Friday, March 04, 2016

Skinny Little Book Got Me Thinking

So it's been a weird time at my house. Writing went kaput about mid-February. I sunk a lot of energy into the back bedroom demolition project, so I figured I just needed to recuperate from that. I learned from the 21 Day Primal Challenge in January that I wasn't getting enough sleep, so I figured writing energy would come back once I got that back under control. The low level stress from testing computer changes/updates at the paying job is having more of an effect than I thought but that can't last much longer, please deity over computer stuff. Between Mardi Gras and my birthday, I made poor food choices and that's why I feel like sluggish crap and don't want to write.

Of course NOT-writing leads to all the crappy feelings too. I did get one day of rough draft writing this past Wednesday. And it's possible that I've piled too many changes on myself all at once. Any ways, I came across some writing advice to churn out a smaller project when you're feeling stuck on the big one and that seemed like an excellent idea for this weekend. So I started a few blog posts to update on life things.

The shipments from my Amazon shopping spree have almost all trickled in (I'm still waiting for the most expensive book to come in next week). My new full spectrum sun lamp came in right before the box of a lot of new books and I switched it out for my regular lamp on the timer February 22nd. The idea behind it is to get 15 minutes of full spectrum light within two hours of getting up so you reset your circadian rhythms, which people who don't arrive at their paying jobs before dawn can get from the sun. I think it's helping me be sleepy at 8:30 p.m. I also started Brain FM to help me get a deeper sleep through the night and hopefully be able to use the Focus tunes to help me concentrate on writing. Only I lost the time to turn that on, lost the time to do chores, and have confirmed that I only have one pair of earbuds that do not fall out of my head when I sleep but still hurt after so many nights using them consistently. This weekend includes a trip away from home and without the stress of housework I'm hoping to rest and relax away whatever that has led to me yawning my head off all week. At this point, I don't know what it is but I'm yawning now so as soon as the focus music ends I'm going to bed.

Moving on, since I couldn't find any time to write and the paying job went through a deadline so I had more to do and couldn't use it to catch up, I pulled out one of the books I had bought on the Amazon shopping spree to read when I had some free time that wasn't getting spent on the manuscript: The Pursuit of Perfection and How It Harms Writers. I don't have a Kindle and just got the Kobo app for the new actual smartphone, so I bought the print book and was perplexed by the end product. "Ten bucks for a fifty page book, really?" It had been raved about on the Creative Penn podcast and my issues with perfectionism are plentiful, but I thought I got cheated.

I was wrong.

I ended up highlighting so much in this book, and I'm planning on prettying up some of the quotes with graphics for some motivational posters. But what I highlighted on page thirteen gave me a new spotlight on my writing issues.

Many writers don't believe what I just wrote, and that's fine. You need to define it four yourself. Set a limit on revision, set a limit on drafts, set a time limit. (My book must be done in August, no matter what.) Then release your book on the unsuspecting public. … At some point, you must simply let go of that book or story or play and move to the next. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch page 15
If you're following along on Discipline Under Fire you know I'm still working on the first draft of Strix: Forget the Sun. Stellar Gift of Death is waiting for edits, which it needs. So why did this piece speak to me so strongly that I needed to post about it? It brought into sharp focus the issue between my original fiction and my fanfiction.

Unleashing what I've written onto the unsuspecting public, I've gotten that down cold with fanfiction. When it comes to original fiction, I freeze up and go let it sit until it can become perfect and I move onto something else and just forget about it and all the anxiety buttons taking the next step hits. I've got plans and know the next steps I need to take, but I haven't forced myself into the stairwell yet.

The biochemical causes strengthening the Jerkbrain and how it relates to writing I identified already, but I didn't make any headway on my publication goals last year despite learning this information. So what else is under all this? Kristine Kathryn Rusch had this to say about my degrees:

So if we're not training writers to be professionals who make a living at their chosen career, what are we training them to be?


We're training critics and editors (kinda, but there are actual degree programs in editing/publishing) and professors. – page 26
After I became the ask-first-on-computer-issues-before-going-to-I.T. girl at the paying job, I made a joke of the situation. "If I had a time machine, I'd go back to tell myself to go major in computers and be making a whole lot more money now." Too bad Rusch published this analysis after I went back for my M.A. because not only would it have me consider a different major and keep writing on the side without Jerkbrain strengthened with critical tools, there's a few classes I may have performed better in knowing that they wanted a critic not a writer.

*Snort* I came to the same conclusion as Rusch back when I was in the thick of the classes. But I thought I would shake off that training because it didn't help me write. Well, it's obvious how well I did that by how much publishing success I've had since I earned my M.A. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret my education but I will have to work harder to overcome the mental blocks I have to releasing my words on the unsuspecting public.

It's not just the training of critics that is a problem. Rusch identifies two levels of harm done to writers; personal is "a God-given right [talent] versus a craft that can be learned [skill]" (page 39) and professional is concentrating so much on producing perfect work that a career in writing isn't possible due to a lack of stories. "Writers with this attitude never try to have a career because they believe a career is impossible. Therefore, the writer will do stupid things they would never do in their real life." (page 40)

The silver lining to my stalled writing output (measured by novels and stories out there to read) is that I haven't signed horrible publishing contracts or gotten scammed by a con artist posing as an agent or publisher.

So how does this change my plans for the year? Double checking my business plan on a page, I found that writing Strix: Forget the Sun was set as a secondary priority. First priority was establishing a dedicated writing hour, which has fallen apart and it's just now March, and establishing Zy's Universe as a series with new stories and editing what I already have written. I've ran across a new strategy for managing my writing time (fortunately because the paying job decided to get really strict on what we're doing in our cubicles so I can't count on making up time during their time), so I'm going to start implementing it next week. Next free weekend I have, I'm dedicating a day to Zy's Universe.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

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