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! ^_^

On Pillows and Their Sleeping Habits

(pinterest)

Note: I wrote this “article” some while ago, but I think it an appropriate subject here on the last day of NaNo, when all we writers really want to do after a long month of writing is to crash and sleep and forget about writing and everything to do with it. Though we should probably wait till tomorrow for that… December is a great time for napping.


On Pillows and Their Sleeping Habits
by
Deborah O’Carroll

The way to get good sleep is to sleep on a pillow that is also asleep—preferably two.

Now, this is more difficult than you might suppose. You see, pillows, by their very nature, are nocturnal. They tend to be wide awake at night and extremely dormant in the day. This is why we often do not sleep as well as we should like, for when the pillow you are sleeping on (or trying to sleep on) is awake, it stands to reason that it will try to keep you awake as well.

Pillows are mischievous like that.

It is possible that they are at times also responsible for some of the more bizarre dreams people have. Pillows are such cleverly weird creatures they can come up with lots of things to think into our unsuspecting drowsy minds. And the mere suggestion of an extremely strange idea to our own wildly creative minds is like a shiny new toy, so that even in our sleep we cannot help but begin to play with it—which, as before mentioned, can make for some seriously bizarre dreams.

At any rate, the trouble of getting good sleep can be narrowed down to getting the pillow to fall asleep first.

This is difficult.

Experts on the subject—or at least, as expert as anyone can be on such in unpredictable area of science—say that there is no tried and true method to making a pillow fall asleep, at least at this point in time. This is further complicated by the fact that it is not possible to be 100% certain that a pillow is truly asleep. Sometimes they are faking.

Various methods have been tried with varying uncertain results.

Some have tried pillow fights in an effort to tire the pillows out—which sometimes only makes them more awake and inclined to be either excited or grumpy, depending on the temperament of the individual pillow involved.

Others have tried leaving pillows in a dark closet in an attempt to convince them it is nighttime when it is really daytime, in order to keep them awake (they prefer sleeping in light), so that they will be tired come evening. But pillows generally have a pretty good sense of day and night, even when locked in a closet.

Many other methods have been tried, but it is in any case a very tricky business, and results have been non-conclusive.

However, if you should experience an extraordinarily restful sleep, it may be due to the fact that your pillow is as sound asleep as you are.

Happy dreaming!

DISCLAIMER:
This article has not been read or approved by any authorities on the nature of sleeping or otherwise pillows, nor is it sponsored by any pillow-selling entities. The author of this article is not responsible for any strange or nervous feelings by readers toward their pillows after reading this.

The Hero Who Couldn’t Say No

The Hero Who Couldn’t Say No
by
Deborah O’Carroll

Once upon a time there was this . . . well, we’ll just call him a hero, even though he wasn’t exactly one, but was merely the Main Character of a story (specifically, this one).

This Hero had a strange thing about him, which was that he could not shake his head or say no.

If you said something to him like “Do you like asparagus?” he could not reply and give the obvious answer to that question — for of course, no one likes asparagus. You would have to rephrase the question to “Do you hate asparagus?” And he could nod, say “Yes!” and pour an emphatic stream of hate onto the subject, just as anyone would.

At any rate, this strange condition caused many problems, for, as you might imagine, not all questions asked of him had obvious answers like the asparagus one.

Probably what the Mentor would say… The Hero wouldn’t like it… (pinterest)

One day, the old man who was teaching him hero-like things (see: “Mentor”) — who, for the record, did like asparagus — decided to get rid of this annoying habit of his pupil.

So he set up a scene, where some robbers came, and pretended to kill the old man, who fell over.

And the Hero, of course, did the thing he had never been able to do before: he yelled “Nooooo!”

At this the old man got up, having proved that once again, even the most obnoxious of problems can be fixed with a simple antidote that has been used so many times that it may now be considered mandatory in stories. In this case, that classic example of the old Mentor being killed and the Hero yelling “Nooooo!”

And so, the Hero was cured, and the Mentor not dead (but then, who would be surprised at that “twist”). Because, although the Hero had said “Noooo!” he very fortunately had not said “You’re going to be okay.” For if he had said that, obviously the Mentor would most certainly not have been okay.

So of course they lived happily ever after, especially as the Hero could now reply correctly when asked if he liked asparagus.

My Misguided Fairy Godmother Muse

Once upon a time, there was a girl who started writing stories.

She spent several years scribbling away at them, going back and forth between a few different ideas and consequently not making much progress on them.

Then something strange began to happen. She began to have even more and more ideas for even more stories! What could this mean?

But, cheerily, she continued writing, and making notes for all the new ideas. She became obsessed with making lists of the stories, and developing titles for them, and designing mock covers for them, and writing out summaries of what they were about. She began to be more excited about “playing” with the stories than actually writing them.

Time went on. The list of stories continued to grow and grow and grow! But far from complaining, the writer was delighted.

She did so enjoy making those lists and writing those notes, you see.

Somewhere along the way, she began to notice patterns. Whenever she would take a break from working on her writings, whether on purpose to recharge, or accidentally due to busyness, she would suddenly get hit with all this inspiration — and, more often than not, that inspiration might include ideas for new stories.

Then the year of 2015 hit. The ideas were flying in left and write right. It began to get insane. The writer began to despair of ever getting around to writing all of the things, especially at the snail-like pace the actual writing was happening.

So the writer stepped back and analyzed this phenomenon.

That was when the writer discovered the presence of her fairy godmother.

Most writers talk of their “Muse”.

(very helpful…)

This writer realized that instead of a muse, she had a benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of inspiration. (Perhaps rather like Ophelia from Broken Glass by Emma Clifton…)

The writer realized that the fairy godmother muse freaks out whenever the writer is not making Story, knowing that the writer is happier when making Story. So the fairy godmother, thinking the writer is just tired of the old stories, quickly throws a bunch of new ideas at the writer to get her attention.

If you haven’t figured out by now, this writer is me. And this benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of my writerly brain/inspiration/muse is the cause of both my excitedness about having so many story ideas to write, and my despair over ever finishing anything, let alone all of them.

My fairy godmother muse, especially this year, is constantly going:

“STORY. STORY! YOU’RE NOT MAKING STORY. YOU’LL BE HAPPIER WITH SOME STORY. MAKE STORY!”

And hands me more and more storyness, shoving it into my brain and then beaming and watching happily as I flail around like a headless octopus and try to work on ALL OF THE STORY THINGS.

Unfortunately, my fairy godmother muse doesn’t seem to care if I’m actually making PROGRESS on said stories, i.e., actually writing them down…

As long as I’m flailing around doing plotting or brainstorming or making lists, she feels confident that she has been doing her job well and fulfilling her role in keeping her writer happy playing with stories.

To give you an idea of the insanity that’s underway, I’m going to share a list of the story ideas that have “clicked” this year ALONE.

The main ones are:

  • The Other Half of Everything (I think I’ve mentioned this enough…)
  • Darkling Reflections (Finished this one! Huzzah! …Yes, it’s a short story; I can still be proud.)
  • The Siren and the Skyship (swashbuckling sky adventuresome gender-swapped steampunk Little Mermaid retelling)

Five more stories in the Kedran’s Wood series (bringing it to a total of 8… so far; last year it was supposed to be a “trilogy”. Haha. Isn’t that just ADORABLE?)

  • Son of Kedran’s Wood – prequel novella
  • Return to McAllistair Mansion – short story (I wrote this one! I’s so proud of me.)
  • Mixup at Kedran’s Wood – novella between books 2 & 3
  • The Novelist of Kedran’s Wood – novel set after book 3, a double story
  • Celebrations at Kedran’s Wood – short story set after all of the planned books (thus far… *cough*)

As well as:

  • A modern Cinderella retelling about a writer, set during NaNoWriMo
  • An untitled fairy-tale mashup conglomeration retelling (RETELL ALL OF THE THINGS)
  • An untitled thing I’m currently calling “The Epic Book” which is vague but has some awesome ideas swirling
  • An extremely vague notion of an idea for a con/heist story that would be a companion to Underground Rainbow, starring the eccentric purple-haired artist (no, unfortunately this has no plot yet and I probably will never be able to make it work)
  • An idea for a nonfiction book about various things

And I also “made official” i.e. added to my lists because I had had ideas about them but was pretending they didn’t exist:

  • The tenth Starrellian Saga book
  • A sequel/companion novel to Heartseeker about the Bard and Trillum
  • An untitled Arthurian retelling which is going to be super cool

Not to mention my Sleeping Beauty novella The Rose and the Raven, which had been a vague idea for years but only just this year finally came together as something I could write… (But, again, having trouble CONTINUING… ya know?)

Yes. That is 16 (or 17 if you count The Rose and the Raven) stories, either from ideas from this year or “officialized” by listing them as stories to write. THAT’S JUST THIS YEAR ALONE. That’s not even thinking about the 30+ other stories from BEFORE the notorious 2015-when-all-the-stories-exploded-in-plotbunnies-and-said-write-us-or-we’ll-kill you. Sometimes I scroll through my list of 50ish stories and just go… “HOW EVEN.”

Sixteen new stories this year, guys. (So far…)

Can you see how insane this is getting?

Apparently there’s just no dealing with a benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of inspiration.

(And no, I don’t actually know whether you should be very happy for me or PLAYING A DIRGE.

It’s very confusing and I honestly can’t tell anymore.

Blame it on my fairy godmother.)

777 Challenge – Round 2

I was tagged again — twice! — for the 7-7-7 Challenge, this time by Kelsey Bryant, and by Shantelle Mary Hannu. Thanks so much, guys! ❤ And everyone, check out their loverly blogs, do!

Rules

There seem to be slight variations on the rules, but basically you go to page 7 of your current WIP (Work In Progress), and select 7 lines of your story as a snippet to share on your blog (some say at the top, some randomly selected, some say the 7 lines should be 7 lines down…). And then tag 7 other writers! Simple enough. (Even I should be able to figure this one out… *coughcough*)

Snippet #1

I finished my short story Darkling Reflections, so it’s no longer a Work In Progress, but here are seven lines, seven lines down, on page seven, from it anyway! 😉

picdr

(pinterest)

The lawyer—her father’s and now hers, just as everything else was—stood by a side table and waved her over as she approached.

He looked exactly like a lawyer ought to. Distinguished, steel-grey, crisp, businesslike, and very tidy. He appeared pleased to see her and smiled a little.

Even his smile was tidy.

“Ah, Alethea. I did not think you were coming.”

Snippet #2

I’ve already done the 777 Challenge for my main current WIP, The Secret of Kedran’s Wood… So, instead, here are seven lines from it that I wrote recently.

picthingThat night, Tare went to the warehouse.

The winding way down the dark alleys beneath the cold starry sky was familiar, though he had not walked it since . . . well, since that fateful night the previous summer. After that, there had been no need to.

Ignoring the cold wind that wrapped round him and stabbed down his collar, he padded with silent purpose through the shadowy darkness until he reached the door of the warehouse.

It was locked, as the Chess Club had said. But that did not stop him.

Pockets and fights were not the only things Tare could pick.

Tagging

I tag: Sarah | Rebekah | Christine | Tracey | Jenelle | Cait | YOU if you want to!

You guys don’t have to do it, obviously… just if you want. 😉 And if you’re not currently working on anything… well, whatever you were working on last will do! And if you’re not 7 pages into something… then any 7 lines will do! Basically, have fun with it!

Thanks for reading. ❤