Writer Ups & Downs

It’s a funny thing: it seems the writers’ life consists mostly of ups and downs.

I mean, there’s all these times when we’re either SUPER EXCITED about writing and just so energized, and other times when we’re super down about it and think our writing is worthless etc. etc.

One moment we are all:

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

And the next:

Quoth the raven: Nevermore.

Our writer lives are a series of mountains and valleys. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It seems that there’s not an even road, where we are just quietly content in where we are in our writing, things going smoothly but not exciting (because if it’s going smoothly, that IS exciting), or just generally “meh, it’s okay” (because thinking that rockets one quickly to: “there must be something wrong with it if I’m feeling that way about it!” which turns to super down), and it’s all extremes.

(I’m generalizing, and if you’re not this way, then just ignore everything I said. XD)

But I suppose it makes sense, since writers are primarily storytellers, and in a story, things mostly ARE extremes. It’s either enormously happy for our heroes or super-super-enormously, extravagantly bad for our heroes. (Usually the latter; being a book character is a poor career choice, let me tell you. XD) Because in a story, if it was just meandering along a flat place where things were okay or all right, then… there wouldn’t be much of a story.

Perhaps we writers are attuned to that (and are also dramatic souls *cough* *guilty*) and tend to take it in extreme emotions one way or the other.

I’m not saying this is good or bad. XD I’ve just been thinking about it. 🙂 (Again, if you’re not this way, forgive my ramblings and let me know otherwise. :P)

I’ve been going through some writer ups and downs this year myself.

I’ve been writing short stories, which means I’ve been finishing things! But that also means I haven’t been making progress on novels.

I’ve been writing in small dashes of this-and-that, not focusing on any one thing, which means I haven’t made any serious progress on ANYTHING. But I HAVE somehow amassed about 20,000 words of writing this year!

I’ve had some great “clicking” moments that have resulted in excitement over various stories! But I’ve also not been excited enough about one thing to focus on it.

I’ve been writing in snippets, so I haven’t made consistent progress. But I’ve been using Scrivener and that has helped with my snippet tendencies and I’m getting fun inspired scenes down!

I’ve (hopefully) decided what to write for NaNo and gotten super excited about it! But NaNo is 4 months away. (That’s both good and bad. XD)

I’ve written three short stories this year, which total 14,700 words (Wintertale, A Tale of Two Boxes, and a Kedran’s Wood “fanfiction” that will never see publication but was fun to get me back into the series). I’m 2000 words into another short story, Invisible Beauty, and almost finished. I’ve written at least a thousand words of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood a.k.a. KW2 (I haven’t been keeping very good track, just trying to get further since I’ve been stuck) and a snatch of KW3. I’ve written 1700 words of snippets of The Other Half of Everything. And a couple lines of random other things. Plus various plotting I’ve done.

In a way, it’s not very much for six months. In another way, it’s far better than I was doing this time last year during my huge burnout!

Plus, I’ve been doing a LOT of reading and reviewing, getting my story-and-writing-fix that way.

I’m at the point where I have decisions to make of which paths to take as I wander these mountains and valleys of my writing… and these decisions, too, are huge opposite decisions, in keeping with the ups-and-downs-extremes theme of this post. XD

I either need to get seriously back into writing soon, OR take a serious break in order to recharge.

I either need to buckle down and decide that I will focus on one specific story and pick it and stick to it, OR embrace my work-on-multiple-things-at-once thing I’ve been doing slightly and make it work for me.

I either need to start writing in order again and focus on getting things done that way, OR I need to embrace my scribble-snippets-out-of-order-all-over-the-place thing I’ve been doing and make that work for me too. (Scrivener might help. But it’s hard to sew the quilt-pieces together once I’ve made them, so… I don’t know.)

I also need to remember tips that I’ve learned in the past that I don’t always remember to put into practice, such as:

  • Draft zero. This is a huge friend of mine, or at least has been in the past, and it could really help me if I’d remember to use it.
  • Timers and wordsprints. Especially the awesome wordsprint timer on the NaNo site. This is also super helpful for if I want to write something and just don’t have the motivation. I’ve only used it for NaNo and Camp so far, but the amount of progress that can happen in 15-or-20 minutes with this thing is astounding, so I should probably go for it again sometime.
  • Music. I know music can be super inspiring and get me in the grove, but I just don’t remember to listen to it much. (It doesn’t help that the speakers on my laptop are shot, so I have to remember to use earbuds, and I just don’t.)
  • A time to focus. I don’t write when I can’t focus, which means I just don’t have a time for it in my life right now. I need to set aside a time every day, or at least occasionally, to block out distractions and just open my Scrivener documents and at least TRY. Normally those times come at night and I’m either too tired, or I decide to read or write a review instead. Problems. 😛

Anyway. There’s a bit of a ramble on what’s up with my writing life of late, and its ups and downs, and partially just to remind myself of some things I should know. (Does that ever happen to you?) Writing is how I understand things in my life, so writing this out helped show me where I am, which is helpful. 😉

I’m going to leave you with a scribble of poetry that was meandering around my head at 2 a.m. when I was trying to sleep but instead thinking about all these things.

Writer ups and writer downs
We will don our paper crowns
Take up our most loyal pens
Find out where the story ends

Thanks for reading! ^_^

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i can’t see where the road goes

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I can’t see where the road goes
As through the trees it turns
Though deep inside my heart I feel
A world of wishes burns

But still I follow after
The path my feet must take
Where what awaits is surely more
Than words or wishes make

So show me where the road goes
Or teach me: know I must
Beyond horizons veiled, things are
Awaiting me through trust

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Poetry Scribbles

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Today (October 6, 2016) is National Poetry Day! …In the UK. But hey, I figured why let them have all the fun? 😉

I very rarely write poetry, and it’s always of the rhyming variety since I don’t understand anything else, and I haven’t written any in a long time. But I thought I’d just dump a few of my scribblings here for the day. Because.

Some of my longer pieces I sometimes think about maybe posting on their own or doing . . . something with. I don’t know. Whatever it is people do with poetry. >.>

So these are short ones which I’m kind of fond of. Just snatches, really, since they’re hardly long enough to call poems… *squirms because I’m not used to doing poetry*

Anyhow. Here you are. Poem bits. Scribbles, as Gummy would call them. 🙂

***

O you are like an adjective
I like you quite a lot
But others with advice to give
Condemn you on the spot

*

Sing the dawn
Soar and fly
Song of wings
Sung in sky

*

R&R

Hidden treasures of the sea
Hidden treasures, come to me
Far away on distant shore
Who can hear the ocean roar?

~ from The Rose and the Raven by Deborah O’Carroll (Sleeping Beauty retelling novella)

*

The wind it sweeps along in spring
An almost silent whispering
Like quiet words in secret dream
A far off leaf falls in a stream

*

Dark fate or bright fortune,
Wither do you go?
Down to the desert
Or up to the snow?

*

If you come home real late and you drive up and park
It will wait for you there, in the house in the dark

*

I’ve posted a few bits of poetry on my blog before. You can find them here:

Thoughts (a poem about this blog for when I started it)

Lost in a NaNoWriMo Mist (short piece on NaNo)

A Writer’s Allegiance (humorous poem about pencil, pen, & computer)

Presenting the Strangest Character Silmaril Award (LOTR fanfiction-ish Tom Bombadil poem)

***

Thanks for reading! ^_^ (Also, this is my 200th post on this blog! *pulls out some leftover confetti from the blogoversary celebration last month and throws it*)

Presenting the Winner of the Strangest Character Silmaril Award!

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Mae govannen!

Today I’m pleased to have, filling in for me, one of the most eccentric but amiable persons in all of Middle-earth, well known for his yellow-boot-wearing tendencies and his joy in all things, prone to singing and talking in rhyme and often referring to himself in the third person.

A Note: Those unhappy individuals in the audience who have only seen the film adaptions of The Lord of the Rings without having ventured through the delightful pages of Tolkien’s actual books, will not have met this character as yet . . . Perhaps this merry meeting will show such people what they are missing!

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Hey! Come derry dol! merry dol! My darlings!
Tom’s here to sing today, like the feathered starlings,
To give an award away, that is what they’re tasking
(The SilmAward leaders all) — but who am I, you’re asking?

I’m Tom Bombadil! Quite a merry fellow!
Bright blue my jacket is and my boots are yellow!
Down by the Forest Old, with Goldberry a-living.
The Strangest Character Award is what I will be giving.

Who’s stranger than old Tom? That there is no knowing,
So off to find the voted one, that is where we’re going.
Come now! Hop along! Follow Bombadillo!
Down along the river clear, far from Old Man Willow!

Who’s on the river bank, fishing for his dinner?
Puddleglum of Narnia! Here we have our winner!

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(Puddleglum illustrations by Pauline Baynes, from The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis)

Long legs, pointy hat, hands and feet all froggy,
Thin face and reedy hair, from Eastern Marshes foggy.
Marsh-wiggle, winner-Strange, from near the River Shribble,
Fishing now beside the bank of the old Withywindle!

“Ho there, Puddleglum! Good fortune to have found you!
Tom has some news to give, that in fact he’s bound to!”

“Ahoy! Bombadil. What is it? Was there a fire? Dragons, of course. A flood, maybe? Has my wigwam been knocked down in a storm while I’ve been away? Or perhaps there’s a prohibition against fishing for eels in this river? Bound to be true by now, I shouldn’t wonder. Don’t break it to me gently, I’d rather have it all at once. Put a bold face on it and all that.”

“Not a thing to fret about, but reason for elation
You’ve won a fine award from a celebration!”

“A mistake, I shouldn’t wonder. It must be meant for some other fellow. While we’re on the subject, what might be the nature of this award? Mind you, I don’t believe I’ve won it . . .”

puddleglum2

“The Silmarillion Awards, for people who’re deserving;
The Strangest Character Award they have for you, reserving!”

“Strangest. Ah. Now isn’t that a fine distinction. Arranged by the other Marsh-wiggles, no doubt. ʻHe’s a strange one, is that Puddleglum,ʼ they would say. ʻAltogether too flighty and full of bounce and high spirits.ʼ Strangest. Of course.”

“Come now, Wiggle-man, be not melancholy!
Being given this award is reason to be jolly!”

“I dare say. And I’m not a man; but you’ve forgotten that, I’ll be bound. All that merry dol-ing has gone to your head, I shouldn’t wonder. Too much merriment. Just think what the other Marsh-wiggles would say.”

Tom is a-laughing now, laughing like a bellows.
“Old friend Puddleglum, you’re the best of fellows!
But Goldberry is coming now, her silver voice a-singing,
Helping Tom with the award, Silmaril a-bringing!”

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Goldberry (smiling): “Here is a pretty thing for in your wigwam keeping;
Take it please, good Puddleglum, or else there may be weeping,
For it was clearly stated by the fans that it is for you.
You deserve it Puddleglum; take it, we implore you!”

“There’ll certainly be weeping in any case, once they discover it wasn’t meant for me at all. But a chap can’t turn down something like that when it’s given so handsomely from such a fine lady as yourself and from an old friend, even if it is meant for some other poor chap. My thanks.”

(bowing)

puddleglum“. . . Mind you, I suppose there’ll be a discovery of the mistake, and then there’ll be dangerous journeys for myself or the other fellow, wandering about in snow and rain and thunder, trying to make sure it gets into the hands of the rightful owner. But, to look on the bright side, perhaps such a shiny thing will pay for the funeral of myself and the other chap in case our journeys don’t end favorably (and why would they?). It will be a lot of bother. End in messy deaths for all, I shouldn’t wonder. A sad business. But a Marsh-wiggle never shrinks from hardship. So I’ll accept the award, just this once. I’ll just have to make the best of it . . .”

Puddleglum takes the jewel, then goes back to fishing,
Likely still a hungry one, for his eel-stew wishing.
Goldberry is turning now, laughing bright as any spring;
Puddleglum can still be heard: “Doubt that I’ll catch anything.”

Tom’s laughing, homeward now, through the forest going
With pretty Goldberry, by the river flowing.
The singing is almost done, duty now is finished
Silmaril Awards go on, shining undiminished!

How went the voting? That is what I hear some thinking.
Here are the secrets all! Tom will give them, winking . . .
Marsh-wiggle and sockman, a wizard, girl, and fire —
Strange are the nominees! These votes they did acquire. *

Hoping it was merry though! derry-o! and merry-o!
Characters a-worthy from fantasy and Faerie-o!
Come now, hop along, quick as you are able
To see those voted best in fantasy and fable!

If ever you are wandering down by the Withywindle,
Come visit Bombadil, candle-light to kindle!
Farewell to readers and to Marsh-wiggle by water
From Tom Bombadil and the River-daughter!

tombombadilillustrationpaulinebaynes

(Bombadil & Goldberry, illustration by Pauline Baynes in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by J.R.R. Tolkien)

* Strangest Character (119 out of 123 people voted on this)

  • Puddleglum (The Silver Chair) 46 votes / 39%
  • Pete the Sockman (The Wingfeather Saga) 34 votes / 29%
  • Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle) 16 votes / 13%
  • Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter series) 13 votes / 11%
  • Calcifer (Howl’s Moving Castle) 10 votes / 8%

A Writer’s Allegiance

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A Writer’s Allegiance
by
Deborah O’Carroll

Oh, hear now, my pencil, I’ll sing you a song
You may not be short and you may not be long
Unlovely and stubby
All scratched up and grubby
Unsure if you’re square, round, fat, thin, right or wrong

Yet you are my pencil, and you I will use
Whenever a story does come from my muse
So true on the page
In good humor or rage
Yes you are the pencil I always will use

Yes pencil—oh wait now, I see something there
I see what it is and I can’t help but stare
A pen, smooth and black
I will be right back
As soon as I’ve looked at the pen, oh so fair

O pen, you could be very useful to me
And while you are with me the world you’ll see
As I write about mountains
And sweet silver fountains
To write with you always contented I’ll be

O beautiful pen, did I not speak quite true?
And happy together, me, paper and you
We get on so well
That nobody could tell
That our good companionship is very new

Pen, we’ll stick together—hold on, what is that?
A computer, you say, and that is a rat?
No, no, it’s a mouse
And it’s here in my house
A keyboard as well—and with that down I sat

Computer, how strange that we never did meet
I laughed as I typed and typed, such a great feat
You are my best friend
And you’ll be to the end
As all of my records together we’ll beat

Against a computer no thing can compare
A writing companion that truly is rare
So lovely are you
It is certainly true
Though you take up much room I never will care

Yes—oh, sorry, a moment, just give me a sec
From behind my ear, something fell on my neck
Why, you I do know
Could it really be so?
My pencil returned now, it’s vengeance to wreak

Apologies, pencil, to you I return
To stay with you always I promise I’ll learn
In fact I’ll show you
How much I do know you
For to me you are as the dirt to the fern

Oh, hear now, my pencil, I’ll sing you a song . . .

(repeat)

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