The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
I Want to Write:
That essay in full! With research and editing and everything proper!
At least 30,000 words of editing/rekeying on DemiPrincess1
Depending on how you look at this month, I have either succeeded spectacularly at all but two things or I have failed absolutely miserably on all but two of them. I leave that up to you to decide.
You see, I failed to read Ninefox Gambit entirely. It’s partially depression causing a reading slump and largely because that essay? Yeah, wow, ok, I was not prepared for that to be as intense and intensive as it’s been turning out to be. The first draft is done! By which I mean I have 8,000 odd words of analysis and opinion that I still need to support and tie together with more academic arguments. (Like: I need papers on the effects of second person narratives on the reader to support my thoughts on those and things of that nature.) I went into that essay expecting it to be 5,000 words tops with all the references and supporting arguments included.
WHAT DO I DO WITH AN 8,000 WORD ESSAY?!
Besides split it up into shorter (and slightly more focused) sections, that is. What do I do with the full comparative analysis thing?
And wow it was kind of unexpectedly harrowing because, like, I’m not used to books hurting me badly. They’re stories. It washes off. (You know, I was one of those four-year-olds who yawned all the way through Alien because it wasn’t real d’uh. Yeah, I don’t know how I went from that to “Avoid all the horror because I like to sleep” either. Anyway!) But this was… just looking, closely, at why and how the two stories I picked to start writing about are harmful and, yeah, okay, looking at it deliberately and closely? THAT HURT A LOT. Gee, thanks, authors for telling me that I’m not human and don’t get to live or have friends or whatever. Really appreciate that. This is absolutely the popular, mainstream asexual representation that we need. (Protip: It really isn’t.)
Anyway! So that took up… rather a lot more time than I was expecting and my new part-time job took up a fair bit more than I was expecting. And then I may, kind of, have done another 10,000+ editing sprint and wiped myself out. I am, like 6,000 words short of my 30,000 word editing goal on DemiPrincess. I WAS SO CLOSE. But also, I did edit over 20,000 words this month and then I also wrote a few new short things and did some Pride-related things and effectively I did hit a 30,000+ fiction word goal. Just not exactly the one I set out to achieve. And also I have, um, technically double as much essayage draft length as I was expecting when I set those goals because I split one section of it off because I figured I could keep that one section under 5,000 words and thus of interest to publications that accept essays.
And… Yeah. That was pretty much my month. It was busy. Depression flared up. I had several days where I was just wiped out. (See the fact that I still haven’t finished the previous livetweet of Sera Myu, even though the next musical is scheduled for tonight.) Then it was busy some more. And wow writing it all out, even like this, no wonder I’m feeling so wiped out that I didn’t even remember to write these posts before the end of the month. June was MASSIVELY busy. O_O
If You Want to Write a Book, Write It However Works for You
I am, at the moment, juggling several projects because that’s how I roll. I’ve just started revisions for my next novel, the first in a trilogy, that I’m very excited about. I’m working on a short story that probably wants to be a novelette. I’ve also just yesterday started on a short nonfiction essay.
I don’t know yet what other people will think of it. I don’t know if it’ll be a commercial success. I don’t know whether I want to pursue traditional publishing with it or go indie. I don’t know if it’ll be the book that brings me fame. I don’t even know when, exactly, I’ll publish it.
I do know that, like me, many other writers are working on their novels. Whether continuing it or just starting it. They’ll be veteran writers and writers who’ve just started. Professional writers and fanfiction writers. Nonfiction writers and fiction writers. All of us, working on our books, alone and yet, in some way, connected for that we’re all in this together.
Someday, perhaps, we will be looking for publishing and readers at the same time and, of course, I hope that it’s my book that people pick and that they’ll fall in love with. But if it’s their novel? Then I’ll be happy for them because knowing readers love your books is one of the greatest feelings I have ever had and I wish that feeling upon every writer. (Except those who write only to spread hate. Those writers I hope will never have that feeling because they’re writing to make the world a worse place.)
Many of us will not writer a commercially successful book for… so many reasons. Maybe the craft just genuinely isn’t good enough to compete with other books. Maybe the writer fails at marketing. Maybe it was the wrong book at the wrong time. There are myriad reasons why books don’t sell. It’s not always because a book is bad and, anyway, writing is a skill which means you can practice and hone it, so keep writing!
Some writers, lucky people that they are, can write a little bit every single day. Writing every day is frequently given as advice without regarding, well, anything about the person’s life and whether writing every day is even in any way viable to them. For many writers, this process of writing every day doesn’t work. The reasons vary and the reasons don’t particularly matter to me. What matters to me is that it’s not universal advice and while it is fantastic and amazing if you can do that, it is not a requirement to becoming a Real Writer™. There is no One True Way to write and don’t let any successful author tell you otherwise.
I will finish my stories. Eventually. Hopefully, so will everyone else who was working on a book at the same time as me. Maybe, for whatever reason, they’ll have to put their writing aside for a while. They’ll go off to do other things. Maybe someone moved abroad and struggled with culture shock. Maybe they started a family and couldn’t find a way to combine everything. Maybe they’ll find another book to write that excites them more. Maybe they’ll be discouraged because they have no one to cheer them on. Maybe the research is too daunting. I’m still not working on the third peeweww story because evolutionary biology still short-circuits my brain, but one day!
One day, the story will be written. Others might not be. I’ve stuffed some of mine into drawers because I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to salvage them. I may never work on those stories again, but they live on. They live on in the next story. They live on in what I do because what I wrote has burrowed their way under my skin and taught me things I didn’t know, or didn’t realise, before.
Some writers may not write every day, but they’ll put a book down and aside and then pick it back up again a week later. Or a month later. Maybe a year later. Several years. From my own process I know that I can achieve 20,000 word days. I also know that, if I manage a day like that, I will pay and be unable to write (or do much of anything) for at least the next day. That’s just my body being… whatever it is being. I just know I need to recharge afterwards.
If you feel bad about giving yourself a day off writing for whatever reason, be kind to yourself. Maybe you needed it. And writing takes many forms. It’s not all about putting pen to paper (though, arguably, that’s the most important part). Sometimes it’s about taking a step back and working through an issue in your head before you write on. Sometimes you need to recharge. Whatever your process is, it is yours. If it isn’t working for the book you want to work on, try shaking up your process. Sometimes that’s what you need to jumpstart it and sometimes you need to work differently from what you’re used to.
The important thing is that you do what works for you as a person and as a writer. That’s not always building habits, though truthfully they can help a lot when you make sure the habits you’re cultivating work for you. And habits can change!
When I was a fledgling writer, my habit was to listen to music when I was writing. It was also, frequently, my habit to use the school computers to write between classes and to doodle in the margins of my notebooks.
When I left school, none of those habits worked anymore. I don’t know why the music stopped working, but I do know that my routine changed significantly and my habits had to change with it. For several years, I was no longer able to write while listening to music. It was too distracting. The novel I’m working on now? It has a soundtrack that I listen to while I write.
I write when my brain lets me, because sometimes depression and fatigue mean I can barely get out of bed, never mind summon up the energy to write fiction. Writing fiction is hard, even if it’s boring, mundane stuff that I know is terrible and will change later. Even if it’s gibberish. It’s hard. It’s work. It doesn’t matter what style works for you, whether you’re a writer with a ritual or not. Writing takes something out of you. Always. If you need to recharge afterwards, that’s fine.
Is there a risk that you’ll lose the voice and the book you were working on? Yes. I don’t know you, dear fellow writer, and I can’t promise you that if you put your book aside you’ll return to it writing the same book that you would have written a month ago, a year ago. Most likely, unless you’re an amazing plotter, you won’t.
I find that, nowadays, I often have stories that require me to be distracted, just a little, and the trick to find the right balance between too little distraction and too much. Eventually, if enough time passes, perhaps you’ll find that your concentration has gotten so good that you’ve zoomed through the writing session and surprise yourself with the word count you’ve achieved. And that’s great! Feel good about the writing you’ve done. Because, let me repeat, writing is hard.
It will not always feel hard. I’ve had story drafts flow from my pen like a waterfall. Rapid, tempestuous, roaringly, powerfully, leaving me in a slight daze. But they still took work and some amount of effort because writing is never, ever, effortless. Some days a writing session will be easier than others. No matter what your process is, there will be good days and bad days.
When you need to do research, there is a chance of getting sucked into it so far that you get distracted from your narrative. It is tempting to forego all research in your first draft and fix it all later. For some writers, that works exceptionally well. Not for others. There are writers who will get horridly stuck on the book if they don’t do background research first, if small things are misaligned. For all that you are, surely, selling people a product, you need a solid foundation and only you can decide for your story what that foundation looks like. Sometimes, that solid foundation requires you to research first and write later. Or to write, get distracted by research and get back to writing afterwards. All of it is valid, provided that you think it works for you.
It may be you’re one of those lucky writers whose first drafts are amazing. Most likely, you are not. I’m not, though I do long to be that good one day. That’s what revision is for. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll look upon your book and decide that it’s not worth finishing to you. Maybe you’ll reread what you wrote and hate it. Maybe you need a vacation in the middle of your book. Maybe picking up that particular piece, at that particular time, is making you depressed or anxious. Or both. It’s okay to put it away and do something else for a while. It’s okay to put it away and never pick it up again.
Only you can say what course of action is right for you. You get to make that call. Of course I would prefer you to finish your book! I like stories! I like learning! I would enjoy seeing your perception on the world and to be challenged by your worldview where it differs from mine. Books teach us. Books mirror the world around us or show us a window into something else, something different. So, yes, I would prefer it if you finished your book, if you wrote that first draft start-to-finish and revised it and sought to bring it to my attention.
But I am not you and I cannot make that call for you.
Whatever your process is. Whatever your decisions regarding your book: be kind to yourself. Writing is hard work, even when it doesn’t feel like it, and you did good. Self-care matters. If you don’t take care of yourself, if you don’t look at what practices and processes work for you, as an individual, that is when you ‘fail’. For that is when you’ve decided that there is One True Way to write and stopped considering what works for you individually. That is when the self-doubt and the anxiety really comes out to play because you’ll be so hung up on this idea of what a writer should be according to a Big Name Author you may or may not have heard of before that you’ll forget that you need to look what writing actually is for you.
That Big Name Author no more knows you than I do. They can’t tell you how you should write or what you should write or how you should approach the whole process because they don’t know you.
And, yes, maybe your book isn’t good enough to cut it in the market place. And, true, you won’t know unless you finish and try. But what if publication wasn’t your goal? Should you then pursue it because someone else told you that it’s what you must do even though you don’t want to? You can always improve your writing if that’s what you want to do.
But don’t let anyone force you into methods or ideas that don’t work for you. The truth is that there are a lot of writers out there who want to push their methods onto other people without pausing to consider that those other people? Are not them. They have different goals, different reasons, different challenges. All of which impact what methods do and do not work. None of which those authors sharing their wisdom know.
The truth is that, when it comes to writing advice, there’s only one kind of advice that is even remotely universal: figure out what your process is for the book you’re working on right now. Whatever your goal is, you’ll reach it faster if you know what’s making the idea (and you) tick.
No, I lied, sorry. There’s another piece of advice that’s pretty universal: writing is not a race. You can take it at your own pace. It is not a case of you versus everyone else (unless you want it to be). You can work together with other writers. Encourage each other, build a network, lean on one another when times are hard, share each other’s joys and woes. Have a community, in short, of people who understand you and who’ll help you achieve the goal that you’ve set yourself to achieve.
Writing is not a One Method Fits All thing. Writing is a mosaic of tiny little pieces of methods and thoughts and ideas that you’ve got to piece together for yourself. Others who’ve written books can show you things that work (or once worked) for them that you can try, but… That’s all we can do.
I’m sorry. This probably wasn’t the writing advice that you were hoping for, but it’s what I’ve got. Don’t let writers tell you what your process should be, not even me. We don’t know you. We don’t know your circumstances. You do. Try things. See what works for you. Toss out stuff that doesn’t.
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This week I’ve livetweeted Overture of Last Dracul, or more accurately New/Transformation – The Path to Become the Super Warrior – Overture of Last Dracul and if that sounds like it’s a remake of a first stage musical you would be absolutely correct!
This musical is exactly like 1995’s Transformation – The Path to Become the Super Warrior except the Death Busters have been replaced by Death Nightmares, Tomoe… sort-of exists but is replaced by Berserk, Pharaoh 90 has been replaced with Death Vulcan, Mistress 9 does not exist, and oh there are vampires.
Today Huntress of Diverse Book has posted an interview with one of my characters! Sinead is interviewing the protatonist of Sea Foam and Silence and in keeping with the fact that Sea Foam is a verse novel, we’ve done the whole interview in verse. Come check it out! Learn a little more about our little mermaid as she talks about discovering life on land, fails to understand puppies, and talks about what she loves to do.
And, while you’re there, why not check out the rest of Sinead’s blog too! <3
With another Saturday gone, it’s time for another Sera Myu livetweet link and a brief recap! Actually on time this time. Huzzah! You can read the Storify here!
The revised version of this musical was pretty similar to the original one we watched last week, with the most significant change being an additional scene set in Crystal Tokyo to explain why Chibiusa ran away to the past. The second-most significant change is the addition of a strange illness that affects everyone but Usagi (and had virtually no bearing on the plot otherwise but does give us Setsuna sharing historical tidbits and how have I gone through so much of my life not considering what a kick-ass history teacher the guardian of time would make).
Also we trade the adorable Haruka plus kitten scene for an adorable Haruka plus Michiru scene, which was awesome. And then Haruka was, well, Haruka and decided that killing the enemy was the only option and oh just imagine how much more heartbreaking that scene would’ve been if she’d previously bonded with one of them.
And, somehow, the musical managed to make the kittens even cuter. Like how! O_O
I was worried when I started this musical that it was going to follow the same pattern as the revisions of the other musicals that I’d loved the original version of. Because there was a pattern of it keeping pretty much everything I didn’t like and tossing out everything I’d loved. But this musical didn’t do that! Well, okay, it did a little of that, but mostly what it did was add things that I enjoyed (also, I still think the Crystal Tokyo scene was absolutely worth it just for Endymion’s reaction to his 900-year-old daughter possibly writing love letters).
Did I like it as much as the original? Honestly? No, I don’t think so, but in this case, it’s just because of the order I watched them in. I really enjoyed this musical too.
Next week, we’re shaking things up a bit again because this was Fumina Moon’s last Myu musical and next week we’re getting a new Sailor Moon actress! I’m going to be sticking with the Japanese stage count rather than the Western fan stage count, though. But, yeah, small heads-up there.
This is the second musical of the Second Stage after Anza Ooyama and most of the original cast left and the first wholly original story for the musicals. in this musical, the inners and the outers (and Mamoru) all win an all-expenses-paid trip to a newly developed resort island. Or do they? Dun dun DUUUUUN.
Okay, no. It’s Sailor Moon, of course things are about to go horribly wrong. You see, millennia ago, a comet was hurling towards Earth to make Earth its new home because it had aspirations of becoming a planet.
Earth was not happy and asked Princess Moon (also known as Princess Serenity) for help. Princess Serenity, being Serenity, was obviously having none of that Earth-destroying potential and changed Earth’s orbit so the comet wouldn’t hit it. At the price of, uh, you know. Kind of… destroying all of mankind as it existed at the time?
But hey the Earth was saved and lived peacefully for thousands of years until! Until! The comet returned and the past has come back to haunt the senshi. Again. Will the Earth be destroyed another time? Can Sailor Moon save the day for present-day mankind where Princess Serenity could not?
Well, duh. Eponymous heroine and all that. But oh the ride to get there. I’ve enjoyed the previous musicals, partially for their enthusiasm and sheer vivacity. They’re just plain fun to watch even if, as an adult, the plot holes are often glaring and detracting.
This musical, though. This shows you what Myu can do when it tries to tell a coherent story that has to rely largely on the musical to make sense. True, we don’t get as much sense of what the senshi are like and we rely heavily on knowledge of the manga and/or the anime to characterise their relationships, but given that what we get in return is a really fun story that stands on its own pretty well, I’m not complaining.
It’s even got two sets of antagonists without it feeling like either one of them was really short-changed in the narrative department. Even the senshi don’t feel like that if you’ve got a grounding in who they are.
This musical was just plain fun to watch and, so far, it’s easily my favourite of the old Myus. It’s energetic, it’s plot-filled, it’s fresh, it’s cheerful, it’s cute and adorable. It’s everything I’ve wanted in a Myu musical and then some. (Seriously, they had, like, 17 people who needed stage time to get their narratives across. THAT IS A LOT OF PEOPLE FOR A 2 HOUR MUSICAL. Heck, it’s not even all of them.)
Tonight, I’ll be watching the kaiteiban/revision version and I’m a little scared. So far, I’ve had mixed reactions to the revisions, but it’s fair to say that if I’ve loved the original musical the revision’s pretty much changed everything I loved about it in the first place. (I’m looking at you, Eien Densetsu kaiteiban!) So… Knock on wood that that doesn’t happen this evening because, wow, I would be upset.
I REALLY REALLY REALLY LIKED THIS MUSICAL. AND I’M REALLY REALLY REALLY HOPING THE REVISION MAKES ME LOVE IT MORE.
But this musical? Yeah, I really liked it. It was a lot of fun. Also, IT HAD KITTENS. I brightened up the screenshot a little, so you can see Haruka hugging a kitten-child better. IT WAS THE CUTEST. (Seriously, you should all watch this musical just for this scene of adorbs.)
OMG! Thank you all so so much! <3 It was just a $5 goal, but I am just… blown away. <3
Goal 1: A freebie flash fiction piece or a piece of poetry for everyone, every month!
I’ve already scheduled the new freebie for this month! It’ll be a shortish poem set in the middle of Sea Foam and Silence and it’ll go up on the 15th!
It’s called This Roar of Tiny Voices and focuses on our mermaid discovering birds. You don’t need to have read Sea Foam and Silence to follow along with the poem. It’s just a little extra piece that I’ve written for everyone who wanted to see a little more of the mermaid’s explorations on land!
Here’s the first verse as a sneak peek!
The first time I hear birdsong…
The first time after the Witch gave me legs. ^_^
That first time, it is a soft thing.
I’ll undoubtedly see if I can make it two freebie pieces, with one of them being something entirely new and stand-alone as a way to say ‘thank you’ too. <3
Next Goal: Lynn Talks Linguistics
We’re also already over half way towards the next goal! Wherein I start answering questions about grammar and linguistics.
Once a month, I’ll open up a question post where you can ask me about English grammar or linguistics and I’ll do my best to answer them! (Bear in mind that my speciality is teaching modern English grammar.) I’ll pick out questions I can answer and then you’ll all get to vote on which one you want me to answer!
Thank you! Thank you so much!
I strive to keep making fantastic content for you all to enjoy! <3
This month, in the interest of trying out some new things, I thought I’d forego the regular culture consumption post and try a different kind of round-up, focusing on the posts that I’ve made this month. I will admit to also doing this because, in all honesty, the posts take a fair bit of time to do even when I manage to stay on top of them and I’m not sure how much value they have for people in their existing format.
The links round-up is largely automated, thanks to the Ultimate Book Blogger plug-in’s awesome wrap-up feature, so it consumes far less time to manage when my approach is to use that to showcase links from the most important categories. Plus! Unlike the current “What did I post this month” structure that lumps everything together, this gives me a good overview of what I’m talking about in a month and that, in turn, will hopefully allow me to create more content because I can use the information to look at what people want more or less of.
I’m also including Patreon-only posts. These are the only set of links that aren’t automated. May is a slightly terrible month to start listing Patreon posts in because I’ve made a ton of scheduled posts to collect older material in one place. This way, people who explore my Patreon can find a lot of my content in one convenient location (right where they are!) and get a good sense of what I do without having to visit half a dozen sites to do so.
For now, there are no graphics because I want to try out the structure and see whether I like it/whether anything needs changing first. So. If there’s anything you particularly want to see (or to see disappear) or aught, please let me know! And yes you can totally request I include my thoughts on media I’ve consumed that month. Unless people overwhelmingly ask me to, it won’t come back the way that it was, but if people find it useful I’m more than happy to try and find a way to make it work better for me too.
This is not a collection of all the posts that went up on Patreon. This is just a list of the posts that went up on Patreon only. Most of these posts are personal life updates, fiction or fiction-related. Reviews and livetweets will find their way onto this blog eventually if they haven’t already appeared.
May saw a lot of public posts as I decided to move both the Teaser Verses of Rapunzel, Rapunzel and the sampler for Feather by Feather and Other Stories to Patreon. To clarify, I will not be collecting the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon reaction posts that went up on Patreon this month. If you want to check them out, you can also find them on this blog!
In honour of Pride Month, I’ve discounted all of my books that contain major queer representation to $0.99 or its equivalent in other currencies. So if you were hoping to snap up some of my books cheaply… June’s your chance!
These three books are the ones that contain major queer representation in the bulk of its contents. As determined by me and by which I mean the queer rep is on-page and pretty explicit for a large chunk of the story.
All of these books have (mostly) happy endings for the protagonists. Which I suppose is a spoiler, sorry about that, but I thought this was something worth mentioning, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re picking up a tragic queer narrative or not. You’re not. No queer characters get tragic endings. No queers die. Acespec representation is #ownvoices, not so much any of the others. Sea Foam and Silence is the only romance in the bunch.
A Promise Broken
It’s a rainy day when four-year-old Eiryn has to say goodbye to her mother. Scared, confused and unwilling to do so, Eiryn tries to summon water to stop the funeral from happening and her life falls apart. Her uncle is always sad and busy; she keeps hearing her mother’s voice asking her to follow; her best friend keeps getting into fights; and some of her classmates hate her for existing.
Arèn never wanted children, but he’s desperate to protect his niece from his people’s extreme caution regarding magic and other races. Kerisaoina children aren’t capable of using it and his niece is no exception. Despite being only half-kerisaoina, Eiryn is already starting to show that she’ll be one of her generation’s most talented magic-singers and those who don’t approve of her existence are trying to take advantage of a young girl’s grief.
Eiryn is determined to make her uncle happy, but it’s hard to make other people happy when you have to struggle through the day yourself. She’ll find a way, though. She’s promised. And even if her mother won’t keep her word Eiryn will keep hers.
She’ll make everything right again.
Queer Rep: Aroace transgender deuteragonist and several nonbinary secondary characters.
TW: Grief, depression, suicide ideation, fantasy racism, bullying.
Seventeen-year-old Rue doesn’t need anyone other than Ghost, her not-so-imaginary best friend. They’ve been inseparable for as long as Rue can remember and she shares everything with Ghost.
The day before Rue returns home from school for the long holiday, Ghost disappears. Ever-fretful Rue tries to tell herself it’s fine, but she knows something is horribly, terribly wrong. She’ll have to overcome her anxiety find her courage and push her boundaries further than she ever thought possible in order to save her best friend, and perhaps make some new ones as Rue finds herself drawn into the fringes of a secret battle for human survival.
Soft science fiction meets fantasy in this exciting novella-length adventure of daring and friendship.
And now that I’ve shared all that, I think I’ll go back to being utterly terrified of timely promo-posts and hide. But, um, hi. I wrote things that may be of interest to you during this month. ^_^ If they are and you decide to read them, thank you so so much and I hope you’ll enjoy them! <3
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
I Want to Write:
That essay in full! With research and editing and everything proper!
At least 30,000 words of editing/rekeying on DemiPrincess1
And… yep. That’s… pretty much it. Also I would like to win the lottery, please, universe. My chances of making these goals are a lot better than winning the lottery, though, but there we are. I make no predictions. For all I know it’s still unreasonably hot throughout June and I’ll get nothing much done because I’m too busy not-melting into a puddle from the heat. Gah.