Just Keep Writing

dory edited

We all experience the high that comes from beginning something…and the drop when you have to finish it. If I had a penny for all the starts in my drafts folder, I’d probably have, like, a dollar. But the show must go on through the murky middle of a novel, and here are a few ways I keep myself excited about the long slog.

  1. Playlists: I can’t listen to music while I write, but I make playlists for the story/characters/relationships to listen to before I start writing in order to refresh my inspiration/motivation.
  2. Looking Back: Often when I feel like I’m walking through a swamp, I’ll pull out my planning notebook, which contains all of my research and plotting and doodling for the current WIP, and flip through it, reminding myself how I got to my current point, and why exactly I should carry on.
  3. Exercise: Go for a run. Go to the gym. Don’t listen to music, don’t listen to anything. I just let my brain float for a while. It deserves it.
  4. A New Cup of Tea: If I’m stalling and my mug is cold and sad, I break for the ten ritual minutes it takes to prepare a cup of tea. Back at the computer, warm mug in hand, I’m rejuvinated.
  5. Just Push Through: It must be done. The bottom line is always that if I don’t finish it, it won’t be finished. Chant it like a mantra. Write it on your ceiling above your bed. You must finish in order to truly begin.

✴This has been a queued post, as I am currently in the Amazon with no Wifi. Returning next week!

Advertisements

Creating the Write Environment

Here are the parameters of my ideal writing environment. Any deviation results in severe under-productivity. In desperate circumstances I can of course make do, but below is the Platonic ideal of my writing situation.

The preferred setting: a Barnes and Noble cafe, near a wall

The second-best setting: any cafe (still near a wall)

The I’ll-take-what-I-can-get setting: library or kitchen (must be well-lit)

Writing implements: laptop, with notebook and pen on hand for emergencies that must be drawn out or diagrammed 

Music: NONE, or low-volume cafe ambiance music

Tools: a cup of tea, black, with sugar, best if in a mug, manageable if in a to-go cup

Clothes: comfortable, no jewelry to get distracted fiddling with

Writing program: Microsoft Word, background tinted a light mint green, 0, 10 pt line spacing set to at least at 1.15 pt, Times New Roman, 12 pt font

Other people: at least a seat in between us, preferably quite a bit of room, and not talking loudly near me, or I end up eavesdropping instead of writing

Things that throw off my groove: people’s music playing too loudly, people talking too loudly, being forced to sit at a table in the middle of the cafe, running out of tea, getting distracted texting (but that last one’s all me)

Until writing this list I didn’t quite realize how picky I am…

✴This has been a queued post, as I am currently in the Amazon with no Wifi.

Myth-staken

Greek mythology is dead.

Right?

Of course not.

But Greek mythology has been wrung out like an old wash cloth since 900 BCE, and while there is still plenty (plenty) of room for interpretation, there’s a whole world of myth out there just as rich.

In the early stages of The Book of the Dead I knew that, though I was dealing with a pantheon of pantheons, it would not do to lean too heavily on Greek mythology. I use Greek figures as an introduction to the turbulent scene of the Underworld–like the main character, the reader is also brought to Hades (the place, not the god) by Hermes–and from there the narrative diverges into Egyptian, Sumerian, Hopi, and a basketful of other mythscapes. But the character of Hermes serves as a grounding point, a bridge into different mythos. And I’ve never heard of someone who doesn’t like Hermes, whatever piece of literature he’s in. He’s a likeable bridge.

Okay, here’s Hermes. He’s been rehashed one million times, and here’s the next iteration. Now let’s go a little deeper…have you heard of Ereshkigal? 

Hermes_e_Sarpedon edit

✴This has been a queued post, as I am currently in the Amazon with no Wifi.

Literary Influences

I am always thinking about how authors have shaped me, as a person and as a writer. Every so often I write a line of dialogue or use a turn of phrase, look at it, and realize that’s not me, it’s another author speaking through me.

I’ve tried to go for non-obvious options (so not Riordan, Colfer, Rowling, Lewis…) and steer towards subtler influences. I find it endlessly fascinating (and a little upsetting) that something which rocked my world to the core didn’t touch another’s life.

Naturally, most of them are concentrated in my childhood, which is why I personally believe MG and YA to be some of the most important literature out there. In no particular order, and with no discrimination towards genre, here are five authors + books to whom I owe quite a bit.

  1. Diane Duane and the Young Wizards Series: the dregs of Duane’s writing will probably be forever apparent in my own, in both tone and theory. I have met one other physical person who has read these books not of my urging, a beloved religious studies professor and kindred spirit.
  2. Wendy Mass and Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life: the first realistic fiction book that really made me stop and think dang, that was a good book.
  3. Pat Murphy and The Wild Girls. This book had a level of influence on my life and writing that I cannot quite comprehend. I keep finding plot elements of it that I’ve subconsciously incorporated into my writing. It’s a book about a girl learning to write, which can be hard, but it’s also much, much more than that.
  4. Elizabeth Kay and The Divide series: a cooler feat of magical worldbuilding I have yet to find. The ending devastates me to this day, but in a good way.
  5. Francis Hardinge and Fly by Night: this book was my artistic muse as a child. I really do need to re-read it. I am left with the barest memories of geese, musty books, and a claustrophobic city.

I have of course read more books that have profoundly impacted me, and I hope I never stop meeting them along the way. But childhood books are different. They get you while you’re still malleable, and they change you. It’s kind of magical.

✴This has been a queued post, as I am currently in the Amazon with no Wifi.

 

 

What’s in a Name?

Naming can be hard. Sometimes you have a first name but no last one. Sometimes it’s historical and you have no idea what would be appropriate. Sometimes you know everything about a character except. their. damn. name. It’s an icky feeling to stick a placeholder name onto them knowing that it’s just not right. Here are some awesome naming resources I’ve collected over the years, from historical lists to generators to baby name sites. Enjoy!

Victorian Era Names: 1840s to 1890s, from old censuses

Medieval English Names: some really cool names

Most Popular Baby Names by the Decade: since the 1880s

Least Popular American Baby Names Historically: if you want to mix things up a little

Behind the Name: etymology and history from a variety of surnames from around the world

“American Indian” Names That Don’t Have The Meaning They’re Supposed To: for avoiding faux pas

The Nerd’s Eye View: a blog that posts a lot of cool names alphabetically, real and fantasy

Last Name Generator: Insert first name, receive suitable last name

Fantasy Name Generator: an almost overwhelming amount of generators, from robot names to holy book names

Nymbler: find names that are similar to other names; good for if you have a name that’s almost the right one, but not quite

Nameberry: has names by place, unsure how accurate they may be to said locations