Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Insecure Writers Support Group - June

It is time once again to express those doubts and concerns and discuss my struggles and triumphs. The writer's question is a little tricky this month, but I shall try.

Doubts & Concerns:
I have spent this month seeking knowledge. I have browsed online sources, skimmed a few books about writing, read a few fiction samples, watched a creative writing lecture series, and talked to other writers. In this quest for knowledge I have been gifted with multiple perspectives and plenty to consider. As I contemplate my path forward, I find I am concerned that there is too much to do. I doubt that I will ever get the time to accomplish what must be done in order to successfully finish my current novel. A recent promotion at work means I am now expected to do my old job, and my new one (at least until I am fully replaced), and home life is as chaotic as ever. I haven't let these things weigh on me and the intensity is honestly quite low. I am packing away these doubts and concerns as there is nothing to be done about them. But I am aware that they exist, and I think it is only fair to be open and honest with others that they exist. Maybe others will find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their doubts? (Misery loves company?)

Struggles & Triumphs:
My current struggle is my plot structure. I have decided it would be most beneficial to create an outline for my plot structure. Having reached more than 200 pages in the manuscript, I felt that I needed a concrete guide to help me finish. I have filled pages of notebooks with ideas, plot archetypes, plot structures, character arcs, etc. I have found the ending to the book and scribbled it during a quiet moment in a campsite while my in-laws had my kids on a walk and my husband was fetching dinner. In those 15 minutes I accomplished more than I have accomplished in the two weeks prior (see doubts and concerns). My struggle, however, is that I like holding this knowledge snugly in my mind and fear writing it down. Why? Maybe I am afraid it will not be as good on paper? Maybe I am afraid of the effort of creating an outline, which to me seems like extra work? It is that frozen feeling that I can't accomplish what I want to accomplish, so I refuse to accomplish anything. But at the same time, I did accomplish something. It is a triumph, too! I have an ending, I have a very basic sketch with arrows in every direction, I have the first half(ish) of the manuscript drafted. This is definitely a triumph! As my dad always says, "All I lack is finishing up." (Applicable no matter how much you have accomplished. If you have taken the first step, all you have to do is finish.)

The Question:  Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

Honestly, most of my secrets could be known from my work better than they could be known from my person. And it isn't that I have secrets, it is simply that I choose to not share things with people whom I feel cannot handle reality. 

The best secret I suppose that would not be clear in my writing is that I used to hate writing. I've always written poetry, even as a young kid. It is in my blood. But when it came to school, I hated everything about English Language Arts. I was even in a remedial class in junior high because I couldn't pass the vocabulary tests the previous year. I had terrible spelling and couldn't finish the books I was assigned to read. In ninth grade I shadowed at a college prep school (based on my math scores), and when the English teacher noticed I wasn't particularly excited to sit through her presentation, she questioned me. I told her I hated English class. My friend, who also attended the recruitment day, took it upon herself to blurt out that every time she saw me I had my nose in a book. The teacher then asked what I was reading at the moment, and I replied, "Dune." She told me that she took an entire course on Dune when she went to college. The following year, Ms. Tyler became the first English teacher to make me enjoy the subject. (It all went south my junior year again, but for one year there was this glimmer of hope, this one time when I had a teacher who loved Science Fiction as much as I did. I remember every book we had to read that year, and whether I liked them or not, I finished every single one.) During high school, I tested out of all the college core classes and never took another English class again.

The second secret is connected to the first. I was a math and physics nerd. I actually started college in architecture school, and was one of a dozen out of more than eighty who actually had an A for the first semester. But I transferred. It is strange how things change. There are two things I truly hated in grade school:  English and Biology. And now, I am a writer and my other loves include gardening and beekeeping and my horticulture books are only outnumbered by all the philosophy books I kept from my college days. Maybe my secret is that my past self is my own worst enemy? Honestly she thwarted me at every turn...


  1. I can't outline as much as it sounds like you have before starting to write though I do have a basic understanding of my story. I struggle with the blank page too. I try to think of the main points of my chapter and write them down before I start a new chapter and it helps. Maybe do that and just start writing and see where it goes. You might be surprised.

  2. I wish I was a math nerd! I always think in another life I might be an architect. As for writing, outlines can help, and first drafts are never as good as third and fourths, lol. Keep writing :)

  3. I remember sitting in Archaeology class that first week in class. I dropped the class after one session because I was so in love with becoming an archaeologist but knew I could never make a living, and I needed a job to be independent. Writing throughout my working years was always between . . . but short stories and poetry still nurtured my writing spirit. So, a question: Do you draw? Free write? Using unconventional methods to dig deeper into your plot and structure may help. Sometimes scaffolding helps me work out plot quirks. That's just listing a very few ideas at the top of the chapter that need to be in this section. Not every technique works for everyone, even the detailed plot outline. Your comments here suggest a deep love of writing, commitment, and stories waiting to be written. Jump in there! Enjoy the process and celebrate each step.

    1. I do enjoy drawing and used to love free writing. I have unfortunately fell into the misconception that anything besides structured time is wasted time, and I know inside that this is untrue. I am obsessed with being as efficient as possible. If I can't do something the fastest way, then I repeat it until I can. I even wash dishes a certain way because I'm convinced it is the 'right' way. Sorry for that glimpse of my crazy, but it was the long way to say you are correct. I see my flaws, and I need to just do stuff anyways. Jumping in!

  4. You have such a varied and interesting background. I'm sure you'll bring all of that experience to bear on your writing. And yes, doubts and struggles do seem easier when you know others are going through the same thing.

  5. You are the third or fourth IWSG member I've read this month who has posted this week about being science-focused before becoming a writer. I struggle to outline, but I totally get how it is a great tool for some. Unfortunately, I'm not good at planning far ahead.

  6. Can I just say that your blog name is phenomenally relatable and creative hahaha - Tea, Sign, Create! I love it! Favorite tea?

    May I ask what knowledge you had been specifically seeking over the past months? Philosophical? A niche topic? Self-help?

    I always find it admirable when left-brained individuals transition over into being right-brained. Very well-rounded. I myself have always had an affinity for Language Arts classes. No other subject ever held my attention. Actually... it was hell on earth to get through any class that fell into the broad STEM field. Of course, a degree in any one of those fields will actually guarantee you a job after college. OH the dilemma of passion versus security hahaha!

    Laurel :)

    1. Favorite tea: Sweet and Spicy (the rooibos version)! I can't begin to describe, although I definitely should try sometime, how important tea is to me. There is nothing else in my life that forces me to sit still and breathe slowly. Anyone who has ever tried to rush drinking boiling hot liquid from an open mug will understand.

      I work primarily in speculative fiction, and almost always have a human rights undertone. Human behavior is so unbelievable to me sometimes, so it fits nicely into an imaginative frame. I guess it boils down to empathy. Part of raising my son (autistic) involves using social stories to prepare him for situations. I feel like I can use my Science Fiction/Fantasy to do the same for the general public. Or not. Hopefully they are just interesting enough for people to read.

  7. I would be good with 27 years if I'm honest. I love that you kept going and I hope I can be so persistent and consistent. One day I will look back, and hopefully with a smile :)