The faeries have disappeared

You can tell the difference between a dog and a coyote. I can’t explain how, exactly – but the first time you’re lying in bed on a warm spring night with the windows open, and you hear them in the distance – even though you didn’t grow up here, even though you’ve never heard the sound of coyotes howling on the plains – somehow, you know what you’re hearing.

It’s been more than a decade since I moved out here, and it still unnerves me.

A book I read said that faerie myths originated from fear. Fear of dark places. Fear of the woods, which were once wild and dangerous. Things that make no sense could be blamed on the small, dark creatures who crawled from the woods at night to poke about homes and peek in cradles.

When the world was wild and unknown, humans had to fear the night.

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Outline this.

I had a day off, and spent it drafting an outline.

I’ve never been one who was able to write to an outline. My stories like to go off on little weekend retreats without telling me then come back and start ordering me around with the pride and swagger of a newly hatched adolescent. Mostly they have no idea what they’re talking about, and refuse to listen to reason.

But when I try to force them to go in a certain direction, I always end up watching the story collapse in on itself.

I found that an important part of the writing process is figuring out your writing process. You only do that by writing.

Let go of the idea that the first thing you write will be the first thing you publish. For many people, it takes a while to get into your stride – to find your voice, your style, and how you work best.

Take classes and seminars and talk to other writers.

Then go home, forget everything you were told, and just figure out what works for you.

What works for me is this: Free write a loose first draft. Do a quick first round edit, where a loose outline is made and the story is split into sections.

And then I use the loose draft as a template, and essentially write over it. I never, ever get attached.

Honestly, there’s no right or wrong way to write. There’s just your way. I had to listen to what other writers do and try on a lot of different methods before I found what works for me.

That’s part of why they say if you can imagine yourself doing anything else, then do it. There’s a self-discovery element to writing that tends to vacillate between exhilarating and “OMG I need therapy.”

Today, I had to do an outline, because I’m applying for something that requires submitting an outline. I’m pretty sure my story is going to rebel now. I’ll wake up tomorrow and it’ll be missing, only to turn up again in a few more days with new haircut and a few tattoos, including one of a heart with an arrow through it that says “Outline this” in big, bold letters.

Layers

Yesterday, I spent some time outside just before a storm. It felt like dusk, even though it was actually mid-afternoon. It’s a eerie feeling, to know it’s day but feel like it’s evening. I have a lot of nightmares about the sky suddenly going dark in the middle of the day – apocalyptic sorts of dreams.

We don’t get a lot of humidity in Colorado. Humidity is a reminder that there’s something that surrounds us, something that holds us down, something that works over and beyond any human intervention. It reminds me that there are so many layers that exist around us, of air and atmosphere that we normally don’t notice or think about.

There are things that surround us that we can’t control.

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Dripping faucets, velvet sounds

In my line of work, I think a lot about depth. The phrase ‘deep dive’ comes up a lot, and I always imagine myself in a submarine, exploring strange coral and old shipwrecks.

But this isn’t about what I do for a living. This is about what I do to live. I think music is where I find the most depth. Music is where I live out all the feelings I normally bury. It’s where I can go when I need to have a conversation with myself.

When I first heard this song ‘My Old Green Shirt, Coffee, and Cigarettes’, I felt rather breathless after listening to it. It’s by a pianist named Sergio Díaz de Rojas from Valencia, Spain, and there’s a video for it…

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A message is not a story

As an independent editor/beta reader, I see a lot of writers fall into the message trap – they have something they want to say, something they feel is important, and they’re very passionate about it.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this – in fact, even if you’re a pantser (vs a plotter), you should be able to articulate what the core of your story is about. There may be more than one theme or message or question that you’re exploring, or there may be just one central message or theme.

The problem I see, especially with newer writers, is that they sometimes focus on the message instead of the story.

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Milestone: Unlocked

A lot of graduate programs have this thing called comprehensive exams that you need to pass in order to get your degree.

I passed.

My last class is done in two weeks. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for – the moment I can recommit to writing as someone who is older and hopefully a bit more polished.

And the second Master’s is nice, too. I’ve been thinking about adding MA2 to the end of my signature.