IWSG: Survivor’s Guilt

August 1, 2018

This is not going to be a happy post. I’m not sure if this is really the kind of thing the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is meant to address. But I feel I need to do this in order for my healing process to begin.

In the stories I write, characters die.  Sometimes people are massacred in great numbers.  Other times, characters get killed off individually for dramatic effect. It’s all done in service to the plot.

I’ve heard writers joke about how often they “murder” characters in their stories.  I’ve joked about it myself.  I don’t think I’ll ever find those kinds of jokes funny again.  Not after the experience I had late last week.

It would be inappropriate to discuss the details of what happened in a blog post, so I’ll only say this much: a gun was involved. At one point, I thought I was going to die.  One person did die. I knew the victim, and I knew the shooter, though I can’t say I knew either of them particularly well.

Friends tell me I’m handling all this remarkably well. But of course I’m not.  Not at all.  I’m never going to forget the things I saw and heard.  I’ll never forget the fear I felt.  My healing process is going to be long and arduous.  I know part of that process will involve returning to my writing routine, because writing is so central to who I am.

Except given the subject matter I tend to write about, how the hell am I supposed to go back to doing that?  Right now, I can’t bring myself to look at my manuscript. I can’t even think about it without reliving what I’ve just been through.  Nor can I work on something new and different—something fun and lighthearted—without constantly reminding myself that there’s this thing I’m trying really hard to avoid thinking about.

But I can write this blog post.  Maybe that’s enough for now.  At the very least, I hope it’s a place for my own healing process to start.

IWSG: Should Writers Believe in Muses?

July 4, 2018

I know a lot of writers who don’t believe in muses. Sometimes I don’t believe either. I’m a scientifically minded guy. The idea that little magical fairy people are assigned to us writers at birth, that they’re supposed to teach us and guide us through our writing journeys, occasionally providing little flashes of inspiration… none of that sounds particularly scientific.

And that’s okay.  If you’re a writer, you don’t have to believe in muses.  The important thing is that no matter what, your muse still believes in you.

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a monthly blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our writerly worries and offer each other advice and encouragement.  To learn more about IWSG and to see a list of participating blogs, click here.

IWSG: When Science Gets in the Way…

June 6, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

The month of May brought me one of the highest highs I’ve ever experienced: I finished a certain long anticipated manuscript.  May also brought me one of my lowest lows.  Two close friends agreed to look over the manuscript, and… well, let’s just say they didn’t think it was very good.

After a heartbreaking week and a half of going over my friends’ feedback, I’ve realized that I made two fundamental mistakes.

  • First off, I’d been playing with a new writing style. It was very flowery. Very fancy.  I thought it sounded awesome, until I tried to read it out loud.
  • And secondly, I tried to cram as much science into the story as I could. I thought I was making my Sci-Fi universe more believable, but all I was doing was adding info dumps.  Very flowery info dumps.

When I started this blog, part of my intention was to force myself to do the kind of research that I, as an aspiring science fiction author, thought I ought to be doing.  But in one of my earliest posts, or maybe it was an early tweet, I wrote that I’d never let a scientific fact get in the way of a good story.

This blog really has served its purpose.  I’ve done a lot of research over the last eight years.  Can you blame me for wanting to show off everything I’ve learned?  But, of course, I let all that science get in the way of good storytelling, and now I need to fix it.

For a start, I’m breaking up some of those long, flowery sentences.  And as for the science, I’m not going to remove it entirely, because I still believe good science is crucial for good science fiction.  But maybe I don’t need to spend so much time explaining everything.

So now, back to writing.  Or rather re-writing.

IWSG: Punching My Problems in the Face

May 2, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

Over the last few months of Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts, I’ve been telling you that I’m struggling with certain real life problems (without going into any specific personal details, of course, because this is still the Internet).

In January’s post, my muse came up with an interesting solution to this: use writing as an excuse to just not deal with real life stuff. And that worked, sort of, for a while.  But you know how real life problems are.  They don’t just wander off and bother somebody else when you ignore them. They nag you… and nag you.  And in turn, that makes writing harder.

After March’s post, I started doing better, thanks in large part to all the encouragement I got from IWSG members and all my regular readers. By April, I was starting to worry less about real life and more about writing, and for the first time since I’ve known her, my muse had something insightful to say about the business side of writing (and also art) rather than just about the craft of writing itself.

So now it’s the beginning of May.  I suppose I could tell you how I’m doing right now, how well writing is going, and how optimistic I feel.  But you know what?  I think I’ll just let this drawing speak for itself.

Not my finest work of art, I admit, but that may have been the most satisfying, most therapeutic drawing I’ve ever done.

IWSG: Dreams and Fairy Dust Won’t Pay the Bills… Or Will They?

April 4, 2018

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement.  Click here to find out more about IWSG and see a list of participating blogs.

As some of you already know, I’ve been going through some stuff.  It started back in December, and the real life problems have just kept coming ever since, one after the other.  It’s been truly unfair.

But I’m recovering, finally.  Those real life problems that have been plaguing me have been resolved, most of them for the better, a few for the worse, but at least they’re resolved and I’m able to move on.

The challenge now is that, during my times of trouble, I seem to have picked up a whole bunch of new writing insecurities, and a few old insecurities have resurfaced as well.  It’s not so much my writing process that I’m worried about but rather my ability to turn writing into a profitable and sustainable career.

Fortunately my muse, who came to my rescue in last month’s IWSG post, has returned to give me some sage advice.

So is my muse right?  I sure hope so.  I’m still dealing with a lot of anxiety, most of it financial in nature, because of the turmoil I just went through.  But I’ve promised my muse that I’ll set that aside, at least while I’m writing, and have faith that so long as I put my best into my stories everything else will somehow turn out okay.

P.S.: I want to mention, because a few people have been asking, that I really wanted to participate in the A to Z Challenge again this year.  I had a plan.  A really good plan. But given the circumstances, I think it’s best if I save it for next year.

IWSG: Why Muses Have Wings

March 7, 2018

If you don’t already know what a paracosm is, please check out my previous post about it. It’s a cool concept, especially for writers.

For today’s episode of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I’ve decided to give you a glimpse into my own paracosmic world. I’ll admit, it’s not a happy place right now, but with the help of my muse it’s getting better.

IWSG: Have I Pushed My Writer Too Hard?

February 7, 2018

For this month’s episode of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I’m going to turn the floor over to my muse. She has something to say, and perhaps it’s something your muse would like to hear.

* * *

Over the last few months, I’ve had trouble getting my writer to be productive. Many of the juiciest story ideas I’ve brought him had to be put on hold because real life keeps getting in the way.

As I reported in my previous Insecure Muse’s Support Group post, I’ve had some success using writing as a distraction from those real world problems. Unfortunately it’s been sporadic success. Some days my writer would get thousands of words down on paper. Other days, I’d find him like this:

To be honest, I think a lot of the problems my writer is dealing with are less severe than he thinks they are, but the fear and the stress still feel real to him. Writing helps calm him down. There’s no doubt about that. But sometimes my writer is so emotionally drained that he just can’t write no matter how badly he needs to.

So I’d like to ask my fellow muses (writers, you can chime in too if you want): how do you know when to push your writer harder and when to let him or her take some time to recover?