Focusing on my current career path has taken me away from writing and craft work for a second. I also do not live in a safe or healthy environment which also wreaks havoc on my ability to write.
It’s not that I don’t want to write. Nothing should hold me back from letting all these stories out of my head. Sometimes I have a spell of not writing for a while, which is normal. And I keep telling myself it’s okay. But I know somewhere inside that the reason I can’t do the writing I love is because of where I am physically and financially and where it puts me in my own head and emotionally.
Besides, no reader wants to hear that an author can’t deliver.
Two people in my life, more privileged than I in opportunities and background, have openly admitted that the problems they face in life are a direct result of choices they’ve made. In my case, that isn’t true. So I find myself barred from the worlds in my head that desire manifestation through the written word as I clean up messes that were made before I ever even born or thought of. Inherited messes that have made me stronger and yet somehow also weakened me and continue to stunt my growth. It’s personal, it’s me. And more than half of it isn’t my fault yet I find myself on damage control on my own life.
Can’t write. Can’t stop thinking about writing. It feels toxic. It hurts. Holding all this stuff inside my head on eternal pause. Worrying that something will slip away forever and I’ll never get it back.
Honestly, I’m between a rock and a harder rock.
This morning when my body woke me up at 6am with a painful, unexplainable adrenaline surge as it has done for the past couple months regardless of how much sleep I’ve gotten prior to the waking, I did write. I added to the next chapter of Infinity Second.
It felt good. Writing.
And I hope it doesn’t go away.
Between anime and fiction novels of other authors and artists, I’ve started writing about four fan fictions. I like D. Gay-Man by Katsura Hoshino and the anime is the basis for my current longest fanfiction. I’ve had a lot of fun.
But I’m not sure how I feel about the genre.
Taking too much license with someone else’s work makes feel uncomfortable. Some authors and artists don’t approve of fanfiction based off their stuff. I know if I had a huge following where people wrote fanfiction based on my novels, there are things I’d draw the line at whether I had a say in what fanfic writers do or not. And if an artist asked me not to write fanfic based on their work, I would respect their wishes.
Spending a lot of time in my life trying to find value and meaning in what the mainstream publishing industry shoves under my nose has given me a taste for what I refer to as critfic: Fiction that is not necessarily fanfiction. Fiction that is written in order to talk back to another author’s work critically. (Of course for me to go out of my way to write a critfic on your book, there has to be something of value in it for me to get that worked up in first place.)
Maybe its just anime and Twilight, but I’ve seen some fans do some crazy and sometimes downright offensive stuff even with my limited exposure to the fanfic community. Sexualizing characters and situations that really shouldn’t be is at the top of my list.
And why write fanfiction based on somebody else’s work when you should be finishing your books? At least that’s what I ask myself often, especially when I start going down the critfic path over some novel and author that was ultimately offensively and infuriatingly disappointing. Yet another dilemma of the-writer-who-is-a-reader or the-reader-who-is-a-writer.
Just turning over some of my thoughts here. Personally, in fanfiction, I don’t like assuming too much about another writer’s work, like what their characters would or wouldn’t say. It feels too much like guessing the original author’s or artist’s intentions. I find ways to write around doing that as much as possible. I also tend to use my own original characters crafted for that author’s universe (and my own work) and write more about what I appreciate about that author’s work. Or what want to comment on from the other author’s work. Which reminds me how cool it would be to, maybe, co-author a book with another writer someday. That’s definitely a dream of mine. Its cool in my head at least.
*Heavy sigh* Recently, (as I’m working, teaching as a volunteer, dealing with life in general, writing fan fiction and crit fiction, and continuing to attempt to finish novels like Oracle) I read about five romance stories available on Amazon for my Kindle. All of them were by white writers and half of them were historical romances. At the behest of my friend, I also started reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. But for right now I want to talk about the romances I read.
I’m glad I didn’t pay for four of them. The fact that four of them were offered for free has no reflection on their quality. The fault lies in the genre of romance and the publishing market itself.
Romance, as much as I love it, appears to be a pitiful genre. A pitiful genre fluffed with toxic disappointments and ignorant white fantasies. I mean, J.R. Ward pretty much destroyed my desire to read anything for almost ten years. That’s not an exaggeration. I literally never wanted to pick up another book again, especially not a romance. It wasn’t just because of what Ward chooses to write in her books (and what she actively chooses to exclude), its because I lost all faith her as a writer because of things she posted on her blog and her cloud of brainwashed flunky readers backing up her every word. I lost faith in all authors at that point. Even myself.
With the extreme deficit of general love in my life, I’m not sure my brain is wired to want literature devoid of that sweet pulsing vein of erotic, romantic passion. As long as writers are pandering to a specific pattern, a marketable trend, romance can never be what I need it to be. And I’ll never be satisfied with the way things are.
Faced with an impossible choice: Ween myself off romance and find something more fulfilling? Or have faith that underneath all the crap there’s a few shining jewels of romantic literature worth the time its taking to find them?
Every time I re-read a book, I see something I didn’t see before. My journey as reader and writer is to see the soul of an author’s work.
Sometimes readers will make comments about my work that make me think, You didn’t actually read what I wrote, did you. I’d be the last person to turn down constructive criticism. But if I sense that they’re offering “advice” or “criticism” but didn’t take the time to read the words and understand them to formulate a useful opinion, I get irritated and jazzy in the mouth, just downright sassy towards them.
When I read, I don’t go in saying, “Let me see how well this author writes like my favorite author!”. (Also because I don’t have a favorite author.) And I don’t write stories for people who skim and speed read or want something fun, quick, and trashy to read at the airport. No, as a reader, I try to see how that writer is delivering information, details, so that my imagination paints on the canvas of my mind and shows me the story.
Social networking: I’ve never been one to use Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. Honestly, I thought they were superfluous fads. Of course, they can be useful but most of the time it’s about numbers. Yes I want people who are interested in me and interested in my work and want to follow me but blogging and social networking sites look like a popularity contest with a circus on top and I’ve never been the type to get caught up in those types of things or the type to attract that sort of attention. If rather have one reader who really likes and finds value in my work than a thousand followers that I have no real connection to. I’ve created profiles in several different places but I don’t use them, not the personal ones or the professional ones. Now that I have them, I’m not sure I should get rid of them even though I don’t use them. You never know what will be useful later. A tool that’s not relevant now might be a good thing to have in the future.
As much as I hate popularity contests and trying to win people over, planning and scheming, and numbering people, I always agonize over whether or not people hear me (as evident in my agonizing over whether cover art is part of my problem). Am I writing and no one is reading? But aren’t I writing for myself? If that’s true, then why does it matter who read it and how many? But, as a writer, I’m supposed to care about that right? With so many digital methods of reaching people, or audiences as they say, shouldn’t I be doing everything I can to connect with readers? How can you know for sure if you reached even one person on a meaningful level?
I’ve always believed that social networking and the internet has made people lazy and ultimately uninterested in each other. Everything seems so impersonal. Click a button to “like”. Share with contacts. “Unlike”. Follow. Retweet. Reblog. It seems meaningless and shallow. It gives some people a reason to be lazy and hide from solid connections with others. Some it strengthens and helps maintain their connections. Others it gives them a chance to meet in the first place.
So far I’ve deleted my Twitter and my Tumblr (which is still there but I’m not using it). I still have a FB page that isn’t getting any hits so that’s next on the list because I see the tumbleweeds a-blowing ’round. Honestly, I don’t know what will work for me. Even with this blog, I try only to post once a month out of concern for doing way too much.
I wanted to publish something before the end of the year, namely the second half of Path of the Righteous. Looks like I may not be publishing anything at all. What’s more important, publishing or writing?
I have finished the initial draft of my short story, Love Little. It’s about a mousey boy in an “out-crowd-of-one” named Love Little whose disappointed parents send him to summer camp where he meets an unexpected friend and kindred spirit. I wanted my #1 fan and beta reader to read it for me but it has so many typos and other assorted rough patches, that I asked her to hold off even though I’ve already eye emailed it to her.
After I lost two to three months worth of work on my stolen Kindle’s hard drive in August, I was devastated and disoriented. I still can’t quite get my head straight and start writing again. Rushing into editing Love Little the moment I was done with it was a bad idea and I’ve slowed the process even if I haven’t stopped completely.
Isn’t there a rule or guideline somewhere that says writers shouldn’t work on editing or rewriting stories immediately after the first draft?
I don’t have an exact framework or timeline for editing and sharing. The only rules I do have for my work is read it once before sharing and don’t share until you’re sure you want people to read it.
Last year I joined a writer’s group and it’s virtually the only one in my area. I had a lot of doubts about it because the members of the group are all white, all older than me, and appear to be in comfortable financial situations. I am the only Black person and the only Person of Color in the group, seemingly the only working class/poor person as well. I am also the only high fantasy, romance, and poetry writer, too.
At my very first meeting, casually racist and classist remarks (one of which was about Africa and ebola) were made by the other members. At another meeting I attended, the co-facilitator, one of two white guys, made a joke about not knowing what “a Black slave sounds like” after I voiced some concerns about my lack of desire to read one of the other white members’ work because it was from a book she had written which takes place during the expansion of white colonizers into the West in America; it includes both enslaved Black people with stereotyped names and “American Indians” championed by white saviors. That’s a whole other story in itself though.
Not wanting to give up too quickly out of my desire to be with other writers, I continued to attend meetings. One of the pros of the situation is that despite the group’s lack of racial and ethnic diversity, they tend to give fair feedback and are good writers themselves. I’m not the type of critic who gives a lot of technical feedback, instead I focus on how the writer’s work makes me feel and whether or not it gets me thinking–I offer that as feedback. I wasn’t sure that’s this is very helpful to the others since so many writers view the art of writing as a technical skill and process as if it has a precise formula. I view myself as an artist, not a technical writer or a businessperson trying to sell whatever I have as my main objective. I view my writing as a calling and an art.
I have no desire to continue to deal with their casual bigotry and ignorance, my stress level is high enough and I promised myself I wouldn’t force myself to educate and “mammy” people who don’t want to learn. However, I also don’t want to ride alone, or rather write alone. I don’t believe writing has to be a completely lonely process, as many have asserted that it is, that’s why I joined this group in the first place. I want to be around other writers.
Weighed down by heavy doubts about the group, stress, an unusual bout of illness this year, and helping with the birth of my nephew, I haven’t been back to meetings since late last year. They practice dropping people from the mailing list instead of asking them if they’re actually through with it and also changed the meeting location. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea for me to go back but I don’t want to leave without some closure. It may better idea for me to continue writing alone.