Journal

Writing:

I finished the rewrite. I can’t believe it. I thought I was way behind, but I caught up and just couldn’t stop. I was crying when I reached the epilogue. Sometimes I feel stupid that my own writing makes me cry, but when it happens I know I’m on the right track. I know what emotional payout I want at the end of this story, now I need to fix the rest to make it so.

I am confident I can make it more so, but it will take a few more edit passes to get it in shape to send to beta readers. It grew from 60k to 70k, and since I always write sparse, I’m pretty sure it’s going to grow a little more. It’s a little thin on backstory and a few heartbeats are missing.

Reading Diversely:

I read 55 books last year, and the majority of them were by diverse* writers. A weird thing happened over the course of the year. Not only did I find myself enjoying more books, my baseline for what a good book is changed as well. I realized that as a POC, my expectation was pain.

I didn’t know what it was like to have another option. For joy in fiction free of microagressions, for not having to steel yourself to insults or exclusion, for finding characters that you can identify with more closely, to see the marginalized find their own way to happiness even if the world doesn’t change. This felt revelatory in so many ways.

And as a weird side effect, books where the representation is done badly have become glaringly obvious. When there are microagressions in the first chapters, I find it usually means marginalized characters will be treated  worse later on in the story. These things are connected, not just small errors, but indicate a way of thinking/viewing the world the author hasn’t examined.

Despite that, I’m even more convinced that any writer with empathy, and the will, can learn to be better at writing characters with the marginalizations they don’t share. I noticed that those writers who are disabled etc. often did better including characters of other races etc. Because they cared about inclusion, it showed.

But there’s no perfect end state for learning how to write more inclusively, just a lifetime of learning, and willingness to keep an open mind (and yes, making mistakes that you learn from). That said, no one story will satisfy everyone, because it’s just one story. And that’s why we need so many more.

*Diverse by race, sexuality, gender, disability, etc.

Reading:

  • The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
  • The Fisher of Bones by Sarah Gailey
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  • The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
  • The Devourers by Indra Das

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Journal

It’s been hard to let the last year go when this year has gotten off to a bit of a rough start (and an ear infection). 2017 was a year of in between projects rather than finished things, but sometimes you have to plant seeds instead of gathering up flowers.

In 2018 I want to put some of the editing lessons I learned into practice. I want to get this current manuscript into better shape before sending it out to beta readers, and maybe find a CP as well. My goal is is to take my time, but keep my eye on some of the more interesting dates later in the year like pitch wars and #dvpit. I was out for both in 2017, because my writing timeline was off. I will to get this book submission ready. I’m halfway through a major structural rewrite, but there’s still a lot of work ahead. And I already know the book I want to write after this one is done, and the book I want to write after that. I think I’ve got a flexible plan for at least the next three years.

In 2017 I read 65 books, a majority by diverse authors. I want to keep this up, and writing reviews as I go (some here, some on other sites).

I will continue to find opportunities to help. I need to be aware of my impact on those around me, and try to be more compassionate. I’ll figure out what I can do whether it involves money or time. This includes saving emotional energy by not getting involved in online fights, and putting more into lifting other people up. I’m fairly sure most people are being bombarded by the bad news so I’d like to spread more squee! Produce more joy! Amplify opportunities! I’m not going to talk about this much here, because there are some things that are better when you just do them rather than talk about them.

Most of all, I need to take more time for myself. I spent most of December trapped at home, and with cabin fever sinking its teeth in, it became pretty clear how having just an hour to myself could make a difference to my mood. Time without obligations, to do with as I wish, even if it’s just choosing cleaning the toilet without interruption. The key is “I choose it” rather than “I had to do it”. That little verb change seems to make all the difference to my mental health and happiness. I’m an introvert, but my kiddo’s an extrovert who revels in constant attention. I need to find a better balance of alone time. It’s been rough getting childcare, so we’ve been winging it as best we can. It will be rough again at certain points this year, but somehow I have to find a way to get in some downtime. If I can find time to write, then I need to find a way to make some for myself too.

Things I’ve learned:

  • Books your child loves will probably not last till adulthood except by some miracle, so don’t be precious about the physical object. Let them enjoy those books, tooth and all. The stories will stick.
  • When you’re feeling hopeless, do something to help someone else’s spirit or well being. Give a compliment. Make book art. Donate blood. Help someone feel less alone. It won’t fix everything, but it can help lighten your soul for a little while.

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