I’m plus two weeks on Stonecoast and knee deep in my first packet, but things are a bit…murky. Though happy as a pig in muck, I had something of a realization this morning. When it comes down to it, I’m still thinking of all the reading, the drafting, and the editing as school work—and that’s troubling, though I’m not sure why. I do know I don’t like it. It’s not a pro-creative mindset, just a hurdle-based objective conquering one. I’m essentially just grinding, my natural response to conquering hurdles. As for where it comes from, I’m pretty sure it’s tied to me not having any other context for doing long strokes of work with no direction beyond that. Due dates are the only thing that keep me from floating away into the afternoon sky—always have been really. It’s not like my day job, where I get a ticket, do the work, and move on to the next one.
I know it’s very premature—I do after all have three more semesters—but I’m worried about my post-MFA life. If I’m going to still be serious about writing after I get done with my MFA, I’ll need deadlines. Except I have absolutely no idea where to start on keeping tabs on markets. I mean, I’ve signed up for Duotrope, but the site is moon runes to me. Which would be funny if I couldn’t dive head first into an all Japanese RPG with no issues.
Doesn’t help that I’m worried if I don’t have writing to send in, I’ll just give up on my novels shortly after I no longer have due dates—and I don’t want to do that, but I know me. Without a clear goal I just sort of drift. I’ll keep working on them sure, but the likelihood of finishing one of them will go down pretty steeply once people stop wanting to see stuff from me. So it seems like short fiction would be the way to go except, I can’t write a short story to save my life—at least right now anyway.
All of this angst of course begs the question: Why am I doing this at all then? If I know my only strength is writing novels and I know I’ll just float off at the slightest breeze, why bother? It’s the question I’ve been getting asked ever since I gave up on Computer Science nearly four years ago. And still I can’t help but wave my hands at it, I don’t really have an answer beyond that. There’s no logic to what I’m doing really. I’m following a dream and hoping that I won’t wake up before something awesome happens. Except, what to do with that awesome, should I ever find it? It’s still gone when I wake up either way. I need a way to bring the awesome back. Sitting here at my desk, the past residency and all the energy already feels so far away. A colorful memory in a world that’s grey.
So then, I’m back from Stonecoast and, aside from a small emotional hiccup, I feel pretty good about how the residency went. There’s a lot of talent coming in this semester and while that bothered me at first, that “I’m a fraud” feeling really getting to me. Yet, I realize it’s actually kind of a good thing. It lets me know, in a roundabout way, that the staff at the program believe in me–that I too can be that awesome. Which is just what I’m gonna do.
That said, I’m happy to say people seemed, overall, to like Rex, Ly, and crew, which has gotten me excited about FourFold again. I was pretty meh about it for a long while. I felt it’s roots in my much more anime-centric high school days made it a bit too weak and it didn’t help that my outlet in undergrad didn’t really care about humans, if you catch my meaning. So when I submitted a piece of it to my first workshop and no one seemed to dig it, that felt like the final nail in coffin for my adventures in high fantasy land. Thanks to my first semester mentor however, I got my confidence in the story back and I’m glad I did–now to just figure out what to do with it and get going. I’ll probably do that as a post later this month. I want this story to be the first book, but people at the workshop said the part they read felt more like Act 2 of Book 2 and that’s not really what I had in mind–but who knows, right?
Beyond FourFold, I got a interesting divergence of opinion on Kao and Tess’ mystery adventures which has led me to cut that anthromorphic aspect of Curse, since it wasn’t really all that important that Llynna had cat ears. Kao and Tess, however, I will make work. I had a number of conversations with people about how to explain the hybrid thing in a way that made sense and still have it shake out to carry the subtext I want.
- There are no humans–or if there are, they’ve come into being as the children of two very slight hybrids (That’s actually an interesting angle to use for WWII).
- Race is a Predator/Prey split, though there are a few exceptions I need to work out
- To mimic our world, the status quo (subject to subversion) is based on male predatory animals of Western Europe–Hawks, Bears, Wolves, Hounds–and in small numbers those of Northern Africa and Eastern Europe, thanks to the influence of the Roman Empire.
Even with these “rules” I still have some hurdles to over come so that people don’t get caught up in the curtains instead of watching the sunset through the window.
Other than that, I’ve got a lot of reading to do and I need to step up my game on talking about my hobby. I’ve got a rare chance in a couple of months and I need to get into a position where I can be confident about my “talking about video games” skills. I’m also trying to get a couple weeks or so worth of script done and give the comic another go. I know, I say that every month and stick to it for about a week before I get distracted/interrupted/out of the groove/what have you and loose momentum, but I need to comic.
Anyway, signing off for now. Gonna get the last of my residency paperwork done today and then get Curse reworked so I can send it off to my new mentor. Catch ya’ll ’round!
Just dropping a line since I’ve got some time before dinner and if I nap I’ll probably stay asleep for hours.
First workshop is done–well, I got my work critiqued at least, we still have two days and four people left–and it went well. I’ve got a solid direction for Tess and Kao, so I’ll likely work onHaunting when I get back then try to get Death’s Red Letter (the duo’s Study in Scarlet) drafted. I’ve also got Curse to work on and part of Fourfold is up for crit in the second workshop. So who knows, beyond that I’ll be busy. The presentations have all been wonderful So far there’s been a panel on E-Publishing, a graduate lecture on creating Graphic Novels, and the history of the Tarot deck and how to use its archetypes to help writing–and these are just the ones i attended. There were four other faculty presentations and two graduate.
More than the work though, the feeling of being up here with people who get me more than my coworkers do is a big boost. Granted, my working from home has blunted my already low threshold for dealing with large numbers of people, so I’m very drained, but there’s a lot of positive energy and it is really blowing away the funk. Even so, I still don’t feel like I fit in–something that is likely just as much me as anything else. I mean, everyone smiles when they see me and make casual conversation, but I just don’t know what to talk about beyond that. It just seems to come so naturally for everyone else, even if it doesn’t really. Either way, I’m trying to get over it, I am signing up for a life of talking with people I don’t know and need to get better at it.
Anyway, that’s about it. Gonna go grab dinner before the night’s faculty readings. Catch you all Wednesday
I am now less than two months out from my second residency at Stonecoast. Something about that statement, that realization, has been an immense jump start to my writing. Knowing that I’m going back, that it wasn’t just a fever dream, is starting to dispel my funk.
Granted, its not a cure all–Work is still draining and a source of endless frustration and the prep for the wedding borders on exasperating–but it’s helping so much. In the last two weeks I’ve had a host of new story ideas and I’ve even gotten the first part of a manuscript into respectable shape. I’m on the fourth draft of the second part of said manuscript now, working on applying what I’ve learned to turn what was a rather limp section in the plot into a more viable start to Act 2. Even so, I feel that I perhaps haven’t capitalized on the the semester. Aside from one piece, everything was something I had worked one prior to coming to Stonecoast. Yet, when I think about that in a more holistic way, that makes sense. I;m trying to gauge where I am and get a feel for where I want to go–and is perhaps a reason that working on Curse feels so good.
Well, Imma get back to work. Thinking about starting up a second weekly segment for gaming, might get that done tonight and up tomorrow.
Trying to get back into the swing of writing and trying also to get some of my frustrations out. This is the first step in doing both.
So I had an interview Friday with another software firm. The position would have me doing much the same thing as I am now. I felt the interview was going well until one of the guys asked me if I had done any research on the company. I looked at him askance and then answered truthfully that I had not. It didn’t help that their website was a mess and my contact who got me the interview was rather vague about the whole thing. Anyway, he then clarified the intent of his question as being one to see if I was applying here specifically or if this was just another interview. For some reason, being faced with that question really illuminated something for me. I don’t want to do IT as a career.
Granted, I’m sure I was aware of this fact already, having already made that decision when I switched to English, but that’s besides the point. I can now say–and not just imply–that my interests in long term employment lie elsewhere. Right now, I’m just working a job. I might be fairly good at it, but It’s not a career and I know it was never going to be either. It was just a means to an end, a way to get paid that kept the bills clear, gas in the tank, food on the table, and let me buy a couple games every once in a while.
Of course, it doesn’t help that I have no skills what-so-ever in any other field and, aside from my degree, no credentials to speak of. Did I mention that we just moved and there’s a pile of school loans waiting for me as well? Yeah…
Which is sort of how I ended up in this situation in the first place. By being what I felt was a responsible adult I went out and got a job the first week of college and have since had at least two. I even had three for about two semesters where I was tutoring for comp sci until they realized my GPA was lower than most of the student who were coming for help–which, not that I think about it, is also about when I seriously started to think about switching majors.
So when I got offered a job that I could do what I was good at and get paid pretty good for it, I was all over that. Two years later, the job is a nightmare. I went from being a problem solver for our team to being the problem solver for team we’ve engaged which is way more exposure than I ever wanted. But the money’s good and the paychecks keep life from breaking down. That’s really the main point that continues to come up as I work on getting another job. Whatever I’m doing, I need to be making a moderately respectable salary while doing so. Which means that I need to stick with a job field I can be making at least 35k in–great amounts f frustration brought on by it notwithstanding.
Ultimately, I want to teach at a University or be a paperback writer (Paperback Writerrrr!). Both of which require my Master’s to some extent. So they’re not really things I can do now. I’m not strong enough mechanically as a writer to do it as my main income, a chief reason for me to be attending Stonecoast—even though my job is making increasingly difficult to get writing done—and I need a Master’s degree to teach at a University.
So what can I do now? Technical writing would certainly improve my mechanics, but just about any job that can pay the bills wants 3-5 years experience in the field and as I said before don’t know if I qualify. I have the knack, but tech and propsal writing are totally different ball games from creative writing.
Guess I’ll find out eventually. Wish me luck!