Introductions

There are millions of blogs already in existence, does the world really need another one? No, probably not, but that doesn’t stop anyone else! So why not?

What’s this one about? Very simply, it’s about writing. More specifically, writing novel-length fantasy. It isn’t about getting published by a “real publisher”. Nor is it about grammar and fine points of style (though I can’t promise there will never be a post touching on it). It’s about the creative part of the process, when you actually sit down and tell a story, and about the editing process, when you look at the raw material and decide what to do with it.

What authority can I claim for anything I say? None. Nor do I want any. Writing is a creative process that has no right or wrong as far as the process or the end result. Whether what you have in the end has commercial potential is another matter altogether, as is whether it’s going to be of any interest to any readers you manage to find. Nonetheless, if you’re happy with the result of your efforts, that’s enough reason to do it. Possibly, then, the answer to the question isn’t “none,” it’s, “the best,” because what I’m going to talk about is how it works for me personally, a subject on which I’m the one and only true expert, and not how it works for you, which honestly I know nothing about. Maybe what works for me will be some inspiration or some help to someone else; maybe it will give a few non-writers some insight into the process. Or, maybe, this will be of no interest to anyone except a few of my friends, which would also be okay.

What and how do I write? What I write is fantasy (my site, where finished work is available free under Creative Commons). The completed and planned novels to date have been urban fantasy, but I do play with other worlds of my own. I do very poorly at short stories because once a character comes to life for me, I want to learn much more about them than I ever could in a short story. My writing is intensely character-driven. I don’t do prophecies or grand quests to save the world. I do people.

Here’s my writing process in a nutshell:
1) Create a group of characters around a vague concept from anywhere.
2) Sit down and start playing – write anything that comes to mind.
3) If any characters don’t fit or stay 2D, replace them, and repeat until the story comes to life on its own.
4) Write madly, exploring possibilities, letting the characters dictate what happens; a plot will eventually materialize in the chaos.
5) Look at the tangled mass of spun yarn and contemplate whether something can be woven from it.
6) Either set it aside as “That was fun but there’s no more fertile ground here,” or as “Come back to this later and re-evaluate,” or start the long complex process of deciding which are the essential threads and which are the ones that hold those together and start weaving.

What about publishing? I intend to discuss this at more length in a later post, but I’ve chosen not to try to “get published.” There are advantages and disadvantages and for me, the latter outweigh the former. A part of that is that I’m on a disability pension and the depression-and-anxiety double whammy that makes it impossible to work consistently also means that trying to write to a deadline is doomed to fail. I’ve made my own finished work available on my own website under a Creative Commons license for those interested to read. I may look into more formal self-publishing later, but I’d rather spend time on actual writing.

That same disability means that while I intend to do my best to do regular blog posts, there are inevitably going to be lapses. During the periods when just getting out of bed is a huge effort, writing of any kind generally hibernates for a while. As my friends have learned, though, I always come back, and I can only implore your patience and understanding. I hope that what I have to say the rest of the time will be of enough interest to make it worth it to you.

Who am I, anyway? Born in the mid-70s, started writing in the late 80s and never stopped. I have cats, which I believe is mandatory for fantasy writers, in my case rescued ones who have a blog elsewhere updated very sporadically. I’m pagan and pansexual, which are reflected in my writing not so much in gratuitous sex or religion-bashing as in the fundamental approach to people as individuals; I plan to rant, at some point, about base assumptions of the writer and how they can distort or enhance the characters and plot. Most importantly as far as this blog, however, I write: as many hours of the day as I can, frequently with other things left undone so I can see what these characters or those ones will do next, and when I’m not writing, I’m reading, either for research that I can use for writing directly or as inspiration. Sheer volume of practice, I think, has contributed immensely to my skills! I avoid writer’s groups and writing forums, having had too many experiences with those who prefer to bolster their own egos by assaulting those of others; writing can be hard on the self-esteem, I know, but I prefer to protect my own ego from that and find better uses for my time. Like more writing! And, now, this blog.

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About Steph Shangraw

More often known as prysma-kitty, prysmcat, or variations thereof, than by my "real" name of Steph Shangraw. I'm a crazy cat lady, indie fantasy writer, part of Kingston Pride, and admin of Cheezland.org, in no particular order. When not writing, I'm generally making cat toys for friends all over the world or for Spay Neuter Kingston Initiative (TNVR and then some) as fundraising, maintaining a lolanimals website for my friends, serving my three feline overlords Trick-or-Treat and Cory-Bear and Freya, serving as secretary/treasurer for the local Pride committee, and occasionally eating and sleeping. Anything writing-related, including my blog about the process and my serial fantasy Moonblood, can be found via my author site, apart from my old collection of shorts. Since I tend not to say something simply for the sake of saying something, that blog and my cats-and-life one are updated irregularly. A series of household disruptions, including health-related, through late 2015 and the beginning of 2016 has caused some serious delays in everything, including novel releases and writing, but I'm hoping to resume all around now things are getting back to normal.

Posted on 29 July 2013, in writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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