My Few Travails With Romance Writing

I tend to avoid writing romance in my stories.

This is not a denigration of the genre as a whole. I don’t mind romance in fiction, nonfiction, what have you. But it would be disingenuous of me if I didn’t admit that I am burned out by how romance is generally written or portrayed in popular media. I’m for affection no matter how grandeur or sedate. I’m not a big fan of romance revolving around a chase or comic misunderstandings that could be solved by “talking with each other.”  But I won’t focus on that. Not now at least.

But that’s not the main reason why I don’t often write romance. It’s more that my mind skews platonic when I contemplate most character relationships. And this wasn’t always the case.

Back in the early days of writing (I’m talking 10-12) romance was always at the forefront of my mind. A lot of the things I liked had a romantic element in it and I wanted to emulate that. I’m talking Disney with its princess plots, the music I listened to on loop were love songs, anime like Ranma 1/2 and Clannad with their protracted “will they/won’t they” subplots, and all the YA I was reading like Twilight and the Fallen series. Romance was everywhere and I tended to pen plots where they were heavily featured or hinted. I also had a rather juvenile conception of what love and affection actually looked like. Thanks to said anime shows, my earliest characters were always sniping at each other and the violence only escalated until they were maiming each other with bats and exploding ovens to show their affection. (Yes, a truly healthy relationship!)

But the older I grew, the less these things appealed to me. The less I found myself including romance in my stories. Romance plots bored me. I started rolling my eyes at love at first sight and I grew disenchanted with “hate upon meeting” relationships.

But outside of the cliches, I just never felt comfortable in including romance in my stories. Perhaps it was shame looking at my earlier work and coming to the conclusion that I really didn’t have a talent for it. Often as I wrote characters getting intimate, I found myself embarrassed for them. Some story ideas were ended outright because I blushed too much to continue. But more than anything, I found myself more inclined to other genres. I like dark humor, mystery, and story subjects that focused on the weird and fantastical.

But I haven’t completely abandoned romance in stories. There’s something beautiful in crafting a relationship two characters that find something transcendent in their affection for each other. But I also want to explore relationships where the rose tint fades and people find something more to love in the ordinary. There’s a beauty in comfort that I think gets underrepresented in love stories.

In fact, I have a few projects which I hope to include some romantic element in them. Not sure how good I’ll be at it but trying will be fun!

On the Days When Your Brain Just Can’t

Or when your brain decides to go on strike causing nothing but creative frustration!

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I’m in a bit of a creative nadir.

Throughout most the year, I was riding on a bit of writing high propelled by a long-term writing project which, in its own way, motivated me to do others when I didn’t feel like working on that monster. But that writing project is over (it’s stewing in its own metaphorical juices until revision) and every minor project that I wanted to do has been finished in one way or the other.

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And now I can’t…

I mean, I have other writing projects I want to do but I just can’t…

See! I’m even struggling to create a sentence because my ideas just kind of die. They get a bit of steam and then they’re already passed out on the floor and refuse to do anything productive to get themselves to their destination. My hands are wishy-washy about picking up a pen or tapping away at keys. Character voices get lost in the ether and I struggle to find their echo.

But perhaps I’m trying too hard. Perhaps, after 10 months straight, my brain is taking the time to recoup and I shouldn’t stress by the decline in output.

But stressing is kind of my second nature so, of course, I’ll do that until I get something productive done. But then I’ll stress out over whatever project I get back on the horse with.

I can never win…but I love it.

I love stressing about my writing. It’s a better alternative than stressing about the lack of it.

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Self-Censure

That will not be the final title and this will be deleted. I’m trying to get myself going.

I’ll write a line that I don’t think is too good. I debate its artistic merit and chastise myself for thinking that. I push through nonsense–perceived and actual all to get to that scene I want to get to. Writing will get easier once I reach…

Pause.

I try out this sentence then scratch it out.

What am I doing exactly?

Frustrated contemplation
Enact & Redact
Instate and Debate

What am I doing? This suddenly became a poem.

I can smell the stink of ideas festering in my brain. They grow more rancid and the page acts as its mirror.

I further desecrate its unmarked grave and whip the husk of the dead thing until it falls apart at my feet.

I should delete that too. Don’t I always wax poetic about dead things when I’m bereft of ideas.

I should try something fresh–both literally and figuratively.

Delete all of it.

No, not delete.

Make sure it never see the light of day.

My own dirty little secret tucked between pages.

Finding the Time to Write

Writing is a very time-consuming hobby.

I’m pretty sure I’m not making any groundbreaking statements by saying that. We all know that writing, like most art, demands a lot from anyone who seriously seeks to hone their craft.

It requires concentration. It requires patience. It requires frustration.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the busiest person in the world but I do have my fair share of responsibilities (Jobs, chores, other annoying adulting activities…)

It’s enough that when downtime does come around, I feel conflicted. I’ve gotten myself into the habit of thinking my downtime is my writing time. And I love writing! I’m at my happiest when I do it (most of the time I would even describe it as fun) but I don’t think it relaxing.

A lot of emotions go into it. Excitement, anger, embarrassment–not to mention that I tend to go through the same emotional highs and lows as my characters while writing. As fulfilling as it is draining, as fun as it is FRUSTRATING.

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With that being said, it’s often a toss-up between relaxing and writing. Do I want to engage in some relaxation where I idle away the hours in mindless entertainment or do I want to knuckle down with some concentrated writing? Depending on my mood and motivation, I tend to get stressed out by the choice which makes relaxing a more likely option. But then I’m filled with regret the next day due to the time wasted (Yes, I’m so neurotic that the idea of relaxation unnerves me).

Recently (and I mean very recently) I’ve tried measuring writing goals with small pockets of time. On any given day, I know that I have at least 15 to 25 minutes to spare and I force myself to set aside at least that much time to write. The hardest thing about writing is starting to do it and setting that minimum bar sometimes gets me going for two or three more similar sessions. One small victory makes me want to build upon it and before I know it, I have a pretty decent draft in the works.

Of course, there are times, days even, when this little bit of effort is hard to muster. Life can get busy and it’s important not to get down on yourself too bad when you can’t make time for writing or whatever art project you really want to work on.

This is what I tell myself at least. If it can help one other person, I’m happy to put it out there.

So, how do you all put aside for writing? How do you measure progress in your projects? 

On Why I Fail at Maintaining a Blog

You know why I often fail at maintaining a blog?

To put it bluntly: I hate my voice.

Not my actual voice but my personal writing voice–the voice that is supposed to represent me. Getting into a character’s voice is easy. Though an element of myself may be hiding in the wings, they’re not me.

I struggle to talk about myself or the various aspects of my life candidly. I hide behind pretension and pretty prose in an attempt to obscure what I like, what I do, how I feel. It’s a very big problem that I, unfortunately, carry into my day to day life. I compartmentalize different aspects of myself into little boxes and mark most of them “Do Not Discuss.”

But I find admitting failure makes it easier to navigate around. Now that the secret is out, improvements can be made. Strategies can be devised. Tactics can be implemented.

So what can you expect from me this time around? My first inclination is to say that I’m not quite sure. I prefer my work to speak for itself but, in an attempt to be more candid, I’ll speak to what I hope to do.

My first and foremost goal is to bring all aspects of myself under a single banner. My life, my writing, my hobbies, and my strange obsession for the macabre and strange. In the past, I tended to spread these out on multiple platforms, shielding one aspect from the other. This could take the form of extended musings, book reviews, fiction vignettes or whatever else I find to express it.

For anyone who happens upon this little corner of the internet, I hope that you find some enjoyment from it.

Thanks for stopping by and best of luck to you on your internet travels!