Experience it all

I have finished the story I discovered last week. It was a rush job because I wanted to get my ideas down while I was in The Zone. It’s in dire need of editing now, due to that rush. Damn, the flush and excitement of having finished it is really nice.

Now, MtM!

By Ryzen (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Do Writers Need College to Write?

(page 20) EXERCISE: What have you learned from LIFE that has given you themes, experience, and ideas for stories you can start telling right now?

I’ve worked in offices and in retail. I’ve done manual labor and intellectual labor. I’ve worked from a chair and on my feet. I’ve packed and shipped, engaged in Q&A and challenged many up the chain of command in every organization I’ve been in and held their feet to the fire to support the very Q&A standards they put into place.  I’ve pursued hobbies that gave me joy; parlayed them into paying gigs.

I’ve learned about people and how their own life experiences colors things for them. I’ve seen destructive behavior and great leaps of kindness.

This is something I’ve known for a long time, for as long as I have wanted to be a writer. Watch people. Pay attention. Glean from my surroundings. Be quiet and observe. The world, life, will show you more than you can possibly imagine if you just slow down and listen.

So, no, I don’t believe a writer needs college to write. Would they benefit? I think so. Just like I think they would benefit from doing anything at all that would broaden their horizons and expanding their experiences.

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Sideswiped by an old story

Something wonderful has happened.by Lynn Davis from freetrangestock.com

Like most writers I know, I have my moments of doubt. Those dark places where we wonder ‘is what I’m doing any good?’ It is usually followed by ‘why am I even trying?’ and ‘god, I hope no one sees this’.

Many who hit that wall eventually give up. What they’re writing doesn’t seem to mesh with what they envision the final product to be, and they stop.

Now, I’m not talking that middle novel sag where all of a sudden, out of damn nowhere, sparkling new ideas come at us from all directions vying for our attention because we’ve hit the saggy part and we follow after happily, chasing that new high because what we were doing looked suspiciously like work. Boring work. That most certainly happens.

No, I’m talking about the creeping self-doubt that dogs our heels when we’re writing. The words are coming in a white-hot moment of inspiration…and then when we make the mistake of reading back over it, we’re plowed down by the momentum our self-doubt had built just trying to keep up.

Something thunks in our self-esteem as it plummets and we quietly slip it to the side, hoping no one noticed what we did and pray that they never actually find that piece of dreck. Yet, we don’t want to throw it away because maybe we can cannibalize it later, for when we’re a better writer and can do it justice.

Yeah, so, you know, that happened to me. I can’t remember why I put this particular piece to the side. Maybe I thought my plot was weak. Maybe I thought my writing was trite and cliche. Whole lot of maybes that I have certainly thought before, so I’m sure one or two of them caught up with me while I was writing this story and I used that convenient excuse to trunk it. Less than half done.

Well, in the interest of housekeeping on my harddrive, I happened upon it. Honestly, by this time, according to the save date a year has  passed, I barely remember this story. So, before I decide to delete, I open it and start reading.

And that something wonderful happened.

…It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was pretty damn good. I mean, I know it was rough but what was I thinking trunking this story? I know myself well enough to know that the most likely cause of it getting dropped was I thought it sucked. Bad plot, cliche and trite. All that, maybe more.

I dug up the synopsis I wrote for it, just to bear my theory out about a sucking plot.

Nope. The plot seemed pretty solid.

So, the writing was actually pretty good, the characters were ones I enjoyed reading, the plot seemed to be solid…why on earth did I trunk this bad boy?

No clue. Absolutely no clue, save one. I believed the voice of self-doubt and put it aside. Now I’m so sorry I did. It’s not quite at the half way point (so I can’t blame Saggy Middle Syndrome) but it’s still a solid story

This sucker is getting dusted off and finished. What do I lose? Nothing. I have no firm project on the table at the moment so it’s not like my attention is getting diverted from anything.

The thing I hope to take away from this is that no matter how dark those moments get, where self-doubt smothers me, I’m never as bad as the self-doubt tells me and I can’t, simply can not let it convince me to put it aside.

Finish. Edit. Let my betas help me smooth the suck out of it if I continue to be convinced of its suckitude. But I will never let a story get dropped again.

Why is it so quiet in here?

Didn’t mean for my absence to happen or to take this long. Family drama. L O L.

Back to MtM!

moon_alteredFinding Silence

(page 15) EXERCISE: How can you quiet your conscious mind so you can hear what your subconscious mind — your Muse — is trying to tell you?

It boggled me to learn there were some people who were afraid of the silence. It’s a concept I simply cannot understand. Moreover, they are terrified of the mind chatter that crops up when there is silence in their environment. So they fill their space with inane noise. Television. The radio. Podcasts. Winamp.

Understand, enjoying those things aren’t necessarily bad. I love a good TV show. When I’m feeling it, I will crank up my writing soundtrack. Having noise in our life isn’t inherently bad.

It’s when the noise is used to escape their headspace and their thoughts.

I’m sure they have their reasons and I’m sure they’re valid. It’s just something I’m not grasping because I love my space-silence and my mind-silence.

Sure, sometimes my brain decides to fixate on something. How to meet bills, how to resolve this familial drama-fest, how to deal with a recalcitrant neighbor/loved one/coworker. Then the chatter starts.

My favorite is when my brain decides to dredge up everything I’ve done wrong ALL EVER IN MY LIFE and dwell on it to the point that I can feel the despair dragging me down. Or when it fixates on one thing that a close loved one said that hurt me so deeply that I move from grief to rage at ‘how dare they’ in the snap of a fingers.

Since my brain has determined to use this as a way to derail my writing, I indulge it. I set a kitchen timer and self-talk, saying ‘okay brain, you have five minutes to get it out. rage and rail and cry and beat about how it’s so tragic and angry and unfair it all is. after that five minutes, we get back to work.’

It usually works. My brain settles down and I can get to the tasks at hand. When it tries to dredge it up later? I tell it ‘too bad so sad, sucks to be you but you had your five minutes now shut up’. After a few times of that, the rest of my day goes swimmingly. If it behaves, I will reward it with music. My brain seems to like it.

My productivity seems to like it, too.