Waffling

I keep going back and forth with this blog.

On the one hand, there’s my unfortunate preoccupation with what other people think. “Oh, he has a blog? Who does he think he is?” and similar variations. Well, maybe he’s just like every other millennial who pours their every thought all over the internet, hoping someone else will recognize how clever and unique it is. By posting here, I am subjecting myself to the opinions of others, nevermind the fact that I will never know what most of those opinions may be.

Then we come to the other hand, which I make into a fist, and I proclaim myself a writer. Writers have blogs. They’re usually more for informing those who care to know what the writer is up to. I don’t estimate there is anyone who doesn’t hear my news from me personally, but hey, maybe that can change.

There is also the issue of posterity. When I journal, I often write about writing, but I tend to focus on the emotion of it. Here, I could be more goal-focused, and celebrate my achievements as they come. I’ll probably also share the weird, intense, and unexpected emotions I encounter along the way. Why the hell not.

Well, that’s two pros to one con, good enough for me.

So ever since shaming myself into accelerating my writing life, I have been quite busy with projects. There was the queer short story where I had already started to explore some feelings, then I started working on an old idea I had for a vampyre (yes, with a Y) story. Both of these had ticking clocks on them, and I found the deadlines extremely motivating.

The trouble is, I underestimated the time I would need for the vampyre story, and how big the story actually was. To give the events proper emotional impact and get to know the characters at a more meaningful depth, I’d probably have to turn this 10,000 word story into a novel. I might even try that later, but for now it’s stuck in a virtual drawer. I haven’t looked at it since I printed it, stuck it in an envelope, and dropped it in a mailbox to submit.

(Holy fuck, my first submission!)

Then it was time to come back to the queer story. I had already written something with more truth in it than I thought I could do. I was still uncertain about editing that out and going with something a bit less real. In conversations with friends (and my therapist, of course), I came to understand that using these raw feelings felt cathartic and they might resonate with readers. So, the feelings stayed, and I put more of them into subsequent drafts, until I finally arrived at a place where I felt comfortable sharing it.

A thought on digital versus paper submissions:

Paper submissions involve many more steps between the moment you stop writing and the moment your writing is irretrievably out of your hands. There’s the printing, the putting into the envelope, the getting dressed, the walking to the postbox.

Once I stopped typing and looked over my second submission, there were far fewer steps to take. Write a cover letter, draft an e-mail, and hit SEND.

The moment before clicking that button dragged on for an hour as I thought of all the things I could go back and change. This scene could be longer, that description could be better, was that line of dialogue really necessary? I may have even closed my eyes, like when I was much younger and told a guy via instant message that I liked him.

(Holy fuck, my second submission!)

In two moves, I have further solidified my identity as a writer in my head. I have shared my writing in a significant way; even if it does not get published, I have taken a huge step. I am involved in a writing workshop where I regularly share my work and critique the work of others. I am working on a novel, and looking out for more opportunities to submit pieces for publication.

And the one thing I keep forgetting to give myself credit for: I wrote a book. I haven’t finished revising it, because I have come to learn that editing is the terrifying flipside to writing, and I am woefully inexperienced. Getting these short stories ready has given me a new appreciation for it, and a better idea of the journey involved in turning a roughdraft into a novel.

Practicing also gives me a better idea of what sort of process works best for me. The most important lesson I learned from my vampyre story is that I need time to put a piece away so that I can come to it with fresh eyes. I ended up marathon editing over the course of a weekend. I was miserable, lacking in confidence, and my work doubtless suffered. I gave myself more time for my second submission, and I am much happier with the piece I submitted as a result.

So, that’s my latest. Except I’m also working on a novel that is a fictionalization of my life and the gravity of that horrifies and thrills me. I have no idea if I can actually do this, but I’m going to keep going until I make my decision. After all, so much of it is a story I’ve already told time and again.

What I’ve been up to

I had a lot to get out in the previous entry, so I didn’t get to the point of properly discussing what I’ve been up to lately. It’s easiest to come here and make updates when things are actually happening in my writing life, so here goes the latest!

Since NaNoWriMo of last year, I’ve been working on the latest version of my oldest novel, which I’m calling Project Oathbreaker for now. I started it with a new protagonist, then realized that I still need the older ones, but writing from a fresh perspective gave the story a new energy that was previously lacking. I still feel a little weird about continuing to write a story that I’ve been working on for so long, through so many incarnations, but the biggest part of me feels that I need to get this out and it will feel so rewarding to finally do so.

I’ve also dusted off a proof copy of Climbing Yggdrasil and started making notes to bring the damn thing to a third draft at long last. I often get annoyed by the fact that I finished its rough draft at the end of 2013 and I still have not gotten it to a place where I feel it’s ready for proper critiques. Maybe this sentiment is wrong and I could actually get more momentum by sharing it with others in its current form, but in the meantime, I have opinions on things I can change. I feel I owe it to future beta readers to take it as far as I can before bringing in outside opinions; I want to respect their time and make the best use of it that I can.

I am also working on a short story to submit for a queer edition of the Malahat Review, using an idea that has been rolling around in my head for a while. Those are my favourites, little seeds of thought that stick around and draw other ideas in until I have no choice but to explore them and see where they lead me. I’d like to say more, but I think it’s best to keep it to myself for the time being. I’ve completed a rough rough draft, and I’m working on fleshing it out a bit more before I seek constructive criticism. I’m excited to submit something for the first time!

With all of this, plus rejoining my soccer team, studying to advance myself at work, and maintaining some semblance of a social life; Google calendar has become my best friend. I am a little nervous about the level of organisation required to keep everything on track, but I am willing to put in the effort and hopefully feel that my time is being well spent and properly enjoyed. The last thing I need is to become completely overwhelmed by too many things going on at once.

Squandered opportunities

“The road to Hell,” right? I have managed to use my pear timer once, getting a good 800 words out before turning it to zero so that it wouldn’t scare the bejeezus out of me. Then yesterday afternoon, I sat and started writing a short story in my journal. It is my humble opinion that I am crap at short stories, though I have been in a couple of creative writing classes where we submitted short stories and did peer reviews of them. This one is about a painter who has a reputation for producing unique portraits that represent the innermost identity of the subject. It begins with her refusing to paint a client, claiming that he will not like what she creates.

I have kind of hit a lull with my reading, which I need to remedy; I have a list of books I’d like to read, I only have to stick them on my Kobo and go. Then again, being at home this week means not going out as much, and I do most of my reading on the commute to and from work. I have this nasty habit lately of going to bed when I am absolutely too tired to do any reading at all, lest I find myself considering the same sentence for minutes at a time.

I feel a little guilty about not using this vacation time to get a leg up on my writing. It has been excellent for disconnecting from work and recharging myself, for relaxing and enjoying my home space. The problem is, that all sounds very lazy. I have things I want to get done, and I have more time this week to do them, and I am squandering that opportunity.