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path: ethic just reached 10 000 views!

Also, for some reason, LJ is in German on this journal. I have no idea why. Angeblich verfasse ich gerade einen Eintrag?


Writing progress and update.

Just trying to keep myself accountable as I've promised myself that I would write more this year :)

Week ending Sunday 12th January

Completed: book review for Brenda (500 words)
Blog post for Brenda (900 words)
Blog post for path: ethic (1100 words)

In progress: short story, 'Pets are People, Too', sitting on approx 2500 words

Goals for this week

Complete PAPT story ready for proofing and editing
path: ethic post on Friday
New blog post Brenda
Two poems for The Pretend Parent anthology

Bigger is best?

So the other day, as I was having my crisis of confidence about my story (and so, of course, about my writing in general, because that's how I roll ;P ) I began to think about how we view writers of fiction, and in particular, the novel. Because I always thought that I would write novels. My short stories have never been 'short'. Even in day to day dialogue, I tend to be verbose. And the novel seems to be the pinnacle of writing, doesn't it? Why is that? Surely, it's not because novellists have to work 'harder', or because novels take longer -- that depends on the writer much more than the form. Is it merely public perception? Writing for films is at least as difficult, and but screenwriters don't enjoy the same kind of recognition in the general population. If you're going to see a film, you're probably more likely to want to know who's acting in it rather than who wrote it (unless you're a a writer!). Poets, short story writers... can we really say that they work less hard or that their work is of a lower standard than that of the novellist?

What is it about the novel that we find inspiring? It must be the sheer length of the work, and the fact that so many people aspire to writing one -- 'one day, I'll write a book...' -- and so we hold those who actually finish one in such high regard. As we should! Finishing a novel is no mean feat. We should absolutely congratulate those who manage it. But as I work on short stories for submission at the moment, and as I re-write and edit and analyse every sentence, or when I'm writing a haiku and I scrap draft after draft in order to get just the right words in just the right order, I feel a little sad that the mainstream preference is so weighted to stories of a longer length. Surely, we should celebrate all forms of writing? Surely, we should respect that size is not the only thing that matters? Wouldn't it be great, if when someone said, 'I'm a writer', it didn't matter what kind of writing it was?

Obviously, then you have to contend with those who think you're a slacker who doesn't contribute fully to society, but that's a whole other battle. One artistic problem at a time, OK?!

Giving up.

One of my tasks for this week was to make a monster-sized chart of the basic plot-line of Beth/Story1. I taped some thin card together and spread out the resulting sheet on the coffee table. Got my pencil and marker and some freshly buttered fruit toast, and set to work. And I did it! I worked out the years where the major events would be happening, the ages of my main characters at that point, what conflicts they faced, and other important plot-points. I even wrote a little (in my exercise book, not on the chart) from one of the scenes. I felt accomplished!

Then the next day, I was telling Adam about it. I went through the plot and talked about what was going to happen. And he said, 'it sounds boring.' 'Of course you're going to say that,' I said. 'It's not the kind of thing you would read.' 'But... even if I know that, I... what is the point? Why should I care about these characters? It seems so mundane.'

And I got defensive :D

And then I got upset.

And then I said: 'You're right.'

I don't feel like this is exciting. And even though I know that it is a character based story, not a plot-based story, I have always struggled with it. I've felt it is too mainstream, and I never saw myself as a mainstream writer. Sure. that's probably a bit of arrogance, but I don't mean it like that. I mean, some people do that very well, and I don't think I can. I thought, maybe I could pull it off, and just give it my twist.

The trouble is, I was trying to defend myself and my story to Adam, and I couldn't think of what to say. And normally, if I care strongly about something, I have a list as long as your arm as to why it's important.

When he asked why I wanted to write that story, I said, it was because it seemed easier to write something that was set in our world. All I had to do was research what happened, and write. The other story, the one about the collapse of society, that required world-building. I didn't have time for world-building, I said. I didn't have the energy.

'Bullshit,' he said. Or words to that effect.

'Why did you stop writing the other story?' he asked.

'It got hard.'

It got hard because I had to work at it. So I chose the easier option, even though my heart wasn't in it. It's not that Beth is such a bad story. It's just, I'm doing it for the wrong reasons. So I can avoid having to work hard on the other one.

So, for now, I am putting Beth on hold. I have pulled out my other notes and drafts. I've been through old computer saves and collected them all on a USB key. I am getting back to the world after the collapse. Hard work is what it's all about, right?

And the best thing is, since I did this... I am feeling such a sense of relief.

Plan for the week.

I meant to start this... a few weeks ago :D  But I want to try and do a weekly plan for my writing so that I have something to stick to.  I'm a bit rebellious when it comes to lists and rules.  I tend to make them and then go out of my way to sabotage myself so I don't do them.  I think this is so that I can feel justified about not doing them, rather than trying to do them, and feel bad because I couldn't fulfill my obligations.  Or maybe I'm just lazy.  Anyway.  The lists have got to be flexible enough to work within the weekly constraints of busylife, and also challenging enough so I get something done.

With that in mind:

August 18th - August 24th 2013

- Make huge monster-sized chart for Story1.
- Edit short story for Manchester.
- Second draft of children's story.

I'll update as I get these done.  I may take a picture of the monster chart :)

The midwife swore under her breath as she stumbled on something in the middle of the courtyard. This was her last well-baby visit for the day, and she was looking forward to getting back home and sitting down with a glass of red. She sighed and looked around at the buildings. The place had seen better days, and she wondered about birthing a baby into these conditions, but it wasn't her place to judge. She looked at the notes. It had been a homebirth, no complications. Well, that was something, at least.

(+ approx 1000 more words)Collapse )

This writing everyday thing

is going pretty well!

I've just finished my short story!  I intend to submit it for a very prestigious international writing competition, which I will not win.  However, it's worth a try.

I would love some other eyes to look it over, though.  Any takers?  It's currently about 3500 words but I have to chop 1000 words off that, which I'm currently working on.  I expect to have it ready to read by Friday evening, my time (GMT +8).  It's speculative fiction, set in dystopian Australia.

Writing Everyday.

I saw a link to Dean Wesley Smith's blog on taleanea's LJ the other day, and was really interested to read some of what he is writing.  In particular he had some great things to say about publishing, but what's perhaps more interesting is that he's trying to write everyday (several thousand words) and others are also taking up the challenge.  I thought I would do that too ... I am sure I can't manage several thousand, or even one thousand, but I can do five hundred.  Five hundred words a day is totally doable.

And I've been doing it.  This is the fourth day and once I'm done with this post, I'll be sitting down to work on my short story.  I expect to finish it tomorrow night (I'm nearly there but I just don't think it's quite done) and then I can edit it.

I'm really enjoying writing it.  This is a bit of a bonus because recently, I haven't been enjoying writing much, and that's bothered me.  I've felt like a fraud, like writing is something I used to do.  But especially today, I've been thinking about the short story, and where it's going, and that I'm at the bit where it turns a little, and it's been exciting, and I've been looking forward to getting back to it this evening.  It's alive in my head, you know?

Five hundred words a day.  It means on evenings like tonight, when I've had to type one handed because I've been holding a restless baby in the other, I can still get it done.  It means I'm writing everyday, without feeling overwhelmed with all the other day-to-day blahblahblah.  It means -- shh! I feel like a writer.


One of the things I'm concerned about with this story is how to imagine characters which are realistic.  I think it's an area I've always found difficult -- a bit like dialogue.  This possibly stems with the way I interact with others, since I tend to find it hard to relate well to other people, and I want my characters to have a sense of 'normal' that I don't possess.  Whether or not that's possible will probably become apparent!  In fact, I've almost come to the conclusion that it's really best for me to write characters who don't interact 'normally', and who find day-to-day relationships difficult, because it's something I know.

And therein also lies the danger of the Mary Sue character.

I did a bit of research on the Mary Sue character, because I wanted some really concrete definitions, and some tips on how to avoid it.  There were a couple of sites I liked in particular:

How To Avoid Making A Mary Sue


The Official Mary Sue Manual

Both do tend to focus a bit on fanfiction ,but they still had some really legitimate points, and without going into too much detail (because you can read the sites yourself if you're interested), what I took away from them was this:

- having a story which is character-driven rather than plot-driven can help avoid the Mary Sue character
- get other people to read your story, and if they think you have a Mary Sue character, don't get defensive, get proactive and try and fix it
- it's actually OK and normal to put some of your own traits into a character's composition, just keep a lid on it

With that in mind, I'm going to use this post to talk about Beth, the Female Main Character.

Background, appearance, personalityCollapse )

And that's all for now.

I'm catching up with a writing buddy tomorrow.  I'll be talking to her about the direction the story is going to take (as a whole) and how I want to divide it into parts.  Something jumped up earlier today which I realised fits in perfectly, and thickens the plot in such a delicious way, you have no idea :D :D :D

Let's call it Family Ties for now. If I can get over the connection with Michael J Fox, that is. Hmm. I'll have to think about that.

Anyway, I'm dusting off my notebooks and starting to update/write/brainstorm about this. For newer friends, or those who are interested in this at all, the basic outline for the story is here and there is some more background here.

Tonight I'm going to start with a family tree to put the characters in perspective. This helps me work out dates and timelines. Since the story (so far -- this may change) spans about forty years, it's important for me to get in my head exactly what happened when, so that I can make sure it's historically accurate.
                                                 |                                               |
                        Antony -------- Helen                                      Grace ----- Brian
                           |                       |
    John----------Beth               Wendy-------Matthew
               | (Elizabeth)                           |
?--------Anne-Marie *1975              Kevin *1972
   son *1999(unnamed, as yet).

Note that most of the people have names beginning with different letters? This is because I find it really confusing when lots of characters have names which begin with the same letter. Why yes, I fail at reading. Thank you for noticing.

Beth and John are not married, and John doesn't even know that Beth is pregnant when they break up. Looking at this family tree, I realised it's probably convention to put the oldest - youngest going left - right. And Beth is younger than Wendy, by about five years. So there goes that. I'm not about to change it now, it was really annoying with all the spacing! Anyway, Beth's the main character, so she gets to come first.

It's important that Kevin is a little older than Anne-Marie, but not by too many years. Kevin and Anne-Marie grow up as brother and sister, even though they're cousins; Kevin needed to be young enough when Anne-Marie was born, that he didn't remember life without her. There also needed to be a gap between their births, because the reason Wendy wants badly to have Anne-Marie is that they're suffering from secondary infertility and so there needed to be a few years where they've obviously (I mean, it becomes obvious in the story, not 'obviously everyone with children more than a couple of years apart has secondary infertility') been trying to conceive.

That's enough for tonight. Small steps -- and I need to clean up the kitchen :D

Next update will focus on Beth and how I will do my utmost to ensure she's not a Mary Sue!