Tag Archives: meta

Metafiction vs. Fanfic

As for metafiction vs. fanfiction — I *do* think there’s value in having different terms, rather than lumping all derivative stories together, because not all of those derivative stories are talking to the same audience or trying to accomplish the same thing. I personally would reserve the term “fanfiction” for the intensely social realm of fandom, where the stories can be in conversation not just with the source material, but also with the fans and the other stories those fans have told (both about the source, and about other things). And I agree with your take on “metafiction;” I would use that word for fiction that is aware of its own fictionality in some fashion. That’s a different conversation, but it’s a cousin to the fanfiction one, and sometimes they overlap (as in the case of “The Chuck Writes Story”).

Marie Brennan

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End of January Post

This entry is part 56 of 103 in the series Daily Scribble Reports

So I wrote a lot and did a lot, even though I definitely didn't write enough. Ah, well.

Lessons Learned

  1. Apparently, it takes me a while to really fully recover from heavy emotional blows.

  3. Publishing slows me down if I mix it in with writing. I knew that but forgot it. I didn't even finish getting Dowse and Bleed published and will have to rethink how I fit publishing in the schedule.

  5. Layering in on top of stuff I've already written pretty much requires me to go into a bubble. Writing a quick, rough novel draft goes much faster if I can bounce it off of someone else whenever I hit a wall. Writing a quick, rough short draft pretty much requires knowing too little or too much; it's that semi-ignorance that stops me cold.

  7. Reading to 2 o'clock in the morning is a very bad idea. Stop picking up novels at 11 p.m.

  9. Reading can radically alter which story I can write. Be very careful of what you read when.

  11. I had forgotten my old style of story creation when I was just a wee thing. It went like this: I had certain kinds of stories I liked, which usually involved special powers and often romance. I would create a premise and plunk in my favored pairing of the moment and all their family dynamics with others, then play it all out in my head for weeks on end. Eventually, I got too good at this. I could play through an entire story in a couple of hours because my brain had dissected the inevitable path. If you'll recall my rule of story process:

    Know your characters, the rules of your world, and a handful of outside factors to fling at them. The rest will be unpredictable—even to you, but inevitable.

    The instant of predictability killed the story for me because it would wrap too quickly. So I got very, very good at adding more twists, more obstacles, more cultural or biological issues to get in the way, more trauma, more angst, until I could still play out my stories for weeks because I had backed my characters into some awful corners and inescapable difficulties.

    Which means that outlining kills a story for me because the instant of predictability, I lose all interest in a story unless I've already hit the home stretch of writing, from the end of the middle through the climax and denouement. Which is also why I tend to sketch instead of fill out a story the way I ought to. :headdesk: Lesson learned.


  13. I write waaay better and more if I do not browse the industry blogs first. I write waaaay better if I do not read someone else's fiction first. New rule of thumb ought to be, Write first.

  15. Self-discipline is a virtue. Learn it!

Word Counts

January 31, 2014

  • Fiction: 0 words
  • Poetry: 85 words | 21 lines
  • Blog: 33 words

January Totals

  • Fiction: 17,392 words
  • Poetry: 498 words | 102 lines
  • Blog: 8030 words

Completed Pieces

  1. Poem: "Before My Eyes," 220 words | 47 lines.
  2. Fanfic: "Mistakes," 1397 words.
  3. Poem: "Writer's Social Therapy," 32 words | 4 lines.
  4. Poem: "Blanket Statements," 8 lines| 48 words.
  5. Poem: "Friends Like These," 24 lines | 121 words.
  6. Poem: “Empty Spaces,” 7 lines | 20 words.
  7. Poem: “The Soundless Scream,” 5 lines | 22 words.
  8. Poem: “Like a Light,” 9 lines | 43 words.
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Thief of Literature

I find an interesting thing about the languages I choose to use in my stories. Not unreasonably, I often prefer to use languages I’ve already started, but for some reason, it still surprises me when I do it. I used to create a language at the drop of a hat, and sometimes I still see one starting to sketch itself out, but at the same time, I find myself more and more reaching for old bones and stretching them into new shapes.

In Splintered Gates, I pulled two sigil names straight from ancient (in my personal real time, that is) Senetari Shuril, a very old version of Vas’hehr, the secondary language of Vardin (I think they have four or five main languages they tend to use). Well, almost straight.

Ditraka is pulled straight from Senetari Shuril and means essentially, speaker of truth, caller out of truth, doer of truth, etc. The verb can vary as it’s a partial construction, something common to the language but not to any other language of mine. “Di” is often rendered “out of” in the sense given above, e.g. caller out of truth. “Traka” is literally “truth.”

Cyvahdo is a mixture. “Ahdo” I made up as “rider” on the spot, but “cyv” means “sky” and was one of the first vocabulary words I had.

Why do I find this so particularly interesting? Besides the fact that I’m overly self-analytical, I mean. Because the more I write, the more the bones of my worlds are starting to bleed. I can see why some authors have a hard time not repeating themselves.

I’m not too worried yet, but it is something I have to keep an eye on. Oddly enough, this also only really became an issue when Kingdoms and Thorn cropped up. There was no way to stop the bleed with Vardin because they were born from literally the same bones, the same story, the same premise, the same characters. I just played it out several different ways and picked Vardin to write. Then K&T happened and there was the second major branch. Then Splintered Gates happened and I can keep it separate, more easily than the rest actually, but I hit the third major branch. It’s only safe to write because I split out the other reusable part of the branch into the Alliance storyworld instead. It reduces the room for bleed. A bit.

I find all this very interesting from this perspective: five years ago, I wouldn’t have tolerated it.

When we were kids, I made a fine art of hiding the origins of my characters and stories in bending certain key details, burying others, and mixing and matching far disparate fandoms. I rarely fanfic crossovers, but if you could see inside my mind, you’d see that most of my original fiction is incredibly crossed over. There’s a fine tradition for this in literature.

“To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.”

― Stephen Wright

I steal from many, even myself. My stories and poems reference other literary pieces, sometimes rather obliquely. I homage and recreate and interrogate and adapt and decry and protest in the form of another piece of fiction, and then to top it all off, I do my level best to hide most of it so thoroughly that no one will ever figure out my layered upon layered secrets.

In short, I find this strange but interesting. It’s a habit of childhood, and only now am I beginning to be okay with bleed and small revelations. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad or indifferent, but it’s interesting.

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Plot as Illumination of Character

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Writer, Know Thyself: Plot & Character

I came to a sudden realization the other day when I was working on Dowse and Bleed then the collaboration and also thinking about all the aggravating articles recently claiming the three-act structure is the only one: I really don't care about plot.

Now, this doesn't mean I dislike plot or that I don't think it's important, but I do mean it's not even a secondary consideration for me. I care about structure because structure is fun, especially for a poet, but I don't take any time to analyze my own plots or even to develop them. That holds no interest for me, and I don't look for a particular plot in books I read. In fact, that's why I adore love stories and am so totally sick of romances. I'm not interested in the "how did they fall in love" and we're done here. I'm interested in two separate people and then how they interact together, etc.

I wrestled with this for another day before I finally came to the conclusion on how I could not care about something so fundamental to story. Most writing articles and books address characters that drive the plot and plots that are born out of the characters' struggles. That makes for a good story, but I'll probably never, ever write that kind of story ever.

I love plots that illuminate character. And that's probably why I tend strongly to the literary side of genre and love Jodi Picoult's books, even though I've heard some genre writers sneer at them. Her books are complicated messy stories about characters. The plots reveal the characters, rather than characters driving the plot.

Dowse and Bleed is the most incredibly plotty story I've ever written in my life. When I wrote that first draft, it was a quick ramble through a decent, engaging plot, but when I came back to it, it was with two questions: whose story is this and why is it her story? Out flowed something considerably deeper and much more 'me.' The plot is secondary because it exists to reveal something about Rachelle and no other reason.

This is also why I haven't been able to get through Collateral Damage yet, I'm pretty sure, or any of the other Special Unit fics percolating in my head. That revelation, that core idea, isn't there for me yet. I wrote Dowse and Bleed from a prompt about the sides of love:

I've looked at love from both sides now / From give and take, and still somehow / It's love's illusions I recall / I really don't know love at all

"Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell

It's not this perfect match with Rachelle, but it was close enough for me to devote a story to this relationship she has to love and the idea of love. It was an interesting revelation for me.

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The Scribbler Has Feels..., a.k.a. Some Serious Allegiant Meta

So I was pleasantly surprised. It pays to go in with your expectations on the floor. I received a gorgeous gift story for Yuletide that explored Four post-Allegiant, and it convinced me to finally buy the book, which I read in a couple hours this morning (Friday). Allegiant redeemed Insurgent for me. It brought the world together, painfully perhaps, but well. As for plot holes, I found none large enough to drive a truck through, but then, I've been in comics fandoms where these issues are on a whole other level.

So here goes some meta, hitting point by point the issues I was worried about and the stuff that blew me away in this book. From the beginning, I went looking for spoilers because at the end of Insurgent, I felt there was logic fail, and I have little tolerance for that. Spoilers implied there would be plenty.


When we first met Evelyn in book two, several things were quickly established:

  • Evelyn loved Tobias.
  • As soon as she felt it safe, she reopened communication with him.
  • She felt betrayed by the factions specifically because of how they failed her in her personal relationships with Marcus and Tobias.
  • Every opportunity, she reached out to her son for reconciliation.
  • She was jealous of Tobias' affection and loyalty.

Which is my way of saying, Roth extensively established the background for Evelyn's choosing Tobias over the city. It was beyond believable.


When I wrote up my Insurgent reactions, I noted then that I understood how he could get swept into Jeanine's mindset even though I hated him for it. The interactions between Tris and Caleb in Allegiant are spot-on. Caleb felt guilty and terrible but had been willing to sacrifice his family for what he truly believed was the greater good. I get that.

Because of that, the fallout here was perfect. Caleb did need redemption, but the suicide mission wouldn't have given it to him. It would have taken away the time he needed to do the actual hard work of redemption, as it says later in the book of Peter,

"change is difficult, and comes slowly, and that is the work of many days strung together in a long line until the origin of them is forgotten."

That's what Caleb needs and I'm glad Tris gave him the chance to get it. As soon as I read the scene where everyone looks at him and guilts him into "volunteering," all of my insides were screaming this isn't right, this isn't a choice. It's guilt, cold and hard and simple. Tris realized that and finally admitted it and remembered that she promised she wouldn't have walked him to his own execution. If she had allowed Caleb to go through with it, she would have done something horribly despicable and gone against every good part of her there was.

In short, I wasn't sure if the build-up would be well done or not. It was. I believed in the way things played out. It was necessary and not even a little bit. It was downright coldly necessary.

Speaking of...

The Death Scene

So someone remarked about how she fights off the death serum and gets taken down by a bullet. WTF?

Again, I get it. After Nita, there was no way on heaven or earth I would have believed there wasn't someone in there guarding. She would've gotten shot at point blank range in the Weapons Lab or outside of it after she deployed the memory serum. Guards just outside the door, remember? Okay, memory serum might have saved her, but I really wouldn't have believed in it. This was a suicide mission, flat-out. I wouldn't have believed in anyone's survival going into that.

It was beautifully done. I hate the result, but I believed in it. 'Nuff said.


So there were also those that thought Four's characterization suffered. I didn't believe that going in and I'm further unimpressed by the sentiment coming out. When you're not reading the thoughts behind his actions, he is just as strong and uncertain and hurting and stoic as portrayed in book number one. When you are reading the thoughts in his head, ignore them for a moment and read what he does and says on the outside. Yep. Still Four.

You don't get abused for sixteen years without getting broken. You don't go through your fear landscape and cringe like a child from a horrific image of your father and have that feeling go away a few months later just because you're in the middle of a war. In short, just because we feel his fear doesn't mean we're not seeing the exact same thing we saw before: someone who is very afraid of what few things he's afraid of, so much he has no room for other fears, and ignores his fear when deciding to act.

I was reminded a lot of the first few scenes in Divergent where Tris looks at him and recognizes the instability in him, the mercurial impulse he often squelches. We see it in Allegiant, and I respect him no less.

The Factions

I always loved the idea of the factions, though obviously they didn't work out well in practice, but they seemed to improve the cities where they were implemented. Think about it. It was focus, something the Bureau had little of. The Faction system pushed GDs to focus on the virtue inherent in their tendencies instead of the weakness. They focused on the good that came from their genes and how to use that good to its best and fullest to better their society and lives. In short, factions maximized the benefit of their genetic tendencies and helped to minimize the side effects.

Genetic Damage—Oh and Peter

Peter was the perfect example of someone who was truly genetically damaged. If he had been born Dauntless, he would have had a chance. That was his aptitude, that was his genetics, and that showed when he took the memory serum.

Allegiant redeemed Peter for me because he described so well the difficulty of himself. He grew up in Candor, which promoted honest living, which would encourage him to do what he wanted to. But what he wanted to do was bad.

"I'm sick of doing bad things and liking it and then wondering what's wrong with me. I want it to be over. I want to start again."

That is genetic damage in a nutshell. He had genetic tendencies that he was not raised to suppress, but he also knew something was wrong with him. So yeah, I buy this world. I buy that there really was an issue which caused the Purity Wars, though it obviously got skewed toward the victors.

And then there's the cities. Do they make logical sense to me? Oddly, yes.

Genetic manipulation took time to "take" so to speak. Generations. So they inserted the corrected/restored DNA into those in the experiments and then had to wait out the generations until that manipulation "took." In the meantime, the struggles GDs went through weren't going to just go away in the waiting, so they gave them cities and then got all high and mighty and forgot it was people they were trying to help, not a faceless "problem."

So yeah, I get it. I get it.


The book was extraordinarily satisfying and I reread parts and almost bought the hardcover at King Soopers, but I really want all three in paperback. I don't care for hardcover, too bulky, but I adore paperbacks. So there's that.

It's the first book in a long time that made me want to write. It also finally cleared up why I couldn't seriously and deeply fanfic in this world. I apparently needed an entire arc. Now, I've got so many plot bunnies, I expect a monster if I don't keep my head on original fiction.

That's my summary. I can't say I loved the book, but I can say I enjoyed it and was satisfied by it and am very glad I finally read it.

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Letter to My Former Self

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series December Ramblings

So, thecatisacritic asked what would you as a writer tell you the writer of five or ten years ago? As an author's note to this, I probably wouldn't. Oddly enough. But put to, here goes:

Dear former self,

I know you always think of yourself as a writer, first and foremost, but I wanted to suggest to you that you start thinking of yourself as a human being. You'll never be able to un-engrain that deep writer-identity from your consciousness; you dug in too deep. Stop trying. God gave you a talent. Use it, hone it, focus it, but give up on trying to get rid of it.

It is important, no matter who tells you otherwise. There is nothing more powerful in this world than an idea except for love.

It's going to get worse. You're going to lose faith for a while, lose heart, forget everything you ever believed in and pretend you never believed in it in the first place—at least with your actions. You're going to go through a valley of hard times and testing, but stay strong. You're going to be okay. You've got a God who loves you even when you don't understand. You aren't a lost soul because you don't know how to find your way. You're a writer and you're His. Cling to that, and you'll be just fine.

Take it from someone who knows, 'kay?

Hugs (you'll need them),

the scribbler

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Fandom & I

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series December Ramblings

So, this question—Can you tell me a bit about where you're at with fandom? How you got there?—from stormkpr...

I have gone through many phases of fandom. I'm sure for all of you who have stuck with me through several iterations and hiatuses that you already aware of this. Perhaps, you remember the times I've said I came back after a long flat-out absence from fandom. Well, here is my journey. It's not simple or pretty; in fact, it's pretty twisted, but here we go.

Round One: Roswell, Andromeda, X-Men, Mutant X, Avalon, etc.

So I entered fandom at a young teen stage of my life when anything I loved was something of a fangirl situation and my dad and sister were both the same. I did more graphics than fic at first, but I did write some popular Roswell/Andromeda stuff before my parents changed their collective minds about fandom and cracked down on it. I deleted my profile and for a long time, kept my pictures and fanfic archived personally, but lost those in a move.

When I got old enough to return sometime after the 3rd X-Men movie came out, I was starting from scratch. I hadn't intended to return ever. I had for years simply resisted the impulse to do anything fannish when I wanted to until there was no longer an impulse to resist. But I did return. I did.

Crisis of Writing, Crisis of Faith

I talk about this from time to time, but it's still hard. I wrote a book. The first draft was so terrible, it's not even funny. I wrote and reworked and finally got somewhere I liked with it. The worldbuilding was phenomenal: it incorporated most of my core ideas for fictional worlds, which I still repurpose today. At the same time, I was in the process of writing another story, Rain, which dealt with a huge faith crisis by the characters when Team Five left the Projects, a top-secret branch of the military. These two books broke me.

I mean that.

My grandmother means more to me than almost any other human on earth. She read what I had—and I was excited to share it—and was more than a little appalled. Oddly, it wasn't because of the issues I addressed, which is why I address those issues to this day. It was because some of the ways I grappled with those issues were in direct contradiction to my faith. My books about crises of faith became my crisis of faith and I literally got sick to my gut at the thought of ever writing my own work again. So I stopped cold. It was hard. That was the darkest period of my life. I was depressed, angry, hurt, sensitive, and not understanding how to find my way back to a God I hadn't even realized I'd walked away from.

Nevertheless, I have been a writer since I was old enough to know what a story was and how it was created. I had engraved that idea so deep into my identity that I literally couldn't not write. In despair, I turned to fanfiction. It changed my life.

Round Two: X-Men (all 'verses), Take the Lead, Secret Garden

It sounds melodramatic to say that, but it is something I have truly learned is my nature. When I cannot trust myself to write, I fanfic and in that second bout of fandom, I crossed over from amateur writer to absolute confidence in my own voice.

In the first three months of that year, I started three popular stories and wrote them consistently on a rotation basis. I was rather disciplined; it was nice.

Around that time, I got tendonitis, then I got on pau d'arco, a natural anti-inflammatory and the only one that helped me, and then I got an unexpected side effect I didn't track down to the tea until months and months later. I got insomnia. Every morning between 1 and 2 a.m., I woke up and could not go back to sleep unless it was the fifth or so such morning and I was exhausted.

Between that horribly early wake-up time and the time I got ready for work (more like 4:30 a.m.), I wrote fanfic. Needless to say, I racked up the word counts and produced roughly 300,000 words of posted fanfiction that year besides the unposted WIP stuff. My story count went through the roof and I had way too many balls in the air, but I wrote.

That's when I found out what I liked in a story, how to write a whole story, how to interpret reader feedback, what to ignore. I learned to experiment, to challenge myself, to post, and that's when I blew past the million words of crap line and more, knew it.

That's why it changed my life. When Dean Wesley Smith and company shared the first real information about the emerging independent author situation (and it was truly only just beginning), I immediately saw the parallel between the way fanfic was then handled and the way original fiction was going to be. I started thinking about it then, but I didn't really have one piece of my confidence back: the faith factor.

Finding My Way Back

After all the grief that period gave me, you would think the return would have been huge, climactic, and so infinitely memorable, I would know the exact moment everything changed.

Well... No.

I read some stuff of Rabia Gale's and Natalie Whipple's and Kayla Olsen and kept hammering away until gradually, I did find enough peace to tentatively begin trusting God again. Though really it wasn't Him I hadn't trusted before, it was myself. I didn't trust myself to know if I was really with Him or not. When that happened, I shifted focus.

I started hammering away at a story. Well, stories, but most died on the vine. One made it, the first I'd finished after that horrible, horrible year: "The Singer." When lithiumlaughter recently read this story, she loved the main character. What I didn't know until today was that story mirrors my emotional journey. The most important thing I had died and I had to make peace with God over it before it could live again. And oddly, I think that story's playing a lot into Justus', which is probably why for so long, I didn't want to touch his story, afraid I'd screw it up as badly as I screwed up Rain.

When I finished that story, I'd proved that I really could write and finish something again that belonged to me. And I stepped sideways.

Round Three: Everything

My original fiction worlds are so incredibly interrogative of the stories and poems and biblical themes and questions and struggles I love and fangirl that there is really, literally no difference between them to me. If anyone wants a catalog of the origin of one character or another, odds are 50% or better, they started out in my fandoms.

I thought I would balance fandom and canon at first but I couldn't do it. I immerse so deeply into one world or pairing at a time that everything comes unbalanced naturally all the time, and it's one or the other, this or that, move through sets of stories on rotation. Thus, I have hiatuses and do exchanges and go on the occasional original fiction binge, but none of them really take over my life. I have too many things I love to do and so have always spread myself too thin.

When I'm full up, I write. When I'm hurting and angry or scared, I fanfic.* When I'm empty and dry, I read and listen to music. There is very little overlap unless I force the issue, except reading. I always read.

This is my relationship to fandom. This is how I got there. It's one place I can be angry and hurt and afraid and lash out and cry out to God and the world, Why? I don't get it and somehow it's okay because then He answers back and no one else even knows the questions I was really asking. Sometimes I don't. For some things, there are no words.

For me, there are a lot of those some things.

*Fluffy, funny stuff just doesn't take a lot out of me, but that's a little different. I'm rarely invested in that stuff.

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On Blogging for Readers

A/N: So this post got lost in email to self oblivion, but since I just remembered it existed, I hereby post it for your enjoyment. I wrote this on November 18, actually.

So Catherine Caffeinated talking about blogging because you had something to say, and it got me to prop my metaphorical chin on my metaphorical hands, plunk elbows on the edge of the desk, and think about why I write. Do I write because I have something to say?

I have often thought about what would make a good blog for a fiction writer and finally thrown up my hands in disgust and realized I hadn't the foggiest idea. My nonfiction and fiction interests are separate and apart. Writing is for writers, not readers. But this made me think about: what is it I have to say when I write fiction? A lot, actually.

I said it once before: I write fascinated. I have found that I am interested in the same things that differentiate literature I love from that which I fangirl. I am interested in cost and sacrifice, power and strength, and mastery of oneself. I prefer the twists of complexity, characters who make hard decisions and pay high prices but accomplish their goal. I love order and making logic of chaos and impossibility. Fiction puts my world into perspective: it enables me to see the underlying patterns and constraints grant the freedom to make those hard choices. Selflessness, love, resolve, endurance, the ability to stand persecuted and not defend oneself—these things are power and a power I wish I had.

But how to put that into blog posts? M.C.A. Hogarth does it with meta and does it beautifully, but I have never been able to write meta. It pulls my characters out of their worlds and makes them constructs. They do not exist in my world to talk to me; they are not voices in my head, but people in their worlds. They are flesh and blood and mind and bone and heart and spirit and blood. I have tried meta and cannot do it.

I have written fanfic but that always becomes simply fic. I dislike writing descriptions of their history unless it is answering a question. Most readers do not read endless fic upon fic on a blog if it is not a serial. I'm fascinated by words, but even I am bored by other conlangers posts about the lexical features of their languages. I love the social structures of my worlds, but best when shown in fic.

En brief, I have a lot to say about love and power and strength and romance and angst and tragic choices, terrible sacrifices, and efficient success with terrible consequences, etc., but I say it in fic. I still don't know how to blog it.

But it has me thinking.

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Missives on Friendship, #1

I have a friend
Whose wisdom steeps like coffee
Always fragrant with friendship
Bringing good taste out of darkness

In a world driven by friending, unfriending, virtual words, and internet socialization, sometimes I think about the circles of my life—my family, my workplace, my acquaintances, my friends. How do you know if someone is a friend when you have never met them face to face? How does friendship form between two people whose threads have never crossed?

Some time ago, though dates aren't really my thing, I fell in love with the writings of LithiumAddict on my favorite fandom website. And you know what? Fandom gave me so much, but there is only one reason I truly don't regret it: because it gave me people I truly consider friends. One day, for one reason or another, I followed enough links and little breadcrumbs across the internet from that fanfiction profile to an online journal where I found out that this favorite author of mine was also lithiumlaughter, Percy O'Leary, the storygirl. If anyone ever deserved the name, she did.

I had never really thought about what it meant to put yourself out there online because at the time, I didn't. There was this little rosebud sitting in my heart I refused to allow to blossom, and I had reasons. I will not go into how terrible this world can be to those who are different and refuse to change, who dig in their heels and stand their ground, sure on the footing of familial attachment and obstinately stick up their chin in nonconformity while still preferring to skate beneath the surface of notice. I will not go into what my world looked like at the time, but let me say that that was me. If stubbornness is a strong will and obstinacy is a strong won't, then I am that won't. So I stayed tucked away inside myself and it was safe and comfortable and if people didn't like my fiction, then they were welcome to simply not read it.

And then there was Percy. She didn't just write fiction: she wrote her challenges and struggles; she wrote about the Man upstairs with such an honest, raw conviction of His tender care even in the strange turmoil a life could be; and she did so unapologetically and without offering offense. It made me willing to open my own self up a little bit, and a little bit more, willing to put my heart into words and take a look inside my skin in something more than the vaguest of terms. Oh, I had done enough of that inside my head and my safe circle of family, but to reach out my hand to another with the very real possibility that they would slap me back—I had never done it. I had not the courage.

Perhaps courage in writing isn't having the thick skin, but simply shrugging off the blood from our wounds because we have more words to say, more songs to sing, more love to offer. I can say honestly that lithiumlaughter taught me that.

In discovering that journal of a storygirl, I found a friend. I cheered her on and prayed for her and always received a welcome to my prayers. We started talking—this and that, writing, fandom, tea and poetry, the way we like to get under a character's skin and think about what makes them tick. When I was down, she cheered me up, she prayed for me and supported me when I needed encouragement and strength.

And let us say, that is what friendship is to me. Friendship is unconditional. You don't wait until someone is doing well to be there for them. Friendship is encouragement, support, lending our strength to share in the load. Friendship is laughter together in the good times, exchanging ideas and understandings and all the things that make us better people in the long run. Friendship is honesty and openness. Friendship is knowing when you cast that line out to another person, they will catch it. Friendship is agreeing to disagree. Friendship is sharing some of the same foundation or building it together.

Perhaps you could argue in this world of friending and unfriending that friendship has been cheapened. Not mine.

I have a friend
Whose hand is always open
Always free with her encouragement
Always stronger than she believes

Happy belated birthday, m'dear.

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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 BookRooster.com.

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

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