Writing Past Apathy, Part 2

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Just a quick post today to reaffirm that I am addressing this apathy problem of mine.

Heh, I see the irony in that – one could say I don’t care enough to make a full post…

Here are some of the avenues my questioning mind has taken over the last week:

Are Writers More Likely to Get Burned Out?

You see, I think some writers may be especially prone to anxiety, apathy, or depression because of some basic contradictions that plague our work.

I have to write about other people facing problems and living their lives, but I’m shy and awkward around real people.

I have to get exercise and eat healthy food, both of which are imposing tasks to someone who needs to sit down and write, dammit.

I have to travel, explore new places and see new things to fuel my fiction, but I have a family and a tight budget.

I wonder if some writers give up on their dreams because these contradictions just seem too much.

How Much Does Diet Affect Writing?

This has come into my mind as an important question. I’m pretty sure a writer must be profoundly affected by diet and exercise – there’s a lot of research out there that shows how diet affects cognition. I love junk food (is this a thing with authors?), and the research says fast food and junk food are every bit as bad for the brain as they are for the body. In my case, I’m pretty sure now that junk food makes me more irritable and withdrawn (even on top of my usual introversion), so I’m thinking that my current frustration and burnout has a lot to do with the “fuel” I provide myself with for long writing sessions.

How Does One Keep Writing in a Bad Relationship?

I won’t blame my lack of writing recently on my bad relationship – that makes it sound like I’m not at fault. I’ve fallen into a trap – one I think is the most common trap of all. I like to blame things on my ‘bad relationship’ when there has been so much I’ve done or neglected to do that made this relationship bad. I also won’t blame myself as the sole reason for everything being bad. The growing distance between my wife and I came from things we both did and didn’t do.

While my wife and I work through this, I still need ways to write. There’s a good post here about how to keep blogging when things go to shit, and it looks like a good place to start. I also find myself writing about the problems I have with my wife in a private notebook, and I have to say, just taking constant measure of the problems seems to help a lot.

 

My next post will be the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post for Wednesday, September 7. I think I’ll choose one of the three avenues I’m thinking about here and expand on it. Maybe the IWSG folks will have some thoughts to add, too.

#IWSG #AtoZChallenge – A follow-up to my 2nd A-to-Z Challenge

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It was an interesting and fun month!

I did an A-to-Z challenge back in 2014 with a fantasy theme. At the time I had a fantasy novel on my mind, but I lacked the drive I needed to really get it finished. I ended up with a blog full of scary fantasy creatures, but no writing to show how I was using them.

This year, I’m happy to say, things were very different. I have Far Flung in the works, a serial science fiction story that I am releasing on my other blog, piece by piece. Less than a week before the A-to-Z challenge was about to start, I realized something. I was too late for the theme reveal, but I could still do it. I could tie in A-to-Z with my serial fiction, and get A-to-Z to help me with research!

I decided to do the A-to-Z Challenge with a sci-fi theme. Will I use all those sci-fi ideas in Far Flung? Probably not. But I’ll use a lot of them. It certainly doesn’t hurt to know that much more about this genre I claim I can write in!

One downside, I suppose, was that I was late posting the latest chapter for Far Flung. I haven’t been super strict about its release schedule (something I need to change about myself) but I still want to get two parts out every month. Now I think I need a break from Far Flung – I’ve been writing it as I go so far, with most of the planning in my head. Not a great way to work, I know, but it’s kept me writing at least. However, I desperately need a buffer of three or four chapters of Far Flung before I post the next one.

That is my key lesson from A-to-Z – the importance of researching and pre-scheduling posts! So I’m taking a month away from posting Far Flung, but that won’t mean I’m not working on it!

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I love what I’ve seen from other A-to-Z folks.

There were a lot of great thoughts on writing over at CR Ward’s Writing Journal, Liz Brownlee wrote poetry every day over at her blog, and Ally Bean made me hungry with humorous posts about food. Of course there were many, many more participants, so be sure to stop by some of their blogs.

Thanks to everyone in both IWSG and the A-to-Z Challenge. You are wonderful communities to share with!

 

 

Reflections on a Writers’ Meeting

Momos Cafe, Oncheonjang

 

Reflections on a Writers’ Meeting

A stress-free chance to dissect and discuss.

I met with the Busan Writing Club tonight, forgetting all stress as the meeting began. There was no anxiety, no stress at all. Everyone who came was from a different writing background, some with degrees related to creative writing, some without. We were all readers and writiers, all committed to understand what we like to read and how that helps us write.

In tonight’s session, we took a published work, The Hard Years by Emma Pattee, and attempted to dissect it. I think we learned a lot from it – it’s a very well-told story of abuse, with a lot of powerful phrases and imagery. We also tried to come up with criticisms and possible improvements. It was hard – I think it always is hard to criticize a work that seems so far advanced compared to one’s own writing! However, it was certainly a worthwhile exercise.

My takeaway from this study is an appreciation for the art of story dissection – especially with stories that seem way out of my league. It is important that I try to avoid the impulse to shy away from stories like this – I can feel intimidated when I try to read something I know is a very good work and I can’t understand why and how I know that! Meeting with a writing club and doing this in person seems like the perfect way to overcome such intimidation. Shared insecurity, ironically enough, seems to lead to a strange kind of confidence – we all know this piece is far ahead of us, but we’re all here to deal with it together!

Another thing that was wonderful tonight was when I received feedback on a story I’m struggling with. I have a much better idea why I’m finding it difficult now. I was pensive at first, feeling as though I had to defend my work (‘It’s just a draft!’, ‘The names are placeholders!’), but there was no negativity at all as people expressed ways to build upon the draft and improve it. The talk also led to the nicest comment I’ve yet heard – one reader said “I wish I had written this – there’s so much potential for it.” That made my night!

Now I know that this piece has merit, and I have some directions I can set out upon as I rewrite. I also have some great ideas on how to dissect stories I read. Oh, and I got out and got all social, which is hard for a father of two. I hope the writers who read this have similar groups, and meet as regularly as possible!

So, why “Evil Spirits”?

What an eclectic little blog.

I started off wanting to write about writing and do reviews of flash fiction, and somehow I’m researching about evil spirits for this year’s A-to-Z Blogging challenge!

It’s my novel, you see. That novel, the one in my head and various stages of non-completion for years and years. I have a draft of it done from NaNoWriMo, and one of the (many) problems with that draft is that I don’t know enough about the setting for my own fantasy novel to write it properly. That’s where this month’s Evil Spirits theme comes in – the world of this novel is populated by spirits both good and evil, and my main character is one of a few who can see them and converse with them. Like I hinted last Wednesday, this research is really helping me paint the dangers that lurk in the shadows for my characters.

Next year, I want to try something a little more obviously related to writing, but I can’t say I regret my choice this year – it really has provided a lot of good material I can work from. Also, it’s just really, really cool.