[sticky post]List of Written Things
eilonwy77

Apparently people keep lists of things they write.  Will be updated over time with more time.

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eilonwy77
I finished my first long beta project. It was for rawks and you can see it here:

http://archiveofourown.org/works/9790925

It's very smutty and hot and funny and fun. It's A/M/G, which I didn't think I would like, but I did. I guess once I start breaking through all my squeamish reactions to sex, which I've done a lot since starting the whole reading fanfic hobby, it's easier to enjoy new things that younger me would have balked at.

Betaing was fun for a couple reasons.

1. I got to know a lot more about the author and have all sorts of fun conversations and become friends. That was lovely.

2. I got to consult my best friend Google all the time. I have an unreasonable love of finding out answers to questions. And grammar can be such nerdy fun. It also taught me some things to remember for writing in the future.

3. I read a great story that I might not have read otherwise, thinking that perhaps it wasn't my thing.

The only downside was that it enabled me to procrastinate my own writing. I do love to procrastinate writing.

Why would that be, if I say that I like writing and want to do it? I can think of one major reason, and it is just the attack of the critical editor voice that says that it all sucks. Actually, there's a new offshoot to the critical editor voice, a wicked stepchild of sorts. I've been trying to write more of what I would fantasize about, and the voice likes to tell me bad things about that, that it's wrong somehow, or too indulgent; that it won't make for a good story; that readers would complain that it was done just for emotional manipulation or some such thing. (Just the fact that I will admit to this in writing is a good step forwards.)

What are ways I try to trick myself into writing and not feeling the pain of the editor voice?

1. Try to write fast and say it is supposed to be a crappy first draft.

2. Bribe myself, e.g, let myself chat if I finish 1000 words the day before.

3. This was new today: instead of writing out the actual scene, I'm writing all about it, and giving myself permission to think right in the draft. It's actually doing a great job of helping me enjoy just finding out what is going to happen without the critical voice. And there is enough detail that it won't be hard to rewrite it as actual narrative. Hopefully!

Since I can procrastinate horribly by planning, I'm thinking I would need 2k words a day when doing this, because there's a lot of thinking and it's not actual text. But it is working better than when I just plan randomly outside of the structure of the text. The scenes are labeled in their own separate scrivener file, and I can write as much about it as I want, and then jump to a different one….

Well, that's my new experiment. I did it some in the past, but that time I felt more confident of how things were going to go, so it wasn't as needed.

I've also been mentioning characters or places or whatever, and then just saying in parentheses “insert description here”. I'm pretty bad with including it the first time through, and actually writing the note tells the critical editor voice to fuck off, essentially, because it'll come later and I am not forgetting it and I do not suck, thank you very much.

Perhaps I do, but the critical editor voice doesn't get to tell me that!

I'm kind of impressed by people who can write a story chapter by chapter and post as they go. I kind of have to work on the whole thing at the same time. Something gets added to the middle or end, and all the rest of it has to change to accommodate.

Anyway, writing this constitutes procrastination. So here I go! I think I'm running out of time to get that story done. Yikes!


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eilonwy77
Oh! I went back to writing cute, and it was so easy and delightful. Maybe that's just how it's going to be. Maybe I need to rework the reverse story as something cute. That might be the answer. I bet you could work angst-y whump-y stuff into something cute, right? That'll be me, the cutest character-torturer ever. :-)


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eilonwy77
Just thinking….

I'm feeling mopey, so I'm going to talk myself out of it. Feel free not to listen. :-)

I'm having a frustrating time with this story, probably because it's for someone and so I want it to be my best effort. But that's so paralyzing. I need to get back in the mindset that crap is OK in a draft. I need to just spit out stupid scenes. I can always delete them later. But actually doing the narrative brings in all sorts of details and ideas that never come when I'm planning. Then I can rewrite it to make all the new ideas consistent.

I did get over 1000 words today, because rawks made me do it. Thanks rawks! As I go I realize there is almost no description, that the whole setting is very much a whole lot of nothing. I have to tell myself to not worry about it, to just keep going, and come back later.

The whole beginning that got written could very likely be scrapped. But a few of the ideas that occurred while writing it might be quite valuable. It's just hard to think that those were all wasted words.

I've been very anxious lately. I guess I always am, but it's worse now that I'm trying to talk to people. I keep feeling like I say the wrong thing. I go to my psychiatrist tomorrow, just for a maintenance appointment. I've been on medicine for depression for years and always will be. Generally it's fine. But maybe I should mention the anxiety too. I'll probably be too anxious to mention it, lol. Maybe it should be a counseling thing. I haven't done that in eight years. When I was pregnant with kid #2, I was severely depressed and tried the counseling. That was the time when the only thing that could make me feel even half-way OK was writing. But the depression was all hormonal. The day I had that baby, everything was fine again.

My daughter is going to counseling for anxiety now. I go in with her and learn the techniques. I could try them more than I have. Our insurance deductible is really high, so it's kind of expensive. Hmm.

Something is just strange in my head lately. Maybe trying to talk to people. It's really making my emotions go haywire. I'll get so happy and then so anxious and then so sad. Maybe I was meant to be a hermit. :-) Not that I haven't had f plenty of riends. But in the end I'd usually rather just go read a book or something.

I've generally liked meeting people on the internet, because they can have the same nerdy interests. I met people talking about ballet and space weather and LEGO and parenting and blogging. The people I meet in the real world tend to not have the same weird interests. Not that they're not also wonderful and full of things to talk about.

When I was working as a teacher I'd be tense and anxious, constantly on alert that something would go wrong or I want doing it well enough. I wonder how much of the happiness I have being a stay-home mom is from the reduction in anxiety? I'm not the kind of person to worry that my kids won't turn out, so it's pretty anxiety free.

Something about taking to people now is strange. It's very distracting from reading and writing. My head gets filled up with thoughts from conversations, and then just wants more conversation. It'd be better if I could chat a short while and forget about it.

It all seems strange. I guess it's the excitement of taking to new people after not having done so for a long time?


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Thinking about stories
eilonwy77
I think about things all the time. I used to write them down more, years ago. There's that song by 21 Pilots that goes “I've been thinking too much, help me”. That's so true. My husband doesn't understand how someone can think too much. His brain is a really different sort of place then mine is.

Anyway, these are thoughts, and don't feel like you have to read them…!


I've been thinking about story lines. In the past, maybe eight years ago, I started writing some kids’ books, but never really knew where to go after the first third of the story. I think there were a couple of things going on there (including a lack of deadlines and a lack of confidence). But there is also the part where making decisions is hard. When you decide one thing, it eliminates many other things (can we call it a sort of opportunity cost?) and what if it's not the best decision?

So there's the paralysis of not wanting to settle on a decision because that particular decision might not be great. If there are no deadlines, I could just wallow in a sea of indecision indefinitely. A deadline forces me to make a decision (or 200) and not have the time to freak out about how that decision could have been so much better if I had just chosen differently.

I have completed one long story in my life, and I'm still surprised that it managed to get to an end. The original idea came when I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night (I think the baby was in the mood for endless milk). The idea was actually really simple, and I thought the story would be really short, maybe a couple thousand words. But it kept growing and complicating itself along the way. But it helped that at least I knew where it should have been going. There was an ending to aim for.

Now I'm thinking of how I want the story for the reverse fest will go. Truly, I already know what I want. But the deadline is far away, so it's easy to find fault with those ideas.

What I want is rather simple and trope-y and has been done a zillion times before. I know it has, because I've read a zillion stories before. But I want the story to do all my favorite things that a Merlin story should do.

But then I hear ideas from other people, or learn the picture is inspired by a movie, and then I start thinking it needs to be more complicated. Then the little critical voice in my head says, “you need to try to think of something different, something non-trope-y, something clever and not over-done".

But no. That way lies madness. It really does. The critical voice is not a good guide. Probably Kilgharrah-esque levels of bad guidance.

For the long story I finished, the idea was simple. Along the way details and complications naturally came and added to the story. I need to convince myself that that will happen again, that I can start with a simple idea and along the way enough details and complications will arise to hold the story together and make it interesting.

When I start trying to make a whole complicated story world before ever starting to write, I get lost and can't do it. And it doesn't seem fun. So I'm going to go with what seems fun. This isn't fancy literature or anything. It's for fun.

Of course, by writing the kind of story that you love, it kind of bares your soul and lets everybody know that it's what you like, which seems revealing in an uncomfortable way. Now, even things like bookmarking a story on a public website is a clue to what someone likes, but it wouldn't be quite as revealing as actually writing something.

I've written some things that, oh wow, they excite me, but do I really want someone else to know that that is the case? Kind of? Maybe?

Like the whole concept of beating up on favorite characters. Why on earth is that so delightful? Can you imagine having a conversation with your mom or grandma or someone, and saying “oh, yes, I am so thrilled when they did this and this and this awful thing to the character…. Mutilation? Starvation? Emotional pain? Torture? Sexual abuse? Bring it on!”

I spend time thinking about why those kinds of things would be exciting to read about anyway? I imagine it has to do with identifying with the character, and then perhaps they get rescued and it gives the other characters the chance to express their love/concern? And if you identify with the character, you experience that emotion vicariously?

I certainly am not thrilled with the stories that don't have the other character(s) to care for the one who is hurting. A fic where it all goes wrong with no good at all, no one to save the unlucky protagonist, isn't nice really.

So I guess I think I like it because I identify with the character who then gets love and attention, who is special, etc. But to admit that you like that is then a kind of admission that you want love and attention and want to be special.

Now why would that be such an embarrassing thing? Isn't that all part of human nature? Hmm.

Anyway……..

Back to the story plans. I really want it to be a simple plot and then just beat up on my character a lot. Now, you'd have to be careful to make it not seem like you're beating up on the character just for the sake of beating up on the character. It would have to fit into the frame of the story realistically, or it would lose its emotional impact. (Ha ha, look at me daydreaming about writing something with an emotional impact.)

I really think it would be a balancing act to get right. Some stories are less interesting to me because there's not enough attempt for emotional reactions. And some stories try too hard and it's unrealistic, so it doesn't work too well.

I wonder how you learn to figure out the right balance? Practice and feedback, I suppose. But—

I've been pleasantly surprised to find out that I actually like reading what I've written. Before I tried writing I didn't think that would necessarily be the case. Lots of times when I read stories I love, I think, “I could never write this.” Which is true. I couldn't have written that particular story. But it would be faulty logic to go on and say that I only love stories that I wouldn't be able to write. I can also love stories that I do manage to write. Isn't that why I started writing? Because I was frustrated that the stories almost never quite went the way I wanted them to go? Because everyone had different things that excite them, so if you want a story with just what you like, why not write it yourself?

So. I think it's a matter of not worrying about making the story sophisticated or thought-provoking or anything like that. I think it's a matter of writing something that when I read it, I enjoy it. Fill out up with wish fulfillment, fantasies, etc. The worst part will be that people could read it and know what those fantasies are. It's like being naked. But is there anything actually horrible about being naked?

I guess people could see your flaws and make comments. But anything worse? Probably not?

It's probably going to be a big emotional battle between the different parts of me, the embarrassed parts, the excited parts, the longing for love and attention parts. It might be interesting to see how it goes.

One other problem with starting to write stories for a fandom that is older and already has a zillion stories written in it…. There are lots of lovely basic plotlines that have been thoroughly written. But maybe I still want to write them, because I haven't yet? As a reader I love to go back to some of the old classics, the good old-fashioned beat-up-on-the-favorite-character stories. They're often simple, not complex or thought-provoking. Just straight fun (if torture and pain and calamity can be fun).

So this is all a big pep talk to tell myself to not care what anybody what thinks. Of course, I have an artist to consider, but she's already said I can go with what I want to. And somehow I suspect that one I get going, it won't turn out as simple as I thought. I mean, look at this blog post…. I think too much, and it shows.

So tonight! Writing! Self-indulgent, make myself happy, not care about what anybody else thinks writing!

Unless I just go to sleep. Ah, sleep!



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eilonwy77
I keep writing entries for this place in my writing program, and then I get anxious and don't post it. Which is silly.

I've been trying to meet people online, and it's fun but also anxiety-producing. I think I'll say something wrong, or intrude, or who knows what, and then feel yucky about it.

There are lots of writing activities with deadlines. I never realized how in love with deadlines I am. If I didn't have a deadline, I'd never write anything, because I'd spend all my time thinking about how badly it sucked. But by committing to something I'm free to tell myself that I have to do it, and I should just suck it up and move on.

I don't remember feeling this uncertain when I was trying to make LEGO friends. But I had so much success so early that it bolstered my confidence, probably. Though after awhile I'd worry about living up to my reputation, or about being repetitive, or what have you.

I tried writing something uncomfortable today. With almost-sex and bad words and stuff. I'm kind of pleased, but also think that I don't know enough about that stuff to do a good job of it. And there's still the tiny voice in my head that says "this is wrong! Don't do it!" But I want to. So take that, sanctimonious voice in my head.

I'm surprised by all the anxiety. Huh. I guess that's what happens when I stop hiding out as a voracious fanfic-worm. I wonder if I should do something about it. I'll give it some time. New things turn into old comfortable things sooner or later.


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eilonwy77
I got my first tepid comment on a story. It wasn't even all bad, really. Just a bit negative. And it was from a guest kind of person I can't reply to. Which is probably just as well, because I'd probably be defensive, because I'm good at that.

A few days ago I got really hurt by people being mean on Facebook. So I think that silly sensitive side is still over-reactive. Which is ridiculous. It even had positive parts. And it was valid. I mean, I could see why the person thought that. Though lots of other people read it and liked that part. (Apparently A and M insulted each other too much and it was hard to read. But that seems pretty much canon to me?)

Anyway, it's a rite of passage, right? I just hope no one ever busts out a flaming bad one.


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Rambling on
eilonwy77
I'm going to ramble on a lot because there are lots of words begging to get out of me. But please don't feel compelled to read it, just because you've had the misfortune of clicking to this page. :-)

The kids had school cancelled again today. That makes 7 cancellations, 5 two-hour delays, 11 vacation days, and an early release since December 9. So they've had, in six weeks, six regular days of school, and one of those was an early-release Wednesday. That's one normal day per week for the last six weeks.

So I haven't been in the flow for writing, and I think it might have some relation to the lack of school. This has been a most delightfully exciting winter, and I love it, but it also gives us cabin fever and cranky children who would much rather whine at you than let you run off and dream of plot lines.

But the snow! And the cold! The drifts, and the ice storms! Wow. I must have some strange weather gene, because this is taking up such a huge part of my mental space. Other people freak out about presidential elections or what have you, and I just fixate on the weather.

But it's like a story I read with Merlin as winter…. He caused people to die, but he was just nature. Not evil, really. The drama of nature is something I can handle. The drama of fiction is generally OK. But the negative drama of the real world kills me, so I tend to pretend it's not there. Because there's not much to do about it and it makes all my life miserable.

I prefer just following local news. There's good, there's bad, but it's all on a scale that can be processed. I think about how people a few decades ago didn't have to deal with all the tragedy of the world constantly being thrust into their attention all the time…

I want to write down thoughts in a place where no one from my real life sees…. But I want the illusion of talking to someone. But I also don't want anyone to feel obligated to read it. So I’m going to post here for awhile, instead of my real blog…. Just to say things that maybe would be harder to say.

Not that I'm at all anonymous. I've always wanted to make a point of being myself on the internet and not hiding who I am. But sometimes lately I think that a bad idea, because I find myself interested in things other people might not find acceptable.

And see, here I just stopped myself from writing down an internal conversation, because it's not anonymous enough. I'd change my name, but I also want to be known as me to people I know. I'm so torn.

I've been trying out Tumblr for a few weeks now. My first knowledge of Tumblr was years ago, when I'd look at my Flickr stats and see referrals from Tumblr. People were posting my LEGO photos to Tumblr without telling me, and some of them would be decently popular. I always wished they'd told me. I know that I set up the licensing to allow non-profit uses, but it'd still be polite to say, “Hey, I thought your design was cool, so I posted it to Tumblr and you can find it here”. But no one does that. Not usually for articles either…. Like I found one recently in wired.com about coolest LEGO builders or something. That's a pretty sweet recognition, actually. But no one tells you about it.

Anyway, I saw a post on Tumblr about people stealing art, posting others’ art without permission, and how it causes some people legal trouble. I certainly don't have legal trouble, but I felt sympathetic anyway.

Something else strange about Tumblr is that it seems to blur the lines between a TV show and the actors who were in it. I've always felt very uncomfortable prying into an actor's life; it's none of my business. I like to think it's the character I love, not the actor playing that character. But on Tumblr you see a post with photos from the show…then photos from behind-the-scenes…then photos from photo shoots and then you're on to photos of the person in public, nothing to do with the show at all, and I suddenly feel like a stalker. Ever since I was little and fell in love with st:tng, I felt really strongly that just because you liked a character, it didn't mean that you should like the actor playing that character, or that you had any right to try to know more about them, or what have you. But Tumblr makes it easy and tempting, and I feel irritated after the fact.

It's also a way to use up a lot of time that could probably be spent doing other stuff. And I don't really understand how people talk to each other. I guess you add comments on a post, if you want? Is this where I show my old age? I still have a baby. I can't be that old. :-)

So I've started writing two stories that are not cute and not adorable and it's so hard. I love reading about hurt/comfort and emotional pain and all that, but when I try to write it, it feels so self-indulgent, somehow. I want to, though. If I am going to write for the enjoyment of it, and not for the goal of being clever, I really should learn to write things I like to read.

Maybe it's hard because it exposes some inner part of myself that I would rather other people not know about? Probably. Growing up, if my sister got sick or hurt, I'd get jealous. She'd get attention, and there's just all that romance about being sick. But I knew that was wrong, that I should be happy to be healthy (and I was really healthy). But when you are sick or injured, you do get attention. And in the stories people write, you can get love and all sorts of other amazing things.

It's totally indulgent. But people like to read it. Fiction doesn't have to be about the way you are in real life…. It's often great because it's completely not about your real life.

When I was little I thought of stories in my head all the time, but would never write them down or tell my mom about them when she asked, because they were totally self-indulgent, and therefore embarrassing. But I imagine lots of writers wouldn't let a little thing like embarrassment slow them down, right? I love the stories that pack that emotional punch, so why wouldn't it be OK for me to write them, too?

Time to return to talk life… I had an hour away from the kids, because my husband rocks. I usually take a bath, turn on the bubbles so that it's loud and I can't hear any children crying/whining/fighting/yelling, and write on my phone. The jet bubbles are much more useful for the illusion of being elsewhere than they are for any actual massaging purposes.

Of course, my phone tends to make horrible mistakes when I'm typing. Hopefully there aren't too many!

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eilonwy77
Writing is like driving a car on ice. It's really hard to get it going, but once you're going it's really hard to stop.

Which makes it hard when real life interrupts frequently, which it often does.

One of these days this insane winter will go away, and all my metaphors (and scenes in stories) won't be about snow...


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warning: this post contains words
eilonwy77
This is going to be the place to think about writing. I have lots of thoughts about writing and nowhere much to express them. Though first I just want to complain that it's six below zero (F), feels like -16F, with over a foot of snow on the ground and sometimes I really wish I could hibernate for the winter!

1. Where do people talk about writing?

With LEGO, there's a ton of discussion about building techniques, people's work, conventions, etc. Flickr seemed to have really good mechanisms for facilitating discussion. Plus there were lots of blogs, including one main one, that really worked to facilitate discussion and information spreading.

In contrast, if you post something to ao3 (or worse, ff.net), all you can do is leave a comment on a work. But other people wouldn't be notified of conversations about something... and it would be so hard to find any conversation that is more than, "hey, nice job with (x)". There is no notification if other people comment and have insightful things that you might want to go back and read. So then you'd have to go back to every chapter of every work you've ever read looking?

Maybe I'm just looking a the LEGO community through rose-colored glasses.

LEGO is probably easier in some ways, too, because it is a completely visual medium, so it doesn't take long to look at someone's work. It won't take you days, like a long story would. There are also a lot more people interested in LEGO than in a small niche like Merlin fanfic. So there are more people everywhere, all wanting to talk and chat....


2. How to complete a story...

So, several years back I started multiple kids' stories, and then after awhile they trailed off into nothingness. There's a huge battle of "I can do this" vs. "This sucks", and eventually the "this sucks" wins out.

The only stories I've finished in my life are stories that had a deadline. Now I want to write something with no deadline, and it's so easy to just wallow in the joy of new ideas and not do the work to actually get them into a finished state.

It is better for me to finish a story completely before posting it, because as I write, I have to go back and change so many things to keep the story consistent.

I was talking to an author at ao3, who is posting a story chapter by chapter. She (I assume it is a she based on certain comments, but I could be wrong) says she has to post it chapter by chapter, before she's finished it, or she'll never finish. If she had to wait until it was all done, she'd get about three chapters in and then obsessively fret over it forever, trying for perfection.

I felt confident in reading her story, because it was part of a series and the first two installments were finished and awesome. I didn't worry about whether it would ever get finished or not. As a reader, you take a gamble when you read something that hasn't been finished being written yet. It might not ever get finished. I remember years ago when I first discovered fanfic, there was a Star Trek: TNG story, and I was in love with it, and it ended after two chapters. Completely unfinished. I felt so betrayed... how can anyone post something that isn't finished? How is that allowed?

But if you don't follow along with each chapter as it is written, you lose the chance to help encourage the writer. Which can feel good in its own way.

As a writer, it might be nice to post as you write it, before it's finished. You would get feedback, potentially, as you went, which would encourage you to keep going. As the author I was talking to said, it makes her finish the story, because she knows people are reading it. It's not the same as a deadline, but there is that sense of needing to get it done hanging over you.

For sheer purposes of getting attention, it'd be better to post chapter by chapter too. Because then your story would re-appear at the top of the new stories list, and people who may have missed it would see it.

Some people write the whole thing, and then post a chapter once or twice a week. As a reader, I appreciate this because I know that the story has been finished, and I won't be left hanging. There is also a better chance of there being a cohesive plot, with a build-up and climax. Some stories posted serially just go on and on and on and on, and it's hard to be left waiting for a climax that might not ever come. There are many stories I've started reading, have left kudos on, and then slowly drifted away from, because they seemed to never go anywhere. (Probably a lot like this post!)

So the author I was talking to wondered about a way on ao3 to post stories so that just certain people can see them. Then you can show your friends and get feedback and be held accountable to actually finishing something, but would still have the freedom to go back and completely re-write sections. Her first thought was to just post it publically, with the caveat that it was in-progress and might be completely redone. And then only people who liked that sort of thing would read it. But I think that might not work so well.... you would really want it to be your best work, right? If the random guy from across the net came and saw your so-so product, why would he want to come back?

I suppose that's what beta readers are for. But I also wondered if you could make an ao3 collection, which could be unrevealed. Then I think anyone who was a mod would be able to access works, and other people couldn't. Then you could read and comment and hold yourself accountable. And not just play games on your iPhone all day.

We might do it. I suppose I should make sure of the proper pronoun for any partners in crime... he/she/it?

?

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