Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: TBK

Note to Self

The depression I was in a week or so ago seems to have lifted, for the most part. I keep telling myself that my writing will come back, when it wasn’t really with me throughout most of last year and the only time it really flowed well was in November—until I got sick of it and gave up. Yeah, I’m owning that. I gave up. Even though I could have pushed on through and made it to 50k—I had plenty of time to hit it—I just threw in the towel because I was sick of my story. Don’t even know what about it I was sick of any more. Maybe just the act of writing daily. No idea.

Anyway, I’m giving it another try. I started off this month with a bang—five scenes on one new project. Five scenes that go absolutely nowhere. I wrote a sixth scene, and that’s it so far. Torn between reverse outlining and trying to get more plot cards on it and just giving up on that one for now since I don’t even know what the fricking story is. I know it’s a mystery. What’s the mystery? No bloody idea. But I like, for the most part, what I have. As always when I pants things, conflicts and stuff I don’t even know about beforehand have been popping up in the scenes I’ve been writing. Go me?

So, on the 4th, I wrote 610 words on UL. Can’t say just how much I dreaded doing so, but I did it. Also can’t say as I precisely enjoyed the process of writing. I did, however, like what I’d written immediately after finishing it. That’s something that hasn’t happened in so long, I’ve forgotten the last time it did. It’s my goal to write at least 500 words a day on this sucker until it’s done.

To be honest, I miss the inspiration-driven writing days. I think, though, I’ve been sliding away from those days for at least a couple years. Having the epiphany that my writing was inspiration-driven was just the final knife in the back so to speak. It was also, I think, an absolutely necessary realization for me to make, because without it, I’d never have seen the way to fix my writing habit. So what I’ve got now is the knowledge of what the problem is and the way to fix that problem. All I need is to inject the discipline into the whole thing, and that is what I’ve had difficulty with, even without a creativity-killing depressive phase. I mean, I wrote the first four days of January, just at the beginning of that depressive swing, didn’t I? A little discipline, and I’d have written every day of January, and finished Unwritten Letters in the process!

I’m really writing this blog post in an effort to be blunt with myself. The fact is, I like to lie to myself about my writing habit, and I’ve gotten away with it because my writing friends I hang out with most have been very accommodating about my excuses. And that’s all I’ve been doing. Making up excuses not to write. This blog post is my command to myself to get to work. I have way too many stories to write for me to dally any longer. Too many incomplete stories to be finished.

So, Ashe, stop making excuses, and get to work.

Distracted

I’ve been taking it easy with my Camp Nano project, Masks this month. I set the wordcount goal to 25k and haven’t been freaking out if I don’t write on it for a few days. This, I think has been a good thing, because it’s allowed my creative mind to relax. If you look at my Camp Nano stats, you’ll see I’m at the end of a surplus of wordage, though, and part of the reason for that is because I’ve gotten distracted.

Over the past week or so, I’ve taken a tour of most of my incomplete fantasy works, mainly because I got hit with a desire to read them. As is sometimes the case when I make a tour of my wips, I had a desire to read only those which were incomplete. Over the duration of this tour, I came up with ideas for some of my wips, and I felt a vague desire to write on one or two of them, primarily Unwritten Letters.

So that’s what I’ve been doing the past few days. I had about 27 plot cards outlined ahead on UL, so I’ve been taking it slowly and doing a scene every two or three days. I intend to write on Masks tonight, but it’s been good to get a break from it. I’m thinking Maybe, if my mind still wants to play with UL when the next month of Camp Nano comes up, and I’m able to make progress on plot cards for it, I’ll write on UL for that month.

It’s felt good to get back into Merolén’s head. It’s a story that makes me glad I’ve started outlining my stories, even if I don’t do complete outlines for them all at first. Because of the outline, I’ve been able to bring romantic subplots into the story, and I don’t think I’d have been able to do so if I were writing it without the outline. Basically, what I’ve been doing with Merolén is my best to surround him with romances, because, from the first, I’ve seen Unwritten Letters as a kind of romance in absentia. The reader knows things that Merolén is unaware of, and that’s been fun too. I like giving the reader tidbits the MCs either had no knowledge of whatsoever, or have only partial or faulty knowledge of. It’s supposed to heighten the tension—and that’s another thing that the outline helps with.

As for Masks, part of the reason why I’m not writing as much on it is because I’ve left behind a major subplot that I can’t seem to resurrect. I want Eirni to to be a lot more resistant to working with Yavaniel, and it’s just not working out that way this time around. After this month’s Camp Nano, I think I’m going to go through and do some heavy editing, because if I try to continue with things as they are much longer, I’m not going to be able to make any progress on it at all. It should be easy to fix. I just need to read through the wip and pinpoint places where Eirni can be an ass, to put it bluntly. I’ve always seen Masks as mostly Eirni’s story than Yavaniel’s, primarily because Eirni has a lot of growing and changing to do over the course of the investigation. I’ve also been toying with the idea of including the pov of one or more of the conspirators, and I need to figure out how the ringleader is going to make the conspiracy an act of vengeance on someone who she believes ruined her happiness when that red herring has little to do with what they’re actually doing. I may have to change things a great deal. It’s going to take some thought, and I’ll probably have to cut the story back to the point I cut it before in order to make all these plot points work like I want them to.

I don’t really mind all this work on Masks. It’s a totally new genre/subgenre for me. Fantasy, yes, but also a mystery, and I’m enjoying all the work on it. This is part of the reason why I’ve always wanted to write a mystery story. It’s been fun, and that, to me, is what counts most. It’s always been my view that if I don’t have fun writing these stories, my readers won’t have fun reading them.

Diversity In My Writing

Merolén, in my Touched By Kalia series, is black. Xedepria, in my Autocrat’s Rise trilogy, is of Asian descent. Auben sresaph, from Soul of Insurgence is essentially of Indian lineage. As I did with my decision to write LGBT main characters in my fantasy fiction, I made a conscious choice to write characters of other Races.

In all the human countries on Chraest, I’ve determined there are groups of humans who believe racial “purity” should be striven for, so they’ve segregated themselves. All the human races on Chaest have groups who espouse this opinion, and it can get somewhat intense. There are even factions who seek to keep a particular variety of red hair “pure” throughout their group. This is a holdover from their ancestors’ time as slaves to the native intelligence; some of those natives wanted slaves of all one “type” or “race” or “look” so selected and bred for those ideals. The free human descendants have simply self-selected to continue that effort.

And it influences things in the characters’ lives. Merolén is in a position of authority in his country—a land manager who oversees a number of farmer families who work his land, and he has difficulty with a white family who moved in just before winter; the head of that household already holds a low opinion of him. Xedepria had—and will continue—to fight against an upbringing which left her with a superior attitude with regards to other people, particularly those of mixed race, even in spite of the fact the woman she married is of mixed race; and the parents of her wife, Kalyine, fought against their parents in order to marry according to their own desires—this will later influence what happens between the women. I haven’t yet decided how Auben’s racial “purity” will affect his life, but I’m certain something will come up once I start focusing on his novels.

No, racial purity is not one of my personal beliefs. It is simply a method for me to increase the possibility of conflict for my stories. What is my personal belief is that we need more diversity in speculative fiction. More gay and trans characters. More characters of races other than caucasian.

A writer doesn’t need to be any particular race to write that race. Even if I were writing urban fantasy or near-future science fiction, I could still write characters of other races. And I would strive to. It’s necessary. Completely necessary.

It was an easy decision for me to make. Just as easy as it was for me to decide to write mostly LGBT main characters.

Writing Goals 2014

This is a bit belated, but I’ve only recently gotten myself organized enough to determine what I want to write this year. It isn’t a complicated writing goal, just a heavy one. The following are the writing projects I want to have done by 31 December 2014:

Discordant Harmonies Ennealogy

The Power of Music III: Measure of Resistance – Currently working on outline, adding one plot card per scene written.

A Life of Note I: Counterpoints – Write outline and book.

A Life of Note II: Antiphons – Get outline written.

Touched by Kalia Duology (At this point, it’s only a duology. Waiting to see how long that actually lasts.)

Book I: Unwritten Letters – Currently working on outline; trying to get two plot cards a day.

At least title book 2.

Sense of Balance Trilogy

Book I: Exemplar – Do research necessary on it and at least finish outline.

Autocrat’s Rise Trilogy

Back from the Dead – Keep up with this project’s Two-Year Novel course exercises and finish book before end of year, perhaps write at least part of it during Nano.

Right now, I’m in a severe writing downswing. Severity in the length of time it’s been around, not depth of down it is. I’m still actually able to work on various other aspects of my writing and have had a few odd days of writing and plot card progress, but not much. Those days are sporadic at best, so I’m not counting on them. I think it’s Real Life stress getting to me, which I probably shouldn’t be surprised about, considering. I’m actually surprised this hasn’t happened sooner. This downswing began on about 15 January this year, and it’s lasted over a month so far. It probably won’t go away for at least a few days yet (much as I hope otherwise).

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