We cannot be together right now. I am with my novel. It’s gotten serious. Forgive me.
^I can’t even.
We cannot be together right now. I am with my novel. It’s gotten serious. Forgive me.
^I can’t even.
So I’m listening to Hammock’s Oblivion Hymns over a 10 hour rain track and every time I do this, I just feel like a genius. You know? Like…in some very real way…it’s because of me that this is awesome.
And I’m also something else. It’s funny how I don’t trust my writing that isn’t speculative now? Which is easier to feel properly than to relay to you. I have to feel a purpose, which I have considered that I may simply be conflating with texture. Or voice. Something that takes this beyond something that happened that I am relaying to you like minutes. And when I say, why does this matter, I’m really only speaking to myself because I think this is an author-end consideration. I don’t assume the technique will “matter” to a reader, or need to. So anyway, what is communicated by speculative elements brings purpose for me.
All of which is to say, the short story I’m writing at the moment is not speculative. I had to ask myself “why would I write this” for a couple hours before I found an element that provided a “reason”. Geez, this isn’t making sense, is it? L’abort.
Anywho. I have no mixed feelings about returning to my non-speculative-writing soundtrack. It is glorious, altogether. Have some.
That and. I just. I need to go to Iceland. I need it. I cannot explain how I know this. But I need to write in a dome-shaped house of glass in the middle of a void.
It be. No “if”s. So I thought, seeing as the other day I explained how it’s one of my five components of making a project happen – which is super misleading because it makes me sound like I’m in control like I can just make those things come together – I should/want to post one of the songs from a couple of said projects! #YoureWelcome
Jigsaw – this most recent project was a bit different in that the soundtrack (which was robust and loverly) was much more world/tone-setting than my usual while-writing soundtrack. (As in, while writing, I typically have more of a score – heavily Hans Zimmer/Antonio Pinto/etc – and then during revision, I have a soundtrack.)
So there are a couple of songs that reeeealllly impressed upon me while working on this project but I shall choose one. ::TEARS::
It’s always between this song and “The Last Stand” by Koda, but I don’t trust you guys to listen to an 8 minute song based solely on my guarantee that IT WRECKED ME. (Like, I get that we all have different musical responses and experiences but I don’t totally get it because I will never understand someone not understanding how I feel about this song. You know?)
Seriously, writing Jigsaw had several hidden gifts, one of which was discovering Koda. I can’t. I cannot. You know what, sucks to your asmar, I’m posting it again. Because this was a huge part of writing that project.
The Last Life of Avrilis – Avrilis was first written in 2010 so it’s had a long history of musical accompaniment, starting with “A Small Measure of Peace” by Hans Zimmer. Gah. So good – but more about meeting the emotional tone of a character than finding a sound that matched the world. During revision, I found several songs that were – promise! – written for this book. O_O Unbeknownst to the artists who wrote them. The first such song was “Blinding” by Florence & the Machine, then Ellie Goulding’s “Holding On”, and most recently (and epically) Röyksopp’s “Running To The Sea” feat. Susanne Sundfør, remixed by Seven Lions – DO.NOT. get me started on Seven Lions.
But let’s hear the throwback anthem.
Imogen’s Stupid Untitled Story - @_@ Not that she’s stupid but isn’t it stupid to not tell me the story’s name? Exactly. Jigsaw and What’s-her-name aren’t set in similar worlds basically at all – Jigsaw is more traditionally, albeit sort of immediate futuristic; Imogen’s story is what I call Antiquated Futurism, or more specifically Greco-Roman Futurism – but their music has a little bit of overlap. I definitely use both the above Jigsaw songs to muse on Imogen, but then the songs with more prominent vocals don’t match.
My primary Imogen song at the moment is “Red Eyes” by Thomas Azier. If I tell you to ignore the video, it’s gonna call your attention to the video, right?
And together, we started Imogen’s rewrite last night. The funny thing is I used to feel tethered to the words I wrote down, years ago. It was so uncomfortable to revise (it felt so messy it made me anxious) and it was painstaking to discard (what can I say, I’m a hoarder) and starting over was a non-starter. This reads laughably to me now and I’m too far removed from it to take my former feelings seriously, but I know it was true. Now rewriting amazes me. It’s startling satisfying that you can rewind, throw away and breathe new life into a concept. Because what I wrote starting more than a year ago was boring me to tears when I tried to get re-acclimated to the story. Except there were all these elements I loved, tho getting through to them was seriously draining the life out of me. LITERALLY. O_O Literally figuratively.
Sometimes I worry that I’ll forget a turn of phrase that I really liked, which I think is where Thinking About Writing comes in. After sort of meditating on the story as a whole, rewriting it can still capture those elements – yes sometimes differently and calm down, little obsessive – and all of a sudden the project is exciting again.
Regarding the title: If you’re unfamiliar with Linda Belcher’s Christmas poem….you are truly missing out.
Look what I can do!
The lighting’s not perfect but stop being so negative, you guys. Because who knew this sweater that is so old I can’t even would still be rocking my world? Our marriage has been – literally – perfect. Mine and the sweater’s. I can’t imagine my life without it. I guess this time of year just really makes ya think.
And then, anyway. I’m trying – no, I’m *going* to get back into this WiP. The thing is, she’s already chopped liver because I left her around 12k back in March to do the first of two R&Rs…and then didn’t return to her because Jigsaw happened. And it was more her fault than mine because her world got all strong-arm-y and tried to overtake what I’d intended to be a novella, and despite being really interesting to me, I did not and do not want to write about the political intrigue of her society. Sorry, Imogen. (That’s the character’s name. Did I mention this so-and-so hasn’t even told me her title? It’s like she doesn’t want me to write her.) But I’m really into rewrites, so bye-bye 12k. I doubt much of you’ll make it to the finish.
All of which brought me to the topic of What It Takes For Me To Write A Project. I’d say in no particular order, but that’s probably not true since I typically come up with the first one first. I’d also say, some combination of these but honestly, I feel like I need all five. So maybe I’ll just stop talking and list them.
a) Concept – Obviously this is pretty important for speculative literary fiction. Jigsaw was a dream, Keepsake came out of my brain trying not to let me fall asleep, etc. This is one of the most AHA! moments – or at least, the first.
b) First look – This is either the first line of the story/book or a mental movie of the first scene. This one’s interesting because it’s not tethered to a particular point in the process. Sometimes the first line happens several times. Like in the case of rewriting. The thing is, it has to feel like “the one” every time for me to move forward. The first look might also come before or after the Thinking About Writing phases, which aren’t listed because duh. That’d be like listing “writing” as part of my writing process.
c) Music - Yeeees. This is a big one. Again, this one isn’t set in stone, in terms of when this happens. With Jigsaw, I think it was right after concept, to set up the world, because often the only way to properly translate it before literally translating it to paper is to find music that does it for me. I do not understand people for whom music is not everything. I do not. With the WiP, I sort of lit up yesterday when I realized I had a song for the soundtrack. This is especially exciting because this is the WiP that tried to change shape and ended up getting relegated to the corner for the rest of the year. O_O So, yes, finding a song that matches what she’s meant to be is a good sign.
d) First query - This has become increasingly important to me over the last several projects. First of all, I love queries. I do. Writing them. Revising them. Nom. So I’ve found that when I’m really serious about a project, I have to write a query for it, sort of flesh out not just the crux of the story but also the character and sometimes the actual tone of the voice. I could get reeeeal inaccessibly in-my-head on this one. But I won’t. Because it’s Christmas and that’s your present.
e) Title – Man, this is another one that has become sort of paramount. Because titles come quickly to me, when one doesn’t, I’m missing something very important to my process. The title is everything. First of all, I keep a lot of “administrative” documents and I HATE them being titled after the main character, unless of course it’s also the title, which has only ever been the case with Keepsake, and even then, it’s not her given name.
I need these things.
And then there’s Semantics. Mostly having to do with the question of how it needs to be presented. What makes the most sense for the world/character/story being told? Vignettes like Keepsake, single stream of events like Jigsaw, chapters like Avrilis? That needs to be woven into an element of the story itself, which is why Jigsaw had to be immediately rewritten. Don’t even get me started. Nom.
These things, these are my lil’ babies.
I have for a long time been consumed (hyperbole) by the consideration of writing separate characters. I think that would be my nightmare as a writer, to wake up one day and realize I’d just written the same person over and over again. Mustn’t it be the same for other artists? Would it not be humiliating to write the same song again and again? Unless you’re Thomas Kincaid and that’s your platform, who wants to paint the same thing over and over? And really, isn’t that the basis on which people dichotomize artists and people who make a living from making art? (Which is to say, on which I?) One of the criterion, at least? Do I have a declarative thought to share in this piece?
Not that I have to point this out since I’m fairly sure you all know where you are, but these are just my thoughts. Possibly just my “this season” thoughts, of which I’ll someday be disabused, but I doubt it. I wonder sometimes if people think concept and world are the only things that matter, if that’s where creativity is proved. And then, the assumption that the concept or world and how it bears on the MC will ensure the MC’s distinctiveness. But unless it’s a conscious consideration – how was this character socialized by this reality – it’s still possible to put a cookie cutter MC in a thousand different (even speculative) worlds. Actually, it’s in speculative fiction that I’m most concerned about the oversight. I don’t want my characters to be interchangeable. Slash will not allow.
So as I have two WiPs, one active, one to which I’ll return, I’m thinking back on the last three MCs and really trying to imagine them in the other worlds. They’re all women, they’re all the equivalent of Black American – but these aren’t character traits. Doy. Yes, why they are who they are has always had to do with the society in which they grew up, the circumstances, and the best part is when you’re writing and the character informs you of how they would naturally respond to some stimuli. As in, that’s been my desire and attempt. But I still have to try to envision them in one of the other societies, because – in my mind – they shouldn’t be able to fit. (Obviously, we’re talking about my rules and parameters for my work – but I can tell you the times I’ve seen a writer/creator’s cast in two separate shows be the same basic archetypes, I’ve wanted to rip my hair out. And theirs, too. So it’s not entirely just about self-regulation.)
And yet, sometimes I think a writer is purposely or at least permissively fixated on a type of person, or a group of people, to great success. I might say Toni Morrison’s casts and her musings on this community in Ohio allows for fluctuation – she is a master of never writing a minor character – but also similarities. Maybe I just need to read all her books again (challenge accepted. again.) but I couldn’t say the lead character is always distinctly different from another one because their predicament tends to be the same. Or related. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean. Let’s take a moment of silent reverence for ToMo and then move on.
So. Standing Avrilis next to Dolores/Elsie next to Imogen next to Eva. Making sure their similarities are only skin-deep. (Well, not only. I’m not trying to rewrite the human spirit. Always.) I can remove one immediately. One is in process, so she’s the one in danger. Her circumstance could result in a self-consciousness not unlike another MCs, but how she responds or how it manifests should continue the conversation her world/concept began, I think.
I think…I may be entirely in my head right now. My apologies.
::Looks back at all the above words:: So you know. Do something with that.
Things I Do (As A Writer)
1) I muse while I write. I listen to a piece that reflects the emotion of the scene itself.
Ways This Can “Backfire” (Or: Why You Can’t Muse Too Hard)
A) It has occurred on occasion – read: more often than not – that I have taken myself on a journey, girl. Got all up in those feels and expressed an entire process of emotion-ism-ality and just experienced this entire narrative that’s rich and intense and lengthy. Because…I was feeling between the words.
Things To Know So That You Don’t Come Off Like A Noob, Bethany
I) [Like the Roman numeral, not like the letter.] It takes longer to write a scene than to read it. ….Read it. With or without the muse (music). Actually, I prefer with. Because then it’s really super abrupt when I realize how much did not make it to the page. The read doesn’t match the muse, so to speak. I got down a sketch, a skeleton – but not the meat. So I go, whoops, maybe let’s try that again.
One of the best things about writings – the tangible things, I’ll say, otherwise I’ll be making all kinds of obnoxious inserts like this! – is starting over. Taking everything you know, all the things that didn’t make it on the page and going back to the beginning. Or the fact that the beginning can change, if you like!
I’m starting to wonder if anything feels as good as revising. It’s a love so much more mature than the first time you write something down. (I should probably stop universalizing since I have no idea whether it’s true for anyone else, no?)
And it’s a small thing I’m considering maybe working on right now. A short story from at least two and a half years ago, if not longer. The heart of which I still need to tell. It’s what I used to write and so it’s exciting to go back to it – if alarming how many of its one-time companion pieces I no longer “need”… and so they’ll be put away for good. But this one, yes. It still matters.
I’d say it’s a wonderful phenomena, the privilege to start over, knowing what you know now. Only that would be dishonest – in real life, I’d never want to start again. Even though I could have done much better, there are too many minutes, too many hours, too much space in between that I’m not passionate enough to live again. So it’s only in my work that the concept is so refreshing. In real life, you do better by proceeding forward, knowing what you know now. It’s better that way. The story is doing the same, come to think of it. You’re starting over but you’re doing more than just reliving it again.
1. What is your biggest personal achievement?
11. Where do you do your best thinking about deep questions?
On my bed, when I’m comfy with ice water and my laptop. Or near water – whether it’s in the bath tub, at an overlook point somewhere on West Cliff Drive, at Sentinel Point… it sort of centers on water.
New idea: let’s talk about all the ways I’m dumb.
The most obvious way (to me – and feel free to chime in, friends, with things you’ve been dying to say but haven’t) is that I am loyal beyond reason. No, I’m not talking about toward people although, yes, even there I’ve experienced how that can be unhealthy but let’s stop being serious and let me ramble. I’m loyal in the way that one cannot not buy Crest and also doesn’t know why and I don’t have to set here and answer your questions. (Sorry. I watched Ali yesterday. Which won’t stop being on my top 3 favorite movies ever for always amen.)
So Crest. Loyalty. It’s like I think this is some intrinsic aspect of my personality. As if if people thought I used Colgate (which is a stupid and LUDICROUS, obviously) they would somehow misunderstand me in a very meaningful way and I would be misrepresenting myself and the whole system would fall apart.
And so, I find myself having to – or attempting to, at least – give long-winded, unwarranted and uninteresting disclosures (which totally works on Twitter, by the by) when discussing my writing soundtrack. Because there was a time that it was 100% Hans Zimmer/James Horner/Thomas Newman – and if James Newton Howard, Antonio Pinto and Dario Marionelli make their way into heavy rotation, I’m not hurting anyone.
But then Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy soundtrack sort of overwhelmed the writing of Cait, or maybe the revising, I can’t remember… and Florence & the Machine actually seemed to be singing about Avrilis, which was fine because I was reading, not writing. And when I was actually writing new words on new pages, I was still for the most part going back to my mainstays. Imogen and Elsie, they were conceived legitimately. (Was that a weird way to phrase that??)
And then I don’t know what happened. I re-envisioned one of them. And I can’t even really remember how I came upon it but I made a playlist of Tycho, Hammock and God Is An Astronaut. O_O And that’s all I’ve used. And I love it. And am also ashamed. … WHO is ashamed of things like this?! Seriously. What is going ON. When I talk about what I’m writing to, I feel the need to give back-story-info-dump on my progression and how maybe this shouldn’t so much be considered a progression (which the other party never said it was in the first place because they truly don’t give a good doggone beyond initial interest in seeing what other people listen to while working) because I still very much consider Zimmer/Et Al to be my writing companions even though, no, at the moment, I’m not listening to them but I’m sure I will – and, believe me, I understand such info dumps to be an occupational hazard. Yet I am helpless. Rendered ridiculous by a strong sense of loyalty to SOUND, when it comes down to it.
I dunno. Pray for me.
Oh and also, this:
I had a day, children.
An open a new excel doc because you’ve had an epiphany day. A waves of dopamine, twirling in wheat fields (in my mind) day.
This means the false start of the recent idea falls away, along with the “maybe I should print out those short forms and revise until something better happens” thoughts that immediately cause the inner pout fest. Because much like the boxer must shed roll after roll of sweaty, useless, disgusting flab – nope, sorry… that was Mr. Burns. >.>
But seriously. Today.
Stars included. It reminded me of “finding” Keepsake. ::takes a moment to drape herself romantically upon a chaise:: Whimsy.
And I realized: for me, ideas are not nearly inspiration enough. The gem – for me – is “finding” a concept. An idea defined by a specific scenario that inherently describes setting and character and conflict, all at once. It’s the difference between seeing a thread and seeing an entire tapestry in one shot. It’s. The best feeling on earth. (Okay, I don’t know because I can’t actually rank them side by side whether completing the execution compares… but there’s SOMETHING about the moment of conception.)
Children? I’ve had a day.