Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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Striving for Positivity

I’ll never get published, I hate my writing!

Oh, yeah, I love what I wrote.

I’m a fraud, people will find me out!

Damn, I’m incredibly competent.

I’m going to drop out of all social media!

Wow, look at this great conversation.

Nobody likes me.

I love you all!

 

This is what the inside of my brain looks like today. Which brings me to an important point about exclamation marks (seriously). Look at the list above. All the negative sentiments are emphasized with them, and none of the positive ones…until the last. Because that’s where I’ve ultimately ended up today.

Look, writing is a tough business. There’s precious little praise and entire dung heaps of rejection. It’s hurry up and wait. It’s biting our nails. It’s looking for validation anywhere we can find it. It’s the inevitable feelings of worthlessness, followed by the inevitable (but generally short-lived) feelings of competence. Like a good game of table tennis, we go back and forth, back and forth.

Last night I had to fill out a form detailing my occupation for the past ten years, and I left off writer. Why? Because in my brain–in that space I was in at the time–I decided I had no viable proof that I could call myself a writer. My published stories have gone out of print. I don’t write regularly on this blog any more. I’m not agented. I’m not even sure which of my works I’m going to pitch in the face-to-face sessions I have lined up. That old enemy of mine, self-doubt, made a roaring comeback.

It’s so easy to harp on all the bad things and forget the good ones.

But really, I am a writer and self-doubt will slink away like it always does, tail between its legs. Back into the darkness. Still, at times like this I am so appreciative of my friends and my writing community. Without you guys, I might fill with too much self-loathing and be one of those people who announces they’re quitting the writing world forever, see you on the other side. When I’m smart I remind myself it doesn’t matter what stage of our career we’re in–just starting, manuscript complete, querying, agented, on sub, published–we all have the same nagging doubts and fears.

So let me ward that off for you. When you sit there and ask yourself am I good enough? the answer is yes. When you wonder if you’ll ever be successful, the answer is yes. When you think you can’t possibly do this for one more day, the answer is you can. 

Now all I have to do is remember that myself.


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I said that last time. It became a pastime.

Bonus points! I got you here using Hamilton lyrics!

Seriously, though: we’re moving again. Last time I told myself it was our last move for a long time, but it hasn’t really been all that long. So it goes. Onward and upward, and hopefully this time will be the last time for a great many years.

I’m excited for it, but it’s put a cramp in my writing style. Today was a good day, though. For the first time in many weeks, I had a few uninterrupted hours to write so I took advantage of it. Getting back in the swing of this story felt so good.

Honestly, I’ve tried not writing and I just get cranky and depressed. It’s better for me (and for the world around me) if I take the time I need to be creative.


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Also, my hair is a mess

First, a personal aside: growing out one’s hair is always fraught with peril. I keep thinking why not just cut it super short again? Then I won’t have to worry. But I don’t.

I figured I’d update the progress on my beloved manuscript. I’ve been cruising along since May 19, when I went out, guns blazing, determined to write at least 2000 words a day* until I got to 60,000 words. That would bring me to a finish on 6/17. Not bad for a month’s work!

Today my word count is 52,671. I’d like to pretend I’ll finish ahead of schedule, but I’m a little off the mark in terms of where I should be with my (now a little fluid) outline. I confess, 60k seems a bit skimpy for a complete manuscript and I knew I’d have to give myself leeway. It’s easier to edit out a scene than to come up short and have to try to fight for words in the revision stage, so I’m okay with this.

The biggest news is that I’m having so much fun working on this story. I’ve mentioned this is my 4th rewrite and they’ve all been good. At this point it’s almost like writing fanfiction about my own work, which is illegal amounts of fun.

So here’s the bottom line: surprisingly, I’m not as afraid of revision as I used to think. This is me, cheering myself on with my little Go Writer flag.

*In case you can’t tell, I am hugely motivated by word count goals.


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Dream of a Different Flavor

Two nights ago, I had a dream about Jeff Buckley. Thank you, subconscious, reminding me of the anniversary of his death today. I don’t spend my day in mourning for someone I never knew, although I’m one of an untold number of people whose heart was touched by his music, his voice, his presence. My subconscious repeatedly insists on trying to convince him not to move to Memphis, but by the light of day I always wake to find I’ve failed once again.

A few lovely articles:

My Hero: Jeff Buckley, by Benjamin Wood

Jeff Buckley: ‘Either Cursed, or the Luckiest Man Alive’ by Ted Kessler

An Interview with Jeff, by Daryl Mason


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Waiter, there’s a goat in my soup.

Oh no, wait: there are goats in my yard.

goats goats goats

Every year, the park district contracts with a nearby goat farm to clear out the weeds and long grasses and other fire hazards. Today is goat day! They arrive in two batches on long-bed trucks and stay in the park until it’s grazed to the ground.

Because we live closest to the park, we also do a trade with the goat keepers. In exchange for the goats reducing the weeds and grasses in our back yard, we keep them supplied with water (and the shepherd with electricity for his trailer). It’s a win/win.

I happened to look out and saw these fine specimens trying to climb the tree to get to the fresh juicy leaves. Have at it, kids (ba-a-a-a-d pun).


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Death is like that.

“Dead?” said Sophie. She had a silly impulse to add, But she was alive just an hour ago! And she stopped herself, because death is like that: people are alive until they die.

–Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle

A lot of people like to make mother-in-law jokes. I’ve heard a few good ones: What’s the definition of “mixed emotions?” Watching your mother-in-law back off a cliff in your brand new Mercedes. That one was probably my favorite. My mother-in-law Molly liked that joke.

I didn’t have the mixed emotions about her. She lived five minutes away and I visited her nearly every day. She told me stories and secrets and gave me the details of her life she never shared with either of her sons, and I loved her. She passed away in her sleep this weekend at the age of 96. I hope she’s in a place free of pain and concern, and that she knows we love and miss her.


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Shaking Things Up

Today I took a long look at one of the ways I’ve been defining myself and decided it’s time to drop a self-imposed restriction.

For a long time I’ve been defining myself as not liking fantasy as a genre. But when I look at what I enjoy most I realize I’ve read all of A Song of Ice and Fire and will read the rest of the books whenever GRRM writes them, and I’ve watched all of Game of Thrones and April 24 can’t come soon enough: there’s some hardcore fantasy.

What am I in the middle of in my downtime: Dragon Age: Inquisition and Heroes of Dragon Age. Guess what? Fantasy.

What was my first favorite book series? The Lord of the Rings. More fantasy!

It’s time to come to terms with this. I admit it now. Fantasy is an awesome genre. My intention when I started this post was to say it’s a great genre, but I can’t write it. Wrong! Which stories have I had published? Both fantasy.

Also, almost all the scifi I love best has elements of fantasy woven into it. There’s a slim line, actually, between a lot of fantasy elements and a lot of SF elements. Think Cylons as an army of Orcs, or Last Exile’s Silvana as Galactica or the Enterprise… things intertwine in so many ways. This is probably patently obvious to everyone already. About time I threw off the shackles of thinking of fantasy as something it isn’t and embracing it on an intellectual level for everything it is.

I could probably write for pages and pages about romance-as-fantasy, but I’ll quit while I’m ahead. You’re welcome.