Creativity comes in cycles.

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For me at least. Since the last thing I posted I haven’t written a damn thing. But what I have been doing is going out and taking pictures, doing watercolors, painting D&D models, and playing with polymer clay. It seems that to write, I have to wait for autumn and spring. I don’t know if it has to do with being bipolar, if being able write is one side of the coin and visual arts are the other. Never to twain shall meet. But, although it is a bit frustrating, I do keep getting ideas for what I plan to write – whenever that time comes.

I went through a period of almost ten years where I didn’t write at all. I lost my writing partner and no on else was the least bit interested in reading my work or listening to my ideas. I got very downhearted. Then I made new friends, my fiance writes and encourages me to write and to become a better writer. We’ve spent hours when we were supposed to be sleeping just coming up with new ideas for our worlds. I started writing again last year around NANOWRIMO and wrote at a furious pace for awhile. I didn’t win but I got all my ideas down and I’ve got a beginning, middle, and ends all planned out. However as soon as I had some people read it they informed me that I’d basically have to rewrite it. It took a long time to figure out what I did wrong, and 10,000 words became less than 4,000. It all makes a lot more sense, but it’s also disheartening. I decided to take a break and focus on art, and I’m pretty happy with the decision. Now it can just settle in the back of my mind and when I go back to it I’ll be happier with what I’m putting down.

So here is a bit of what I’ve been working on, until the writing bug bites me again.

Celtic Hare Ceramics Waterdrops

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Writing Prompt: The First Time

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Feel free to use this prompt yourself and link it here!

The First Time

“The first time?” I crumbled the last of my bread into tiny pieces, scattering it on the rocks around me. I looked over at Garth while settling down among the stones. “It wasn’t like I’d thought it would be.” I gave a soft laugh.

“How so?” he asked, pulling his saddle across his lap. He pulled out a mending kit from Vittoria’s saddle bag and began looking it over for any damage. He’d taken on this task himself, to mend our leather goods, as I’d taken over all the cooking. Of course my choice was sheer self preservation, Vittoria could only reliably make tea. Garth really did try to cook, and it was technically edible I suppose, but we were all happier with me on the job.

“I suppose I thought it would be harder. I mean it was difficult in the actual doing of it, because it wasn’t something I’d planned, but I thought the emotional impact would,” I waved a hand in the air, “you know, I’d worried it would bother me to take someone’s life.”

He grinned, “You’d make a terrible assassin moralizing every time you killed someone.”

Vittoria walked into the little hollow and began adding to the small pile of dry wood beside what would be the fire pit come nightfall. I was very pleased that we didn’t have to skulk across the countryside, at least not yet. Fires and hot food every night, at least when it didn’t rain, was something to look forward to.

“What are we talking about?” Vittoria asked, shoving her short blonde hair out of her face impatiently as she pulled a small spade from our collective pile of equipment and began scratching a clear space for the fire.

“The first time she killed someone.” Garth said, flapping a buffing cloth at me before going back to work on the saddle. I couldn’t see any dirt on the leather let along anything to buff out but I didn’t say anything. Garth loved horses, and found some aesthetic pleasure in caring for their tack.

“Oh, interesting?” she asked.

“Not really,” I said, “It was just two idiots who tried to rob me. It didn’t bother me in the way I’d thought it would.” I’d had a few uneasy dreams about it, in fact, but not about killing them. It was the way they’d touched me, especially the one whose throat I’d cut first. “One of them had made some remarks, about what he’d like to do with me after they had my money. He figured they might as well take my pretty clothes and the rest of me too.”

“Shit.” Garth grimaced, with the ladies of his acquaintance he was a perfect gentleman.

Vittoria showed all of her straight white teeth in a grin that had no humor in it, “What did you do to them?”

“I got to the knife in the back of my belt and sliced the one holding me in the gut. It wasn’t a very long blade, I could just barely get it out of the sheath and it barely nicked him really, but let me go.” I watched as a small bird landed on the rocks and began pecking at the crumbs. “I hadn’t seen him as the real threat, he’d gotten very tense when his friend had casually mentioned raping me, so I went for that bastard first. I got him across one eye and then slit his throat but it wasn’t quite deep enough. His friend started babbling and backed down the alley and I had to do him too. I made it quicker for him, getting robbed wouldn’t have bothered me if it was just about money and I don’t think he’d had anything more in mind. I just didn’t want any witnesses. I had to go back and finish off his friend.”

“That was good thinking,” Vittoria growled, “How old were you?”

“Fifteen.”

“How did you get away? You’d have had to have blood all over you. Throat-slitting is messy.” Garth asked, heaving the saddle aside and waving a hand at my sword and sheath to go over the leather of the scabbard and belt. I handed it over and looked up at the sky.

It wasn’t anywhere near time to start cooking but I needed to do something with my hands so I began rummaging through the saddlebag by my feet to decide what I was going to make. It really depended on what game I got in a little while, which I’d probably not get until twilight, but I could probably make a guess that it would be either rabbit or some sort of game bird. The stream near the picketed horses wasn’t deep enough for much more than crayfish.

“One of them had a dark cape sort of thing, it was fashionable at the time and didn’t show the blood very well. I just walked back home wrapped up in it. I expected any moment for a constable to grab me and go ‘Aha!’ or something stupid like that. I don’t think I even heard anyone talking about the murder, so I guess they weren’t anyone’s favorite pair of lads.” I scooped up my bow and began to string it. “I’m going hunting, when I get back its one of you who has to tell yours.”

Yes, again with the worldbuilding tropes.

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This time I didn’t write it though. I’m not usually a huge fan of reblogging articles but since I’ve written a bit about this I figure I’ll throw this one in here. The only one I don’t entirely agree with is the faux medieval world one and I’ll go a little bit into why. Go read the article if you want and come back, I’ll wait……

7 Worldbuilding Tropes Science Fiction and Fantasy needs to Stop using

It really all boils down to comfort zone really, which is probably a cop out since I could study more about other countries. The problem is I don’t want to screw anything up, or misrepresent something. I know more about Europe/UK/US and not a lot about other cultures. It is sad but true. I can legitimately blame this on my schooling. I went to a terrible no good very bad ACE Christian school. You should definitely read up on it, especially if you are interested in ever writing about indoctrination or if you’ve been in that kind of situation… or if you are just morbidly curious. In any case one of the many problems with the school work is that it is extremely US centered. Even the materials they send to other countries don’t usually have anything extra in them as far as the history and culture of that country, just the good old USA. Now I’ve taught myself a lot more about Japan at least since I attempted being a Japanese/Ceramics double major in college. Again, I couldn’t handle going to college since I had a very awful school experience and was never taught to study or do research – just memorize everything for the test.

I have other cultures in my world, but I’m trying to blend different cultures together to make some that are both familiar and different. The area I’ve placed my story in is a small nation with a lot of trade from all over the place. My main city is a port and has tons of foreigners, ex-pats, and visitors so I can explore other cultures in a way that I hope won’t end up with me messing up. Anyway if you haven’t read the article go read it. If you want to give me what for in the comments and tell me why you do or do not write fantasy/scifi in a faux medieval world I’d love it!

Writers block? Not really but…

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I can’t really say I’ve had writer’s block for the past month or so, because I’ve had a ton of ideas. I’m not lacking in understanding what happens next or what I want to write. What I’ve been lacking is the energy. The holidays always sort of suck that out of me, and it hasn’t helped that I’ve been feeling off physically for about four weeks.

I just have been lazy as well, and that is my own fault. I need to start eating better again and go back to the gym. Sometimes I feel like the reason everyone makes resolutions to get healthier in January is because November and December are full of holidays that personify excess for most people who are fortunate enough to be able to stuff themselves silly. When you’re surrounded by that much food it is easy justify eating all of it, at the very least to make sure it doesn’t go to waste, then of course I’m going to make a pun because after that it goes to waist. Yes, I’m a terrible person.

So tonight I decided to go back and reread everything I’ve written because one of my problems is getting back into my narrator’s voice. I can’t just start writing because I need to get back in his head. And boy is he more than ready for me to get back to him! As I’m rereading I can’t help but edit a little bit, even though I promised myself I wouldn’t edit until the first draft was done. I’ve also found myself adding and subtracting bits here and there because I am remembering how he sounds and thinks and he has more to say about these situations.

I wish I had some advice to give people who have writer’s block, because I’ve basically had it for 10 years until 2014 came along and handed me a story I had to get out of me. But all I can say is that you need to read and you need to think about what you’ve read and why you enjoyed it and try to remember why you enjoy writing. One of the things I enjoy most about writing is for people to read it. Some people say they write for themselves and to an extent that is true, I love writing even if no one reads it. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t matter if people read it. I want people to enjoy my work.

I’m rambling again, so I’ll get off here and get to writing for the first time since November. Here is the last thing I wrote so far today, a little piece that got slipped into my first chapter because he wanted it that way

“Most children, even those who live in cities surrounded by iron, were taught that this was a place of danger. Hell, most children including me were told they’d be dragged out here and left for the fairies if they were naughty. Of course I’d never heard of anyone who was, but someone always knew someone who knew someone. You know how it is.”

Fantasy Tropes (I hate) part 2

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I’m going to preface this by saying not all of the tropes I dislike are bad, and I’ve highly enjoyed and continue to enjoy some of these. I just think that they can be overdone, and because they’ve been done so often there are a lot of them that are done badly.  A lot of people see these big themes are so successful for big name authors and decide to get in on the action. The problem is not everyone is good at these things. Alright on to the things I get tired of.

Part II – The ultimate battle against ultimate evil!

Since the beginning of time Lord Blah has ruled over the land, first as a man and then as an evil immortal something or other. Etc Etc. Our heroes must then go on a fearful quest into a land usually entirely populated by bad guys to destroy the Evil Thing, or kill the Evil One.

Ultimate evil is boring. There I said it. I want a bad guy who at least at some point was trying to do the right thing. Maybe he turned to evil because he thought it was the only way to accomplish a good goal, or to save someone. Maybe he was a good king who was corrupted, I don’t even care if he was corrupted by some evil artifact and you have to kill the evil artifact. Most people don’t decide to do evil things for the sake of evil, barring sociopaths of course. Sometimes sociopaths can even do good things ala Dexter.

Also in the evil land of evil doom who is feeding this ultimate evil if he/she (it’s usually a he let’s be honest) is mortal enough to need sustenance? Who is feeding his minions? Most of them are mortal most of the time. Even orcs need to eat! No wonder they are trying to take over the rest of the world because they’ve screwed everything up with lava and an evil miasma and now nothing will grow. Not that they seem to have any peasants to do any of the farming. Or to build the evil fortress, or barracks for the minions…

In my opinion, and these are my opinions not guidelines, it is far more interesting to have the villain have at least a few sympathetic qualities. Since everyone is talking about Episode 7 I’ll use a Star Wars example. As much as I’m annoyed with Return of the Sith and think Anakin Skywalker was a whiny little shit anyway, Darth Vader has some sympathetic qualities. He’s a genocidal bastard with zero self control and a catastrophic temper, but he didn’t start that way. I personally think that having all those nightmares of his mother being tortured and murdered drove him a bit crazy. It never says how long he had those dreams, but it implies it was more than long enough to have been able to save her, and the fact no Jedi ever suggested maybe it would be better not to have their chosen one worrying about his enslaved mother and rescued her bothers me too. Then he started having the same visions about his wife, who he’d been keeping a secret for a really long time. A little more crazy injection. In the EU it is implied that the Dark Side makes you paranoid and inhibits your ability to control yourself. He did horrible things but all in an effort to save the only person he thinks cares about him. He has been so twisted up that he thinks all the Jedi are afraid of him and are holding him back on purpose so he only trusts Padme.

That is so much more believable to me than a villain holed up in the wasteland of his kingdom and occasionally coming out to destroy humanity once an eon. Alright that is my two cents for awhile, I’m going to go write and work on my own villain!

Why do I want to write when I need to sleep?

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I haven’t been able to write a lot lately, but I’ve been doing a little worldbuilding and writing little notes here and there. This afternoon I collected all the little scraps of paper that have been floating around on my desk and in my wallet and put them in little note cards in Scrivener and after having a really cool moment a bit ago I’m super pumped and excited to start writing again. Too bad I’m super tired and just want to curl under the covers and go to sleep at the same time. This usually happens when I lost momentum, I’ll lose heart and sort of linger over what I’ve written and start to second guess myself. Then something wonderful or interesting can happen and it will all come back why I love writing so much! I went too many years without doing it because I convinced myself I could never finish anything. This. This I’m going to finish!

Tomorrow will be a writing day, somewhere in there I also have to work on making presents and going to the grocery store but mostly I really want to start typing!

Here is a little drawing I did of Marten and Amba a while back, with a little help from my friend Jindalay, she is a much better artist than me and drew out the poses for me!

His face is all wonky :/