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Posts Tagged ‘Writer’s Block’

The last couple of weeks have been too busy with other things for me to get anywhere with MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

But, with most of that behind me–at least for the moment–it’s time to get back to building up momentum again.

And I am. I’ve started on the next chapter, writing a new beginning to that scene. And making a note for something I want to add to part of what I’d already written. (Not going back, though. First drafts go only forward. This is just a little detail–a paragraph or two–I can easily add in the revisions. So, just a couple of sentences to remind me when I–eventually–get to that.)

Forward, once again. Hopefully with better speed.

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I failed to post on Wednesday, I know. Something came up that has had me too stressed out to write this week. I think I’ve formulated a plan, now, and maybe I’ll be able to get back to writing. Generally, once I have a plan and can get started on it, I can relax. And start writing again.

Meantime, I’ve been thinking about genre, some. Well, several things kind of came together to make me realize something. It has to do, among other things, with what genre to put MAGE STORM into.

Mage Storm

I’ve always framed MAGE STORM, to myself, as an epic fantasy, because it does have an epic problem, epic stakes. But . . . in other ways it doesn’t fit the typical epic fantasy mold.

The more I think about it, I’m not sure that’s how readers will see it. It seems to me, that readers of epic fantasy have come to expect the great climax that saves the world and then everyone can go home and get on with their lives. After all, that’s the model Tolkien set up with THE LORD OF THE RINGS, arguably the archetype of epic fantasy.

But . . . well, here’s how I see it. Tolkien fought in World War I. That’s how he saw war. The men–it is all males in LotR–put their lives on hold, go off and save the world, or their corner of it, and then go back home. Only, well, in my lifetime, that hasn’t been how war–or military conflicts, since we haven’t had a declared war–works. It goes on and on, sometimes into the next generation. And, sometimes, no one wins; they just agree to stop fighting. And, at the same time, many of the other kinds of problems we try to tackle are not the kind that can be solved in one blow.

It’s entirely natural and right that authors today should write stories that reflect our reality–even into fantasy realms we make up out of whole cloth. It’s part of what speculative fiction does–reframe realities in a different, more distant setting so, sometimes, we can take a clearer look at the issues. See the forest without being blinded by the trees.

But, there’s still that expectation of what epic fantasy will be like. And MAGE STORM isn’t going to fit that mold. There isn’t going to be one great climax where everything is solved. More like incremental steps and strategies for improvement.

So . . . I’m still left with the question. When I finally finish MAGE STORM and prepare to publish it, what genre do I call it? It’s certainly not sword and sorcery (no swords at all, for one thing). What kind of a bird is it?

 

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It feels so good to actually be writing again!

Actual progress on MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

It’ll still take a while, of course. That’s okay. It’s finally coming out and onto the page. That’s what matters.

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I didn’t post yesterday. I was too busy with the longest writing session I’ve had in a long time. Too long.

I don’t suppose the fact that I actually cleaned my desk the day before had anything to do with it. Nah.

But I did finish the chapter.

Mage Storm

Now, to keep the streak going.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my problem with making more progress on MAGE STORM is balance.

Mage Storm

See, in addition to getting back into the habit of writing every day, I’ve also set myself a couple of other goals for this summer–which, for this purpose, ends in two weeks when school starts again.

I also wanted to get a fair amount of work done in the yard. It had gotten out of control and I’m gradually trying to bring it back–in a hopefully low-maintenance kind of way. Naturally, I try to accomplish whatever task I’ve set myself done in the morning, before it has a chance to get too hot. Usually, I get hot anyway. Gradually–one moderate goal at a time–I’m making progress with that.

Then, too, I want to get a whole-house cleaning done. And naturally, since I’m already wearing my grubby work clothes, I tend to do that shortly after I come in from working in the yard, allowing a little time to rest in between. That also is coming along, although I don’t expect to be completely done before school starts.

And then, I sit down at the computer. I’ve been sitting here–and then getting up only to wander somewhat aimlessly around the house and come back again since lunch. Trying to work up the concentration to finish this chapter

And all I really want to do is take a nap. Especially today, between mowing, laundry, and starting in on cleaning the dining room, I’m tired. Might be that I just can’t do as much in a day anymore as I could ten or twenty years ago–though I don’t like to admit it.

Balance won’t be any less of an issue once school starts, especially the first couple of weeks. The challenges will just change. Though, at least, I’ll likely only be working on they yard on the weekends. House cleaning never ends, though once the hard cleaning is done it will hopefully be the lighter kind of maintenance cleaning–at least for a while.

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The rewrite of MAGE STORM is flowing better now.

Mage Storm

What I need to work on is regaining the habit of spending enough butt-in-chair time on it. In fairness, I do have several other projects I have to work on this summer, both in the yard and cleaning the house. But I used to have this habit and I’ve lost it during the protracted writer’s block. (Ever notice it’s a lot easier to break good habits than bad ones?) I need to get that back.

Meanwhile, I’m finding more sources of inspiration, which will certainly bear fruit down the line. I mentioned, I think, that during the writer’s block I decided to subscribe to The Great Courses Plus.

I started with a series of lectures about the Celtic World, which was very good–and some of that is a portion of the new inspiration into my secret history.

Then I tried one on King Arthur. That one started out well, but turned into a sort of literary survey of who wrote what about the legend and when certain elements got added. (Hint: Lancelot is a French addition that was never part of the original Romano-Celtic tale. Though Guinevere is part of the original cast.) The stories themselves tended to get lost.

I very briefly stuck my toe into one on the great mythologies of the world, but I’m interested in them as stories, not comparative religion.  So, that didn’t last long.

Of course, it’s all a question of what interests me, in particular. For both Arthur and mythology, I’m all about the stories, because that’s what’s likely to spark something that I can work with. (Like taking off from the Hercules legend with my BECOME series.)

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But, see, that’s the beauty of this subscription service. If a lecture series isn’t for you, you can just move on. Now I’ve started one on Heroes and Legends, which I’m really enjoying so far. The first lecture was . . . wait for it . . . about Tolkien’s Bilbo and Frodo, with an argument for why they are the unexpected, but needed heroes for the time following the World Wars. Then Odysseus (the ultimate trickster hero, perfect for his time) and Aeneas (Rome’s answer to Odysseus . . . and a bit of a prick, really.) Today I watched the one on Guinevere. I’m not sure I entirely agree with his analysis of her. But the summation of how depictions of her changed over time along with the expectations of the societies who were retelling her tale was very interesting.

This one may definitely inspire some new stories. Or new ways of looking at heroes. Or . . . well, who knows?

 

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A little bit forward, some sideways. Hey, it’s still progress.

I have gotten a little more done on the first draft/rewrite of MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

Not much yet, but sometimes it’s starting that counts.

Then a bug bit me (not literally) and I wrote seven pages of notes for my potential secret history story–uh, saga. I’m not sure it’ll actually be a secret history. I may ditch the history and write it as a second world fantasy, using the actual history as inspiration. Among other things, that would allow me to compress the time frame, which would be nearly unworkable if I had to stick more closely to history. Either way, it’s nowhere near ready to write yet.

But the thing about inspiration is that it hits you with what it wants to before it gives you what you want, so . . . this may be a sign of more progress on the horizon. Maybe things are really about to break loose.

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