Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Crafts is a FORM of Writing, Right? No?

Another glorious week where I once again have little to no clue what to write here since I did no other writing this week. Instead, I did crafts.

After I was done with my blog post last week, Hubby and I did some errands, and I attempted to type up the "Speaker for the Dead" fanfic I was scribbling out at work. I didn't get very far before Spink came over to chat about her X-Future character. She watched the movie "X-Men: Apocalypse" and the bug bit her again. It's typically what happens to me too. Watch "Hey, Arnold!" or "X-Men" or "Game of Thrones" or some high fantasy thing like "Lord of the Rings" or Hubby playing "Skyrim". Next thing I know, I'm writing HA! fanfic, or I'm super active on X-Future, or I have a new concept set up for D&D. So, I get her renewed enthusiasm for the game. Issue is, she doesn't know X-Men at all, and is too hung up on that handicap. Instead of letting Donna speak through her, Spink feels she doesn't know enough about Donna's parents or world or powers to really get a feel for the character. So Hubby and I showed her Colossus clips from movies and TV series to help her get a better handle on the character, as well as talk her through her writer's block.

Problem was, this ate up all my free writing time before my writing group, so I quickly typed up what I had hand written, and called it a day. I went to the meeting, and was one of three people who actually brought something to read. Which felt weird, since in the past nearly everyone at least had the writing prompt done for the meeting, but life has been getting in everyone's way, I guess. I know that feel.

As per usual, there was a decent discussion about the works of the other two authors in the group that read, and then for me it was a brief "that's really good" and then moving on. I STILL don't know how to handle that. WHAT IS THAT!? Are they saying I'm much better than I think, and that they can't help me improve? Are they saying "you're doing fine, let's focus on people with ongoing projects they want printed"? Are they saying "that's nice dear, now let the adults talk"? Are they just unsure as to how to critique me since I write in such "odd ball" genres? Or because I write FanFiction? WHAT IS THE REASON FOR SUCH LITTLE DISCUSSION OF MY WORKS!?!?!?!

This is gonna bug me for a while, isn't it?

Once again, I was informed that my fanfic could hold its own as an original with a few tweaks, just as they stated when I was reading my X-Future stories. While short, they enjoyed what I wrote, and told me I didn't need to worry about all the background build-up I verbalized to them so they knew what was happening in the fanfic; something I didn't need to do when publishing online because anyone who read "Speaker for the Dead" would know exactly what was going on.

While I appreciate the praise, I also disagree with it. There are too many elements crucial to Novinha and her characterization. Too many elements that would either ruin the character if I had to change/eliminate them, but also too many elements that would be blatantly "Speaker for the Dead" if I just changed the names.

Things like Novinha's guilt over Pipo, her isolation due to her literal saintly parents, her strained relationship with Libo, her equally strained relationship with Marc√£o, her bizarre marriage arrangements, and the descolada virus; all of these things are essential, but also nearly impossible to change without altering Novinha's character or still basically being a Speaker rip-off.

So, I opted to not do a "name swap" version to post on DeviantArt as I claimed I would last week. As I said, anyone who read my story and THEN read "Speaker for the Dead" would quickly figure out the spoilers. Anyone who opted to never read Speaker wouldn't care about the spoilers. Anyone who has read Speaker already knows the spoilers. What's the point of changing out the names in a veiled attempt at being original instead of a fanfic?

I do have to say, though, that - surprise, surprise - I'm not a fan of the title I picked. I wasn't able to finish the story I wanted to tell. I'm not even half-way done, I don't think, but I haven't had time to go back and keep working on it. I debated waiting to publish until I was done, but I had promised you folks something new to read, so I uploaded late last night. I literally sat on the couch blankly staring at the screen for about ten minutes trying to think of a decent title. I thought through the entire story I wanted to tell in order to see if there was some theme I could grab and use as a title. I tried to think of a phrase that Novinha would attach herself to. I tried to think of a keystone quote to symbolize the feel of the whole chapter. Instead, I came up with this brain fart....

"True Husband"

I'll get good at this naming thing eventually. I hope. I mean, I SHOULD get better, right?
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Anyway, throughout the rest of the week I sort of had a mental shut-down when it came to writing at work. I just couldn't get into the flow of continuing my story while writing on paper. I know that most writers break out of their writers block by whipping out good old pen and paper, but for me I need the flow of keys beneath my fingertips, not a pencil's weight in my hands. I like being able to shift things if I feel they fit better in a different order. I like hitting delete instead of scribbling or erasing. I like being able to move the cursor and insert something, instead of writing it in the margins and using an arrow to show where I want to insert a sentence. I like having spell-check. I like not having to write, only to waste time typing it up later so it can be posted. I like not wasting paper that I won't need to hold on to once I type everything up. I like not having piles and piles of loose leaf scattered about. I like knowing exactly where to find the story I was working on, instead of shuffling through a pile to find the paper I needed.

To me, if I'm creatively blocked, the WORST thing is for me to be abandoned with a pen/cil and a stack of paper. Yet, that's what happened. I didn't have the flow, the momentum I had when I started writing "True Husband." Trying to start it back up again was trying, and I still don't know how appropriate it would be for me to bring my netbook into work during the slow times. So, I'm stuck scribbling and desperately trying to find things to work on.

As for the crafts I mentioned at the top of the post? Well, one of my coworkers got super bored, there's a craft store down the street, and so she ran out, bought two skeins of yarn and two crochet needles, tossed one of each at me, and we sat and crocheted like little old ladies all week. She's working on a baby blanket for a friend, and I decided to get my butt in gear and crochet the bags for Spink and her fiance's wedding rings. It was fun trying to figure out how to crochet the ring bags, and then even more fun trying to figure out how to crochet ying-yang on them. It was tricky, but I think I'm okay with how they turned out. Still need to show them to Spink to see how she and her fiance feel about them. That way I have time to start over and practice more if need be.

In the meantime, though, that means I'm not using my work down-time for writing like I wanted. And when I'm home I'm socializing with Hubby or doing chores. Resulting in a not very productive writing week.

I've been reading like crazy, though. I have 152pages left of "Xenocide"; not too shabby considering how long it kept me to read all the other books I've taken on this year. A nearly 600pg book done in about two weeks; well, let's make it three weeks to be safe. I might even have time to plow through a small second book this month, or get an early start on next month's book, so that I can catch up and make up for me missing January's book.

Interesting factoid about "Xenocide" though. The chapter I'm on, the one that is about 150pages from the end of the book, that chapter is EIGHTY-SEVEN FRIGGEN PAGES LONG! Yup. About HALF of the remaining book is all ONE CHAPTER! Like, what? There are short stories shorter than this chapter! You'd think Orson Scott Card would chop it up a little, wouldn't you???? Especially since there are like three more chapters after this one is done. Sheesh!

Also, the book got REALLY philosophical about a hundred pages back. I went from edge-of-my-seat page-turner to "um.... my peanut brain can't understand...." So, I'm hoping for a big finish that doesn't focus so heavily on the complex paradoxical quandary of "what is life, what is the purpose of life, and is there such a thing as free will?" I read another sci-fi book entitled "Life, The Universe, And Everything" and it wasn't nearly this heavy! Sheesh again!

Anyway, I shouldn't really complain. I'm tearing through the story, and it's inspiring me to write my own stuff. That's the main reason writers should all read. So, perhaps I should get back to reading so I can actually have something written for next week. Something COMPLETELY written for next week.

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