I’ve been struggling all week with the second story in my Patreon project series. The first draft of the story didn’t make much sense so I had to rewrite two of the middle scenes. I outlined a solution, I even wrote out the scenes, but I was very unhappy with it and I didn’t know why. Yesterday morning, I realized what the problem is. The story now makes sense, but it’s yet another story where a queer character (in this case, a young lesbian) gets screwed over by life.
But… but… I wanted this story to have a happy ending.
People who know me know that I tend to gravitate toward horror and gritty realism. I love film noir. I hate the American cliche of happy endings to everything. I don’t think that life is full of happy endings and I don’t want my fiction to be full of happy endings either.
This tends to butt heads with the facts that I write fiction with LGBTQ+ characters and that living as a queer person in this country is hard enough without all of your fiction being a huge bummer. I don’t want my characters to always have happy endings, because that isn’t realistic. But I don’t want my characters to always have tragic endings, because I primarily write LGBTQ+ characters and there is enough tragedy in queer life already. So I struggle, and sometimes I wish I was a straight person writing generic straight fiction who didn’t have to think about all these things.
In good news, in the draft I wrote this morning, I think I’ve finally managed to strike the tone I wanted.
Sometimes I feel like I’m doing this writing thing backwards. Right now, I’m reading through the short stories I’ve drafted and I’m creating outlines for them.
But don’t you outline first, you ask? For a novel, yes. It just has too many moving parts and if I purely try to discovery write, I will get lost in the weeds and bogged down. But with short stories, I usually just have the idea that I want to do, the character that I want to explore, and run with it. That’s why short stories are fun for me.
Maybe the reason I love short stories is that I’m an outliner by necessity for novels, but in my heart I’m a discovery writer. I tried outlining with short stories, but I discover so much about my characters as I’m writing them, which invariably changes the outline because their decisions have to make sense for them. And there’s a lot less room to get lost in a short story. A couple characters, a single or at most two desires… I can keep all the moving parts in mind at once.
But this means my first draft of short stories tend to meander. And so revision is mostly tightening them up, centering them on the desire and what they need to do to get there and what is or is not getting met. This is particularly true of the story I’m revising right now for my Patreon project. It’s a lovely atmospheric bit of writing… but it doesn’t do what short stories need to do. As I’m reading it and outlining it, I realize I’m going to have to entirely gut and redo the middle.
Such is the writer life.
I’ve started getting up at 7 a.m. and since I leave for work at 8:20 a.m. that gives me an hour, more or less, to do writing at my computer in the mornings.
Writing in my notebook is never a problem. The notebook is always there, waiting for me to enjoy the delightful feeling of a good pen on smooth paper, the joy of creating stories. The problem has been moving things from the notebook into Scrivener. I spend all day at work on a computer, writing, so when I come home the last thing I want to do is have more screen time. This was less of a problem in my previous job because my computer time wasn’t so intense.
But now it’s a problem. So I need a solution. This is the one I’ve come up with. I thought that getting up earlier would be onerous, but with the nighttime routine and sleep schedule my therapist and I have worked out, it’s actually very doable. Even if I now get ready for bed at 10 p.m. like some kind of… adult… or… something.
I’m going to start doing progress updates again. I think I will move those to either Saturday or Sunday. Friday is a good day to balance out with a Monday weekly update, but since I have axed that in favor of “substantive” updates whenever I want or don’t want, I can do my progress updates on whatever day I want (woo!) and I tend to have more time on Saturday or Sunday mornings because I’m lucky to sleep in until 8 a.m. and if I’m doing Things they don’t usually start until later.
I guess what I’m saying is “hiatus over!”
… you leave your writing notebook at work (which of course has your newest horrible poem in it that you really wanted to enter into Scrivener) and then accidentally have a non-soy latte and are ill and then the notebook is going to be at work all weekend.
If you’re a writer but you’re not writing now (or updating your writing blog, for that matter) are you still a writer?
I’m pretty sure that the answer is yes.
I’m no longer as fatalistic about this break as I was a few weeks ago. I’m definitely still a writer. Even though I’m not writing fiction or updating my writing blog, I’m still reading and journaling and updating my queer blog. And I haven’t given up writing for good.
I’m just recharging the battery, renewing the well, whatever the proper term is for recovering from rejection fatigue. I still love writing and creating stories.
But if I do it, I’m going to have to market it, because that’s just how I am. And I really don’t care for more rejection right now. So here I am: a writer who isn’t writing, just waiting for the energy to come back. It will be back, sooner or later. It always comes back.
I’ve come to realize that I just want to write things that I enjoy writing, and editing things that I have enjoyed writing, without having to worry at all about marketing my writing. You know what’s fun? Tossing a lump of words down on a potter’s wheel and shaping it until it looks like a cup made out of words and other people visualize the cup when they see it. You know what’s not fun? Trying to explain to other people why they should like it so much they want to give you money for it.
I may end up failing as a writer after all.
You all know that I’ve been contemplating a Patreon for a good long while. I have a short story project that I intend to be Patreon-based. But I’m also considering moving to that for blogging, too.
While I’ve been on hiatus, I’ve also been thinking about my blog format. I’ve been using the same format for years: some kind of thoughtful post on Monday, some kind of progress update on Friday. But that format just isn’t working for me anymore. I’ve had a lot of my thoughts about the process of writing. When I do have thoughts, they occur to me at the time and I don’t like scheduling them out into the future. So maybe I’ll just keep Friday progress posts (or move that day since Friday nights have been packed lately) and do other posts and things occur to me. Or maybe I’ll just blog through Patreon. Or maybe I’ll blog through both. The possibilities are endless!
I love structure. I love lists. But this has stopped working for me, so I think it’s time to make a change.
I’ll be going on a brief writing hiatus as I adjust to a new day job. I will be back!
On top of the lost blog posts really bumming me out (turns out I accidentally deleted, instead of scheduled to post, not one but TWO blog posts,) job changes are very stressful and I don’t want to pressure myself to keep up a blog and write every night. I’d like to give myself permission to relax after work. So that’s what I’m doing!
I’m giving myself a return target date of mid to late April.
I seem to have accidentally deleted, instead of published, my scheduled post for yesterday on gritty details of the progress I use to make maps. Normally I write up blog posts in Scrivener before I redraft them into WordPress and post them, but in this instance it was a post I wrote on my phone while I was very excited about the topic, and while I’m sure I could dig it out of my backups, I just don’t have the time or energy right now.
I’m very bummed. Please bear with me, I’ll try to redraft it and have it up for next week.
My scheduled post for yesterday has disappeared into the ether. I’m not going to have time to find it until tonight!