10) write in silence or with background noise? with people or alone?
I used to have playlists and require Solitude and like, A Vibe or Mood or suchlike. I’m Old and Tired now. Playlists take spoons I don’t have to assemble. (I can’t listen to anything too unfamiliar or with interesting lyrics, but if I’ve heard the songs too much, then I get bored. As recently as during Home Out In The Wind I had playlists, but it’s very recently fallen totally by the wayside because music is streaming now and I don’t have bandwidth.) So, nowadays, as long as I don’t think anyone can see my screen, I can pretty much write anywhere and with any noise. Just– no TV. I can’t focus in the slightest in a room with a TV. There isn’t one in my house, though, so that rarely comes up.
I think it’s pretty recent that I’ve started being pretty good at getting shit done in stolen 5-minute increments too, but that’s out of sheer self-defense.
11) what aspect of your writing do you think has most improved since you started writing?
Oh man. My ability to just cut out huge chunks. I never delete anything, it goes into scrap files, but I’m a lot better now at being like, you know what, that hundred-thousand-word B-plot does not need to be in this story. Or, that entire character arc is extraneous. Or just– nobody gives a shit about this whole scene I agonized over so into the bin it goes.
Some of that, however, writing fic has destroyed, because there’s nobody like fanfic fans to like, clamor for your hundred thousand words of B-plot. I’ve posted a lot of stuff that my inner editor is like “do you really need this in yr story? No U Do Not” because I’m like, “fuck you, RandomOnlineUser49 is probably going to really connect to this,” and I’m usually right, it’s always the shit I’m like “well that’s pure id that doesn’t serve the plot” that makes some rando I’ve never spoken to before send me a tearful thousand-word comment.
It says a lot, I think, about underserved markets and conventional writing. I know the difference now, though, between fanservice and actual-important-to-plot stuff. [And I am not being condescending to RandomOnlineUser49 up there– some of that id shit is the most truthful stuff I’ve ever committed to page, it just doesn’t… drive the story at all.]
I still can’t do pacing for shit, but I think I at least know where my weaknesses in that regard are. Believe me, if my OTP is engaging in twenty pages of witty banter, I know that’s not necessary and I also know there are about thirty people on the Internet who are going to fucking love it, and as person number one of that thirty, I’m Here For It.
(I’m not sure when my lifelong dream of getting Conventionally Published died, but I haven’t wasted a lot of time mourning it.) (I’m’a still try though, I’m’a still try. Just. Not this moment.)
I will say, though, that the other thing I’m good at is staving off OOC shit. I’m pretty good at spotting that, heading it off, and never actually writing it, so I don’t have to save myself the trouble of cutting it. Because that shit, RandomOnlineUser49 is probably *not* going to find #relatable, and so there’s no point to writing it.
I’m still working on stuff that’s like… just unrealistic. I feel like I can tell when it’s happening but it’s harder to stave it off and avoid it.
18) were there any works you read that affected you so much that it influenced your writing style? what were they?
Oh, fuck, everything I read I absorb. I’m like a sponge, really. So lately, I don’t read a ton of actual formal books, and honestly I go through phases where I don’t even read fanfic. (I’ll never be a BNF in any fandom because I don’t have the networking ability, I really don’t.)
I was hugely influenced by Tolkien really early, but fortunately I’ve mostly outgrown it. Oh, that’s what I should’ve said for #11– I’ve gotten way better at not putting semicolons in every fucking paragraph. THANKS FOR THAT JOHN RONALD REUL.
I digressed. Well, drink has been taken, that’s what I do. Digress.
I definitely absorbed a shitload of the mannerisms of the while-it-was-airing McShep fandom from Stargate: Atlantis. There is a phenomenal clique of just– luminaries who wrote for that fandom in its height, and I went through a ton of fic in 2012 and inhaled it and wound up with a shitload of verbal tics and catchphrases that it has taken me literal years to knead into my own style. I’d just been through a multi-year dry spell of not writing anything of my own, and I had known about fanfiction for over a decade at that point but hadn’t written any in forever, and so I read all that and just. I don’t even know where it ends and I start. Some of it was bad, I definitely absorbed like, whole sentences I’d reuse, and I can’t begin to pick apart where they came from.
Fortunately, my total amnesiac brain fog tendencies tend to balance my human sponge tendencies, so currently I don’t think I’m pasticheing anyone.
I could be wrong, though. I could be wrong.
Most recently, the only real actual formal published fiction I’ve read has been Martha Wells, and part of what is so appealing about her, I think, is that she has a really translucent style. She has some bulletproof tropes she loves, for sure, but her style is very functional; you can straight-up mimic her and not sound like you’re doing anything, because her prose is so well-structured and practical. She tells a fucking story, all right, she’s not there to tickle your poetry meter or whatever. It’s not that it’s not beautiful, but it’s basically transparent. I don’t mind absorbing that, it’s impossible to rip off; it just makes you write honestly.
whoops hit the button too early; I meant to say, feel free to ask me more writing questions!