graycardinal: Shadow on asphalt (Default)
Not Prime Time reveals are in, and I can now report what I wrote for this year's exchange -- a story I had a lot of fun developing, for a recipient I've written for before.  (I'll be back later to edit a bit for formatting -- I'm still learning how my new Bluetooth tablet keyboard  works -- but this will get the word out.

An Oblique Approach
 
Fandom: Iron Man (Movies), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Words: ~5300
Relationships: Pepper Potts/Tony Stark, Pepper Potts & Natasha Romanov
Characters: Pepper Potts, Tony Stark, Jarvis (Iron Man movies), Natasha Romanov (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Extremis Pepper Potts, POV Pepper Potts, terrible horrible no good very bad days, Footnotes

“Oh, Tony. Trust me, the very last thing I want to do is go out and shoot fire at things with stupid numbers of people watching. Also, I’m pretty sure ‘Human Torch’ is trademarked already.”

Tony sighed theatrically. “I get it,” he said. “But trust me, you don’t know what you’re missing.”


owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
When you feel anxious about doing a thing, it lies to you. It says "You can put this off until you don't feel so anxious about it." But if you put it off, the day doesn't come when you don't feel so anxious about it. If anything, repeating this over and over - the anxiety, and the "I don't have to do this right NOW" - creates more anxiety. It conditions you to feel anxious when you think about doing the thing.

But if you say to yourself, "No matter how awful I feel about this, I have to do the thing," that also doesn't work.

It does, a little bit. It does for things that are over pretty quickly once you get over the initial hurdle of anxiety. For me, at least, it doesn't work for creative work or work that requires a substantial level of focus, because trying to force yourself to write for an hour or two while your heart is actually pounding with anxiety is genuinely bad. I can make it work for a little while, but before long, it starts to fall apart. I start to feel as if I'm not allowed to take care of my anxious self.

There is only one way out of this.

First of all, I need to take enough days off that I get back that sense that my time is my own, that I have freedom and breathing room and I am allowed to do what I want.

But more importantly, I need to get in touch with what I love in this book. Every single day, I need to get back in touch with it. Because love actually is stronger than fear. And even if I don't feel less afraid, I feel more sure that what I'm doing is worth doing. I feel more sure that the part of me that wants to finish this book is a better and truer part of me than the part of me that doesn't.

And I won't say that it's easy, but it gives me enough light to see by.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
I will tell you the worst writing advice I ever got from a publishing professional.

The worst writing advice I ever got from a publishing professional is:

"Young Adult has to have a romance because that's what all teenagers are focused on in their own lives."

Every part of that sentence is false.

There are aromantic teenagers and asexual teenagers and late bloomers and teenagers who have stuff going on in their lives family-wise or mental-health-wise or who, for any number of reasons, are not that focused on finding love in high school.

There are also so many YA books that don't have romances! There are some where a romantic relationship isn't a part of the story at all - or it's only a small part - or it's a fairly big part but it isn't a capital-R Romance at all, in the sense of being a story where one of the big story questions is "Are they going to get together???" and the answer is "Yes!"

(Even the "because" is false because what you want from fiction and what you want from real life are often different things).

*

One of the big struggles for me in writing this book has been that I struggle to connect with a lot of the romances in YA books. And they're a lot harder to write well, I think, than most people realize. So, a stunningly obvious thing that I only just realized last night:

Romance is characterization.

If you are a very good writer, everything that a character ever does is characterization. How you get ready in the morning, how you drive a car, how you cook. But how someone thinks about love, how it feels for them to be in love - that tells you a lot. I think that's one of the reasons why so much fannish energy goes into shipping - because if your favorite character's romance storylines in canon are non-existent or boring or contrived or stuck in perpetual Unresolved Sexual Tension that's only going to be resolved when the writers can't draw it out any more and the producers want a ratings boost, then that exists as a gap in the canon that's calling out for resolution.

The more I got to know my narrator, Itsuki, the more I realized she didn't easily fit in with any romance storyline I had planned out. She resisted that kind of narrative, for a long time. She made me think, hard, about my own resistance to that narrative, as a reader and as a human being.

The thing is, though? I really like writing love stories. I don't want them to be cheap or dishonest and there are a lot of pitfalls that are hard to avoid. But eventually, I think, I found a way to write it that made sense for who she was. I discovered how she fell in love, how she thought about love.

I am not sure how she would identify herself, if she had all the words of Tumblr at her disposal. But this book has all been a heinous glorious voyage of self-discovery where I have largely had to grope around in the dark with only the dim and shaky light of my intuition to see by, so - I am OK with not being able to fit that neatly into a box. I feel like I have written a book that is honest. That's as much as I can ever hope to do.

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idaretodisturb: Danny Kaye in THE COURT JESTER (Default)
Cilean Tohx

June 2013

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