Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Writing (page 1 of 2)

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.

Depression and Writer’s Block

In a way, I don’t know where the past few weeks have gone, though I can tell you what I was doing for most of them since my last post here. The essential thing is that I’ve been in a depressive funk and struggling to do pretty much everything from rising every day to writing on anything to indulging in hobby activities like crocheting. I’m not out of the pit yet either.

What I’ve been doing is getting out of the house a lot. Between Christmas and the beginning of last week (the 7th). Most of the time, I’ve either been going to the offices where the Utah Pride Center moved their therapy services, or, even more often, to Oasis Games, which bought the pride center’s old building and fixed up the first floor. I’ve been going there mainly to read Dungeons and Dragons books; I finished reading the Player’s Handbook and have been making slow progress on reading the Dungeon Masters Guide since about the first week of January.

I’ve also been continuing crocheting. My primary project is now complete, and I’ll be giving it to my friend who I decided to give it to soon if I get an opportunity. To be honest, I’ve done most of the work on it at the pride center’s therapy offices.

But even with those things, I’ve been in a depressive funk. The main reason is because I received a decision from the VA on my Compensation claim. I’m not sure if I mentioned it last year, but I started the claim in order to try and connect my bipolar disorder to my Naval service. Well, they didn’t even bother opening a case; they simply denied it without investigating. I’m fairly certain that is what threw me into this depressive funk.

It’s still with me. And, unfortunately, it’s not a state of mind I’ve been able to simply write through. I’ve tried. The first 4 days of this month, I wrote at least 500 words a day. Managed to complete, I think, 2 scenes on Unwritten Letters. But I didn’t feel like writing. Even with plot cards, I had trouble grasping the ideas. I felt no joy in getting the words down. Even though the quality was up to my standards, I hated what I’d written because I’d written the words when I felt bad. Gah, talking about it is dragging me down again. Enough.

Anyway, I haven’t touched my writing to do more than read stuff since then. Most days, I haven’t even been able to read my writing. I will not go into detail about how that makes me feel—it’s even more depressing than my description of writing, and I really don’t want to get as bad as I was last weekend over it all.

So, I foolishly thought writer’s block was a myth. That people who had it were undisciplined and lacked initiative in their writing. Well, since September or October, I’ve seen what it’s like to be undisciplined and lack initiative. And now I’ve been treated to my own grand case of writer’s block thanks to this depression.

Let me go over this again, to make it clear. Reading my writing depresses me, primarily because I see all its potential and am not actively capitalizing on it. Writing on anything depresses me any more because it’s not THERE—the ideas are vague, no matter how well-prepared I am for writing, and I hate the act of writing, and having done so makes me feel horrible because I didn’t enjoy doing so and I think I should. So it’s easier to just not write. I’ve gotten to the point where I dread writing, and I figure when it’s that bad, there’s no point in torturing myself.

Oh, I won’t be this way forever. I have faith in that. Maybe I’ll tuck myself into the inpatient mental ward at the VA, maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll get by and this depression will pass. It’s already started to lift—a little—the past few days. I have a good long-distance friend I can chat about this with, and if that doesn’t help, I can always call the Veterans Crisis Line, and I’ve already notified my mental health care team about where I stand emotionally. All I need to do is stick it out long enough for the clouds to pass, and I’ve done that before and know I can do it again. In the meantime, I’m getting out, cuddling with my cat, and doing what I can to distract myself from my depression so I don’t do something stupid.


I have been horribly remiss in keeping up with posts, and I apologize. There will be no promises that I will do so from now on; I’m not going to promise something that may not happen. Suffice it to say that the rough period that I’m dealing with right now isn’t over.

This rough period began back in October. I’ll be honest here and admit I struggled through November. Even though I did participate in Nano, and I did find the writing somewhat easier than I expected, it was a chore to write each day, and I experienced several days throughout the month when I didn’t write at all. About a week or so toward the end of the month, I threw in the towel. In part because I’m near the end of the wip I was working on for November, which always is a struggle to write, because I don’t want the story to end, even if there’s a sequel. The rest was just emotional exhaustion. To be vulgar, I simply had no fucks to give by that point. Since it had been such a struggle to write on fiction, it was even more difficult to keep up with blog posts, which takes more out of me, even if my post is relatively short.

December has been no different. I’ve written a little, but nowhere near as much as I wanted. I was hoping my creative mind would “switch on” sometime around the 15th, but that didn’t happen. And, to be honest, I don’t really care. I still don’t have any fucks to give about writing. To be honest, this blog post is the most I’ve cared about any writing all month.

Instead of writing, I’ve been doing other things. I spent most of the month making my mom’s Christmas gift—a bunch of wash cloths—in crochet sessions with a new friend whom I helped teach how to crochet. The Pride Center is officially closed, aside from a therapy office in another building they’re renting the space from while their new building is being renovated, and the games store that bought the old building has opened up in the ground floor. Katie went in to check things out and as a result, I joined her and her husband for a D&D demo game DMed by one of the store’s employees. Oasis Games sells board games and a variety of role games and things like miniatures that go to the role games. They’ve installed a cafe and also sell other items related to games and gaming, including Funko Pop figures, dice, and Magic: The Gathering cards.

That visit to Oasis Games with Katie has inspired a new interest in D&D. I purchased a Player’s Handbook with part of the money from a gift card my sister sent me for my birthday. That demo game kicked ideas into my head—ideas I need to be a Dungeon Master in order to execute, so I’ve brought up a suggestion to my Vampires gaming friends that I DM D&D for them, and they’re tentatively enthusiastic about the offer. I just need to get the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual. In the meantime, I’ve been reading the Player’s Handbook from cover to cover, usually in reading sessions with the bottomless cup of tea Oasis Games offers. I’ve got some notes, a number of prize items, and I need to draw up a map for the first quest my gaming friends are going to take their characters through. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about DMing, but most of them are positive, and I’m feeling excited to do it. Even just a year ago, this is something I wouldn’t have considered doing.

Another thing I’m trying to do is schedule my days. Thinking it would be quite easy to switch my sleeping habits around, I originally scheduled myself a rising time of six in the morning. Mornings like this are flukes for the most part—though I did put myself to bed last night, I didn’t actually sleep all that much; overactive mind. So, in paying attention to my natural sleep habits, I decided to rework my schedule for a ten AM rise. Much as I like being up early in the morning, it just doesn’t happen with any regularity, and the fact is, I tend to get to sleep more quickly if I go to bed later, so even on nights when I got to bed around ten PM, I was still getting up at around ten the next morning because I simply didn’t fall asleep until one or two AM. I don’t understand it either; this is just the way my mind works with regards to sleep, and I’ve decided I’ve got to learn to live with it because trying to twist it around into something it wasn’t and couldn’t be was only stressing me out.

I’m glad about a few things, though. The D&D thing, for one. And I’m crocheting more. It’s been nice to wield a hook again, and I’ve even made a bit of progress on my monster bedspread afghan. Currently, my “portable” project is an afghan that’s been languishing to be finished that I’m going to give to a friend in return to all the kindness and patience they’ve bestowed upon me. I’m looking forward to giving it to them and am sure they’ll appreciate it.

So I’m dealing with my lack of interest in writing in constructive ways that are taking me out of the house more frequently, which is another reason why I’m not upset about not caring about writing. And I think all these things are signs of an improvement in my mental health state, which I’m sure everyone will agree is a good thing. The rough period may not be over, but at least I’m dealing with it in healthy ways—another improvement in my mental health state. And, to be honest, I’d rather have that improvement than a regular writing habit, mainly because I can teach myself to have the latter, but the good mental health status comes only with time, the correct medication regimen, and a lot of effort in therapy.

Turning on the Faucet

I’ve decided to apply Louis L’Amour’s philosophy to my writing from now on:

Start Writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.

Why am I doing this? Mainly because I realized earlier this month that I’ve been functioning, with my writing, on a basis where I wait for inspiration. This has not been working well for me. Even with realizing myself beyond being a writer, I’ve been most displeased with my lack of actual writing. So, I’m employing L’Amour’s philosophy. And I think it’s already working.

Remember how I said sometime at the beginning of the year (or last December sometime? I forget precisely when) that I was going to take my writing more seriously? Well, I haven’t exactly done that this year. I’m actually quite fed up with myself, though I don’t think I’d realize where I stand if I hadn’t had the epiphany about dealing with my writing on an inspirational basis. I needed to have the conscious realization what I was doing in order to be able to really be willing to buckle down and move my writing into a more professional habit.

What led me to this realization? A video called How to be Creative: How an Artist Turns Pro. I came across it on a publishing news aggregate website I visit on occasion, and it hit me like a brick. At first, I didn’t want to believe it, because it shocked me so much. Part of me resisted the idea that writing is nothing more than disciplined exercise of my skill. But as I thought about it, I came to accept that I was not a professional writer, as this video explains it; I’m still very much an amateur, or a hobbyist. And I didn’t like that.

This epiphany got me looking for methods of making writing into a daily habit. One thing a friend of mine suggested that I’m working on putting into practice is doing a freewrite session every day. She suggested 100 words, but I decided to do it for 5 minutes instead. Each day I’ve freewritten, I’ve tried to spend some time at least working on my writing for a while—at least an hour. The past few days, I haven’t had any specific goal aside from the time I’ve spent on my writing activities; I’ve decided that anything writing-related, whether it be editing, taking notes, brainstorming—anything is considered “writing” for the purposes of this goal.

And I decided that I’d use National Novel Writing Month to get into the habit of writing daily. Because of this, I’ve selected an incomplete WIP to work on for Nano: Unwritten Letters. My base daily wordcount goal is going to be 500 words a day. If I feel like doing more, I’m going to allow myself to, but I’m not going to force it, no matter how much I may be wanting to make the month’s 50k goal. You can find my Stats here, and my Novel Information here.

Some Thoughts (Oct ’17)

I have a need to meander through my thoughts. Some of this stuff will seem to be the same stuff I’ve discussed recently here before, but it’s actually coming at things from a slightly different direction (I think).

The past few weeks have been stressful for me, but not always negatively so. I’ve been staying away from the news as much as possible, mainly because I could not have handled it well with all the other stuff I was going through. For a moment, I wanted to chuckle at my use of “all” when the primary issue was Einstein and his care and ultimate loss, but that comes wrapped up with a bunch of other stuff. Overall, I’m not as broken up about my first cat’s death as I thought I would be; despite the stress of going to the vet three weeks in a row and the resultant financial outlay for his care and euthanasia, I was doing pretty well. Though definitely not happy about it all, I wasn’t a basket case. I’m not sure just what to attribute my mostly-composed reaction to his death to, but I’m going to say it’s a combination of a number of factors, including my overall mental health and the fact I went the following Saturday to get another cat. The most depressing thing about losing Einstein was not his loss, so much as it was the emptiness of my home without another life form in it. While I cannot replace Einstein—he was a unique cat and there can be no replacement for him—I can say that the new cat definitely fills my heart and my home in such a way that my grief over losing Einstein is greatly leavened.

Over the past month or so, I’ve also developed the habit of leaving my home more than once a week on social excursions if possible. Most of these have taken me up to the pride center, where I’d hang out with the receptionist on duty and whomever else happened to show up to hang out. Sadly, the pride center is closing services in the building they’re currently operating from, I suspect for a number of reasons, at the end of this month. I think this is the last month of their six month lease on it, for one thing. Also, they’ve moved most of their mental health services to offices they’re renting about a block and a half down the street from where the current building is. Right now, the new owners of the old building are in the midst of renovating the downstairs for their use, so it sometimes gets rather noisy, what between all the power tools and the rapid-fire Spanish talk radio the workers usually play while they’re going about their business; I can only imagine what sort of fun the people in the Chinese restaurant the old building is attached to are having with all this construction work going on (LOL). The pride center is expecting to be able to move into its new location in January, though there is some doubt as to whether move-in will actually be able to happen that month. Either way, I’m looking forward to it opening up again.

Settling in with Hendrix, my new cat, has been interesting as well. When the shelter person called to check on things this past Monday (they call at 2 days, at 2 weeks, and, if I’m remembering right, 2 months), I had a concern or two about him. Unlike Einstein, who seemed to have no trouble settling in, Hendrix didn’t seem to have a very good appetite. The woman who I spoke to assured me it would take only a few days for him to settle in well enough for his appetite to return, and it certainly has! He’s eaten almost all his 1/2 cup of dry food and all of his two servings of half a can of moist food the past few days. Also, he isn’t as needy as he was when he first arrived—yes, he still likes to cuddle, but he’s not all over me most of the day. Really, Hendrix is a bit more independent than Einstein was, and generally cuddles with me only once or twice a day for anywhere from 30-45 minutes. I’ve learned that if he won’t stay still, or if he’s a bit bitey (he doesn’t break skin), that means he’d rather play instead. His favorite toy is the laser dot. Also, he’s a bit easier to deal with at mealtimes; where Einstein, before he got so ill, would not leave me alone when I ate, Hendrix will go to his own food after a couple of times of me putting him on the floor and making it clear he’s not going to get any people food.

Unfortunately, my writing isn’t going very well. I’m very glad I realized what I am beyond “writer” a couple months ago, because I’d be going bonkers if I didn’t have writing right now if I hadn’t. But instead of getting anxious or upset over not writing, I simply either go out or I entertain myself with my cat—Hendrix is always up for a good play session. Sometimes I lie down to see if I can galvanize any ideas or nap a bit; other times I’ll call or text a friend. I’m also much more willing to take care of daily chores and attend to things like making appointments these days. Before, I saw them only as bothersome interruptions to my writing flow and hated to attend to them.

I’m also getting back into Spanish on Duolingo, thanks to a friend’s efforts to refresh herself on hers. Though I’m not very competitive, I have just enough of a competitive streak that I hate having done nothing when someone else has. If not for the XP Duolingo assigns to one’s lesson modules (10 XP per completed module or review), I wouldn’t have cared. But it’s been fun getting back into it, and I beat the 150XP challenge that my Duolingo phone app has been offering for the past few months!

Though I completed my reading goal on Goodreads a couple months ago, that hasn’t done anything but given me a sense of accomplishment. I meant to keep reading beyond that and use the number of books beyond my goal for this year to base next year’s goal on. I’ll have to get on that.

On the other hand, I’ve been crocheting more often. I’ve completed about half a dozen or so cloths and a couple of scrubbies. I’ve even worked a little on my main big project, the afghan I’m making for my bed’s summer bedspread. Even with my “aggravated carpal nerves,” it’s been nice getting back into the crocheting.

And I think I’ve exhausted topics. I hope you’ve enjoyed this meandering through my thoughts.

I Think I Figured It Out

What have I figured out?

I think I’ve figured out one of the reasons why my creative mind hasn’t swung back to anything in-progress for any length of time this year. This could either be a completely bogus reason, or it could have some real, actual bearing on the vagaries of my creative mind this year. I’m not quite sure which this is, but I’m leaning toward real, actual bearing.

Aside from just being bipolar, and all that brings to the writing desk all by itself, I distinctly recall either thinking to myself or mentioning to someone the fact that I was amazed at how I think I’ve come up with the Absolute Final Idea for a magical system, and then my creative mind throws something new at me. I may even, back a couple years ago, before I maxed out the alphabet in naming my worlds (a different letter to begin each world’s name), have foolishly thought to myself that, hey, I wonder just how many different magical systems I can come up with?

Have I mentioned to y’all how I sort of give things to my subconscious to work on? Say I’d like to write a story about a character who becomes a mage via bestowal of such gifts by a god. I’ll sit here in my chair, and focus on that idea. I’ve made that particular request since writing the first words of Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale, just out of curiosity to see what my creative mind could come up with; can’t think off the top of my head of any other worlds/universes where gods or godly beings bestow magical powers, but I’m sure there’s at least one in my 26+ list of worlds. But I’ll do that. I’ll tell my subconscious that I’d really like to work on a story based on this particular idea at some point in the future. I’ll do this with story ideas, concepts I’ve read in other authors’ books, worldbuilding details. You name it, I’ve probably put it to my subconscious that I’d like at some point to write a story employing whatever it is.

And I think I unintentionally did that to myself with creating magical systems. It really wouldn’t have taken much, especially with as much as I was thinking about how I must have maxed out the unique magical system ideas with This Most Recent World last year.

This was a bad thing for me to do, and I would never have done it intentionally. My record of completing stories is already poor. I did not need a year during which my creative mind would do its best to prove to me just how many and varied the different magical systems I can create may be, because this means that I’m not completing anything. While I have touched certain in-progress projects, doing anything I planned at the beginning of the year has gone out the window. I can’t focus on those projects, or anything else I’ve left lingering incomplete because I’m just not getting ideas for them. All my ideas are for new worlds, with new stories set in them.

I’ve tried being disciplined. Unfortunately, trying to focus on projects that aren’t moving only makes me miserable, and I remember too well how I feel when I’m forcing to move projects that I don’t want to do that. It’s awful enough being unable to focus on anything without the added emotional turmoil from trying to force stuff that doesn’t want to move to go.

So, I’m putting it to my creative mind right now. I’m focusing on the thought: I want to complete some stories. No, I don’t care which ones they are and I don’t care if I outline them or not. I just want to finish them. I’d like a period of completion of stories.


Way back when, and up through the early 2000’s, my definition of “working on my writing” was actively getting words on my stories. I think I’ve mentioned before how I did this. I was a pantser—someone who wrote without an outline—for all of that time and beyond. It’s only been within the past five or six years that I’ve made any efforts at outlining stuff. But even with that, my definition of “working on my writing” remained getting new words on any given project.

Because this habit was so ingrained, I had difficulty divorcing myself from the idea that the only definition of “working on my writing” was getting new words on a project. Almost 20 years of defining something a certain way will make changing that definition hard for almost anybody, and it was especially difficult for me, I think, because I identified so strongly as a writer. That was, quite literally, all there was to me, at least in my mind, until recently (we went over this in last week’s post).

As a result, I’ve been struggling for years to redefine “working on my writing.” I knew it needed to be done, I knew that everything I did, from background work to actual writing to editing could be defined as “working on my writing,” but I just couldn’t convince my conscious mind to include all that stuff. Though I knew I seemed to some people to include all that stuff, I really wasn’t thinking it all was included. For me, “working on my writing” was still very much just getting new words.

I think that’s why I had such a difficulty with my self-identification as a writer for so long. The two were irrevocably bound up in each other. A reason, I suppose, I despaired whenever I didn’t actually add new words to a project. In essence, I was pretty much a mess over my writing.

And then I had that epiphany, that I’m not just a writer. Like a shaft of sunlight through storm clouds, I suddenly had a brand new perspective on all of my writing, not just my self-identification as a writer.

Which has led me to my new ability to include everything related to writing in my definition of “working on my writing.” This has been very freeing. The whole thing, from my initial epiphany about my self-identity, to realizing that whatever I do with my writing, whether it be dumping notes into a journal to editing that work, is “working on my writing.”

Essentially, all this means I don’t beat myself up any more. If I don’t write anything, from a blog post to fiction, no big deal. I have and am other things to work on. Now, writing a blog post is something I define as “working on my writing” because, well, I’m writing. If I choose to edit a chapter from one of my stories, I’m “working on my writing.”

Yeah, this is a big epiphany for me. Something friends have been pointing out for months if not years, other writers and nonwriters alike. Ashe, if you’re writing plot cards, you’re “working on your writing.” Yeah, I can be a bit of a dunce sometimes. But then, sometimes I need other things to click before the obvious things like this can sink in.

What this means is that now I don’t stress getting fresh words. If I do, yay! If I don’t, no big deal. More than likely, I’ve spent at least a few minutes (if not much more) on contemplating my stories. Which is, yes, “working on my writing.”

Not Just A Writer

I’m changing. Or, perhaps more accurately, my perception of myself is changing. I’ve given you my background more than once, and I believe I’ve mentioned it on my About: The Author page, about how I first started writing back in the very late 80’s.

That was actually part of my problem. Maybe I hadn’t started writing until my high early high school years, but the habit quickly became ingrained. Back then, when I first started writing, my only initial aspirations to be published related to breaking into the Star Trek: The Next Generation franchise, which I pretty much gave up when I moved into writing my own original work. But by then, I already strongly identified as a writer. It honestly didn’t matter to me through my high school years if I ever got published. Sure, it would have been nice if I’d been able to write that one glorious book that broke me into the publishing world sometime soon after high school, but I was much too content with just jotting my stories down to worry much about doing much more than sending the odd short I managed to complete to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies. I think I sent two. Maybe three. All were rejected. Far from broken, I just shrugged, filed the rejections, and went on writing my daydreams down.

And thus was my writing life up until I was forced to give up writing by homelessness in Denver, Colorado. I still daydreamed, even though I didn’t get back to my writing until 2002, when I returned to North Carolina after being discharged from the Navy. Restless, at the top end of a slow slide into insanity, I had difficulty holding down a job and tried to make it on my own again. And almost ended up homeless again.

But I was still a writer. My first years here in Utah were hell for my writing. I was insane, which was not at all helped by my search for a spiritual home, and I killed my writing by trying to force it into a mold it didn’t fit.

And yet, I was a writer. Even when I finally shelved my writing to focus on getting mental health care and an at least semi-decent job. So, for a few years, I didn’t write. Not until my mom came out here to help me. First, she shipped the old Kitchen Imp computer we’d had in our trailer for years, since sometime around 1988 or ’89—the computer I found Forward Motion on with my first search for “writers’ websites.”

Because I was still a writer I promptly turned to my writing. Mostly healed from my torturous experience with trying to reshape my writing into something it could never be, I dove into the fantasy stories I’d once loved to work on. I had one real-world job after another, rebounded into one I’d had previously when a “better” job fell through, and wrote.

Through it all, I identified as a writer. So strongly, in fact, that I’ve struggled the past few years since my return to writing speculative fiction. Because I’d developed the habit of writing daily prior to losing my mind, I was still stupidly focused on that aspect of my writing. Yes, I was happy when I wrote, no matter how few days I wrote out of any given week or month, but I suffered depression and fear whenever I didn’t write. I mean, real, paralyzing terror that one lone day of not writing was the herald to never writing again. Ever. I was a writer, after all, and I’d once been able to write almost every single day. This shouldn’t be impossible for me now, right?

Yet, it was. What I had failed to see was that with the change in my mental health, a natural consequence was a change in other aspects of my life, including my writing habit. Those days on which I wrote I judged as good, great, fantastic, wonderful. And the days on which I didn’t write were bad, okay, pathetic, or dud days.

And this year has, up until quite recently, such bad days. This year, I have spent more time days not writing than I have in typing new words to stories. And that was the only progress I counted, because I was “preset” to think of only new-word days as good writing days.

So it was quite a surprise to review my goals posts from last week on FM’s forum and see how I’d declared pretty much every day of the week—during which I wrote not a single new word on any fiction project—as a good day. These days I did other things. I practiced and learned Spanish. Playing with my new cat was a fixture of each day, as was tending to his care. For the first time ever, I considered merely getting out to a psych therapy group and my volunteer shift on Thursday as a good day. Not a single new word that day, yet it was a good day.

I honestly don’t know just what to attribute this change in perspective to, but I’m glad I’ve had it. This new view of my life was very much needed, because I was tearing myself up over not writing. See, I’ve expected, all these years, to be able to just leap back into the writing habits I had back before I went to Colorado, and I foolishly pinned my entire self-identity on that ability alone, so when I couldn’t for some reason write on any given day, it killed me. I became, in my mind, a failure, if only for a day or two, because I hadn’t written on those particular days.

And it has been wonderful to realize this change in perspective. I am not merely a writer. I am so many other things, I can do so many other things and consider myself a productive person. This, I think, is a very important step in my mental health recovery. With this development, I can accept that I may never write daily again and not feel despair or fear. I have faith that, no matter how long my fiction is away from me, it will return. Maybe it’ll be absent only a day. But now, if it’s gone a week, I know I can survive without it and be happy. And I know I can now go a month or longer without being terrified that it’ll never return. It just cycles, like my bipolar, and I can accept that each day, week, month, year is going to be different for my writing side, than the one preceding. And that’s okay.

Confluence of Ideas

It’s about 10:40AM on Sunday, the 11th of June as I write this. Sleep didn’t come to me last night because I took my night meds too late, and my second wind hit before they did. So I’m up, and I’m fiddling on the computer, opening random Scrivener files and reading incomplete wips to the point where I have the most desire to read to. I do this pretty frequently with my incomplete wips. A sudden desire to read a particular scene will hit, and I’ll start at the beginning and keep going ’til I get there. Most often, I’ll read to where the story abruptly ends, in a spot where it really shouldn’t end, but does because that’s where my creative mind gave out, either in the outline, or directly in the wip where there’s no outline at all.

I did that until around dawn, when one of my writer friends came into Writing Groove’s chat. NPhoenix and I will often ramble at each other—her rambling has a way of triggering thoughts on my own stories. This morning was no different, and I think I have to thank, in part, my exhaustion for that, because, to be honest, I’ve made the most progress on any of my writing, no matter what I’m working on, when I’ve been exhausted this year.

So she started rambling about one of her shelved projects she hasn’t been able to figure out for a while, but for which she got hit with some big ideas last night in a shower before bed. I can’t take the liberty of explaining precisely what sparked my creative mind’s ideas beyond saying one of the major plot points hit me hard.

And reawoke interest in a story I’ve long struggled with.

Honestly, I forget exactly when I first wrote the original opening scene to “The Rose’s Thorn,” but I do know I did so long before I got Scrivener, because I had to get a program called Open Freely so I could even access the scene, never mind edit it. When I did that, I transferred it to Open Office, as that’s the only text editor I had at the time that I could write in. And there it languished for years, with me opening it occasionally to read as vague notions—or just a simple desire to read the scene—struck.

In the meantime, I got Scrivener, and I eventually moved “The Rose’s Thorn” into that program. Last year in September, I rewrote the opening scene (twice) and tacked two more scenes on the version I liked better. In those scenes, I came up with the official title of The Veiled Court. Shortly after writing them (by a few days, that is), I decided those additional scenes didn’t fit, though they read well, and I liked them, which is generally a good indication that I’m on the right track with a story.

After that, I let it languish. Mostly because the ideas ended with that third scene, and I blocked myself on the story by declaring two scenes I liked unfit for the wip.

But NPhoenix’s rambling reminded me of an aspect of the story . . . and built upon it on the 11th of this month. So I opened the file after she was done rambling and posting snippets from her shelved project. I read through what I had of the story. More ideas surfaced, along with the opening of book 2. For one POVMC, The Veiled Court will end on a cliffhanger. That seems to be my “thing” with novel series. Heck, even in the one duology series I have, book 1 ends on a mild cliffhanger that could actually be a passable (if mysterious) ending if I didn’t already have ideas for that story’s book 2.

Beside me on the floor between my plastic drawers and my rolling drawers-and-file cart, I have four brand-new story journals that I haven’t written in. I’m planning on opening up one of these and scribbling what I think of for The Veiled Court today. Because this is the most interested in any story I’ve been in weeks. I honestly don’t expect this period of inspiration to last beyond today, but I’m going to run with it, for it feels good to be thinking about any stories right now, especially one that’s languished so long.

You’re a Fraud!

I’ve heard it said that all skilled and/or successful writers experience a feeling of fraudulence in their writing lives. Now, I don’t know how true this is all across the board, but a number of the writers I associate with regularly do suffer Impostor Syndrome of some kind, at least a little. Sometimes they don’t even need to be in any way successful.

For the longest time, I didn’t think I went through this. I examined myself and my emotions whenever I added new words to a project. Neither did I feel it in relation to any success I’ve had with my writing. Negative comments don’t really have the power to make me feel like a fraud either; I just figure the problem with my story lies with the reader, not the story.

The things is, I’m extremely confident in my writing skill. I know my stories are good. They’re strong, they don’t have (many) plot holes. Since I started outlining my stories, my writing has only gotten better and stronger. If nothing else, I have supreme confidence that my writing is good and that I write well.

But I do suffer Impostor Syndrome, and feelings of fraudulence. When? This took a little examination of myself when I wasn’t actively writing on any projects, because I feel this way when I’m not adding new words to a project. No matter how much I may preach to other writers, who are newer to writing, or more uncertain of their skills that as long as they write at all, no matter how frequently they’re able to do it, they are a writer, I just can’t seem to internalize it for myself.

It’s really been hitting me strong this year. More than once I’ve nursed negative thoughts or shared negative opinions on my worthiness as a writer since I’ve not been writing as much as I want to. Every so often, the thought, “If I were a real writer, I’d be able to focus on something and complete it” or “I should be writing. A real writer writes almost every day” slides into my mind.

And honestly, I don’t really feel like myself unless I am writing. This has always been the case. I enjoy worldbuilding. Developing characters is fun. Plotting things out is really entertaining. But. None of these are writing.

But it’s the way my writing mind swings these days, and it’s elected to be mostly in “downswing” mode so far this year. Not enjoyable, fun, or entertaining. I’ll survive though. Making it through 2012 proved to me I can survive even complete lack of creativity for an extended period of time. At least right now I’m able to be creative during my downswings. That’s something good, right?

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