And Finally, Some Writing!

So far I’ve only talked about writing. Probably time I post some, yes?

This first piece was something I wrote for a fandom prompt, because yes, Im involved in fandom. I’ll have to write a post on that one of these days because it’s done extraordinary things for my writing. Regardless, the prompt was ‘beginning’, and I wrote it for an original character of mine who is a mage. Not sure how well it translates to non-fandom, but here goes:

Beginning

If people asked what the first manifestation of Alim’s magic was, he would tell them it was fire.

When I was a boy, I would light the wood stove in the mornings while everyone else slept. One morning I discovered that I could make fire appear in my hand.

That’s it? They’d ask.

That’s it.  

In fact, that wasn’t it, but Alim’s real story was no more dramatic. One morning while lighting the fire, sparks had floated up to his fingertips; too young to consider the danger, he’d watched as they landed and twinkled against his skin before flickering out. The first manifestation of his magic was a shield.

Why did he lie to people? Expedience. Maybe to avoid the question, why does a child need a shield? The answer to that was something only Jowan and Kinnon knew. Regardless, that wasn’t the important question. The important question was why he lied to himself.

It’s possible it wasn’t a lie, or wasn’t one any more. He might truly have forgotten about the whispers. They had been with him since his youngest sister was born, always shushing away in the background, saying things he could barely make out. They’d grown louder when his mother kicked him out, then quieted altogether once he’d reached the Circle. And maybe that was why he’d put them out of his mind. Here, despite the paradox of the thin veil, they were silent, and it was easy to forget what was silent.


I am absolutely shameless about sharing my writing these days, even ones that aren’t quite there, like the above one, so I read it so some friends while they were captives in a moving car. They liked it, but one suggested it has a few too many questions, so I might go back and rework it a bit.

The next piece is an exercise I did from Steering the Craft, by Ursula K le Guin. It was simply to write a paragraph that is meant to be read aloud, something that feels and sounds nice without using rhyme or meter.

The village below, with small stone houses huddled around the bay, was locked in her mind as the image of an elderly woman hunched over weaving, hitching threads under hands crooked by long years and illness. She stepped down the path slowly and hoped her memories held the truth of what this place was, because she was in need of the warmth and steady patterns, laid down in regular stripes throughout the years, that had marked her youth. Here was the loom that had collected and ordered all her threads. Here was the home that she had wrapped around herself like a blanket when she had left.

Since it’s an exercise, I haven’t edited it and probably won’t unless it becomes part of a bigger piece. I focused on adding lots of ‘h’ and ‘l’ sounds to give it a bit of a sway.

And there we go, actual writing. Now I head back to google docks to do more work on the outline of my book!

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Goals (and Dreams)

Here’s where I set down what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months. It’s not a long list, but it’s an important one to getting myself into a position where I can look for an agent and submit my work to publishers.

Short Term:

  • Get my novel outline finished. In a few short weeks, I managed a first draft of the first quarter of my book. Awesome. Except progress came to a halt as I entered the middle build and had nothing solid planned. Lesson learned? Pantsing only gets me so far.
  • Start up a local writing group for critique. This is already underway. I gathered a few people I knew and at the end of the month we’re having our first meeting.
  • Join the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia.

Middle term:

  • Finish first draft of novel.
  • Apply for the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. I can get a mentor’s help in shaping my manuscript??? You bet your ass I’m applying.
  • Apply for a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I’m learning that writing is a serious commitment, and I want all the help I can get to pursue my goal. Yes, I’m a homemaker, but also yes, my work at home has value and beyond that, there are resources and tools I want to access that I don’t have money for right now. A grant would be a huge help.
  • Do the First Words: Fiction workshop that’s offered by the local writer’s federation.
  • Take a creative writing course at a local university. I’m particular, so it’s a specific course that is taught by a local author I admire. This goal is dependent on me getting a grant, so we’ll see.
  • Get another laptop. Look, this one is perfectly fine, but I’d like a business class one with a great quality keyboard. Plus, I suck at organization, so I’d like a separate machine where I don’t have to wade through gifs and game save files to find my writing docs.

Super Exciting Writing Plan, Week of May 5- 12

Not my actual hand. Or stylus. Or tablet. Image by Plush Design Studio.

I have lots to accomplish in terms of writing this week, almost too much, so here’s a list that I’m going to pretend will keep me accountable. I’ll check at the end of the week to see if the pretending worked.

  • 5k words done on first draft of novel (already have 1,200 in the bag. Ha HA!)
  • Keep writing the poem I was going to write for a submission deadline on Wednesday but like too much to deliver before term.
  • Finish a first draft of a sci-fi horror/romance that features skinny maggots. I know, you’re jealous you didn’t think of that first.
  • Research at the local library.
  • Have a writing day with a friend in town. We’re either going to be super productive or dissolve into beer and gossip.
  • Get another blog post or two done for here.

The Dragon Has Moved.

I’m approximately 10% of the way through my draft, so I nudged the dragon in my header along a titch to reflect that! I’m probably more like 15% of the way because I expect the first draft to fall short of 100k words and need padding in revision, but who knows?

Routine

Yes, I know. I should have my drawing tablet taken away.

Since the day I decided to call myself a writer, I decided that writing needed to be treated like a job, and that meant a routine. I’m not great with routine. I’m a frazzled homemaker with ADHD and a long history of falling off the horse when it comes to building a support net for daily activities, but somehow what follows is working.

  • Get the lunches made for the boys and husband and see them off. This is part of my writing routine because having a quiet house is important.
  • Take meds. Without my ADHD meds I’m unfocused. Without my anti-depressants I’m obsessing over little hurts that happened six months ago. Taking both is like airing out a musty cabin.
  • NAP. Yep, I built that right in. For whatever reason I get tired after I’ve been up for a couple of hours, so it’s off to bed where I dream up an idea or too and then sleep. I wake refreshed and ready to work.
  • INSPO! This is where I listen to a short writing podcast or read an article or do some exercise from whatever MOOC I’m taking. It a) gets me in the mood and b) lets me spin my wheels a bit so that when writing time happens, I’m warmed up and ready.
  • Write. Miraculously, I pump out about 1k words in an hour. I used to struggle to manage a quarter of that in long tortured evenings so… I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m gonna ride that wave though. 1k is my minimum, but I’ll usually go a little over and often a lot over to finish a scene.
  • Do the social media thing. No, not my fandom blog on Tumblr (I’m at work, remember?). I mean my writing-focused Twitter and this blog. I might also chat with some writer friends on Discord. I know the chatting is borderline, but it feeds my desire to write, so yup, it’s an official part of my routine.
  • Daydream while doing housework. I usually do some chores in the morning before my nap, but there’s always lots to get done in the afternoon too, so I fold laundry while dreaming out the next scene, or some setting detail, or a new twist in the magic system.
  • Write again! This is after supper, after my littlest has been tucked in, and I’ve helped my teen with his homework. This is fun writing time and because my brain is generally tired, I don’t work on the novel draft. I’ll work on short stories, fanfic, Tumblr blog posts, whatever.
  • Sleep at a decent time. I learned the hard way this week that staying up until 2 am with a great book kills all ability to write the next day, so no more of that.

So there it is. I’m still puzzled about why this is so successful for me. Looking at it written out like this, I think it’s because it involves a lot of little things that proactively take care of possible roadblocks, like being tired. I still want to work meals into it, because I have a tendency to forget them, and a morning walk, since walks make the brain click in all the right ways, but that’ll come. For now, this does what I need it to do.