Shut up and write

Shut up and write

I’ve been debating for awhile now about whether I should use this blog to talk about the book I’m trying to write. I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on one, but I haven’t gone into details about it. Today, I made the decision that I will not be blogging about the book on here until it’s finally done (which right now feels like ‘never’) – instead, I’m going to shut up and write. I read a great post on the New York Times website by Mark Slouka called Don’t Ask What I’m Writing in which he brings up the dual nature of writing and talking about it with other people: I hate being asked what I’m writing about, or how it’s going, because when I talk about it, it all sounds stupid and improbable; but I also hate not being asked because I want to hear that I’m not just wasting my time writing nonsense. So far, I’ve erred on the side of, ‘tell me I’m not wasting my time/life’, and gave a mostly done draft of the book to some friends, who all gave me feedback, which I then tried to incorporate into the unfinished book. This was a really terrible idea. The feedback was mostly positive, and most people want me to hurry up and finish so they can find out what happens – but you know, so do I, and trying to incorporate feedback into an unfinished story is making hard to go forward. My poor little ego liked the praise, but actually doing the work is harder now that I am trying to crowd please by taking into account criticism I asked for – much of which is actually pretty spot-on for the chunk of the book that exists. Add in the inner critic (made up of equal parts of bully and helicopter parent)and hardly a new word has been written in months. What have I done to try and work my way out of the black hole that is the blank page? I talked about the book. Repeatedly. To several people. Yeah, I’m a genius. Mr. Slouka points out that we writer types are always making openings to talk about the work. We say things out loud, apropos of nothing, like: “The work went really well today! I think I’ve got that plot problem licked.” And woe to the person who hears this. They will respond, mostly out of politeness, and that’s all the opening we need to talk about the work. And we’ll talk about it ad nauseum, essentially working out our neurosis with a captive audience while scanning them for signs of liking, or not liking, a particular thing – which we’ll then...

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Success – let the feedback begin!

Success – let the feedback begin!

Success! All the issues around commenting and posting have been fixed – let the feedback (and floods of spam trying to sell me shoes and prescription drugs) begin! Thank you, so much, to the awesome team at Sparkjoy Studios who not only built my lovely site, but willingly spent hours looking into the issues and trying out various solutions – and who were more curious about why the issues were happening than they were frustrated. They all have so much more patience than I do – and they know WordPress and it’s little plugin quirks far better than I ever will. Now I will be able to spend more time checking to see if anyone wrote comments about the things I did write, rather than writing new things! I’m mostly kidding about that last part… Credit: Image by Laney Griner, and obtained via Know Your Meme.  ...

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Story ideas and the question every writer dreads

Story ideas and the question every writer dreads

I recently read an interesting post on The Writers’ Room regarding where story ideas come from – and where a person might look for ideas to spark something creative.  I’ve always thought this is a pretty interesting question, even though it seems to be the bane of every published writer doing a public appearance. Still, it’s not a bad question, really – it’s just hard to fully answer, and the asker often won’t like the answer. Let’s start with the question itself. I didn’t always know where story ideas came from. I used to think there was a magic well of ideas, or a large idea cloud in the ether that only the most talented of people could access. I thought perhaps you had to be specially marked in some way by the God of Creative Endeavours, or that you had to have a muse you made regular offerings to in order to be furnished with interesting ideas to write down. I thought that being a Real Writer meant having access to Grand Ideas that the rest of us mere mortals weren’t allowed to access to. I’ve learned otherwise since then.  Now I know that when writers at readings look annoyed with the inevitable “Where do you get your ideas?” question (and someone always asks), it’s not because it’s a big secret. They didn’t swear an oath on pain of death to not tell non-writers about the big Idea Library under the city – they’re annoyed because the only answer is, as Neil Gaiman says, “I make them up, out of my head.” And the question asker is looking for something more concrete. They want that Idea Library to be real. They want to know how much a membership is. They assume that once they are furnished with a Grand Idea that a well-written story will flow like water – and that some measure of fame and accolades and money will follow shortly thereafter. But, this isn’t how it works. Louisa from The Writers’ Room sensibly points out that ideas can come from nearly anywhere – and that’s true. She found inspiration from a news clipping about her family. I’ve found inspiration in a picture of a tomato on the Internet. We both found things that caught our attention and interest, and then we asked questions. In Louisa’s case she might have wondered, “What was it like for my Grandmother to find out her brother had died?” and “What happened afterward – how did they go on?” I looked at a picture of a  lumpy tomato in a blog post entitled “Nightmare tomato from our nightmare garden” and asked myself, “I wonder what else would grow in a nightmare garden?” and...

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Feedback? Yes please!

Feedback? Yes please!

Just as soon as we get this WP domain mapping issue figured out. This site is new, and my other website, rambleicious.ca is now linked in the back end through WordPress’s multi-site function – but the multi-site/domain mapping appears to be causing issues! When my sites are not mapped to my domain names – everything works beautifully. But as soon as we map them…no comments, I can’t see anything I’ve posted for an hour after I’ve posted it, and the WP dashboard disappears when I preview my site, and the issues may or may not also be linked to my user names as other admins are able to sometimes not have these issues. I also can’t seem to change one of my user email addresses because the one I want to use is apparently “already in use” – even though it isn’t. We’re not sure why any of this is happening yet. Until this gets sorted out, I encourage all readers to send feedback and  comments via my “contact” page which is working just fine, and I will post all comments, and my replies, on the site when everything is working like it should. At this point, I’m sort of thinking “nuke it from orbit”, but that’s just my annoyance talking. If any of you lovely readers are more savvy about WP issues than I am, I’d really, really love to hear from you. Seriously – I will make you a little monster and mail it to your house with a thank you note. Credit: Pinkie Pie Puzzled by Mysticalpha on...

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Monsters – not just for stories

Monsters – not just for stories

Sometimes they are for crocheting little desk friends and toys for people’s adorable nephews. I’ve found mulling over story/novel things while making monsters to be a great way of not over-thinking the writing while doing something productive and fun. Besides, when you’re done, you have friendly little monsters to stare at you with their button eyes and keep you on task (and off YouTube where you’ll only end up watching videos of corgis barking at spoons anyway). And they make pretty great gifts for other people who might need a friendly monster eye watching out for them. If you’d like to crochet your very own monsters, I can highly recommend Crafty is Cool’s tutorial on the basic monster. Starting the monster can be the hardest part (though very easy once you’ve learned how). Tracey Aiena’s video on how to make a magic circle (aka “ring” or “loop”) is a good place to start. What about supplies for making monsters? I’ve been using the following: Red Heart Super Saver Economy Yarn Size 4.5 mm crochet hook Random buttons from purchased at Walmart and Button Button (for those in Vancouver, BC) A tapestry needle (or similar) to sew up loose monster ends Regular needle and thread for button eyes Polyfill (or the more eco-friendly, corn-based fill, Innergreen) I’ve got reasonably quick at these now, so I can make one up in an evening (or over the course of 9 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist) if I stay focused. Monsters everywhere! In print, on your desk, menacing your husband while he plays video games, hanging out with your lunch in your work bag, guarding your snacks (or eating them when you’re not looking)…endless...

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