Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Remembering not to forget

Chapter 13 was drafted, and with a bit of flourish. In my more quiet moments, I've wondered where the drafts of the first iteration stop and the benefits of the re-writing begins, and have come up with nothing. The net benefit is that this story is better, and more full, but there are times when I am making something I did in the go round better, and there are times I'm off the beaten path completely. I also don't know to what extent I should be aware of things I did previously, much less how to forget about those things. I think, "well, this happens next," and sometimes, sometimes, I catch myself in a reminder of, "no, anything could happen. Don't force it."

Currently, I'm in a grouping of sections that all take place more or less concurrent with one another during a world event that came about in the development of the setting in preparation for the rewrite. Maybe because of the nature of the event, or maybe for some other reason, I'm finding myself making room to provide opportunities for unveiling. In the past, I've been accused of riding the knife edge between not giving enough information and giving enough to make it a mystery. In so doing, I've lost a lot of readers, I think, or, more than I should have. I haven't discovered the reason for this yet, but I'm still searching.

A feminist read my first book. I only mention her personal ideology (political stance? gender view?) because she pointed out that there is no mention of the female gender, or any female character in the first 25 pages. She counted the pages. Given that the book is only 160 or so long, that is a moderate chunk. What's more, I didn't even notice. It was humbling to have something like that pointed out. Despite how I think I feel about women's rights issues, and however long ago I wrote the first book, the facts are the facts. I suppose this is normally the part where I defend myself. But, even though there are female main characters, to have a dearth in the background could be indicative of something. After she told me, I went and looked at all the stories I had written in the past year. I think I've gotten better, but, who really knows.

This week I'll start running game again, something I haven't done in conjunction with writing a novel in some time. I'm interested to see how my system balances the draw on my mental energies. Yesterday, I thought I might try for chapter 14. I had the time, and I really felt like I had the words. I didn't, but even feeling confident is a nice change of pace. Considering the possible reasons behind it, all I could think of was that my outline is so much stronger this time. The story has confident bones.

So, I guess it's fitting that I've waxed on my past in an effort to improve my future, given the season. I feel good. Insert snide, pessimistic comment.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fail yours and fail wells

I am almost at the conclusion of the break between semesters that constitutes my Spring vacation. Not a vacation from writing, but from the job description I send to the government every year. At the beginning of the break I had high expectations about how to use this free time. Twice the number of chapters was my first thought. I doubled down on that and imagined even that I could write every day. In fourteen days, I could finish the novel.

With four days left of my vacation, I have two chapters written, and not even two complete chapters. I went in and worked on two which were short and unrealized and poorly executed. It took me time to figure out where I was in the story, and even then I don't find myself very well grounded. I rushed it. I panicked, thinking that if I didn't start, I would never start. And if I never started, how could I ever finish?

The rest of the time was spent seeing friends, and I didn't even get to see them all. Maybe in general I am the type to make plans and then not follow through. I feel like things used to be different. I have to admit that when people compliment my work ethic, it feels good. It makes my whining feel more justified. "I'm doing the work," I say, and no one I talk to frequently disagrees with me. I guess that means I'm either doing the work, or I haven't surrounded myself with people who will push me.

Regardless, even if it was on accident, I'm feeling back to my old self. The person I was back before I would experience another series of professional set backs and failures. The person who had a plan, and was quietly going about executing it. One of the friends I caught up with hit his own set of road blocks, and spiraled out into his own coping mechanisms when confronted with that rejection. I guess it happens to all of us.

This morning I won't be writing because I am attending a ceremony, the last ceremony for a school that is closing its doors. Once, it feels like a while ago, I worked there, and it really helped my heart to assist with the matriculation of individuals who were in dire straits. Upside down, turned about, angry, and hurt, and lost. It was dark for them, and all I had was a match's length of light. It wasn't a lot, but I also had some amazing co workers, and together, for some of those young people, we were able to provide a path. I speak of my own pitfalls, but for many of these individuals, what is to come is a sight deeper, and a sight darker than the average trap. I will not dress in black.

Nor will I mourn. Because the occasion of the ceremony is a graduation. Some of them made it, and however few that did, however many years the school was open, no matter what percentage of young people that were helped, they allow for the choice to highlight the failures, or celebrate the successes. Today, I think, I will choose to believe that the failures are what make the triumphs so valuable. That there is good in the bad times. That being able to choose is an objectively good thing.

Thus, in a season of loss, I am focusing on my gains, like the welcome little flame atop a candle in the dark.