On Tuesday March 25, 2013 I visited the Scarborough Museum Youth Team to talk about being a writer. I got some really great questions, and with the youth team’s permission, I’m going to re-answer them there. Check back every day for a few new questions and answers.
Q: How do you deal with writers block?
A: I’m not certain I believe in writers block. Now that I’ve said that maybe I’ll suffer it. But to me, writer’s block is an excuse to just be unprofessional; stylists don’t get Haircutters Block, Engineers don’t get Math Block – why should professional authors get Writers Block?
However, I do believe that people can get legitimately frustrated, or dead-ended, or lost, or unpassionate about their projects, or about writing in general. I find that if I start a story and I get “blocked” on it, then it is an indication that there’s something wrong and I subconsciously know it. I sit back and try to figure out what is making me bored of the prose, or unable to continue. Is it in the wrong tense? Did it start in the wrong place? Is it not being told by the correct character? Is this story just maybe not that good and doesn’t need telling?
I usually wander away from the project at that point, either physically by going for a walk or a shower or something that allows my brain to percolate without needing to concentrate on my physical activity, or mentally by opening a new page and starting to work on something else. Usually I can figure out what’s blocking me, and how to get around it. Sometimes I realize that the story just isn’t working and I drop it into my Morgue archive and forget about it, or cannibalize the corpse for good bits to Frankenstein into another story.
Q: What got you into writing books?
A: Fanfiction! I’ve always been a story teller – I was an actor from a very young age, and from there a singer and dancer. Being around stories so much you inevitably give in to the urge to start creating your own. I wrote little plays and short stories as a kid. When I first started to get fannish about a TV program, I made up stories about the characters and the world in my own head. Then we got the internet and I learned that I wasn’t alone, and that lots of people did this and wrote the stories down and shared them with one another. I got a fanfiction.net account and a livejournal and dove in! I think my first fanfic was a SailorMoon Mary Sue fic… :s
Being a part of the fanfic community taught me a lot about storytelling, and each fic I did was better, more complicated, more complex, and longer. The very last one I did was over 800 pages long and to this day I still get one or two comments or favourites per week on it.
Sometime mid-university I began to write original fiction because one of my friends said that the AU world I’d been building for a fanfic was really good and they’d like to see it as an original novel. I had never thought of writing original fiction, but I thought, how hard can it be? It’s like really long fanfic, only I have to make up all the people and the world, too.
I wrote a 700 monstrosity that I don’t think the world will ever see which I called “Dsr”. After that I started doing an original story for every NaNoWriMo instead of fanfic, and now my brain is so populated with worlds and characters I want to write that I don’t actually have time to write fanfic anymore. L I still read a lot of fic, though.
Being a part of the fanfic community also taught me how to be part of a community of artists, how to support, how to critique, how to mentor and how to be a reader.
More to come tomorrow!
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