I know just about every blog on the internet has written up a 2016 goals post and that I am an entire month late jumping on the bandwagon, but it always takes me about a month to process and really settle on what my goals actually are for the year anyways, so now is just as good a time as any. What can I say? I’m a Taurus, I like to take my time.
It most likely goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyways), I’ve been very much neglecting this space. I’ve been neglecting my personal blog as well, so I’ve been feeling like quite the blog failure as of late. One of my goals for this year is to definitely change that (on both fronts). Especially since, if I’m going to insist on calling myself a writer, I need to keep writing no matter what the topic or the format.
I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I want to fill this blog with though. And while I’m still not entirely sure what that is going to be, I did decide recently what it won’t be. I don’t want this blog to become a space where I tell you how you should write and how you are never going to be a published writer if you do these 10 horrific, terrible, beyond the pale things. I don’t want to become some didactic smartass and start making pin-bait dos and don’ts lists about writing, because the truth is there is no wrong way to write. Writing is something that you just do, and honestly, the only way to learn how is by doing it. Only by writing and experimenting and stealing and imitating can you figure what is the right way for you to write.
During the fall semester, Robin Black came to UTSA as part of the creative writing reading series. Before the reading, she did a private meeting with English majors to talk about writing. Several times during the meeting a question would be asked that began with some variation on “what would you say is the best way to…?” Each time Mrs. Black would detail her personal method for solving the problem presented, but she was always careful to point out that her way isn’t necessarily the right way and neither is it the wrong way. She cemented for me a theory that I’ve been harboring on my own for a few years now: the only right way to write is the way that works for you.
Now that “what I will never write about on this blog” is out of the way, we’re back to the original question: what is it that I want to put in this space?
I have some ideas, but really, I still don’t entirely know. I don’t want to relegate this space to being only about writing or only about reading. Why? Well, because, 1) you can’t have one without the other, that’s a given, and 2) I began my career as an English major not because I love to write, but because I genuinely love literature. I love analyzing it and I love talking about it. I love symbolism and motifs. I love seeing what past works influenced the works of today. Sadly, however, over time I realized that a degree in literature would only get me a job teaching. I grew up in a family of teachers, and after spending my entire childhood listening to those teachers miserable in their jobs I swore never to end up in that situation. Which is why I will do everything in my power (albeit a sometimes very easily distracted power) to make a living off of writing. This is why I made the decision to focus on creative writing instead. And on the plus side, I’m here to tell you that, as a creative writing major, you still spend a lot of time reading, analyzing, and talking at length about symbolism and motifs—because you can’t have one without the other.
This is a very round about way of saying I want to blog about my two passions: literature and writing. Though, writing may be the wrong word. Writing is a dead horse of a topic. You want to know how to write? There are about a million books on amazon and about a billion blogs on the internet dedicated to the dos and don’ts of writing. And it’s all the same information a million times over. I get nothing from those books and blogs. It’s all stuff I’ve been learning my entire life. I learned it by writing and by reading. No, writing is the wrong term. Storytelling is what I mean to say. Because that’s the part about writing that isn’t talked about. And ironically, that’s the most important part.
You may know how to write, how to outline, how to write dialogue, and how to write kitschy characters that everyone will love or even love to hate. But do you know how to tell a story? Do you know where to get inspiration that isn’t from a weekly writing prompt? How to come up with motifs? How to sneak in those tiny details that mean one thing when you first read it, but mean an entirely other thing when you know the symbolism or the reference or even the backstory revealed later on? How to write something that people will love whether it’s a best seller or not? And speaking of bestsellers, which is more important: fame, money, or writing a story that you’re proud of, no matter who’s reading it, even if it would make a lousy movie, even if it doesn’t follow the industry trends? How do you write the story you want to read rather than the story everyone else wants you to write?
I don’t honestly have the answers to most of these questions, but they’re ideas that aren’t being explored. I’m getting tired of writing advice that hinges on bestsellers and comparing your writing to the latest trendy book the entire internet is talking about. Who cares how they write, the important question is how do you write. I’m still trying to figure this out myself, maybe we can figure it out together.
I realize that I’m still dancing around answering the question at hand and the reason is because I’m still trying to figure it out. I want to write about inspiration and where to find it (that’s my favorite topic to talk about). I want to talk about myths and fairy tales and how they have changed and bent and twisted into something else entirely. I want to talk about symbolism and motifs and where exactly are those lines between too sparse, clever, genius, and “enough already, I get it!”. I want to talk about history and timelines, how to alternate history and how to subvert it. I want to talk about how to take a bit of this culture, a smidge of that era, a handful of what’s wrong with the world, and then blend it all together to get a new world entirely. I want to talk about literature and genres. What is steampunk, dieselpunk, cyberpunk, solarpunk, and how are they all different from one another? But, more than anything, I want to talk about what it means to open yourself to the outside world and how to use it all to your advantage as a writer, but more importantly, as a storyteller. These are the places my mind keeps going when I think about what to do with this space. We’ll see how this all actually comes together in the end.*
Now that I’ve rambled enough, Let’s get on with the actual point of this post:
Blogging Goals for 2016
I’ve already scheduled a year’s worth of prompts which will show up every Monday. Every other week will be an image prompt and then the in between weeks will switch between music and story dice prompts. I would also love to do some sound effects prompts, but first I need to figure out how to get sound clips onto the site without spending too much money. I also have an idea for d20/d100 prompts, but I’m awful at coming up with lists, so don’t hold your breath for too many of those.
I decided that with all the books I read for classes I might as well be reviewing them here. So, I’m planning on doing that, but I’m also going to be realistic and not make any promises as of yet.
I would also love to do more open letters, but it will absolutely have to wait until after February which is going to be really hectic as far as school work goes.
One thing I will definitely be doing is an unboxing/review series. I subscribed to Justin McLachlan’s Storyed Crate for the six month plan. So look forward to at least six months worth of those!**
And to make sure that I’m doing at least one post a month, I’m planning an update post similar to the one I did yesterday at the end of each month.
Hopefully this all actually works out and I don’t look back on this post in December thinking what a bust 2016 was.
*A lot of this I already talk about (or am planning on talking about) on my personal blog. This is why I keep going back and forth about a lot of these topics. How do I separate the two? Do I post multiples on both blogs? Should I even be telling you this? I’m still trying to figure all of this out. So, be please patient while I stumble around with it for a bit.
**I’ve also subscribed to the Sabbat Box, a pagan subscription box. I’m planning on doing unboxing/review posts for each of those over on my personal blog.