brni (brni) wrote,

doing it rong

Recently, I've been looking at various writerly blogs and such. People who have been doing this oh so much longer than I have, who have enjoyed success for many a year, who are sharing their collected wisdom.

Me? I wrote in high school. A tiny bit in college, and cured of the desire by perhaps the creepiest possible creative writing "professor" in the world. And then nothing for many a long year (I lie, somewhat, for those who remember Starbucket), until I found myself suddenly jobless in 2002. And I decided to write a novel. (no, it's not finished, and likely shouldn't be.)

So I started writing.

Got a job. Stopped writing. Looking at what I wrote, prolly a damned good thing.

Some time late in 2003, I was introduced to livejournal, and had no idea what to write about. So I started writing fiction again and putting it up. I started a new novel. (no, it's not finished.) I started another new novel and did get through that one. The one that terrifies me. There's another new novel as well. (no, it's not finished.)

Eventually, I screwed up the courage to start submitting, and voy-lah!, have had some reasonable luck in actually having my stories accepted.

But what I didn't do is read all the advice. And now that I am, I've discovered that I'm doing it all wrong.

* I don't outline. I outlined once, and it stopped me cold. Sometimes I have a general idea of where a story is going. Sometimes I have a general idea of how it's getting there. Ofttimes not. Often it is a single statement made by one of the characters, somewhere about 2/3rds of the way through, that suddenly reveals to me what the story is about. And I stare at it and say, "Oh God, I had no idea." And sometimes I follow that up with, "I'm so sorry."

* Sometimes I let the characters boss me around. They do what they want, and if it fucks up my plot, then maybe my plot is wrong, eh?

* I've developed a metaphysics of stories and characters - the thought that these things exist, and that they're just allowing me to tell them as truthfully as I can manage. I do not drive the story. It drives me. If it doesn't, the story stalls, and it's clear that I've wandered off somewhere. That I've put too much of my own intentionality into it.

* My characters lie. They lie to each other. They lie to themselves. They lie to my readers. And they lie to me. Fuckers. I encourage this behavior. But it does mean that often, no, I don't know what their motivation is. Sometimes that's revealed later (see first item above). Sometimes it means I have to rewrite earlier parts that I discover they've been whitewashing.

* I don't write every day. I have no routine.

* I don't resubmit stories that have been declined by one editor. I don't study the market and figure out what I should be sending where.

* I self-published a book, albeit in a thoroughly unconventional manner.

* I swore never to write a vampire story or a dragon story. Until someone asked me for a vampire story. And a dragon story. I am a gentleperson of principle, after all.

So, that's it. All the wrong things I can think of.

I'm sure there's more.
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