A block like whoa

I’ve been going through some writer’s block.  I know that can be a touchy term, as there are writers who insist it doesn’t exist, etc.  But that’s what I’m choosing to call what I’m going through.

I moved to Georgia a month ago.  I’ve been out of work for a month and a half.  I’m 2 books behind on my GoodReads challenge (and this is after I dropped 10 books from the goal!) and I’ve written almost nothing in weeks.  I haven’t even read The Cuckoo’s Calling yet.  Uggh.

The other day, I went to a coffee shop, took a little notebook, and filled out about six little pages.  It came out to about 500 words.  I doubled that later.  There were two characters I’ve had a while, it wasn’t a full story, and it was based on a real conversation I’ve had.  Not much creativity went into it at all, though I did try to be more descriptive than usual (lack of description = big problem in my writing).  It wasn’t much.  But if I can keep working on it, I might just hit something good.

I have two books picked out to read (The Cuckoo’s Calling and the first Mortal Instruments book), and reading always helps me write.  I really think this block comes from my lack of reading, but I’m having trouble sitting down and doing it.  Being in a new place, trying to find a job, and having a new fandom (Welcome to Night Vale, uughh, I can barely handle it, go listen to it now if you haven’t already) have really limited my reading time.  Struggling.

Maybe posting here will help!  Hello!

I also have a new tattoo (got on JKR/HP’s birthday) and it’s beautiful.

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Ramblings on Fanfiction

I like fanfiction.  Kind of.  I so very rarely read it anymore that I’m hesitant to call myself a fan, but I do write it occassionally whenever the urge strikes, and I’m definitely a supporter of fanfiction.

I’ve always thought fanfiction was a good thing, really.  It’s a different experience, compared to writing so-called original fiction.  There’s room to explore and challenge yourself in ways that just don’t exist so readily in original fiction.

I’ve been thinking more about it recently because, well, I got an idea for a fanfic and I have been writing it instead of working on my novels.  And I think I write better fanfiction than original fiction.

There are a few reasons I suspect here… The first is that I often go in without trying to describe the characters or the setting.  When I do describe them, it’s much more basic than in original fiction, because, of course, any readers are going to know what the characters/setting look like already, so why waste time?  Second, my fanfics are always short–no longer than 10k or so, and I just get to the point and wrap it up and am done with it.  This has been a relief after rewriting a story 45k+ long, a welcome break, and I think it’s reflected in my writing quality.

Third, I only write fanfics when the urge strikes–that is, when I get an idea that won’t leave me alone until I write it down.  That’s so different from sitting down and going, “Okay, gotta smash on this keyboard until I figure out what I’m writing…” and I’ve missed that feeling.  My novels all started with that rush, that excitement, but I’ve lost it at this point.

There are other reasons, I’m sure (the potential for quick feedback being one of them), but those are the biggest I have come up with.  Now the question is, how can I take what I’ve learned and use it to better my original fiction?

A step back

I changed my GoodReads challenge from 55 books to 45 books. I’ve decided that, with everything else going on (moving across the country being only one thing), I don’t need to feel guilty about falling behind on my reading, and 45 books is more doable for me right now.

I’ve been working on writing my novel, and I’ve come up with some good plot, but progress is still slow. The more I replot, the less I can use that I’ve already written, which is a terrible feeling. Part of me wants to say ‘screw it’ and go back to my other draft, just insert a subplot there…and that’s looking more and more appealing. But urgh. I know this new plot is the better one, and I hate the thought of sending queries for something less than my best. It’s just horribly frustrating.

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ

My Life

I just realized I hadn’t posted here about this yet. I’m officially 99% sure I’m moving to Georgia. I hate calling anything 100%, so know that I’m calling this as much a sure-thing as I am comfortable calling anything a sure-thing. (I could, after all, die later today and thus not move to Georgia. Things happen.)

I have an apartment, I’ve applied for a few jobs… I’m excited. Nervous, but excited.

My apartment… Ah. It’s a lovely thing. The building has turrets, so we (my roommate and I) have named it Hogwarts’ Georgia campus.

My mom is sad, but getting excited for me. I was so concerned about her, I barely gave a thought to other people who might not want me to move–like, say, my grandmother. Just didn’t cross my mind. And my aunts/uncles, and sister-in-law (mother of my niblings). They’re the ones who have so far expressed disappointment in the idea. But if my mom can get on board, anyone can.

Anyone reading this: I don’t suppose you live in Georgia, particularly in or near the Athens area? If so, let me know.

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ

Bi Women

Bi Women is a newsletter in Boston that runs on submissions from (you guessed it!) bisexual women.  I’ve known about their fall 2013 issue for a while and I’ve been going back and forth about whether I should submit or not… And I decided today….

Of course I should!

There’s absolutely no good reason I shouldn’t.  My only draw back is that I’m wanting to focus on my novel, but the sad fact is, I’m moving so slowly on that, taking a little break might be an excellent idea.  The maximum word count for the submission is 1.5k, so it won’t take me long.  I relate so strongly to the theme (“Bisexual Enough?”) that it feels terrible to think about letting this chance pass by.

Not to mention that I have zero writing creds to my name.  This would be something.

I cranked out about 800 words just now, and I’ll leave it alone for a bit… read it again in a week or so and straighten it up (no pun intended).  I’m also looking for beta readers–any takers?

New goal?

I started the Andersons’ story for NaNoWriMo 2011, shortly after getting my job. I’m planning to quit my job in two months. How cool would it be if I completely finished the novel before then? I have indeed written most of it in the facility, while on the clock. I’d have to dedicate it to my boss and coworkers, not to mention all my fantastic clients who make appearances throughout the novel.

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ

Bitten – review

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong.  (Beware of spoilers later on.)

My roommate forced this book on me—I should say that first.  That isn’t to say the book was bad—quite the opposite.  But it’s not the kind of book I would have picked up on my own.

This is a story of a woman, named Elena, who is a reluctant werewolf.  She lives in the human world, with her human boyfriend, doing so called “human” things, and generally avoiding as much to do with her own lycanthropy and other werewolves as is physically possible.  She has to Change every now and then (nothing to do with phases of the moon), and she has to hide it from her boyfriend because if he knew, he would kick her to the curb (so she believes).

But when her old Pack starts having some major trouble, she can’t resist going back and checking things out, to see if she can help.  And did I mention she’s the only female werewolf in the world?

The Pack consists of an older werewolf who presents something of a fatherly figure to Elena, an overly obnoxious and toxic werewolf who is constantly trying to get into Elena’s pants, and a couple other charming fellows who miss her when she’s gone and seem to only want her to be happy if it involves her doing what they want her to do.  But she loves them all and with dead people showing up on and around their property, there’s no way she can just turn her back on them.  The dead people all look like they’ve been mauled by giant dogs, but the Pack knows better.

Mutts are on the loose, and the more they kill, the more danger the Pack is in.  When a member of the Pack is murdered, Elena goes out for blood.  The question is, can she get all this done and still return to her human boyfriend?

This is a well-written book, but I’m going to say it fails the Bechdel test.  It’s in a gray area, I suppose—there are two other named female characters who talk to Elena, one of whom talks about dresses for a wedding, but the conversation lasts all of a half a page, and then those characters are never seen again.  Elena is the only named female character for the rest of the book—so, from page 20 to page 436, it’s Elena and a bunch of boys.  Boy after boy after boy, urgh.  There’s a lot of action and good non-romancey stuff, and yet, all the characters continue to be boys.

Elena holds her own against them, for the most part.  She’s got her strengths and weaknesses.  She observant and interesting, quite the charming character and it was a lot of fun to go through this story with her.

Spoilers here!  I normally try to avoid spoilers in my book reviews, but knowing this would have affected whether or not I wanted to read the book, so let’s go.  The overly obnoxious and toxic werewolf I mentioned up there?  He is constantly telling Elena that she doesn’t really want to be in the human world—that she actually wants to be with him and the other werewolves, no matter how frequently she tells him otherwise.  She says she doesn’t like being so violent as the werewolf community makes her, she doesn’t like being the way she is and she wants to change and be as human as possible—and he keeps saying, “Nope, you’re fooling yourself, I know you better than you do.”  And the worst part is, at the end of the book, she agrees with him.  It’s a story of women not actually knowing what they want, of men knowing what’s best, of how women should listen to men and throw away their own desires and thoughts and follow men.  It’s also a story of how, if a woman doesn’t like who she is, too bad, she’s stuck with it and the men who surround her because of it.

Bitter?  Yes.  Elena is, for most of the book, a strong woman who happens to keep falling into bed with a guy she claims she doesn’t want to be with… but the ending pretty much ruined her for me.  I’m all for women characters developing into people they thought they didn’t want to be, but in this case, it feels so much more like she’s submitting to this guy because he has a stronger personality than her human boyfriend.  And clearly women must submit to the strongest man who wants to have sex with her.

So, 3/5 GR stars.  This is just the first book in the series, but I probably won’t be reading more of them (unless my roommate really wants me to, heh—she says there are more women in the later books).

Posted from my phone, so please excuse extra typos! ESJ