Tag Archives: creative process

De-Stressed

Well, somewhat.

I had an appointment with a cardiologist yesterday and he cleared me – no stress test needed.  Happy happy happy day!

The countdown has begun – only 16 more shifts at my current job. Just having made up my mind to not go with the new company has relieved most of my stress. Now if my doctor would just get back to me with when I can pick up my physical form…

And with the stress starting to fade away my energy has started to come back.

Yesterday I planted some tree lily bulbs, Dutch iris bulbs, and some other kind of bulbs that my mother thinks are some kind of lily. I also planted some chocolate mint and regular mint.

This gives me hope that my will to write will come back soon too, so I can do something about these plot bunnies that are nibbling away at my mind.

Meanwhile, I still have other stuff to plant, and some columbine to pry out from between the bricks in the retaining wall and transplant to my garden.

And lots of other craft stuff to keep me occupied.  (Not to mention the Kindle app on my phone.)

And I only have three weeks to decide what I’m doing for Camp. I should work on Onyx Sun or the Elven Bard novel.  But doing one thousand words for 31 different plot bunnies sounds like fun too.  And then there’s the werewolf thing that’s preying on the edges of my mind. It has some characters (without names) and a scene or two, but no real plot. Of course, I have 3 weeks to flesh it out. But I should work on Onyx Sun or the Elven Bard novel…

I hate being undecided.

Or, rather, I hate being decided on too many things – I want to write them all! Right now!

Sadly, I have to go to work.

Sixteen more shifts.

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Grapevine

This is probably going to be a non writing related blog post.  At least mostly.

I came home from work Friday night and was letting the dogs out and noticed that the majority of the grapevine on the back porch was gone. I asked my roommate what had happened to it and she said that our neighbor had cut down the dead part. I asked if she was aware that he had cut down living vines – vines with flowers that would turn into grapes. She said she hadn’t really looked at it.

Well, I got a better look at the damage Saturday morning and all I want to do is cry. It’s gone. All of it. What I saw still hanging on the rails the night before is just a handful of vines not attached to anything.

The neighbor came out while I had Riley out and said it will grow back. I finally got up enough nerve to go down to ground level (instead of looking from the porch) and it’s worse than I thought. There’s nothing there. Nothing. I can’t even see where the vine was. I don’t think there’s anything left to grow back.

I am heartbroken.

Heartsick.

And even if does grow back, it’s not going to be the same.  That lovely ancient twisted and gnarled trunk is gone forever. (This house was built in 1905. I don’t know when the vine was planted, but the original owner made wine from its grapes.)

I feel like I lost a friend.

So, yeah, it wasn’t a good weekend.

I have been invaded by a couple new plot bunnies though.  *sigh* I can’t keep up! I am doing pretty good at writing them on index cards but I think I’m going to need to get another flex binder (I’m pretty sure I don’t have one on my avalanche prone office supply shelves) and use it to keep outlines in.  I think this project may have outgrown any hopes of fitting in a traveler’s notebook.

Anyhow, one of the plot bunnies is a shifter story.  I have characters (with no name of course) but not much plot yet.

The other grew out of the grapevine butchering and is something that’s going to make me change some stuff in another novel (semi-finished – it needs to be expanded and edited) and create a whole new… not really a series but…

What do you call a bunch of loosely related books set in the same universe?

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Evolution of a Novel #1

So, on Friday I mentioned that I’d started outlining my project for November.  It’s a science fiction novel that’s been kicking around in my head for a lot of years (long before I’d even heard of NaNoWriMo).

It still doesn’t have a name but for now we’ll call it The Desert Planet. (The Word doc name is my usual ever-(not)-helpful “NaNoWriMo 2017 Outline.”)

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to explore where the idea came from and trace it from that one bit of inspiration through to the final project.

This novel started as a single scene that hit me as I walked out of an air conditioned building in downtown Pittsburgh and into a wall of city heat.

And that’s all the scene was – the main character walking out of an air conditioned building and into a wall of heat.

Then a second character came up to him. Said second character was supposed to be his guide on a rescue mission.

And for a long time that’s where the whole thing sat.

Throughout the years a couple more scenes got added inside my head, but nothing major was happening, just two characters traveling through the desert.

Then last Wednesday, years after the initial idea, it suddenly had a prologue, some background, and a plot twist. (What brought it to the forefront after all that time? Unseasonably hot weather that hit me when I stepped out of my much cooler house.)

So, I started outlining.

So far I have the prologue outlined, and the first two scenes.

Scene two used to be scene one, until I decided that there was too much telling (it was MMC1 reflecting on the mission briefing he’d just left) so I made the briefing scene one so I could show it instead.

Scene two is MMC1 meeting his guide for the mission – one of the planet’s natives.

It still doesn’t have a title, and none of the main characters have a name. One minor character does, but the main characters are MMC1, MMC2, and FMC. I also need names for the planet, the city, the natives, their tribes, and the enemy.

But, hey! I have over five months to name everything, right?

 

 

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Plot Twist

There’s a meme on Face Book that says something along the lines of “When life throws you a curve ball, yell ‘Plot Twist!’ and move on.”

Well, yesterday I got a plot twist.

I’m not entirely sure how it will play out yet. I’ll know more by the end of the month if not before, but for now let’s just say that my stress levels have about tripled.

So, anyhow…

I’ve been thrown off balance and am trying to regain my equilibrium. I’m sure I will and I’m sure it won’t take too long, but in the meantime I find myself in that weird author place where you’re not only caught up in an emotional whirlwind but you’re also outside it, observing the physical sensations.

And as another side effect, there’s also a line kicking around my head that wants (or maybe needs) to be worked into a novel. (Unfortunately, probably not any of the ones that I already have started.)

(Of course not. *sigh*)

Anyhow, I’ve written it down for future use.

In other news, I haven’t made much progress on any of my writing goals.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working on anything. Onyx Sun still needs more scenes added and I’ve started working on one to explain the relationship between Taliya and Soraine, which falls somewhere between friends and rivals, or maybe spans both. Soraine only has a couple brief appearances in the novel so far, but since she’s going to be getting her own book someday I thought maybe I should expand her a bit.  And this is a fun bit of writing because it showcases her rather wicked sense of humor. It’s also going to tie in nicely with a couple other scenes, which makes me super happy.

(By the way, I really need to use different paper for different things. I left to run errands on Wednesday and grabbed my shopping list from my keyboard shelf. When I headed into the store and opened it I discovered I’d grabbed my note about how the scene introducing Soraine ties into other scenes. Useful, but not what I really needed at that point in time.)

So, anyhow, life – and writing – go on.

Just not always in the expected directions.

 

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Time Sinks

You know what they are. They’re those black holes that you fall into and before you know it you’ve lost hours of your day.

A few of mine:

Pinterest. I’m pretty good at avoiding this one, but when I fall… I look at someone’s board, then go the board of someone that they pinned an image from, and from there I find other boards and other people and… Yeah. Half a day and forty boards later I come up for air, bleary eyed, wondering what year it is.

Jigzone.  I’ll admit it. (I may have already admitted it here.)  I am a jigsaw junkie. I have been known to skip meals while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. I have been known to ignore chocolate cake with peanut butter icing while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. I have foregone sleep while engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle.  I’m only semi successful at avoiding jigzone.

YouTube. *sigh* Let’s not go there.  No, I mean, really, let’s not go there. I’m currently addicted to all things Pentatonix.  And to Superfruit videos. And the comments on them. And the Moody Blues. And then I look up old songs that I used to like or wonder if they’re on YouTube.  And then I start looking at horse videos and videos of Boxers (dogs, not fighters).  I’m um… really not good at avoiding YouTube. I tell myself that I’ll use it as a reward, that I’ll watch one (just one!) video and then get back to work. And, yeah, one video becomes two hours and…

Yeah. FaceBook pales in comparison to those.

Then there are online games. I’m pretty good at avoiding them, mostly because I haven’t even thought about them recently. (Until now.  Thank you, me. Now I have to go find Alchemy and BookWorm and Hangaroo, and…)

No. Just no.  I am not going to go there, I’m just not.

 

 

 

 

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Camp Update — Sort Of

Week one of Camp NaNoWriMo is wrapping up and I’m feeling kind of “blah.” Editing for Camp isn’t nearly as much fun as writing for Camp so it’s kind of hard to work up any enthusiasm for it.

(Then again, editing isn’t nearly as much fun as writing even when it’s not for Camp.)

So, anyhow, I still have 150 some pages to enter changes to, and two additional scenes that are written but need to be inserted somewhere. And a ton of notes to work through. (No wonder I’ve been putting this project off!)

And, of course, the increasingly evil day job to contend with. I’m seriously about to beg for a steady night shift there.  I could take my laptop, put my current project on a thumb drive, and edit the heck out of stuff.

But since that’s unlikely to happen (plus, as mentioned before, I have trouble sleeping during daylight hours), it looks like I’m going to have to carry on as is for a while.

So far I’m hanging on with NaPoWriMo, too, thanks largely to my dogs (two poems about them) and the weather. (Spring weather in Pennsylvania is always good for poems – it’s totally unpredictable.) It is still early in the month, though, and subjects get harder to find near the end.

I even managed to enter Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Thread challenge yesterday. (And my first draft was only three words over the limit.)

Now if I could just get something written to submit to the Queer SciFi flash fiction contest with a deadline of the 10th… I’m trying, but I keep coming up empty, or with things that will require way more than 300 words.

I should go back to writing haikus.  They are great for teaching economy of words.

Of course, then I’d have to revert back to being wordy for novels.

Seems I can’t win…

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Families

Like them or not, we all have them.

And so do our characters.  After all, they don’t exist in a vacuum.  They had a life before the story (and hopefully they’ll have a life afterward too.) They have families of some sort, just like we do. And friends and rivals and…

And let’s just stick to families, okay?  They can have enough drama for multiple books.

Like it or not, our families helped form us into who we are.  We might break from them and their beliefs, but they are still there in the background.  Why should our characters be any different?

Answer: They shouldn’t.

Even if your characters’ families are never shown or mentioned or named in your book they’ve still had an impact on who your character is and why s/he is the way s/he is.

Some people are great at writing families and family relationships.  I’m… not one of them. Most of my characters seem to come from families that are dysfunctional at best and downright toxic at worst.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

In Onyx Sun (which I will finish the revision of sooner or later), Taliya’s mother tried to cheat her out of her rightful place as head of household, and sold Taliya’s lover to a slaver.  Growing up, Taliya always felt closer to her grandmother than to her mother – and to the father that she barely knew.

Sanguine is something of an exception, in that Gregor has a large, warm, loving, and closely knit, extended family (with one exception).

In Song and Sword:

Marlia’s family is dead but the manner of their deaths did a lot to shape who she was at the start of the story.

Dakkas’ father and half-brother want to kill him, so he grew up not really expecting to grow up.  It made him cautious and hesitant to trust.

Pashevel and his father don’t see eye to eye, but at least he’s not plotting his son’s death.  Pashevel’s mother is dead, and it was her banishment from the kingdom – along with his father’s somewhat cold attitude – that had the greatest effect on who he turned out to be.

Kashrya never knew her birth parents, but was raised by a shaman, who, while respected by the tribe, was never really a part of it, so she was also always an outsider.

And lastly, in The Academy of the Accord series:

Marsden is the oldest of a large family, and when their mother died after the birth of the youngest he pretty much took charge of raising the others.  He loves his family, but we only meet two of them. He still fills a “father” role much of the time.

Vinadi is the only child of wealthy parents, both of whom were wizards, and was never really close with his family. (We only meet an aunt and a couple uncles.)  He grew up isolated and lonely. His early wanderlust came from an unconscious desire to find “home” – which is also what led to his dream for the school.

Kordelm’s mother was a whore who kicked him out to fend for himself when he was just a child. He is resilient, street-smart, and independent.  Something of a loner growing up, now that he has friends he will give his life to protect them.

Wellhym’s father threw him out when he was ten years old and it was discovered that he didn’t like girls. Wel’s mother never said a word, but his older brothers did.  One of them later comes around and accepts him. The other… not so much.  His friends become his surrogate family, but he never really stops wishing things could have been different with his birth family.

Torlew’s father was more interested in money than in his children. As the youngest son, Tor grows up seeing how unhappy his older siblings are, and resolves to not fall into that same trap. We meet his family and it’s about as awkward as you’d expect. He has one free-spirited aunt, who we never meet, and a little sister that is following in her footsteps.

Caristen’s family is loud and boisterous, and except for one temper tantrum from his father, they are totally accepting and supportive of him and his friends. (Cair’s mother is a force to be reckoned with and his father should be glad she wasn’t holding a cast iron skillet when he was throwing his tantrum.)

Yhonshel never knew his birth parents. He saw his first foster family killed for no reason other than that the man wanted to.  It was eight years after that before he could form attachments to other people. (And then it was mostly because they didn’t give him a choice.)  It was because of his helplessness as a child that Yhonshel became very good at protecting people.

(No, I’m not going to go through the families of the other characters from later books. If I do this post will turn into a novel and there are enough of those in this series.)

Maybe on Friday I’ll talk more about families – the kind you find or create vs the kind you’re born into.

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Back In The… Oops!

So I finally got started writing again and was on a pretty good roll with the current Elven Bard novel yesterday morning – I added about 500 words or so, but then I had to go to work.

But I was on fire! Ready to dive back into it when I got home.

But then work happened.

It should have been a good night.  It wasn’t a shower night, it wasn’t blood sugar day, and I had two good aides. (Although there’d been a bit of weirdness between them the night before, but still, they were good aides and I figured we could muddle through another night before I talked to the bosses today.)

Ha!

Three hours into the shift, after yelling at the other aide (and yelling and swearing at me) one of them threw his i.d. badge about ten feet from the back room behind the nurse’s station onto my desk, and walked out.

So, yeah.  There went the “good night” at work.

And there went my writing time when I got home. I sort of needed to use 750words to destress from work.

I did manage to get some more editing of Book 8 of The Academy of the Accord series done, though, so that’s something at least.

And I’m hoping to dive back into writing after work tonight. (As long as nothing changes I have two very drama-free aides tonight and tomorrow.)

 

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It Takes Balls

So, I’d had a crazier than normal shift at the Evil Day Job, ending with a resident who was talking to someone no one else could see – probably one of the ghost children who roam the halls. (Seriously.  Several residents are plagued by them.)

But anyhow, I was talking to a friend about it on FB, and we had the following conversation:

DM: Maybe you need to take a stress ball to work with you.

Me: I’d probably bounce it off a few heads.

DM: *Snickers* Well, that DOES help with stress…

DM: One of those isoflex sand filled are stress things wouldn’t be so bad. You can’t bounce it off someone at least. Can still throw it but…

Me: I’d rather have something hard…

That led to a discussion of various types of balls and which ones hurt the most.  She reminded me about wiffle balls, but I settled on bowling balls as my weapon of choice. (They bounce!  Sort of.)

Anyhow, we went on to other things, like my sudden obsession with Pentatonix, and I commented that I needed a topic for a blog post.

DM: Talk about balls. That would be interestingly hilarious.

Our conversation cycled back to Pentatonix, then back to my lack of a blog topic.

DM: Hey I gave you a suggestion, you didn’t like the balls.

Me: My mind slipped into a different direction when you said that and I almost replied “It’s not that kind of a blog.”

DM: ROFL! My mind’s already down that gutter. Why do you think I said it like that?

Me: Well, it’s still not that kind of balls.

DM: *Snickers*

Don’t you mean blog?

Me: Balls, blog… at this point, they both start with a “B”

DM: Good point.

Me: Okay, balls it is.

And, that, dear reader, is why you are now reading a blog post about balls.  Blame it on Daelyn Morgana.

(And it’s still not that kind of blog.  Nor is this post about that kind of balls.)

Writing novels while working an Evil Day Job is a lot like juggling a bunch of balls. (Not that kind of balls!)

(Although, there are days…)

Anyhow, there are all the normal writerly balls: the writing ball, the plotting and outlining ball, the editing ball, the revising ball, the promoting ball (I drop that one a lot), the wrangling of plot bunnies ball, etc.

And then there are the normal non-writerly balls: the stuff to do around the house ball, the keeping up with the rest of the world ball, the errand running ball, the cooking and eating ball, the laundry ball, the pets ball, etc.

And then there are the EDJ balls: the getting dressed to go there ball (hey, I’m an introvert and a would be hermit – leaving the house just isn’t my thing, okay?), the dealing with people ball, the pulled in seventeen directions at once but still need to get tasks done on time ball (welcome to the wonderful world of nursing), the keep everyone alive and safe until the end of shift ball…

And then I come home and stare at my computer wishing I had the energy to juggle the writerly balls.

So, yeah, when they say it takes balls to be a writer, they don’t necessarily mean that kind of balls.

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Burning Out?

My “weekend” is Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday night at work (I work the 3 to 11 shift) I was all full of plans and energy to tackle the never shrinking “To Do” list. (It seems to hover around 45 items.)  I was going to start at the top of my list and just cross things off until I got to the bottom.

But that was Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning I woke up and all that energy was nowhere to be found.

Not too unusual, really.  My job can be stressful (I’m a nurse in a long term care facility) and my first day off usually is pretty much a waste; I’m tired, I’m sore, and I’m drained both emotionally and mentally.

So I spent most of Wednesday staring at my computer, poking at stuff on Face Book, trying to ignore the Word docs that I’d opened in the hopes of making myself do something useful, and doing way too many puzzles on Jig Zone.  (It’s “too many puzzles” when your hand and wrist hurt from using the mouse and your eyes can no longer distinguish subtle differences in color, such as between brown and blue.)

Ah, well.  Thursday is a new day, right?

Thursday was only slightly more productive than Wednesday.  I got the rat cage cleaned and its shelves washed, cleaned the bathtub, and took out a bag of garbage. I also started looking for recipes for dog treats and got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them, so that project got put on hold.

And my other projects? They never got started.

I have a goal to add 9000 words to the sequel to Song and Sword this month and I never even opened that Word doc.

For one thing, I’m at a scene where I’m kind of stuck and am having trouble working through it.  I’m not sure where it’s going and it’s kind of… dull.  (Which means it will be dull and boring for a reader, too, so I need to either cut it or spice it up, but I’m not sure which so it’s going to stay until I find out what happens in it (it’s not in the outline) and then go for there because something important might be lurking in it.

But meantime, I still have to get through it.  (I think it might be time to go to Write or Die to plow through this bit because I really want to have this finished before November.)

I think maybe I’m burned out, both at work and at writing.  The problem is, taking time out from writing is counter-productive: it doesn’t refresh me, it just makes it harder to get started again.

So maybe it’s time to take a break from this particular project and go work on something else for a bit so I can come back to it with a fresh mindset. I won’t be making progress on the Elven Bard novel (but then, how much progress am I making when I am so resistant to working on it?) but at least I’ll be writing something.

But what to work on…?

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