Michael Stackpole recommends that when writing a novel, one should concentrate on finishing the novel and make your edits/re-writes later; just leave yourself notes or else you'll never get the novel done. I'm more of an edit-as-you-go type of person and I'm thinking that in this case, I'm not writing a novel but a short story. Still, remember that wall I hit yesterday? Well instead of moving the story forward, I instead went back and edited what I previously wrote. It's better now, mind you, but it's also 1,500 words whereas it used to be just 1,000 words and my story hasn't really progressed from where I ended previously. Mind you, that extra 500 words isn't padding but were details that made the story smoother and cleared up illogical parts of the story. Still, as far as plot goes, I haven't been overcoming the wall so to speak, merely backtracking myself.
So how does one overcome that wall? In this particular case, I know the answer: set aside time to write it down, actually write it down, and do more research. The thing is, despite knowing all that, I didn't act on it. Knowing is one thing, acting on it is another. I made an excuse--the need to edit--and while I don't regret that decision, it also hasn't gotten me anywhere. So currently, I am setting aside time to do those things. One step forward, even if it's just baby steps.
Another weakness of mine is names. In this short story, I just have one naming convention rule: to make the familiar unfamiliar. So far I'd like to think I've succeeded in that. But it's far from easy. Take for example the Philippines. If you had this fantastical Philippine setting, what do you call it? Dean called his Hinirang. A friend called his Mahadlika. What would you call your Philippines if you had to rename it? Here's what we've historically propositioned at one point in time or another (from Colonial Name, Colonial Mentality and Ethnocentrism):
- Maharlika ("Noble")
- Bayani ("Hero")
- Luzviminda (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao)
Let me, instead, quote a friend in how she very aptly described the frustrated writer-wannabe critic causing all this ruckus: "He's just wanking because his glasses are bigger than his brain." Heck. Now that I think about it, I think my boobs are bigger than his brain.My initial reaction is to become defensive or discredit her writing skills. But in the long run, I think that's besides the point (she's also going to be published in an upcoming anthology so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she is very talented). One's philosophical beliefs are separate from one's writing skill (or else I'd have "lost" by the mere fact I was arguing with Bhex and Tin who are infinitely better writers than me). At the end of the day though, it's about me. Maybe I am a wannabe writer: I mean I've been trying to get published for several years now and all I have to show for it is one story in Philippine Genre Stories Vol. 3 that just got released in August of this year (thanks Kyu!). But you know what, I'll just use that comment to fuel my writing. Whenever I falter and lose my motivation to write, all I need to do is look up that statement. There are even authors who use the villains in their life as characters in their story. Moral lesson of the day? Channel your passions into your writing.