Rewriting the universe since 1986

Expandmenu Shrunk


  • Tag Archives neurosis
  • Fear Of Writing

    Writer: n. Someone living in a constant state of wtf by choice. ~Eric Andrew Satchwill

    Lately, I’ve been reading Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers by Harry Bruce. At one point, he quotes a number of authors talking about the abject terror they feel when they sit down to write, and it got me thinking about my own attitude towards writing.

    I don’t approach writing with fear so much as complete and utter bewilderment. I’m far too stubborn to not be writing, and compared with the fear involved in shifting one’s identity as I have, the fear of a blank page is laughable. Even so, when I stop and think about what it is I’m doing as I writer, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of it.

    You see, I’m not just putting down words, I’m creating worlds. I’m picking up human failings and fleshing them out into living, breathing people, and I’m putting them in some of the most absurd situations I can imagine. I take these situations and play them out to their logical conclusions until I suddenly find myself to be the custodian of several worlds, numerous diverse people, and the engineer of no less than three wars between them.

    And I had thought that all I would be doing was following one character through an ordinary day in his life.

    It’s not only the large scale, ‘I wasn’t planning on starting another war but apparently I am’ realizations that so thoroughly bemuse me while writing, it’s the details. It’s realizing that while the situation makes perfect sense based on the chain of events and the worldbuilding, the fact that I have a gay daemon and his lesbian slave trying to find a misplaced closet is completely and utterly ridiculous. It’s these sorts of things that make me stop, blink for several seconds, then burst out laughing. I can’t quite explain how it happened, but it did, and it works.

    And you know what? I love every absurd, bewildering, and downright ridiculous moment of it. I love knowing that I am tackling something that no sane person would try and that without me, none of these situations could play out quite the way they have. This is who I am. This is my calling.

    Whether I chose this vocation or it chose me, I am a writer and I am not afraid.

     

    Do you want to read an erotic short story by yours truly and stories by 43 others while supporting a worthy charity? Of course you do! Get the Felt Tips: Office-Supply Erotica anthology by Tiffany Reisz today! EBooks available at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Nobel



  • One Of Those Full Moons

    Every once in a while, I just feel this need to stay up all the night whatever the consequence for the next day. It’s like a reset or an emotional cleanse where I can work out all the less lucid energy that seems to build up in the mean time. Mostly, this ‘reset’ happens on a full moon, or at least within a day of it.

    This is one of those full moons.

    It starts with a restlessness, and a sense of being dog-tired while at the same time feeling no desire whatsoever to actually go to bed and sleep. There’s a feeling that there are things to do, and they must be done now.

    Things like critiques for my critique group, A Bitch Of Writers, or writing that short story or sermon. Things like reading this book, or that one, or doing a bit of laundry if only there weren’t someone trying to sleep upstairs. Things like setting up the bookshelf, though I’d want to rearrange the whole living room first and there’s so much that needs tidying… I’m sure you get the picture.

    And so I’m here with a pot of oatmeal before me, Earl Grey tea at my elbow, and The Cars playing on YouTube because that’s apparently ‘Just What I Needed’. With any luck, I’ll be able to make this productive insomnia.

    Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever fight it and try to sleep, or just go with it?



  • It’s Not Bragging If It’s A Short Story

    I brought it on myself really. There’s no denying it. After all, I’m the one who chose the number for the latest writing challenge sent out by Danni… how was I to know that it would turn out to be so, well, challenging?

    Here’s what I apparently chose:

    “A Twist of Truth”

    Tell us a story from your past.

    THE RULES:

    1) It must be a true story, but it can be any story that you want to tell.
    2) It does not have to be completely accurate.  Think of this more as a dramatization rather than a biography.
    3) The story cannot be from your POV.  In other words, it’s your memory, and your story, but it should be from the POV of someone else who was there.  (This could even be the family pet, if you’d like)

    Ignoring–or perhaps allowing for–the fact that rule 2 offers some leniency, I’m faced with a dilemma. In any story of mine with actual conflict told from the other persons point of view I either a) come off as looking like a terrible person, b) look like I’m trying to be sensationalist, or c) both. A corollary to b is that I’m afraid that anything interesting about me will come off as trying to make a political point somehow.

    If I’m completely honest with myself, I’m a little afraid of the soul-bearing involved in this. That sounds weird coming from me, I know. After all, I tweet and blog pretty freely about my trans experience, my ADHD, and to some extent even my faith(though I still hold back there sometimes for fear of being too ‘evangelical’.) On top of that, my short story for the previous exercise was nothing if not a morality story that pretty much came down to ‘good Christians don’t throw their kids out of the house for being trans*’ and Fallen Things is nothing if not my soul refracted into a multitude of characters. I have no issues sharing these with the group, so why am I so hesitant now?

    Partly, revealing myself through my characters is safe because it’s not ‘really me’. I can hide myself in the bit that are pure invention. And on the other side, revealing myself through my own perspective is authentic. I know how I feel or think I feel about the things I’ve experienced and the things I’ve done, but I can’t be certain how others perceived me in the same event. I’m terrified enough of getting my sister ‘wrong’ that I won’t even give a character her name. Actually, most close friends and family are off limits for names, for just about the same reason. I don’t want to get into their minds and get it ‘wrong’.

    All of this of course just underlines why I have to write this. If it makes me uncomfortable, that’s just one more emotion to tap into for my writing. It’s one more thing I need to face so I can grow in my craft, and thus become a stronger writer. I may have to drag myself through this story kicking and screaming, but I will do it.

    Is this something you’d have trouble with too, or would you have no problem with it? What other sorts of topic or situations are challenging for you to write? Don’t be shy, tells us all about it in the comments.



  • The Long And Short Of It

    Some of you on Twitter may have noticed me blaming my friend Danni for the current predicament of some new characters of mine. I stand by the statement that it is all her fault, both their existence and the fact that I’ve thrown another character out of their home at a young age, and in the rain no less. You see, our critique group has sprouted a writing aspect, and last Monday she sent out the first short story assignment(s).

    Now I find myself bemoaning the fates of my characters, pulling my hair out over the most appropriate use of gendered pronouns in this context, and trying to find the right shape for the Morality Hammer I’m beating my readers over the head with. (It has been decided that Morena Baccarin would be the perfect shape for a Morality Hammer.) I also find myself contemplating the difference between the first draft of a novel and the first draft of a short story.

    I think–though I’ll let my group inform me whether I’m right about this or not–that I write a much cleaner first draft with a short story than I do with a novel. This is hardly surprising of course; after all, a thousand words into a short story puts me half or two thirds of the way through, while a thousand words into a novel is at best a chapter. I have a much shorter arc to deal with, and in the same amount of space I’ve had to establish and develop setting, character, and plot. I’ve gotten to know the players very quickly, and if I need to go back and change something I only have a few pages to tweak. It keeps things simple. With a novel, changing something can mean dismantling whole chapters in order to maintain structural integrity. (And it just occurred to me that if folks built houses the way I write novels, there would be no chance of structural integrity what with putting up drywall and painting before the framing is even half finished. Never mind that doorway I cut out, boarded up, and moved two feet to the left only to put up a beaded curtain and a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign.)

    Anyway. Let’s get back to the subject at hand, which if I remember correctly, is short stories. In some ways, it’s easier to produce a clean first draft since I’m working with a much shorter narrative, but in other ways it’s harder to produce a first draft at all. Like I said above, within a thousand words I’ve already had to have some major plot and character development. I have to find out where our story is going that much sooner. Each detail is that much more important, and must be orchestrated with that much more finesse. It’s enough to drive a writer mad.

    That said, I’m now just over twelve hundred words into this story, Morality Hammer and all. The end is written in my head; I just need to type it up. Now if only I could figure out what to do about these pronouns.

    How does writing short stories compare to writing novels for you? Do you have a preference? How about other forms of writing? Poetry, scripts… tell me your tales!



  • Building Bridges Part 2: Alberta Job Corps

    The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father… wait, no, that’s the Psi Corps. Totally different.

    About a month ago, I mentioned having an interview for a paid work training program in this post. That program is Alberta Job Corps, and as you can probably guess, I got in. I started work on Friday the 13th, which is ironic because this is the best luck I’ve had with work in a long time.

    I’ll admit, the first two days were like being dumped in a snake pit of anxiety. Orientation days are always tough, sitting there with no idea what to really expect while some facilitator hands out booklets and goes on about procedures and requirements. Add to that the people who feel like they’re being forced to be there being as disruptive as humanly possible, and it’s no surprise I left the building shaking like a leaf at the end of the day. I was there to learn and improve; I wasn’t sure I could handle it if I had to push past all that negativity each time.

    But the third day? It was like magic.

    For the work experience aspect, we had a choice between painting and carpentry. I chose carpentry because I wanted to work with my hands and maybe learn some new skills, so on the third day I found myself in the wood shop doing tool orientation. The change from the class room to the shop along with the separation from the Negative Nellies made a huge difference. What’s more, some of those who I’d marked as ‘trouble’ in orientation were a lot happier and more relaxed once they started doing something. So was I, for that matter.

    Over the next little while, we got to know our workers and we got to know each other. There was a sense of optimism growing in us as we saw ourselves doing something worthwhile and learned more about what we really wanted to do and how we could actually get there. Hearing good news about an opportunity for one of our co-workers, or seeing them develop some skills in the shop they didn’t even know they had made us all feel excited and happy for them.

    And it doesn’t just begin and end in the shop. Yesterday and today I was in the career assessment workshop, which will be continuing next week. Here we’re looking at our interests and skills to find jobs that suit us as well as looking at what what sort of challenges and issues we have when it comes to not only finding but keeping a job.

    Once again, I was surprised at how open and receptive everyone was to the class. The facilitators kept the atmosphere positive and constructive, and we all felt comfortable sharing honestly about our experiences and the troubles we’ve had both in the workforce and in life. For the first time, we recognized that we were not alone. How we got there might be different, but we were all there for the same reason. We were all having trouble, and we were all trying to change. I may never have done jail time, and my classmate may not be trying to rebuild after a major identity shift, but we all want something more, and something more satisfying, than a string of going-nowhere survival jobs.

    At Job Corps, I’m getting the support I need to move ahead in life. I get up every morning and go to a wage-earning job that helps me discover what I really want to be doing and gives me the skills to get there. Right now, this is exactly what I need.

    Trust the Corps.



  • Character Mood-Swings and You

    I glared at the computer screen, arms crossed. I was hurt. Angry. I could feel the tension in my clenched teeth and in the muscles across my shoulders and neck. I was in a terrible mood, and all because my characters had a lovers’ quarrel.

    What a way to start the morning.

    As writers, it’s common for us to feel for our characters. We’re well familiar with sadness at their heartache, joy at their delight, and more often than not, perverse glee at their anguish and frustration. I’ve been doing this writing thing steadily for a while now (read: little over a year) and I thought I’d felt it all. (Ha!) But this was the first time I’d been genuinely pissed off along with my characters.

    It was as though I were right in the room with them, participating in their small, private Cold War. And for the first time I realized just how much our characters’ moods can affect our own. It should have been obvious, really. We live and breathe their lives with them, so why wouldn’t we feel these things right along with them as well?

    And the thing is, however angry we may be on their behalf, there’s also some sense of satisfaction. A reaction that strong can only mean that we’ve done our job well. We’ve created characters who are so real that their emotions hijack our own, affecting us long after we’ve stepped away from the computer. In our line of work, that is success.

    So even as I glared at my characters, (who were too busy glaring at each other to pay me any mind,) I had to smile. This scene had done exactly what it was supposed to.

    How have your characters hijacked your emotions? Has it ever come as a surprise to you when they have? Come, share your tales of character-related moodiness.



  • And The Clock Is Ticking

    It’s been five days since the day I should have stabbed myself in the leg. Five days since my latest dose of T was due.

    And I still haven’t gotten any.

    All this fun is because of something as simple as a manufacturer’s shortage. The pharmacy can’t get a hold of it, so neither can I. And I get that I can’t just substitute another product without checking with the endo to see how best to go about it, but in the mean time I’m going without. And I’m obsessing.

    I’m watching every little thing about me, trying to see if some of the changes are slipping away already. Am I more emotional, or is that just the stress? How’s my apatite? Was that blood in the toilet? Will I really have to deal with that again so soon, or am I being paranoid? How long before it all slips away like a dream?

    I know some things are permanent. The facial hair, the voice; these will be with me forever, and I’m grateful. But I’m afraid of going back to a brain that doesn’t work as well as it should, that keeps me in a hormone-imbalanced fog. I’m afraid of going back to that back pain, knowing what it means, and what will I do about public washrooms then?

    And I’m afraid that this is a luxury. I love this modern world of ours, with its conveniences and progress, even its problems. But how long can it last? I can’t help that cynical streak that warns me that this could all disappear tomorrow, dropping us into some dark dystopia. It’s why I keep one foot in the analogue world; the printed word can’t be deleted.

    I hope I’m wrong. I hope this digital age finds some way to endure, and that we find a way to do better with the resources we have. I hope the modern world delivers on its promises this time. But for now, I’m waiting on an elixir in a tiny vial, and the clock is ticking.



  • Self-Medicating with Earl Grey Tea

    Let me just start by saying that I am not a doctor, and that really, I can only speak from my own experience here. Please don’t take my word as gospel, but if you do, I’m not responsible for the consequences, m’kay? That said, I have heard on several occasions and from multiple sources that I cannot for the life of me remember let alone cite that the stimulant caffeine can help focus the AD/HD mind.

    Hmm? Oh yes, this does make for two AD/HD post in a row, thanks for noticing. But on to the story, and eventually the point of it all.

    So today I was hanging out with my writing triumvirate consisting of four people (we’re like a Douglas Adams trilogy like that, only not really.) We had some good times, attacked Twitter together, and even managed to do some actual writing, but there was a certain lack of sleep on several fronts, and candy. I was already trying to pay attention to a million things all at once when we decided to take a trip to Staples. Let’s review: lack of sleep, sugar, over-stimulation, an office supply store, and AD/HD.

    I. Touched. Everything.

    I barely had time to register one object before my attention was captured by another one. I picked things up and read the product description from the one that was still on the shelf. I had to reassure my friend that I did hear what she’d said, I was paying attention after a fashion, and that if things work out that way, yes, I would love to.

    I was driving myself nuts.

    When we returned, I promptly, after much running around in and out of the kitchen, made myself a cup of Tea, Earl Grey, Hot. The effects of my regular meds had clearly worn off or been overridden; the sweet, steeped drug was my last hope of, well, functioning.

    And yes, it had to be the tea. I don’t know why this should be, but I’ve discovered time and time again that coffee will turn me into an over-stimulated two year old. Not at the hyper stage (I was already there,) but at the over-tired and miserable stage. A nice, strong, black tea on the other hand will focus me. It will also make me feel more than a little stoned, but hey, self-medicating isn’t an exact science.

    The point of it all is, it worked. I dialled it down to regular-person hyper as opposed to AD/HD-hyper, and I could focus long enough to read a tweet, at the very least. Yes, I did indulge in a mild outburst over my dislike of forms (trust me, that was mild; it still had an edge of humour to it,) but over all I was fit for human company, even if I still couldn’t be trusted in polite company.

    The down side to all of this is, of course, that having caffeine so late at night means I probably won’t be sleeping very well. Which is why when I got home, I made myself a fresh pot of, you guessed it, Earl Grey tea.



  • Queer Boy Archival Revival: In The Beginning…

    Originally posted to Queer Boy Blogging on February 6, 2010

    Man, when I was young I shoved my ignorance in people’s faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.

    ~Faber, Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

    When I decided that I wanted to write a blog, I knew that I wanted it to be a place where I could examine my views and ideas, a place where I could define and refine them.  I spent a while mulling this over, and the above quote kept coming back to me.  It absolutely describes what it is I intend to do here.  Right now, I am a young man.  I have thus far been doing myself a disservice by keeping myself on the sidelines of discussion, and never showing my ignorance.  How am I to learn if I don’t know what it is that I don’t know?  Also, by the magic of the internet, I can promote discussions to expand the minds of others in the same way.

    In particular, I want to take an uncommon stand on today’s issues, particularly those which impact myself and my community.  I want to examine the concept of privilege, rights and community activism. I want to understand what people are doing in these areas, why they are doing it, and if in the end it’s doing any good. I also want to understand and solidify my own views on these issues, how it effects both myself and my interactions, as well as what I need to work on in order to become a better person, and what will lead to actual positive effects. I want to see where sensitivity to a cause becomes over-sensitivity and reactionary behaviour.

    I want to try to take an outside perspective on a community that I am a part of.  This means equally the queer community, the trans community, and to a certain extent the art community, because art is one of the many ways we influence opinion.  I also want to look at community efforts on a larger scale and look at the fine line between a need for better protection and the sense of entitlement rampant in contemporary society.

    This is an open invitation to participate!  Learn, discuss, tell me where I’m wrong and why.  Hopefully, we will both learn from this experience.

    * * *

    Looking back at my first post at Queer Boy Blogging, it’s interesting to see how much of this is still true for me. I’m still dedicated to the idea of putting myself out there to see where I’m right, where I’m wrong, and where my ideas just need a little refinement. I would rather learn than to be right at any cost.

    What has changed is my focus, the specific areas I want to explore. Honestly, my interest in community activism has never been that consistent, though I still feel that education is the most important part of any issue. So I go where my interests take me, through worlds of writing, of art, through my own mind and all the comorbidities within. I’m still going to blather on about things I know very little about, but I’m doing it with a mind open to being challenged.



  • Begin the Waiting Game

    I usually consider myself pretty blasé about the submission process. I’ve read all those blogs, those from writers and agents and publishers all telling me what to do and what not to do. I read those lists and think to myself, well of course. Nothing easier.

    And what they say really is a lot of common sense. Of course I shouldn’t start off by insulting the people I’m submitting to, and of course I want my cover letter to be as well-written as my story. Even the things that aren’t common sense, I recognize the wisdom and take it to heart. All in all, this means that when I go to submit, I feel prepared. I’m good to go, and nothing can stop me!

    Until I hit send. Suddenly, my work is shooting across cyberspace to land in someone else’s inbox, and I can’t take it back. I can’t take it back, and now that it’s out there I’m sure I’ve done something wrong, something that will get me rejected, blocked, lynched even! How could I have been so foolish? Surely I am ruined, destined to become a pariah in the writing world, shunned, forced into some obscure backwater where I shall go mad, scrawling my stories on the asylum walls.

    Which is of course complete and utter rubbish. I’ve done what I can, put my best work forward without doing anything to alienate the people on the other end, and even if I do get a rejection the worst that can happen is I have another story under my belt. Whatever the outcome, I’m getting out there, getting seen, and most of all, not giving up. All I can do about it now is wait; wait and work on something new.