So I haven’t updated this blog in a while, and since I want to start posting more frequently, I’d like to talk about why I haven’t.
Actually, there are two main reasons. One, there simply hasn’t been much to take note of. And two, which is partly to blame for one, I went through a phase where I had a difficult time writing at all.
Long story short, I had a really bad experience at a local writing group I attended. Oh, it wasn’t criticism – I can handle that (and the irony was that the actual writing itself was quite well received, at least). It was something more personal. I don’t want to go into details, but I ended up feeling ganged up on and attacked for certain personal belief that is very important to me. One that plays a big role in both my life and in my writing. One that they, in no uncertain terms, told me was ‘wrong’.
Normally I would’ve been able to shake off such conflicting opinions, but this time it struck a weak-point. New doubt compelled me to notice opinions online and in the world around me that were similar to theirs, while neglecting my own and those similar to mine, and it grew until it became a monster constantly looking over my shoulder. And, well, it’s hard to write with a monster looking over your shoulder.
I also made one very critical mistake – I let it change what I was writing. The changes I made weren’t huge, but they subtly shifted something that had once been relaxing into one that was stressful. I worried too much. I felt like I had something to prove. I questioned my ability to connect with my characters. I wondered if I was doing it ‘wrong’.
Chains of Ivy is a good example of this. I’m still proud of getting it published on Jukepop Serials, but this incident actually started a long time ago, and Chains of Ivy was written shortly afterwards. Its plot, and especially its characters, were created with the things they’d said in mind, and in some ways, I think it was a sort of surrender to those negative voices. I created the story more how I felt like I ‘should’ and not really how I wanted to. That’s why the third chapter sits finished but unedited on my hard-drive. (I’ll talk more about what I plan on doing with it now in a future post.)
Similarly, July’s Camp NaNo didn’t go quite how I wanted it to. Originally, I wanted to work on the WIP of the novel I’d shared at the writer’s group, but I couldn’t get the worry out of my head when I sat down to write, and in the end, I started working on a different idea all together. One that I tried to pants from scratch – I apparently didn’t learn much from April’s Camp in that regard, and predictably, I ended up with a similar result. I reached my lowered word goal of 25k, but those words were made of pure stress. My heart wasn’t in it, just my anger and doubt.
This NaNo, though, has been different. Sure, I’m a bit behind right now, but this time it’s because of good old writer’s block and the full-time job I started a few months ago, and I look forward to working on it instead of worrying over it. The difference was startlingly simple – I’ve decided that I don’t give a shit about what anyone else will say or has said. I have my own beliefs.
I apologize for rambling, but my point is this: considering criticism and other points of view is one thing, but you should never let anybody tell you that your own opinions and beliefs are wrong. It’s your beliefs that shape your stories and your voice, and its your voice that makes your writing yours. Your own heart has to be in it, or neither you nor your audience will enjoy it. The words will be empty.
So to the things holding me down – fuck you, because these are the last words I’m wasting on you and I’m taking back what I let you steal from me.
One of the great things about writing is that it can give anyone power. You can create and destroy any kind of world you want, give life and take life from any kind of characters you want, and tell any story you want. Don’t let anyone take that power away from you.
Dramatic rants aside, though, there will be some actual news coming up. I’ll talk about that later. First, I’ve got a NaNo novel to catch up on!