Sunday, August 11, 2013

A reminder of self

I was reminded, recently, that I haven't posted in some time... months, really.

Tru dat.

Too little time and not enough to say is probably closer to the truth.

The past year has been filled with work and family obligations, which has left precious little time for anything else. Working long hours and caring for an infirm relative meant making sacrifices, and I made quite a few, probably too many.

I didn't understand how stressful it's been, nor how unhappy choosing 'convention' over 'art' would make me; until last week.

And it all started with a thumb drive. A dragon thumb drive, given to me for my birthday. I have lots of little drives, filled with various drafts of books, research stuff, information about the most obscure historical things, family history; stuff I needed to rationalise. So I looked at my Homer Simpson thumb drive and there were all my drafts up to about 2010, including the very first multi-book series I wrote.

Once upon a time, when I wrote Oracle, I thought it was the best thing I'd ever written. Actually, it was the third piece I ever wrote. It took six weeks of 10-14 hour days to write 260,000 words; and when I was done, I celebrated with a glass of white and set it aside. Over the next year or so, I fiddled with it and then went on to write other stuff.

Last week, I stuck the drive into the laptop and spent the week - one hour a day - re-reading the piece. I made notes, inserted comments, corrected spelling, questioned motives, felt appalled that I could do that to characters! And I resented put it away because I had to get up early the next morning for work.

When I finished reading the work, I felt... happier than I have in a over a year. Should I ever get this work published, I'll have Holly Lisle to thank. Oracle was an experiment: do your worst to your characters, but give them a few candy events along the way. What it meant was what I call 'writing in a circle'. Give yourself a starting point - your characters are happy, or content and then take that happiness away from them. Plunge them into a situation that takes them out of their comfort zone, that takes away everything that is familiar. Expose your characters to what they fear/hate the most and when they are at their lowest, give them hope. Of course, it gets taken away, but if you balance the good with the bad, you'll write your way back to the beginning - where the crisis has been solved, your characters have a resolution but they are changed in a way they couldn't have foreseen when you first sat down to write.

A book in a nutshell.

Oracle needs a lot of work, using time and focus that I don't currently have. It's too big. But now that I've arranged what time I have accordingly, I'll be working on other books - the next two Huntress novels to be posted before the end of the year.

Blogging, however, will not be as frequent. I'm planning on setting aside time on a Sunday to update every week.

Working a day job is just that: a job to bring money in. Family is family and must come first. But my first love will always be writing; and when I'm away from it, I can feel my Self fade. I am a writer and a writer I remain.

Thanks, Marina, for reminding me and caring enough to ask if I was alright.

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