Speaking with My Self-censorship

I’ve been noticing that I censor myself. I allow myself to listen to my inner critic, who wonders what people (i.e. you) will think about or misinterpret about what I have to say. What if I post this post, and it’s just rambly and not interesting? What if you judge me for not being beyond this already? “I figured out how to conquer my self-censorship years ago,” I hear you say. “Why are you telling me about this?” Or worse, “What else do you think you have to say that no one else has said?”

“Nothing,” I whisper quietly and slink back into my closet. It’s all been said before.

But you know what? That’s bullshit. Do you hear anyone say, “All there is to say about love has already been said, so you might as well not bother,” and then stop telling anyone that they love them? Of course not.

Well, everything I have to say is just that: “I love you”, but in other words. And that’s probably what you mean whenever you talk, too.


That’s all my censor wants to say, also. “I love you, and I want to protect you. Please don’t say anything that can get you hurt.” It’s very loving, and damaging, too.

I’m choosing to listen to the most important part of that sentence, and ignore the rest.

I love you. I want you to know that.

When not having creative energy isn’t a moral failure

I just read this blog post by Neil Gaiman.

He’s a Real Author, and he’s been very busy, and then he’s been very brain-dead.

His brain-dead is (morbidly?) reassuring to me. I’m an author, and I have a full time job, and I run a small business, and I have health issues, and I have a committed relationship that requires intentional effort to maintain (as any good relationship does).

It’s just lovely to have a reminder that it’s normal to have only so much capacity. Creative people create less when their mental energy is used up. When my day job requires creativity, I have less available for personal projects.

I always have a vague belief that if I cared more, I would create more. That if I were more diligent, I would sit and write every day like they tell you to.

I remember how I allow myself to get sucked into things that aren’t worth my time, like fascinating podcasts when I should be working, or brain-dead games on my phone when my brain isn’t working.

But.

But I spend a lot of mental energy on my day job, and on the other things I must do, and it’s not a moral failure that I don’t write every day. It’s just a fact of time and energy. It’s normal.

I just read Swordheart, by T. Kingfisher1, set in the same world as her Clockwork Boys duology, but it’s about normal life things (and nearly being eaten by magical sky-jellyfish) rather than being about saving the world. I loved it so much.

I tell you this because: I want to be T. Kingfisher when I grow up. I keep ruminating about how to become an author, a person who has hours every day to be creative and inspired, who also isn’t broke. Make it important now. Wake up early2. Write every day. But right now, I don’t have the energy to spend being creative; I’m spending most of my energy in keeping normal life going, eating healthy food, getting exercise more often than never.

Neil Gaiman reminded me that it’s ok to be an uncreative creative person. It’s normal to have physical limits. It’s not a moral failure when I don’t write every day… or even every week3.

Do you have times when you can’t be creative? How do you handle it? How do you give yourself permission to be where you are?


1 It’s a lovely silly book about a woman who doesn’t know her own value, having to fight for her own value, and developing friends who support her exactly the way she is. I loved it so much, you should read it.

2 I hate this advice. Mornings are my nemesis.

3 Not for nothing, I’ve been writing blog posts. That’s creation, even if it doesn’t feel like “creativity”. Maybe my definitions are just wrong.

New blogs, old drafts

I haven’t posted anything here in half a decade. Time flies.

My boyfriend and I are going to be traveling in England for 3 weeks, though, and I decided to set up a travel blog. It’s pretty spare, but I think we’ll have fun posting photos.

Unrelatedly, there’s a decent likelihood I’m going to have major surgery on my jaws in about a year. After I’d set up the travel blog, and was about to go pick up the models of my jaws, I realized that I want to share that process, too. So I started a second blog, which is all about my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. It’s called Body, Mind, & Soul, and it’s even more spare than the travel blog. It may also become TMI… particularly once the surgery starts.

That led me to want to post more on this site, which led me to going through old drafts sitting in the backend. There’s a lot of them, and some of them tell good stories, or parts of stories. I don’t know why I didn’t just publish them… lack of confidence, maybe, or lack of time.

So, I’m planning to clean them up a little and post them, because the prospect of major surgery on my face is reminding me that there’s nowhere to hide from myself. I have zero fucks to give* toward shame, self-censorship, or TMI. If you don’t want to read what I have to share, you don’t have to. I want to write. So I’m planning to share stories from my past several years. I hope you’ll let me know if they speak to you. 💖

* I love when common phrases are rearranged. “Give a fuck” is so 90s. (1790s, if this link is to be believed. I didn’t research it enough to find out.)

Punctuation

I was just reading an essay by Gertrude Stein, in which she says:

Commas are servile and they have no life of their own … A comma by helping you along and holding your coat for you and putting on your shoes keeps you from living your life as actively as you should lead it.

(You can find it in her book “Lectures in America”)

I basically agree, except that I find them useful for exactly this reason, because usually (e.g. at work) my goal is to transmit information, not to deeply engage my audience’s creativity.

At work, I’ve become known as a hyphen/dash expert. Enough so that someone pinged1 me this week to ask about what kind of dash to use to indicate no answer in a form. 😆

1 Do normal people use this word to mean “messaged in a generic chat app”?

Housecarl

I’m in love with the word housecarl.  It’s a very old word, and I stole it from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel books.  I’ve been looking for a word to refer to men in a medieval noble household who aren’t in the family and aren’t knighted, but also aren’t necessarily servants.  Lois McMaster Bujold uses “armsman”.  Carey uses housecarl in her Viking-ish culture.  The other word I’ve come across is armiger, which applies to a military guy who works for a knight and is entitled to his own coat of arms, but isn’t knighted himself.  I have no idea why you would have a coat of arms without being a knight, so I was thinking of using it to mean anyone who carries weapons and isn’t knighted.

To me housecarl seems like the male version of “house maid”, except not implying “servile”.  I’m not sure I understand the nuances of relationships in a medieval household would be.  Does servile mean a slave, or also someone who works for money?  Or who works for room and board?  Would I be using it wrong to refer to male servants in the King’s Castle?  (Can I use it that way anyway, under the assumption that most people reading the book will either not already know the word, or will understand that this is my own world and I’m stealing words and repurposing* them?)

This came up because I’m looking for Germanic & Old English terms to use in LFG, as opposed to French, Latin, or Celtic.  Does it matter much, since I’m still writing the first draft?  Nope.  But looking for the right words to use helps me get into the feeling of the world.

——

* Firefox doesn’t think “repurposing” is a word.  Wikipedia doesn’t either, but several articles use it as a word.

Meta Blog Post

My notebook - entry from Jan 13, 2013

I’ve noticed that I like my writing voice better when I’m talking to myself, pondering to myself, stream of consciousness (though it usually is in complete sentences… cuz I’m funny like that).  Why is that?  I’m more authentic with myself.  I also don’t have to fill in as much back-story, cuz I already know the background, so it’s a faster, more immediate train of thought.  (“Wait for me!” she shouted, running after the train.)  Also, I have more random asides and quips, because I’m amusing myself.  🙂  Sometimes they’re inside jokes, where you really had to be there on that one day in the 10th grade when…

And then, do I edit my train-of-thought stream-of-consciousness blurbs after I’ve reached the end?  If I edit inline, then I’m clearly too self-conscious and not really talking to myself (cuz duh, I don’t need to censor when *I’m* the audience, cuz I’ll be hearing all the extra crap whether I edit or not).  But what about afterwards?  When I realize that I looped around back to repeat something I’ve already said, and why on earth would you care about all the meanderings and thoughts I’ve been having?

Also, that means that once the moment has passed, once I don’t feel the need to tell myself the story, then I won’t be able to recapture it for you, either.  But then, if I don’t feel the need to tell myself the story, maybe that means I don’t need to tell you, either.  (And who is “you” in this sentence?  Is it me, because I’m writing to myself?  Or is it the imaginary audience out there who probably isn’t reading this post anyway?  Woah, my head is spinning.)

I want to post more.  (I hate reading blog posts from inconsistent bloggers [like myself] who post saying “I want to blog more!  But here’s my excuse why I haven’t… or here’s my plan for doing better!”, when really you could just SKIP the post saying “I’m gonna blog more” and instead just start blogging more.  Duh.)  But anyway, I do want to post more.  I also know that this is pretty low on my list of priorities.  (Given my previous parenthetical, where is this paragraph going?  I think I had a point when I started it, but I got distracted by my own aside, and now I don’t remember what the next sentence should be.  Oh right…)  It’s an effort to write up a blog post, and disappointing to reread it and realize I sound lame, or I’m not telling an interesting story after all, and so I should just scrap it as not worth* the ones and zeroes it’s printed on.  (And I’m still doing that lame thing I hate from others: sharing my lack of self-confidence.  Sigh.)  But the point is that when I’m writing to myself in my notebook, or on paper, then I like my voice just fine.  Maybe I read it differently when it’s only to myself?  Maybe I write it differently?  Nah, I’ve lost the voice, now I’m telling YOU instead of telling myself.  My self has already moved on to another subject, which is the point of my footnote… so I’ll just leave you with the footnote:

——

* I mistyped “worth” as another word that’s like “wrote“: wroth.  It’s the verb of “wrath”, I think.  “She was wroth with him.”  Could just say “angry at”, but “wroth” sounds cool.  And it’s just one letter off from “wrote”… which is the only thing they have in common.  🙂

Whew, third draft rewritten.

Today being the first day of my holiday vacation, I just finished editing the third draft of my vampire story, “The Organville Vampire”. It’s a lot better now, nearly a real story!

When I type in the changes I’ll call it the fourth draft, and I’ll know how long it is.  And then I’ll print it out for my beta readers!  Should be ready by the new year…

(Now I need to go buy Christmas presents… at least my priorities are in order?  :-/ )

NaNoWriMo 2011 trails off with a fizzle

I’m not conceding defeat, exactly, because that would imply that I’m a failure, and I don’t believe that.  But… I took on a task, and real life came along and bit me.

I set out to write 50,000 new words on THE LAST FAIRY GODMOTHER this month, and I haven’t broken 15,000†.  Being the second-to-last day of the month, I’m not going to try to pretend that I could manage all that before the end of tomorrow.

I’ve concluded several things from this experiment:

  • I can write a lot when I don’t care if it makes sense.
  • I actually prefer it to make sense, even though it’s “just” NaNoWriMo.
  • While I started out with characters and a plot, I missed out on the critical VILLAIN element.  I finally figured out the villain (and also what he does that personally affects my main characters!), but not until the third week, by which time I’d fallen seriously behind.
  • Scheduling something, even something wonderful and fun, that takes up a whole weekend plus two weekday evenings during NaNoWriMo is tantamount to NaNoSuicide.  Especially when I still have my day job, and therefore had no weekend to recover from the week and the fun weekend, and still wanted to be able to keep writing.  I lost over a week recovering from that.
  • Inertia is really helpful, so a disruption in the inertia drags me to a screeching halt, and then it takes me weeks to care enough to speed up again.
  • When trying to avoid writing, I knit beautiful things*.  😀
  • When trying to avoid writing, I make great progress resolving story issues in other stories that are not my main focus.  (Yesterday I realized I could fix two flaws in my vampire story, and I came up with four scenes for a short story version of my first [winning] NaNo story from 2006 about the invention and QA testing of the transporter**.)

Other wins for the month:

  • I bought a ton of yarn on sale on Saturday.  Including enough to make my Staghorn Sweater.  As soon as I finish making my vest (see beautiful things, above), I’ll start on the sweater.  Woohoo!
  • I haven’t died.
  • I got to see or talk to most of my favorite people over the Thanksgiving long weekend.
  • There might even be some others, but I’ve already forgotten them.  :-/

So, I think my plan is to finish polishing my vampire story, and then decide whether I want to start back in on LFG or write the four scenes for my transporter story.  Or maybe even try to figure out what the later scenes of the transporter story might be…  Hmm.

 

——

† Which brings me to 35,000 total!

* And of course I haven’t remembered to take any pictures of it, so no, you cannot see it.  Sorry.

** I can’t remember if it had a title.  It was wonderful and funny.  I still have the novel somewhere, but it is not worth resurrecting in any way shape or form, with the possible exception of the first scene, which was full of fabulous.  I seem to have only documented it on the internet on Nov. 1 of that year, here: http://booklizard.livejournal.com/2006/11/01/

Last Fairy Godmother Wordle

I’m a little behind on NaNo. This week is kicking my butt, with too many things to do. But I’m not worried, I still have plenty of time to catch up. Meanwhile, here’s a wordle of the story:

Wordle: Last Fairy Godmother NaNoWriMo2011

Detritus of my craft

The detritus of writing
I just noticed these things lying about my living room.

(It’s a bit grainy, because it’s night-time.  And I won’t remember to take a new picture in the morning.)

I know that I’m in the writing spirit because I have many important bits of the writing craft lying around my living room.

From top to bottom:

  • The most awesome, portable, roll of fine-point markers, by Staedtler.
  • My previous LFG notebook, Clairefontaine because I love them, and quad because it’s more versatile than lined.  Cloth-bound.
  • My new LFG notebook, also Clairefontaine, also quad, but spiral-bound. (I just started this one, so the previous one is still hanging around.  It will move onto a shelf once I’m settled into this one.)
  • The stack of pages (held together with one of my favorite pens) that is my Vampire Story printed out.
  • The large spiral unlined notebook I use for brainstorming when the small quad paper isn’t working.
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter*, which I loved the first half of years ago, and which I decided to pick up again this weekend.  I’ve just learned (again, since presumably I learned it the last time I read it) what a canon is and what a fugue is.
  • Very large (ok, “very” in my little non-artistic world) drawing paper, for extra-large brainstorming.  Not often used: but used this weekend.
  • And finally, chocolate.  Duh.

(The picture does not include my laptop, because I am using it and didn’t think to include it as one of my writing-things, even though it is.  I have selective blindness, sometimes, often without explanation.)

——

* I swear I don’t usually have so many^ things with the odd^^ “dt” sound pairing just lying around near each other.

^ i.e. greater than none

^^ odd for English, obviously.  I assume “dt” is German in Staedtler and Hofstadter?