The Element of Surprise

Stories need to earn their surprises. There is very little I find more frustrating than a story that throws you a (usually concluding) plot point or major piece of information that comes right out of left field. Left field is bad, folks. But in thinking about the difference between something coming out of left field and a solid surprise, I’m at pains to say exactly what it is. So, I figured, I might as well blog about it and see if someone smarter at this stuff than I am wants to chime in. Follow me through the element of surprise!

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Writing Trauma

Lap cats are part of my self care.
Lap cats are part of my self care.

Content warning for this post: sexual violence (I discuss writing about it but do not describe any incident)

I dove into writing a section of my book last week involving sexual violence. It is a subject central to the world in which this story takes place and central to the story itself. And good chuck, I was in a bad mood this week. It took me a few days of blaming this month’s mix of PMS hormones before I realized that, no, this mood is not that one. This mood, this irritability, is the story giving me an emotional hangover, working itself out, demanding attention and retreating from it. This mood is the undercurrent of rage and helplessness and empathy that always attaches to me when I am met with these stories, real or fictionalized. It just so happens that this week in Evidence class is also the section on the rules of evidence in sexual assault cases. Rape shield laws, their exceptions, and the policies underlying both. All while holding this character’s hand through her story. WHAM! Right in the feels. What do I do about this? Continue reading

Adventures in Time Management

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In my own little corner, in my own little chair.

After a week of experimenting with the write-before-the-rest-of-my-life-starts-for-the-day, I am happy to report it’s working! I was struggling to get 500 words written a week. Like struggling. Like knowing my computer was judging me as I clicked the next episode of Buffy. End of the day is just so exhausting and needs so much more effort to do one more thing before letting myself relax. Even though, when I have all the time in the world, I much prefer writing in the afternoons and evenings. But! Back to the point, I wrote nearly 2500 words last week!
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The Life of Experiment

As I wrote earlier this week, I’ve been stressed about making time to write with everything on my to-do list and the daily appointments that cannot be skipped. Well, let’s rephrase. I’ve been stressing myself out about this, unnecessarily. Life still happens, I still have time to write, I just have to make sure it doesn’t turn into a chore (because what would be the point of that?!). Luckily, I have these great friends that remind me that if something isn’t working, I can simply try something else.

Right, I say to myself, my decisions are not etched in stone for eternity. Perfect choices are not perfect all the time. Calm down and experiment.

With some of this jealously guarded time, I’m on the lookout for advice from people who’ve been through this (why reinvent the wheel?). @elissshuman discussed his daily routine of hitting a coffee shop in the morning before work for 1 single hour to write. Reading that, I thought to myself, 😀 Self! There is a coffee shop a mere block away! It opens at 7! You would need to leave for school shortly after 8! Let’s try it! (I make sure to use plenty of exclamations points and emoticons when talking to myself.)

So, that’s the experiment for this week. I am not a morning person at all, but I like to work in the mornings. Basically, I hate everyone until sufficiently caffeinated and working intensely keeps the rest of world from bothering me until I can behave like human being.

The challenge I am expecting/experiencing is the snooze button and actually making it out of bed. I mean, when you don’t actually have to get up until 7ish, waking up at 6/6:30 is going to be tough.

But, instead of being defeatist about it, like I am with getting up early to exercise, I am going to embrace the challenge and the test of morning writing sessions. Wish me luck, dear readers, but not before I’ve had my coffee.

The Unbearable Schedule

I’ve been struggling, dear readers. I have lots on my plate at the moment: last year of law school turning out busier than planned, trying to have something of a social life, putting in the time for the relationships that matter, Tumblr addiction to feed, stories to read, shows to watch, travel to plan. An incredibly privileged life, I know. But the writing is essential for me. Both for my own personal goals and for my self-care. Without creativity, all of those things I have to do, their colors bleed out and they become grey or, worse, beige.

Mornings are a fight with the alarm clock, especially when the sunrise isn’t there to back it up. And evenings somehow leak minutes until even though I scheduled myself to be writing, I find myself suddenly at bed time without having written a word. I think I don’t need a new plan; I think I need a new way to look at my time, to look at how writing fits into my world.

How do you do it? Is it a matter of sacrifice to the time gods (or lords)? Small pieces of time? Setting aside large chunks? What kind of advice would you give your past self when they were trying to figure out their own schedule?