muir_wolf: (Default)
muir_wolf ([personal profile] muir_wolf) wrote2011-12-10 10:35 pm

i face the horizon everywhere i go; or, WORDS

a) LOVE MEME, if thou art so inclined ♥


The thing about surrounding yourself with talented writers is that it can be intimidating. Now, I think I've improved leaps and bounds in the last few years. I think I've found my voice as a writer and I think I've matured as a writer. At the same time, though, I can't deny that being around people cleverer and more talented than I am has on occasion led me to think more about how my story would be received rather than about my enjoyment in writing it.

Now, talk of glory hounds and review mongering aside, I think wanting to impress people you respect is perfectly natural. When I was in school, positive notes and comments on my papers and stories was something I always worked towards. Any positive feedback from my English teacher in twelfth grade pretty much made my day.

However, I've also been pretty secure in my writing. It's very possible that I'm a conceited idiot, but I felt I was always in the upper handful in high school and in my college creative writing classes, and while I enjoyed writing and tried to improve, I was always measuring my writing against myself. And then these ridiculously lovely + talented people started talking to me, and they'd comment on my fics and say they were good, and I'm looking at their works and it was just like really? And I think its easy to get caught in kind of a doubt-spiral. Especially since this is around the same time that I'm working on my draft, and I have people telling me I'm a great writer, and I'm thinking have you ever read anything I've written?

Of course, the entire time I'm working on this draft, I'm thinking about the fact that it's going to end up being torn apart by everyone, and that constructive criticism is important, and that I'll need to be impartial, and that I can't be too attached. That I'm going to have to tear things apart and build them back up, and that that's necessary if I ever want to even have half a chance of being published. Which. There's all these ridiculously lovely + talented people writing that are so much better than I am, and I think I have a shot of being published? Really?

It pretty much all came to a head during this year's BBBB. I shouldn't have signed up in the first place. It wasn't peer pressure, as there isn't one person I know who wouldn't have understood me not signing up. I should have dropped out, which I know the mods would have been completely okay with, and which I know everyone would have been supportive about. Instead, I proceeded to completely flip out about a harmless BBT Space AU ficathon, because at that point I was not only hating my fic, I was hating myself and my writing, and it felt like the only possibly thing my BBBB had going for me was the plot. Which is ridiculous, but. At that point that's how I felt. Instead of, oh I don't know, talking about this to someone, I went to the extremes of contemplating deleting my LJ and my twitter and my tumblr and just disappearing completely from my online world, not with any real sort of seriousness I don't think, but with those escapist fantasies I go through when absolutely nothing feels within my control.

I've never hated writing before. I am, all false modesty aside, quite vain about my writing. I'd rather someone compliment me on my well-formed sentences than my eyes (prospective suitors take note). I think that was what made it the worst, and was probably why I was so stubborn about staying in, because I don't hate writing, and I can always pull words out of the air. It's what I do. It's what I've always done, and giving up felt like admitting that I wasn't good enough. I haven't read my BBBB since I posted it, but I imagine that it's clear in the lines how little I enjoyed the writing of it.

My BBBB, at finish, was about 17k. I can tell, from the writing of it, that it should've been twice that length. Rather than following the story, as I've always done, I forced the story into a stiff, sparse outline. I chopped up scenes that wanted to linger and I shoved character development out the window in favor of word-vomiting information for the readers. In the past, I've always gone with finding those beats of time to slip information in. I don't know how successful I was, but each flashback and piece of background in my circus AU was chosen for how it fit into the frame. For this BBBB I said fuck the frame, and ripped and glued a story together. It feels rather like a betrayal.

I wrote a ~2k crossover fic last night, and it was so much fun. It was just fun. I found the frame of the story, and gathered up the threads of it, and then just wrote it. I didn't know how it would end at the beginning, although I knew a few of the beats along the way, and I hit each one, because the story led me to them.

Writing for me is like typing. When I focus too much on it, I start to overthink it and lose the threads I'm following - I can't find the flow of the story and I worry about the words sound together rather than hearing them. It's like a choose your own adventure, except I run into a direction and I don't look back.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I forgot how to listen to the flow of the story because I was too busy trying to write a great story, but that doesn't work. And because I was trying to be some great writer, I completely butchered a plot, and both let myself down and let a story down, and while that might sound like melodramatic nonsense, if a story gives itself to me, isn't it my job to follow it and listen to it and put it down on paper?

Anyway, if you see me complaining that I'm a crappy writer, please punch me in the face. It's not my place to judge my writing. I'm just supposed to corral annoying characters and put words into something resembling sentences.

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 06:39 am (UTC)(link)
I TOTALLY understand all your feelings here. I really do. I've never had much success with writing. The longer I go without writing all the things I want to write, the less I feel like I can actually do it. When I do write things, it's never what I wanted it to be. And I'm surrounded by people drastically more talented than I am (you, for example, my dear) and that does not help. But there are some days when I'm just writing and it's that feeling of invincibility and creation and it's a perfect feeling.

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 06:46 am (UTC)(link)
It's like some times I just need someone to yell at me STOP OVERTHINKING IT. Like, I don't plan to ever write the great American novel. Besides the fact that I doubt I could, I have zero interest in writing something like that. But somewhere along the way I got caught up in trying to make sure all my sentences mean something, and like. Not everything has to be deep or meaningful or pretty. In fact, things that are tend to piss me off mercilessly. And why on earth should I be trying to write something that will ultimately piss me off?

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 07:04 am (UTC)(link)
Oh god, I know how you feel. Sometimes I self-edit comments in casual interweb discussion so much that it's exhausting, so you can imagine how I am writing.


[identity profile] 2011-12-11 07:07 am (UTC)(link)
I have an awful inferiority complex. I can't read good writing for inspiration because it just drills little holes of embarrassing insecurity into me. Just as it's easy to be unrealistic about our own talents it's also very easy to be unrealistically unfair upon ourselves. Some things deserve more pride than others, and when you get it right you know it and nothing should take that feeling away.

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 07:18 am (UTC)(link)
Exactly! And if I write because I love to write, I should write to enjoy it and not write to impress people. The things I'm most proud of are the things I couldn't stop writing because I was so in the moment and riding that writing high, y'know?

(Also, ftr, I think you're an excellent writer, and the things you write give me FEELS.)

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 07:33 am (UTC)(link)
Ugh, yes. The writing high is amazing. Many sleepless nights have come from an overexcited brain. I am very possessive of that feeling, as we all should, and deserve to be.

(♥ likewise darling, likewise.)
notalwaysweak: Rainbow rose with words 'love as thou wilt' below in white lettering (BBT: OT4: Project PRSW.)

[personal profile] notalwaysweak 2011-12-11 09:57 am (UTC)(link)
I will never punch you in the face. I may, however, smack you with a cushion and announce 'Pillow fight!' as you're trying to recover.

I heart your writing to pieces. There are so many truly talented writers in BBT fandom, and you're one of them. I remember saying back at the start of this year when I first got into the fandom that I was so lucky because so many wonderful things had already been written for the show, and you were definitely one of the people who made me feel like I'd stumbled upon a treasure trove of shinyawesome fics.

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 06:44 pm (UTC)(link)
While you're incredibly sweet, I guess what I mean is that even if you were like, eh, I've seen better, I shouldn't let that affect my thoughts about writing? I shouldn't ever worry, while in the writing of something, whether people will like it or if it'll be good enough, because that means I'm writing for the wrong reasons. Obviously having someone talented and awesome like you compliment me makes me =D =D but I shouldn't let it stress me out when I'm trying to write new things, because writing isn't about something to prove, if that makes sense?

Also, yes, always pillow fights ;)

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 03:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Just a little story about the positive feedback:

I'm teaching my poetry unit to juniors at school and I'm writing examples of haiku and limericks on the board so that they can try their own. Several girls (and even a couple boys) were so damn impressed by my silly little poems! But I felt mighty fine for the rest of the day. ;)

Our fandom (and all the others you write for) are lucky you got your hooks in it! We reap the rewards by reading your awesome stories.

[identity profile] 2011-12-11 06:49 pm (UTC)(link)
I guess what I mean is that while positive feedback makes me tremendously happy, I shouldn't let myself get stressed out in the writing of the next haiku because I'm worried that the class won't like it, which is what happened? Like I felt like I'd set some imaginary bar in the writing of the first haikus, and if I failed to meet a certain level I'd be failing some imaginary test?

tl;dr, I'm crazy. ;)

Aaaaalso you are far too kind, but I shall revel in your terrible sweetness anyway, as long as you know I find you both ridiculously talented and kind. ♥