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Moving write along

It’s been a while since I posted

What the hell have I been doing for over a month?

Writing

I finished revisions on Deer Ethan! I ended up cutting a huge chunk of words out, over 30,000 of them and reduced the book to a novella. This was just the first round of revisions though and I know I need to build my characters and setting out quite a bit. It could potentially reach novel length again at some point, but for now, it’s a novella.

I also started writing my next book and I’m using pen and paper instead of my laptop. It’s really slowing the process down for me, but I feel like what I’m putting down is of a better quality. It gives me time to think through things and I’m feeling a stronger connection to my work, which is exciting for me.

Crafting

I’m working on some new crafting projects for Christmas gifts. In case people I’m gifting choose to read this, I won’t elaborate. After Christmas, maybe I’ll share pictures of what I made. Or maybe I won’t. This is a blog dedicated to writing, not my weirdo crafting projects. Although, I like to take time to be creative in other ways as part of my writing process – it gives me a break and lets me see something else through to completion.

Living

I took a week off around my birthday (yeah, I got older since I last wrote). I usually take the week off and just hang out, relax, de-stress, and this year was no different. I tried climbing (so much fun!), explored the island, explored the city, and didn’t write more than a paragraph. It was perfect.

Getting back to it

Last night, as I was trying to go to sleep, my brain decided it was the perfect time to scrutinize my connection to the things I write. Of course I’m going to share some of those thoughts with you, considering this is supposed to be about my writing process.

When I was writing Deer Ethan in 2015, I was in the midst of a relationship that inspired a lot of the character and action of the story. I’m no longer in this relationship and working through the book brought up a lot of memories and emotions.

For my current novel, the main character is based heavily on my own personality and it’s set in my current geographical location. This might change, but for now it’s working for me.

I remember advice I heard in 2013 when I was writing my first book, to write what I know. I didn’t pay much attention to it because at the time I was writing an epic, high fantasy novel where everything was made up. How can you write what you know when there is absolutely no knowledge base? Thinking back though, a lot of dialogue, events, and characters were inspired by conversations I had with friends and family. Now, I’m almost certain you can’t help but write what you know. I’m inspired by everything around me.

Considering my work is loosely based on my life and the people in it, does it worry you that I write about murder? 😉

I do wonder if my connection is a detriment to my writing, and maybe I should stop basing them off specific people in my life, including myself.

I’m curious to know how other writers feel about this, about their connection to their work, and the characters they build. Are they based on you at all? On people you know? Do you completely separate them from your own life? What do you think about the impact of any of this on yourself and your reader? 

Comment below, or feel free to message me privately at ang.unsworth@gmail.com.

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From computer, to paper, and back again

There she goes, overthinking again

As you know, I’m trying to get through revisions of Deer Ethan so I can write a new book during Nanowrimo. And, as you know, I’ve been struggling through these revisions and attributed this to many different reasons, all of which are still applicable. But, I think I found a new one – because I can’t seem to shut my brain off when it tries to figure everything out in the attempt to find an all-encompassing solution.

Here’s my long-winded explanation of a solution

I love writing. I enjoy creating worlds where the forces of good and evil battle day in and day out, or just a space where we can question human behaviour, dancing along the edge between sanity and murderous madness and wonder if we would topple over it put in the same situations.

Side note: even though I have a degree in communications and write daily for work, I am not the best with grammar. I have an obsession with commas and unnecessarily long sentences. It’s a problem. I find it amusing that I’m the editor of an intranet, but am happy to have something that challenges me to overcome this issue.

I love editing – other people’s work anyway. When I edit, it’s mostly just to make suggestions for better ways to phrase things, or to identify holes in storylines, rather than for grammar.

Anywho, I was listening to a podcast which covered how Neil Gaiman (my idol) works. He writes his first draft out in long hand, and then his second draft comes from fixing it as he types it. That’s it. He doesn’t revise afterwards, other than to send it to an editor.

While I don’t believe I could get away with only writing and revising once, it does make me question my process of writing a book in 30 days, and then having to basically rewrite the entire thing, because, for me, writing fast doesn’t equate to writing well. (Note: count how many commas I had in the last sentence. See? It’s crazy.) Maybe that’s why I am having such a hard time with revisions, because I’m not revising. I’m rewriting. The whole damned book.

I know rewriting some sections of a book during the revision process is likely to happen no matter how I get the first draft out, but rewriting the entire thing is another monster.

I think for my next book, I want to try writing it differently. I’m going to try Neil Gaiman’s process, and I’m not going to stuff it into 30 days. I’m still aiming to finish revisions on Deer Ethan by the end of this month, so that goal is the same, but I won’t be participating in Nanowrimo.

I still love Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo was a great experience for me. Through it, I learned I have the ability to write a novel. Many of them, in fact. And now, I get to take that knowledge and experience and build on it to start writing great novel-length stories. I’m excited.

Murder as motivation

Bodies in the water, writing fodder

I was cycling along my regular commute to my 9-5 job, when I glanced off into the waters of the Gorge, searching for a heron. I saw an unidentifiable blob of something or other, and immediately assumed it was a body. Obviously, if there is a body in the muck of low-tide, it is put there by nefarious means. Side note: this is familiar territory for me – I also used to assume garbage bags on the highway between Calgary and Edmonton were fully of body parts dumped by ne’er do wells. Anywho, this maybe body sparked an idea for a new novel. I don’t want to give too much away, except to say that it will involve the supernatural, murder, horror, and all those delicious, juicy, gory details.

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This is the Gorge. Sometimes bodies and feet are found here.

But, how does this new idea actually = motivation?

A new idea puts pressure on me to finish my current project, so I can give it life — insert maniacal laughter and statement: It’s aliiiiiiive! Pressure is like gasoline to a procrastinator.

I also have a date when I want to start writing this new book. Every year, I participate in Nanowrimo, which is in November, and I want to write this murderous tale during that competition. This gives me until November to finish revisions on Deer Ethan, which is an entirely attainable goal. Now that I’ve got the added excitement of creating this new one to keep me going, it has to happen. I will not let myself write the new book, until this one is done. And, I really want to write this new book. And, I really want this one done. So, there you have it, murder as motivation.

Thank glorb for good friends and notebooks…

As a side note, I want to express my gratitude for all the great people in my life. Today’s shout out goes to the friend who randomly handed me a notebook on the street. I’ve been giddily filling it ever since. Of course, as a writer, I’ve got notebooks sitting everywhere. Key word: sitting. Not being used. Languishing in their forgotten prison-like cube of a bookcase. The timeliness of this friend handing me this treasure (pronounced tray-zure), was on point, following after one of my previous posts where I lamented my lapsed habit of carrying one with me at all times.

Byeeee…but first…

…I’ve come up with another idea to keep my writing on track. I may, or may not, share this in my next post. Stay tuned to see if I do! Or not. It’s really up to you. I hope you stick around though, and keep reading, commenting, rolling your eyes, whatever.

Typewriter, typewriters, writer, write, writer’s life

Processing writer’s block: What do you do when it all gets to you?

I used to write all the time. I carried a notebook with me everywhere and would always be found jotting down ideas. More often than not, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and bleary-eyed, I’d pick up a pen and the writing pad on the nightstand next to me, and write out the dream I had, or the idea that was running through my brain making it nearly impossible to sleep.

But then, something happened. I hit a block. It’s not that the ideas weren’t there, but I hit a depression that struck me so deeply, I actually felt nauseous when I tried to write. It scared the shit out of me.

While I managed to pull myself out of that dark pit, I have been working on healing a broken heart that has been a very long, slow process, one that is taking much longer than I’d like to admit. I’m uncomfortable with it. I’m struggling with it. And my writing is suffering for it.

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t writing. Or, no, that’s not it. I couldn’t allow myself to admit that a heartbreak, or a guy, or anyone would ever affect me so much that I couldn’t do the thing that meant the most in the world to me. Are you kidding me? ME? I thought I was a ferociously independent woman who didn’t need anyone but herself to get by. This couldn’t be! But it was. And I had let it happen. I let myself get buried so deeply in someone else’s dreams that I didn’t let my own matter anymore. Side note: this isn’t any other individual’s fault. This is my own. No one forced me to get so invested in anyone else, it was my own co-dependent nature that did this to me. It is something I am doing my damnedest to work on so I never do it to myself again.

But now I find myself wondering if writing is even something I should be trying to do anymore. I love writing for work (corporate content). I love writing for Beautiful Bizarre Magazine (go check out my posts here and here). I don’t know if I love writing novels any more. I thought maybe I should just quit, and if I could let myself quit, then that would be my answer. But, my entire being resents and rejects that. I can’t quit. I don’t want to. I want to finish revisions on this book I’ve been trudging through for the past three years. I want it. I know I want it. So…the question is…what is the hold up?

I’m still healing and growing and learning, but I want to figure out how to write through the ups and downs, because life is not going to be a perfect, flat road forever, and I certainly don’t want it to be. That’s boring as hell.

I’ve got self care nailed down. I exercise regularly, get out with friends, read, sketch, take nights off to watch Netflix, play video games, cuddle the cat, you know, all the good things. But, I still have this weird feeling about working on these books. Maybe it’s just revisions.

Anywho, I didn’t write this post because I have answers. I wrote it for a few other reasons:

  1. Social media makes everyone’s life look easy. It’s a lie. We all fight our demons and I don’t want people to think my life is sunshine and rainbows all the time when it isn’t. I think that’s okay. And, I think it’s important to share that so everyone else knows that it’s okay to hurt sometimes (saying all this though, I want to be clear that I’m not looking for a hug or pity, I’m just being real).
  2. I’m searching for answers. If anyone has ideas, advice, or tips to help me get my writing back on track, please share.

That’s it. That’s all for me today.

Oh! One more thing. The focus for this blog is going to change a bit. Initially, the idea was to share short stories I was writing, but most publications consider blogs to be published work, and they won’t take published work. I’ve written a number that I haven’t shared here, so the blog has been deceptively empty. I’m going to write more about writing challenges, continue with prompted blurbs that I don’t intend to build on and share a bit more about what inspires me. Perhaps sharing these types of posts will help me process my crap a bit more, and inevitably lead me back to delving in to the writing again.

Thanks for reading!

Describing her

You can feel the air buzz as she nears, as the very atmosphere shakes with the echo of her frenetic energy. You make the mistake of lifting your head from your desk, intrigued by this change in your external environment, and you catch her eye.

Next, you feel the jarring shock of her exuberance as she greets you with way too much energy for 9 a.m. in the morning, or really, at any time of the day.

Her eyes are open wide, a constant look of wonder and surprise keeping them this way for just a bit too long. Her long, thick, black locks either cascade wildly down her back, or are pulled tight into a bun at the top of her head, pulling her long features up and making her eyes and nose stand out more than is necessary.

The scent of cigarettes and stale perfume permeates the air around her, billowing out from the folds of her cheetah-print clothing.

She smiles at you, at your neighbour, at everyone, the sheer pleasure of being alive and in this place, this very office, at this desk, in your presence, exudes from every pore and attacks your own self, making you want to skirt away from her and end this discomfort.

Awkwardly, you smile and side step out of wherever she may have caught you, feeling guilty for wanting to be away, but also grateful that the place you now find yourself in is calmer, serene, and you take a deep breath in relief.

As you get to know her better, her quirkiness begins to grow on you, and you find yourself wondering at her ability to laugh when the inside of her head is a dull staccato thumping headache that keeps the rhythm all through the day, never missing a beat, or wondering at how she can smile and joke while her insides twist in cramps that would double you over. You find yourself wishing you had the ability to find joy while shit is hitting the fan. And, although she comes across as rough, she’s got a kinder heart than many of the fake-polite people you’ve run into in your life.