Breaking past writer’s block & Writing Excuses

For a few weeks, I was pretty depressed. I was trying to work out the big kinks with the second draft of Crimson Intent, but I just couldn’t seem to make myself sit down and do it. I had a new outline detailing the changes I needed to make from the first draft… but these chapters just had me stymied. They didn’t feel right. And that made me feel like I had swallowed an anvil every time I even sat down to write.

But, thanks to writing group deadlines (we meet once a week and I was swiftly approaching the week where I would have to submit one of the “trouble” chapters), I finally sat down and forced it out. And it hurt. I knew that something wasn’t right, but I had to have something for group, so I submitted the chapter anyway.

And then, when I was doing something else entirely (as always seems to be the case), epiphany hit. Suddenly I just knew that that chapter I had submitted was in the wrong place. It needed to be two chapters later – and then everything made sense.

I can’t begin to tell you how big of a relief it was to realize this. I had to apologize to my group for making them read that chapter twice (as some pretty major revisions had to happen for it to work later in the story), but now it works. Thank goodness. Now I’m just hoping that the rest of the revisions to this go smooth as silk (HAHAHAHAHA -ahem-).

This “writer’s block is because there is a problem with the story” thing is something I’d heard ages ago on the Writing Excuses podcast, which leads me nicely into my next subject. Since I went two whole years without an update (feel free to play the Game of Thrones “SHAME” video clip for me next time you see me), I’ll be posting a little “retrospective” section in some of these posts to talk about some of the cool things I’ve done.

At WorldCon 2015 in Spokane, WA, I had so many amazing experiences. I got to go out to dinner with Brandon Sanderson, Peter Ahlstrom, and a bunch of other amazing people. I hugged a dalek. I gave Scott Lynch some whiskey. I caught up with my friend Ada Palmer and discussed Hugo voting with Courtney Schafer, who is absolutely a pleasure to talk to. I met some pretty amazing fellow Stormlight Archive cosplayers and met one of my writing group partners in real life for the first time (after working with him via Skype for almost five years). But the experience that tops them all for me was this one.

11889545_10153012322350811_5925570437396375017_nDoesn’t look like much, does it? But this is photographic proof of one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life. This the Writing Excuses crew (Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Taylor) and one of their special guests. And me, sitting behind the sound-board. Running it.

“All right,” I can hear you thinking, “how the hell did you manage that?”

I’ve known Brandon for a few years now, first from the fact that I am a moderator for the Stormlight Archive subreddit. I was also his handler at a convention for a weekend, and I’ve been a beta reader for some of his works. So he knows me by name, and trusts me (well, enough to eat the cookies I make for him every time he visits New England, anyways). I was helping to carry the sound equipment in for the crew, because I like to help him out with things, and Howard or Dan (I forget which) asked if anyone had any experience running sound-boards. I did, having run sound for a few of my college theater’s productions. So I got a crash course in the sound-board from Howard, then got to sit there and monitor levels for four episodes.

“So where does it get nerve-wracking?” you’re probably thinking.

Listen up. This is an award winning podcast. Thousands of people listen to it. And they’d literally put the quality of the thing in my hands. If I screwed up and pushed the wrong button or something, I could possibly delete the recording, and then what would they do? They couldn’t very well re-record it, since they’d just spent an hour doing it before a live audience. I passed a few panicked notes to Howard over the course of the recording (“Is that red light supposed to be off” was actually more like “OH MY GOD THE RED LIGHT IS OFF, IT’S OFF, SHOULD IT BE OFF? IS IT ACTUALLY RECORDING?” in my head) and had one very bad moment at the end when we were packing up and I unplugged the power supply thinking that it was the headphone cord. All the color promptly drained from my face as I tugged urgently on Howard’s sleeve. I said something like “I unplugged it, oh god, did it save, please tell me it saved” and he assured me calmly that it was fine.

And so ended the most harrowing hour of my WorldCon. After that, asking Scott Lynch if he’d accept some whiskey as a gift was no big deal.

I’ll be attending WorldCon again this year, and hopefully this year I’ll have another cosplay. I’m going to give the Masquerade another shot (I wasn’t terribly impressed with the 2014 Masquerade in London), providing I can finish this RIDICULOUSLY OVER-AMBITIOUS PROJECT.

You know… that’s what I’ll call it, from now on. The ROAP. Stay tuned for updates on the ROAP, WorldCon, book editing, and maybe a few more retrospectives documenting the Great Supernatural Road Trip of 2015…