Category Archives: Creative Process

Writing into the Abyss

So following along with Dean Wesley's Smith ghost novel was enlightening, but not entirely surprising. He wrote a 70,000 word book in 10 days.

I've written 4–6K fanfic chapters and short stories in 2–3 hrs, so I know it's possible, but there's that head of steam factor. I have it just as easy as he does when I write into the abyss. I'm not.

There are worlds I know so well inside and out that I can scribble off a piece of them in very little time at all. And some I know so well that I can't just keep on writing past the point I slid out of character voice. That I can't just plow ahead and change history when other stories in the canon have already established the point. That I can't just call a story done when it isn't because it's really just the first level of info I yanked out of a character's head but the details to make it make sense to someone else aren't there yet.

When I'm writing Vardin, Kingdoms and Thorn, Breath even, I'm not writing into an abyss. I'm writing into a world so full I sometimes bump up against the scenery. Nevertheless, that does not make me unproductive.

Within the last three weeks, while I was sick as all get out (and I say this not lightly, y'all; I was sick), I worked on three larger pieces: Dowse and Bleed, the prose version of "History Lesson on the Night Train," and what's shaping up to a novelette/novella size Vardin piece called "By Blood and by Land" about Llereya and Cayden and the whole history surrounding "Hunt the Mists." I've written more than 10,000 words while sick and in less than forty-five minutes a day. I don't feel bad about that.

It's easier when I'm not locked in though. Writing into the abyss is easy. You can make up any decisions on the fly and not worry about the consequences. Which is how I got the first mess of "Dowse and Bleed." That story flew out of my fingers.

The only problem is I was completely unfamiliar with writing mysteries of any kind (mysterious being a different case altogether), and so I hadn't a clue where I was going and let an awesome setup go anticlimactic with the tension draining out as I moved forward. The new version is better to me. It satisfies me because it's truer to the characters, but I  had to take a whole break to get the case on straight in my head. (Thank you, in_the_blue!)

"The Alchemist" flew out of my fingers, written in less than three hours, took minimal edits, and it's my bar none bestseller that everybody likes. I like writing into the abyss. I just can't do it often because once that story's down, it tends to grow into a world in my all too fertile imagination.

Ah, well.

Thanks all for your patience as I recovered. See you soon with more stories.

Posted in Creative Process, Writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Then there's the problem of muses...

The Scribbler's Own Business Manager

So I've been thinking today, and there are still posts I want to get written about creativity and I have not forgotten my last iteration of ideas of where to go with this blog, but... I also started to think about my focus as a businessperson and how much of this blog is just me being me. I need to get all my fiction, poetry, and what-have-you into some sort of monetization (need to eat and all that), and that is something I have been wrangling, that line "Where Art Meets Commerce," neatly addressed by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

The Audience Speaks

Oh, how the clamoring tides request completed fanfiction! I'm still not sure why the sudden rush upon my fanfiction, but the reviews and alerts and favorites keep pouring in, and a part of me itches to get it all catalogued on this site. But, ahem, it's not precisely the first priority in a mercenary world, not with the muses alive and active and so much reading still to do for friends that I have not done. :hides face in shame:

The Muse Speaks

And then there's the problem of Ryven, a character in this mess of a Vardin book that I just located in the very worst place I could have written him. I didn't want him far apart from Abigail in age, and certainly not of Rhiannon's generation, but somehow he got into "Gone Hunting" before I realized it and gave me a gift scene (not shown) that opened up the whole idea behind The Rothnen Cycle to me. I was not pleased.

Oh, I know, dear muse—who worked overtime to make these manifold, disparate threads come together—, I should be grateful. You gave me the whole story, the subtext, the key to interlocking these pieces, but it requires that Ryven be in his early thirties and Abby her late teens when they meet. Did I mention they were supposed to marry a year or so later?

Ah, muse, you are at times a fox, the trickster, with your 'gifts.'

But so is Whisper, my muse says, almost puzzled. You like her.

She's not my fox, I point out testily, at which the muse wisely refrains from further comment.

Snippet of the Day

Port City, Vardin, is a city satisfied with itself. The people are happy in their business, still familiar with that old way of locomoting about town: walking, and going in and out of unmarked buildings with a perfect understanding of where it is they frequent. This is a city where to not know the occupants of an establishment nor be recommended by a friend or friendly acquaintance is to not know where to go for anything you might need.

I am kidayet here, an outsider, in a place that speaks a hundred foreign tongues and has never learned the meaning of the word 'tourist.'

Posted in Creative Process, Writing | Comments Off on Then there's the problem of muses...

Dear Muse... When was the last time you and I sat down and had a chat?

Dear Muse,

I've been thinking lately, which I know you know, about why we freak out about committing to a large project and have to constantly wander off into other fields in any other place than the one we're in. I've been thinking lately about why I don't do meta, why my worlds are so thoroughly immersed, why I write about broken people who have to sacrifice so much to have any part of what they want and can never seem to have it all. I've been thinking about why perfection and perfect happiness always seems so far away, not even near in those crystal moments we wish we could keep by holding on, why it's always so hard for the ones who belong to claim each other, let alone maintain the claim, why I love romance, why I hate it, why I'm bored and full up and restless and writing and not writing enough all at once.

Let's sit down, my muse; let's chat.

I see you sitting shyly, uncertain and wary as most of the girls I like to peek on in a hundred worlds and spiraled worlds faceting the others. I see you wondering if perhaps I'm digging too deep this time. You know, analysis doesn't always help. Sometimes it's overkill, scribbler. Sometimes, you just need to let things flow.

But they aren't flowing. Oh, we could pretend, we could say they are, and sometimes you give me something, throw me a bone and even maybe add some flesh on that bone, but so many times you run away when I most need you to knuckle down and do. You run and I'm here and if I only wrote what you handed me, I'd have very little finished work to show for it. Why, muse? What is it you need or I need to do to help you?

Maybe it's these constant interruptions and difficulties getting into things, but surely we already proved that that wasn't the real big deal and I've heard the stories about those meat and potato writers: sit down, show up, the muse is attracted to a working writer. Is that so? I wonder sometimes what attracts you to me.

You'll dig.

Is that what you want? You want me to dig? But when does it stop being digging and just turning over the soil? When do we see some harvest from all this seed-planting? Muse, I want to write the stories you give me, but there's a little mess of a problem if you can't stay focused long enough for me to do it.

You give me fodder. It's hard to stay focused on the mix we've got when you throw more things in the mix.

The reading.

The music, the movies, the ways you keep working things around again. It helps; you know, scribbler, that it helps, but it hurts too. The well's too full. The cup's running over. Do you really want to shut off the flow.

I want to direct the flow.

Then stick with me, just me, for a while. I know we can work this out together.

I do have a couple of reading assignments for Rabia, for pygmymuse, for in_the_blue, for

Let them go and write with me. I'll give you something. I promise.

I'll hold you to that, muse; you know I will.


the scribbler

Posted in Creative Process, Writing | Tagged , | Comments Off on Dear Muse... When was the last time you and I sat down and had a chat?

A Improperly Behaved Muse in a Properly Behaved Day

Story of the Day

So my muse had a heydey. It talked to me about two stories too sprawling for me to want to take any time to write just now, with other more important stuff to read and write on my plate, but oh! how it talked. The potential in the premises, the possibilities!

May I remind you I have The Rothnen Cycle to write, City of Glass to sketch out, and a heap of a lot of writing/publishing work for my other pen name?

Duly reminded, my muse's response went something like: Write it down! Write it down! We'll do it later and it'll be big and we can make a series of it, and we could do this and we could do that and...

May you all be blessed with more tractable, less distractible muses than mine!

Vardin Word of the Day

hieret | hyeret [ HEE eh ret ] or [ HYEH ret ] from h - l/y - r (etym. )

b. a. #n. behaving oneself properly within the traditions or demands of society, household law, etc.

In short, what my muse has not been.

Written Work of the Day

I did accomplish something worthwhile on the actual main attraction of my writing world, but I shall present a snippet from the muse's illicit love affair instead.

On the corner of Fifth Street, on the north side of the Kingdoms in the City Beshet, stands a small, dingy grey building, almost a shack rather than a building, but the walls are of moldered brick, not wood, and the glass is still quite good, so perhaps it is still just a building and an engraved brass sign hangs over the door: "Hero for Hire—Inquire Within."

Through the glass, we can see that just inside is a tall, drab grey desk stands with a man sitting pulled up to it in a chair overlarge but comfortable. He at least has escaped the drabness of his shabby, grey world and is dressed rather smartly for a man down on his luck in a fine blue sweater and respectable slacks. A pair of glasses perches on his nose, but these we must assume he removes when swashbuckling as a hero ought, and overall, the look of him inspires confidence. His name is Cameron Wyatt.

He could even be successful with such an air about him, but alas! The clients sit and cross their ankles or arms and offer jobs which he must patiently explain—over and over—are for villains, not for heroes. It is quite clear that few in this brave and fractured world even understand the difference. The young Mr. Wyatt's face grows grim as he opens his daily mail—mostly bills, we surmise—and finally, we see through the glass that he has turned inward, toward the secretary's desk in the corner, and told her something.

The next morning, a small sign appears in the window. "Now hiring, villain. Inquire within."

I suppose he grew tired of leaving money on the table.

Rec of the Day

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

This book has excited me since Marie Brennan first started talking about it, and now there's an excerpt and it's a delight, in keeping with the word of the day, about a young lady who is anything but properly behaved (more power to her).

Posted in Creative Process, Writing | Tagged | Comments Off on A Improperly Behaved Muse in a Properly Behaved Day

Vishata: Beginnings, Sketching, and the Writing Process

Story of the Day

Today was a day of beginnings—the Vardin kind, the kind that will hopefully start a new way of living my world.

On the mundane fronts, I had a job interview today, a job interview yesterday, and a very busy life trying to get thank you and Christmas cards written. Turns out that I'm behind on everything, especially reading other people's books, but I'm hopeful that come January, I will be gainfully employed and financially independent. Yay.

On the writerly front, I was talking (f-locked) to trovia and also to Kira Butler about sketching and layering as a writing process.

I write it as if it's fanfiction, as if everyone in the world knows exactly what I'm saying, then on the next layer, I really think of the ambience and context from my character's POV and layer in more and anything I think must be understood by the reader, then last I really think of the uninitiated reader and tuck in all the necessaries to help them along. Ship to beta, go back and layer in with answers to all her questions.

It got me to thinking, and I decided to do something I hadn't thought of before, hadn't dreamed of—just. write. the. story. down.

Forget the fancy words, the narrative, the dialogue, the beautiful scenes; just get it down! It's a lump of telling just now, split into paragraphs at the appropriate junctures with the occasional nugget of real written story begun. I'm not incorporating the mess of material already written because it bogs me down getting the whole big picture on paper. When it's finally down, we can layer from there.

Vardin Word of the Day

vishata | vishahta [ vi SHAH tah ] or [ vi SHAH tuh ] from v-sh-t (etym. Old Vardin)

ht. n. #p. 1. originating historical events, usually presented in a series or set of stories; 2. the set of records detailing the stories of the founding members of the Houses of Vardin.

vishata, hunter plural, the happenings which cause or originate a particular period of time, usually the present era.. s. vashet, pl. vishata. [from Old Vardin, v-sh-t.]

Written Work of the Day

Yesterday, I began work on sketching out The Rothnen Cycle. It's a sketch, not an outline or a draft in the traditional sense, though it will be once that sketch is fleshed out, so I arbitrarily set 120,000 words as the book word count goal (this is perhaps an understatement), and I will be regularly posting progress counts (unless you all announce that you would rather I not, in which case, I'll throw them on a page somewhere—like my sidebar—instead).

1369/120000 words. 1.1% done.

And a scribble for good measure:

It was a late wind—too blustery, too wintry for the turning of spring to summer. Keisleh closed her mouth against the cold, ragged tickle it left in the back of her throat.

Rec of the Day

So M.C.A. Hogarth has a Pinterest at last!

M.C.A. Hogarth on PinterestAnything new going on with your muse or writing process? Any special things you've read or places you've visited?

Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.

Posted in Creative Process, Journal, Writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

This is Where I Buckle Down and Admit the Muse Won

So today, I struck a deal with my muse that went like so...

Dear Muse,

Under the circumstances of dire duress, I permit you to write anything you want during this November period under two conditions, as follows:

  1. You must produce words and a significant chunk of them at any point when I am following your guidance, and
  2. You must also produce definitive and significant progress on whatever story you undertake to have me write—

definitive meaning reliable, fully-formed, and complete; and significant meaning important and of sufficient volume to be worth my while.

Any failure to comply with the above conditions will result in immediate and summary dismissal of your input regarding which project I am working on.

Thank you and regards.


the scribbler

Posted in Creative Process, Writing | Tagged , | Comments Off on This is Where I Buckle Down and Admit the Muse Won

The Muse is a Strange and Finicky Creature

As soon as you commit it to one story, it flies to another. Breath from a Stone and now the unexpected The Dance of Souls are beginning to fill in a cohesive picture, filling in and explaining even more details from stories I already knew in the world of Breath.

This last story began as something in my head, a premise if you will, that did not want to resolve into any of the settings I had already developed. This may be because it came attached to its own and I refused to hire the storyworld. So, the story bounced about, determined to be hired, even if I'd already rejected its setting. I thought it was going to settle nicely into the Alliance, but that didn't happen because with the Talons and the Medes, there was no way I wanted to dump in another serious Clan premise with ethnic warfare or even conflict.

Then along comes this idea that fits neatly into Falhaer, a mountainous region of the world of Breath, and quickly drags along the characters, then basic situation, then story that I'd been thinking I might just skip.

Suddenly, of course, I want to write it, finish both stories, and thrill in how it even pulls in Sellenyn, whose story I already knew. Except I don't. I'm supposed to be writing City of Glass.

From our muses, preserve us!

Posted in Creative Process, Writing | Comments Off on The Muse is a Strange and Finicky Creature