et alia: So you want to write RAcy fan fiction? Don’t be SAD…

I knew it had been a while since I’d posted a chapter update to my AU John Porter fan fiction effort, Recovery.  When I logged into the DreamerFiction today, I was horrified to see just how long it has really been.  My last update, Chapter 23, was posted on March 20…that’s two months ago!  Good grief!  I don’t think I’m alone in having felt the frustration of becoming invested in a multi chapter, complex story, only to find that the author abandoned it for one reason or another.    Fear not lectores, I will finish Recovery, and soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been thinking a little about what the hold up has been.

Just a regular day...

Just a regular day…

No doubt part of the problem is the ordinary average chaos that is my life.  Since mid March, there have been numerous additions to the regular mayhem.  First, my husband started a new job which required the Human Resources Manager (that would be me) to fill out a gogillion forms for various and sundry benefits and submit proof of the valid existence of myself and my children as related to the covered employee…my husband, their father.  (This process necessitated a visit to the courthouse to replace a missing birth certificate – I opted for the multiple copy bargain rate – just in case)  Also new to me was the intensive rehearsal and performance schedule of the in house thespian that occupied the theatrical agent and principle chauffeur (also me) for the first half of April.  Factor in the end of the academic year, grading and most recently a bout with some unspecified pestilence that first transformed Mini Me into a feverish, coughing semi invalid and has since left me with a largely inaudible squeak in place of a voice, and my lack of progress comes into focus.

I can’t credit my schedule for all of it though.  My life isn’t that much busier than it was when I started writing the story.  I found a way to shuffle things around before so that I was updating about every two weeks…what is the problem now?

Drafts...

Drafts…

Another part of the equation lies in my writing method.  Apart from blog posts, which I compose at the computer, my other writing all begins in handwritten form.  I’ve written like this forever.  If I try to sit down and compose from scratch at the computer, I end up drawing a complete blank and staring at the screen in a daze.  It’s a different story with paper and pen.  I usually sit down and start to outline…the bullet points at some stage broaden into paragraphs and dialogue.  Maybe it’s a tactile thing…I love the feel of fine paper and scratch of the pen across it’s surface.  I’ve found that I prefer gel pens since the ink dries quickly and doesn’t blob or smudge, and using a variety of colors allows me to make notes and edit as I go.  I have several notebooks, that I now carry along in my bookbag to keep them away from the curious,  which contain various chapters, chapter outlines and research notes.  I am much more productive when I can disconnect from everything for a couple of hours and just lose myself in the cadence of penning the story to paper.  I make corrections as I go along, but the transcription onto the computer serves as another stage of the editing process.    I’ve been writing like this for so long (since before the dawn of time…or at least the ubiquitous personal computer) that I didn’t realize that it was at all noteworthy until the subject came up in a conversation about gel pens between Servetus and me.  So there you go…my archaic little secret!   Interestingly, my son, a burgeoning writer himself, reports that he writes the same way – the nosy mother in me wonders where he keeps his notebooks stashed!

A rare-ish John Porter smile..Strikeback S1E4 Source:  www.richardarmitagenet.com (my crop)

A rare-ish John Porter smile..Strikeback S1E4
Source: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com (my crop)

While the opportunity and means to write certainly play a large part in my foot dragging end to Recovery, the more I think about it, the more I’m certain that there’s another factor in the mix.  I honestly think I’m suffering from a preemptive case of separation anxiety (SAD…not to be confused with SAD – Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Honestly acronym makers!)  I think that a part of me is reluctant to bring this story to a close because I’ve become really attached to the characters and I don’t want to let them go.  Be that as it may, I fully intend to finish Recovery.  My dear pal Guylty has helped me out with my missing SB DVD, so I have plenty of renewed inspiRAtion.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised though,  if there aren’t a few holiday vignettes in the hopper for John Porter and Lindsey Tate.

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12 comments on “et alia: So you want to write RAcy fan fiction? Don’t be SAD…

  1. Servetus says:

    Holiday vignettes? Do you do Lag b’Omer? 🙂

  2. katie70 says:

    It is good to hear that I am not the only person in the world that likes pen and paper to the computer keyboard and screen while writing. I know to may people who could never write with just a pen and paper.

    Now that I have said that, after dad died and I had a big report due in school and choose to write just with the computer to save time and was surprise how well it had gone. I wrote this way for my writing class last semester and it did go well. I make changes as I go, I have never been one to write and fix later.

    I still will go back to paper and pen, I did put my ideas down on paper for my class. Part of it for me is I just write faster than I can type.

    • obscura says:

      It’s an odd thing. I have never been big on multiple drafts either (although I definitely require my students to do them…”do as I say, not as I do” extends to the classroom in this case) but I also shift and edit things as I scribble it down. Sometimes I do find that walking away from it for awhile and coming back with fresh eyes can be useful.

      I had started grading and commenting on papers on screen, but more recently, I’ve been printing copies, hand writing comments and then scanning and uploading the graded papers to return them to the students. This way we both have a copy of the comments that can’t really be tinkered with.

  3. Leigh says:

    I write with pen and paper, too. Pen and paper seem to trigger my process. After half a century, that’s not likely to change. Pen and paper is also more portable and reliable; no power needed, no weird computer glitches. Only when I have most of the substance down do I input it.

    I completely understand about the chaos of life getting in the way of creativity. I am patient. I have to be. 🙂

    • obscura says:

      I think that’s a good point. I don’t know why, but it seems to work the same for me. Sometimes when I’m sure I’m just not feeling it, I’ll sit down to just jot down some thoughts or an idea and an hour later I’m 1500 words deep. I generally read through and arrow things around, scratch out words, etc. before I start keying.

      I do have a lingering leeriness about losing digitized text. Way back when..my first year of grad school, I had a Smith Corona word processor. I was writing a term paper, something Roman, composing it from notes, adding footnotes, etc. When I was ten pages in, the machine completely froze, eating all of the text…I hadn’t even printed a draft that I could go back to. Tail between my legs, I trudged to my professor and told the tragic tale as I requested an extension on the due date. (This was much more daunting to me then than it seems to be to my students…of course, they usually email me…I groveled face to face.). Thankfully, I had extensive handwritten notes to cobble the narrative back together.

      Technology is great, but there is definitely something to be said for the old school.

  4. Perry says:

    I thought this would interest you, if you haven’t already seen it http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27468949

    • obscura says:

      Thanks…I hadn’t! That was a really interesting read. I had a moment of panic a few weeks ago when I left my book bag in a classroom – I was petrified that someone was going to root through my notebooks to find the owner of the bag. It’s almost as personal as a journal sometimes.

      • Servetus says:

        There’s an interesting Armitage [rpf / slash] fanfic that is exploring this right now — Armitage forgets one of his notebooks somewhere, and a director casts him and then rewrites the play to reflect material in the notebooks, which (for now, anyway) stymies Armitage’s ability to perform.

  5. PreferNot2 says:

    Polonius: Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.

    http://wp.me/a4nLZs-3H

    I am so glad to learn, reading your and other blogs, that maybe we all are a little mad, but there’s [the same] method in our madness

    • obscura says:

      Welcome, and thanks for commenting. I suppose it is that little madness that sparks the imagination and calls things forth…I’m happy to have company in it, especially if there’s a bit of method too! 🙂

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