So I was hard on my 15-17 year old angsty self for a number of years for not having the courage to pursue a career in writing. Not having the balls.
I was less hard in more recent years because the more I learn and think about themes and character arcs and plots, the more I realize that it was difficult for me to know what to write about as a kid with my extremely limited scope of experience. Remember, kids, there was not really an interwebs until I was 14-15 and I used it to talk to randos in chat rooms and send emails to people whom I saw in school during the day. There were none of the fun teen writing communities and resources and even chances to practice by writing fan fiction that there are now. And my childhood was uneventful. I guess I could say sheltered but I had had plenty of time to run off and get into unsupervised trouble on my own. I was still an 80’s kid, after all.
When I decided it was time to get serious about writing one of the best things I did was go through and like writing related Facebook pages and subscribe with some discretion to writing blogs. Liking pages for literary journals and writers digest and getting into 12 short stories (I don’t even remember how I found that one but I’m so happy I did) and to have a Pinterest board for prompts and writing articles.
All of that was easier than what I am facing now. (Worry not/spoiler alert I do actually talk about a specific book in this post).
I have the chance to make all my dreaming and hoping of becoming a novelist real. I have the tutelage and one on one help of a writing instructor whose course I won. I have an idea that started off decent and she has already made it more exciting and cool than I had thought on my own and has springboarded me into another level already.
And I haven’t written a scene.
I am working through the accompanying workbook, I am almost done and out of excuses. I have drafted out some scenes during pivotal plot points in order to find my way a little, but writing out something I am intending on having her look over to keep in my pile for further working? Nope. Got some sweet backstories, listed character traits, printed out pictures of everything I think is relevant. My excited father is like, send me scenes! Nope.
Just like when I felt like I had to come out with some good fiction as a kid, I am jamming up. I am so excited I finished another book for BookRiot to have something different to write today. It’s still writing, right? I also may have finished a scene for a short I am dragging myself through.
I am not used to feeling this way. In academia, I was reading the material and gathering sources for end of semester projects from the first week, ready to jump right in. Excited about what I was going to learn and how I was going to put it all together.
And here I am, having written a few decent things, like I did as a teen, and then hitting a wall when I decide to chase that rabbit down the hole.
There is something different this time, though. I know there is a way around the wall. I will probably sit and force myself to write terribly and tunnel my way through it. I have too much legwork already done to gum up before I put down anything to submit to my instructor. I am not a kid anymore.
But to my kid self: man, you were right, this sucks. And I am still glad that you didn’t want to rely your life on reading and writing. I am glad you decided to go in other directions, too.
Also, it is unrealistic to me to never read. Downtime has been eaten up by activities that lead to my self loathing, like scrolling way too much social media and watching shows that I get nothing out of other than entertainment while knitting (which is something, I can’t say it’s nothing at all). But I have been looking through the Read Harder challenge and finding shorter reads that fit the bill right now:
A Work of Genre Fiction in Translation:
Black Tea and Other Tales, Samuel Marolla
I feel this also gets extra points because it is self published, although as I have said before on this blog, I have read a good number of self published works that were as good as things being produced by publishers (two of whom I am thinking about right now, Ania Ahlborn and Intisar Khanani were both picked up by big fivers and they totally deserve it).
I actually liked the title story, Black Tea, the least. It was more confusing, more in your face horror with a grotesque monster than the other two. I don’t know if that is because it is maybe the most classic idea of horror that it got the top bill on this collection? I saw another reviewer on Amazon feeling similarly about Black Tea, but the following two stories, of a man with nothing to lose given a wish granting wine and an eleven year old boy cursed with a visiting nighttime spectre were intriguing and different. They were transporting and scary and I liked the settings. I wonder if people who don’t get through Black Tea also don’t make it to the other two stories, which would be a shame.
I always expect to like reading the different things that Read Harder makes me look into, and this did not disappoint. There were longer and more expensive books that I might have read, like Hex, which has been on my wishlist forever, but I liked something shorter right now. I am sure Hex will be diverting once I get into it.
So I am learning about how I will live my life around noveling. I think I should note that it is also a challenge right now because I have written a manuscript but on my own time frame. I want the bulk of this written/worked out by the summer, as I have to use my Skypes by six months from starting them. That is why I am turning down all my other hobbies. I have not committed to training for something long or a cabled sweater or an 8oo page novel or crafting down my craft backlog. Those things will wait. For now.
And I’ll figure it out. I don’t know what I am reading next but let’s be honest, I’ll have something chosen by the end of the day.