Reflections on Writing

As usual for Reflections posts, can’t sleep, mind running through something too intensely to let me doze back off.

I ran into an old friend today (Yay!) and she asked me how the writing’s going. That’s actually a really good question. For all the thousands upon thousands of hours of my life I’ve spent writing, for all the binders and piles and milk-crates of pages of longhand writing cluttering my physical environment and the equivalent on my computer, for being so oriented towards writing that I even dream in multiple levels with one of them observing and analysing the other like a story, for always having a story singing to me in the back of my mind… what do I actually have to show for it?

1) BlackWolf

2) Lamia

Both pretty cool urban fantasy novels I’m pretty happy with, even if they live on my website and most of the world has no idea they exist. In both cases, I can see the rough outline of a sequel, Lamia‘s much more clearly, BlackWolf‘s just vague hints. Both were started in my early twenties, which is reflected in the age of the characters and in the kind of Ugly Duckling/find one’s place in the universe thing going on in both. These days, I find it more and more difficult to get in the mindset of someone that young in the world as it currently is, so any sequels are going to involve a jump of a decade or so since the first one.

3) Moonblood

Ongoing other-world fantasy – either being written and offered in instalments, or a series of short-ish adventures, depending on which way you want to see it. A complete reworking of an idea I had way back in high school and played with for a while; the differences really emphasise, for me, just how much my skills have developed. (As of now, I’m nearly done a new chapter/story/instalment/whatever.)

4) A pile of short stuff, mostly erotica, collected in a blog I really need to update badly…. Also, a long list of at least a dozen ideas and seeds for further shorts, one of these days.

5) Anywhere from 2 to 5, depending how you count, “sandbox” groups of characters that I use basically to test ideas or just amuse myself – really unlikely to ever be shared with the world, because of that. One of those sandbox experiments did evolve into BlackWolf, one into Lamia, and one into Yin Yang below, though, as well as a bunch of the ones under point 8.

6) An almost-finished urban fantasy called Yin Yang, a development of a sandbox idea. Only really needs one short chapter added and the very final scene completed, but has been languishing because it’s an odd idea I’m not sure anyone will want to read. Of course, that didn’t stop me on BlackWolf or, especially, on Lamia, so I should really try to get this finished soon.

7) A fairly well begun other-world fantasy called Heartstone. This is the first one I’ve ever tried that’s all first-person; it’s from the point of view of a distinctly non-human shapeshifter who is trying to get something deeply important back. One of the more interesting settings I’ve ever devised, two large islands with no native mammal fauna. The current sentient residents are having some serious problems with humans moving in and expanding with cities, agriculture, and of course the livestock and pets and pests that come with humans.

8) Probably well over two dozen older concepts, character groups, settings, early drafts, experiments, and so on and so forth, some of which would be more than happy to cooperate with being turned into something finished.

9) My private universe, Gaia for shorthand. A vast world of many cultures and thousands of years of history, probably the place I feel the most “at home” and the place I tend to go when I’m feeling like crap, and I have tens if not hundreds of thousands of pages of exploration of it. Sadly, will probably never be made public for multiple reasons: a) the character group in question is enormous and complex, although many of them have surprised me with their depth and uniqueness; b) the original idea involved a contrast between there and here, which needed characters who knew both, and there are some aspects of that that are too brain-melting to try for a realistic solution to (eg, languages); c) I’m dead certain there are a ton of basic factual errors in this world, (eg, music industry); and d) it has a tendency to evolve as I do, with newer stuff sometimes altering older stuff in a completely non-linear way. I’m toying, however, with the idea of stripping the multi-world aspect and choosing a different location to focus on (which inevitably means a new set of characters), and seeing if I can write some that I can share.

All of which tends to toss conventional ideas of sex, gender, orientation, and sometimes behaviour out the window, in favour of following wherever the story most plausibly leads (it drives me crazy when I read or watch something that has a distortion or logic flaw that’s entirely because someone was thinking binary) or wherever a character decides to go.

I used to consider the non-sharable stuff to be wasted time, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it gets a lot of the credit for the current level of my storytelling skills. After all, the best way to master anything is to simply DO it, right? Besides, it’s fun.

So, what have I got, for spending probably more hours of my life (for about two decades) on writing than on anything else except sleeping?

  • 2 finished novels
  • 1 series / ongoing
  • assorted sordid shorts ;-)
  • 2 in-progress novels
  • 1 decent potential sequel
  • an absolutely insane volume of experimental, self-amusement, old stuff in need of heavy reworking, etc
  • an insane list of ideas, character groups, settings, concepts, etc

As the saying goes, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. :-)

I do know that I need to start looking more actively for ways to get noticed, ways to share the stories that I’m weaving from my own being with more people. It’s harder to feel like there’s any point in finishing anything, which is quite a lot of work no matter how much I love it, if it feels like no one is going to notice. But that’s always the hard part, isn’t it? People only have so much time to spend reading, and there’s so much competition for that time.

On the other hand, I AM writing, other than occasional crashes when the stories in my head go quiet, and that’s an enormous step over letting the real world and my own messed up brain chemistry kill it on me.

And I guess I can make the actively-searching-for-ways-to-get-noticed my New Year’s Resolution for 2013. :-)

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