A Writer’s Life for Me (Writer Tag)

Hi-diddle-dee-dee..

I’ve seen this kicking around on youtube and a few blogs so I thought I’d join in the fun. No one tagged me, but I’m going for it anyways because I’m a scoundrel with a complete disregard for the rules.

I’m not sure who started this tag (if you know, please let me know) but here are the questions as I’ve seen them laid out:

What kind of writer are you?

I’m still figuring this one out. I write mostly science fiction and fantasy now, but I used to be really into crafting horror and adventure stories. Short and long form both have their benefits and drawbacks, but I’m beginning to prefer the expansive playground of the novel over the microcosm of shorter fiction.

When did you start writing? What made you want to try?

I’m not sure what made me want to start writing. It’s just something I’ve always done. It makes me happy, and keeps my brain from picking itself apart, so I’ve never really questioned why. I’ve written fiction for as long as I can remember. My first story (which I’m pretty sure is still kicking around in a box of keepsakes somewhere) was dictated to my Mum after I drew the illustrations in highlighter and crayon and was, if I correctly recall, the star-crossed tale of two mice trying to make it back to one another after inexplicably being abducted by humans. I was two.

In grade school I filled cahiers with adventure stories set in Aztec ruins or wildly advanced submarines, and wrote a LOT of horse fan-fiction. I really loved horses. And sea trenches. Never combined the two, surprisingly (and thankfully). Highschool and early adulthood was all about horror shorts: urban folklore with a lot of moody lighting where everybody dies in the end. I’m glad to have outgrown that phase.

I first started to try writing professionally (still trying, folks) a few years ago, and it’s been a fun, (and only slightly harrowing) adventure. I’ve kept trying because I think I’m capable of making it work as a main source of income, and I’ve continued to love it despite the intense self-doubt that doing this seems to bring—and that says something.

What inspires your stories?

Sounds trite, but… everything? Life?
Science articles, news stories, true crime, friends, family, my pets, dreams, museum exhibits, public transit, food, history, walking, mythology, music, video games… Everything has a narrative, if you look hard enough, and every person is interesting in their own way.

I guess when you boil it down, the answer is other stories.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I don’t know that I intentionally inject themes into my writing, for better or for worse, but some common ones that seem to crop up like weeds are death, family conflict, friendship overcoming all odds, and animal intelligence.

Are you a Pantser, Plotter, or a bit of both?

I’m not a huge fan of these terms, as I find their binary limiting as a descriptor of how the creative process works. I think that any creative process requires both structural support and room for exploration in the moment to create something that is interesting and can hold an audience’s focus. I also think that there are many ways that these two tools of creation can be expressed, and the space between them is difficult to define so, short answer: a bit of both.

Where are you at in your writing journey? Querying? Agenting? Published?

As far as prose, I’m currently working on my nth revision pass of my 5th(?) novel, none of which have been published. I’m also writing short stories and sending them off to paying markets, but no acceptance letters yet. I’ve had some comics published through small presses that I wrote and illustrated, but that was years ago and I feel weird still trucking that out as an example. Looking forward to querying my current MS and would love an agent at some point.

Have you ever entered any writing contests? Finalled? Won?

No. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think that a lot of writing contests are a bit too much like a lottery? I am absolutely not down for paying to submit my work somehere, and while there are some good free-to-submits out there I would far rather send my stories out to paying markets. Contests seem like working for exposure, and that just doesn’t seem like a worthwhile pursuit to me.

Who are your writer heroes?

Oh. So many. Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, Terry Pratchett, Nnedi Okorafor, Jeff VanDermeer, Margaret Lawrence, Dorthea Brande, Stephen King, Alice Munro, Toni Morrison, Neil Gaiman…

Have you ever been to a writing conference?

Nope. I’d love to attend a Clarion-style workshop one day.

Top 3 tips for newbie writers?

I’m breaking the rules and posting 4 (I repeat: a scoundrel):

  1. Write short
  2. Write a lot
  3. Read widely
  4. Finish shit

 

Some of these were answers to questions that I hadn’t considered before, or at least not well enough to put into words, so it was a fun exercise. Actually, it felt a bit like doing one of those throwback “20 questions” lists from grade/high school that probably contained enough information to hack my bank account, and while you won’t get the name of my first pet or the city my father was born in out of me, I could probably be persuaded to do another tag in future.

If you have any suggestions on a fun writing/reading tags, let me know in the comments, and happy writing.

 

 

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How I’m Doing NaNoWriMo Differently This Year

This is my 9th year participating in NaNoWriMo, and this year I’m doing things a little differently.

nano-rebel

See that? I ticked that box. I am now, officially, a NaNo Rebel.

I’d been hemming and hawing for weeks as to whether or not I should join in the festivities this year. I didn’t want to break my WriMo streak, but I also didn’t want to put my current manuscript revisions on hold to start a new first draft. After painful deliberation, I decided to just suck it up and try working on both projects simultaneously. Maybe it would be hard. Maybe it would be impossible; but really, who would care if I didn’t make it to 50k? It’s the effort that counts, right?

I created my project on the NaNoWriMo website on October 31st, and rolled up my sleeves in anticipation for the break-neck month ahead.

Now, it should be noted that I am a planner, or at least a ‘plantser’, and in all of my hemming and hawing I hadn’t done any outlining on this supposed new project. Day one went by with a paltry total of 83 words written. Day two saw a minute spike in word-count, bringing me to a grand total of 256. I was chugging along on my revisions, but completely lost in this new first draft. By the afternoon of day three I was starting to wonder if I had lost my frigging mind. Then I perused the personal achievement badges on nanowrimo.org, and I had an epiphany.

I had never considered working on anything other than a fresh novel draft to be a legitimate option for NaNoWriMo, but when I saw those jaunty little sunglasses something clicked. Suddenly, I saw working on revisions as a valid choice. Surely, there must be other rebels out there, and surely I would still be able to partake in 2016’s writeathon as a member of the community. I felt vindicated. And relieved.

So… what exactly am I doing this year?

I am writing like I normally write. I’m working on revisions of Steep, and drafting short stories as palette cleansers, and I’m writing blog posts and dumb poems and letters to friends, and I’m counting it all. Everything I write during the month of November, I’m adding to my word-count. Don’t ask me how I’m going to verify it, because I haven’t quite figured that part out yet, but I’m sure it’ll be a blast.

It’s been said before that the ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write a novel in 30 days but to develop the habit of writing every day. Maybe that’s true. Right now I’m thinking that maybe the ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo is to write your heart out in whatever way you see fit, and maybe, after all, the ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo can be different to different people and that not one of them is wrong.

So write on, you crazy diamonds.