Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Writing (page 2 of 3)

Trying a New Thing

Nosedrool

My D&D Character for Lynn’s D&D group, Nosedrool the Gnome Monk

I’ve been considering trying a new thing on my website for a while now. Daily posts. Little mini-updates. Mostly for myself, to make me accountable for doing things like actually doing something with my writing daily, sitting down to read a bit, getting to my crafts and things. We’ll see how this goes. Gonna start this with a post tonight.

Reading

I’ve been saying I want to read, but I never actually do so, and I didn’t do any today. Just figured I’d start this report off with a (mildly) humiliating fact about my day. I really have no excuses for not reading. I could have done some when I got home around 17:45 tonight.

Writing

Didn’t actually do any writing on my fiction, either. I honestly hadn’t planned on doing any today, so there’s that. Today’s slated writing task was Blog Post. Which I’m doing now. And hopefully daily from now on.

Gaming

Figured I’d include this since this is a major part of my life now. Most of these updates will be about D&D, I think, but I’ll probably also have stuff to say about other games I’m playing on occasion.

I’ve mentioned that I’m DMing for a group of friends and that I’m in one group with a bunch of friends I met at the pride center. Well, in the last week or so, I’ve joined another gaming group made up of people from both groups and a square dance friend who’s DMing.

We woke up in what was apparently a slavers’ camp. Fought our way free. And then the DM started referring to my character Nosedrool as “Nosebleed.” LOL

The Sunday group is, so far, composed of myself playing a Gnome Monk named Nosedrool, my friend Phil playing a Human Ranger named Ander, my one pride center friend Cayden playing a Halfling Cleric named Page, and Kit playing a Tiefling Bard named Eskel. Our group currently has two NPCs running with us, a Dragonborn Barbarian named Dval’lhk who was captive with us, and a Diviner-Drow youth named Malicene whose family was massacred by unknown baddies.

I’m still cracking up over how Lynn kept referring to my character as “Nosebleed.” Yeah, she’s a bit too short for doing that to the humans who captured us. LOL

(Nosedrool is in nonstandard clothing ’cause I hated what HeroForge had to offer for monks.)

One Week In

Well, I’m one week into my new writing habit, and I’d have to say it’s gone fairly well. Not perfect, but not too badly either. I’ve done something with my writing almost every day over the past week, and I’m pretty pleased about that. The only day I think I missed was Thursday, and that was because I was so completely exhausted that I just couldn’t focus on anything by the time I got around to working on my writing.

So, over the past week, I’ve looked at the last few chapters of Unwritten Letters, hunted out the sketchy “outline” I made for the last few scenes, and have determined (yet again) I need more because the leaps between the scenes are too great. Since Wednesday, I’ve been backbraining what I need to fill in the gaps. In the meantime, I’ve edited a chapter of DH02 to to up on Wattpad later, posted DH02CH17 on Wattpad, and worked on some side stuff for the D&D campaign I’m running a character in with my pride center friends.

Unfortunately, due to the appointments I’ve had the past week, and all the other stuff going on, I haven’t been able to work much on my own D&D campaign for my long-time gaming friends. I hope to get that done a bit this week. There’s maybe half the dungeon they’ll be going through to finish, and right now I’m going through the Monster Manual page by page to add some variety to their adventure.

This week, I plan on getting at least 2 plot cards on UL, working at least 3 days on my D&D campaign for my friends, and writing out a “letter” about the most recent adventure my character had in Kit’s D&D campaign (pride friends). I’d also like to read a little more of the Monster Manual. On Monday, I have an appointment, and I’ve got my volunteer shift on Tuesday, a Housing recertification appointment on and then meeting a friend to play Magic: The Gathering on Weds, with quilting on Thurs. I’m supposed to fit crocheting in there somewhere. I’ve sort of taken up the duty of coordinating D&D with my pride center friends, so I’ve got to finish coordinating with them for our gaming session that’s supposed to happen next week. And I’m going to try to fit some crocheting time in there somewhere; probably at my volunteer shift.

In case you were wondering, one of my goals with this weekly posting is to make myself accountable. Even if nobody reads this, I’m hoping that posting my weekly writing goals and my progress with my writing will help keep me focused on the writing goals. I’m doing this because I’ve noticed that I tend to focus better if I’m accountable, and I think that even though this is something I’m doing on my own, knowing I must post here will help me become more disciplined with my writing. the main reason why I’m including mention of other things is because I want to show, in a loose fashion, what other things I have as goals. But, really, any appointments I have, my volunteer shift, and my writing are my priorities.

Making Myself Do This

There is a reason behind my silence here on the site when I’ve been active elsewhere online. I’ve been avoiding writing posts for the blog here. No real excuse, but I figured out the reason recently. When I realized how I was actively avoiding doing any writing at all—both fiction and for the site—I started examining my feelings on all of it. And I realized I’m afraid of success with my writing.

I think I’ve always carried this fear with me. Looking back, I can remember my early writing days, back in the 90’s. I wrote very few short stories, even though I was aware of markets for them at the time. At least a couple of magazines, and one regularly published anthology series I could have submitted to more than the one time I actually gathered the courage to do so. I got a rejection on that one story from the anthology . . . and didn’t send anything else out. Never bothered reworking the story to send out to any of the other markets I was aware of either. I don’t recall being upset about the rejection, but I never found the courage to send the story out again. Looking back at that time, I’ve realized that could-have-been-a-success frightened me a little. My writing career was almost real. And I shied away from doing anything more with my writing.

Since then, I’ve never really moved beyond that fear. I shelved my writing to go to Colorado and ended up in the Navy and didn’t begin writing again until I returned to North Carolina after my discharge, and I was there less than a year before ending up out here in Utah, living with a very kind couple who took me in when they realized I’d be homeless in Colorado if they didn’t. I’ve fiddled with my stories for years, on several different computers, taken my writing out to other places like coffee shops and the library, suffered through a year of hell writing a genre I grew to detest until I was so emotionally and spiritually broken by it that I had to shelve my writing again, started story after story, and began the building of over an alphabet’s worth of worlds.

And through it all, I made excuses for myself so I wouldn’t succeed at my writing. My biggest one was how I’d kill my career before the first book was even published by having a depressive episode when I was supposed to be working on edits. And then Indie Publishing came along. Suddenly, my old excuse was no longer viable. It put me on the spot. So, instead of writing, I stopped. Instead of developing a good writing habit to take the place of my habit of writing when inspired, I let writing fall by the wayside.

I made it my goal to get a paying job and started doing what I needed to in order to prepare myself for getting one. The past few months, since December, I’ve added hobbies to my repertoire to fill my copious amount of free time. I’ve expanded my social contacts as well at the same time. All because I’m afraid to succeed with writing.

This is something I need to deal with in therapy. I can’t figure out what about succeeding with writing frightens me on my own. But I have figured out some things I can do to combat it, and I’ll be asking my therapist for more advice. I’m making it my goal to post something here every Tuesday from now on, even if it’s just a bunch of nonsense—I just can’t let myself worry about how it’ll be accepted as I have been, as a way to talk myself out of writing posts. Another thing I’m doing is scheduling writing time every day as well; I will work on my writing every day. This may mean I actually make progress on my fiction, or I may write a blog post; it doesn’t matter. Something writing-related will get done, even if all I do is stare at the next chapter’s header or read notes and background info over and over. I will do something with my writing.

So this is the first post of my new writing habit. It was supposed to be written Sunday, but I was exhausted and zoney and had no mind on Sunday, so I’m writing it Monday. It will post at 06:00 Tuesday the 24th. Next week, something else will go up on Tuesday morning, even if it’s only a line of nonsense. I’m making myself do this, no matter what, because I can’t let myself not succeed with writing. Being a professional writer of fiction has been my dream for too long to give up on it now.

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.

Remiss

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.

Redefinition

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.”

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