anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
It's a lovely, soft rainy day. I slept well enough - still having trouble accepting that I do need to go to bed at night. Having responsibilities sucks. I want to stay up all night reading and let someone else handle the mornings. Lately it's felt like all the thoughts are happening in my brain all at once and it's hard to focus on just one to get it out.

I received Down Among The Sticks And Bones on Friday, and I'm so excited. Every Heart A Doorway is... everything. DAtSaB doesn't have to be everything, it just being is enough. But I'm putting off reading it a bit, because I want to clean out my brain some. I also found my misplaced copy of Steering The Craft, which is one of those truly great books on writing. Which is... I've hit this point, where a lot of writing advice just isn't helpful. I may not have gone anywhere career-wise, but in writing theory it feels like I'm well beyond that entry level journeyman advice. So things like Steering the Craft, Get To Work Hurley, Wonderbook, and the occasional twitter thread are precious. You know now that I write that I see how it times in - how the need for more higher level craft insights has driven me to meta, lore, and analysis. The ruthless breaking down of stories, laser focused cause and effect. And let me tell you, Dark Souls and it's relatives are a GOLDMINE for that. I could speculate that it had something to do with how we have to dig for basically ALL the story in the Souls games, but nah.

So yeah, it goes like this: long form Dark Souls lore/analysis videos are great to play to fall asleep - yo Bloodborne is just as good/even better! - ongoing Themes of cosmic horror in my life(if Cthulhu himself arose out of the lake I'd be like 'sure fine it's just another Tuesday around here') - tumblr memes - oh hey this one book is really awesome(EVERYONE READ WINTER TIDE OKAY?!) - I kinda want to write in this vein - ...might as well read Lovecraft now.

I haven't actually, not in any focused way, and I've just been in that mood for awhile so why not? His stuff is fairly short and readable surprisingly. I think there might be a lesson in there, about about how his mythos as he wrote it wasn't that well suited to longer forms, as well as how to craft short stories. And I mean, he was so good at harnessing readers' imaginations that his works seem so much more then they actually are? (Hardly anyone talks about the craft aspect, which is interesting. And well, standard disclaimer here about how he was an actual trainwreck, but that's not what I'm here for today.) (I read something recently about how he encouraged others to take his mythos and run? There are conflicting reports, but I am Intrigued.)

The thing about actually reading Lovecraft's stories is while I am aware that the narrative is pushing me to be repulsed, disgusted, etc, what I actually feel for the characters is sympathy. To use The Dunwich Horror as an example, since it's the freshest in my mind - I can't find it in myself to be unsettled by a disabled woman and her eccentric farmer father? or the woman's heavily autistic-coded son? Ultimately the 'spooky/scary other' falls completely flat for me, doing so so much as to upset the entire tea cart of the story. It's a bit of a quirk of the writing style, that the bigotry can be attributed wholly to the narrator(something that is not helped, confusingly enough, by the Wilbur being a self insert. wtf lovecraft.) 

The result of ignoring the narrator's opinions is it then reads as a tragedy of the complications of raising half-human children, and of not fitting the social mold. Our only solid source of for the Whateleys' motivations is the questionable translations of a child's diary. Looking at it that way makes monsters of the stuffy old white men of academia that we're being fed as the heroes. It's kind of amazing that it can so easily be read that way, and explains some of the longevity of Lovecraft's mythos. It's an interesting exercise in itself to view the story through both the lens of the author, and on its own. Death of the author and all that. 

I'm not sure if I got out all my thoughts about this. It's taken a long time to write this entry, due to my brain just being a bad brain in general. I feel like my knowledge and understanding of this whole subject is much less sophisticated then it could be. Here is a link to The Dunwich Horror, in case one might want to read it for themselves.

Addendum: thoughts on the Call of Cthulhu. My audiobook tells me that I've been pronouncing R'lyeh wrong this entire time(audio, btw, is an excellent format for these stories.) My original above thoughts stand, about perspective and how Lovecraft's stories are like prisms, and you can get something totally different with how you turn it. It was a bit amusing that it seemed like he was deliberately padding for wordcount by repeating plot points over and over again, and I got the impression that he didn't really know meanings of all of the big words he used - I wonder how many readers do? "an angle which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse." is still objectively hilarious.

Sort of confluence of all this is a story idea, something I'm pondering for an attempt at July's Camp Nano. It's definitely more of a gothic story, the cosmic horror stuff got mushed in there because *gestures upwards* I don't brain good in the summer though, and camp nanos have never gone well for me, on top of potential business, so we'll see if it happens.

8tracks playlist of the week - sounds nice in stormy weather and "It was so dark that it was even hard to hear"
anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
i'd like to write something with deserts, wastelands of apocalypses long removed. dry and hot and deadly, and a sky so open it hurts.

i'd like to write something overflowing with flowers; purples and pinks and a riot of scents, glittering dragonfly wings. honey and good soil.

i'd like to write something with coffee dark and creamy as oil, dancers lost in skirts and jewels and mosaic tiles, and smoky rooms worn out cards.

i'd like to write something about streetlights at night, and the sunset a slice of brilliant orange-gold at the horizon while dark clouds stretch overhead. Rain on windshields, the soft switch-switch of the wipers. Power lines and empty highways.

i'd like to write about old radios that play songs from the stars, ethereal and comforting in their strangeness. space ship crews singing songs best described as folk meets vaporwave.

i'd like to write about immigrants and prospectors outracing technology and the sky and land and the animals keep getting bigger and bigger the farther you go. wanderers and towns with their own strict moral codes.

i'd like to write about a lot of things. but where are the characters? the plots, the stories? setting isn't story, but that's all i have. Any time i've tried to construct characters deliberately they've... distorted the worlds, muddied their shapes. So does attempting to link the spaces together. the characters and bridges have to come naturally, or it all collapses, and i'm so tired of that. of not being the machine other writers seem to be, of not being able to just force it to happen. of writing hurting.
anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Twilight Princess)
I just. aaaaaaaaargh.

I'm writing, I'm trying to write at least. And the story I'm working on is just... frustrating me, in a way that's hard to explain. A sort of meta-doubt, about my responsibility as an author and if I have the skills for this damn idea at all.

To explain, the novel I'm working on is one I've referenced before as my 'bluebeard story', but referencing bluebeard is a... bit of an obfuscation. It's a BatB story, a girl-lives-with-wizard story. I call it the bluebeard story because it starts with a horror mystery - who is this wizard she's found herself with? is he as trustworthy as he seems? what about the Strange Rumors? and because well, aren't relationships all a bit horrorifying, even the good ones? (especially relationships with beings that can command Powers Beyond Comprehension? what's the difference between magic and money?)

It started out way more bluebeard then it is now - I didn't mean to write it as a romance, but honestly that's my Thing and I couldn't help it. (The last few years for me have been all about Accepting Your Thing and rolling with it. I highly recommend it - more id writing for everyone!) I figure that's alright, but now I'm having trouble fitting in elements from the original story - the bluebeard red herring stuff, that I feel like make this thing unique. I'm falling into this sea of Doubt - is this story pure hubris? do i have the skills to transition from horror to romance? does ANYONE?! I'm trying to make one character a Decent Person and a Credible Threat at the same time, and omg it just hit me that I probably need to read more gothic romances. Anybody have any recs for Modern Feminist Gothic Romances? except 'gothic' isn't the feel I want to reach for. am I just trying to force into place puzzle pieces that just don't belong here at all? I guess the only way to know for sure is to finish it and hand it off to someone else, and oh jeez do I miss my in-person writing group.
anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
I don't know, but today I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic for one of my abandoned stories. One that was absolute hell to write the first draft of - I was too close to the themes, the details. My wounds weren't healed enough to go poking at them, and for the first time I didn't have the support structure to put checks on whether what I was doing was a good idea or not. Nobody said the key 'you don't sound very excited about that idea' and I suffered for it. There's the lesson there - having friends-that-are-also-writers is critical for being a writer. The last couple of years I had to learn how to be a writer all over again, from scratch.

But even though it was an awful experience, I won't have started it at all if I hadn't liked the core of the idea. I still do - gothic americana zombie apocalypse roadtrip. Andrew Wyeth aesthetic and lonely, quiet survival instead of Survivalist nonsense; time's persistent march forward against all will. The fragility of technology and the permanence of its changes; something utterly modern and american instead of my usual fantasy and far off science fiction.

And I think the pieces of it are starting to fall together now. It doesn't hurt so much, and I see the shape of the story so much better. Changes in the world have, unfortunately, provided more of a landscape for the setting. It might be darker now, and it definitely as a vastly different ending(the first was Shit.) It would be a story for the world of Now, about the sadness and horror of an open road. I'm not sure if I want to set aside everything else to work on it, but it's coming together in the background.
anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
Yooka-Laylee trailer

Final Fantasy XII trailer

E3 is in *checks* let's call it 5 days. It feels like game developers are starting to get antsy. Can't blame them - getting the news out at the right time so it doesn't get drowned out by all the other news is tricky business.

I'm excited. To be honest E3 is all that's getting me through most days right now. It's a link to happier times. I hold on to the good things that can't hurt me.

Thinking about writing blog posts. Bloggy posts, not journaly stuff. One of those 'how hard could it be?' things. Step one - where the hell do I post the result? Here? tumblr? blogger? idk. I just want to get stuff out there, but I'm also mildly terrified of interaction. idk.
anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
I did it. I'm caught up. It's been a wild couple of days getting to this point, but here I am. I think I proved something to myself - that I really can do this. I really can't write this much in a day, and it's not a struggle. Because while it took time, it wasn't that terrible a struggle - for the most part the words flowed. The characters lived and breathed.

I started yesterday at 7k behind and with prior appointments. I packed up and ended up typing away in the back corner of a Chuck E Cheese, which I believe tops my two previous contenders for Weirdest Place To Write - the dressing room of a hot yoga studio, and the middle of a psychic shop(with bonus chihuahua lap buddy.) My only internet connection was my phone, but how exactly do I pass up Sailor Moon themed sprints? I don't. I wrote like 3k there.

(Dinner was pho, because St Cloud has a place and the Red Robin STILL isn't open. They haven't even finished with the tyvek. Then we dropped by Barnes & Noble. I got two drinks at Starbucks because the tired barista made the wrong drink at first, and I don't turn down free caffeine/sugar.)

Today it snowed. Gentle little white flakes all day, gathering just a thin layer over the ground. I slept well and woke up before the dogs started nagging at me for once, though the muscles of my left chest are still sore. Wish I knew why. In the afternoon I sat down and gave myself over to writing sprints on Twitter - the NaNoHouseCup is another one. Nothing like fighting for the glory of Hufflepuff! I wrote another 7k, and really settled into who the characters were and what the world they lived in entailed.

Really what helped was reaching the point where I gave no more fucks. The realization, which I have to make anew every time, that I don't have to answer to anyone about anything. These characters had have the kind of relationship I want them to have. It doesn't have to be framed in a sexual way - it came be the sort of sweet and close interaction that I've always wanted from books. I can build whatever sort of world I want, change scenes when I feel like, and infodump to my heart's content - fuck the narrative police. They don't get to read it anyway.

At some point I realized that these characters now live beyond 50k words, that they live beyond a single story. It's more like 'The Ongoing Adventures', which is going to be musing.

I think, I've come to a point where I need to give up trying so hard. I just need to write, for me. No for the outline, not for the story, not for the market or for any audience. That hasn't been working. That's what I mean when I say I want to quit writing. I don't want to quit these worlds, these characters, playing with the elements of their mythology. I want to quit the stress and disappointment. The loneliness. How can I be so lonely, with so many people in my head?

It's time that I get some sleep.

anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
Somehow I wrote nearly 4,000 words today. I'm not sure how, and I have no clear idea of what I wrote. Stuff. The characters doing things. But I'm closer to actually getting caught up, so that's something. Many thanks to the official NaNo Sprints twitter - once again I would not make it through without them, and apparently fighting for the honor of Hufflepuff can do amazing things for my wordcount.

It's still a bit weird, being three hours off 'normal'. There are whole twitter feeds I don't see anymore.

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night. I ended up listening to the first four, or five, or six? episodes of the Black Tapes Podcast. It's exactly the sort of creepy shit I love. Reminds me of the X-files and the Twilight Zone, and of late nights listening to Coast to Coast. I love it, but it did creep me out. I've have a lower tolerance for creepy stuff since the time I got so sleep deprived while watching Marble Hornets that I had hallucinations.

So I got a late start today, my brain elsewhere in creepy land and distracted. Apparently Rita injured Chai. I worry about my red boy. I hope he's ok. I hate that I'm gone from him so much.

anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
Insert badly drawn gold star with 'not as much of a failure as you could have been' labeled over it in comic sans.

Though really, it's not that bad. I'm back on track, I think. I can't see the track - it's not the track I planned. But that's the danger of not having anybody around to have told me, a month ago, 'you don't sound excited about this story'. I guess I get both the planning and the pantsing badges this year, because while I planned it turns out I'm going to have to pants the heck out of this sucker.

We writers are all, at heart, Mark Watney. Surviving on potatoes. “I guess you could call it a 'failure', but I prefer the term 'learning experience'.”

(I'm tired of learning experiences.)

Going back to the drawing board I dug out the piece of my project that I actually enjoyed - the piece of worldbuilding that had me excited(weather magic! on a grand scale!), and the structure of my main characters and how they interacted with each other. I've ditched the murder mystery. It wasn't interesting me. Now the magic super-storm is center stage, and where it goes from here? I have no idea. All I've got is a super storm, a stubborn weather mage, and an ancient mountain god bumming around for no apparent reason. I'll figure it out. At least the words are moving.

anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
I have to keep reminding myself that taking a few days off here and there is fine. I more than make up for them with high-yield days, and there's no point to beating oneself against a plot tangle that's far better sorted with just time.

Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k book has been amazingly helpful for my writing in general. Deep outlining a head of time does catch many of the plot tangles that trip me up. I just lost track of time and didn't sort out this NaNo's plot well enough, so this lost time is all on me.

I'm discovering that I'm finding it awkward to write about my characters' eating - mostly regular meals, and especially breakfast. Because I'm in such a bad place with that right now. Some days the line between me and my characters is very thin, and I know what's something I have to work past.

The truth is, I guess, that I'm just not enjoying this story at all and I don't know what to do about it.

I spent the weekend housesitting. I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't get more writing done. I slept, a lot. Maybe I needed sleep.

anindigomind: screenshot of true-form Midna from Hyrule Warriors (Default)
I'm out of practice with writing. I had the vague idea to spend a few days writing shorts leading up to November, but I had that idea on like October 29th or something. It's been so long since I did any real writing - a year actually. Go figure. So it was a slow start. But I made word count so I can't really complain.

Advice - do not fear exposition or info dumps. Just get all that worldbuilding out there. Pretending you are a scholar of your world, writing the guides and histories. There is much editing between this first draft and publication so go all out. Embrace prologues.

1,722 / 50,000


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Jean T

September 2017



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