Negativity and writing

At the time of writing this, the world is a mess. This isn’t about that, but that ain’t helping.

There are times when I’m late posting something because I’ve just been burdened with other work or am lazy. Once or twice I was just uninspired, which is against everything I think about when it comes to the work of writing. This week though, my issue was one that I deal with on a regular basis: seeping negativity. This week I nearly drowned in it.

While my private life is just that, I do find myself spending nearly every day with a terribly negative person. It is not a relationship that is easily severed, though distance can sometimes be achieved. When days are good, I find myself impenetrable to the dark aura and the distant yells. When I am in a weakened state, less confident in my identity or ability, those tendrils sneak past my defenses and seriously fuck up my day. Or two days, or three. I can usually cap it there, but I’m increasingly weary.

My situation is not uncommon and I think I could find some help in talking about it more. Not just with professionals, but with people (especially fellow writers) who deal with a similar issue and who find themselves wasting a lot of writing energy just protecting their own happiness.

What say you? Do you have tips on how to remain hopeful in the face of negativity?

Meet me in the middle

Getting stuck and unstuck in the center of writing.

I tend to have trouble with middles and I think this is common. Normally I am a “pants” writer, someone who discovers the story, the characters, the whole package, as they write. This has typically ended with me getting bored about halfway through and abandoning the project. In the darker moments, I suspected that I was never going to take writing seriously and that it would always be something I played at. I didn’t have the “stamina” to make it through a whole story. I just wasn’t good enough.

Then, after listening to countless podcasts, watching videos, reading blogs of other writers, I realized that I can combine the best of both worlds. The moment I start to feel the enthusiasm wane while discovery writing, I could stop an outline the rest of the story. I expected this to help me through the fear I have about outlining in general: that telling myself the story in an outline would be satisfying enough that I wouldn’t go on to drafting. That is still a fear and I am teetering on the edge of that being a possibility now.

With The Shape of Us, I wanted to experiment with telling a story from an outside point of view. The game from the NPC perspective, as it were. After the first three episodes, I quickly realized that I needed to outline a full story for Sykes and Baron, a true plot in the background that my POV characters were getting a glimpse of. It then became an exercise to see how much of that plot should bleed through to make it relevant to the POV character’s life at that moment, but also allow the reader to piece together the background story. So I plotted out a 14-episode “season” for The Shape of Us and right now we’re at the half-way point.

I didn’t post on Friday because I didn’t write episode 8. I could give a number of excuses, but I wasn’t ready. I felt that having a space at the mid-point would seem intentional (it was not) and comfortable (it was definitely not). Also, not many people are reading this right now, so the insecure part of me thought “who would miss it anyway?”

I did. I missed it. I fell in love with these characters the moment I finished episode 1 and I am determined to give readers glimpses into their lives, one unwilling bystander at a time. Whatever behind-the-scenes method I use for writing these episodes, in the end it won’t matter. What matters is if I’m satisfied with how the story plays out. So far, so good.

The next seven episodes start posting tomorrow. I hope you enjoy them.

Rant: The Last Bookstore – What the hell is this shit?

As if the whole world has to be Instagrammable — and yes, it must since soon the only way we’ll be able to feed ourselves is with that sweet, sweet influencer affiliate money (I’m counting on you, Hot Pockets)…

This article from June floated along my Twitter feed this week and I was immediately destroyed by the images of book sculptures and color-coded cases. I get it, I do. The aesthetic nature of book displays can be satisfying and the physical book itself can be a medium for a new art and blah, blah, barf.

I’d really like to read something puce.

Whatever, man. Whatever. While the website allows you to order from their book catalog online — and, full disclosure, I was prepared for that online store not to exist in some sort of Presence-Only Hipster Timeline — I find the shifting of our artistic consumption priorities from experience to the mere recording of experience and displaying of experience to be…sad.

Not that I’m some sort of extroverted adventurer, but I’ll be damned if I line up my books by color. (Hides my shelf of black, Penguin classics. “Those don’t count!”)

Source: The Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A. Is Still an Iconic Spot

Status Report 191401

I’m writing mostly academic words today — pre-semester set up, etc. — and while words are words and I’m keeping track of them, it’s not as satisfying as those words that I pull out of thin air and plop down on to the page like flicking paint off a toothbrush. (This should give you an idea of how clean my process is.) Tracking what I produce instead of writing down what I want to produce is helping me get what I want done. Now all I need is someone to tell me how I can unfriend everyone on Facebook forever without having to deal with people’s feelings. Ugh.