Sobering Realization

While out with gaming/car buddy this morning, eating out at a restaurant for the first time in 3 years (my social anxiety had been getting worse for two years until the last month, two weeks), I had a realization. Just how much my writing life has changed in the last two years. Because when I turn 50 in two years, I could have a novel published. Last time I was out at a restaurant, I had all but given up any hope of ever writing a novel, much less any of my longer fiction ideas.

It was quite sobering, lol.

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The Right Tool for the Right Job

This last Sunday while house sitting for a friend and enjoying the peace & quiet of an empty house and no access to net (I intentionally did not ask for the wifi pw [PassWord]), I wrestled yet again with my seemingly never ending problems with outlining and intentionally brainstorming (vs random, spur of the moment inspiration brainstorms), I had a “duh” realization.

I have been trying to use the wrong tool for the wrong job.

Now this is a bit ironic, because the buddy I was house sitting for is a mechanic AND the person who taught me that saying some twenty’ish years ago, lol.

Nine years ago next month, a young online friend helped me to install a wiki to help me organize all my various writing notes, ideas, thoughts, etc.. Somewhere around 2, 3 years ago, I bought Scrivener.

Both tools took me a long time to gain any form of mastery over. The wiki I have only begun to gain organizational mastery with (learned how to code in it almost before the first month was done). Scrivener… Well apparently I had gained mastery in January 2016, and then promptly forget to ever go back again.

Because of the source of my trauma for my complex PTSD, anytime I do really well at something, there is a chance I will either suffer selective amnesia over the achievement OR sink into a profound depression by the next day. Whilst I am mostly blind to this, I have enough online friends and a therapist whom are all aware of this issue, and if they see me do it, warn me of it, because once I am aware this unconscious and brain chemistry reaction is happening, I can short circuit it by just the becoming aware of it.

Why is any of this important? Because I had been trying Desperately to use my writing wiki to do outlining, brainstorming, and story development work on my “let’s try writing novels via one story arc at a time” methodology attempt in my writing. And let me tell you, wikis are not good for doing this. Or least not for me.

And then while house sitting, sitting there wrestling with notes, outlining, “how to” matters, I thought to poke around at an old scrivener project, because something about “it” kept nagging me in the back of my mind.

And I found a project full of every little trick I had ever learned about Scrivener. From color coding POV’s via the binder, notecards, and outliner, to renaming meta data fields, to using the corkboard AND outliner modes for…

Outlining scenes and organizing them into story arcs.

I felt so sheepish for losing track of something so wildly important to my writing. But not shocked nor surprised. After all, I’ve done this so many times through the years.

But since then, I’ve watched even long dormant stories pop up in my head, and arrange themselves within the scrivener model I had applied in Jan 2016. Like parts of my unconscious mind tied to those stories were each testing the validity and applicability of that model. And each nodding “yep, this works.”

And since I have that incomplete short story from Jan 2016 as a model for how to do all this, I can see key plot moments, stand up and cheer moments, climaxes, openings, all dancing around for WIP trilogy(s) starting to sort themselves out in this model.

And the original incomplete story from Jan 2016? The scene by scene notes were so good, even though I only vaguely remember the story now, I could easily write it from those notes in place. THAT has never happened before. In the past if a story sat more than a few weeks, it vanished into the ether forever with only vague vestiges left behind to tease me with what could have been.

So now, after some thirty years of trying to sort out how to do the step by step of outlining, note taking, organizing long form fiction into something ink on paper–

I may finally have the last piece of the puzzle to restart the prose for the novelization of The Home for Lost Souls (working title).

Taking a step back to take two steps forward later

Been trying to write a new blog post for… Well probably a couple weeks now, and topics have kept sliding off into the void of “meh.” I tend to dislike revealing details to things I have not published yet, because of the possibility of IP theft, but…

I have done NaNoWriMo four times now. Not all consecutive years, but all in the last six years. Two of those were badly considered ideas that hit me in the moment and I tried to just “run with it” and write them. Those failed spectacularly, lol. But in the last two years, the same story tried to get itself written, but still fell to the same flawed approach of the first two attempts. Haste.

After 2016’s imploded at around the same 21k-25k all the others died at, I decided to step back and take stock over what I was doing.

As an aspie and someone with more than a little dissociative issues (though not to a clinical degree) from my complex PTSD, writing is a different creature for me than most. Throw in the triggers I have that writing can stumble over at the most inconvenient of moments, and… But mostly all this means most typically given writing advice is meaningless to my needs.

Furthermore, what I’ve come to find was a boon in short fiction writing (all of what I’ve successfully finished thus far as a writer), falls short in novel writing as a “useful” tool. I can typically only write things I can clearly see in my mind’s eye and can feel emotionally. Or more to the point, this inclines me to write singular story or character arcs. Not all that useful for novel writing with all of its overlapping story and character arcs over a word count many times that of the 7k-14k range I’m experienced with as a writer.

Well while stepping back and evaluating what I was trying to write, what I wanted to write, what wanted written, and what would be needed to get to those moments/points, I’ve slowly come to realize my creative side is quite ambitious.

What I’ve slowly come to realize since last November is the fact I have two novel series WIP overlapping each other, with a third one that is spawned from their union. Or more specifically…

My authorial MC, not the main character the audience will be typically reading about, is an ancient entity grade being that can be in more than one place at the same time. And while I had only in the past written short stories with her/it in them in this or that capacity, all randomly, not any central theme nor story to them… Things were stirring deeper within my creative side, lol.

As of right now, I’m staring at two WIP that overlap because they both involve this one entity, the gods she/it interacts with, a larger story most mortals are oblivious to, and the mortals (my MC’s/POV’s) that get swept up in “all this.” But, the two WIP are on two different worlds, and the two worlds are in different technological time periods. Hell, originally, one story was urban fantasy on contemporary Earth, and the other a high fantasy homage to my old D&D days.

Now they are irrevocably linked.

Like for instance, though the fantasy one starts around 2000/2001 earth time, its climax is held up by the fact one of the heroes that is needed for success, is a newborn on earth as of 2000, and will not be old enough to contribute in a meaningful way until after 2013 when her powers begin to manifest.

And that little girl is the third storyline, since for the urban fantasy on contemporary earth WIP, she is the reason all that is happening was set in motion and the reason for the climax’s existence. And yet she is not directly involved in that WIP (which climaxes in 2013). Although after its completion her story’s timeline begins.

And yet that little girl is critical now for the climax resolution for the high fantasy WIP and that fruition must come between 2013 and 2016 earth time due to things that happen in her story time line as she ages/grows up.

Now yes, that does allow me to have my fantasy WIP’s heroine grow up and NOT be some kid who somehow wins the day while being still too young to have the life experience to deal with really horrid things, lets my dragon MC have time to go into and come back out of dragon sleep (which in my worlds takes YEARS) to heal from near fatal wounds, and a war to be more than a six month “campaign.”

But this “little story” I started to want to tell back three years ago, has now mushroomed into… Something I am both quite eager to see take shape on the page, and yet terrified “what have I gotten myself into?”

This is what I get for stepping back, and doing proper world and story development. A fraking epic was spawned *sighs*

Not Everyday a Research fail Works in your Favor

Due to stuff and things IRL (In Real World) this post has been delayed, but last week while doing more research for trying to find a non religious luggage carrying term for “succubi”, I found out I had a research failure.

While asking an “Inspirational” and religious fiction writer friend about my want to find a new word for my “succubi” to avoid the religious luggage of that word, I found out succubi are not mentioned anywhere in the bible nor any other religious book, nor theologian doctrine. IE, they are a purely fictional “religious” character.

IE, I can use them guilt free now, particularly since they were going to be a deconstruction/reconstruction OF the “demonic temptress” trope since they are neither demonic nor temptresses, but just a demi-human (in the D&D sense) species that got a bad rap due to “mom” got annoyed with a rapist many years ago (read, centuries) and ripped his soul out of in anger. Annnnd… Tantric “energy” feeders.

But yeah, talk about a research failure. When I went back and double checked the sources of my research material, I had just not looked closely ENOUGH. Turns out they were just religious “fiction” writers and had little to do with anything theological or biblical writers, regardless of what the fictional accounts past and present CLAIM.

Made me feel sheepish, lol.

When One Path Fails, Try a Different Route

That title seems fitting to my writing problem and solution in the last month. And hello, here’s your once a month food for thought from an amateur writer *chuckles*

Since my complex PTSD and inexperience at novel writing had teamed up to make all writing [redacted list of profanity here], I needed a way to get back into writing or getting prose again on any page. Enter a snarky comment to a writing friend late last month (March) and I got to hit several birds with one stone. A companion story to my two longer WIP.

A novelette (it is gonna be coming in at between 13k & 15k words) about a rather minor event somewhere else on Earth at the same time as the climax of my trilogy WIP. And yes, I am being vague about names because I’m paranoid about this and that, and not sure how much I want to reveal publicly to Everyone.

The novelette has a secondary character from all of my works in-progress because they share a common universe (multi-verse?), and this secondary character is present in all of them because of who she works for. Well this novelette has ended up fleshing out this secondary character in surprising, for me, ways.

Cerberus is the name the MC knows her by. It is not her real name, but it is a name she has come to be known by on Earth. It is both her name because she is a protector of a gateway, but also it is alluded here and there that she is the origins of the Greek mythological beast.

Anyways, back to this blog post, lol.

World building, plotting, and writing had been languishing at glacial level progress for so long that I had not written any significant words of prose since last year, and had not finished a story since last June. So, on suggestion of a friend combined with the above mentioned snarky comment, this novelette came about as a way to get some prose done, see how the new skills I have learned mesh-up with what I already knew how to do and what I was most comfortable with (writing short fiction), and…

I’m two major scenes and one minor bridge scene away from finishing it. Well… And two brief news articles that form its framing device *sighs* So not looking forward to doing those. Not done them before, and if past experience has shown me anything, I suck at official/professional sounding prose x.x

And while playing around with this novelette, the parts of me that handle creative matters have fleshed out a plot and character development point for the trilogy. Of course it also means I’ll have to write my first ever Muslim character, even if purely a secondary character. That will take some… Getting used to. See I’ve tried for years to avoid characters too far away from what I know and have experienced, so I don’t hollywood someone else’s culture, religion, language, history, race. I dislike for instance how most hollywood writers treat mental illness (usually mental illness is the primary reason a villain IS evil, not that they are JUST a bad person) or those with learning disorders, because I have to live a life in those shoes everyday of my life, and I’d rather not put anyone through that experience via my own work.

But yeah… Took a different path to my goal of writing on these stories burning in my mind’s eye, and along the way new things got revealed about the very stories I wasn’t working on at the moment.

Plot and World Developing, and a PTSD moment

Today while trying to jump start my brain from “sluggish, mush, brains, can’t think” and springboard off yesterday’s series of brainstorms (particularly regarding a dragon story seed I found in another unrelated file), I stumbled across one of my more insidious complex PTSD triggers that has impacted all attempts to use any traditional/typical writing advice for world building or plot developing.

The way all writing advice has always read to me on world building and plot development is there is a point where you just start making things up, plugging them into a pre-made model of some kind. Whether three act model, seven point model, brainstorming, word association, heroes journey, etc., they all reach a point where you just “fill it in by what is expected next in the model.” Or at least that is what my brain always registered, and that triggers up one of my more unpleasant emotional flashbacks. Memories of Screaming, waves of pain, and waves of humiliation. And that is just the beginning.

My problem is always the same with these and all other writing advice I have ever received in this area. “How do I randomly select something random from the entirety of the universe?” And I’d go into a form of options paralysis mixed with PTSD trigger. Well today while trying to sort out some world building stuff (long story not included), I slammed right into this wall.

Well after several hours of the day lost to ever worsening anxiety and mounting blind panic, with no idea where it was coming from, I suddenly pecked the correct spot and realized I was having a flashback/trigger moment. One that apparently, comes with selective amnesia that blocks my memory of it. So as I was casting my wide net amongst many internet writing friends, I began to remember past occurrences, past bad trigger events, and realized what was going on, and changed directions.

Long story short, thanks to several writing friends, all of whom basically sent me the exact same advice for resolving the original world building magic system problem, I now have a solution to my plot AND world developing problem of “option paralysis.” Reverse engineer the world AND plot with character motivations, inclinations, and history in mind, to get the “moments” of the story I already have, desire, need.

Yes, this was duh level obvious once I saw this suggestion, but since no one else, that I remember at least, had ever suggested it before, I’m not the only one that missed it >_>

So basically, since the only way I can write any story is to know the beginning (state) AND the ending (or at least the climax), and as I chatter about these two or just have yummy brainstorms as I wake first thing during any given day, I can then reverse engineer the world setting and the plot bridges between those “moments” I’ve “ah ha!” and…

Well I don’t know yet, since this all just hit me today. I’ve taken notes. I’ve got some vague ideas (for what to do next with the high fantasy novelization in question). Gonna sleep on it now. And then see where this takes me long term, because short stories are easy for me to do, since I can see them completely in my mind’s eye, but novels are a whole other creature.

 

 

 

Oh Hey, I’m Sick

I don’t get sick often, nor do I stay sick. I could probably name every time I’ve been sick in the last 20, 25 years on one hand, but sick twice in two weeks? Pretty sure it is the case worker coming to my house each week, since as soon as she started to come by, I started to get sick. IE, around new people, who are also around dozens of new people each day.

But last night was one of those uber cool sick times. Fever plus trying to sleep equals cool hallucinations/dreams, lol. One of those nights were I could swear my world was totally different depending on which side I was lying on, lmao.

I far from slept all 14hrs I was in bed (well couch technically, since I don’t own a bed). Huge chunk of that time I got to have waking dream grade brainstorms on one of the stories I am currently poking a stick at.

I’m fully well aware that the ideas spawned last night are mostly useless writing wise. Some were very crazy I’m sure. Most of it I just don’t remember, lol. Just snatches here n there. But this is how I like to spend my time in bed if I’m not going to be asleep.

See the other option is flashbacks, nightmares, waves of pain, terrified, etc.. So fluffy happy simple times are… Relished the uncommon times I get them. Toss in fever dreams, and I’m like a kid in a candy store *chuckles*

Now I’ve just got left the sniffles and chest pain when I cough. And both of those are minimal compared to other illnesses I’ve had, lol. But do I ever feel better than last night before I crawled off to bed, lol.