What else are people working on?
Mapping a novel based on the world in planetfall 🙂
Yess v excited for Planetfall: The Novel.
Honestly I’m between projects right now and struggling with it. I was working on a novel for a long time but hit a standstill with it and fell out of love and I’m trying to decide whether to get back into it with a better thought-out plan or to abandon it.
I’m writing a new short story for a workshop, but don’t feel totally inspired by it either.
What are your tricks for when you’re out of ideas? Or motivation?
I find January & February to be the hardest months just to do life in general – my brain is mush.
I’ve got another story collection good to go…tis a mishmash of lengths…29 flash fiction ranging from 150-1500 words, (I realize flash is usually 1000 or less but for organizational purposes I’m grouping the four that are over 1000 in here) +3 stories (including Bubbles) ranging 2600-3800, + a massive piece (for me) that I’ll call a novella, nearly 15,000 words…the working title of the collection is Kurtin…hoping to have it published by a house that will promote it properly…some of the pieces have been published in journals (Malahat Review, Fiddlehead, SAND Journal, based in Berlin, Best Small Fictions 2017)…
Fiddlehead and Malahat are impressive.
As for what to do… Sometimes you just have to let yourself take a break. Maybe freewrite 10min/day and see what comes.
What lead you to submit to Broken Pencil’s Deathmatch? Anyone.
I ain’t bout to sit here telling ya’ll I didn’t fuck up. Okay? I did. Blame it on the dry year. Pin that shit on God. Satan. And sure. I’m the first to admit I ain’t no fucking Saint. But I ain’t the worst sombitch you never met neither. Least I like to think that. Course don’t all us really strung-out hop-headed motherfuckers say the same? So let me lay it on you good people, how It all started. Best I recollect it was after we went to pick up Lorena’s ride what broke down whenever her and Ray were making their way cross country. Engine overheated or some shit is what Ray claimed. Middle of Nebraska of all places. And what with Linda and Lorena being half sisters and all we figured it was cool leaving them home together, home being a broke-back trailer stranded in the middle of a meth-labbed crater park just outside Bloomington. Mostly, since drinking and smoking the shit took up all my time, we never did have two dimes to rub up against each other, so when Linda said Hey my sister called and they need a place, can they? I said Fuck yeah. If only I’d knowed then how things’d play out, I never woulda.
As far as coming up with motivation and ideas, the best way I have discovered is to follow the path of least resistance. I choose the easiest way to get where the story wants to go. The oftener I do this, the more ideas flow, the greater my motivation to get to the end. I think too it helps to look at stories as an extension of the self, not a thing separate and apart. This ‘stuckness’ we sometimes feel usually, and at least in my case, results from attempting to find that one perfect solution. Instead, I tend to think of a story in terms of many interpretations with alternate endings none of which are better than the others. Generally, though, I find that out of those many interpretations, one ending stands out, and in fact the story cannot go any other way.
“Perhaps this is how you know you’re doing the thing you’re intended to do: No matter how slow or how slight your progress, you never feel that it’s a waste of time.” — Curtis Sittenfeld
Donnie, how do you map? I’m so used to stream of consciousness work that I struggle with mapping. I’ve got a few longer works, but nothing past a novella or one act play. Only once with an outline, but I know it becomes necessary at certain lengths… I found the virgin archetype beat outline helpful, but also kind of soul crushing.
I typically start with the world I’m building — and this is important for any story, not just sci-fi. Who are the people? Who’s in power? What’s the cultural climate like? The technology? If I already have an idea of the plot, I outline it in as simple a form as I can. X lives here. Y happens. Z gets in the way. X responds by A. Y happens. And so on.
I don’t stick to a particular format, I just do what feels right. It’s not important how it looks, it’s just important to get it down so you have something to refer to later. If inspiration for a scene strikes, I’ll write it out, but I keep it somewhere separate from the main document. It builds a little book of ideas. Once I get the story line down in bullets, a web, or an actual map (like a star map or a physical map), I just start writing. I’m very careful when I write — I hate going back to edit so I minimize that part of it. I don’t try to “spew” as so many people recommend. That’s a great way to completely fuck your continuity. I take my time and try to put something good down the first time.
I use Scrivener, and I keep all the scenes in their own document so it’s easy to reorder them later.
I also keep a little encyclopedia of character and location descriptions, the world map, any explanations of technology or other things, and the languages. I really try to keep the novel map to the bare minimum, because it will inevitably change as the story emerges.
Re: Tricks and ideas for motivation — Word Sprints are THE BEST. Grab a friend, write a silly/sexy/scary/stupid prompt, set a timer, and write. Those exercises have turned into some of my best scenes.
Without spewing I would be nothing. I’m tempted to add a Virginia Woolf quote! For character development, for metaphor, for meaning… All rest below consciousness. Otherwise nothing matters. No true meaning is thoughtfully planned, only its execution.
I’m actually amused how many times Little followers have mocked the fact that I quote other writers. If you’re not interested in what others have to say…
But this is depressing and surely time for Skip The Dishes.
Ginsberg voters, we need a miracle. If this were a movie it would happen. Because it would teach us all a lesson. Skip The Wishes and get some voting happening.
Favorite first sentence… Go!
Mine: Life is hell, but at least there are prizes. Or so one thought.
As for me, I was in a huge rut. Now I’m back to work. Actively working on an essay, short story, long poem and some random poems. I have plans for a novel and novella… I miss being focused on one thing, having the time and space to become invested in the characters. Most of my work is transient. But I have enough magazine publications that it’s time to focus. I used to describe my approach as bulimic. Working on changing that.
Sheesh, I leave for a week and look what happens! Where’d everybody go?
Little crew took over then we made an agreement they post elsewhere but all who were remaining were a couple of Donnie fans.
turn out the lights, the party’s (almost) over…
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…
The agreement was ultimately made with a writer who isn’t here anymore so if people want to post, go ahead. I’m not stopping you. The level of cheerleading was making it difficult for people to find conversations about writing, now those conversations aren’t present.
Oh I’m still here.
If you’re here to vote for Ginsberg either give up or get everyone you know on it because we don’t have a chance…
I’m leaning towards giving up.
hey jill, stick it out…I knew Bubbles was toast early on last week… but all that matters in this contest is that the story is what you want it to be…
How did you know? I have no idea where my votes came from, it certainly wasn’t a shoe in. We ended the quarterfinals in the same spot… I almost asked you about 50 times if you really wanted to go up against Little!
But yeah, I literally wrote a goodbye note in the quarterfinals, I tend to be cynical.
I am sure Little would have buried me…she has a lot of support…I’ve got a 9 x 12 envelope stuffed full of rejection notes so it’s onward with the work, that’s about all a writer has control over
“I don’t care about the reader as a commercial entity—that is perhaps why I’ve said I don’t care how many readers I have. But of course the reader is an essential entity to me. It is the entity to which I address my thoughts.” —Dag Solstad
Just overheard : that’s the thing, Angelina Jolie cannot beat a whole seal 6 team…
Larry I feel like we should write a country song. Got an envelope full of rejection notes and a belly full of butterflies… Deathmatch sent my eviction notes and I maybe don’t know why…
heard the news
I got the broken pencil deathmatch blues
magic realism on my right
2nd person narrative on my left
if mr. hemingway were here
what would he say?
the hills they stand before me
not a one a white anything
the hills they may be kind of Little
but the voters they fill them hills
and while they ain’t really mean
they done broke my heart in this winter of 19
lord, I’m a writer
not a fighter
except when the adverbs they do pile up
but as I throw my password out the pickup window
and Ginsberg hums in his bowl next to me
I take a pull on my bottle of Jack
then into the deepening dark I clear my giller throat
and howl ‘I will be back,oh mama, I will be
piano: Pinetop Perkins harp: Little Walter vocals: Son House
*produced by Dr. Dre*
here’s a hurtin’ song, jill
The librarian’s got a blog on wordpress
Bitch I’m working on a book contract
Last night somebody lit the garbage on fire
But I don’t wanna be a skidrow writer
Getting votes for pity
Pity, cake, pity, cake?
I haven’t resorted to pity votes
I resorted to Narcotics Anonymous
Came from a cult, a shelter, still get id’d for smokes
But first sold out on these streets 17 years back
Ain’t looking back
Or gettn no pity votes
Let the middle class win
They always do anyway
Everyone’s just a Manic Pixie Dream Girl
They told us there’d be cake
I’m not your Manic Pixie Dream Girl
But I’m glad my mom ain’t asking
Where is everyone?
3 minutes in.
Nobody’s here for me but I’m here
For writing. So let them win
And let them eat cake.
Good lord Jill, who hurt you
It’s an Angel Haze rap.
on three, everybody sing…and that includes you Manic Pixies…
I’m singing! Singing with the fishies.
Jill you can’t kick everyone out to keep the peace and then use the front page to call Charlotte’s fans ‘pity voters’ and refer to her dismissively as a ‘librarian with a blog’!
I didn’t refer to her voters as pity voters. I was debating resorting to pity and decided against it. Larry and I are just being silly in our defeat. Let us sing! We are dead already.
I also didn’t kick you out.
Hershey, Bro, we love you. Cool yo’ boobies.
Congratulations to the two finalists! Woo
Way to go, Erin! I am back, too. Yes, congratulations to the finalists!
Congrats to the two finalists!
12:03 and I’m the only one whose voted so far!? Where is everyone!?