Some advice on sharing, if it helps

“For years my friend has told me to share my writing but I’ve been self-conscious about how it will be received or perceived. Lately, I’m wanting to post, but I don’t know where to start. Do you have any advice?”

I got the above question in an email (don’t worry, email friend! I will not name you for any privacy concerns) and since I thought it was a good question that others may wonder about too, and since I wrote a long answer, I figured I’d post it here too in case it’s useful for anyone.

Basically, I totally understand self-consciousness; I feel the same way a lot too. It’s a tl;dr story but writing and sharing fanfic is what helped me start to feel more confident in my writing abilities because strangers said such nice things. I had a hard time believing all the nice things my family/friends had said my whole life about my writing was anything other than them being nice or taking pity on me. So I think sharing can be incredibly important if that feels like the right step for anyone at their current point in writing.

Below is from my emailed reply — I’m putting it behind a cut for length but I go into these topics:

**Sharing for free, **sharing for money, **compiling the story, and **how to look at feedback from readers if you are unused to sharing.

For posting, I should first of all say I’m not an expert so I may not be super helpful. But in case any of this is helpful, here are some thoughts I have:

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The beginning of the end (but not in an ominous way)

I am currently 227,500 words into Incarnations, the first book in a series I am working on (the second book of which I had already partially written before I realized it would be part of this series). For a while, what really slowed me down with writing Incarnations was that I knew how the book would end, I knew everything that happened thousands and hundreds and singular years before the book started, but what happened in the book itself and specifically how it should lead to the ending of the book was something I was determining as I wrote. Because the plot is pretty complicated or at least layered.

Then, finally, I had a breakthrough and figured out how to plot out the steps from the chapter I was on, right through to the end of the book.

“This is amazing!” I thought at that time. “This is what stalled me before! Surely it will be much faster writing the rest of the book now!”

And yet, I find myself stalling again.

First, I stalled in figuring out how to write the chapter I had to write before it started the plotted parts. But I got through that chapter on Friday. So this past weekend I should, theoretically, have been gung ho about running forward into what I had plotted next.

Except I wasn’t.

Except, every night I am faced with the possibility of writing and I pause for lack of inspiration, even knowing what I should write. I had thought that lack of inspiration was a lack of plotting, but it wasn’t.

I realized that it’s actually because this next chapter will start the last arc of the book, and that’s… intimidating. A little scary. A bit worrisome.

I’ve always been the sort of person who gets a bit intimidated when I realized I can finish something. This will be explained better if I ever share some of the stories I have with my struggles with anorexia over the years. But it also comes up in a lot of parts of my life.

Thing is, I’d written stories, even really long stories, before–but a lot of times I didn’t finish them, or I did finish them but then I started a sequel I never wrote or finished. ICoS was the first time I wrote a really long story with a potentially solid ending, and even then I co-wrote it. I had someone else with me the whole way.

Incarnations is pretty meaningful to me for my life. Why? Because this and other reasons.

What’s interesting is I’m not worried about if other people will like it, because I know everyone has different opinions and that’s cool. I’m not worried that I will do a terrible job and it won’t live up to my standards, because I was able to release a lot of that hold for perfection over my writing over the years and now I can look at it as having fun and this just being one of many steps on a learning curve going forward. I’m not worried about a lot of things, and yet I stall.

I think it’s for two reasons:

  1. Once I start this last arc, there will be no going back. I’ll be ending this story, like an end of an era for me, even though it will also open up an entire series. It will be a weird sense of closure and intrigue for the future. But it also is a change.
  2. I really want to go strong into this last arc; make sure I write it well. I can tell the difference between when I’m into writing something and when I don’t feel like writing and I’m forcing myself. I get a lot more poetic when I’m inspired; I get really redundant when I’m not. And the thing is, I’ve been looking forward to writing a number of those chapters for months or years, so I do have expectations but mostly the expectations are I hope I can enjoy it and write it well.

But you know, I’m still going to write it. I may hit pause for a few days, let myself kind of refocus and rewind, but I’m going to finish it because I’m looking forward to it, even though I stalled before doing so.

I’m encouraging myself with, I suppose appropriately enough, a quote from narration I wrote for Boyd in Fade; a quote I put up on my wall to remind myself to keep going.

But that was the way it went any time a person was on the precipice of change. The fear of the future mixed with the loss of the past. At those times, all a person could do was step forward.

I don’t think I did a good job explaining my thought process in this, but at the same time, right now I don’t know how else to explain it. Or rather, to explain it in more detail would mean going on a number of tangents that would lead to even more tangents, and it could turn into the neverending story.

I guess what was most interesting to me is that I don’t stall because I’m afraid of failure–instead, I tend to sabotage myself because I’m afraid of success.

Tell us about your book(s) – belated QRM bonus

In October 2015 I contributed to Queer Romance Month with my post, The Equality of Differences, talking about how I’ve always felt like an alien on Earth because so much of who I am naturally is not “normal” for most people. At that time, QRM offered an option for “mini-interviews” that participating writers like me could do– they gave us 10 questions, told us to choose a few and answer them, then get them to QRM and they would share them on other blogs.

I ended up choosing some questions and answering them, but then not participating in actually sharing them. I had planned to post the Q&As on my blog but then I don’t think I ever did. I remembered it just now because of one of the questions and answers I did, and how it could pertain to a recent request for help from a friend.

I’m splitting this into different posts because they’re totally different topics.


 

Tell us about your book(s)

If anyone knows my name at all even vaguely, they probably know me because I’m half the writing duo behind the m/m series called In the Company of Shadows (first book is called Evenfall). You can find more information about it here, if you want: http://aisylum.com/project/icos/. It’s a long ass series, and you can download the whole thing for free.

But since ICoS has been around for years and I don’t want to spoil anyone on anything in it, what I’d rather talk about are stories I’m working on now, specifically a fantasy book I’m writing that I first started when I was around 13. I wrote 150 pages in it, decided it was crap, started over, didn’t like the direction I was going, and then shelved it. Over the years, I brought it out and worked on it for a bit, then set it aside for years, then started the cycle over.

By now, it’s much more complicated than it was in the original version. And there are some pretty funny things that happened along the way. For example, the girl who was the main character of the original version, who was basically the typical hero, is now a side character who is technically a bad guy. But her plot hasn’t changed at all; it’s simply all in the context used to tell her story.

For me, the world is filled with shades of grey. I think people use that term to sometimes imply some sort of lawless, faithless land; like the Wild West of morality. But to me, all the greatest beauties in the world are in that space where everything blends together and there is no hard and fast rule for what is good or bad. I don’t really believe in the idea of true good and true evil; I believe in the concept that people are people, and they do what seems right to them based on their life experiences and their motivations, and from one angle a person can be a saint and from another a devil. Because life is all about the POV you’re using to interpret reality.

That’s something that will come up, to an extent, in the book– simply in the process of telling the stories of the characters and the plot. As for how this is relevant to queer romance, when thinking of stories I go with what naturally happens when creating the characters and considering how they would react to different things or how they might naturally progress as a person. This includes helping me realize what their sexuality is. In the case of this book and the characters who populate it, it just so happens that there will be people who are straight, gay, lesbian, pansexual, possibly asexual, and one of the main characters is agender or trans. I’m looking forward to a lot of their stories and hope, when I finish the book and release it, others will like what they see. Until then, I don’t want to say too much.

If you’re interested in this book, I will definitely post more as I get closer to finishing. I’ve set myself the goal that I should finish the book by my next birthday, so it should hopefully be done by Spring 2016. I will post about it in various places online, so check out how to contact or follow me here: http://aisylum.com/about/contact/ 

Another Incarnations excerpt – Fawkes and Sloane, being goofs

I just released this on tumblr today as well, because I got all inspired by this:

fantasique reblogged your post and added: “fantasy story excerpt (f/f-ish)”

!!!! this seems so good *//* and is it healthy i’m already shipping sloane x fawkes like crazy? bc they sound all the right bells of my fangirlself tbh *runs* and the cover is so pretty too! can’t wait for april ❤

I wrote the below response on tumblr:

Aww! it actually would make me really happy if you do ship them! I like them 🙂 They already sort of have a joking ship name based on their first names, but it’s not really set in stone. They’re basically inseparable and get along super well and sometimes mess with others. I like them both so it would make me happy if anyone else liked them 🙂

You’re getting me excited about the story again! I tried to find another excerpt to share with them and it was a little difficult because so many of their scenes are too contextual or in spoiler country, but I did remember this scene so I’m sharing it! I changed a couple of names in it to Earthling/American equivalents so the specific terms I use aren’t taken.

Anyway in this scene they are joking around.

EXCERPT BELOW

Context on this scene: So, Fawkes and Sloane are both early 20s when the book starts. There’s this character Vikenti who’s late 40′s and really cranky and sort of a father figure to Sloane but also they’re kind of gruff with each other sometimes. Vikenti and Sloane are basically the cops in this fantasy world, and Fawkes is a friend. In this scene, they’re walking through the equivalent of the police headquarters in the main city. Sloane and Fawkes aren’t supposed to have anything to do with the murder mystery case but Sloane bitched at Vikenti until he grudgingly agreed to let them see the body.

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Incarnations excerpt – Fawkes and Sloane, night

I released this on tumblr recently but like a dweeb didn’t share it here so I am now 🙂


 

I randomly felt like sharing an excerpt from the fantasy book I’m working on (Incarnations). This is a sort of f/f-ish scene.

A short explanation of Incarnations if you haven’t heard me mention it before: this is the first book in a fantasy series I’m writing; I first conceived of this book when I was 13/14 and wrote 150 pages in it before I stopped and started over and I’ve been doing that since while also expanding the world and characters; and this book starts with a murder mystery that seems to possibly involve a serial killer. Find more excerpts here.

The book/series contains a number of LGBTQIA elements, with lesbian, gay, pansexual, asexual, heterosexual characters, and one is neutrois.

The “she” in the beginning of the excerpt is Sloane, one of the (many) main characters. I realize this excerpt probably seems bizarrely mundane/cliche(?) for a fantasy story starting with a murder mystery, but that’s why I’m okay with sharing it; it has minimal spoilers and shows one aspect of two female friends nearly attached at the hip from the start of the book.

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She Flew – an old original story, from 2006

She Flew

Ais

Thursday 2/16/06

Sometimes she whispered her dreams. Words so quiet they barely surfaced into reality, breath a hush behind them all. She let her eyes drift closed, her mouth lie open and lax, and in the rustle of the sheets on her rising and falling chest, she let herself go.

Colors and moments, shifting around her like ballroom dancers while she stood still. She watched, but could not participate; admired, but did not create. Let the indigo of her sunrises and crimson of her seas blend together, and in the deep violet haze that resulted, she lifted brush to sky and painted. Clouds of hunter green and mountains shaded yellow; white-as-ghost nights and moon the exact hue of charcoal beneath the grill, just before the fire goes out and the red fades away.

Her unicorns rode the sky and dragons flew on land, and all the animals spoke perfectly but the humans were silent, curious; watchful and patient but never understanding. Silk fell from clear skies for rain, and thunder broke in the distance when the sun was at its zenith. On the darkest, cloudiest of days, the birds sang clearest, and in their melodies the ancient lore of mermaids could be heard, drifting along the sea breeze to settle in their throats.

She was the conductor in her orchestra of light, and the sound of the sights was enough to make almost anyone mute. She had turned her chair catatonic, and brought her grandmother to life. Dancing across the stage were fireflies, and in the sky crashed turbulent waves. She held her hand aloft and there was a chaos of motion, but when she moved it to the side there was silence.

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Julian Files, excerpt 10: Cedrick, Julian, and the search for the house

The street was lined with tall, skinny buildings pressed up against one another; old houses and commercial buildings converted into apartments and offices. Windows were broken out of lower levels, with old, faded signs tipped at angles against the blinds. Julian shrugged the collar of his jacket up against the pale touch of the wind. He skimmed the addresses as he passed, listening with relief he didn’t want to acknowledge to Cedrick’s every counter step against the rhythm of Julian’s own gait.

Graffiti covered every available surface, with the gangs crossing out each other’s messages and leaving one of their own. Bullet holes punched through windows and walls, with glass crunching underneath their shoes. The occasional splatter of blood and collection of pictures and mementos marked the places where someone had lost their life.

Julian only hoped he wouldn’t have to build a shrine for his brother in this godforsaken place too. Constriction grew in his stomach first, and moved python-slow up his esophagus. Tightening his throat until it was air, only air, that could release, and even that grew stale and dim and unattainable.

Cedrick bumped lightly against his side and Julian looked over. Saw his friend with his hands buried in his pockets, shoulders hunched against the weathered wind, with a Mona Lisa smile on his lips.

Julian breathed.

The city seemed endless; stretched taut to the sky with valleys and plains in an unknowable pattern. Lights were here and gone in fits and bursts; throwing this alley into relief and that street into shadows too dark for the day. Now and then he caught a hint of music or voices carried along the wind. Laughter and tunes he couldn’t place and the occasional screech of tires, and it was home of a sort, and it was life of a sort, and it should have been comforting to have that urban backdrop even here but it wasn’t.

It wasn’t, because Jeremiah was somewhere in these streets, buried deep somewhere beneath a home, and he could only hope it wasn’t literal by the time he arrived.

“There.”

Julian slowed his stride at Cedrick’s voice, and followed the line of his finger pointing in the distance. The railroad tracks were a dark crosshatched pattern staining the ground, winding here and there in controlled chaos. Several trains were vacant; dormant maybe since the war, or maybe only since the morning. Julian didn’t know at a glance. Julian didn’t care.

“It has to be around here.”

Julian didn’t know where Cedrick got his certainty, but he wanted to believe in the belief Cedrick had. He wanted to believe that life really was as simple as finding a way to smile after loss, and trust blindly in the dark.

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