When Things Don’t Go According To Plan

If you’ve been following along over on Anxiety Ink, you know I tried to do a Thing that didn’t go anywhere near the way I hoped.

I set a date and time for a writing workshop on worldbuilding. I reserved the space at the library. A few people told me they would definitely-for-sure be there.

Then with maybe 48 hours to go, the cancellations came in.

‘Disappointing’ doesn’t begin to cover it. I had been so excited to finally do this thing I’ve thought about and wanted to do for years, only to have it all collapse at the last minute.

But I’m currently in the process of shifting my life to a greater focus on all things creative. My attempts to lead workshops do not end here. This will be a Thing and it will happen.

And in the meantime, I’ll be using the excuse to get familiar with this video equipment we have and turn my workshop plans into short videos.

Do you have any writing topics you’d like to see covered? What is something you’ve always wanted creative writing classes/workshops to do or talk about?

And if you have any favorite YouTubers who talk about writing, I could use some recommendations!

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Social Magic of Storytelling

Let me tell you a story. (that’s why you’re here, after all.)

I went to a party. It was a Friday after a long, crazy day at work that joined two weeks’ worth of long, crazy days. I went alone. I went with nerves and doubts.

See, I was afraid I wouldn’t know anyone at the party except the host. Sometimes I hate being right.

Like most of us, I’m not always comfortable in social situations, even with my occasional extroverted tendencies. So it began with the awkward standing, offers to help to make myself useful and give me something to do, feeling brave when I smiled at strangers. Just not quite brave enough to introduce myself.

Then my host introduced me to someone with an auspicious, “You both do theatre!” And the conversation went from there.

In fact, every conversation that night ended up coming back to theatre, or writing, or both. Most often both. And I made new friends!

No, I will never grow out of how awesome it is to make friends.

And that’s a lot of why I went. See, our host was Carrie Jones, who in addition to being an amazing writer is quite possible the kindest and most caring person I have ever met. Her friends were bound to be awesome.

When I came home, I was bouncing off the walls and talking a mile a minute. My poor husband. I tried to blame the punch, but we both knew it was just my extroverted tendencies acting up.

Thanks to those fantastic conversations, I finally read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, which had been in my to-read pile for years. (Yes, it was every bit as great as the hype.) They also propelled and inspired me to write more, helping to sustain the awesome creative productivity that has so far defined this year.

So my whole long, rambling point: stories are social magic. Also, that was a great party and I’m so glad I went, rather than letting nerves and fears win.

Why I Write

I’m currently savoring my way through Jeff Vandermeer’s Wonderbook and came across a section that made me question why I write.

Telling stories seems to have always been a fact of life. Somewhere, I still have notebooks filled with a toddler’s illiterate scrawl in crayon rainbows. My grandmother still tells me I can stop breathing easier than I can stop writing.

How I came to declare writing as my passion and life is a story I’ve told perhaps too many time. The why is something else entirely and, after some thought, I believe I’ve figured it out.

Jeff Vandermeer suggests that are born out of negative experience, whether a terrible tragedy or a minor disappointment. For him, it was his parents’ divorce. Mine was a small child’s constantly disappointed search for magic.

Pretty non-hallucinogenic flower!

Magic is everywhere, if you choose to see it.

I wanted fairies, and unicorns, and talking cats. When I couldn’t find them, I made up my own adventures.

Even better: I found that magic, after all. It’s a conscious choice in how I experience the world, but that makes it no less the magic I searched for as a kid.

So here is a different sort of love for Valentine’s Day. Whatever your love, I hope you take time today to celebrate it.

Distractions

This week’s distractions:

  • Signing up for a master class in acting, put on by a local professional theater company.
  • Working on my Halloween costume, which requires sewing lessons with my grandmother.
  • The program (tentative) for the World Fantasy Convention next month. This year’s focus is on epic fantasy, which is much more my flavor than last year’s military fantasy.
  • Deciding to join NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t attempted a proper NaNo in . . . years. A few months ago, I would have told you that I’m not doing it and never will again.

National Novel Writing Month: when the month of November becomes all about producing a 50,000 word manuscript. I swore I’d never do it again. I should know better.

My goal is not the word count; it’s to break the procrastination habits that have become so bad. And if I manage to hit 50,000 words while I’m at it, that would be awesome, too.

New Play Festival

In addition to the overflow of ideas in September, some bizarre part of me thought it would be an excellent idea to sign up for the 24 Hour New Play Festival.

As a writer.

This is how it works: a group of awesomely insane people get together on a Friday night and split into teams of writer/director/actors. We had a few hours of ice breakers and improv games – teams getting to know each other and writers desperately scrambling for ideas. (Or maybe that was just me.) A professional playwright came out to workshop ideas with the writers.

I got home at 10:30pm – after getting up at 5am for a long day of work – made myself some caffeine, and sat down to write a play. 1:30am I stumbled into bed, to get up less than five hours later and read it over before emailing it by our deadline.

It was still a rough draft when I sent it out.

After that, the directors took over, with some input from the writers. The shows went onstage before an audience at 7pm.

My group was amazing. And, hey, it was recorded, so you should totally go watch them be wonderful.

New Project(s)

Happy October! How did that happen?

Life since August . . .

Well the rest of August – post-Dracula, that is – became a casualty of burnout. But September? Oh, September.

Four shiny new novels have been dancing through my head. Yes, FOUR. Plus a few older ideas reminding me of their particular ass kicking skills.

To quiet the noise, I’m letting my brain work on two, maybe three, novels at once. Except my brain apparently can’t handle choices and decisions so it settle back on the novel I’ve been working on all along this summer.

Most of my new ideas have come from dreams. It’s been . . . a long while since I had proper story-dreams. I’m wondering if it’s a time of year or supermoon thing, since they started right after the new moon and stopped right before the full moon.

You know what that means?

Research project!

Because I record (and date) the interesting dreams, I want to go back and see if I can find any sort of pattern. This could be fun.

Writing Again

You know what’s awesome?

Writing.

Apparently, I write short stories, but I am not a short story writer. My brain does not acknowledge short stories as actual writing. Go figure.

And I have not worked on a novel since the end of October. Plenty of short stories, but no novel.

Earlier this month, I started a new novel project and it feels like I can breathe again. Just in time to start rehearsals for Dracula. Naturally.