Monster on my shoulder

There’s a monster on my shoulder. It’s been with me a long, long time. It’s a mutt of a monster, part pride, part insecurity. It whispers mean, undermining things into my ear and convinces me constantly that everything I do is worthless, uninspired, something to be ashamed of. But I think I must love my monster, or want to hide behind it, or something, because I can’t seem to get rid of it.

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Over the weekend my sister and I were chatting, and she was telling me about her troubles, and I just had to wince with how much we struggled with the same issues. Her troubles are not precisely mine, of course, but the root causes are the same — lack of confidence, perfectionism and a helping of self-sabotage. I can see how our shared upbringing encouraged some of these things, but it makes me sad that neither of us have fully managed to overcome them. For her, it induces creative paralysis or a complete lack of desire to create. For me, I keep creating, but I constantly feel like I’m an idiot, flinging myself at a brick wall and not seeing that I’m never going to break it down. I’m always fighting the voice that says “why bother” and “you suck anyway.” That little voice has warped various teachings into “if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.”

To which I say: screw you voice. I’m doing it anyway.

Slowly, slowly, I’m fighting through the shame of putting out something that isn’t the best thing anyone anywhere and anywhen has ever read. That sometimes isn’t even to my (horribly, impossibly high) standards. Part of that is learning that most people don’t seem to give a crap if every sentence is a shining jewel among sentences or not; if they like the story, or they like the characters, they’ll forgive a lot. That’s not an excuse to be lazy or sloppy–heaven forbid!!–but it is an excuse to stop being frozen by fussing and fussing over three words. Part of it is accepting that there will always be someone who will hate the story, who will think it’s not good, who will laugh at it, criticize it, mock it, belittle it and… I can’t do a single thing about it. And there’s no point worrying about it in advance. It may hurt when it happens, but if it gave me pleasure to make the story in the first place, well–all I can do is try to learn what, if anything, I did technically wrong, and try to improve. And it may well be that it’s simply not the right audience. That does happen.

Anyway, maybe eventually I’ll be “good enough” to make myself happy. But in the meantime I just have to keep working, and writing, and trying to get better, because that’s the only way to actually get anywhere.

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One-Line Army

A recent link to the Phase method of novel writing reminded me of the Snowflake method, which in turn led me to remember the log-lines exercise on edittorrent, which, unlike the first two, I actually would do. (I’m just not that methodical–over-outlining or overthinking a story would mean I lose all interest before I ever finish it. This modified snowflake method is probably as far as I could take it, though probably still too detailed and fussy for me.)

So for s&gs, between work, I started doing the log-line exercise. And laughing, because I had a hard time taking it seriously, and ended up filling out the worksheet part a bit facetiously. However, I think I did come up with a few reasonable one-line summaries of the story–which are a bit useful.

I’ll post my favorite two above the cut, and the rest plus the worksheet–which does contain spoilers–below it. If you’ve done the log-lines exercise, or feel like doing it, I’d love to see yours!  If you don’t feel like doing it, feel free to laugh at mine!

Torn from a life of idleness by a magical attack on his family, a merchant’s son must hunt down a mad prince before he can turn the witches of the Shining Empire into his own flesh-hungry army.

Torn from his idle life by a brutal magical attack on his family, ne’er-do-well Taiver must hunt down a mad prince before he can pervert the very nature of magic in the Shining Empire.

(more…)

In the name of…

… So in “Empire” some of the characters are, at least by what they say, very devout. They speak a lot of their god, who is a four-aspect god collectively named Firkhenn. However, that word, in their language, just means God.

So in the name of being literal, I’ve been having them just say “God” when they speak of Firkhenn, and it’s been bugging me. And the only reason I can figure out is that generally, when we’re speaking English and we say God-with-a-capital-G, we’re speaking of the Judeo-Christian God. We say “Allah” when we mean the Muslim God, and we say the names of the gods when we speak of Greek or Hindu gods, and now I’ve run out of gods I know of since Buddha is not a god or God, really. (Maybe I need more comparative religion.)

What do you think? Have you ever run into this problem before? Have you ever had your fantasy characters speak of their god as God? What were your thoughts about it?

Reviews like these

The last post was kind of hilariously timely, in that after I wrote it, I proceeded to have one of the worst work weeks I’ve had in a really long time. Horrible to the point that I haven’t written anything worth counting all week, until today, when I had a day to recover and do my workshop homework. The assignment was to convert one of our exercises into a piece of flash fiction. I’m amused by the result, if not entirely confident in it.

That said, I also stumbled over this wonderful, wonderful review of Re-Vamp on Goodreads. Thank you, Sarah Grant. You improved my week a hundredfold.

Now, I think I’ll wait a little bit longer for this phone call I was hoping for, then go hunting some wild supper.