Just a quick
one this time… no writing update, just my state of mind. I can’t talk, so I write.
other way to put it, and this isn’t a good thing. My head feels like it’s
simultaneously exploding and being crushed, and my mind is doing that thing where
it’s trying to run from what I’m trying to do.
my life. My real life, the daily struggle I have with everything. Sometimes even
breathing seems like too much effort, and right now, today? I’ve triggered myself.
Or rather, an enjoyably part of my life that I was made to leave behind has
reared up and reminded me quite sharply that I failed.
gasp at once.
I failed something I’d been working towards for ten years, and I guess I’m not over it, and I don’t want to let it go. Couple that with the as-yet unshed tears at my nan’s passing, and the fact that one of my kids has moved away. Quadruple it with me recovering from a breakdown, not having enough money for my cat’s emergency surgery and throw in the constant failure to find work, and the terror and despair that comes with preparing and submitting each new application and what do we get?
We get me,
on the edge of breaking again.
worse is I’m too stubborn to show it, and so after writing this blog post I’ll
go for a walk or have a shower, get myself under control, try not to throw up
from anxiety and smile, like always.
There won’t be any tears, there will just be… this. Me, hiding behind a wall, so convinced I’ll fail everything that I’m too scared to even try. Yep, it’s definitely depressed hours. But don’t feel sorry for me, I really don’t want that… After all… I’ll be fine.
Moving on from the character biographies I was writing a few days ago (and bear in mind, these aren’t essays, merely 200-400 words per character), I decided to officially start on my world-building document. I have all of this information in my head for the trilogy I’m about to start writing, and as I got deeper into the character biographies, I realized I needed to write all of it down. If I didn’t, I was in danger of forgetting the little details I’d stumbled across.
You know the type, the tidbits of information your muses throw at you that just seem to fit.
So off I went, but before I got started, I thought I’d do a little google search on the how, when it came to constructing my worlds.
I won’t lie, it’s going to be convoluted.
…what I found, was that I was already doing everything the multiple blogs and writing pages told me to do, and I was doing it by instinct.
I already had a culture.
I already had a language (okay I didn’t
make it up, it’s a legit dead language that I’m going to use).
I already have my villains and their
reasons for what they’re going to do.
I have my real-life inspirations.
I have my twist on reality well thought
I have my reasons for why now and not in fifty years or some other seemingly random time period?
I have a couple of what ifs, a few plot
twists, what things smell like, reasons why some of them can’t cook… and an
opening for another trilogy, should I be lucky enough to be asked to do it (Hell,
I’ll write it for myself).
I even have muse specific song lists that suit scenes
that aren’t even written yet in my Spotify playlists.
The only thing I haven’t done is written it all down into anything that wasn’t the character bio. These things come to me while I’m out walking along the foreshore, having a conversation with someone, or yeah, in the wee hours of the morning while I’m trying to sleep.
There’s probably stuff I’ve missed, I’m not perfect. I’m not even writing this to brag that I’m some kind of amazing prophet when it comes to writing. My point, if I even have one, is that sometimes you’re doing it the ‘right’ way without even realizing there’s a technical way to do it. Technical might not be the right word there, but you get the idea… right? This isn’t a how-do, it’s more of a reflection on my part that I thought I’d share. A reflection of realization (again).
Sometimes your instincts are leading you in the right direction long before your mind is aware of it. If you’re lucky enough to have that happen, don’t waste time… go with it. Follow that path. Dive down the rabbit hole.
It’s been a hot second .. or ten. It happens, I get sidetracked easily by things, sometimes I get stuck in my head, sometimes I just stare at the wall. This time though, well, all I can really say is ‘shit got real’. Again.
I’ve been having feelings of real inadequacy, the crippling kind that lingers in dark places, whispering lies that your mind eventually starts to believe, because it’s a constant, never-ending presence that somehow comes to dominate your waking mind. I don’t really want to go into it, but suffice it to say I wasn’t ready for one of my sons to leave home, didn’t think it was going to take me over twelve months to find a job that will keep the roof over my head, and hey, let’s throw my wonderful Irish nan Delia Kathleen passing away a few days ago in there too.
I should be crying, but instead I’m numb.
Talking to my sister the other day, she absolutely hit the nail on the head. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something like this:
“When you’ve spend your whole life hurting, with one shitty thing happening after the other, it’s hard to react. Your emotions just shut down and you compartmentalise it, pushing it away to deal with later.. usually at a stupid time.”
And you know, she was right. I stack things up until the inevitable happens. Right now I think my friend Tiana is looking at me sideways, constantly waiting to come home and find me sitting in the bathtub with a bucket of ice-cream sobbing because I stepped on a piece of cat litter. She’s already got the broom ready.
There’s no in-between. I’m either a robot or a mess.
Ah, well. Sin é an saol
I can hear you now, asking what this has to do with my writing.. more, what does this have to do with my writing blog?
Everything and nothing.
You see, I have a lot of ingrained self esteem problems anyway. I have this grandiose idea for a book trilogy, I’ve got the main character biographies done, the world building is coming along nicely.
Okay, I’m going sideways for a minute. World building is new to me. Well, not so much that I do it, more that I’m physically doing it, writing it down instead of keeping it in my head, and let me tell you now…,
IT’S SO MUCH EASIER.
Oh my goodness. Every thought about the character, the little things, their races, the planet’s they’re from, their civilisations. All of it. It’s so much easier to keep track of WHO they are, and WHY they are when it’s written down and not just one of a million jumbled thoughts in my head. I highly recommend world building, either in a notebook, or in a word document. I’m not even close to done, I still have to write some more basic history of my main characters’ origins, but I can tell you right now, I feel closer to the actual book and the story now than I ever have.
It’s coming together. Finally.
Which actually brings me back to my earlier question and now I can answer it for you:
It was the death of my Nan last Saturday that kicked me in the arse. I wanted to do something to keep my mind busy so that I didn’t end up in the bathtub crying, and since I already had an Irish character, it was easy for me to invent him a mother.
Yes, I just immortalised my Nan as a fictional character in my book. You know the one, the one I have millions of notes for, have found a cool name for, but haven’t started yet. Actually, that isn’t true. I have started it, I started it a few years ago when I found myself with a muse for a certain Archangel, and another for a charismatic, vague alien. Every day I write something for at least one of my characters and these exercises help me to polish them into the tragic, salty, endearing messes that they are.
I guess the point of this blog entry was to remind myself, and everyone that forward movement doesn’t have to be in huge steps. It doesn’t even have to be daily.
practical tasks do you need to set yourself up as a professional writer?
Off the top of my head, this question brings
back to mind a recent conversation I had with another writer who is quite well
published and has been gently prodding me to put my work out there for some
time. I’m going to focus mostly on the outcomes of that conversation, though
there are definitely other paths that can be taken.
I’m a self-confessed potato, insecure in my abilities while simultaneously knowing I can construct a sentence that reads well without even really trying. Sounds like a horrific dichotomy, doesn’t it? Welcome to my world. A world where there are countless new, original characters (muses) in my head alongside mythological ones who are equally as interesting and under-represented in stories, all of them clamouring for a voice. All of them demanding that I be that voice and tell the world (or like, three of you) their stories.
Let me set you a scene. Give you an example.
There’s a bar in my head, timber and brass
fittings, fairy lights, high tables and stools, booths lining the walls, a juke
box and a dance floor where my muses occasionally break into song. The dominant
ones sit at the bar, the quiet ones who are sad or preoccupied are usually in a
booth. For some reason Sam Winchester is always in a booth with his stupid laptop
and a Wi-Fi connection that never fails and I have no idea why. He doesn’t say
much. My muses are distracting, but entertaining and I wouldn’t have it any
other way (and I’m sure my housemate Tiana is going to go ‘ahhhhh that
To set oneself up as a professional writer, a lot of the recommended steps to take are really just common sense. The idea is to get your name out there, so with that in mind, creating an online presence is quite possibly the most important thing an emerging writer could possibly do. It’s not just about Facebook, though that is certainly an option.
Twitter and Instagram are good ones to use, particularly because of the hashtags that allow writers to connect with each other with tags such as #writerslife, #writerproblems and #writingcommunity. Once those two are set up, an online blog is the next logical step, and it’s here you can really get samples of your work out there. Wix and WordPress are good places to start. I have both and the jury is out on which one I prefer. You need an active blog. After all, if you don’t, then how can you give voice to those muses in your head that are crying to be heard?
Blogging also gives you a platform to do interesting things like book reviews, cross promotion of your writing buddies’ works and even let people know if you’re going to be touring or manning a stall at Oz Comic-Con, and let’s be realistic, that would be one fun weekend. Find me in authors’ alley wearing either superhero/villain cosplay or a Pokemon onesie. There’s no in-between.
Don’t. Stop. Me nowwww.
Having a writing schedule is also considered a ‘must’. This is good if you’re doing paid writing work like freelancing or writing articles. It’s not for everyone, but strategic use of time is infinitely better than waffling around for days not knowing where to start. (Chuck knows I am hopeless at sitting down to write and actually doing the writing – mostly I make notes or just have scenes running in my head). Needless to say, I don’t use this method simply because it doesn’t work for me, but I’m trying it out. Sort of. I’m thinking about it, okay?
I’d mention YouTube blogging but I don’t have that, although my friend Emma does and she’s published too. Maybe I’ll ask her about it and write another blog post. Maybe she’ll make a vlog about me making a blog about her vlog and we’ll all get confused.
These are just a few examples, and although setting
up an online blog can be a little daunting (the colour schemes!), they
are worth it, and can be easily linked to your other online accounts! What’s
that you say? Yes, with just one post, you can hit all of your social media
followers and really get your name out there.