I survived CONvergence!

Actually, I had a blast. There was plenty of chaos that was fun and silly — and plenty that was neither — and I managed to pace myself relatively well both physically and emotionally. I’m still TIRED AS FUCK, mind, but that’s to be expected after 4 days of 16 hour shifts and 2 days at either side moving in/out. I have lots of feelings about the performance Sarah and I did for HarmCon, and lots of stories (many of which are not really for the blog). But the point is that it was fun. It was good. It was, dare I say, restorative? Even though my heart breaks when it ends, there’s a moment in the middle of the convention when I have this absolute clarity about myself. When I know what I’m capable of. When I have done myself proud and I can look at myself and know that I am a badass. When I feel truly and wholly like I am exactly where I belong.

It’s a really good feeling. I try to hold onto it, but it always surprises me when it comes back.

Anyway. Due to the VERY TIRED I’m not going to try to get into all that now. But here’s a picture of me. I did 3 big dresses this year at con and this was the 2nd one. I went for kind of a valkyrie look and actually really enjoyed it. You can’t see the leather bracers or boots in this shot, nor the belt pouch. But it’s still good.

Me from a sideways angle wearing a leather crown with wings, a drapey blue gown, a moon pendant, and a mask and radio earpiece - looking slightly skeptical and having "artfully windswept" aka frizzy curly hair down my back

And, yes, that’s a bandage under my mask. Every year the wearing of a mask eventually turns into a need for something to keep from having my nose by rubbed to the point of open bleeding. I also messed up my feet, but there’s no need for photo evidence of that.

I’ll try to do better than a month between updates, but you know me. No promises until I have good cause to make them!

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“Oh so that’s what worries me…”

So, why haven’t I been posting lately?

Few reasons. Work has been a lot. It’s generally good, and I really do like my position, but it’s a lot. Many nights I’m on until 7 or later (though I get to make up for that by sleeping in), and it just…takes up room in my brain. Like devoting a spare bedroom to a friend who is here to stay for an undetermined amount of time.

Also, we’re gearing up for CONvergence and there’s too many things to do to list without actually downloading the proper task list and calendar. Again, mainly positive, but many mental resources go towards emails and logistics and supplies rather than blogging.

(And we all know I’m not exceptionally fond of the blogging. Of course it’s expected as a writer, but…anyway. Different rant.)

(Oh! Also! Sarah and I wrote a new song for CONvergence! It’s really good!)

Anyway.

I think the biggest reason I haven’t been posting is because I just don’t want to ramble about the query process.

Yes, I’m querying the Urban Fantasy novel I finished last year. It’s been beat to hell and back by my awesome readers, and I’m about as happy with it as I can be. I love my characters. I’m happy with the tone and voice. I think my plot works well and I like how the stories interweave along the way. It even has a title!

But the query process…pleh. It’s like school all over again. I enjoyed reading books in school; not so much writing book reports. I know why the process is what it is. I see the value in it. It’s just difficult.

And every writer who has ever queried has probably blogged or Tweeted or TikToked on that point at length. About how hard it is to get the query letter juuuuuust right. About how frustrating writing the perfect synopsis is (haven’t managed that one yet). About the time spent searching for and learning about agents to find someone I would genuinely love to partner with on my writing career. About the heartbreak of rejection.

Honestly? It’s taking up a lot of space in my head, but it doesn’t need more than that on the blog. There’s enough negativity about the process out there. And inside me.

But I’m okay. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t doable. And I don’t have to adore these parts of the process to still find it well worth the effort to try my best.

I do wonder what will become of this chaotic blog, though. I’ve had it a long time, and there’s some legitimately weird moments of life (and my cycling brain) captured here. Is having a blog nobody reads an asset? Is having a strange-as-hell blog a problem?

You know what? That’s a problem for Future Me. Future Me and Future Me’s agent (oh that construction hurts my brain) will figure it out.

Current me should get back to the tug-of-war I’m having with my synopsis. Either that or take a break from it and go back to writing chapters on the new novel.

This new one is fun and I’m kind of digging the YA vibe, honestly. Not sure I’d commit fully to never writing anything else, but it’s an interesting switch to be sure.

Here, have a song translated through Google too many times and now it makes no sense. But the “Pants!” bit makes me laugh every time and that’s worth something!

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Getting back to it

There’s always been a rhythm to my writing. And it doesn’t always make sense.

First I hit upon an idea, something worth writing about. Maybe a character, a theme, a question to answer, a situation to examine, even a combination worth seeing in action. This idea comes with a warm feeling in my heart of potential, a sense of “ah, this is where I’d like to live and rest for a bit.”

(“Rest” in the sense of this is where I’d like to make my home, stretch out, and see what I find. It’s a working rest, emphasis on the work.)

Then comes the development phase. Depending on the project, this might come to me all at once, a full-blown novel put together inside me with very little input from me. Those stories seem like they were always there waiting to be written and I’m just the first to hear them calling. But those are rare. More often, it’s me versus the outline. I tend to outline loosely for everything and tightly for complex projects. For a short fanfic in a universe I know really well, I might just list out the big emotional beats and get started. For anything novel-length, I tend to list out my chapters as an outline themselves. Chapter 1 is the intro and setting up the problem, chapter 2 complicates the problem, etc etc etc. Only after I get those down do I contemplate actually writing the thing down.

For really long projects or anything truly intricate, then I get into multiple pages that form one cohesive design document for the story. For the MCU fic, first I have a timeline starting in Dec 2012 and going through as far as I intended to write. It notes every movie in the MCU’s placement (including where movies happened over a period of time and various events need to be tracked), every event of my stories, even points where characters became aware of a thing or failed to become aware of a thing. It’s thin on the content but high on the order of events. Then I have a tab that started as a proper outline and became my chapter list. Every chapter appears with its title (and soundtrack song) and there are notes for every scene that happens in the chapter. The notes tend to be brief “Tony and Peter hang out” or “BIG FIGHT” but they tell me exactly where I am emotionally in the story and what needs to be moving. Then there is a notes tab I kept all along with all my loose threads, from the Winter Soldier and Steve to various hints for my nefarious plans. These I deleted as I went so that I knew for sure I’d covered them.

(Sometimes I had places in that tab or in the chapter tab where I would just write “Pleh.” Pleh means that either my beta spurred an idea that deviated from what I had already planned, or I had a later realization that I might need to adjust. Correcting for pleh is one of my least favorite things to do because it usually means I have to track every possible implication and ripple from the change and catch them all.)

Then there are lists and lists of other things. Names, relationshp trees, quotes, songs. Also wordcounts with daily tracking to see how I’m doing against the goals I set myself.

Spoiler alert: I have not tried to hold myself to any goals but one since Covid. I did make that one, though!

The upside of my process is that I am able to brain-dump everything from my character arcs and my worldbuilding to some specific gems of lines into one place in the beginning. Often my stories will surprise me, but rarely do they go wildly off the rails from my initial planning phase. (Except for particularly big plehs.)

The downside is that somewhere in doing all that mental preparation, I often lose steam on the enthusiasm part of the project. By the time I’ve documented all the twists and turns, figured out the exact right notes to play in the emotional scenes, adjusted my tempo and timing of chapters — that starburst of excitement has faded. The original idea is still there, carefully written out, but no longer feels so warm and all-encompassing. It feels more like a duty now, a homework assignment.

And that is why I often get stuck at the beginning of projects. Or at the end — when there are no more surprises for me and it’s just typing out the inevitable conclusion of all that’s come before.

There’s no real correlation I can find between the amount of pre-work I do and the chances of running out of steam. The MCU I did probably as much outlining and prep as I’ve done for any 3 projects and I still finished the first novel of it in something like 7 weeks. Other times my whole outline will be 8 lines of “this, then that, then the other thing, then splat, the end” and I can’t get past chapter 4. Sometimes the story comes out and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the outlines and planning are vast and sometimes they’re not.

But one thing they do have in common is a moment of doubt.

Between the original idea and the first attempt at a draft, there’s always a question. “Is this really worth doing? Is it any good?”

I’m learning not to let that question stop me, but it does sometimes. Especially if what I’m having trouble with is the beginning. Often I know more clearly where I’m going than where to begin, and so there are fits and starts before I find the right scene, the right line, the right moment to start the tale. And if I stumble, if I false start that moment…sometimes the doubt gets louder.

“Isn’t this boring? Isn’t this just a flash of an idea but no substance worth the time? Isn’t this something someone else could do better? Shouldn’t I just stop?”

You can see from my writing totals over the years how often I’ve put those questions aside, but you can’t see how often I haven’t been able to. I don’t count works unless they’re finished. My file of begun-but-left-idle stories is BIG.

And yet.

And yet and yet and yet…

Here we are again. Even as my beta group finishes reading the UF draft (and they like it!!!) and I prepare to make the final major edits before the query process (ugh save me I hate it sooooo), another idea came to me. The idea started with a villain’s motivation. And grew like a star forming from dust, drawing in disparate pieces until I had a fantasy world with thousands of years of history and culture slowly evolving to the detante in which my story is set. I have characters, a naming convention (I’m really pleased by this; I hate coming up with fantasy names), a central conflict which is only a single melody in the wider world’s ongoing symphony…

And I stopped.

Well, no. I wrote half of a chapter, but I hate all of it and need to start over. It doesn’t begin where it should and the beginning doesn’t move what needs to move.

But here I am again. Picking up the prism and turning it sideways. When I get it right, the light will strike and I’ll see a rainbow.

Every act of writing is an act of courage against doubt, of determination against doubt, of discipline against frustration. And of feeling. Of loving characters, of searching for the way to be heard, of hoping to reach someone else through the pages and screens.

This is my act of creation. And it scares me every time, even after a score of novels and a literal hundred shorter works. The risk is always the same. The doubt is always present.

But stories need to be told and people need to be able to find them. And I need to tell this one even without fully knowing why yet. My outline doesn’t tell me what I’ll get from the experience, after all.

Guess I better get back to it and find out.

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Tonight’s thoughts

I am falling in and out of love all at once.
My home is precious, filled with memory, history, community.
And my land is dangerous, hate overtaking love all around me.
I’ve never loved it more and I’ve never felt so afraid to stay.
Either way, I will be broken-hearted in the end.
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Catching up

2022 got away from me. Work went crazy with 2 separate promotions, Sarah and I got a horrific case of Covid that took us fully down for 2 months and we still have some residual Long Covid even 6 months since then, really bad stuff happened in the middle of summer that kind of crushed my sense of self-worth…

It was just a lot.

I did finish a novel. An original, Urban Fantasy that I’ve just sent to my small beta group tonight. I’m going to try to query it. And if that doesn’t work out, I’ll go back and reconsider self-publishing it and Dragonroe just so both get to breathe in the world.

2022 was a hell of a year. I catalogued it along the way most often by writing poetry on Twitter in the middle of the night. So what I’m doing now is going back and putting one of those poems up each month of 2022. Not in any specific order other than the order in which I wrote them. But a poem I wrote in August might show up in March. It doesn’t matter.

The point isn’t the time – the point is that I’m still here, I’ve always had feelings, and I’m okay sharing them now.

I can’t promise a whoooole lot more posting in 2023, but I can try. Especially if this query thing goes anywhere, probably this should be a slightly less dead space!

The 4 people who read this – thanks for sticking with me.

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Twitter poetry for a new world (and Mastodon)

Yep, I definitely wrote this one about dipping my toe into Mastodon given all the *gestures at madness* at Twitter. But it also works for the new year, so…

 

It’s not that I’m afraid of change.

Change as growth, change as a delightful surprise, change as a leap into a wondrous unknown – no, how could I fear those?

It’s change as loss.

And it isn’t fear.

To know that tomorrow, something loved, someone cherished, a steady truth that brought peace will vanish

Only to be replaced by something new, someone absent, a starting over,

That isn’t fear.

It’s grief.

I loved my little broken world.

I’ll love the new one too.

I just didn’t want to say goodbye.

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Twitter poetry 11

Of all the paths in my mind,

Memory’s lanes criss-crossing the landscape of my soul,

There’s a special pain when I stumble over yours –

loss, hurt, and regret in unison.

How can you haunt my steps as I walk through my own head so,

And yet I know I don’t haunt yours in return?

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Twitter poetry 10

I find it hard to really try my best at anything.

It’s not the failure I’m afraid of;

But if I open myself fully, hold nothing back, 

Show you the truest, deepest, brightest part of me,

The star of my soul and the gem of my heart,

And it still isn’t good enough

Then what am I?

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Twitter poetry 8

As an author —

My characters think my thoughts, feel my feelings with me.

They go where I’ve been & dream my dreams.

So when I feel something new, something without words yet,

I must either gift it to them or create someone new to carry it.

How else can I ever understand myself?

–==OOO==–

It has many names: writer’s block, ennui, loss of interest.

A gray cloud poured over the soul so nothing can grow, the soil turned to ash. All those seeds stagnant in the cold ground.

It can ache, it can cut, it can weep. In every form, it hurts.

But it can also be an illusion.

Not all flowers thrive under the sun, after all.

The cloud may not be a lack or a loss, but a sign.

“You’re going the wrong way.”

Choose flowers yearning for shade and plant them instead.

Perhaps not the garden intended, but the one ready to grow.

And it will still be beautiful.

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