m artistically disorganized?

 

For me it does.  Or just plain, ordinary disorganized.  I’m working on the sequel to what is going to be my first self-published novel (I must think of a better title than Magic’s Guardian before I have the cover designed and buy the PowerPoint converter so I can post ads on Youtube, etc.).  It is currently in two notebooks (neither filled), a journal, another journal, several sets of loose pages, and assorted scrap paper.  It is slowly making its way into the computer, but it’s in so many pieces right now the poor thing must be in pain.

 

I try to organize sometimes.  The top shelf of my computer desk is still neatly arranged, writing and reference books interspaced with knickknacks, including Gizmo from Gremlins, a couple Jack Sparrows, Toad from the X-Men, a wizard (nope not THAT wizard, he’s on a different shelf), an angel, a Big Boy, and many, many frogs.  The rest of it . . . not so much.  Pens, paper, more knickknacks not so neatly interspaced, notepads, and thumb drives all scattered about in a system only I can understand.  It’s kinda like the way I write.  And I wonder if that’s because I just can’t keep everything in my head.

 

A good example of what I mean happened last night.  As I was heading for bed (when else?  Really?) I got so many different ideas for the story they almost started falling out of my brain.  All I could do was grab the first blank paper at hand and start to scribble half-legible notes.  (Half legible to me, that is.  Anyone else would probably think I was writing in tongues.  I’ve been told I have serial killer handwriting.  Bwa ha ha.)  I also keep a notebook beside my bed, in case of middle-of-the-night inspiration.  I’ve lost too many ideas by not having something on hand, then falling back to sleep and waking up only remembering that I thought of something brilliant.

 

I suppose it’s the hazards of imagination.  Anything can set it off . . . a dream, a song, a line from a TV show or movie, a picture.  It’s sometimes frustrating.  I have a dozen unfinished novels sitting around just because I can only work on so many at a time.  At the same time I love it.  I only have to live in the real world if I want to.  And who wants to?

 

All of which seem to be common experiences for fiction writers.  I’ve read about or heard of similar stories all over, from newbie writers as well as the old salts with a dozen publishing contracts.  Any of you agree?

 

And I wouldn’t want to be any other way.

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Summer

Instead of a real post this week I decided to share some of the random entertainment we’ve been gifted with this summer.  I am trying to load a video of Ruby and the Rascals.  So far it isn’t going well.  Hopefully I find a format the the computer will accept because I had no backup plan.

The Pleasant Necessity of Editing

A blog is like talking to yourself, except without people staring.  Like the oft-stereotyped sidewalk prophet with the THE-WORLD-IS-ENDING placard, I can gibber on and on with no thought to structure or even sense.  Which, many would say, is perfect for me.  Including me, or so I thought.  I didn’t think I would so tongue-tied (or keyboard-tied as the case may be.  Ha.  I made a funny.  No?  You’re right, I didn’t.) in a blog.   You’d think the stream-of-consciousness kind of prattle would be easy.  But it doesn’t give you a real opportunity to EDIT.  One day, maybe two, that’s it.  That makes me uncomfortable.

The reasons?  Lots of them.  But mainly it’s because, while so many people who want to write seem to have trouble saying what they want to say, my trouble is shutting up.  I love words, using them, abusing them, bending them to my will (Bwa ha ha ha).  The more the better, like pennies in a jar you think?  Ah, no.  The trick, the hardest trick for me to turn (was that one funny?  No, still not?  Dang.) is to use more nickels, dimes, and quarters, fewer but stronger words to say the same thing.  My rough drafts, I have to admit, are liberal with the pennies.  There really, truly is such a thing as too much.

While I EDIT (and oh, I love to edit, I think it’s one of my favorite parts of the process, along with finding ideas, starting a story, finding the path that joins the main parts of the plot, and . . . anyway.  Shuttingupnow.) I try to find opportunities to cut.  For instance, let me examine the first half of once sentence from the first draft of my first completed novel.  “Terra’s gut slithered unpleasantly inside her at the sight of . . .”  First, your gut is your insides, so that’s an entire phrase replaced by one word.  And do you really need to clarify that it’s unpleasant for your organs to slither around inside your body?  No.  So it became “Terra’s insides slithered at the sight of . . .” and ends up sounding not only clearer but somehow more descriptive.

I’ve done the same thing with entire scenes, or, more challenging, cannibalizing scenes to distribute elements through different parts of a novel, or even to a different book in the series.  Once into a different series.  But I, as they say, digress.  Sometimes one detail works better earlier but another needs to come in later and yet other elements aren’t needed at all.  Taking five pages from one place to add half a page in two others can help streamline everything.

Be careful, though.  There’s athletic, and there’s starved.  I’ve read both.  I would rather read something slightly too plump than something that is skeletal in its stark wording.  “Don’t ever use a description for dialogue other than “said” is one example of advice I feel is taking it too far.  Whispered, whimpered, shouted, pouted, sniffled, snorted, wheezed, breezed, they’re all good ways to convey emotion and define a character’s reactions and personality.  So no, I do not agree that less is always more in writing.  There’s such a thing as too little, too.

Some writers/editors/agents/publishers/readers/critics—all right, that’s getting intimidating—will tell you to cut out all adjectives, adverbs, sometimes even most or all description.  I can’t and won’t go that far.  I do like to write (and especially read) some color, even stuff that would be considered flowery by today’s standards.  Fortunately, it’s all about opinion and personal taste, so if you don’t like my opinion and I don’t like yours, there’s still no need to argue.  Read all the skeletons you want, I’ll stick with my meatier, calorie-laden cuisine, and I expect the same consideration from you.

But that’s enough coffee-fueled babbling from my virtual soapbox for a while.  Happy reading, happy writing, happy editing or criticizing, whichever your role in today’s writing world might be.

This is my first attempt at a blog, and my first attempt at truly public writing.  The two articles I had published years ago don’t count since no one read them anyway. 

 

So don’t be cruel . . . oooo oooo oooo . . . to a heart that’s true . . . to writing, anyway.  It’s been a hobby since I was seven and has increasingly become my life’s love. 

 

Why?  I’m not sure, but I think it’s because when I write, I can make the world the way I want it.  There are no rules to follow (except grammar rules, and those can be bent) and no laws I need fear breaking.  Not that I would anyway.  I’m quiet, boring, the  quintessential image of a pale writer sitting for hours in front of a computer screen (or just as commonly with a notebook in hand, luddite that I am) who knows words like “quintessential” and “luddite.”  And who feels secure—or maybe rebellious—enough to misuse a word or two.  (Nya Nya Nya Nya Nya so there.)

 

Of course, the image and the reality of a writer are usually quite different.  My favorite authors have all turned out to be frighteningly normal, even the ones who write bloody death and squidgy S and M sex.  But me?  Nope, I fit the profile, stereotype, whatever you want to call it.  I’m a geek and proud.  Most Saturday nights I’d rather play with the characters in my head than go out and party.

 

I do on occasion miss human company, but since most of my friends have moved hundreds of miles away, my social contact is mostly limited to Facebook, Twitter, and my day job.  It’s not that I NEVER get invited anywhere, but I have terrible luck when it comes to actually DOING something.  I’m usually broke, or broke, or I might even be broke.  If I’m not, then I can almost count on either me or someone else being sick on the day of any planned outing. Fortunately the non-human company in my stories keeps me interested, keeps me thinking, and keeps me sane.  Sort of.  Kind of. 

 

Maybe not.  I can’t tell any more.

 

Anyway, I think I’ve made the point I intended.  I like to write.  This blog will be about my writing and my terrifying journey into the world of self-publishing.  My first foray is set for 01-13-13.  Why that date?  Because I like the number 13.  Am I superstitious?  Nope.  I don’t mind black cats, if I break a mirror that’s just my usual clumsiness, and ladders don’t bother me.  I just like the number—odd and misunderstood.  Kinda sounds familiar.

 

I’m nervous about the publishing.  It feels like loosing a child onto a cold, indifferent world without even a jacket.  But if I don’t do it, what’s the point?  A story that isn’t read isn’t a story, it’s just dead words.  Hate me, love me, revile me, adore me, I don’t care.  It’s my world, though I borrowed a bit of it from ol’ Will Shakespeare (Shush, Puck and Maclyn.  You’re in my head, that makes it my world and my rules.  Fine, we can argue about who owns what later.  Right now, shut up.) but I’ll let you in for a little while if you want.

This is my firs…