Fwee.

Wrote 1424 words in Resurrection, bringing the total count thus far up to 34024. Considering that I essentially just picked the damn thing up where I’d left off three years ago, I’m shocked I got back into it this easily.

Shocked in a good way, that is. 🙂

I think I’ll start on the next chapter, as I have a friend around I’m word warring with right now. When Amme gets off work and sits down to write this evening, think I’ll catch her and war her with Stronger. That sounds like a decent enough plan. 🙂

*cracks knuckles*

Time to get to work.

I’m going to be working on various writing projects today. I’ll be hanging out and posting progress in chat at Evolution. If anyone wants to hop in and write with me, I’d be glad for the company. 🙂

(You will need to register an account on site if you’re not a member, but it only takes a couple minutes.)

Meh…

I didn’t get anything written for FMM yesterday. Meh. I’d intended to get at least 1k, but first I slept twelve hours (7pm to 7am, roughly). Unfortunately, the medication I’m on for my fibromyalgia makes it near impossible for me to get up on my own (without alarm clock or male nudging) in any reasonable time. 🙄

I developed a headache a couple hours later. Bad enough to be distracting, but not so bad that I couldn’t mostly ignore it. Thought it might be a migraine, but I didn’t have all the symptoms that I normally do, so didn’t take anything.

Of course, a few hours later, after the headache itself’s faded, I’m exhausted and feeling like an emotionally fragile kitten. Uh huh. Migraine. Sigh.

… I hate my body.

In other news, current count on Stronger:

Stronger than the Night
12956 / 100000 (12.96%)

Up to Chapter 06 … now, I just need to decide if I want to work on Resurrection next since I didn’t work on it yesterday or the day before, or if I want to work on Stronger since I didn’t work on it yesterday. *ponder*

Decisions, decisions.

Wow.

It’s just the year for discoveries, I guess.

and I were talking yesterday afternoon about writing and epublications, after reading this thread over at Romance Divas. (Note: I believe you need to be a registered member to read the forums.) We got talking about erotica/erotic romance WIPs and publishing and such.

I happened to remember one WIP I’d been working on a few years ago, Resurrection. Some of you might remember it as the spawn of that story I wrote where the shapeshifter fucked the Dragonlord back to life. (If you haven’t noticed, yes, I come up with weird premises. ^_^)

Long story short, I stopped working on it that summer. Stopped working on pretty much anything erotic in nature, to be honest. Writing erotic fiction while with someone who would promise sex, tease, not follow through, play mind and control games surrounding anything sexual, and have freak-outs about the content of my work lasting hours to days… well. Let’s just put it this way, it wasn’t pleasant. Then everything went to hell in a handbasket at FM, and I didn’t have anywhere near the energy to deal with it, so set it aside.

It stayed set aside.

So I went to look at it again yesterday, curious, as I couldn’t remember exactly how far I’d gotten on the WIP. I’d thought I’d gotten about nine chapters in, out of an estimated thirtyish. Not surprising, because that’s all that was in its folder. But, I vaguely recalled getting to chapter thirteen. Considering Summer 2003 is pretty much a blur at this point–there was so much going on, between FM, writing, Robert, soul-searching, etc–I really didn’t think anything I’d found would surprise me.

Hah. Hah. Hah.

I spent a good hour just tracking down files. Back then, I was shuffling between using Robert’s desktop and laptop, my laptop, and Vel’s desktop and saving stuff to the network. Between migraines exacerbated by the brightness of my monitor and my then-chronic tendonitis due to ergonomic stress, finding a setup that worked was difficult. The following summer, I was mostly using Shay’s Pele, because of the fried laptop motherboard, and my Compaq 233, which then died. Nutshell version, while I tried to keep everything mostly organised, I ended up with multiple copies of files in multiple different places. Tracking everything down… pain. in. the. ass.

But when all was said and done, I found I’d written up to chapter seventeen. That floored me. I knew I’d gotten further than nine, but … seventeen!?

Upon closer inspection, several of the chapters preceeding and including seventeen are incomplete. That could be because I skipped the scene when I started having trouble with it (amusingly, most of the cut-offs are right around the beginning or in the middle of a sex scene). It could also be that I backed up an older copy of the files; as I had multiple instances of the folders, I only checked to make sure everything was there. I didn’t compare dates. Either is equally possible.

I double-checked the outline. 17/26. That’s roughly two-thirds of the way through.

I’m beating my head against the metaphorical keyboard here. Seventeen. And I didn’t finish it!?

*shakes head*

Reading through the MS… it needs work. The first nine chapters are pretty damn good, imo. After that point… well, you can tell I was starting to have trouble. I don’t think it’s anything that won’t need some minor rewriting, though. Description, for the most part, kicks ass, especially in the first half. Dialogue… could use some work, especially in regards to character delineation.

Most of it? Stuff I can do in a one-pass revision. No big deal.

So.

Current game plan?

I’m not stopping work on Stronger. I definitely need to get that finished. But I don’t see any reason not to work on Resurrection at the same time. While it definitely won’t fit print market, there’s a lot more in the way of reputable erotic romance epublishers than there was three years ago. (At that point, Ellora’s Cave was about it, or at least, the only one I ever heard about.)

So Beyond Temptation goes on backburner. With all luck, I can get the rough finished within the month, considering I have essentially ten scenes to write.

*crosses fingers*

Wish me luck!

Heyla all!

As I mentioned in my recent blog post, I’m moving my blog to here. 🙂

… I have to say, the ability to have smilies was damn near enough reason to move all on its own. 😛

Anyway. I’m still customising the blog here with links ‘n stuff. Don’t mind the dust. 😉

Writing Communities and Toxic Perfectionism

Funny how various posts around the web can be so thought-provoking. I’ve been mulling over this for a few days now, and the more I think about it, the more complicated it gets.

OK, so y’all probably want me to cut to the chase. Basically, the posts and threads have got me thinking about practical usefulness of writing communities. (And just to reassure folks who might worry–I’m not questioning administrating Evolution. That’s not the point of this rant. 🙂

I’ve been a member in various writing communities and critique groups for five years, including, but not limited to, Critters, Forward Motion, the Rumor Mill, Evolution, and Romance Divas. So it’s not like I’m coming at this without experience.

Now, so people don’t get the wrong idea … I’m not ranting about specific communities or crit groups at all, but the toxic perfectionism that is all too common in any community. And if it isn’t actively happening at X community, there’s probably a good number of people in X that have had it happen to them elsewhere.

Anyhoo. On to the rant.

Many writing communities have a publication-oriented atmosphere and attitude. This isn’t a problem; I think pursuing publication is great, so long as it’s what the writer wants to do. But attitudes and advice I’ve seen focus on writing for publication to the exclusion of writing for fun. Or they focus on writing “well.”

I know several people who have been told some variant of the following–

“Don’t use ‘was’ or ‘were’ in description; it’s passive.” (Which is actually incorrect.)

“Never use forms of ‘to be.'”

“Show, don’t tell!”

“Don’t use adverbs.”

“Don’t use speech tags.” (Like: “Bloody hell,” he growled.)

“Oh, btw, so-and-so author did something similar.” (Often with the undertone in context that because someone did that–even if the similarities are minute!–you should change your story so there are no parallels.)

“That’s too weird. It’ll never sell.”

“Don’t write [current trend]. The market is glutted and you’ll never be able to sell it.”

And so on.

Basically, advice focusing around “Don’t do that” or “You can’t.”

You know what? I have a huge problem with that. Cause both just set writers up to lose confidence in themselves and feel dejected. New writers are likely to follow advice of people who seem to be more knowledgeable writers. And that can just fuck people over.

What I’ve seen happen–a lot–is people focus on “writing well” or “writing for publication” to the exclusion of writing because they love it. They become so intent on not writing badly, on writing a “perfect” draft, that they lose their passion along the way.

In critiquing, I’ve seen a lot of writers post work that’s technically perfect. Crisp, tight prose, vivid description, proper formatting… but it doesn’t have that spark. It feels illusory, like covering up an arid desert with painted images of flowing waterfalls and lush vegetation. You can still taste the dry, dusty air.

That “spark” can make the difference between an acceptance and a rejection. If you don’t love the work … it shows. It really does.

Most of the time, writers aren’t even fully conscious of it. Many of them struggle to force the words out, battling with their inner demon cracking the “write well” whip.

You know what?

Perfect prose doesn’t matter. Take a look at what’s on the NYT bestseller lists sometime. Pay attention to the prose. Now, ask this: If the author had passed this through your crit group/writing community, how many of the critiquers would have screamed up and down that X, Y, and Z needed to be fixed or it wouldn’t sell?

I’d be willing to bet quite a lot of em.

What matters–and why writers who aren’t really that great but continue to sell in huge numbers–is the story.

Your average reader has no fucking comprehension of Writing Community Prose Rules. Your average reader doesn’t give two shits if you say “he snarled” or “she said frostily.” Your average reader doesn’t give a damn if you say “She had long brown hair” vs. “Long brown hair caught the sun’s brilliant rays, highlights shining bright gold.”

Key is, everything in moderation. Sometimes “he snarled” is the right thing to say. Sometimes using shorthand description is appropriate. Etc.

(Now, before some nitwit decides to use this as an excuse to include every single n00bist writing mistake known to man, let me point back at everything in moderation. Throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater is just as bad as toxic perfectionism.)

I’ve a huge problem with the idea that you must never do X, Y, or Z. While there’s a lot of people who will swear up and down that they don’t tell people “never”–well, maybe they don’t. But it’s sure as hell the impression that comes through. When it’s not just one or two people who hold those opinions, but the majority of people in the community… well, what the hell is a new/intermediate writer without much experience or self-confidence supposed to think?

Any so-called “writing rule” can be broken. There are no rules. Just guidelines. They exist so people who don’t known why they exist don’t make huge mistakes. But they aren’t meant to be followed to the letter, 100% of the time, and that’s how far too many people treat them.

And let’s diverge on the topic a bit more. I’ve seen writers totally change their plots or gave up a book because one supposedly experienced person told them “You can’t do [x]” or “This won’t sell.” Including me–I changed a huge subplot in the book I’m currently rewriting because one person whose opinion I then respected told me I couldn’t have more than one villain in a book. (The original subplot is going back in, btw.) I have a good friend who was told she shouldn’t write vampire fiction because it was all cliched and it wouldn’t sell.

You know what? Whether or not it “sells” doesn’t matter.

What matters is what YOU, the WRITER, get out of writing the book. What matters is that you enjoy it. That you have fun. That you write something that YOU are proud of–not something that conforms to often-conflicting Writing Community “Rules.”

Write what you love.

Write the story that sings to your heart and your soul.

Write for yourself, not for some perfectionistic “audience.”

Cause that’s what matters. That’s what’ll shine through. Cause if you betray your own heart and write something that you don’t love, not deep down … well, it’ll show. And it’ll take its toll. You might not notice it at first. Most people don’t, cause it’s like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water. You don’t notice it till you’re so blocked you can hardly write and then you can’t figure out why.

The story is what matters. Not perfect prose. The story is what will sell–not how pretty and prim and perfect you write.

A lot more people need to remember that.

Progress

So I finished up the outline (after having it ruthlessly shredded by my fiance/writing partner Alan Morgan) and have started working on the actual (re)writing for Stronger than the Night.

Currently, I’m standing at:

Stronger than the Night
7466 / 100000 (7.47%)

I have some other writing to get done. I’ve a few articles I volunteered to write for Evolution, along with sorting out stuff for A&B.

I just need to get back into the “write every day” routine vs. the “write every other other day or two.” Then again, that’s still more than I’ve written regularly in the past, oh, couple of years, so I suppose I oughtn’t complain too much… 😛