Writing Life: First Drafts

I am no pro when it comes to writing. I have never published a book or worked in the industry to give any sort of founded advice. Having said that, I do consider myself a writer and with that come certain opinions and thoughts about the topic of writing in general. So, since I have been more interested in creating discussion posts for the blog lately, I’d like to introduce this new feature to talk about the writing life as well as updates on my very own work in progress – Arcadia!

Sharing your writing is always terrifying, no matter if you are a seasoned writer or a newbie. I’ve mentioned this a couple times, but the version of Arcadia that I am constantly uploading right now is only the first draft. Most writers wouldn’t do such a thing! They might show that draft to a trusted critique partner, but most likely they will polish it up beforehand. Quite a few people have called me brave for doing what I do, but I don’t think it’s any braver than sharing later versions. There’s a certain expectation that comes along with first drafts. The general advice is to just get the project done and fix whatever terrible mess you made later on in editing. But does that really work for everyone? Does it always have to be a bad first draft?

We are all different people, obviously, and therefore we also have different ways of writing. I know quite a few folks who have to plot everything meticulously before they can even start thinking about writing their chapters. I, on the other hand, need to just write whatever comes to mind with a rough idea of where I want the chapters to end. While so many people don’t share their unfinished/unpolished work, I need the affirmation and interest of my friends and sometimes random strangers on the internet to keep me motivated to write. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. It’s basically a general – you do you! Does that mean that I think my first draft is perfect? No! I am trying my best to make it a coherent story, but I still make mistakes. Some of them are small, others will cause a bit of problems later on, but that is what editing is for. It’s only normal to not get it perfectly right from the get go, however, I do have the hope that I won’t need a gazillion more drafts during the process of editing. I’d like to think that whatever I am putting out in the world now isn’t utter garbage!

Thinking back to my first finished story Break Up Buddy though, I know I did not care as much about how the first draft ended. And I needed that freedom for the story to be shitty! First of all, I wrote it during NaNoWriMo and I was determined to win. It was 2014 and my first time really participating. I got super competitive with myself in reaching the daily word count and that it was more important to me to get the story done rather than make it a good story in itself. That’s basically what that entire event is for and I loved it. I enjoyed participating so much, I met great people and I FINALLY got that story out of my head. It was an important step for me, but then I reread it all a couple months later and it was just terrible! (Utterly cringe-worthy for the most part to be exact) I never got through that process of editing it, simply because I had to change so much, I didn’t know how to handle it. That’s why I am now trying to get it “more right” on the first try than I did back then. I am taking time with the chapters and I know I will still need to work on it, but it won’t have to be an entirely different story to get done.

This is all just my personal experience. If you are someone who works better with not caring so much during the first draft – go you! We all work differently and shouldn’t be held to certain expectations or feel constrained by what others do or don’t do.

So, up to you! Are you more someone who just lets things happen and fixes them later, or do you prefer to do everything “right” from the beginning? Let’s talk!

Discussion Time: Blogger Identity

There’s many reasons why people follow blogs. The content and the design are obvious starting points, but most people stay for the person – the way the blogger writes and interacts with others on and off the blog. Even if you never meet these people off-screen, you feel connected to them and maybe even like part of their life. But sometimes life happens, priorities change and so does the focus of some bloggers’ posts. Do you still keep following them or do you lose interest? Let’s talk about that!

If you had asked me a couple months ago, I would have proudly said I am a book blogger. However, considering the percentage of book related posts in comparison to the ones about TV, films and/or writing, I am just not sure that’s still true. I haven’t read a single book in the past weeks and even more noticeably, I don’t particularly miss it. Usually, a reading slump would go hand in hand with a little blogging hiatus, but this time around I don’t want to stop blogging. I just don’t necessarily want to talk about books. So what does that make me?

I never made a big deal out of branding my blog a book blog. The name “Life and Other Disasters” is pretty general (for once a good decision) and I feel like it’s applicable for whatever I decide to post about. Then again, I know that the biggest junk of my readership started following this blog when I started to put a bigger emphasis on books. I am not saying I won’t talk books at all now, but I do feel like most of my posts are either about life events, TV obsessions or just general thought experiments. While I do have a couple regular readers who comment and like whatever I write about (I appreciate you guys so, so much by the way, you are my driving force! <3), I have noticed a decline in my stats. Of course, I can’t help but wonder if it has something to do with my content or simply bad timing and the general irregularity with which I post? I very well know that stats aren’t what really counts, interaction is far more important, but I think everyone who says they aren’t paying attention to them at all is a pretty little liar. The most unhealthy thing is to compare yourself and your blog to others, but lately, I just feel like everyone keeps passing me by. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I have no intention of stopping, but seeing everyone else reach those blogging goals that I needed years for in a matter of months is just kind of demotivating. I am very happy for those people, they are my friends, my community, but at the same time I keep wondering what I am doing wrong. It invokes this sense of detachment and makes me want to engage less, even though that is exactly the opposite of what would be helpful when you are trying to get your stats up again.

A big focus of blogging has also shifted to social media platforms. This is where people can showcase even more of their personality and engage with their audience. I would go so far as to say that as a modern-day blogger, you need Twitter and Instagram. I especially used to love Twitter when I first joined, it gave you such easy access to a huge amount of people with the same interests as you, but now … whenever I go online I just see a bunch of threads talking about controversial topics or complaining about one thing or another. Those are all really valid and most of the time about important topics that need to be called out, however, I am not the kind of person to engage in such conversations. I don’t feel like I have anything to add and I really don’t want to talk over people who might be more affected by the topics than me. So, I am basically just sharing random writing and life updates that don’t seem like a very valuable contribution or something people are actually interested in.

I realize my posts have become increasingly rambly, but sometimes you just have to write things off your chest. I am in a real blogger identity crisis, not sure where I am headed with my content and not sure if I am still part of the community I love so very much. I know that I am not alone in feeling that way, because I have talked to some people who’ve been doing this for a while as well and there is a shift in the blogging world. At least that’s what I experience from my little corner of the interwebs. I am definitely curious to see where this all goes.

Have you ever been in a blogger identity crisis? Do you follow blogs even if they talk about other things than the stuff they started out with? Let’s chat!

Discussion Time: Fangirling

This is a very random and very rambly post. Ever since I moved to Vancouver, I’ve been to several film/TV sets and it has mostly been fun. I always enjoy just hanging out there, because I love the atmosphere and let’s face it – I have literally nothing better to do. Other than most people, I don’t go there for the actors/actresses though, but rather because I want to make friends among the crew members. I am semi-successful at that so far, but there’s a thin line between being that fun random girl that shows up or the crazy fan who’s just everywhere. So, I have to be careful, but that’s a different topic.

I am a fangirl. That’s no secret and it’s nothing I am ashamed to admit either. However, I do have a complicated relationship with the whole fangirling experience sometimes. I am very passionate when it comes to TV shows and books. In fact, I think that exactly that passion makes this blog so very me. I will gladly scream about all my faves on Twitter or discuss ships for hours with my friends, whether they be online or non-virtual (see how I am not using the word “real” on purpose – online friends are just as real as the people you are physically able to see, folks!). That behaviour and love for fictional content is a big part of my personality and I would never try to hide or suppress it.

Having said all that, I act very differently when I am not online or in the presence of friends. For those of you who don’t know, I studied film and TV and I have worked in that area and would like to do so in the future as well. It’s great if you are enthusiastic about your work and passionate about the projects that are filmed in your area, which I obviously am, but there is just no room to be starstruck. There is a certain leeway if you are still young or just starting out, but in the end it always comes down to the fact that the superfans will most likely never get hired again. You sort of have to adjust how you act around these people and I’ve learned a lot about that in my previous jobs.

Does that mean I am not totally in awe of some actors/actresses/authors/bloggers/celebrities? No, of course not! There are so many people I would love to meet and be friends with, but that’s just not how it works. (Aside from the fact that meeting your idols can be really disappointing) Unless you are very fortunate and you meet one of your heroes in a bar or some other casual venue, befriending them is a very unlikely outcome. There are always exceptions and especially with some authors and bloggers, it is really easy to connect online. But when you are at a filming location, that’s a different story. You can make all the posters and write all the letters you want, but what kind of outcome do you expect from screaming their name across the street and snatching a blurry photo from afar?

I don’t want to say that it’s wrong to fangirl, whether it’s to the extreme or on the inside. The entire entertainment industry is based on these passionate people. They are the ones that make things happen, but sometimes I feel like there should be boundaries. I went to a set today (not saying which one, but it’s a popular teen show) and there were so many young girls following the actor every step of the way, he had to take a car to get across the street. That feels more than excessive to me and it’s sad, because when they don’t make such a big fuzz, the cast is far more likely to interact with them. My first instinct was to immediately distance myself from them, that I couldn’t be seen with a bunch of fangirls. They were really nice, but I could see how the crew got annoyed by them or felt like they made their job harder. I didn’t want to be that kind of person. So, all I did was take literally one step back from that group of girls and suddenly people thought I worked on set as security or as a PA. It was crazy to me how easily the perception of someone can change, depending on where on the street they are standing. Pedestrians came up and asked questions about the set, what was filming, if they were allowed to take pictures and claimed that they never had seen groupies like that in real life.

My heart is breaking when it comes to this topic, because I don’t want to distance myself from being a fangirl. I get how important a show/book/song/whatever-you-are-a-fan-of can be. I get that urge to share it with the world and to tell that person how much you love and appreciate their work, but in some cases it just gets out of hand and achieves the opposite of what was originally intended. They will close up and share less of their life. So, if you ever see someone you are a fan of, go and say “hi”, ask them for a picture and be flustered. By all means, that’s way better than following them on their every step and documenting their life one grainy picture  at a time.

I am not sure there was a real point to this post, but let me know how you feel about this topic in the comments below!