albionidaho: (Default)
Saturday was one of the worst days of my life. I promise you, this is saying a lot.

I can't give any details because the events in question are related to the privacy of another individual. I will tell you that it took all my willpower, strength and energy to hold myself together for several hours and not completely dissolve into a rabid mess of total adrenalized freak out.

My heart felt everything was okay, but my brain and body didn't get the same message. Our brains and bodies are powerful. I've never completely realized just how amazingly powerful they are, how completely our survival instincts rule, on such a personal level.

In addition to being one of the worst days of my life, the day also ended up being and leading to one of the best days:

Read more... )
albionidaho: (Default)
My coffee table is full of books from WFC 2011. (I must find a spot for these.)

My shelves are full of books I acquired after trading in several used books. (My shelves were full anyway!)

The words are piling up on my current WIPs. (They're not all lovely, but this is why we rewrite.)

I have a lovely selection of tea from the Monterey Spice Company. (They have such delicious tea and spices.)

I have four medium-sized pumpkins waiting to be roasted. (For pie and bread and cake and cheesecake and soup and pasta and...)

I have several bananas that want to be made into bread. (Plain, with pecans, with chocolate swirls, with blueberries!)

I have a story due to Podcastle. (A lovely story about a girl who falls for Death. It's delicious.)

I have a performance/reading to prepare. (So that's why I did all that theater in my youth.)

I have two book proposals to write. (And the projects will be fun!)

I have several writing projects to work on. (And these projects are fun.)

I have a home full of joy, beauty, light, books and love. I have wonderful old friends, I have fantastic new friends. I have a beautiful family, both chosen and through blood.

I imagine there are people who would compare my life now with my life of a few years ago and tell me how worse off I am. They couldn't be more wrong.
albionidaho: (Default)
I've been writing for the past years. Between jobs and school and parenting responsibilities, I've frequently only written 250 to 300 words a day, and have done little revising. There just wasn't time. But it was important to me to keep writing, consistently.

In the past months, since just before my dad died, I've had the time to write more. In that time, I've started writing, revising and submitting. I've started to stack up acceptances. It's an incredible feeling.

It feels like I'm starting over.

And it feels wonderful.

#


When I was at Clarion West, I asked my instructors what I should go home and work on. They all told me to go home and write. Just write and write. I was hoping to get some insight, like, "Your plotting needs work. Go home and work on plotting." Or maybe, "Your characterization needs work. Go focus on that."

I expected this partially because this was some of the directions my classmates were getting and I knew (and know) I have all kinds of things to work on. But that's not what I got, and yet it was the best advice for me. There's no better advice to any writer than to write and write and read and read and write some more.

#


I've been discussing my Clarion West experience a lot with classmate [livejournal.com profile] chris_reynaga. One thing we've discussed is our own inability to see our strengths and weaknesses until someone else, someone we trust, holds up a mirror and tells us.

And it's true. I have no idea what my strengths are until someone tells me. Chris tells me my strength is my ability to capture emotion. I never would have guessed this -- it's innate to me. One of his strengths is description -- of place, of action, of character. Again, this isn't something he sees in himself, but it is something he worked on when he was younger because he felt it was a weakness.

Which raises another point. Chris is a prime example of how we can take a weakness and turn it into a strength. This gives me so much hope.

#


So I write. And I write. And I write. And now I'm revising and preparing to submit at the rate I was before life fell apart a few years ago. And I take the faith my friends have expressed and hold it close.

#


John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over" just started to play on my music player. Synchronicity. I titled this entry before I typed the first word.
albionidaho: (Default)
I'm of the opinion that it's important to be able to write anywhere, at any time. Only being able to write in a certain place under particular circumstances is a setup for eventual disaster. There will be a point where you need to write elsewhere under unusual circumstances and then what are you going to do?

This being said, there are certain circumstances under which I prefer to write. I like to write somewhere with plenty of natural light. I like to write somewhere peaceful. I like to write somewhere where I feel I have space to spread out if necessary. And, depending on what I'm writing, Internet access is incredibly useful, both for research and access to music (i.e., Pandora).

There is a library in the North Bay where I love to write. The entire library feels like one wide open space. One side of the library is floor-to-ceiling windows, letting in incredible amounts of lovely natural light. The color scheme is pleasant and calming, with natural greens and earth tones. There are several sizable tables and comfortable chairs; several soft, comfortable club chairs and couches; there are ottomans and end tables; and there are an amazing number of outlets. And there's wireless Internet access.

But I'm also surrounded by books and other people reading or writing or working. The library is always full of people using the library, which makes me happy. I love to see people using the public library. And I love to be surrounded by books.

When I'm surrounded by the right circumstances, I find immersing myself in my work easy, whether I'm studying, writing non-fiction essays, reports, articles, or fiction.

Today I'm at this library, in a club chair with an end table where I've stuck a copy of Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction. There's a window to my left, magazines to my right. I've had a good fiction writing day, and the empirical research report I'm writing is going well, too.

I can ask for little else.
albionidaho: (Default)
Because I don't have enough to learn in life, I'm currently pursuing a certification in programming C, to be followed with C++ and Java. The first day of class, my professor said we could expect to spend about eight hours a week outside of class studying.

This was a lie. (I kind of expected that, at least for me, it was when we were told the bit about eight hours of homework a week.)

I could have a part time job with the amount of time I spend working on my programming homework. This is okay. Learning new skills and enhancing current skills takes time. I know this. And I'm totally fine putting in the work. But this doesn't mean I don't feel completely lost and clueless much of the time.

I constantly feel lost. And clueless. And it's kind of scary. So I dig in my heels and poke and poke, and then I poke some more. And at some point, I figure things will really start to click. Right?

Right.

I feel I have to work really hard at this because this is not necessarily where my natural talents lie. On the other hand, I know that "talent," whatever that is, isn't everything. Everything I do well I had to work at, and I didn't start out being good at what I'm good at.

I didn't emerge from the womb walking and talking.

It's the same with any skill. You practice and practice and practice and keep hitting your head against the brick wall, and eventually something will give. (And hopefully not your skull.)

[livejournal.com profile] raven_radiation sent me a couple links to remind me of this:

Why I'm Proud to Have Been an Unoriginal, Talentless Hack and Do you Have Enough Talent to Become Great at It.

And so I'm reminded coding is a skill, a new skill, and it will take time to hit proficiency. And at the same time I'm reminded that I will progress as a writer. It's just, again, going to take time and practice.

And that's okay -- a lot of life is about learning to enjoy the ride.

[livejournal.com profile] raven_radiation also sent me another couple links I find inspiring:

Monstrous Discrepancies and Minus.
albionidaho: (Default)
I want to write about letting the dreamer write.

I was speaking with Graham Joyce one night at a World Fantasy Convention. I may get this slightly wrong, but I think I can convey the gist:

Graham told me that when writers write they need to let the dreamer write first. He encouraged me, as he's encouraged others, to just dream on the page when writing the first draft of a story. Don't worry about plot and characters or structure or language or any of the other things writers worry about when they write. Just dream.

Later, after the dreamer has created the story on the page, you let the writer in. But not until the dreamer is done. Letting the writer work before the dreamer has done her magic is a common mistake.

When it's the writer's turn to work, you shape the story, working on plot and characters and structure and language and ensuring the story works. And when the writer is done it's time for the editor to come in with her red pen and rip everything apart.

But first you have to let the dreamer in.

Trying to let the dreamer create before I open the door to the writer and the editor has made a huge difference for me. For a long time I was trying to let the writer create, and it wasn't working for me--I was expecting the writer to do her job and the dreamer's, too.

I think this concept works for all writers, whether you're usually an outliner or not; when you're outlining, you're still letting the dreamer work.
albionidaho: (Default)
They (whoever they are) say that the biggest three stresses are divorce, moving and death. I've dealt with all three over the past two years. And believe me, whoever they are, they know what they're talking about.

But the stress they don't talk about is staying in a bad place. That's even worse than divorce, moving and death.

***


When I write now I see my evolution as a writer. I am changing, and growing. The stories I wrote pre-2008 would never be written now. I have found another place to write from, a deeper place. A more experienced place. At the same time, I am trying to remember those places from which I wrote before because these are good, useful, fine places to dive into when writing.

***


Because of life and other environmental factors, I spent most of my adult life trying to be logical and think critically of everything. Being able to think logically and critically are good skills to have; however, if you're not careful logic and critical thinking can overpower creativity and the Dreamer's ability to take the first stab at a draft.

One of my goals for this year is to re-embrace the Dreamer and creator within myself when writing, and to let go of the logical critical thinking part of me for a little while. I'll bring her back in when it's appropriate, but for now we need some time apart.

She's logical enough that I think she'll understand.

Writing is about balance. It's about being creative and dreaming for yourself, and then bringing logic and critical thinking in as you open the door for the Writer and the Editor.

Writer 101 stuff, yeah, but it's something that's been easy for me to forget. And maybe we all need reminding of this stuff every so often.

***


And now it's time to work on my proposal before class tonight.
albionidaho: (Default)
I don't write a lot of flash fiction... at least I didn't used to. Over the 1 1/2 years, I've written some flash fiction. I've also tried to write a lot of other stuff -- longer works that don't seem to be nearly as viable as the flash. On the one hand, this is frustrating, but on the other hand it shows me how much I've learned in the past 2 1/2 years.

I recently completed an intense period of contracting while going to school. During this time I wrote very little. Getting back into the writing was overwhelming; a wise friend and CW classmate suggest I start by writing flash.

So that is what I did, and I'm finding the flash writing to be useful. My crit group and an awesomely fantastic writer and critter friend looked over my piece. They made some insightful, wonderful suggestions I can implement. I think this piece is viable.

I can't tell you how good this feels.

I've also learned that I'm a horrible judge of my own writing -- my writing may be better than I think it is. I may be a better writer than I tend to think I am.

Rispin

Sep. 26th, 2010 08:11 pm
albionidaho: (Sherlock)
"Rispin" has been sent to market.

Fly little story, fly.
albionidaho: (Default)
It was summer, and I was six. It was early evening, probably just after dinner, and I was sitting in my parent's room on their bed, Indian style, facing the window that looked out onto the backyard, pastures and fields. My father walked up behind me and handed me a large black book with the words "The Stories of Ray Bradbury" exploding from yellow, orange, red and thistle-colored thick streaks of light.

I'd seen the book amongst the hundreds of hard and paperback books on the massive shelves in the living room, but had never thought much of it, other than the colors. I had thought about the colors--I had liked the colors.

I opened the book and paged through it. I considered starting with the first short story in the collection, "The Night," but instead ending up paging to "I Sing the Body Electric!" instead.

I sat on my parent's bed as my father went about his business, and I read the short story, which was actually a pretty long short story for a six-year-old to read. I had trouble with some of the words (this was Bradbury, after all), but I was so enraptured with the story that I persisted and finally made it through.

And I have never been the same. I fell in love with fantastical stories that evening. My mother and I had been reading The Narnia Chronicles together since I was four, and I loved those, but Lewis didn't cause my heart to fill and ache at the same time, he didn't cause such an electrical feeling to pulse through me. It was the Bradbury collection that caused me to want to write at the very beginning, when I was so young, to actually put down stories on paper. It made me want to create magical stories overflowing with delicious words.

And it made me want to read more Bradbury. I read "The Rocket Man" the next night; it was short and seemed manageable. It was a dark piece of fiction, but still beautiful. And my Bradbury-reading exploded from there.

And so, that is why, since I was six, I have always had plenty of Bradbury lying around and have dreamt of being an SFF writer. It all began with that one book and Bradbury's magic.

Bradbury turned ninety on Sunday, and this week--all this week--is Bradbury week in LA. I've been thinking about him and how he's still writing everyday, according to a couple of his personal friends who I've had the pleasure of visiting with. I hope that I'm blessed to still be that passionate when I'm ninety.

But for now, bless Ray.
albionidaho: (Default)
I'm fighting an ear infection, so last night [livejournal.com profile] chris_reynaga made me chowder, I took some Motrin, and he read me B.R. Myers' "A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness of American Literary Prose" from the July/August 2001 edition of The Atlantic.

It's fairly long, but it's an interesting read if you are a writer or are interested in good writing and modern literary fiction. Also, it has some pretty awesome laugh out loud moments, and we all need more of those.

on writing

Jul. 29th, 2010 09:48 pm
albionidaho: (Default)
This evening I read through portions of the first notebook I began writing in after my first adult rebirth.

I began writing in the book on December 21, 2001 at 11:27 p.m. (I've always been fond of writing late at night, after the house is quiet and everyone is in bed.) However, it was a portion of the New Year's Day 2002 entry that really caught my eye.

Some context: I had left the world of academia and anthropology to be a mom. I was pregnant with my first child, who would be born approximately two weeks late on February 1st. Since vacating the ivory tower, I had been reading voraciously, reading what I wanted to read for the first time since 1994. And this reading got me to thinking, which probably wasn't that hard. In fact, I suspect these thoughts would have been disco dancing in my head whether I'd been reading as I was or not.

Anyway. I had been thinking about writing. Writing seriously. And then ...

It's 12:55 p.m., New Year's Day, and in the black and white marbled composition book I've been writing in, I begin to ponder through my pen...


I want to write, and I believe at some level I have something to say. My father once told me we all have something to say--we all come from some place no one else does. And I have plenty to write about if I'm strong enough to dredge it up, but the things I have to say aren't the kinds of things people ordinarily desire to read about. Though in many ways it's a happy ending, there's not much to draw happiness from... is there?


This passage is going to permeate through my life for the next eight years, and in some respects beyond that.

I still want to write. The only difference now is that I am writing regularly, and have had some success doing it.

And that is a happy ending, even though this is only the middle.
albionidaho: (Default)
I posted this a few years ago, but it's one of my favorite bits about storytelling. It's got stories, it's got Ira Glass... how could it be be better?
albionidaho: (Default)
I have been working on getting a big girl job for a while; the most recent one has fallen through. I was a finalist, but no crown for me.

Thankfully, another opportunity has arisen.

I'm traveling to Southeast Asia for two months to work on some non-fiction projects. There will be tech writing and travel writing, but also fiction writing and adventure blogging.

Perhaps one of the coolest parts is that [livejournal.com profile] chris_reynaga is coming, too.

This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime adventures, and a fantastic opportunity.

We fly out of San Francisco tomorrow at midnight. We'll be in a plane for a while. I'm bringing a notebook.

writing

Nov. 10th, 2009 05:53 pm
albionidaho: (Default)
It may seem like a step back, but it's not, I assure you.

***


I've gotten a lot written over the past year, and over the past month. Today I finished two (awful) short stories, am in the middle of two more and am in the middle of two novels. I'm about to take a break on one of them in order to devote more time to the one I'm supposed to be writing for NaNoWriMo.

But that's how we learn to write, isn't it? We read and read and read and we write and write and write and if we're lucky we crit and crit and crit. And then we write some more.

I wrote the two short stories today with no intention of selling them at all. Ever. One may have a chance after several rewrites. The second may have a chance at a girly market if I make it funny enough. Or at a spec-fic market if I set it in space. ;)

I wrote them to write them and to have fun. I also wrote them so that Shane Hoversten will write more stories for me to read when I get up in the morning. (But this is a story for another time.)

But I also wrote them to focus on one aspect, and one aspect only, of writing. For example, in the second one I focused on subtle character actions and behavior. The sort of elements of a story that aren't noticed unless they're done badly and come off cheesy. I hope I didn't come off cheesy. And I learned from it.

There was something about not having the added pressure of trying to get everything right right now, but just focusing on one thing I feel I need to improve on, a habit or potential habit I want to avoid. And it felt good.

I'll be doing more of this, certainly. These stories may never be salable, but these lessons are more valuable to me than any short story sale could be for me at this point.

WFC

Nov. 5th, 2009 07:20 pm
albionidaho: (angeles)
Today is brought to you by the Santa Cruz Mountains rain and no tea, strangely enough. I may have to remedy that: I have caught a cold. (Lemon ginger sounds good.)

2009 has been remarkably healthy for me, much more healthy than I've been in years past. But I still have this cold -- I suspect I had it coming.

I attended World Fantasy Convention 2009 in nearby San Jose this weekend, my first big con. I paid for the con by writing articles about how to adjust watches.

I attended no panels, I attended only Terry Bisson's reading. Mostly I met people I've corresponded with online for years, or authors and editors I admire, some of them absolute favorites of mine. I spent time with Clarion West cohorts, old friends, new friends and Paul Park, my Clarion West Week 1 instructor, and Connie Willis, who taught Week 4. I learned about writing and being a writer in the current publishing climate. It's scary, but when I step back and think about it, it's thrilling, too.

And I caught a cold.

But that's okay; it was certainly worth it.

One of my favorite moments of the con was when Margo Lanagan won the World Fantasy Award for best novel. (Along with Jeffrey Ford, which just rocked -- I adore Jeff Ford.)

Margo Lanagan's win was a personal thing for me, proving how powerful boundary busting YA can be, and that that's okay, and can be accepted and appreciated when it's done well, when there's a point to the transgressions. This is something I've struggled with for years, that I'm finally getting over. I've consistently censored myself and my stories because of fear, fear of what people would think, react, say. How it would affect my fiction writing career. How it would affect my life in Idaho, and my family's life.

Partially this was because I had written stories in the past that bothered people, stories that people took personal offense to. I hadn't intended to hurt anyone when I wrote what I did; I thought I was writing a story I was interested in writing.

It's a process, but I'm learning not to be afraid.

I think I'm going to write Margo Lanagan a letter. Do you all remember that? When I used to write people letters? (I think I once wrote something to the effect of, "Harlan Ellison sues people; I write people letters.") I need to start writing letters again. I used to be a decent correspondent; now I'm awful.

The best part of the whole experience, however, was that I felt I was back with my tribe, something I have missed since coming home from Clarion West.

Tonight I am chilled, but it's only because I'm sick. The writing is flooding across my screen, I am surrounded by people I love, and there are a plethora of wonderful books to be read.

It's not all perfect -- I'm still trying to work on getting a big person job, for example -- but it's really, really good. It's wonderful. And if everything was perfect, what else would there be to work for?

sale

Jul. 27th, 2009 12:30 pm
albionidaho: (Default)
To the Flushed anthology.

My first (and only) post-CW submission and sale.

It feels like I've taken a deep sigh and been able to say, "Okay, I can still do this."
albionidaho: (Default)
Jim Van Pelt writes some of my favorite blog entries on writing. He's been kind enough to organize a list of them here.

writing

Dec. 15th, 2008 09:21 am
albionidaho: (Default)
I woke this morning to an e-mail from CW classmate Douglas A. Lucas. We e-mailed back and forth a few times, talking about writing and submissions, and now we're IMing briefly before we write.

These virtual writing dates have become one of my favorite things. I love looking at the little glowing dot, knowing that someone I love is writing, too, and they love what they're doing.

Fox is beside me, making a fort with blankets and couch cushions. I'm going to write lots and lots of words. I'll check in with Douglas every so often.

But before I start writing I'm going to read the latest incarnation of "Glenn of Green Gables", which was one of Douglas' CW stories. Glenn was one of my favorite characters to come out of the workshop, and I expect to be heartily entertained by this final version.
albionidaho: (Default)
Today will be brought to you by green lemongrass tea (when the water in the tea pot finishes boiling) and Tori Amos.

It's another frosty winter day outside.

Zane Grey, the Russian Blue, is sitting on top of the rocking love seat, observing the frozen Idaho street outside. It's currently 1 degree F outside, but it feels like nine below. The sun is brilliant, however, which is a good sign.

Another lovely day of snuggling with my seventy-five pound dog, playing with my three-year-old, reading, and writing, and prepping for some other work plans is ahead.

I will enjoy and cherish this day, because these days won't last forever.

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