Okey-dokey. I had a shitty day, but am now pleasantly flushed with red wine, so. Obviously, it’s blog article writing time.
There’s currently a Category 4 hurricane headed for Florida, and not a damn thing I can do about it. But maybe, some distraction? Let’s do something fun. (I have a feeling my definition of fun is somewhat skewed these days, since I consider copy edits fun. \o/ Bear with me.) When I asked for suggestions for writer-ly blog posts on twitter a while back (still taking suggestions *hints strongly*) my friend Laura gave me an awesome list of questions. So. Err. Without further ado.
What do you want to write in the future?
ALL THE THINGS.
Seriously, I don’t even know how to answer this. Like. There are So. Many. Things to write. I know some people keep idea journals or jot stuff down or whatnot. That all seems so incredibly organized to me. I wish I could do that. I almost never have enough of a thought to do that, though. My plot bunnies are vague as fuck. Which makes writing both exciting and terrible! I commend you, plotter, note-taker writers.
This is why I’m such a shitty outliner.
So, okay. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a line of stories I’d sort of vaguely like to tell, which may or may not come out anything like their original idea.
I really want to write post-apocalyptic. Romance! Post-apocalyptic romance. I love post-apocalyptic. It’s my ultimate comfort read. The problem with this is… the apocalypse doesn’t seem far off. We’re basically on the brink of nuclear war. My mom, the most rational person on earth, is storing water in jugs in the pantry. This is just… not an atmosphere for writing post-apocalyptic without wanting to curl up and die. So that’s a bit off the table.
I want to write about tall ships. Probably fantasy. (Remember when I said my ideas were vague?)
I want to write Ty’s story. (No one’s met Ty yet, as I’m writing this, except my editor and a couple friends. But I’m both really looking forward to and absolutely terrified of writing this.) I’d like to write something about Eric, Micah’s best friend in Escaping Indigo.
I have a m/m/m story… sort of… that’s probably not a romance, that I’ve been trying to write FOREVER and it’d be nice to finish that. If I can figure out how.
Basically, I’m open to writing damn near anything. Probably not mystery, because my brain isn’t built for that. Probably not westerns, but never say never. I mean. I said I wasn’t going to write werewolves or contemporary and then I did both. So. No rape, abuse, or animal abuse—these ones I can pretty much promise. There’s a place for those things, I suppose, but that place is probably never going to be in my books.
I would like to write ALL THE FANTASY. God, do I miss writing fantasy. If I could get Ty out of my head for .2 seconds, it’d be fantasy all the time. But they’re quite a stubborn character.
How do you avoid/get over writer’s block?
Oh, so, I should not be answering this question. Even slightly tipsy. I haven’t the slightest what writer’s block is.
I’m almost, almost tempted to say there’s no such thing. But I do know some people who just can’t write anymore. And I’m inclined to believe them when they describe how difficult or emotionally painful it is. So that would be my definition of writer’s block.
I’ve never had that. There have been times when I simply didn’t want to write. When it felt like pulling teeth or torturing myself, and I would rather have done anything else. When I wrote Skin Hunger, I cried every time I sat down to write. For no reason, except that writing was hurting me—not because of the book at all–it’s not a sad book–just because of the whole… thing I had going on about writing at the time.
The thing is… I think that everyone’s definition of writer’s block is going to be different. For me, there’s a difference between not wanting to write, or not feeling in the right mood/place/mind frame to write, and sincerely not being able to write.
Also, for me, writing is a job. It’s the best job ever, and I love it, but even with the best job, there are going to be times when you don’t want to do it. When you’d rather stay in bed, or play video games, or work on something else. When you’re not in the mood, or don’t feel like it, or you have the flu. But it’s my job, so I make myself. Even if someone doesn’t consider it a job–unless you’re self-publishing, and even then–there are people waiting for you to get things more or less done, more or less on time. You make promises to your publisher, your editor, your readers. So there are going to be days when I don’t feel like writing, and I just fucking have to. Having to is a pretty good motivator, for me.
But, seriously, some of the best writing advice I ever got was from my high school math teacher, and I use it every time I don’t want to write, or feel stuck—feeling stuck, and this fear of not… being able to plot, or to not being able to write something good, or being tapped on ideas, is, for me, the thing that comes the closest to actual block. Fear of the blank page. Anyway, my math teacher was standing at the board, with this huge math problem on it, trying to get someone to say where to start so we could solve it. And none of us knew. We were all scared of this thing, because it looked impossible. And he said, “Well, what do you do if you have writer’s block? You just write anything.”
I really doubt to this day whether that’s a good way to solve math problems. But it’s an EXCELLENT way to avoid writer’s block. Just write anything. Start typing. Most of my books have happened this way.
Also, I love writing. Reminding myself that writing is fun is a good way to… keep doing it.
What has surprised you the most since you started writing?
So…. I’ve been staring at this question for a while and I just don’t know the answer. Possibly this has something to do with the wine. And I could be really snarky and write something honest but awful—“I’m genuinely surprised at how much like dirt authors are consistently treated!”—but I know there are a ton more good things that have surprised me.
Like, I’m honestly surprised that I like my editor. You always hear that editors are these awful people who want to come in and stomp on your work—and I didn’t think that at all, but the idea of being edited was scary, even when I knew I needed it. But it’s never been even close to that. And I love working with my main editor, May. She makes it fun.
I’m surprised at how very far I could get, or can possibly get still, without an agent. Which is good because agents want to have absolutely nothing to do with my brand of weird books.
I’m amazed at how the oddest things can make me remember that I still love writing. Like staying up until the wee hours, listening to the same twelve songs on repeat, and coming out with an epilogue that I couldn’t even imagine a few hours before. Or writing a story that’s simply… because it makes me happy, and having people say afterwards, ‘That was great.’ That’s magic. That reminds me why writing is everything.
I’m surprised at how completely okay I am with tons (I hope it’s tons but maybe dozens is better) of absolute strangers reading books that basically amount to small pieces of my heart. I mean, when you write… when I write, it tends to be very personal. *flings bits of self into the void* And I’m totally okay with that.
Mostly I’m surprised—and this is mushy so please excuse me, I’m drunk—I’m surprised at how much like home writing feels like. In order for that to make sense, you have to realize that I’ve always written, but it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started doing it seriously, and wondering if I could make something of it. And before that I had bounced around doing a lot of things that made me happy or felt almost like home, but weren’t. And then I started seriously writing, and looking up what authors had to say, and going to see them speak, and realizing they were saying stuff I related to in so many ways. It was like I FOUND MY PEOPLE. And my place.
And I’m surprised at the friends I’ve made, as a reader and as an author. People who are, miraculously, there for me, and who I want to be there for in return. People who get what I’m struggling with and share my excitement and happiness when something good happens. People I just genuinely love spending time with, and am incredibly lucky to know. I had no idea that this would happen. It wasn’t even an inkling in my brain. When I was starting to write my first book, I had this vague idea that maybe I would get to talk to some authors on twitter. Like maybe if I made it far enough I’d be allowed to tweet at them. And now some of them are friends and it is, without question, the best thing to ever happen to me. I know I go on about this every single chance I get, but. I just can’t explain how wonderful it is to me.