Unfair Writer Brain

Brain (extra enthusiastically): GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!

Me: I am not in, nor have I ever visited Vietnam.

Brain (even more enthusiastically): GOOD MORNING MINNESOTA!

Me: Cool, cool.  Could you give me like five minutes?

Brain (talking quickly): Yep.  It’s a busy day.  I’ve seen the schedule.  Paying clients, new year prep at the high school, finish that fan thing, get back to MarsCon on programming… Lots to do!

Me (exasperated): Yeah. I know.  

Brain: And you really need to crank out a story for group, if you guys are ever going to meet again.

Me: I’m aware of this.

Brain: Great!  So I can just cut to the chase.

Me: Seriously, can you give me five minutes.  I’m trying to finish meditating here.

Brain: But… story idea!

Me: Yes.  And I want it, but… can you just hang on?  Please?

Brain (so much judging): What, so you can sit there and breathe?  Yeah, yeah.  Present moment.  Perfect moment.  You’re in the living room.  You’re breathing.  Great job! Meditation done.

Me: Urgh.  That’s not quite how it works.

Brain (dismissive): Sure it does. We just did guided meditation, with me as your guide along this path we call life.

Me: I’ve still got like… two and a half, three minutes to go.

Brain: I’m not sitting here for three minutes while you focus on existing.  Besides, what’s more fun, trying not to think about anything other than observing your breathing or contemplating the nature of selkies?

Me: Please stop.

Brain: Seeeelkieeeeees.

The Return of Writer Brain: The Sequel

Brain: So you know how you had that home energy audit yesterday?

Me: Yeah.  That was pretty cool.  I kinda liked the door blower test.  Also knowing the water heater isn’t out to kill us all was cool.

Brain (impatiently): Yeah, yeah.  Remember how the guy went up in the attic?

Me: Sure.  I mean, I was there and all.

Brain: And remember how he came down and showed you a picture of the corner over your bedroom?

Me (uncertainty setting in): Yeah.  There’s a random box stuffed up there.  The previous owners did weird things.  On our first adventure into the attic we found a couple of busted lamps that had been put up there for whatever reason.

Brain: What do you suppose is in the box?

Me: I have no idea.  It could be empty.

Brain: Who would put an empty box in the tight corner of the attic?

Me: The same people who dumped broken lamps in it?  The same people who cut off the ground wire to the bathroom fan because they couldn’t figure out what it did?

Brain: What if it’s not empty?

Me: Maybe that’s where all the mice live?

Brain: It could have all sorts of things in it.

Me: It’s really not that big. so really, there’s a limit to what could be in it.  Kids toys from the seventies?  Old clothes?

Brain: This isn’t the kind of attic you store stuff in.  You know that, right?

Me: Obviously.  There are reasons I’m not allowed up there.  I’ll probably end up in the living room via the quick way down.

Brain: This is true.  You should definitely not go up there.  But you got me off track here.

Me: That was the plan.

Brain: I will not be derailed!  That box has so much potential.

Me: I really don’t think…

Brain: Potential!  Sure, it’s not a huge box, but it’s also not tiny.  And it took some serious work to get it into that spot.  I mean, it’s not going to be easy to get it back out.

Me: Which is why it’s still there.

Brain: Don’t you sass me!  That thing could be full of desiccated baby corpses!

Me: Well now you’re just getting gross. 

Brain: Skulls?  The sacred totem of a demon?  Pirate treasure?  Long concealed evidence of a murder?  Nosferatu (pocket size edition)?

Me: Yes… well… now that we’re dwelling on this, I can see we’re going to have to write something about it.

Brain: Good.  Good.  It’s getting close to fall.  This is always when you have your Poe and Hawthorne festival of darkness.  It’s perfect.

Me: I was thinking I’d have the box just be empty, you know all the work up and then nothing.  What do you think?

Brain: Clearly I’m going to have to supervise this task.  I’m not sure I can trust you with it.

Me: I have other things that are more urgent

Brain: Wrong answer! 

You can enjoy the entire Writer Brain adventure in chronological order here, or tap the #writer brain tag to read it in reverse chronological order. 

Take Your Writer Brain to Work Day

Me (sitting in an extremely boring meeting): Why am I even required to attend this?  I’m in my last ten days at this job, I clearly no longer care, and I have a ton of things I’d like to get wrapped up before I go.

Brain: Since you’re tuning out, why don’t we do some plotting.

Me: Eh.  I should probably pretend to pay attention.  I’m trying to go out as a professional.

Brain: Given what passes for professional behavior around here, you could fall asleep in the meeting and spend the afternoon looking at porn and still hit that bar.

Me: You’re not wrong.  What do you have for me.

Brain: Since you’re about to be unemployed, I took the liberty of developing a writing blog series for you to debut in September.  It will give you something to do, keep you out of that disgusting emotional pit you just crawled out of, and further your writing.

MeThis is why we pay you the big bucks.

Brain (shares brilliant idea)

Me (impressed): That’s actually completely awesome.  This could be really useful, and fun.

Brain (surprised): You still remember what fun is?  I thought you lost that in like February.

Me: I’m pretending. Fake it ‘til I make it, yaknow?

* Later that evening *

Me (sheepish): Uhm. You remember that awesome idea you had during that meeting?  Could you go, uh, over it once more?

Brain: No.  You know I don’t store ideas.  I blurt them out as soon as I come up with them.  I forget them as soon as you acknowledge them.  It’s totally your job to record them.  

Me: So… you have no idea?

Brain (indignant): Of course I don’t!  You had a pen and notebook right there, what were you thinking not writing it down.  Sheesh.

Me: Dammit

Brain: Seriously.  I don’t know why I bother with you sometimes.  But since you obviously feel guilty, and while I know it’s no where near as cool, here’s an idea for a Chinese dance superhero.  I call her 小星 and she has three primary weapons; a dance ribbon, a set of red fans… maybe pink, and a red handkerchief.

This was written in August 2016, and while I haven’t gotten far with the Chinese dance superhero idea, I’m still planning on using it eventually.

You can enjoy the entire Writer Brain adventure in chronological order here, or tap the #writer brain tag to read it in reverse chronological order. 

Gifts From Writer Brain

Brain: So you know how you’re supposed to write what you know?

Me: Yeah.

Brain: Well I’ve got this thing for you.

Me (slightly frightened): A… thing?

Brain (dreamily): Yeah.  It’s like a huge bright diamond… nah.  Diamonds are boring. It’s a huge bright sapphire.

Me (curiosity piqued): Sapphires are good.  I like sapphires.

Brain: Only it hasn’t been cut and polished yet.  So it’s like… a rough sapphire, raw and full of potential  that isn’t obvious on the surface.

Me (uneasy): So what you’re saying is that it needs some work?

Brain: Oh yeah. Like a ton of work.  But in the end it’s going to be so worth it.  I mean, it’s going to push you out of your comfort zone and really make you stretch those writing skills.

Me: * gulps * But it’s going to be worth it?

Brain (enthusiastic):  Yeah.  You know those spinny jumping kicks you had to work on for two years before you got any good, tomato kicks?  

Me: Tornado kicks.

Brain: Yeah.  It’s like that.

Me: So is it a rough uncut sapphire or a tornado kick?  I think you lost me in the morass of metaphor.  

Brain (stern): I don’t like your sass.

Me (choking back giggles):  Sorry.

Brain: Ideas are not like your silly concrete physical things.  They are capable of being more than one thing at the same time.

Me (mock serious): You are so right.  I forgot that for a few minutes, and I’m so glad you reminded me.

Me: So about this… amazing thing?

Brain: Here.  Check it out.

Me (stunned): Uhhhh…

Brain (proudly): I know.  It’s awesome isn’t it?  

Me: A dance-based magic system?

Brain: Yes! Dance-based magic!

Me: Specifically using Chinese folk and traditional dance.

Brain (excessively satisfied):  Yep.  I’m just going to leave that here with you to mull over.  I bet you’ll have characters developed and a plot laid out in no time.

Me: Errrr

Brain: And since I know you’re pretty busy right now, I’ll just bump over to you every so often to keep it at the fore.

You can enjoy the entire Writer Brain adventure in chronological order here, or tap the #writer brain tag to read it in reverse chronological order. 

Smutty Writer Brain – Take 2

Brain: Hey!  Check out all those nice words you wrote.

Me (vaguely disgruntled): Yes.  They are lovely.  But seriously, there’s no plot, there’s no way to wrap this up, and every time I look at it, I think of things to add.

Brain (proudly): Yeah.  I know.

Me (exasperated): It’s nearly six thousand words of graphic sex.  Seriously, who needs this?

Brain: The correct question is, who doesn’t?  Well, other than ace or sex-repulsed folks, of course.

Me: What am I supposed to do with this?  There are no speculative elements.  This is completely outside my genre range.

Brain: Does that really matter?

Me: What do you mean?

Brain: Did you enjoy writing it?  

Me: Yeah.  I mean… it’s words, and you know how I love words.

Brain (sarcastically): Sure.  And it had nothing to do with the content.

Me: Errr.

Brain: It doesn’t matter if you don’t market it or sell it.  What matters is that you enjoyed the process.

Me: Oh.  Yeah.  I guess you’re right.

Brain: You don’t grow or improve if you don’t try new things once in a while.

Me (reluctantly): True.

Brain: Great.  Now here, I have this lovely ending for you to put in.  You’ll see it actually wraps things together quite nicely, making it appear as though there was a planned plot from the get-go.

Me (blinking in surprise):  It’s so… fluffy.  And sweet.

Brain (proudly): Yeah.  I know.  You’re such a sucker for happy endings.

You can enjoy the entire Writer Brain adventure in chronological order here, or tap the #writer brain tag to read it in reverse chronological order. 

Smutty Writer Brain

Brain: Hey, let’s do this prompt.

Me: Really? I’m not sure what to do with this.

Brain: No worries. I’ve got some ideas. Here, see?

Me: Huh. Yeah. That could be interesting.

Brain: And you know, since you’re on vacation and you finished your speed writing, how about we skip the timer.

Me (not sensing the trap): Sounds good. Writing to a prompt is enough of a challenge.

Me: Uh… This is getting kinda long.

Brain: But look at that nice smut.

Me: It is nice. Well I see a good spot to wrap up.

Brain: I suppose we could wrap up there, or…

Me: Or?

Brain: Round two!

Me: Ugh. This has no plot.

Brain: Sure it does.

Me (sternly): Orgasms aren’t plot.

Brain: Says you.

Check out all the Writer Brain shenanigans in reverse chronological order here.

Re-Embracing an Artist’s Discipline

I spent the last few days without internet or phone service, with nothing to do but play in the water with my family, read (on the bench swing or while sitting on a chair plopped in two feet of water), write, and think. While it was a little frustrating to not drop into my usual habits of spending time online, it was super productive and helped me develop my career plan for the next twelve months.

As both a freelancer and an indie writer, I need to be responsible for driving both of my careers. Neither will progress without my direct action. Having a plan is really helpful for focusing my efforts in a useful direction. Without a plan, most careers merely tread water and many eventually flounder. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a formal structured business plan, but it definitely needs to be more defined than “write some stuff and get published” or “get new clients.” How much detail you include really depends on what your career needs at this moment, and what works best for you. We aren’t all wired the same. I’m goal-oriented and very fond of lists, so my plan is a table with lists of the activities or goals I need to complete each month; freelancing is in one column and fiction writing is in the other.

Giant moss native and endemic to North America.

While preparing for and attending Diversicon back in July, I did some research on gaining traction and becoming successful as an indie writer. My primary focus in this regard is stepping up my game. I used to be very disciplined about my writing goals, but that fell away when I was burned out from a crappy work environment. The chaos of going through a career change prevented me from establishing a routine. I’ve been working on returning to my old level of discipline with original world and fanfic challenges. My work life has stabilized and my kids go back to school in September, so I’m ready and excited to step up my fiction writing.

Golden patterns of sunlight reflected onto the sandy bottom of a lake.

In the next few weeks I’ll be plotting out the two sequels I have planned for Something Familiar. I’ll also be picking up regular writing sprints to get the creativity flowing and generate some stories that I can ideally share here and on Curious Fictions. When the kids return to school, I’ll be focusing on writing the first one with a fast track plan for publication before the end of the year. It’s well within my abilities, and I’m eager to make this happen.

Buckle up; we’re going for a ride!

The Creepy Side of Writer Brain

Me: Arrrgh.  I’m paralyzed by nausea.

Brain: This does suck.

Me (later in the day): As if the nausea isn’t bad enough, now my whole body aches (seriously, my toe joints hurt). 

Brain:  Yep.  I feel your pain, quite literally.

Me: This is so miserable.

Brain: It is, but you know, there are two positives that come out of this.

Me: You can find positives in this?  What the hell?

Brain: You meditated a lot today.  And you have recent direct experience to inflict upon your characters.

Me: You’re kinda evil, you know that?

Brain: Can’t talk.  Plotting.  I’ll get back to you with some characters and a story arc post-haste.  Try to get some sleep.  I’m going to need you at peak condition.

Me: Yeah, cause that’s gonna happen. 

Check out all the Writer Brain shenanigans in reverse chronological order here.

The Return of Writer Brain

Brain: So, these speed writing challenges are pretty fun, eh?

Me: Yeah. I’m having a blast with them.

Brain: I’d noticed.  Are you liking the plot depth and details I’m providing?

Me: Definitely. They’re turning out developed and with a nice arc in a short time frame. I couldn’t ask for better. I mean, we both know this is not my natural story length.

Brain: And the potential for later expansion, how’s that working? I’d hate to overload you…

Me (finding the sentiment difficult to believe): Not at all. These are great.

Brain: Is there a anything else I can help you with?

Me: Actually, there is.  The one I’m working on now is… tougher than I’d expected. The idea from the prompt seemed straight-forward enough. But it took two speed writing sessions to get down my initial plan. See? I’ve got two different scenes that don’t feel connected. I was thinking the right bookends would pull them together.

Brain: Great idea, how about this?

Me: That’s a thing of beauty, right there.

Me: 600+ words in.  Oh crivens. This thing’s gone off on its own tangent.

Brain: Gotchya!

Check out all the Writer Brain shenanigans in reverse chronological order here.

Even More Writer Brain

Brain: So you know that idea I just gave you?

Me: Which one?

Brain: This one, here, see?

Me: Oh. Yeah.  You’re not going to take it back are you?  I’ve started thinking about it and have some pretty good plans for developing it.

Brain: No need to worry.  I was just thinking…

Me (very quietly): Uh oh.

Brain: Do you remember this fragment of an idea?

Me: Yeah.  It’s cool, but I have no clue what to… oh… I see.

Brain: Neat how they fit together, eh?

Me: Yeah.  They do fit very nicely together.

Brain: I’ll just leave you to it.

Check out all the Writer Brain shenanigans in reverse chronological order here.