Journal

Writing:

As a break from the Beasty novel, I did a few touch ups on the novel out for submission and fixed some minor things that were bothering me. I also spent some time on a short story. The short took more than I’d scheduled, but I know I shouldn’t turn down inspiration when it finds me. Honestly, even though I wanted to work on the Beasty novel, I knew I wasn’t  ready to. I’ve learned my lessons!

Inhabiting:

February was the re-start that January didn’t offer. I went through all my things and tried to confront my bad habits. It was a month of adjustments that have felt much needed.

I started with my things: one drawer, one closet, one room at a time. Because I’ve gone konmari on my house before, it wasn’t so difficult this time. Mostly it was time to get rid of things that were broken or worn out or were no longer useful, and also a reminder of what I have. It’s amazing how physically acting on a space can make you feel like you have a bit more control over your life. There is literal baggage to get rid of. Order that’s visible. It’s such a contrast to the writing life, where there is so much you can’t talk about and there is often nothing concrete to admire.

I also started going to the gym and almost look forward to the early morning’s there. The biggest challenge hasn’t been motivating myself  to go, but balancing my blood sugar levels. I’ve been doing a series of experiments to see what I need to eat before and after to ensure I’m not light headed. Some days worked out, and some days didn’t. My writing suffered while I tried to figure the balance, but I feel so much stronger physically that I think I’ll stick to it. In a month I’ve noticed I can walk up the hill to the house without as much trouble and some exercises are easier. I don’t get as tired as fast and I’m sleeping better. I’m far from fit, but taking steps towards better health is another one of those controllable things, when what happens with my writing is not.

And sewing! As usual when I’m in between novels I’ve been firing up the machine. It feels like stretching my creativity, or working a different set of muscles. I’ve been buying indie sewing patterns and been learning a ton. It’s low stakes and enjoyable. I sewed up a foam insert to carry my SLR  camera around in, and I sewed up an over sized sweatshirt that’s so cozy. A finished garment is something I can hold in my hands. Tangible. Real.

Sometimes it’s good to get out of your head.

Reading:

  • Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • Cold Iron by Stina Leicht

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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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