Imposter Syndrome is a Bitch 

I’ve had all the anxiety lately about… Lots of stuff. I get the self critical brain weasels pretty easily. When I let myself get dragged down by all that, it gets pretty hard to feel creative or inspired about anything. Which makes it worse, because then there’s the added fear that my inner muse is just broken. I can work up a pretty paralyzing downward spiral when I get stuck on those thoughts. It’s lots of fun. 

So, I was going to stay over at my boyfriend’s place just before my road trip. We had a great night and got ready for sleep. I was totally relaxed for the first time in about a week. I even slept for about an hour. Then I woke up, and my brain was clear, and all the ideas came pouring in. I knew how to fix a plot issue that had been bugging the crap out of me, and that led to a handful of other important details that I could change or fix. I started rearranging dialogue in my head, and I didn’t want to lose any of it. 

Normally I would have just written on my phone until it was all down, but that phone had finally given up the ghost after some truly appalling treatment, and I hadn’t been able to replace it yet. I was pretty certain that I would lose things if I just let myself drift back off to sleep. I could stay in the warm cozy bed and take that risk, or I could wake my very tolerant boyfriend up, make my jumbled explanations and rush home to write it down. I did the latter, so it all got saved, but I felt pretty ridiculous about it. 

It’s hard to take myself seriously as a writer. It feels awkward as all hell to me, but I did it, and it was fine. I feel really lucky that I’ve got people in my life who are supportive and who give me the space to be who I am and do what’s important to me. And, in the future, I’m gonna be much nicer to my phones so I don’t have to bail on super inspiring snuggles. 

I got a Pixel right before leaving, so I’ve got that covered now. It’s pretty cool. It takes nice pictures, which is very important on a road trip. We’ve seen some pretty impressive stuff. 

Behold, a really big grindstone! We witnessed this marvel outside a random gas station.
This dinosaur did not trust my intentions. Apparently, I look like a cherry thief.
I rescued this thing as a tiny kitten on Friday the thirteenth, just before midnight, and my friends adopted him. He is for sure a demon.

Road Trip Fun

I’m driving down to Palo Alto to visit my family, and the pups are with me. I love these trips. Driving is exactly the right level of stimulation that gives my brain space to work while also keeping me alert, so I usually get good work done, at least in my head. I still have to pull over occasionally and write things down. We’re stopped at the vista point just inside California at the moment. It’s hot, but so pretty. 

I love the sun, but yikes. It’s very bright out here.
Mount Shasta… I think. Pretty sure.

These weirdos love trips and staying in hotels.
We stopped at a nice little dog park in Medford this morning and made a friend.

Edit: Upon arrival I enjoyed the traditional California greeting meal. 

“Hatchling”

It’s just a working title, but this is one of the projects that’ve been on the back burner while I focused on Somnolence. It’s going to be a YA trilogy about a girl and her dragon. I put these down when I realized that the rough draft I was almost done writing was actually going to need to be split into two separate books. The pacing just didn’t work, and the first storyline deserved more attention than it had gotten. I’ve been straightening out the outlines and getting some other prep work done on the first story. I like these characters a lot, so it’s fun to get back into it.

Click here to read the blurb I’ve written for the first book.

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My dragons are halfway between crocodiles and dinosaurs because I’m a confused nerd.

Social Justice Warriors in Literature and History

Americans love a hero. Whether we’re talking about an underdog who refuses to back down in a fight against the establishment, or a powerful being who uses their strength to defend the helpless, we’re all about heroism. This seems to be a universal human thing, but I think Americans are especially fond of those tropes, and they’re very much a part of our cultural identity. Many Americans imagine our country as being (or at least having been at one point) a powerful force for good in the world that stands up against evil, especially nazis. We hate those damn nazis.

The funny thing is, though, that we as a culture absolutely loathe real people who embody the exact traits that we admire in literary and historical figures. We love that guy who stands up to a corrupt government, unless that guy is real and that government is our government. Then, we hate that guy. We especially hate that guy if he happens to be a woman on the internet. We even have a lovely term for that person: the social justice warrior. This label is often spat at people who try their hardest every day to push back against a culture that has completely normalized cruelty against those who historically had little or no power to protect themselves.

This rosy-but-limited view of heroism also applies to the past. Civil rights? Absolutely important. Everyone who marched was a hero. Suffragettes? Damn right women deserved the vote. Stonewall? Yeah, they probably had a point. World war 2? Let’s beat the shit out of those fucking nazis.* The people who fought against progress back then are increasingly viewed as backwards, ignorant, or outright evil. Especially the nazis. Screw nazis, right?

Wrong.

Well, I mean, nazis have a right to express their opinions, don’t they? It’s a free country, after-all. It’s just intolerant not to tolerate the view that some humans deserve to die or be raped or be socially ostracized for harmless inborn traits and personal choices, isn’t it? It’s literally just MEAN to call someone a bigot for saying and doing racist or homophobic things. It’s BULLYING to argue with people who make fun of those with disabilities that require accommodation. It’s a sign of the sad, close-minded, liberal mind-set that people aren’t willing to remain close with friends and family who “disagree” with their fundamental humanity being socially recognized, and who make dehumanizing jokes about them. While we’re on the subject of humor, rape jokes should totally be protected by freedom of speech, and people who object to them are literally destroying the soul of comedy. Trans women are one of the most at-risk demographics in the country, especially trans women of color, but it is an intolerable cruelty to cis women and children everywhere if they’re allowed to pee in safety. Oh, and of course, it’s just judgmental and rude to tell parents not to hit their property, I mean children.

But of course, that’s all just common sense stuff. Obviously the rights that people have already fought and died for, and the social awareness we have now which was raised inch by painful inch by activists who were shamed and ostracized for their efforts, that’s all a logical baseline for a just society. That was right, and justified. Anything more than that, though… Anything that challenges *current* norms, or demands the redress of *current* injustice, or challenges your personal *current* views of right and wrong, well. That’s just taking things way too far. The thing is, though, that’s exactly what people have always said. Word. for. word.

Every freedom we take for granted as just being common sense was someone’s totally absurd liberal agenda at one point. It was over the line. It was millennials with their made-up genders, and it was black lives matter with their violent demands to not be shot by police, and it was trans women wanting to pee where they’re less likely to get beaten to death by strange men. It was a threat to social stability. It was abusing the majority for the sake of a minority who were just getting above themselves.

Literature has always been used as a mirror held up to society so that we can see injustice that has become invisible due to desensitization. That’s a pretty well known fact, ask any english teacher. How is it, then, that people who would never miss an Avengers movie, and who eat up novels about gritty underdogs tackling evil corporations that profit from human suffering, and who truly believe that they personally stand for truth, justice, and the American way; will absolutely lose their goddamn shit when they hear: “Hey, man. That thing you just said without thinking is actually a slur against a group of people, thousands of whom were gassed to death in living memory, could you change a single word in your vocabulary so that you’re not perpetuating stigma against them?”

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*Yes, there are still tons of people who are straight up against all of this, clearly, but it’s no longer considered generally acceptable. You can’t be FOR slavery, that’s just wrong. Prison labor, though, that’s just what they deserve for being black. I mean, criminals.*

* Because there are plenty of people who DO proudly express that view, I feel the need to clarify that that last part was sarcasm. Fuck the racist as hell prison industrial complex.

 

Moving on to Professional Help

Girl Friday Productions will be responsible for both a developmental edit of Somnolence and a line edit after that. The contracts are signed, and I’ll be handing the manuscript over to them at the beginning of May. In the meantime, I’m just doing everything I can to get it in the best shape I can manage.

I’m super ready to be done with this project and move on to others. I never want to spend five years working on the same book again. It’s not that I don’t love it, I still do, but it sucks to be so tired of something I’ve created and am still creating. Part of that is just how the writing process goes, but I have a feeling that if I had been able to work faster I wouldn’t be feeling quite this sick of reading it.

A common piece of advice for dealing with this is to just put the manuscript down and let it breathe for a while before coming back to it, but that’s not always practical. Sometimes you’ve just gotta plow forward and swallow the screaming. This project has suffered from far too many breaks, really.

Besides, the next two projects on my stack are cool, and I want to go play in those worlds.

“Revision & Self-Editing”

Revision & Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell was my book on writing for February, and honestly, I’ve had trouble getting through this one. I’ve been pretty focused on editing, this month, which you might think would increase my interest in this book, but it hasn’t. I honestly had a much better time reading the punctuation book and got a lot more benefit from it.

I feel like Revision & Self-Editing could be much more concise, given the relative simplicity of many of these concepts. Some of the information is certainly helpful, but much of it is the same stuff I can find by googling for plot structure and character development. I’m not gleaning a ton of new ideas from this read, or different perspectives on the familiar ones, and it isn’t very engaging. It would probably have been more helpful for me a couple of years ago, or even just early last year, but I’ve kinda clawed my way past this stage already.

So, my review is that this is probably a decent book if you’re just starting out, but if you’ve already done a lot of research on your own or you’ve taken some classes on creative writing, you might want something more advanced. If you are just starting out, I’d probably recommend some other books on editing first, but I wouldn’t say don’t pick this one up at all. It’s just not the most engaging read out there. 

A Quick (Late) Update

Still editing. I found that I was having a lot of trouble distancing myself enough to see the larger issues in my work, so I tried something kind of weird that turned out to be super helpful. I converted the manuscript into ebook form and then popped it into my google books app. I even gave it a cute cover, shown below, because if you’re gonna do something silly you might as well be thorough.

I do a lot of reading on my phone these days, and I found it much easier to see problem areas when I could sort of pretend that it wasn’t mine. I had also been having trouble with getting bogged down in revising single sentences over and over because they weren’t quite right, which meant very slow progress. With this method, I write down changes and problem areas on a notepad with some pretty colors and highlighters for different categories, and I’m able to keep up a much better pace. Once I’m finished reading through, I’ll take the notepad and my computer and go through all the problems that I recorded, one by one.

After that, and probably a lot of nitpicking, I’ll be handing it over for a proper developmental edit sometime in mid April. I’ll put up more details when the papers are all signed, but I’m pretty excited about this.

prettysomnolencecover
This will absolutely not be the final cover for this book. An actual professional artist will be involved, I promise.