Well, this is embarrassing…

Remember when you were young, and everything was new? When life seemed full of possibilities, and you wanted to experience everything life had to offer? Everyday was Christmas, and life was Santa. Well, when it came to writing it was, anyway.

 (I nearly put ‘the joy of writing’ into Google, but was terrified of the potential for scary, hairy men doing inappropriate things to words. It’s the internet. It could happen.)

During those heady days of my writing youth, adverbs were things to be liberally sprinkled. Adjectives were faithful friends, so no one could misunderstand the minutiae of the emotion I was trying so hard to convey. Metaphors were delicious, rich puddings to share with the world, and similes were like the chocolate sauce atop them. Alliteration, always an appreciated addition, was added to… yeah, okay, I’ll stop now. Promise.

After finding out Dark Moon  have so kindly decided to publish my short story ‘When the Moon Hangs Fat’, I decided to dust off another old short story I wrote a few years ago, to see if I could possibly polish that one up and send it out. I knew I liked the premise (it has all my favourite things in it: caves; alternate dimensions; ancient, forbidden knowledge; mad stuff), but upon reading it, all I can do is cringe.

Why? It’s simple. Overwriting.

Once upon a time, I was an advocate of the overwriter. Still am, in a way – I’m not a fan of those austere pieces where any kind of emotion has been leached out by the writer’s strict adherence to the ‘no adjective/adverb/metaphor/simile rule (I’m sure you know the type. They tend to write sentences of no more than 6 words, and hang around looking superior, trying to make other people do the same thing). I like a good bit of flaky description. But bloody hell, I’d forgotten just how much flaky description I used to enjoy.

But it’s not that I’m embarrassed about. I mean, I used to be a goth (and a chubby one at that – not so much pale and interesting as pink and giggly), and you’ve got to have a pretty high tolerance for silliness if you’re going to do that right (still do – whilst I fear I am too old for the hardcore stuff, the love is still there).  No, what embarrassed me is that I not only wrote this baroque pile  of nonsense, but I also posted it up for critique. And then argued with people who told me it was a baroque pile of nonsense.

So here’s the lesson, kiddiwinks – you might think it’s cool now, but a few years down the line, you’re going to realise that the liberal use of adjectives (and excessive use of parma violet lipstick) is not quite as edgy or as cool as once you thought, and that those people who critted you so kindly were actually right… so don’t flounce about and make a complete and utter tit of yourself. It’ll save you much cringing in the long run!

Off to continue re-writing – it’s painful, but like a little bit of self-flagellation, it’s good for the soul (or so I hope!).

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I’m being published!!

After a, quite frankly, crappy few days running up to going back to work, I was feeling a little down this evening. And then I received this email:

Dear Ms. Waller, Congratulations, we would like to use your story, “When the Moon Hangs Fat” for an upcoming edition of either Dark Moon Digest, our horror quarterly, or Dark Eclipse, our monthly emag. If this works for you, I will get you an edited copy of your story here soon. Thank you for your submission to Dark Moon, and I look forward to your reply.

Can I squee? SQUEEEE!!!!!!!! My first story, in print!

Okay, so it’s only a short story, but it’s a start… I can undertake my first proper day back at work (tomorrow – today I just prepared) with a smile on my face now!

The Doubt Shoggoth

You might have a doubt monster – I have a doubt shoggoth, and it is sitting on my shoulders, smothering me with protoplasmic nastiness, pulling me into the very depths of doubt-despair (melodramatic, I know, but this is a shoggoth, dammit!).

I have currently revised and rewritten 20 chapters of my novel. I have about (I say about, because part of the revising process is about splitting those 10,000+ word chapters up so they are more sociably acceptable) 8 to go. So I should be rejoicing, non?

Ahh, non, mon ami. Non indeed.

Why? Well, like a shoggoth, the reasons are manifold (and sticky.Well, okay, maybe not really sticky, but they’re sure bunging me up!). Whilst I have done the bulk of the rewriting, there’s still a lot of gaps to fill. I’ve had new ideas as I’ve gone along this revision, which I need to backfill (again). I still don’t have a proper chapter one, and I’m in two minds how I want to approach it. The last few chapters, which I wrote in an orgy of abandonment, are a mess of interstellar proportions (rather like the rest of the novel was, really!). Etc etc ad nauseum.

But the biggest bubble on the shoggoth’s back – the one that is really keeping me up (alongside Emily, who has decided 3 hours sleep a night is quite enough, thank you very much), is that hideous question:

“After all this work; after all this love; after all this attention… is it really any good?”

If you read other writing blogs, or anything from any editor ever, the answer is ‘don’t be stupid, of course it isn’t’, because according to them, every. single. novel written by an aspiring writer is unmitigated shite. Or so it seems.

I suppose I won’t know until I actually let someone read the damn thing. But no one’s going to read the damn thing until it is more socially acceptable. And right now, it isn’t all that socially acceptable, so no one is going to read it yet. And around and around we go, with the doubt shoggoth’s tentacles squeezing and squeezing and squeezing…

Boy, I wish I drank… I could do with something quite strong right now. Instead I shall go and clean the toilet and huff in the bleach fumes for a bit.

Are You Samantha Brick?

Have you been following this Samantha Brick nonsense? Just in case you haven’t…

Samantha Brick  Thinks She’s Pretty (and if you don’t agree, you’re just a jealous hater)

Personally, I think it’s all a bit of a joke – if I was a betting woman, I’d say Ms Brick is a struggling new journalist (with a wonky face… I don’t want to sound bitchy, but come on!) who wants a bit of publicity.

But I’m not here to debate her (the internet has done that admirably already). No, I’m here to ask if we all are a bit of a Samantha Brick at heart.

How many times have you read something when it is obvious the poster thinks their piece is a work of genius? I’m not talking about being proud of something – it goes beyond that – but balls-out ‘this is the best thing you’ll even read and you’d better not disagree with me, or you’re a hater’ stuff.

And how many times have we all posted something up, only to be secretly pissed off at the person who dares to pick up on our foibles? I know I have. My secret vice is Lovecraftian purple prose. I love it. I love writing it, I love reading it… but everyone else outside of the Lovecraft Scene hates it. And probably with good cause – it’s not exactly in vogue right now. But I used to post up my Lovecraftian stuff, waiting for people to be stunned by my masterful use of 20 gajillion adjectives and adverbial phrases, when instead, I was slapped down like a wet kipper. And rightly so (although it doesn’t stop me from indulging in private… oooo, dirty, dirty, dirty! Speak adjectives to me!)

But this also has a more sinister side, because it’s not restricted to people who post their own work up. recently, I’ve come across far more examples of it from people who critique work. People who, rather than wanting to help the writer improve their piece, want to show how special they are by just rewriting the whole damn thing in their style and leaving it at that. No ‘it might help if you thought about doing this’ or, have you thought about approaching it this way?’ and an example of what they mean to illustrate how it might help you – the literary version of redlining in art, if you like – but straight down the middle rewriting whole chapters with no advice whatsoever, just a smug air of  ‘see how much better than you I am?’.

I will say, it’s never happened to me, but I’ve seen it happen to a lot of people recently, and it makes my blood boil.

So here’s the bottom line: critiques are supposed to help people. They are not supposed to be an excuse for you to show people how special and wonderful you are.

*And relax…*

NB: All ‘you’s are universal, of course. 🙂

Edward in a Glitter Factory

Hello everyone! Back from Dorset now – meant to post sooner, but the kids have been ill and Emily has decided yet again that sleep is for weak babies, so I’m a little disconnected from reality right now. As in ‘I’m pretty sure those blue sparkles that light everything up like Edward in a glitter factory aren’t really there’.

This has nothing to do with the blog. I'm just sticking it here because I think it's funny. *sniggers*

 

Any hoo – that’s all by the by, ‘cos the real purpose of this blog is to share a Fantasy Short Story competition with you all:

Fantasy Writing Competiton 

I’m thinking of entering… well, I’ve got until June, and on a good day (if Embo sleeps!) I can knock out 2K a day and the limit is 8K…  so why not? I’m thinking of possibly using Kailas’s backstory (main male protag from Dragonsoul) as my stimulus – his past is only really hinted at in the novel, so this would be a good excuse to explore his character a bit more and get a short story out of it, too.

But, then again, I have the attention span of a gnat (a sparkly gnat, no less) right now, so we’ll see…