Four Green Squares

the tiny little blog no-one will ever read

The Awkward Robots present: The Red Volume June 30, 2014

Filed under: clarion,writing — FourGreenSquares @ 1:42 pm

designed by the amazing E.G. Cosh

Its that time of year.  The Clarion write-a-thon is in full swing.  This year, the Clarion 2012 class is not just fundraising through accepting pledges for x amount of work. We thought it would be good to share the outcome of the all that hard summer writing.

Thus, we are pleased to announce The Red Volume, featuring stories written by the Clarion class of 2012 during the 2014 write-a-thon.

All donors to Clarion though any of our write-a-thon pages will get a copy. Good fic, better cause: can’t get more win-win than that.

In addition, all future proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Clarion Foundation, which provides scholarships to enable people to attend Clarion. I know Clarion changed both my writing and my life, and the Clarion Foundation makes that experience available to everyone, regardless of financial status.

You know you want a copy! Sponsor me here and grab one!



Plot-hole-whack-a-mole, or the post in which there are many, many hyphens June 15, 2014

Filed under: clarion,writing — FourGreenSquares @ 7:18 pm

So, I figured out the scene.

And I really felt what Steve Pressfield calls Resistance. Words on the page like sludge instead of a cascade out of my pen. Not right. This or that? Start here or there? Before or after? Move it to later?  Am-I-a-writer-or-a-goddamn-engineer-and-why-did-no-one-warn-me-I-need-to-be-both?

That moment when the voice in your head senses its moment, slips from its crevice to pipe up, “You can’t do this, you know.  You can’t. 3rd draft and you’re  still faffing. C’mon, stop kidding yourself.”

I think my Tai chi and meditation are paying off because I’m definitely better at being self-aware about moments like this. A def. light bulb moment: Aha, Resistance, I see you.

Half the trick of such self-awareness, I’m learning, is having the vocab to parse what’s happening. Yes, names have power, and here, they let me differentiate strands of thought from the formless mass of goo at the bottom of my subconscious that occasionally births monsters to rampage across my mind.

And yes, once again as in critiquing, so in life. Thank you Clarion.

So–I was able to say, You know what, Resistance? I really want to finish this scene today. No, it won’t be perfect, but I have tomorrow to make it better. Today, I just want it done.

And I did. 🙂

I think this is why I love first draft and approach editing with, shall we say…more trepidation?

First draft: white-hot out of my brain, no time for doubts. But the mess that results…

Which is why now, done the second draft (yay me, I finished the second draft), I’m trying something new for the third draft.

My first draft, I figure out which, out of all the millions of possible stories/plot lines/directions/etc., is the one story I really want to tell. I simply can’t do this in outline because I need to get my characters walking and talking their way into trouble, to singe themselves on the forge of experience, in order to learn who they are–what their story actually is.

Second draft, I tell that story.

Normally, second draft is also where I come up with a Cool Act Three Plot Twist, change everything, and end up playing endless rounds of plot-hole-whack-a-mole until a new idea seizes my brain and I abandon the old novel, mid-draft.

Not this time.

I always write longhand, then type up the first draft  and try to edit the typescript. I hate working with typescript or on computer screen, but always told myself, “It’s stupid to write the entire thing again longhand. What a waste of time. Really. Trulio.”

So I’d type it up, then the stiff print on the page would freeze my mind and I couldn’t draw all my little arrows to marginalia and header notes that meander around the rim of the page so you actually have to turn the paper upside down to read them.  Fun.

Typescripts. Not fun.

So–Resistance, I see you. This time, I said, so what if I have to hand write it all out. I like writing longhand better, and its more fun.

That’s my goal for draft 3. Yes, I’m editing (!) and shaping (!!) and its all hanging together (!!!), this novel that fell out of my pen, but I want to keep it fun. Typescript looks like work. (Turnabout is fair play. I was so easy for my subconscious to fool for so long, only fair that I get my own back).

And I’m also realising that all my endless plot-hole-whack-a-mole has protected me from this point. I say protected because it’s almost ready to show people. So much easier to continually faff around with Act Three than actually finish.

“See, I am working,” I could say, as I hefted my hammer to bash at those plot holes. Making it better. Or different. Different is better, right? ( I should have that on a t-shirt).

Clarion really helped me realise (by which I mean it shoved my face under the water and refused to let me up to breathe until I had an NDE and saw the beckoning light) when different isn’t better, because different is taking you away from the story you really want to tell. For easily-distracted me, well, that was another amazing light bulb moment.

And here I am, halfway through editing Act One of Draft Three.

Today, I have slayed the dragon of Resistance.

Feels good.

And now I have to do it again tomorrow.