writing

Ideas Are Like Rabbits

My writing process is best described as “scattered.” I don’t always follow one tried and true formula. Rather, I tend to let the story dictate my approach. If I know the ending, then I’ll write toward that goal. If I know how the story starts but not how it ends, then I need to explore the different directions it could travel before determining the perfect path to a satisfying ending. As you can probably guess, I’m mostly a “pantser.” I love writing without plot points and seeing what happens. I lose more words this way during edits, but I enjoy the freedom to discover unexpected gems. Don’t get me wrong; I do use plot points on rare occasions when working on longer stories. Even then, I don’t have every detail laid out before me. I leave just enough wiggle room to let myself color outside the lines if the situation calls for it. While I tend to be all over the place when I write, I have noticed one aspect that stays consistent: I always begin the process with one core idea. I think that’s true for all writers. Every story grows from a single idea, concept, or premise. But where do they come from?

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Tranquilize the Mind with a Steady Purpose (ICFA 2018)

I attended ICFA (the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, operated by the IAFA) for the first time last month. This academic conference is pretty special; I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Eclectic is a good way to describe the vibe, as the attendees come from varying fields of study. There were undergrads and postgrads, professors and independent scholars, writers and editors, all specializing in topics like Indian science fiction, the portrayal of robots in Japanese pop culture, or monsters in Victorian literature (the theme for this year’s conference was the 200-year anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, after all). I’ll admit that it was overwhelming at times, and yes, exhausting too. I would have never survived without those revitalizing coffee breaks! The overall experience was so exhilarating and intellectually stimulating, however, that losing a few hours of sleep was well worth it. I walked away (or rather, flew away) from Orlando equipped with new approaches to literature and some inspiration for future projects. (more…)

Pushed By The Wind, Pelted By The Rain (StokerCon 2018)

After having an awesome time at last year’s StokerCon, I decided to jump down the rabbit hole yet again and travel to Providence, Rhode Island for this year’s con. It wasn’t easy; I had to take two flights just to get there, all while hoping to avoid a looming nor’easter that could have left me stranded at an airport. Lady Luck was on my side, however. I arrived in Providence the day before the storm and left the day after it passed through. The storm raged outside throughout the entire con, which admittedly added to the atmosphere of a gathering to celebrate all things horror. I think attendance may have suffered as a result of the terrible weather, but that didn’t stop the rest of us from enjoying what StokerCon had to offer. (more…)

The Whooshing Noise of Deadlines (NaNoWriMo 2017)

NaNoWriMo — short for “National Novel Writing Month” — is a challenge sponsored by a non-profit organization (also called, unsurprisingly, National Novel Writing Month) that encourages people from all walks of life to express their creativity through the written word: by writing an entire novel, 50K words, in the 30 days of November. During my early attempts, I successfully completed NaNoWriMo two years in a row from 2009-2010. After a seven-year hiatus, I decided to tackle this challenge again with a different approach and, hopefully, better writing thanks to additional years of writing experience. How did I fare, and have I learned anything new with this insane challenge? (more…)

Chain The Muse To Your Desk

As a writer, there will be days when the words spill from my mind and gush all over my keyboard. Those are good days. It’s sunny outside, the birds are chirping a merry tune, and my neighbors’ toddler is either asleep or visiting the grandparents. Occasionally, however, I’ll have really awful stretches where the words are stymied and nothing pushes the blinking cursor forward. I’m not talking about regular writer’s block, which I’ve written about before. No, this is far worse. This isn’t just struggling to find the right direction for a story or wrestling with a difficult scene. It’s apocalyptic: thunder and lightning accompanied by merciless winds, dead birds plummeting from their perches, and the toddler next door wailing like an air raid siren (which, admittedly, often happens on good days, too). This is what I like to refer to as “the inspiration abyss.” No matter how hard I try, I can’t get any of my ideas off the ground. Even if I manage to write a thousand words, they ultimately lead to a dead end, forcing me to start over. While writer’s block can last for days, the inspiration abyss can last for weeks. Currently, I’m dealing with a stretch that has now lasted just over a month. It’s the most frustrating experience as writer. I don’t have any quick-fix solutions, but I’ve developed a few strategies to aid me in my attempts to claw my way out of these bleak situations: (more…)