Well, I was just thinking what a shame it was that I hadn’t updated my blog in so long that I had to go look up my login/password info, and I looked back to see that my last update was… right before ‘normal life’ crashed and burned thanks to Covid-19! So I suppose that explains why.
I got to try online-only teaching for the last quarter of the 2019-2020 school year, which was quite an experience – it felt like being a first-year teacher again, and not in a good way – and now I’m hovering in uncertainty with the rest of the world – planning for the worst, hoping for the best: I’m set to start school again (staff orientation) next Tuesday in person, but the board has pushed our start date back and put us on a hybrid model (50% of students in the building at a time, blended with e-Learning) so no matter what happens (hybrid? Virtual?) I’m sure 2020-2021 will be a heck of a learning experience.
I mean, if we didn’t understand before, we certainly know now why “May you live in interesting times” is a vicious curse.
Being used to “Dwell[ing] in possibility” like my good friend Emily Dickinson, that means I basically haven’t done any planning for the school year (yet), despite the fact that (once again) I have five preps and 2 of them are new (English 9 Honors, an all-new class, and English Lab, a remedial class that has to be planned anew each year to meet student needs (at least the way I do it)). Interesting times indeed!
So I’m going to try to figure it out as I go, as usual, and I’m going to do my annual “oh hey look a blog” posts any day now – ETCW was virtual this year, which was both better and worse, and I have another short story from the NYC Midnight competition to post – and maybe, just maybe, add some more teaching-related content… as soon as I wrap my head around online and/or hybrid teaching!
So, a big part of my being-stuck problem on the RSWIP (Romantic Suspense Work In Progress) was not really having an antagonist, which meant my characters were just wandering around bickering for no reason without any escalation of stakes. They had lots of problems, of course, just not the kind of antagonist-driven conflict that makes things, you know… interesting.
I found that it helped to do some outlining – but it also clarified that my lack of antagonist clarity was a big problem. So I did it again!
I treated the antagonist as if she were the protagonist (don’t most antags think they’re the protag anyway?) and went through the same steps.
This was really helpful at showing me where my antagonist was doing things that made sense for her (Act I) and where she wasn’t (uh…. Acts II and III), and helped me think about whether my antagonist WAS my antagonist, or whether she was a minion (still not 100% sure, even though I’m calling her my antag now).
I’m not sure I have many answers, but I think at least now I know the right questions to ask next time my writing partner and I get together.
I’m also a little bit tempted to give my antag a POV – or to write it as a website bonus – like Jenny Crusie did with the Antagonist Monologues on her blog – but for now, I’m going to try to focus on just getting clues about the antag dropped in the MC’s POV pages.
Spent a week in the northernmost state, and BOY was it amazing. Expect more on that later, since school starts tomorrow. (!!!) But I definitely had a lot of Thoughts and gathered a lot of Creative Energy (and explored lots of great settings for a series of murder mysteries, I think, not that I have time for that). I’m not a master photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but even a sucker like me with a busted-up phone can take a breathtaking pic in such a gorgeous setting.
I’ve been stuck with a blank mind on BOTH of my works in progress for about the last three months.
And NOW I’m at the point where it’s almost intimidating to go back: what if everything I’ve done is terrible? Or, if it’s good, what if I’ve totally lost the ability to write like that?? Or what if it’s terrible AND I’ve lost the ability to do it?!?!?
Obviously this is brain-weasels running amok but it’s still giving me a hard time.
So, I tried some “not-writing,” per Turbo Monkey’s Sarah McGuire (and added her book Valiant to my TBR pile while I was at it). That… didn’t get me unstuck. I’ve had great success with that approach in the past (especially during college, where my roommates would all watch me playing Snood and ask tentatively how the essay was going) but unfortunately my mental landscape just looked like
Then I tripped over Tess Hilmo’s “Best Plot Help Ever,” a little paper foldable that sounded cute and fun and sort of like those MASH things or a ‘flapdoodle’ (srs education term for a folded-up/cut paper study aid) and I decided I would try one of those for each WIP and see if any gears started turning.
I’ve been in one of those emotional fugue states where very little gets done that isn’t absolutely necessary – so I’ve definitely blown it re: this year’s resolution to blog weekly. Hmm. Perhaps, since it’s the solstice, I’ll have a mid-year reboot?
Or perhaps not.
I’ve been re-reading old favorite books, playing with a toddler, and watching my husband play the video game I got him for Valentine’s Day, so for once I’ve been busy with good things… but very busy, nonetheless.
I’ve also been doing some research for my WIPs and absolutely ignoring the fact that I should be prepping for the fall (I’m teaching English 10, which I haven’t taught in 10 years, so… basically a new class). It’s been great!
I keep telling myself that fallow periods are important for creativity, but it’s still a bummer. At least I’ve got a writing group to yell at me (in a good-natured way) when I fail to produce. Outside accountability is very important to me!
Well, having spent yet another month sick (do not ask me about last week–it was horrifying) I have fallen behind on my blogging goals AND everything else in life… but, on the plus side, I now have a WattPad account and I entered SyFy’s The Magicians writing contest with an entire HOUR to spare.
I just started watching Season 1 of The Magicians (SyFy) on Netflix last week and have been steadily bingeing through all of it with C. Tragically, tonight he has choir and all we have left is the finale and Season 2 premiers TOMORROW and it looks like SyFy lets you watch things online live and that might (MIGHT) be enough to get me to forgive them for spelling their name that way (SyFy? Seriously?).
As we went through the episodes–“This is like if someone was writing Harry Potter fanfic and kept going further and further off course… in the best possible way,” I said, early on–I started Tweeting about it, made some friends via hashtags… I might or might not have followed most of the cast on Twitter. Um… uhoh. Am I joining a fandom??
I’ve been thinking about adding TV recaps to my blogging fodder. I think maybe #TheMagicians might be the show I choose.