Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Acid Etched.

A horror writer's mind is a very bizarre place.

I had to buy a new battery (again!) for my scooter today. To prep the battery, one needs to fill it with the enclosed solution of sulfuric acid.

I, doing this, realized that one could conceivably purchase enough untraceable sulfuric acid to dispose of an organic mass--say, a body--through the mass purchase, in cash, of small liquid-cell batteries. This was my first thought, and one that predominated any thoughts that came after, remaining in the priority position as my mind wandered through a thousand brief scenarios in which this knowledge may one day be useful to me.

So I file it away, with the reckoning number adjacent to the other one which deals with manufacturers, costs, and delivery fees for the 55-gallon drums of sulfuric acid in case I write a character that has access to such things without it being trite or cliche.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day One

As an aspect of my goal to finish the rough draft of the remaining three stories in my cycle, I have forsaken most of my social life for the month of September. Unless it's something I've already committed to, work related, a date, or one of those things that is so immeasurably Awesome that I really have no choice but to do it, I'm not going out. This essentially eliminates chill gatherings at friends' houses (which is the bulk of my outings), birthday parties (which is most of the rest of my outings), concerts, movies, events, lunches, dinners, and the like.

Last night I came home right after work, had dinner, and by 11:30 p.m. was writing. Considering I leave work at 9:30 p.m. that's actually a fairly good turnaround on time.

I set a glass of wine and some chocolate next to me on one side, had some incense burning on the other, and my chill ambient music playing in the background from my computer. I opened up the Word document and started to write. After some pacing, jumping, cursing, and flailing I finally figured out the beginning of the story and began ACTUALLY writing. Four pages later, I'd completed the first scene and decided to hit the hay.

The hardest thing to recognize with writing creative works is that, compared to academic papers--or, indeed, one's own expectations--four pages is quite a lot to write in one night. There's a feeling of "only four pages? Really?" that must be reconciled with the flip side, that coming up with four pages of fiction can--and often does--take the better part of an evening. And that has to be okay. I can't allow myself to feel punished or inadequate for not completing more than that. Sure, sometimes I hit The Zone and can write 20 pages without being aware of my time, but when I'm not there, when it's skill as much as talent in play, four pages has to be sufficient. And it has to be okay. Especially considering how much time and energy I put into the structure, the format, and the conventions that are all factors in the subtleties of my writing.

Next round, we'll see how much I write. But I've begun it, and that is the important part right now. This story will live outside of my brain.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Tactic

I have given myself the month of September to finish the rough draft of my whole collection of short stories. This will, in theory, leave me with a novel-length collection that will serve as the foundation series for my own universe/mythos. The particulars will be for a later entry, that's not what this is about.

My tactic has, thus far, been to finish the rough draft of an individual story and then send it out for comments, critique, feedback, notes, what have you. This has proven to be rather a poor idea, as nobody save for one former classmate of mine has ever actually gotten back to me with any sort of feedback. What it has served to do is enable my procrastination and slovenly behavior by allowing me to put off writing anything new until I "finished" my current story. I haven't written anything since completing my last short story several months ago because I have been waiting on feedback from people.

This, it occurred to me recently, is not only an untenable situation, but a completely unnecessary one. I know the direction I intend to go, as well as many of the particulars of how I intend to get there. I do not need each individual story to be completed in order to progress to the next one. All that waiting around has done is a fat load of nothing. And while it did allow me time to steep my brainmeats in their juices, unless I act on them while the flavor is full and the aroma is fragrant, that marinating time will quickly turn to fermentation. Stagnant creativity often leads to unhappiness with the very ideas come upon in the creative process. So rather than wait around for the never-to-arrive feedback or story notes, I am going to simply move forward with rough drafts of all my remaining stories and then edit them all later.

What remains is only two short stories and one novella. I am going to be diminishing my social activities so that I may devote extra time to completing these tasks--which is a task well within my capabilities, I wrote this much when I was in school. Once these are completed, I will begin revisions and edits to all the stories, as well as ordering them and making the superstructure more cohesive for the reader.

TL;DR: Do not feel obligated through some sense of thoroughness to stop all progress in a creative work simply because you've asked for feedback. Feel confident enough in yourself to move forward. You can always go back and edit later, but you should never forgo an opportunity to create something new.