Monday, August 25, 2014

Back (on) track

Trying to form better habits. Still not sure if blogging regularly is good, in the long term. Creative story ideas abound.

Yesterday I attended a writer's group meeting, something I hadn't done in some months. I got up that morning and churned out a large bit of chapter 7's draft. At the meeting, labeled a "write in," I pecked away at a few more paragraphs. Functionally less productive. But then, there were things to discuss. A younger man sat down next to me after coming into the room, and looking around at all the full tables. I was reminded what it was like on the school bus for the first day of junior high. I offered, he sat, and said, "what's your story?" and nodded at my work. I never knew it could be that simple of a question. I couldn't tell him all I wanted to say in one sitting, and I felt good and bad about that.

And like I said, there were things to be discussed. The group was considering a joint publication project, for a variety of reasons. One stuck out to me as odd: "publishers want people who are already published." Chicken. Egg. What? It was not the sort of meeting that disintegrated into bickering and cyclical sub-conversations. People had done research, and brought constructive ideas. Not a lot got done, but I was satisfied with the conversation. I double checked on some copyright information for stories I have floating out in the aether, making sure I could submit them. I noted that I could, stated that I was ready to contribute immediately, then retired back to my cave. My only other outer thoughts were "since we're working for free, those doing the work should have the most consideration for how we do things."

I mentioned chapter 7. When I finish drafting 10, I am going to go back and take a good hard look at this new path I've struck down. I had an intensive critique session with a writer friend that I came away feeling very good about. I am close to loving how things are being smoothed and folded. When I look back after chapter 10, I will be able to more definitively state my feelings on things. On the horizon are the things I must do for grad school submissions. Even though it will be this weekend, I am not even considering the local convention. It's on the list, attending as a guest and not a patron, but a few places down, I think.

I'm back again to having a solid idea of what I want, so all I have to do is focus on manifesting the how.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Falls

I guess this was all a big hiatus. Likewise, I suppose there are more than a few things to update.

I've restarted the science fiction series. It took me so long, I think, because part of me really didn't want to put in the work. I couldn't have said it was perfect, or even very good, the way that it was, yet I was much more inclined to patch it, in places, stint, bandage, and staunch where it needed. Rather than tear it all down and start with a surer foundation. Objectively, I have to admit that even though I have many more months of work ahead of me, the book will absolutely be better. Everything I learned writing the first original novel, and half of the continuation I am able to incorporate into this new version. Looking back, even joining the world building group was of some help, even though I never work-shopped my world. I prepared its details as if I would, and that mindset put me in place where I could start all over again, and not feel like I failed.

That endeavor led me to another place of light and shadow. My fantasy trilogy, which I finished over a year ago, and have been sending out and receiving rejections for, just isn't very good. Over the last seven years or so, the things that have come out of me fall into two broad categories which can be classified, loosely, as business and pleasure. The former falls under the school of thought that art exists for purpose, that something is being said by the creator, and the mark of its success or failure is whether or not it incites a reply to that statement by the receiver. The latter is just about everything else. My "wouldn't it be neat"s and "hey that's an interesting idea"s. I don't dislike the story, where it came from, and what it stands for, but when I think of one of the things my mentor told me, that a true professional never publishes his "juvenalia," I think those three books qualify. It was a bit crushing to admit that to myself, but there was another liberating moment when I realized that that fantasy series did not have to be my fantasy attempt. That it served to cut my teeth, and now I can really sink in with sharper implements. I even have an idea; so, another goes on the list.

Likewise, there is the failure of not getting into graduate school. I interviewed for a job some months ago and was asked what was the accomplishment I was most proud of. I put a lot of eggs into that basket of higher-higher education, of that being the time, sending out for letters, writing confidently both the essay and my creative samples. It never occurred to me at all that I wouldn't get in, which made the defeat that much more crushing. But I didn't break into pieces over it. I lamented, and I regretted, but not for more than a day. The next morning, I sighed to myself in the mirror and thought that I would just try again. That's what I told them I was proud of, and it wasn't much of a lie. I'm still not to a place where I can be proud of how I handle failure, if only because it requires the failure in the first place. But I'd be lying if I said I learned more from my successes. I certainly do not.

Creatively, it was a summer of stepping back, either on purpose or being hurled. I cannot revel so much in my continuing to take steps forward, because of a very real sense that I'm running out of time. I couldn't say why I feel that way, either. But things are a little clearer, and I am happy when I look forward at what I might accomplish if I stay on the path I'm on. Life isn't necessarily better, but it is life. It's only worse sometimes.