Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Fricassee

A good couple of days of critiquing!  Thanks to all of you who shared your time and insight.  Considering the fact that this First Five round filled up in one minute, I am going to use a lottery next time.  That way, you'll have a chance to get in regardless of whether or not others were quicker on the draw.

It's not too late to leave feedback, so if you meant to but never got around to it, jump right in!

Thanks also for your astounding responses to Tuesday's PILE OF WEARY.  It's hard to express how safe and supportive it feels to be able to be so very transparent here (despite the anonymity) and receive, not censure or disappointment, but heartfelt support and words of wisdom.

Anyway.  This was my day yesterday:

I spread out my snipped-and-taped scenes on the bedroom floor and dug in.  (I actually moved my day around a little bit so that I could do this.)  You know how, when you've got your soundtrack blasting and you're super-focused, you transport yourself to your story world?  (Yeah, you know what I mean.  Don't pretend this never happens to you!)  So, that.  The gelato was a bonus (there is no gelato in my heroine's world, poor thing).

And I WAS PRODUCTIVE!  Things that needed to be done got done.  Things that I'm embarrassed WEREN'T done while I was muscling through this draft.  (Like, yanno, fully developing my antagonists.  And finishing a character thread instead of dropping him like a rotten potato.)  In fact, when it came time to get ready for ballet class, I didn't want to go.  Seriously, this doesn't happen.  You all know how much I love my ballet classes.

Yes, I went.  Funny how WELL the class went for me.  I'm certain that had something to do with the fact that my creative energy was WAY UP by the time I sauntered to the barre.  We really do need to feed the creative beasties inside us!

Anyway.  Thank you all for allowing me to BE MYSELF.  To tell it like it is.  And then to allow me the pleasure of seeing my own struggles HELP YOU IN YOURS.  Awesome stuff.

In closing, here is Petre Pan's comment from the PILE OF WEARY post.  It's so beautiful and well thought-out that I wanted to make sure a lot more of you saw it:

Oh man. It almost makes me cry to read this. Take that back, I held back some tears.

It is a wild and sad and beautiful journey, and so tiring, no?

You said once somewhere on this blog that you refuse to make writing be who you are. Like it's not allowed to be a controlling factor in your life. You control it. And reading this post, it's like you're fighting to say it's not necessary, not a need, not right that it makes you irritated to skip it, even. To find where it fits and why it makes you feel like this. Like you're afraid of being addicted to it?

But what if writing is what you are? What if birds sing, not so anyone can hear them, but because they have to sing and that is what they do and that is what they're meant to do and that is what they are, little songs wrapped up in feathers and wings?

Male parakeets in love--the little guys mate for life--will often wait to sing their prettiest songs until their mate is away, or asleep, and they are alone. It's funny because we associate birdsongs with a purpose. But the song is the purpose.

Someone told me the other day, about the Puerto Rican rainforest near where I live, "isn't it funny to think about all those animal sounds--the pretty singing frogs and the birds and everything--it's all just about sex? They're all just doing it to breed?" And my reply was, "how do you know they're not just breeding to make sure those sounds carry on?"

Maybe writing isn't a career choice. Maybe it's not something you start or quit or do professionally or unprofessionally or use to express your creative outlet like ballet or any of that. Maybe it's your birdsong.

I don't know if that means anything to you. Something weird happened to me a few weeks ago. I was wrestling some tangled-woods revisions with no idea what direction to take, and at the same time very kind SFWA pro was wrangling me through what was essentially brain bootcamp and mental revision to redefine my entire writing process forever, and at some point in the middle of one long night something clicked, or broke, or something. I suddenly let go? I stopped fighting something. I no longer care if there's balance in my life. I don't mind if writing ends up taking over. I don't mind if I don't sleep, or if it becomes who I am, and I also don't care if I get published or not. I'm going to make something beautiful. It's going to be so beautiful and perfect, well-revised and honed and tight and gorgeous, and then I'm going to read it and put it away and do it again. And again. And that's going to be the rest of my life forever. A happy Sisyphus who loves the stone.

Outside, I think nothing's changed. I'm still working on the same professional goals, with publishing in my future and med school on the side. I haven't suddenly devolved into a furry space-ape clinging to the ceiling and bleeding runes onto the tile floor screaming "art art I'm making art stop judging me." But inside I feel better. This is my birdsong. I do it because that is what little birds do when they are alone and in love. That is where it fits in. Maybe I've snapped and gone crazy. But it sure is nice.

I dunno that's a lot of blablabla. I thought I'd share because some of the things you've said about your journey have resonated with some of that in tiny ways. I hope you feel better soon, and whatever you decide to do--whether you keep writing, or put it away, or put it in a boxed part of your life, or decide to suddenly start putting paint on your ballerina shoes and writing stories across the wooden floor in cursive as avant-garde flash fiction--whatever you do, here, here is a hug for you.

>!< (It is there between the little paws, under the exclamation point. I am bad at writing internet hugs.)

'Nuff said.  Happy weekend, my lovelies!


  1. I want "the song is the purpose" on a poster to hang by my writing desk. <3

  2. I thought this post was lovely when I read it -- thank you so much, Authoress, for sharing it again, and Petre Pan, for your heartfelt thoughts.

    Some say that 'you are not your writing', but I'm afraid I can't separate myself from it that way. I do think my writing is the most important thing about my identity, both because it's something I can't not do -- stories always come to me and demand to be written -- and because out of all the things I've wanted to be good at, writing is the one I think I actually have a special gift for.

    So no matter what happens, I will write the books that I'm passionate about -- the kind I love to read myself -- and keep striving to make each one more beautiful than the last. But since for me an integral part of writing is the desire to have others read and enjoy it -- I'm not writing only for myself and wouldn't be happy with leaving my books in the proverbial 'trunk' -- I find some of the things I've learned about publishing and marketing books to be pretty scary.

    Growing up, I was told over and over again that if you write a truly good book and then persevere at sending it out to agents or editors, you will get published and succeed as an author. But within the last ten years I've learned that this isn't necessarily true -- you could write the most brilliant book in the world, and if it's a genre or style that isn't currently popular, you might not be able to sell it at all. And when you feel your writing is an inseparable part of who you are, if that were to happen it would almost be like being told that because your best work has little value, you as a person have little worth in today's world.

    So it's hard not to be worried by that possibility -- and it's awfully nice to be able to commiserate about one's insecurities and fears with other writers. :)

  3. Authoress -- I wanted to add that I'm very happy to hear that you accomplished so much and found enjoyment in your WIP again, and that I really admire your discipline and organization; that spread on the floor is pretty impressive!

    And I am also holding you responsible for giving me a gelato craving . . . ! :D

  4. I'm deep in the middle of another grueling edit, and these words cut through a marvelous way! I'm happily motivated to continue to plow through my WIP, with the "song" in my heart, and a purpose in my prose. Bundle up and have a great weekend.

  5. Wow - SO beautifully said, so real and relatable to anyone questioning their birdsong. Thank you Peter Pan for letting us watch you fly (you can certainly write!) and to you, Miss Snark, for making a loft where a choir of birdsongs can be shared.

  6. That is the most perfect comment ever. Writing is my birdsong. I'm going to adopt that as my new mantra. ^_^

  7. Thank you for sharing this with us, Authoress. The perspective is so touching and it comes at a time when I'm beginning to wonder if there's any good left in this crazy world. So thankful there are people who can express their thoughts and insights so beautifully.

  8. Wow! I'm super-super-honored! Oh man I'm glad something resonated. = )

    Also, you had me cracking up, dropping your character there "like a rotten potato." I'm still laughing out loud about that. ^_^


  9. You are a talented and enthusiastic writer with original ideas and concepts. You had me cracking up like you did to the previous commentator :-) Proficient will make your life unforgettably easy!