Blog Archives

Project Inventory

With Yin-Yang finally finished, and the year wrapping up, it seemed like a good idea to sit down and do an inventory of current writing projects.

The cliche remark about creativity is an exclamation or a question about coming up with ideas. In my case… I’m unable to not have them. The world is filled with them on all sides. Does that make it easier? Um, no, not really.

For me, there’s a fairly consistent progression as far as how much effort is going into a given phase and what the payback is.

Usually there’s a bit of a spike in the required input at the beginning, while I’m digging around on name websites and through books for character names, trying to work out what they do with themselves in very broad strokes that will be refined in the next phase. At that point, I’m so excited about having something new to explore and seeing so many possibilities that I barely notice the cost. More energy is being generated from that excitement than I’m using. Read the rest of this entry

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The Resurrection Project

Sounds so portentous as a title, doesn’t it? The only thing being resurrected is some old writing, so don’t worry, no zombies.

First, an apology. I haven’t been keeping up, and probably won’t be in the immediate future. Enough real-life stress hit me all at once to drop me to my knees, although it didn’t completely flatten me. My psychiatrist decided that, between that and my typically lower stress tolerance as days get shorter, we needed to try antidepressants again. Now, my earliest experiences were generally positive, good results with little or no side effects, but unfortunately they stop working for me after a while. I’m unsure whether my body is just rejecting anything new or whether the ones we’ve tried more recently are just harsher, but these days it tends to be little or no result and horrendous side effects. I spent most of October asleep, and the later part of it in pain every time I ate. Two weeks later, my body’s still trying to get past the effects, ie, sleeping a lot and eating very warily. Thus, it’s been difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts, let alone actually write them.

However, the worse I feel, the more my natural inclination is to run away mentally. I wasn’t feeling clear enough to do final YinYang revisions or work on the next novel. I could have worked on Gaia, my playground world. Read the rest of this entry

To My 15-year-old Self

Life and my own wonky brain chemicals caught up with me, and the meds that are supposed to help, well, don’t work as well as they used to. While I’ve felt like writing, I haven’t felt particularly clear or been able to settle even on a single thing to play with or work on. So, I decided to go back and read some of my very oldest work.

Now, I save everything. I still ache, knowing over a hundred pages ended up in a dumpster somewhere after my backpack was stolen – it was just an experiment, but it was part of me. I have roughly thirty 2-inch-ring binders that are filled to capacity with the longhand work from about 1988 onwards. It’s been a long time since I looked at the oldest. I actually spent a day last week laughing myself to tears because some of it is just so bad – and yet, from there I reached my current level, even though all I really had going for me at the time was lots of vague and unrefined ideas, decent technical language skills, a head full of things I’d read, and a huge amount of free time since we lived in the country and I had few chores to do.

And yet, as bad as it is… it also gives me a direct window into the way one teenager thought, and maybe more importantly, how she felt. It’s hard to remember how the world looked, over two decades ago, but reading the oldest, I can see it. Hundreds of pages of my own young self’s dreams, emotions, speculation, as she struggled to grasp things that were a stretch at the time: gender roles, priorities, personal responsibility, same-sex relationships, ethics and morality, the value of life and individuality, the difference between sex and love. I think it should probably be considered an invaluable and unreplaceable resource.

So, for anyone else in the kind of position I was in then, just getting going but questioning whether it’s worth it, I thought I’d figure out what I would say to myself of 25 years ago. (It’s long enough for 2 posts and then some, so maybe I’m making up for missing a couple lately!) Read the rest of this entry

Ideas: Self-Permission

As I said in my previous post, taking a look at where my ideas come from turned out to be a more complex subject than I anticipated, and ran into this one, which I think counts as a subject in its own right. Also as I said there, please be patient with material that looks like it’s wandering off-topic; it isn’t.

When I was nineteen, and came out as not heterosexual (I lacked the terminology at the time; the word I use now is “pansexual”), my writing went through a massive transformation. Instead of trying desperately to keep it “clean” with no sex or gender exploration, I started to allow myself to play with whatever came.

Fairly early on, I created, as a kind of shortcut, a set of characters that I dropped into a wide variety of urban fantasy situations, essentially to observe what happened – what if this character isn’t human but is a, oh, werewolf? dragon? vampire? Now, what happens if I switch which character it is? The dynamics were fascinating, watching how the story shifted and flowed and altered with small changes. Along with being an immense amount of fun (yes, this is my idea of how to spend not just a Friday night, but an entire weekend and then some), it also taught me an incredible amount about how stories work. However, since I was writing these only as an experiment, I didn’t censor anything or rule out anything, just let it all happen. Read the rest of this entry

Ideas: Where Do They Come From?

It’s now a cliche, to ask a writer, “Where do you get your ideas?”

It’s been a long time since anyone bothered to ask me that, and most of those were not out of any particular admiration – generally more along the lines of, “Where on earth do you come up with this wierdness, anyway?”. I decided I’m going to answer it anyhow, because it’s an essential part of the whole process. After all, you don’t get far writing unless you can think of something to write about. I’m reluctant to comment on where anyone else gets their ideas, but I do know where my own come from – and I know that I had a struggle with myself over one major source and its validity. In fact, this subject ran into another, turning this into two closely linked ones. The second part of this will be posted on Thursday. Meanwhile, since this is a more complex issue than I expected before I sat down and started to think about it, please bear with me if I seem to wander off-track at moments.

So. Where do I get my ideas? Part of the answer is, everywhere. From books I read, either fiction that sparks a thought of a variation, or non-fiction that triggers an “Oh, that’s neat!” reaction. From my own real-life experiences. From things people around me say. A major part of the answer is, from other ideas: starting to experiment with one idea leads to others. Trying out variations by changing a factor or two at a time and testing the results can lead in fascinating and unpredictable directions within the internal logic of the concept. Read the rest of this entry