Posts Tagged ‘finishing’

Today I want to spotlight a collection of writing advice. It comes via OWW, the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. OWW is a fee-based workshop but this advice is available to all.

These short essays discuss topics on writing in general, how to get your work read (if you’re into workshops like OWW, or the free Critters or Codex, for example), and the publishing business overall. I like Nicola Griffith’s piece about avoiding cliches:*

Don’t write “her heart stopped” unless you mean she died. Don’t talk about saucy serving wenches in an inn where the beef stew is thick and hearty and the ale is fresh, nutty, and strong… Why aren’t “serving wenches” ever tired, middle-aged women? Why is the beer rarely yellow, or thin, or cloudy with sediment?

So true.** There’s a reason the average human lives a much longer and healthier life than their ancestors did just a century ago:

In Japan, 72 has become the new 30, as the likelihood of a 72-year-old modern-day person dying is the same as a 30-year-old hunter-gatherer ancestor who lived 1.3 million years ago.

Modern sanitation, medicine and quality infrastructure (for those handy extras like clean drinking water) for the win!

So, keep a weather eye out for dangerous and terrifying pitfalls you have to escape in the nick of time as you navigate the winding path of language clichés:) But keep writing. Remember, all’s well that ends well! (And that’s just about enough of that;)

While we’re on the subject of advice, I’ll supplement the OWW site and my previous posts on writing advice with a link from Brain Pickings. This collection of wisdom is from a variety of writers, genre and otherwise:

#49: Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers
“You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.”

Some of this advice may not apply to you; I tend not to relate to Bukowski, for example. But some of it may, and I hope it’s useful.

Since I’m throwing in everything but the kitchen sink today, let me close with this great post from Elizabeth Bear: “everybody’s scared of things that they don’t understand and all the living they don’t do.

Accept that there will be a lot of failures along the way, and that you can come back from nearly any mistake that doesn’t involve making a left turn in front of an oncoming semi.

Excellent advice.

Write, rewrite, finish. Do it again.

* Some of the examples are also about uncomfortable -isms. Racism and sexism, for instance, are more problematic than simple clichés and should be resolved at a deeper level. Obviously.
** As a side note, if you’re curious about what and how people ate in the Western Middle Ages, SF Canada writer Krista D. Ball has a detailed and useful book on realism in fantasy food: What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank.

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For my mother and anyone else facing a challenge today:

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
― Confucius

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Hello, hello, greetings and salutations from 2016! I’m back home and working but I’ll admit that I’m not quite ready for the new year. I know it’s usual to plan these sorts of things before the calendar turns, but I didn’t, so I’m planning now.

Also, note to self re: Holiday Recovery… pencil in time for this next year because it’s going to happen whether you like it or not;)

It’s a new year but the same old challenges, what to do do and how to do it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not big on resolutions. I do, however, like to take the opportunity to step back a little and think about goals and targets.

I did a lot last year but no one ever finishes every single thing on their list unless they’re aiming too low. Fall also tends to be a bit odd for me, writing and otherwise. Most of my family and holiday-related traveling is compressed into a few short months, plus NaNoWriMo in November hijacks time I’d normally spend on other plans. Then December rolls around and it’s all NaNo recovery, long car rides and Christmas shopping. Hard to get much writing done, and while I’m ok with that it does leave me in a peculiar spot come January.

Let’s see… Eggnog recovery, check. Sleep deprivation recovery, check. Catch up on missed episodes of favorite shows, check. Despair of ever managing to finish anything ever again, then get over it and move on? Check and check.

So here I am, another January with the whole year spread out in front of me like a delicious holiday smorgasbord. What to do next?

First priority: put aside the previous year’s opportunities missed and goals not quite managed, and opt not to worry about the coming year. Then ask myself what I really want to do. Next, and this is the hardest part, listen to the answer.



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Today I ran across a collection of tips from master writers. The Gotham Writers Workshop includes tips for aspiring writers from Elmore Leonard, George Orwell, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, P.D. James and more.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
— John Cage

Every – every – story is a story about people, or it sucks.
— Joss Whedon

I’ve seen a number of these suggestions before but many not. And when it’s Tuesday morning and the tea has yet to kick in, I find that every little bit helps. Happy writing!

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I’m very pleased to announce that my new story “The NuCorYou Guide for New Corporate Persons” (complete with terrific animated artwork by Gustavo Torres) is now up at Terraform!

We say this all the time, but: ours is a science-fictional world. Those Democratic debates? Staged like the Thunder Dome, sponsored by Facebook, with candidates talking marijuana and the finer points of Democratic Socialism? Couldn’t have made that up. As for Bernie Sanders railing against the catastrophic effects of corporate personhood, well—have we got a story for you. —The Eds.

The story is free and available to all. Enjoy!


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Phew! I finished up a big project today and sent it off, hooray, and now I’d really like to get back to writing. Fun writing, instinctive writing, stories that make me laugh (and sometimes cry) as I write. Time to push those annoying shoulds into the background for a bit and do what feels right.

Like beautiful fall days and star-struck nights, new challenges and, of course, cake:)

* I planned to embed a photo from Yellowstone here but Instagram links aren’t working for me right now, and my brain is too pre-lunch post-project squishy to fix it. I’ll work on it later, probably just a bad motivator, but in the meantime… Want to see something amazing? Click here🙂
… insert muzak …
** Oh goodie, broken Instagram is all better now. Enjoy!

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Ooh, fun! I’m happy to announce that I have a new flash fiction story at EGM Shorts*: Magic Life. The story is free and (by definition) short, so if you find yourself with a moment to spare and the urge to slip into a bit of fantasy, check it out:)

* Short for Evil Girlfriend Media, a most excellent name.

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Author Anne Lamott is turning 61 and took the opportunity to write down “every single thing I know, as of today.”

It’s a lovely list, full of the poignant and practical advice for which she’s known. It can be moving and a little sad, as when she touches on the challenges of family and death, but she also brings out useful truths on such topics as the necessity of exercise and writing shitty first drafts, the beauty of life and persistence and the fact that any of us are even here at all.

I especially like #2:
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

You can find the rest of her list and more on her thoughts in her Facebook post.

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Back in the fall, The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy interviewed Patrick Rothfuss about his new book, The Slow Regard of Silent Things. In it, he touches on the details of his writing process, the likelihood that he revises “more than anyone else in the genre,” why his prose sounds like “dark chocolate,” role-playing games and many other topics.

… because we have the ability to have fantastic plots and armies clashing and magic and dragons, it’s easy to leave out other things and one of the hardest ones to do is language.

If you’re interested in the process of fiction, in Pat’s writing, or in why he thinks you might not want to buy his new book, check out the full transcript now posted by the good folks over at Lightspeed.

* As an added bonus, the interviewer describes fantasy and science fiction as “the imagination Olympics.” So true!

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This week there’s a fascinating piece in The Atlantic by Jeff VanderMeer, author and editor, on the experience of writing:

From Annihilation to Acceptance: A Writer’s Surreal Journey: The author agreed to publish three novels in one year—and then things got weird.

In it, the author details the terrors, trials and triumphs that went into the making of his latest series. AnnihilationAuthority and Acceptance make up the Southern Reach trilogy, about “a dysfunctional secret agency called Southern Reach and its efforts to solve the mysteries behind Area X, a strange pristine wilderness.”

I’ve had this series on my books to read list and now plan to bump them up to the top. For more on the books, including sample chapters and links to retailers, or on the author, check out the links above.

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