March 17th, 2006

writing everywhere

Writing and stress

The other day, queenoftheskies asked how personal angst and stress affected our writing, and I was too stressed to answer. Well...that's not quite it. It's not far off, either, though: if anyone reading this thinks that my progress on The Mark of the Sea Serpent recently means that I must have less stressy stuff going on, um, no. It means no such thing. What it means is that the book is not an additional source of stress right now, which is to the good, for sure, for the writing and also for me personally.

For me, the direct interference comes up most when I'm directly dealing with a stressful situation. "I'll just bring my journal along and work [in the hospital cafeteria|in the car on the way to the hospice|in the hotel before the funeral]": no. I've said that to myself at least once on all of those occasions, and sometimes I got a few words, a mini-scenelet out, but mostly, fiction writing is not something I do well with under that kind of direct and immediate stress. (On the other hand, my journal has a sort of security blanket effect, so I feel better even if I get no fiction written.) Also, if I'm sick enough that I can't/shouldn't get out of bed, I don't get much fiction written. Ideas generated, yes, but stories written, not so much.

If I'm worried about a lot of stuff but nothing is active at the moment -- I'm still waiting for news or waiting for a doctor appointment or something -- well...that's kind of how life goes. You slop the hogs, you write the stories, you do things while you wait or nothing ever gets done, because there's always something going on somewhere. There's always something to stress about.

(Sometimes I think the sense that there's always something going on stops me from looking at what I actually have going on. Every once in awhile I do have to step back and try to look at these things objectively, or I will fall over and wonder why I fell, because, gee, it's not like there's anything going on.)

I think I'm lucky in that I don't have the sense that I write better or worse under stress. I have no incentives to create stress and drama to feed the stories, because the stories do just fine without it. I also have no incentive to huddle in a corner and swear that I won't be able to do anything worthwhile anyway, so I might as well not try. I know some people navigate those pitfalls just fine, but I'm glad they're not mine.

Also, two things: Collapse )
taking a break

What I Hate About Spring


Do I look like a delicate @#$%& flower to you?

Only answer that if you have the right answer.

But speaking of delicate @#$&% flowers, I'm amused, because one of my rants came back to inform a bit of subplottiness: I have talked (*cough* all right, raved with borderline coherence) about the fantasy novel trick of attempting to cast the heroine as the ugly duckling and get the reader's sympathy for her as the beautiful swan all at once. This is usually expressed as something like "her chin was too strong for beauty" (because what we all like is girls who are all neck up to their nose) or "her hair was an unfashionable red" (because nobody likes redheads, in the reading audience -- fantasy readers in particular have an irrational hatred of red hair, which is why you will never, ever, ever see anyone at a con who even knows what henna is). And particularly galling, the heroine is stated in authorial voice to be too slender, and that is that, and no one ever grouses about getting her to eat more or treats her like she must be mentally deficient just because she's a thinnish girl with tits who can dress herself and doesn't talk a million miles an hour like coastal people do unless she's really excited about something --

Riiiiiiiight, okay, but returning to the fiction, there are sensible reasons for a society not to prefer skinny people. And some of those are coming up right now and biting my character in the butt, while her sturdier foster-sister is assumed to be both appealing as a mate and highly competent. And without the asides in authorial voice about how so-and-so was too this for that and the other thing. Let the characters do it!

Lazy author types....