WriterWoes #10 – Tug-o-warring

This post is partly, if not entirely, inspired by my roommate. She got me thinking, you see, during one of our bullshit trade-offs. You know, those trade-offs between friends that have nothing left of interest to talk about after years of breathing the same stale air and then have to kill that stale air with enough hot air that the staleness is pushed to the floor, subjugated by physics?

Anyway, this particular time, my roomie provided me with an image that I needed to get down on paper and share with others – now.

Without further ado, I present to you……….

*drum roll*

…..… the Tug-o-war between Missus Writer and Sire Brain!

 

Mode 1 – Missus Writer vs. Sire Brain

MS: “Sooo… anything good happening over there? Hm? Hmhmhmhm?”

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Mode 2 – “Sire Brain vs. Missus Writer”

SB: “Hey! You! Heeeeeyyee…. balabalabalabala—”

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They say that miscommunication is part and parcel in a relationship, which leads me to believe that I’m in a relationship with my own brain. If I dare peek at it, it cowers in a corner, and if I leave it alone to fend for itself, it springs on me when I least expect it. Or, god forbid, when I have no time for it. Now, this doesn’t just happen with writing, I know. This is just how a brain works, I suppose, with a lot of things.

But, but, but, but— when my brain decides to spring on me with a plot twist that demands I change the last fifty chapters of my novel…. or when it decides to shut the door on me and my deadline… weeeellll……..

My brain never stops working with words and stories.

Rather, it alternates between modes of working with words and stories.

Tug-o-warring.

I do wonder how this will look on a brain scan…

I’d ask Sire Brain, but that might undermine my argument, so let’s leave it at that, shall we?

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Liebster (Discover New Blogs) Award!

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Ah, so I got nominated for the Liebster Award. Which I had no idea existed. Whatsoever. At all. So, yes, that took me by surprise. But by nice surprise, of course! And it’s all thanks to the lovely, talented Storyspiller! Make sure to give the blog a peek. If it counts for anything, it has my stamp of approval. Anyway, on with the (award)show!

The rules of this award:
1. Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award.
2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
3. Give 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 11 blogs.
5. Notify those blogs of the nomination.
6. Give them 11 questions to answer

My answers:

1. What is the first moment you remember from your life?

I honestly don’t know if this is a true memory or not, but I have a very vivid memory of crying in my stroller, staring up at the sky, having lost my pacifier, supposed to sleep, but now upset that nobody can hear me and haven’t picked me up…. Like I said; I have no idea if this is fabricated or not, but regardless, it’s there in my memory.

2. What was your last milestone?

… Paying my bills, feeling real good at adulting.

3. What is your favorite cuisine?

Danish traditional cuisine, particularly fish.

4. If you could give a speech to the whole world what would you talk about?

Not myself. For the love of god, not myself.

5. Do you like fried or baked?

I just… love food… both fried and baked.

6. Brown or white rice?

White for Asian dishes, definitely. And for fish. Brown for, well, meats?

7. Favorite disney movie?

Beauty and the Beast – no other contender for the spot. Also, I’m a feminist by nature, so no, don’t get me started on the Stockholm Syndrome debate here.

8. Who’s your favorite author?

Hmmm. Maybe if I had a starting letter, I could choose from the dozens of authors that I wholeheartedly love? No? Let’s see… Stephen King for horror, Diana Gabaldon for historical romance/drama/sci-fi, Neil Gaiman for whatever the hell his core genre is, Laurell Hamilton for supernatural, Charlotte Brönte and William Faulkner and Ray Bradbury for classical lit, Lisa See for historical with Asian focus, Jay Kristoff for YA (the only YA author I’ll read nowadays), Ai Yazawa for manga…… erm… yeah, I better stop now…

9. What kind of magazines do you read? 

Online literary ones. But I was never that great of a magazine reader, truth be told. Do comics count as books or magazines? Or, wait, they’d be a genre on their own, wouldn’t they?

10. If you could go anywhere where would you go?

Into a book. Or computer game. Or a movie. Anything with a good, fantastical narrative.

11. If you had your own mythical animal which one would it be? (Animals from books count)

Don’t know if this counts as a mythical “animal”, per se, but here goes: the specific yōkai from Japanese folklore that floats around and licks ceilings. I’d like to float around and lick the ceilings of my enemies.

11 Random facts ’bout me:
  1. I paint as a secondary hobby.
  2. I’m a master of lies.
  3. I decided to learn Japanese recently… I now live to regret it.
  4. I’m a longtime lover of K-pop and K-drama. (And J. And Chinese.)
  5. I love writing to the flicker and flame of candlelight.
  6. I wish I dared taking singing lessons.
  7. I also wish I knew how to ride a horse.
  8. I have weird, soft nails that grows in curves rather than straight.
  9. I recently chopped off half of my hair, including every last bit of dye. I now carry my own hair color for the first time since thirteen years old. And the color is not at all what I spent the last fourteen years thinking it was, meaning boring and bland. What a waste of money, right?
  10. I began my writing career as a writer of fanfiction.
  11. I prefer craft beer to white wine, but I prefer red wine to white wine.
Blogs I nominate:

https://rltierney.com/

https://simplesoulsister.com/

https://piecesandpapers.wordpress.com/

https://sawritingsblog.wordpress.com/

https://fictioncafe.net/

https://lowfrequenciesatnight.wordpress.com/

https://orchidslantern.wordpress.com/

https://aplikestowrite.wordpress.com/

https://jccauthon.wordpress.com/

https://weedstoash.wordpress.com/

https://randomroamings.wordpress.com/

My questions:
  1. What is your favorite type of weather?
  2. Do you like licorice – as in, real black licorice?
  3. What other language(s) do you wish to learn?
  4. What is the most comforting sound you can think of right now?
  5. Have you ever considered a name change for whatever reason?
  6. Which book do you hate the most?
  7. Who’s your favorite author?
  8. Christmas or New Years?
  9. Travel by plane or by ferry?
  10. What color highlighting pen do you prefer?
  11. If you could live a day of no consequences, what misdeed would you do first?

That’s it! I’ve not been very active lately, but this nomination finally seemed to set things into gear once more. It was super fun, too! And as for the blogs I’ve nominated, I’m crossing my fingers that you choose to participate in this bit of innocent fun. Promoting each other, especially fledgling and growing bloggers, is an honorable thing to spend one’s time on, is it not? As far as I understood, the blogs that I nominate has to have less than 1000 followers, so even if they aren’t actually new in terms of time, they are new in terms of deserved recognition. And new to me, as well, and hopefully now new to you!

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LivelyLightbulbs #2

“Don’t rely on the bulb to light up on its own; power it yourself!”

And I have returned, here, to talk about inspiration!

Now, why have I returned?

To talk about *drum roll* nature!

Nature, for me and for many others, serve as an artistic inspiration. But, rather than discuss just how it serves as an artistic inspiration, I’d rather show you. And so, behold, from the archives of my very own camera, the inspiration inherent in all of nature.

Of course, to gain inspiration from nature, one must do more than stare at it through an antiseptic screen. But, for now, stay here with me – then, afterwards, go search for your own inspiration, out there, in the wild greens and browns.

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WriterWoes #9 – The Do’s of Dialogue

This is less of a woe, and more of an advice to whoever cares enough to listen to a self-taught writer who may or may not know what the heck she’s doing. Anyhow, I had saved this post for a different page, but, alas, I decided to post it here – so, here we go, my two cents on the matter of dialogue:

  1. Identify and toss the extras

    How often do you hear yourself talk in lengthy complex sentences?
    How often do you toss in five adjectives in one sentence, maybe more?
    Not often, right?
    While poetical writing is beautiful and poignant in its own right, it can be difficult to make work in dialogue, particularly in modern times (a.k.a. the age of text messaging).
    Of course, every style and voice is different, but where it pertains to dialogue only, I very much believe that less is more – to quote Stephen King: “the road to hell is paved with adjectives.”
    But, but, but, there are always exceptions: if you’re writing a historical piece, for example, you should always engage in dialogue that fits the period.

  2. Mind the punctuation

    When you identify and toss the extras, the punctuation becomes important. Why? Because while we don’t naturally talk in complex sentences, we do tend to talk in ellipses, dashes and italics. Do not, however, rely on ellipses, dashes and italics in your dialogue. If used too often, they lose the punch-thwack effect you want them to have. Bottom line: trust the reader to understand what your characters are saying and instead use the punctuation to tell the reader how your characters feel. If you will, have a look at the example below and consider the effect of punctuation on the mood of the sentence rather than the clarification:

    “… Can meet? What do— can? I’m set to leave for Wallace’s property— land— the man’s whatever in a matter of days. You said that you would help me; now you ask me to finish the document all on my own with guards lurking outside my door both day and night, breathing through the damned keyhole, until the two of us can meet again— can meet—what do you mean by can?”

  3. Delay the underpainting

    One way to secure an easy, readable flow in your dialogue is to delay the underpainting and focus solely on the tennis-match dialogue itself. When applied to writing, the so-called underpainting equals the meaty bits of text in between your dialogue – that is, your character’s actions, the tinkering of plot, scenic descriptions, and whatever else. It can be advantageous to save this for later so that it won’t interfere with the natural flow of dialogue as it transfers from your mind to your fingers and, lastly, to the paper before you.

  4. Read it aloud

    In a way, dialogue is much like poetry in that it ought to be read aloud. After all, dialogue happens out loud in real life and not inside your head (of course, that’s debatable, but let’s not debate that just now). Reading dialogue aloud gives us the absolute best idea whether something sounds natural or unnatural. It shows us the hitches, or the lack thereof, in the flow. Remember that in the matter of dialogue, our ears work far better than our eyes.

Easy is as easy does!

Basically, if you do not speak it, you should steer clear of writing it, so always keep that rule of thumb in mind. Otherwise, write your dialogue however you want to. The best writing ultimately comes from the gut – in it’s original, first-draft form, of course.

WriterWoes #8 – On writing fanfiction…

I recently read an article by Cara Diaconoff, in The Writer’s Chronicle, in which Diaconoff speaks for the inclusion of fanfiction into professional creative writing workshops.

As you’ve probably guessed… that’s what this post will be about…

So, now, let your eyes feast upon Diaconoff’s words as cited below!

“Taking fanfiction seriously leads to a productive interrogation of the concepts of originality, influence and intertextuality (…) Fanfiction writers are, in a sense, super-readers. To write successful fanfiction requires not only the traditional creative writing skills of crafting compelling characters and effectively deploying point of view and voice, but also a high degree of critical and rhetorical sophistication.”

“[Fanfiction writers must have] a complex sense of how texts operate in the world – a deep understanding of how literary and cinematic works construct, teach and manipulate their audiences.”  

(p. 66-67, 2016, The Writer’s Chronicle 49 (1))

So, yes, Diaconoff’s support of fanfiction prompted me to address this matter myself.

Or, that is to say, the matter has been on my mind for years, but Diaconoff’s article prompted me to add my own two cents, here, on my blog.

Now, be justly warned, my two cents are strongly biased!

I grew up in the online fanfiction/fandom community as both an avid consumer and contributor.

You can say, I suppose, that while I always had an interest in writing, fanfiction was where my interest in English writing truly began to flourish. It became my outlet where I could develop my English writing skills and understanding beyond that of my formal schooling. Indeed, as a self-taught writer of my foreign language, the fanfiction community was my primary English teacher aside from what kinda-sparse schooling that I had.

I’ve been a part of that world for about ten years now.

I know everything that there is to know – quiz me, if you want – and I am overjoyed to see that fanfiction is, at last, gaining the recognition that it deserves by professionals and academics.

Now – yes – I am fully aware that the Fifty Shades trilogy is based on Twilight fanfiction.

And – yes – I have read both.

It is my personal opinion that while the Fifty Shades series has done extremely well commercially – possibly thanks to the fanfiction community back when the series was self-published and not yet backed by major publishing houses and media outlets – it is not necessarily the best indicator of what you may find, out there, in the vast world of fanfiction. Not in regards to the erotica element – don’t get me wrong; nothing is “wrong” with that – but in regards to quality, style and voice.

With no professional editors at hand (beta-readers notwithstanding), there is admittedly a lot of Subpar Fanfiction on the internet…

… but there is also a lot of Good Fanfiction ready for reading.

Good Fanfiction has quality, style and a voice of its own. Most importantly, it requires literary intelligence and a deep understanding of intertextuality. As Diaconoff says in her article, it is not an easy task to take something made by someone else and make it your own, but that is exactly what Good Fanfiction does.

I myself started out writing Subpar Fanfiction.

Then I progressed to Good Fanfiction with the help of a supportive community (some of which have now become dear longtime friends to me). This, of course, also included a lot of “learning-by-doing” and “trial-and-error” cases, but, embarrassing as those were, they also made me the writer that I am today, ten years down the line.

So, tell me, please, is that not enough reason to start accrediting fanfiction for what it does – for the fledgling writers that it nurtures – rather than for what it, as some people argue, doesn’t do?

Besides, imitation is the best form of flattery – and, really, when is anything ever fully original in this day and age?

 

WriterWoes #7 – The creative process!

This post is actually inspired from a comment that I made on another post that got me thinking about my structural process when I write stories – and when I unleash my creativity in general, I suppose.

Despite my love for speculative fiction and the world building that this entails, be it large or small, my writing process is not geared towards years of planning and outlining prior to putting my pen to paper.

My creative process, be it painting or writing, is more… visceral, I suppose.

When I paint, I stray away from motifs and settle on abstract, impressionistic scenes.

Likewise, when I write, I get most of my inspiration while I write.

I build my world while I write it.

I do my research while I write.

I rarely ever do much before I start writing.

This means that there’ll be lots of pauses in my writing, where I head off to do extensive research or to expand on my world and characters, but the point still stands that I will have written at least five to ten chapters before I stop to do this.

I also prefer to plan my outline while I write, meaning that, well, my outlines get all sorts of messy, but then I color-code the different branches of the outline, making some of the text bold, some of the text larger, and— you get me?

Suddenly, somehow, there’s now an outline based on aesthetics – on visuals alone!

It makes sense, I guess, having been a painter for as long as I’ve been a writer.

The creative process is different for everyone, but I do think that it’s important to sit down and consider what your creative process is. If anything, simply because it will become far easier to nurture and cultivate your inspiration and motivation that way…

… and who doesn’t want that, amirite?

WriterWoes #6 – Flash Fiction: a fear of formats?

So, this is a problem – or maybe something less severe than a problem, but still a problem – that I’ve come across lately, both here on my own blog, but also elsewhere. Whereas story formats like the novel and the short story are as old as time, there are the newer formats which have become popular due to the rise of digitalization, the information age, and any other spiffy term that indicates the 2000s. These are the “easily digestible” formats; the ones that offer instant gratification, because for some reason, a lot of millennials know nothing of patience.

Also, I’m twenty-six years old, mind you, which makes me a millennial, and yet I am old enough to know the patience of dial-up internet.

So, what am I saying here?

Well, I’m really trying to put words to the fickleness of the newer story formats that I myself engage in.

When is it a six-word story, and when is it a writing prompt?

What makes it a drabble, and what makes it a vignette?

Can a fifty-word story be 51, or must it be 50 characters?

Also, Twitterature, people – huh?

What about fanfiction and fandoms; what part have they played in this, if any?

Working with the flash fiction format, here, on my own blog, I’ve found that when it comes to flash fiction, there are so few rules set in place, and so little guidance to find.

What’s more; do we follow the rules, or do we follow the customs?

With the flash fiction format, new and flourishing, it is indeed hard to get a good grasp on the format…

… but is that also not what makes it interesting?

Playing with flash fiction (and, really, playing with any kind of newer format within any kind of creative art) is like playing with your mother’s lipstick as a five-year-old. You don’t know what you’re doing, and you feel as if you’re not supposed to be doing it, but there’s nothing stoppin’ you— aaaaah, is that glitter lipstick?!

And, so, yes, what are your thoughts on this, readers of mine, old as new?

I’d love to hear some inputs; for all that I know, I’m simply inexperienced and could do with a wise word or two from an Exalted One – does anybody volunteer?

‘Tis I, at Your Service!

First, I’d like to throw my thanks at R. L. Tierney for tagging me to do this, providing me with a great way to spend an otherwise dreary Danish Sunday. Next, if you’re not interested in my personal perspective on writing, you probably wanna skip this post… probably, possibly… definitely…

  1. Name
    Amalie (not a misspelling; sorry!)
  2. Five words that describe your writing?
    Dialogue, subtlety, versatility, wittiness… erm, animals in armor?
  3. Literature / art / films you’d recommend?
    Literature:
    Outlander
     by Diana Gabaldon – rarely have I read such extraordinary characterization!
    Art:
    Pixcell-Red Deer (sculpture) by Kohei Nawa – something about this series of his is just so gurh for me; it’s vulnerability and force combined.
    Films:
    The Rurouni Kenshin Trilogy (Japanese) from a couple of years ago, because wow, the best manga-to-anime-to-liveaction adaption that exists on the market! Plus, the soundtrack is to die for!
  4.  Images, symbols, and settings you associate with your work?
    I’ll give you one overall image: a tightrope of brightly colored wool stretched taut between the trunks of two trees, hard rocks scattered on the ground below, water lapping gently nearby.
  5. Themes / concepts you are hesitant to write about?
    Hm, I can’t think of any. I’ve done a lot, including LGBTQ and (admittedly poor) erotica, but I suppose I haven’t done… well… fables? Ah, no, wait, I have done that, too – damn. Ah, an epic! An epic would be something that I would hesitate to write. I plan my novels as I write them, and I imagine that planning an epic only while you write it is… well… a bad idea.
  6. What would you tell someone who’s nervous about starting out?
    Writing is like getting your first tattoo; you feel afraid to mark a clean canvas, but once it’s marked, it’ll be a part of you forever (and what a fantastic thing that is!)
  7. Three of your writings you’d recommend to people who’d like to know more about you?
    Children of the Gods (drabble), Showtime (novel), Rubble (poem) —— though, honestly, I’m super versatile, and my best stuff is not accessible online, but kept on my dusty windowsill, ready for adventures in publishing!
  8. What pushes you to keep writing?
    ……… air? my lungs? ……. my roommate that pesters me for more chapters first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening?

So, this was super fun! I’ll keep the trend of tagging alive, and tag three of my favorite writing blogs below, but even if they don’t feel like doing this – which, really, is their decision and all; I’m not interested in forcing their hand – I still urge you to check them out. The content on their pages is just superb!

Flash 365
HoloVerse
Richard Ankers

WriterWoes #5 – Editing: masochism with words?

Editing.

Editing…

I spent eight months writing my last novel. Being part magical realism and part everything else, I developed my alternate contemporary world, did cultural research, did historical research, did climate research— hell, I even started doing Japanese language courses for research!

Then, eight months later, I now sit with my product in hand, feeling satisfied with what I’ve made…

Until the editing begins— holy clusterfuck of all that is green on God’s round earth!

Thus begins Edit Numero Uno.

And, mind you, I’m the type that also edit while I write, so at this point, the novel had technically been through profound editing – or so I thought.

Edit Numero Uno takes a couple of weeks with a focus on editing the flow – fair enough.

Edit Numero Dos involves printing the entire thing and editing in hand, focusing on the grammar – also fair enough.

Edit Numero Tres… was not supposed to happen. When I print my novels to edit them in hand, I consider that the last edit simply because it involves grammatical editing – the tiny bits, you know?

And yet, here I am, doing Edit Numero Tres, back to editing the flow, and it makes me wonder about the double-edged sword that is editing. It’s a lot like putting on makeup; you slap on a perfectly subtle layer of makeup, but then, there is that bit of eyeliner that is a little crooked, and what if you just pulled it further out, like that, and added some depth, and- oh fuck, no, no, raccoon eyes alert, abort mission! Likewise, imagine that you’re cooking a sauce, and wow, this is delicious, but it just needs a pinch of salt, and maybe a bit of rosemary, and yes, that’s— oh no, too much, no, no, I take it back, please!

…. You catch my drift here?

Just when you think you’re done editing, you realize that you’re not. Simultaneously, as you realize this, you also realize that you have a new problem to handle; one edit is fine, a second is also fine— but at the third, you begin to grow worried. You begin to wonder when enough is enough.

Am I polishing my work to its finest shine, or am I rubbing a hole in the silver?

I don’t believe that there is an answer to this (and if there is, then surely the answer is a much individual one), and so that’s not what I want to achieve with this post/rant. What I want to achieve, apparently, is to highlight the masochism that’s forever inherent in editing and writing by comparing it to beauty products and whisky sauce (rosemary works wonders for whisky sauce, didja know?)

Now, please, be gone and allow me to sit and bleed out my brain on my computer’s keyboard, and let’s perhaps add a little splatter on the screen for good measure, no?

WriterWoes #4: What’s in a talent?

This will be a long one, I warn you.

I almost didn’t want to delve into this question.

Why, you ask?

Well, delving into this question means delving into a debate that is as old as time – the debate as to whether talent trumps hard work or vice versa – and I feel that there is next to nothing new to say about it, so why should people want to hear my two cents in the matter?

But, but, but—then I remembered an interview with Neil Gaiman. He always proves a great inspiration to me, and he is often on my mind while I write my own pieces. In this particular interview, a member of the audience bemoans how she wants to be a director, but she has been told multiple times that there are too many artists in the world, and that she should pursue something more noteworthy than directing. Gaiman responds as such: “saying that there are enough artists is like saying we have enough scientists, we have enough designers, we have enough politicians (…) but nobody gets to be you except you. Nobody has your point of view – except you.”

Now, when I first heard this interview some odd years ago, his answer resonated strongly with me, and I find that it still does to this date.

Why am I paraphrasing this interview now?

Well, even if the talent/work debate is as old as time and has been discussed by far more established and adept authors than yours truly, my two cents in the matter still remains of value… because nobody has my point of view except for me!

And, so, what is my point of view?

In the 7th or 8th grade, I had a teacher that I, to this date, still remain in contact with. In Denmark, you have what we call “class-teachers”, meaning a teacher that follows you consistently from 1st till 9th grade. In my case, that was my Danish/English teacher by the name of Lene (and my math teacher, but that’s kinda irrelevant for this conversation; sorry, Jes!). I consider Lene the very reason that I decided to pursue a life in writing. Never before have I received the same interest and support as I did from her, not even as I got older and the opportunities for mentoring began to properly present themselves to me.

My point of view in this debate has, in all probability, sprung from hers. I remember quite clearly how she one day stood up from behind her desk and told us, the many hopeful youngsters sitting before her, that 50 percent talent/passion and 50 percent hard work would take you far in whatever endeavor you should choose to pursue in life.

I’m aware that this might be seen as a halfassed answer to a much difficult debate, but that’s not the way I see it. The way I see it, you cannot succeed in any craft unless you make the effort to cultivate and actualize your talent/passion.

Like good and evil, and like black and white, one cannot exist without the other.

Without talent and passion, there will be no effort.

Without effort, there will be no beautiful, breathing, actualized talent.

That is my point of view, and it is a point of view that is not liable to change any time soon, but rather live on to a seventeenth- twentieth- thirtieth- XXXX anniversary.

Phew…

So, I think I’ll let that be the end. Yes?