When I started writing as a teenager, I was really against fanfic. My 15-year-old self is throwing all kinds of shade at me right now, and my revised stance on fanfic is probably not in the top ten grievances. Back then, I thought fanfic was a perversion of what the writers' wanted for their stories, it was using other people's ideas, etc., etc., etc... I was really caught up writing my own works and I didn't like the idea of someone else using my work in their own ways. It's everything that's ever been said against fanfic. Until I was about 22, fanfic did not exist to me, and it was the equivalent of blasphemy.
So what changed?
I had come across an old TV series, Dark Angel, that I was a huge fan of back in the day (no kidding). Unfortunately, the series ended on a cliffhanger in 2002. So on a whim, I decided enough time had gone by that I could see if anyone wrote an ending to it. In 2008, my world changed and I suppose it was a catalyst for me to do the same. I thought about what a shame it was that the story wasn't complete, and maybe it was okay if someone else took a chance on making it work. Luckily enough, I had arrived during an upswing in the fandom (from what I could tell, the teen generation that watched Dark Angel in its original run had been hit hard by the economic recession, so I'm not sure how lucky that was). As I began reading, I realized that none of the stories satisfied how I imagined the story ending, though I had a lot of fun reading the ones that I had read. Also, I was particularly heartbroken over my career situation, and I used it as a place to escape reality. I decided to publish my DA fics because I remembered how reading other people's work made my days better, and I imagined that my story would be a nice little escape for someone else. It was also a way to practice writing when I hadn't been inspired for any original ideas. As of today, the last DA fic update was on June 13, 2010 for an outtake scene from Against Time, which was meant to be the finale that the series never had, and likely never will. I planned to return to my original works, so when inspiration for DA faded, I decided to let it go.
However, in the interceding years between 2010 and 2014, I didn't make any notable strides when it came to writing. For 3 of those years, I was in grad school and I didn't have much time for anything. Due to my work and school situations, I was mentally worn out, but I was lucky to have a great set of friends to keep me going.
By the end of 2014, I had graduated from grad school and found a new job. Things were looking up... until this time last year (2015), when the organization decided to restructure my division... It's hard to imagine that it was a year ago, because it feels like an entire lifetime passed between now and then. Around the same time, I had been watching El Internado: Laguna Negra. To prevent myself from becoming depressed, I threw myself into writing scenes for the series as an outlet for my stress. I ended up with a ton of one-shots and snippets, which I've been progressively posting since last year. I didn't really decide to return to writing fanfic, it was a fluke more than anything else. And why lock away my writing? Wouldn't it do more good shared with the world than locked in a drawer with some dried out pens? Besides, I'm not turning any benefit from it besides sharpening my writing skills (the show was great to help me with an old story I wrote about a mysterious boarding school back in the day).
I think there's more sides to the world than what you're supposed to do. I write because it's how I express myself, it's how I function as a person. I share that writing, because I've seen the good that sharing experiences and ideas brings.
Neil Gaiman succintly puts into words what it feels like to write a draft on paper. It's also been helpful to inspire me to keep writing and that it's necessary to finish what I've written. These last few weeks, I've been stuck with work and I want to get back to writing. I've been using the blog here to be my outlet for getting to air some of my ideas, particularly since last year I found my voice again. Somewhere along the way, I got lost in those years.
At first, I took a break from writing when I started college. I had lived in my head all through my life until then, and it was during that time in college that I had the chance to go out of my world and be in a place I had only dreamed of before. I had started to write again right after college, in bits and pieces, but I had lost my focus because my job situation didn't settle down and I felt like a desolate failure. I think I lost my voice in those years, and some parts of myself I may never get back. Then I went to grad school. Now, after all that time and those experiences, for better or worse, will shape my writing going forward.
When I look back at 2015, I can hardly imagine that so much took place in one year. I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that I'm going to be 30 years old this year. When I was 28, I dreaded the thought of how much time felt like it had slipped away from me since the time I had finished college. I hadn't achieved what I wanted in life, and nothing turned out the way I expected it. But when I turned 29 about 2 months ago, I realized that a lot of things had changed. I began to think about what made me happy, not about expectations. Life's too short to worry about where you haven't gone, make sure you get where you want to be today.
I finally made it to San Francisco, Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam last year. It wasn't well planned out outside of 'To hell with everything, I'm going to do what I want for once.' I joined an improv class and took a class in comedy sketch writing. The main thing I've taken away from writing class is that writing by trade is much much different than writing on inspiration. It pushed me to new creative places, which is what I wanted.
I started writing again last year. Not for anyone but me. Sure, it was fanfiction, but that's like complaining that professional athletes train during their off-season. At the same time, I'm haunted by old bad habits of not finishing what I've written. It's always fun to start a new story... finishing it? Well, that's the hard part.
The strangest thing of all? I'm into fantasy again, the genre that has always been my one true calling to read and write for. It felt like an odd sense of homecoming when I sat through watching The Shannara Chronicles on MTV, like I'd stepped back into the wardrobe and walked past the lamp post, into my adolescent kingdom.
And so we begin 2016...
"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." -- Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath has been one of my favorite writers since high school. In fact, that particular quote has been on my fanfiction.net profile since I joined the site. It's actually in the second entry I've ever posted on LJ back in 2008...
I started my sketch writing class last Monday, and our first sketch is due next Monday. I got a little stuck on writing it, then all of a sudden, two days ago crazy, quirky things started happening around me again... My life was pretty boring for a while... Okay, looking back, maybe it wasn't. For the past year, my life could put an entire season of Girls to shame. Talk about strange coincidences.
I realized that I needed to just let go and be myself. I needed to stop putting pressure on myself to get to something. I needed to let go.
Then I remembered my writer's block. I recall that I've always found that my life experiences have been the greatest inspiration for my stories. I let myself go and just embraced my life's challenges and reset myself. In that moment, I came up with a new story idea. Not fanfic, not a rehash of an old idea - a new story.
Even though it's a fantasy story, I know what I'm writing about. The struggle of taking up a challenge when no one else seems interested. Struggling against cowardice. I've always been the sort of person that things came to me when I wanted them to happen, and I really didn't have to fight much, though I always worked hard. I've never had an adversarial nature, but one that naturally flowed with the world. Things always worked out when I let go.
While writing all of the fanfics this year, all I could think was how much I regretted not pursuing screenwriting in college. I changed my mind on the application at the last minute because I needed a 'real job' when I left school. Funny how life takes you different places that you thought you'd end up... Not that I don't enjoy what I do, it's what I've always said I wanted to do... I've done everything I've wanted to do in my career, except being a writer. Maybe this will be the year?
Well, now it's starting to pay off. I have a lot of high school based stories from my more prolific teen years that I want to work on again. Doing fanfic has put me back on my writing stride, that is the important part. Writing a long form story takes a lot of mental focus, and I haven't had that in a long time.
Everything Has Changed
"Everything Has Changed" -- Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran
"Broken" -- Seether featuring Amy Lee
"Little Do You Know" -- Alex & Sierra
"Sledgehammer" -- Fifth Harmony
"Who I Am Hates Who I've Been" -- Relient K
"I So Hate Consequences" -- Relient K
Things That Go Bump in the Night
"Last to Know" -- Three Days Grace
"You Didn't Tell Me" -- Lawson
"Over My Head" -- The Fray
Get Over It
"When the Heartache Ends" -- Rob Thomas
The Invisible Girl
"Invisible" -- Taylor Swift
"Misery Business" -- Paramore
What Do You Want
"Everything You Want" -- Vertical Horizon
"Honest" -- Kodaline
The Summer of Our Discontent
"One Phone Call"-- Backstreet Boys
"Lead the Fight On" -- He Is We
Ask Me How
"Monster" -- Imagine Dragons
"Team" -- Lorde
Emergency Faculty Meeting
"Crashed" -- Daughtry
Alter the Ending
"Alter the Ending" -- Dashboard Confessional
"We Remain" -- Christina Aguilera
"Grow Up and Be Kids" --- The Cab
This Is How A Heart Breaks
"Unraveling" -- Tyler Kyte
"You Don't See Me" -- Safetysuit
When the Morning Comes
"Point of No Return" -- Starset
Rumour Has It
"Rumour Has It" -- Adele
"Girlfriend" -- Avril Lavigne
I've always had a thing for TV shows with glaring logistical errors that I could fix through writing, and so I've spent more time writing for myself and making sure I kept up the momentum to write with this new gust of minor inspiration. DA fanfic a few years ago was to keep my writing limber, but I need to feel confident in my writing again. I once read that if a writer restarts too much, it means that she doesn't have faith in the story and lacks the confidence to see it through. Based on what I've lived through, I think this is true. I haven't been able to see my stories clearly, and I keep circling the writing drain of too many cold openings that go nowhere.
In my experience writing, it's clarity of vision that comes through in writing. Scenes that I wrote clearest were always the ones that I could see the clearest. It was obvious when I got stuck writing, the words dragged or got tangled. But clarity comes with confidence. If I can't confidently see what's in front of me, then there's no hope for writing. If I don't believe in what I see, then I can't write it. Watching the show kicked off my muse again, and I had started writing original plots again. I was about to hit a stride when I got some disruptive news that almost stopped my writing again. Instead of giving in, I pushed through to keep writing since my day to day activities hadn't changed. This incident also gave some insight into why I had problems writing over the last few years, which had to do with bouncing around between jobs and going to grad school. My mental energy was getting sucked into finding and learning new jobs so often, my brain couldn't find space for writing.
I'm using the scenes coming to me from the show I'm watching to rebuild my ability to see a scene from start to finish. The first one I wrote, I wrote 3 different versions with different set ups and dialog and events. At first, I felt like I had failed because the first one didn't come out the way I had wanted, but I realized that I could rewrite it as many times as I wanted. I keep small notebooks with me for short scenes and ideas, and I've almost filled up one I bought last November. Usually, it takes 2 years to fill a small notebook, because I'm not supposed to write stories with multiple scenes in them since they can eat an entire small notebook. I changed the rules a bit to keep my writing momentum going and to vent about how things were going. I've made some progress. I'm crossing my fingers for more and bought an extra notebook.
At the same time, it's brought me face to face again with several decisions I've made in the last two months concerning how I'll schedule my life, academic and professional goals. I chose not to retake the CFA exam because it is time consuming and it was more important when I was job hunting. Now that I have a job, I'm more concerned with being stable than getting back into the melee of fighting over jobs. I like my job, it's practically my dream job with a few exceptions, but nothing that makes it less than great. Plus, I've still got grad school that I'm working on. I haven't been to the gym since October and I want to change that. I spent the last two months cooped up going insane with no recreation time to myself -- I'd wake up, go to work, go to school and come home with just enough time to shower then fall asleep; for days I didn't have school, homework was enough to make me wish for class. I don't want to live the way I did in 2012 again.
The one thing I've been disappointed about 2012 is that it's the year that I've done the least amount of writing since I started writing. Yes, I read more than usual, but my imagination was burned out. I was unhappy in a way that writing didn't speak to. I didn't want to write without my heart in it. But not writing is bad too, since it reinforces not taking the time to write. Well, I have some more structure in order to figure this out.
Reader's Digest version of what I've been up to the last six months since I wasn't writing - even the best laid plans of mice and men go awry, so new job, too many classes and not enough time for anything fun. Oh, and we survived the Mayan Apocalypse, so yay!
Anyway, I'm back and trying to get into the swing of writing again. Fanfic is on hold because I want to finish a horror-esque historical paranormal story (born out of too many historical romance novels and episodes of Merlin) I've had eating away at my imagination for a while. The problem is that I can't start the actual writing because I don't have the main character's name. There are a couple of things that can really mess up a story's start - not knowing where to begin, not having motivation, and not having your lead character's name. So far none of the names on my former naming lists or any of the names I've been trying to accumulate since. I've tried "dummy" names, but I don't like how they sound. Silly as it seems, "dummy" names throw me off when I'm building a character. I hope this gets resolved soon so I can get real writing done.
Also, is LJ giving anyone else a hard time?
First on my agenda is finishing up Between the Lines. There's only a few chapters left and I already have the ending worked out, all I have to do is write it. Other DA fics are currently on hold, I'm sorry to say. I really want to get back to my original writing. I have this new story in the works - steampunk/urban fantasy that involves a girl with a curse. Since my inspiration lies there, I'm going to set my focus on that one.
I'll also be posting some of my original unfinished stuff on TWA, since maybe some feedback will kick-start my motivation to finish them. I have changed career fields and I'm still in grad school (which are two very big goals I had set for myself last year and am proud to say I accomplished), so things will be erratic for a long while. That doesn't mean I will give up though.
Sure, my job situation still isn't but it's the foot in the door I needed and I'm hoping that I'll go far with the experience I get. I'm in grad school (mostly out of boredom and lack of stability at the time I applied), so I get a lot of good social interaction with save the world types. This semester I signed up to take this horrific certification exam in my field, but if I pass, the sky's the limit on my ability to move up in the world. I also keep saying I'll finally get some actual writing done, but that has yet to come into play (especially now).
I remember at the start of 2011, things had been pretty bleak and I was just holding on for dear life. It was rough after leaving college and falling into every bad experience possible. Isn't that how the story goes though? We pick ourselves up... eventually. I feel like I can face the day again. I've gone from nothing to do to not having time to do anything. I did fulfill several major goals though - grad school and changing into the job field I wanted to be in. Now they're talking about training us for bigger things and I can't help feeling overwhelmed by it all. Well, there goes all the writing I thought I'd get done.
Also, thanks to my co-worker, I now have an obsession with dark purple nail polish. I only wear clear, so this is a strange turn of events for me. Even stranger is that my brother former Mr. "books are only good as doorjambs" has now fallen for classic literature. He also thinks I should have my ass kicked for not writing my story about renegade bloggers back in 2009 considering what's going on now.
These are some strange days that lie ahead...
Ironically, this is the month when there was an episode of Being Erica where the lead character realizes she's gotten far away from her dream of writing fiction. Then the entire episode of The Simpsons featuring Neil Gaiman and the entire publishing industry. Then someone said that it figured that I couldn't keep writing because I've never been the sort of person who could finish what I started, which I found insulting. That kind of got my gears in motion that I had fallen out of my writing habits, and writing is a habit and perpetual process no matter what. Then I got a kick in the pants when I saw that someone reviewed Wake... and I felt floored.
How did I let myself fall off the wagon like that? I put my fanfic aside for original writing and I ended up accomplishing very little in either. I keep starting stories but then scrapping them, I remember reading that when a writer did that too often, it signaled a lack of belief in herself and therefore the story. I've gotten stronger resolve to finish Between the Lines since its the closest story to being done. I even worked past an inconsistency that I didn't like just two days ago. Once that's done, it's on to Wake... and eventually Long December.
It's half an hour before the end of Day 1 into NaNo and I decided to post here instead of going to bed.
I thought I would use this month to start another novel or maybe even get some fanfic writing done. The truth is I haven't been connecting with any of my story ideas, so I have trouble seeing them through. I had hit a really good stride back in 2009, but now I'm running on empty again. When I'm really in tune with a story, it comes alive on the page. I can feel that my work is dragging but I don't know what to do to grease the wheels.
Hopefully inspiration will come...
I'm also more and more freaked out by how coincidental the shows Once Upon a Time and Being Erica are with my life. Sometimes I feel more like a character than a writer.
I know I haven't been updating or writing much in general, but I still have goals to finish. I'm happier now than I was this time last year. I've made peace with things I can't control and I feel like I'm building momentum to something great.
Cheers to another birthday gone by and many more to come!
Ugh, okay, I've only just started and we have the girl as snarky and disenchanted by love, the boy as an obnoxious guy in a band that she runs into at an every day place. Now the Skittles and beer. *head desk* Maybe I should be grateful that I didn't get very far now? Because Sarah Dessen is an awesome writer and I pale in comparison. And after more reading, the lead male, Dexter, isn't like Flynn. Remy and Ainsley while similar aren't the same either, at least to me. They're at different points in their lives and got there because of different circumstances... Different plots overall. But still there are a few very glaring similarities that now that I'm aware of, I can mitigate.
P.S. Anyone still reading my fanfic, it's still WiP. I haven't given up on them yet!
The funny thing about me is that when I'm unhappy, I write more. The more unhappy I am, the more I write. I'm not sure how this came up, but I just started writing the next chapter for BTL, and I decided that I don't hate Aerie, I just lost momentum (for this and other things). I carry the two stories in my bag to work now.
Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before we can pick ourselves up.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (x3)
2 The Lord of the Rings -- Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (x2)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (x2)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I think I've read all of them...?)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (high school flashbacks)
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (x2)
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (okay, weird fact, I never read this book but my dad did and I can mysteriously answer all Jeopardy questions that are What is David Copperfield?)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis (Wait, why is this separate from The Chronicles?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (seriously? pop fiction? not that it isn't a good book but it's not canon or that widely read)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (why did they make us read this in 8th grade and never explain the connection to the Russian Revolution?)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (how did this get on the list?)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood (Awesome book, definite must read except the ending sucks)
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (this shouldn't be on this list!)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (Oh god, never again.)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (The horror! The horror!)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Huh, I've noticed from this list that I'm not particularly good at finishing all the books I read. I think there were some books that deserved to be on this list that weren't included, and several that didn't deserve to be on here.
But I want to finish Aerie for ME. I haven't finished a story in so long, and I would like to stop holding myself back. I'm still writing Aerie as much as time allows. It's a great trilogy and I want to share it with people. Hopefully, they find it as cool as I do. I was talking to one of my friends about the story, and she liked it because she said it totally plays on the emotional turmoil of its characters.
I do credit NaNo with kicking my ass in gear to try original writing and writing in general again.
I am going to finish Aerie. I am going to finish the trilogy. Even if it kills me.
As a side note, I still haven't given up on my fanfic totally. I may have mentioned this before, but if I know I'm not going to finish them, I will be posting the spoiler endings to all of the series except The XYZ Affair.