Tag Archives: blogging

Why Writing is Like Playing With A Cat

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So this will be a funny post. But since my brain likes to draw parallels between seemingly unrelated things, we’re going to go with it.

The other day I was playing with Solstice Kitty, otherwise known as Solara, the adopted furry-white monstrosity that I ended up taking on in a sort of rescue situation. She’s pretty amazing but also a terror that likes to wake people up at 2 in the morning demanding attention, but I digress.

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Majestic murder-floof

 

We’ve been getting new toys for her (as we both work full time at the moment and she ends up bored and alone a lot of the day), and we found one that has really seemed to stick. It’s basically just a furry thing attached to a string attached to a stick that I hold and flick around/race across the room with.

My coming-home-from-work routine has become: get home, throw off annoying clothes and put on comfy ones, start a fire, starting playing with cat. Keep playing with cat, in between bouts of writing and making dinner and whatever else.

A few days in to this new routine, I was struck by an odd comparison: writing fiction is like using a toy to play with a cat.

And here’s why.

Writing professionally is a partnership. It’s an interaction between writer and reader.

So you dangle something in front of them. The reader (or the cat) has to be interested in whatever it looks like, first off. But if they are interested… that’s when the fun begins.

You can use this cat toy (book), and do the same movement, over and over. You can flick it around in the same pattern, the same way. But at some point you’re going to lose kitty-cat interest.

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Are you going to move it or what?

So you have to change it up. Move in circles, and then diagonal, and then figure-eights, whatever. Toss the toy in their lap, and then tease it away. Stand still for a second — and then jerk it away.

Maybe even run across the room. Make them chase you. Make them work for it. But if you do that all the time (constant, face-paced, always work), kitty cat loses interest because they can’t keep up, or no longer want to because it’s the same (and becomes boring). You might need to slow down at parts.

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Stop running away. I have it. IT’S MINE.

At the same time, letting them have the toy [answers] all the time just becomes… meh. Why bother? You’ll need to keep the toy [answers] away from said kitty (reader). At the same time, if that’s all you do, it’s frustrating and they’ll probably walk away.

It’s a balance, this kitty-playing and writing thing. Let them chew on it a bit. Maybe stop moving all together. Let them think they’ve won. Before racing away again!

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Nom nom nom nom nom

Obstacles are also a great way to spice things up. In fact, it’s highly recommended to use the actual environment of the book to create said obstacles. As for your feline friend, making them jump over couches, boxes, and chairs, or dive under couches, can be fantastically fun. It’s very exciting that way, you know.

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BUT, this is where the comparison falls apart a little. While you’re writing, you don’t actually directly have a reader to play with as the words flow (Well, I suppose you could…) It’s a solitary activity really.

So maybe the better comparison is more along the lines of programming a robot to go through a set of actions with a cat toy. And then watching as the cat plays to see if they continue to be entertained.

And then continually revising the programming. Because there are always a few moments that could be better…

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Last one I swear

Okay, so, I realize there are a lot of reasons why this parallel doesn’t actually work, starting with things like writing style (well, which could be the type of toy…), character development, and world building (though that could be the physical obstacles in the room…), but this is all just for fun anyway.

I hope you enjoyed my silly analogy session. Feel free to comment with your thoughts below!

I would like to note that I wrote this post while Solstice Kitty herself stared at me and attempted to intervene in all matters requiring fingers to be away from playing with her.


ICARUNITE; a short story

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A few weeks ago I was invited by the amazing Nicole Evans to write a short story for Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand, a talented collection of writers chasing their muses and finding their voices through writing short stories inspired by prompts.

The short story that arose was published last Friday, inspired by the prompt “The Last Entry in an Explorer’s Journal.”

My first thought was to write a short story within my Obsidian Divide series, because, well, there’s a lot going on in that world and it would be fun. But in the first two days I realized that wasn’t going to work… and completely changed over to write within another series I’m working on.

This other series I’m struggling with, because it has many themes, tropes, and ideas that are pretty big concepts. Just dealing with one of the issues I address is work enough. But within the story I’m dealing environmentalism, how it intersects with race, the relationship between “developed” and “developing” civilizations, how this fits together, and what a relationship across those divides really should mean. Then add in the fact that it’s New Adult, which means the series is about a character learning how she fits into the world, which is always hard. Oh, and as stories do, other issues are appearing out of the ether, such as white saviorism, how perspectives change across generations, and what the slow build of societal change really looks like.

It’s all very complicated. Which is why, in a weird way, I was so grateful to be invited to write for Muses — beyond just the honor of being asked to write for them. Within the short story I was able to delve into a critical point of backstory, and realized that part of my frustration with this series stems from vagueness. Writing this short story forced me to ask questions I hadn’t thought to ask, bringing clarity and further structure to the world (even within issues that don’t directly come up in the short story itself).

It was a struggle to avoid typical colonialism tropes (you’ll see why), and build a story  fueled with wonder and optimism without falling into exoticism or unreality. I’m not sure I entirely accomplished it, though I’m sure everyone will have a differing opinion on the matter.

ANYWAY. Without further ado, go check out what I wrote. And hey, if you feel up to it, let me know what you think…

P.S. Also, thank you to Jared for helping me figure out the name of ‘The Mineral’ 😉


A Change for AwakeDragon

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All right, so this week’s post is going to be short and sweet. Because I want to highlight a change happening to AwakeDragon.

I’m adding a whole new page, which will be set as the front page, consisting of a colorful and exciting description of my upcoming New Adult alternate-history fantasy series. I’d like to have a central place where all the info for my writing can be found, and really highlight it!

Instead of my blog posts holding the place of honor, my series is going to be the first thing seen when visiting my website. Not only because it’s awesome and amazing and you should totally read it when it’s here, but because it gives a more complete picture of who I am as an author.

Sooo… go check it out. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


I cannot get into my MC’s head and it’s driving me insane

So basically, NaNoWriMo ended and I was feeling all refreshed and ready to go back to battle it out with my WIP. Then I sat down to start writing.

*crickets*

So either I waited too long or didn’t wait long enough. I’m really struggling to put words onto the page. The loudest complaint from my inner critic is how whiny my MC feels… and my constant, nail-biting worry that she’s too passive. It’s paralyzing.

Then, on the mechanics side, I’m having weird trouble getting back into first person. After spending all that time grumbling about how hard third person is.

*facepalm*

So I’m procrastinating actually writing anything by writing this blog post. Because how is anything I write going to be fun and interesting if I feel bored and distanced from what I’m writing?

(Plus, I’m way behind in writing blog posts. Yikes.)

It doesn’t help that at this moment my car is sitting on the side of the road, unable to move due to the nice ice slick that built up on the hill leading to my house. It’s about a half mile walk to my house, so I’m fine. But my car is special to me. And I can just see it getting smashed by a driver that loses control of the car.

And it’s totally not my fault I got stuck, because I was doing just fine until the car in front of me stopped, and then I had to stop. Once I’d stopped there was no getting going again.

Sigh.

I’m way off topic.

Anyway.

Another weird block to being able to write is the anxious waiting for edits of the first book from my editor. (That’s still so weird to say). I can tell there’s going to be some changes, and I feel like if I don’t know what those changes are yet, I shouldn’t be writing on the later books. If I don’t have a firm set first book, the vision for the others are nebulous. Or there’s the fact I might have to end up re-writing it all if something ends up being changed.

Or, perhaps, is this just another excuse not to write. At the bottom of it all I need to be writing, no matter what my stinkin’ brain says. Good habits and being a real writer and all that jazz.

So. It’s a snow day today in the weird-weathered NW today, and it’s nearly impossible to get anywhere. It’s the perfect day to write — no commitments, nice crackling fire, snow gleaming through the windows — and I am going to make it happen.

I may just need to start writing crap until the good stuff starts flowing; that’s certainly a pattern NaNoWriMo has proven to be fairly useful.

Anybody else struggling to jive with their characters on this wintery day?


Swiss Cheese Manuscript

Well my NaNoWriMo manuscript looks like swiss cheese right now with all of the holes in it. No, not plot holes – literal holes in the… plot.

(Okay, ‘plot holes’ is misleading. I’m talking about holes in the linear A-Z structure of getting from beginning to end. Holes in the… what else would you call it? GAH)

Whatever, the point is, the manuscript isn’t finished. There’s a decent chunk in the middle and the ending stretch is riddled with them — and I haven’t actually written the ending either.

Pfff – did you think it would be done, at only 50k words? No way, that’s like, half done in my world.

*cough* Anyway…

I started with 6610 words and ended up writing 62k. Sooo… the book is almost 79k words right now. I’ll probably add 10k more. (I’m repeating myself from my last blog post — moving on)

really don’t want to work on this manuscript anymore. What is wrong with me? I’m right at the finish line — the exciting part, it’s all coming together — and instead I’m daydreaming about other stuff. And, my main character for my INITIUM series is throwing images of naked men into my consciousness she’s so annoyed I’ve been ignoring her.

(Don’t ask… because I don’t even really know what she’s talking about yet)

Which is actually pretty awesome, because I’d been feeling a little drained from writing that series. This has been a great break. I think I scared my characters into talking to me again.

Now, I have one last thing I need to finish, a fun short story project that needs to be done mid-December… then it’ll be back to torturing Fairian and Daimyn. I’ve been mulling over this book three problem, and I’ve got some devious ideas…

But back to the point of this blog post. My November project needs some work before it’s even a real draft yet. I think I know what’s bugging me — I’m not used to writing in third person, and my main character isn’t compelling enough — but I’m going to let it sit for a little while. I need to do some research and devise a better game plan. This manuscript is definitely a lot more craft and less… intuitiveness. It’s good practice for me, but not something I’m quite used to.

NaNoWriMo is great for getting the words out — but they’re not always the best of words.

I hope you all had a great create NaNoWriMo 2016. And if you didn’t get to 50k — whatever. You still wrote, you got a little farther in your novel. That’s an accomplishment. We’re all proud of you.


Surprise!

I wrote 52,000 words in 23 days. As of now, I’ve written 59k in 27 days, and that’s not with what I will write today. This is definitely the most I’ve ever written for NaNo! It comes as a surprise, considering how much I disliked this manuscript about two weeks ago.

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I hit a stride… as my last blog post can attest… and I’ve hit the final stretch, which always comes easier. I’ve actually left a few major holes in the middle-end of the manuscript, difficult areas that need more research or more patience and time than I have right now.

My hope is that I will be able to get to the ending scene by the 30th — but even if I don’t, I’ll continue on into December. I won’t be able to write quite as intensively on this manuscript due to other projects arising, but I want to get a draft done by 2017 — then I’ll leave it and come back it when I’m ready to start overhauling all this craziness.

… it’s going to need some serious overhauling. For one, I keep finding myself flipping between limited and omniscient third person. And my MC has a bunch of problems. And I need to be sure…

Yeah. You know what I mean.

How’s everyone else doing?? Still fighting the need to voraciously edit?


Creativity Cycles

Apparently mid-summer is the time of year where writing blog posts is more of a chore than usual. I think every year now, during the summer, I’ve written consistently less posts than during the winter.

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Anybody else noticing this trend? I don’t have children, so I can’t blame it on that. I was more busy during the summer this year than I was last year, so maybe there’s something there. I don’t enjoy the sun all that much, so it’s not like I’m outside instead of writing posts.

It’s like I lose interest during that time of year.

Once Fall hits and Winter starts to make it’s grand entrance, it’s easier to blog. Or, it seems more natural to, to be accurate.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Seasonal Anxiety Disorder (mostly because I’m pretty sure I have it but don’t want to admit to it) and am wondering if it’s connected. Starting in June, when the light begins to leave, my blogging tapers off. In the depth of winter, particularly January (when the light is starting to return), I seem to get a rush of creative energy.

I used to assume I was just a night owl and was most productive when there was a lot of dark. Which, may still be true, though I’m finding my absolute best time to work is late morning/early afternoon.

Anyway, I noticed this trend in myself. Do you have an annual cycle that you go through? What’s your favorite time of day to write, or light situation that suits you best?


The Love/Hate Challenge

Scribe Scribbles (otherwise known as Lady Earlene) has invited me to take part of the Love/Hate challenge. This challenge consists of writing ten things I love and ten things I hate, and then inviting ten more people to join the chain of simultaneously appreciating and despising bloggers. Ready, set, go!

Ten Things To Love:

This list, of course, is beyond the obvious loves of my life: my mother, father, sister, and partner. Those go without saying. This list is a more broad overview that perhaps to which we can all relate.

Writing (creativity) – for me, my creativity is writing. I’m all about putting together the words. For others, it’s art, or music, or who knows what – the point is, creativity is food for the soul. True love abounds.

Goats – So I have a small herd of dairy goats. Besides being ridiculously cute, they are funny, quirky, filled with wide-eyed curiosity, stubborn, smart, and the very ideal of forgiveness. They give my life joy every day.

 

Empathy and Compassion – These two are the enemies of cruelty in the world. I think if we all could practice a little more empathy and compassion, we’d solve little things like war, hunger, poverty. What’s not to love about treating people with respect?

Intelligence – I cannot stress enough how attractive intelligence is as a quality. I don’t mean book smarts or a harvard education – but somewhere between common sense and knowing things is this lovely trait where you use your brain. It’s true-love inspiring.

Connection and relationships (friendship) – Because without those energy-giving connections that brighten the world up a little more, where would we be? Sure, there are those people in your life that seem to suck the life out of you and you can’t stand, but those people don’t take up the entire world, I swear. From best friends to the bank teller who gives genuine smiles and really cares about how your day is going, those connections weave the intricate web of a society.

Books/Reading – Because, duh.

Learning – This goes with books and reading above, because learning often involves books and reading. But it can also involve a teacher, or just by every day tasks, or whatever it is that sparks the absorption of a new idea or fact. It’s awe-inspiring, if you think about it, what we absorb and learn. And it’s fun.

Traveling (Exploring) – New places make me spaz out with joy, and at the same time, give me an inner peace that feels like home. At 19 I went on a road trip through California to visit the Redwoods, Sequoia National Park, and Death Valley (avoiding the cities religiously). Last summer I spent over two months in DC. A few years ago I spent a week in Utah near the Valley of the Gods. Is love feeling so excited you might fly up into the sky and simultaneously feeling at perfect peace? I think so.

Plants – Because they make it so we can breathe, producing oxygen and all that. But also because they make the world beautiful.

Music – Because who doesn’t like having a soundtrack for everything you do? I believe music can inspire the best of us, if we let it. There’s a reason we love music so much.

 

Ten Things To Hate:

Hatred is a funny thing. Ask me two years ago, I would have said I didn’t hate anything. That I didn’t dislike anything that much to call it hatred – a feeling the inspires the worst of irrationality, even the worst of humanity. Why do we hate – how did I learn to hate? Alas, that might be a question for another blog post.

These are my best guesses for what truly inspires the mind-numbing sensation of irrationality –

Hatred – Because hatred induces irrationality, it often leads to things like war and hate crimes; atrocities of tremendous scale. I’m not sure what hating the emotion that leads to these acts accomplishes, but there is it.

Arrogance, Condescension, and Self-Entitlement – I cannot describe hatred a better way than the spine crawling, teeth-gritting, writhing sensation that comes about from having to be around people who use the three personality traits here. I cannot get away from them fast enough. They leave a black hole in my brain when I have to think about them. I have to take deliberate steps to calm after coming out of their company.

Cruelty or cruelty’s sake (meaningless violence) – Because hurting someone else because you feel like it is a good way to go about being a person. Psychopaths used to be left in the snow to die for a reason, you know.

People who do horrifying things for attention – I understand drastic statements to make a point. I understand Gandhi starving himself, I understand Thích Quảng Đức setting himself on fire – but the line is drawn at hurting other people. And the line is also drawn when it’s just to bring attention to yourself. I understand feeling little in this big world, and I understand being belittled, downtrodden, voiceless, and stepped upon. But none of that justifies hurting other people.

(Now we’re moving onto the more extreme dislike versus abject hatred portion: )

Depression – As a depression sufferer, this is mostly self-directed. The inability to get anything done because the weight of everything has pulled down any good concept of self and sucked the last bit of energy from your fetal-position… it’s hard to handle. Why can’t I just be a normal person and get things done? Why can’t I just get up off the freaking couch?

Popularity for popularity’s sake (trends – the poison of democracy) – Sorry to sound like a hipster here – but I run far away from popularity trends. I can watch people go stupid over “the new thing” from way over here, thank you. If it didn’t cause people to make stupid decisions and group around bad ideas like it’s their next hit, I probably wouldn’t dislike it so much.

… and sure, I can’t say that I don’t get sucked into them. I wear jeans. I went to the Avengers movies. I bought a t-shirt with Toothless on it. Hypocritical? Probably. (Which is another extreme dislike – but I don’t think we can escape from it very easily). And sure, not all trends are bad. Some are funny. Some can help. But often times, they hurt more than they help, and most don’t depend on mental faculties for execution.

Thoughtlessness – Probably the opposite of intelligence. Doing stupid things because “I wasn’t thinking” just gets on my nerves (probably because I was one of those people with their head in the clouds who did stupid things on accident, but ah well). Children and teenagers make sense – they’re growing, their brains doing crazy chemical gymnastics. Adults? Use your brains. They were made for using. Yes, it’s hard. Do it anyway.

 

And for the ten people that I invite (but not require) to follow in my stead! If you want to, just for fun. I think it can lead to other, interesting blog posts as well.

Herminia Chow

Lucky Otter’s Haven

Elise Marie Hardenburger

John Guillen

The Story Reading Ape

Brown Eyed Girl

The Tao of Writing

Coffee n’ Notes

Kara Jorgensen

Emily Arden

Ta-da! Have fun, ladies and gents!