Monday, March 23, 2015

New Class! New Angst!

First off, registration for the next cycle of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing class at Portland Community College is open! This is a four-week Community Education (non-credit) class based around short speculative fiction writing, with one week each devoted to plotting, worldbuilding, characterization and voice, and a class critique session. After this class I'll be moving over to the Southeast campus for a while, so if that affects your desire to take the class, sign up now!

Since getting back from the Rainforest retreat, I've fell into a bit of a writing funk. Part of it is simply that I've been spending far too much time editing, and not enough time writing. And while editing is (usually) a necessary part of the writing process, you don't get the same sense of forward momentum, and it's clearly not as exciting as actually writing. Right now I have at least five stories that need to be edited, some of which have been through first-round edits by my in-house editor, a few which haven't. And it's so daunting! Two of these stories are also novelettes or nearly so, and one of those is in a genre that I've never written before. There's something like 25k words that need to be looked over, scenes rearranged or eliminated, new scenes that need to be written, and in the case of one of those stories, research. It's a lot of work, and it leaves me drained for writing new stuff. I need to finish what I start, not just keep piling on new projects.

Another reason for the funk is that I've been way too focused on originality. I wrote a couple of stories in late 2014/early 2015 that I thought were incredibly original (she says pridefully). I'm sure that someone else who's better read -- or just differently read -- than me could be able to point to half a dozen stories that are similar to those stories, but I'd never read anything with those concepts behind them before, at least before I wrote them. So now, when I try to write something new, I'm trying to make it even more original than those stories. Then I get stuck, because every story feels like "nope, seen it before, discard." Which is dumb, because there are no new ideas... but some ideas are fresher than others. Some people will fight me on this, but I maintain it's true. So far, none of my new outlines (as in, written in the past month) are passing my own personal barrier for originality. It's a moving bar, yeah, but it's my moving bar, and unfortunately just going through the motions of writing doesn't get me in the mood to write. I have to be excited about the idea. And the better-read I become in genre, the more I see that a lot of what I do has been done before. Maybe not done in quite the same way, but it only takes a whiff of similarity to take the bloom off the rose.

Anyway, I'm sure it's just a temporary thing that will fade once I get this huge set of stories (or at least half of them) revised and sent off. I know what a real slump is and this isn't it. Just... revision is kind of the worst, you know?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Marching Into March

First, I have a new-old story up on Drabblecast this week, a reprint of my "classic" (hah!) story "Sea Changes," first published in Ideomancer in 2008. Check it out! This all-flash episode also contains stories from Keffy Kehrli and Jonathan Schneeweiss.

Second, I now have a tab that lists all the Community Education classes I have upcoming at Portland Community College, or you can just follow the link here. The next four-week cycle of classes starts April 11 and the sign-up isn't active yet, but once it is, I'll let the world know.

Last weekend Rob and I went to the Rainforest Writers Retreat in Lake Quinault, WA. I had a great time, though I didn't get as much done as I wanted to. I only wrote a shade under 15,000 words, all on short stories. We also went on a hike (well, Rob went on the hike, it was too slippy for me) and saw waterfalls and a herd of wild elk. I'd recommend it for anyone looking for a laid-back place to hang out and write for a few days. We likely won't be going back next year since we're saving up for a possible East Coast/Readercon trip, but if you want to go, register fast! It always sells out.

Some jerk elk sticking his tongue out at us.

Finally, today it was 55 degrees and sunny all day oh wait I mean it rained all day and was terrible don't move here. Man, everywhere in the entire country sucks except this place.