I had a thought dear, however scary …

Writing can reveal your inner fears to yourself. Sometimes it’s your deepest fears and worries and heartaches, that you wring out and put into your story. That’s a good thing, and should be explored. I don’t always know I’m doing it, until it’s there. It can be hard to continue, once I recognize it, hard to really face. But of course, that’s where the meat of the matter is, in dreams and hopes and fears. That’s why we write story, why we read it. That’s how story resonates with other people.

Sometimes, however, the fear that is revealed is the fear of Doing It Wrong – being wrong, or bad at it, or failing – that shows up, and you (I) don’t get any writing done at all. That’s not a good thing. It’s a battle that I know many, many writers fight. If you don’t write, of course you fail (at writing). But if you do write, and fail anyway, then you know it’s because you (I) just didn’t do it very well. The writing wasn’t good enough. And that thought can be paralyzing.

The answer to that, so everyone says, and I believe them, is to write *more*, to become better. But the human psyche is a capricious jerk, and likes to tell us to give up. Persistence is key, persistence is how you succeed, but persistence is freaking nerve wracking and you have to continue on down echoing corridors of doubt that send you spiraling. How does one persist when one’s own brain is throwing monsters up in the air to fight? Monsters of air and shadow and whispers, monsters we make in our deep, scaredy hearts. Monsters that creep down those twisty corridors, waiting to spring, with their suggestions of claws, and claws of suggestions.

This is just the personal struggle, of course. This does not speak to the wider struggle everyone faces, to one degree or another: to be noticed, to be read, to be recommended or reviewed. And those struggles are different for everyone, for different reasons. There is no one way to become a published author. But we all struggle to get there. Sometimes we (I) struggle to write at all.

I have known people who don’t struggle when they write. They just … write. They have stories and they write those stories down and they deal with the problems therein later. They keep going until it’s done, and then it’s done, and they hand it over. I wish I could be so sanguine, so confident. I’m working to train myself closer to this model, but so far I’m only somewhat successful. I run into roadblocks that I set up myself. I run off onto paths I set up but didn’t think through. I pull back from the story to mull, and research, and mulling and research turn into more mulling and research, and then sullenly staring at pages and thinking I should just scrap it all, it all is terrible, none of it works and I should never have started writing to begin with, why didn’t I want to be something reasonable, like anything else at all: a wizard, or a hippopotamus. Equally attainable goals.

Which is where I find myself now with this sequel. The muddle in the middle, it’s been called. I know the shape of the overall arch of the story, I know much of what happens, but in writing the details and scenes and making it interesting other than in my own head, I find I’m … stuck. Irritated with myself, sitting in this muck of a mess I have made, staring at the squiggly lines of plot and thinking, this sucks. All of it sucks. I did not make a story, I made a mess. How am I going to make this mess into a story? It’s full of inconsistencies and random fragmentations and plot holes, and I’m pretty sure a wizard or a hippopotamus could fix it but I can’t. (The wizard would magic it better or turn it into a lovely figurine. The hippo would just eat it, or trample it, which might be a mercy.)

My plan, such as it is, is to make a list of all the scenes I have, what scenes I need, and where I’m missing plot, or where the plot holes are, to find out how to fix my mess. If I can’t do anything with that, I may just turn (whimpering) to my editor, to find out what he thinks. Because my progress for the last several weeks has consisted of me writing myself notes, asking myself questions, but not, so far, answering those questions. I’ve gone so far as to write the questions down, and then write “No but actually answer these questions” to myself, but as of yet I have not been able to do that. Pretty pathetic, when you think that all of these questions and answers really are just coming out of my own head. I feel like my own child, answering all my questions with “I dunno,” equally irritated with each version of myself, both for asking and not answering. Nope. Nope. Not coping. A hippo is the better choice, really. Hippos are mean. They would just destroy it all and revel in the destruction. I could really get into that. Wizards have to interact with other wizards and people are always asking them for things. Hippos just exist and no one messes with them. Best to be a hippo. I’ll get right on that.

As soon as I finish this damn story.

Title is from “Like Real People Do,” by Hozier

Welcome me to a haven given…

I have a guest blog up over at the Leasspell website today – it went up a couple of days ago, actually, but I was a bit busy over the weekend and didn’t get the message. So go read! Enjoy! Pull up a chair and check out the website! As usual, I used song lyrics for the title, which may confuse Leasspell’s viewers, but to know me is to be baffled by me, so I guess that’s fair. Go have a look at “They Preach that I Should Save the World, They Pray That I Won’t Do a Better Job of it”

Jennifer from Leasspell contacted me a few months ago and asked if I’d like to do a guest blog, and I said yes. It was going to happen earlier, but then the month of being sick plus all the things happened, and Jennifer was away on vacation, so it’s happening now. Happy blog guesting! It’s all about how I like teenagers, and I like to write for them. Enjoy!

(Of course, this title is from Indigo Girls “Welcome Me”)

I left my shadow waiting down the road for me awhile…

March has marched on out, and here is April, letting me know that it’s farther along in the season than I think, and I’d better get my literal butt into literal shape and push myself more in the working out department, and the writing department, and the spring cleaning department – all the departments.

I am a tad behind in blogging, due to, well, everything, and so this will be a State of the Lindsey post to get my mind in order.

At the beginning of March I was down in the Bay area. I went to FogCon, which is a small, fun little con, and I was on the radio on KPFA, with my aunt Kris Welch. She has a radio program on Fridays and Saturdays, and you can check out the interview in the archive if you go to https://kpfa.org/ and look up the date, which was March 6th at 1230 pm or so. Kris interviewed me, and also Lori Ann White, who is a local writer and my friend. (I stayed with her while I was there, because I love my Lori.) We talk about SF/F conventions in general, and A Ragged Magic in specific. Yay! It was so much fun. I was a bit nervous, and worried I was talking too fast, but I was told it went well.

The convention itself was fun, although it felt a bit disjointed to me, which was mostly because we weren’t staying there at the hotel, so we were on the road a lot. Lori was kind enough to drive me all over the Bay area and back so I could visit her, and go to this con, and see fambly. (Lori is kind of fambly, so I was with fambly all that weekend and it was great.) (Except for the plugged-up ear that would not unplug, due to the tail end of the month of teh sick, and teh crud, and teh bleah. That part sucked.) We hung out with friends new and known, and on Saturday night we played a game called Slash, which is kind of like Apples to Apples but with making up OTPs (One True Pairings) (i.e. romantic relationships) with the names on the cards. The names were real people as well as fictional characters, and it is a blast to play. I love it more than all the other versions of that kind of game I have played, and I want to get it. Thanks to our new friends and our already known friends for inviting us to play. And thanks to Gary for letting us more social types drag him along, because he was hilarious.

On Sunday evening Lori and I went back to KPFA and watched the honoring of some of KPFA’s notable women for International Women’s Day, and then had dinner with some more notable women, notably my aunt Kris and cousin Nicolas, and Nicolas’ notable baby Mandela (who is cute enough to melt your face, I am not kidding, this kid is working it). Then on Monday Lori drove me back north (again!) to Kris’ and Nicolas’ house, and my parents came over from Davis, too, and it was just a Welchy time. So much Welch, I’m telling you. My dad is used to it, but I hope Lori was amused and entertained.

Moving ahead in time, Norwescon was here in the Seattle area (Seatac, but it counts) this past weekend. I did not officially attend, but I did go Friday night to have dinner with my editor/publisher, and some of the other authors/artists in our house. We are a fun, silly group, and I like hanging out with us. There are some interesting things going on, publishing-wise, that I will reveal at a later date.

We (Scott and I, along with the Per Aspera crew) then headed over to the convention, and went to parties. Scott and I were there as unofficial “hey these people know us enough to just let us in” people. Not really ghosting, but not really attending, either. Good times were had. Saturday I attended the con as a bar-con attendee; which means I spent most of my time in the bar. But I did go to Julie McGalliard’s book launch party, where we celebrated her book coming out, “Waking Up Naked in Strange Places,” which is fantastic and you should totally check it out. http://gothhouse.com/ Julie and I work together at our day jobs (well, we work for the same place, near one another) and sometimes we have lunch or snack breaks and brainstorm story. I’m so excited to see the story in book form, which I had her sign her very own self. She sold out of books this weekend, and people had to place orders. So exciting! Go Julie!

I spent the rest of Saturday hanging with various and sundry wonderful people, meeting some new wonderful people, reconnecting with wonderful people I haven’t seen in a long time, and laughing myself silly. Well, sillier. Good times. Even though I couldn’t afford to officially attend, and I didn’t get see everyone I would have liked to, and I had to drive the long drive home both nights, I’m so glad I went.

Sunday was a day of not going to the con. I had modern rehearsal in the afternoon, and since I didn’t get back to my apartment until after 2am, I didn’t get out of bed until 11. And then I laid about in a stupor for a good long time, feeling old and logy. I am old, Father William. It is very hard on me to stay up until 2 anymore. Plus the sugar-drunk is probably not great for me, either. But it was worth it. (For those all six of you who read this who might not already know, I do not get actually drunk, because alcohol tastes icky, but I usually have way too much sugar at a party.)

Rehearsals for this year’s dance performance are in full swing and I’m hanging in there, even with the 2+ weeks of dancing I missed in Feb due to being sick, and the month+ of other workouts I didn’t have. But it does mean that I’m not in the shape I wanted to be in at this point, and the rehearsals are harder on my body than I’d like. So – this means more workouts, and pushing myself (carefully) and maybe even (bleah!) lifting weights. (BLEAH!) (Hate weights. Hates them. So boring.) I would rather do thousands of crunches and pushups (to pumping fun music) than lift weights. But if I want to get the muscles stronger faster, I might have to. Stupid sickness, making me behind where I want to be. Also I need to get back on track with my knee PT exercises, because ow, old knees.

On the GOOD side of all of that, the dances are So Much Fun and we are SO DAMN AWESOME so if you are local to Seattle, and like to watch fun dancers kicking All The Ass, you should be ready to buy your tickets for the show. The show – TAKE||PAUSE – will be June 12-13, tickets on sale May 1st, and there will be jazz, modern, Broadway, ballet, hip-hop, and tap dancing in it. I’m in 3 pieces – well, 5. Well, 3. Well, it depends on how you count. I’m in one jazz, one modern, and one Broadway jazz, but that Broadway is really 3 pieces, that were going to be a medley, but due to costume changes and other constraints, are now spread throughout the show. So it’s kind of 3 pieces, although for rehearsal purposes it’s 1. We’re dancing the Chorus Line audition piece, part of All That Jazz, and Too Darn Hot – and we are so very Broadway, with All The Cheese. (Our upcoming t-shirt: “If it gets too pretty, it loses the cheese.”) You will love it. The modern piece has started rehearsing now, and there’s going to be some fun partnering in it (I need stronger quads right now, holy shmolies), and the jazz is going very well, lots of Charleston type moves and spins. My knees hate me, but I’m working on them.

Writing-wise, this past month was partially a bust. I blame being sick for so long. I did get some done, and I had a breakthrough of some pretty cool proportions. I spoke with Fabulous Editor Jak ™ about all of it over the weekend, and I’m going to go ahead with my breakthrough and follow the story. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but I’m still working, and still plugging away on it. If I think too hard about how much further there is to go, I get overwhelmed and it all stops. So I have to just keep working on groups of scenes and hope it all strings together into some kind of coherent whole in the end. I feel like I sort of almost kind of know what I might be doing. Ish. Which is about par for the course for writing, so I guess it’s going well.

So that’s the rather long State of the Lindsey wrap-up report for the month of March and beginning of April. I’d better get back to it – it being All the Things. Get to writing, people, and take your dance breaks, and Rock On.

Title is from “Cloudy” by Simon and Garfunkel