It’s Official

I’m a writer. Not just in the sense of “this is who and what I am” but also in the sense that I HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED. There is a career trajectory, now.

Which. Exciting! But also scary. I haven’t heard back on the book, but I’ve had a piece of poetry published in ImageOutWrite Vol. 5, and a piece of my short fiction was just published by Torquere. The short story is part of the Harvest Moon anthology.

Getting here wasn’t easy. There were a lot of speed-bumps and obstacles along the way, and I know that this is just the beginning. I have to hope that my writing catches people’s attention, and that I can build a readership. I have to keep writing, even when my insecurities whisper that I can’t do this, that the publications I have only happened through luck, that I’m not actually that good. I have to keep telling the stories that make my heart sing, even when it would be easier to follow trends and convention.

But you know what? For right now, I’m just going to celebrate a little.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

Writing Confession:

I have never, ever, not once in my life, written a second draft. I honestly do not understand the concept.

Looking through most writing guides, you hear over and over again that “good writing is rewriting” and that you should expect most of your first draft to be shit. That the second draft is where you fix plot holes, cut out unnecessary scenes or chapters, where you fix problems with your structure and add more to the parts that are lacking. It is, supposedly, where you do “the real work” and where your piece of fiction or poetry becomes more authentically you.

And, uh. I’m looking around thinking, You people don’t this on the first go-round?

Because here is the thing: by the time I sit down and start writing a story, I already know what kind of story I want to tell. I know what I want to make my readers feel. I know what structure I will use to achieve that, because I’m all about letting form follow function. Certain stories have more impact when told in a non-linear fashion, where other stories benefit from the crisp minimalism provided by drabble sets. Other stories are better told in past or present tense. Depending on what kind of story I’m telling, on who the characters are and what the primary conflict is, I might write from one character’s perspective, or two, or even head-hop. But I know all of this before I set the first word on the page.

Because by the time I sit down to write a story, I have pages upon pages of notes. I have notes about character backstories and world-building. I have a plot outline. I have a timeline to refer to, if the story is taking place over a number of days (or even weeks, or months) and the passage of time is important in the story. I have answered questions about potential plot holes. I have presented the basic idea to my writing friends, and then answered their questions in my pages of notes. I have usually brainstormed three different endings, and made notes about how each will play out and what it would mean to the story as a whole.

I take days to create an entire world inside my head before I set my fingers to my keyboard and start setting it free. I re-write as I go — I might change a particular sentence or paragraph five times before I move on. I go back and re-read, adjust word choices and tweak dialogue and cut sentences when I’m still in the middle of the project. I am ruthless as I write. Description is kept to a minimum — if it’s not important to the character whose head I’m writing from, then it doesn’t need to be there. Every interaction and scene has to serve at least two of the following purposes: 1) furthering the plot/ developing the primary conflict; 2) development of one or more characters in the scene; 3) exposition; and 4) drawing connections between cause and effect, past events in the story and the present moment, and/or between characters. Ideally, it should be doing all four.

So maybe the real reason I have never written a second draft is that, really, I’ve never written a first one.
~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

Anatomy of a Bullshit Sandwich

Top bun: rational-seeming argument

Lettuce: claiming familial/friendship/romantic ties

Cheese: crocodile tears

Meat: HEINOUS FUCKING BULLSHIT

Bottom bun: supposed sincerity

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

NOPE

Ranting. It’s a thing that happening.  Right now, in fact.

Whoever invented paperwork — scratch that, whoever decided that online applications were the way to go — deserves to be shot. I’ve spent the last four days making phone calls, tracking down documents/ receipts, and filling out online applications as a function of being an adult, and it’s still not done. Not because I didn’t dedicate hours this week to doing it (I did.), but because no one seems to be able to give me clear answers, and there’s some ridiculously convoluted system in place for getting things done. So, here I am, four days in, and I still have at least two phone calls to make, a doctor’s note to obtain, records to track down, and a shit-ton of files to submit to complete an application that I was told would only take five minutes to fill out.

I quit. I’m done. No more adulting. Not until Monday, at least, because if I have to wait out one more automated system or photocopy one more document, I’m going to hurt something.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

*Blinks*

I, uh. I’ve talked before, about how I’m a writer — that it’s as much who I am as it is what I do. But stopping to look over what I’ve accomplished as a writer over the last few months . . . I’ve kind of amazed myself.

Because, okay, I wrote a novel. Not a huge one, but still — a whole book. In 14 weeks. I mean, if we subtract the 4-and-a-bit-week break I took about halfway through, then really, I wrote an entire novel in 9.5 weeks. (The ensuing carpal tunnel syndrome is becoming less and less mysterious in origin.)

But, completely aside from that? I looked at my writing journal, and I realized that, uh. I’m kind of a prolific motherfucker. Because, since 2016 began, I’ve written 53, 000-and-change words of novel in addition to 30, 000 words of various fanfiction projects — 10, 000 of which were produced at the same time I was writing the novel — and 1, 500 words of original fiction (one piece was flash fiction, and the other is my current project, and about a quarter of the way to finished).

That means that I have written eighty-five thousand words (!!!!!) of fiction in the last five months.

And that’s just fiction. That’s not even counting the poetry I’ve written (long-hand in various notebooks), my personal journal, or my blog posts. I’d be afraid to guess at how much all the longhand adds up to, but the blog posts alone come out to a tidy 7, 300 words.  And, since 85 + 7.3 = 92.3, it’s more than safe to say that I’ve tossed out upwards of a hundred thousand words, and we’re not even halfway through the year yet.

I’m sitting here looking at the numbers, and I’m having a Does Not Compute moment. I want to ask myself “The ffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuck?” because even I have no idea how I did this. Seriously. Pick a random day on a calendar and I can tell you how much I wrote, and will tell how frustrated I got with writing, or that project, or the interruptions I dealt with, and how much more I set out to accomplish that day. I’m not anything like a fast writer–I can put a few hundred words on a page in an hour normally, and manage something a little more than a thousand words on a good day. Never mind the days where I don’t write at all — due to exhaustion, writer’s block, my body and/or brain having a Fuck You day, or simple busyness.

Just. I probably write two days out of every three. I also ate, slept, read entire novels, emailed and visited with friends, and attended weekly appointments with my healthcare team. But all of ^that^ still happened. So, like.

Holy shitnuggets with fucksauce, self. What drugs were you on?

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

Social Media

I’m a weirdo. Anyone who’s flipped through five or more blog posts of mine will know this. But I’m an even bigger weirdo on the subject of social media.

Every so often, I get friends or family members urging me to join some social network or other. I always end up laughing them off. Because, well, here’s the thing: I have never had a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr account. And I don’t really want to change that. Oh, I’ve dabbled in some of the other social media sites, even some of the bigger ones. I have friends with Tumblr blogs that I stalk, because I love their content.

But, on the whole? I’m happy without it. Without the sense of competition, without people prying into my business, without losing time that could have been better spent on writing or sleeping or spending face-to-face time with people.

Mostly, though, I’m happier without social media because, from where I’m standing? The whole thing looks like a never-ending series of train wrecks, and I have no desire to be on any of those trains. I’m good over here, outside the blast radius, where I can occasionally pull up a lawn chair and some popcorn if I’m in the mood to watch things explode.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

Random Research

The weird thing about writing a book is all the random details that you end up needing to research or double-check. Like. It got a little ridiculous.

The list of things I researched while writing The Novel include:

  • Ancient Egyptian temple practises, and the role of women in organized religion
  • Staples of an ancient Egyptian diet
  • Seasonal weather patterns in Austin, Texas
  • Hair and costume choices in belly dancers, including cultural vs. competitive variations
  • Voodoo Doughnut (pastry shop)
  • Schedules past and present for SXSW
  • The Black and White Years (band)
  • Inner-city high schools in Austin
  • The closest Starbucks to James Bowie High School
  • The driving distance, in hours, from New Orleans, Louisiana to Austin, Texas
  • The advertising industry
  • Majors offered at University of Texas
  • Sports programs at University of Texas
  • Gender-neutral names
  • Popular names for girls born in the 1860s

. . . and last, but not least, binding practises as they relate to gender-fluidity. Suffice to say, writing The Novel was an interesting ride.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.