Tag Archives: failingtowrite

Writing snippets – when it’s not really working

I (try to) do a little writing group on Thursday evenings – it’s just a Facebook chat with a few of us encouraging each other on. I missed the week before last due to work, so I was determined to try to write something. Problem is, I’m feeling stuck on the new No Man’s story; it’s bitty and I can’t get any sense of what I want to happen to the characters. I’ve got a vague plot but no detail, and that means no scenes.

So I picked a couple of prompts from the Wattpad #urbanfantasy, just on the offchance that they’d work; sometimes things do just fall into place for short stories, and I end up with a random one! However….neither really worked, and so I’m putting them on here to say – yes, this happens. This is my version of stop-start-stop, when the stories just won’t come, when something doesn’t fit. This is one of the stages of writing something; this is when an idea gets turned and twisted and ends up as one of the random hundreds of files I have in my writing folder, with a snippet that might end up in something else, or might not.

The first prompt was, “I would never bring my mobile to a demon hunt ever again.”

I picked my Dresden fanfic world for this, because a) snark, and b) demons. However, the specification was that the prompt had to be the last line (or paragraph), and frankly, I was struggling to work out what problems a mobile could cause on a demon hunt! Someone else trying to get in contact constantly? The mobile itself sends out signals that disrupt things somehow? I just couldn’t pin anything down as being the problem that needed to be overcome, and that meant that the story itself wouldn’t resolve.

“This is your idea of a date?”

I raise my eyes from my phone and look at the scarred, lanky, pissed-off form of the Winter Knight. From battered trainers to battered t-shirt, topped with a battered – well, scarred – face, he’s the picture of grumpiness.

“If I’d known it was going to be this romantic,” he continues, “I would have brought you roses.”

I open my mouth to say something snarky, but someone gets in ahead of me.

“This is not a date.” It’s laced with as much disapproval as a Fae Marshall can output – which is, it turns out, quite a lot.

“Dollface invited me here,” the Winter Knight points out, shoving his hands into his pockets and smirking. “And she didn’t state that she wanted to hit me. Therefore, it’s a date.”

“I can rectify that second criteria if it helps,” I say mildly.

“Your levity is out of place,” the Marshall grinds on, ignoring me. “We have a serious purpose.”

…and then I couldn’t work out what they were doing, apart from ‘fighting demons’. It may turn into a short with them fighting vampires, or just generally arguing, but the mobile phone was giving me problems.

However! That doesn’t mean that the prompt isn’t any use – and if you’re ever in this situation, my sincere advice is to go off the rails. Abandon the prompt! Write whatever comes to mind! It just so happened that I huffed, tried another prompt (see below) and then got caught up in something else…so I may come back to this one sometime.

“Couldn’t you have just broken my heart like any normal guy/girl?” I asked with tears in my eyes, leaning over him/her and his/her blood – so much blood.

I considered this, and considered how dramatic it was on the surface… so I promptly went light-hearted.

And I couldn’t hold back the laughter any longer.

[NAME] turned, her expression turning from shocked to bewildered, and then to horrified realisation.

And then she spun back to [BOY], dipped one long finger in the blood, and tasted it.

I sat down on the edge of the stage, my stomach hurting, yet unable to stop the howls of laughter that were shaking me. My cheeks were wet with tears, and I laughed and laughed.

Pippa turned and stormed out.

[BOY] started to pick himself up as I regained control of myself, and met my eyes as I pushed myself up and wandered over.

“Can’t you just break my heart like any normal guy?” I ask with tears in my eyes, leaning over him and his blood – so much blood. That should have been her clue.

He grinned up at me. “It’s more fun this way.”

“You’re a dick, [BOY].”

“And you love me for it. Here, help me up, and let’s go post the photos on the web!”

For this one, frankly, there’s no way anyone in the Dresden universe would go that light (I did play with some Kindred/Dini stories but ugh for drama and that’d be seriously depressing, and just…no) so it ended up being random. That said, I don’t necessarily like it. It doesn’t fit anything existing and it’s not a story that I want to tell in a new world.

And that’s the thing with prompts, for me. Sometimes they do lead to stories that I do want to tell, just from that one snippet – and sometimes, like these two, they just end up as scraps.

So it’s still writing progress, even if it’s somewhat dead-ended!

Brain Weasels

I borrowed the concept of Brain Weasels from Jim C Hines, because they’re just so apt. “They scheme against me, rubbing their tiny clawed fingers together and twirling their whiskers…”

They’ve been in full force for the last few days. I knew that having an overdose of People and Big City over the weekend at Forbidden Planet’s Small Press Expo (which was fabulous, and I’m very glad I went!) and seeing people in London would tire me out, but it really did a number on me.

It hasn’t really been helped by the last few weeks. I’ve had a few minor stresses that have all stacked on top of each other to make a bigger stress, and I’ve started to have problems eating again – I probably should do a separate post about that but I’ve got the fun combination of not really wanting to eat, and then when I do, feeling sick, which just reinforces the not-wanting-to-eat. I’ve trained myself over the years to force myself to have something (usually tea) which stands me in good stead whenever I get this bad, but it’s still not fun, especially when combined with other stress.

I think I’ve started separating the Weasels out more successfully, though – which isn’t entirely nice. It’s like falling over something: I’m coasting along on a “well, ok, things aren’t brilliant but I’m doing all right and I can do this” and suddenly I’ll trip over “everything’s shit and you should just kill yourself already and there’s no future and here’s some ways to do it” and it just feels so abrupt. And then I get ambushed by more Weasels and that ain’t fun either. Plus if I don’t want to eat then the Emergency Stash of Chocolate doesn’t help, so…

Yeah. My brain sucks.

the hill-fort cover

The only thing I can really do when I get bad is push on through it: there isn’t really anything I can do to make it go quicker. I’m coming up again now, thanks in part to my wonderful friends and in part to the Weasels fucking off. If I get bad for longer than about a week, I’ll consider looking at medication again, but for now I’m just keeping on swimming as best I can.

On that note, one thing that does help (while also stressing me out, but in a better way) is work, so I’m going to go dive back into the pile! It’s currently mostly proofreading and things for other people, but there is some of my work on there…

And I’m still doing my Dresden stories on Wattpad twice-weekly, so please do hop over there and have a read if you fancy something new (to you) of mine!

A February Update

Just a bit…grey, really.

Mordic Cafe speciality teas boardI’ve had a pile of editing work, so I’ve been trundling onwards through that. Then I’ve got proofreading and some formatting to finish, and then just the rest of my list, really. It’s all ongoing, and nothing particularly special – I’m still enjoying it all, but it’s all become routine (which is nice in some ways!) The pile’s not really leaving any time for writing, but then I don’t really have any stories in me at the moment. I’ve got some ideas – I mean, check out the list of teas from the Nordic Cafe in Lymington (which, by the way, is excellent): I just want to write all those characters! But nothing’s really flowing, or fitting itself into a story. I’m just uninspired.

In the rest of life, it’s sort of ongoing as well. I’m waiting to hear back on a job I’d love to get, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up; I’ve had some friend drama, but I’m so tired of it that I just stepped away rather than try to fix anything. I’m still playing games on a Tuesday night, still trying to walk every day. I’ve been reading a bit, but it’s either old favourites (Martha Wells’ All Systems Red) or I’m halfway through new ones (The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach and The City of Woven Streets by Emma Itäranta). So nothing particularly new there.

There has been some good. I had a wonderful present through from my friend Pasty & Purls, which was brilliant and I’m currently halfway through framing – isn’t it CUTE? That was definitely a highlight in my week, as was Disney films with a friend – he hadn’t seen The Emperor’s New Groove. JUST WHAT. So we watched that. And I got to go out on a powerboat over the weekend in brilliant sunshine and a flat sea, which was fun (if cold!)

But beyond that…I don’t know. I don’t think it’s depression – or at least, it’s mild. It’s just grey. But I’m doing ok, just trundling along; just one step at a time and one thing at a time, every day.

cookie

Trying an arty skill

I’ve been having a play with some book covers recently. I’m usually the first to admit I’m not the best person to do them; I’ve got a fair sense of design but I just don’t have the right eye for it. Give me words and I’m happy, but design…eh.

But the opportunity came up, and it’s not going to hurt for me to try – so I’m playing!

I’m getting to use these wonderful images of Tarot Cards by Matias Del Carmine (yes, the images have been legally obtained before you ask). I’m currently playing with compositions and fonts…

We’ll see what comes of it!

 

Random musings on “no new stories” and writing new stories

I’ve been plotting a series of cozy murder mysteries (which may or may not have resulted in me wandering around the house muttering to myself, occasionally absently chatting to my mother about the best way to sneakily kill someone, and maniacally laughing) but I’m struggling to write them, and I still can’t get the damn voice for Necromancer’s Charm right. I’ve been feeling grey and annoyed; writer’s block at its finest, when there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping me writing, but I just can’t get it right.

So I trundled over to see Adrian last night for a kick up the butt and some advice (and a few board games).

“Well, it’s yer ego.” (He’s actually insufferable if you ever meet him in person. Half of my job is a beta reader and half is his ego-flattener, because he needs both :-D). “You’re trying to write something popular, not what you want to write. You’re a good writer but you aren’t writing something you’ll enjoy.”

I promptly argued back that No Man’s Land was what I wanted to write, and that’s not what anyone wants right now. I do need to at least have one eye on what agents/publishers/readers want…so we had a discussion, and I threw some ideas at him. And then he threw one back at me.

Now, there’s no new ideas. Every story boils down to a few things, and as Desire says in Gaiman’s Sandman, every story boils down to the same thing; someone wants something. Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t.

But one of the problems of being a writer is that you have far more ideas than you could ever write. I have a folder stuffed with them! But because I can’t ever write them all, I’m happy to give them away: after all, if someone can write that story, then best of luck to them! And I’m lucky that Adrian thinks the same.

Besides, as I spotted the other day someplace on Twitter; every story has already been told. It just hasn’t been told by you.

So I have a base idea from Adrian, fitting in with the general time period and theme that I wanted to use. How I tell it is going to be my story; I’ll add twists, tell it in my own way, give it my own spin. It doesn’t stop him using it; if he ever did want to, he’d put enough of his own spin on it that it wouldn’t be the same story, even though it might have come from the same root. Maybe we could start a new genre…

Anyway. I’m not going to tell you anything about it, beyond that it’s a cross between Moist Von Lipwig, Agatha Christie and Only Fools And Horses – and may involve a parrot. Watch this space and we’ll see if this works!