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Paul Slawson
225 followers -
If you can't hear me it's because sometimes I'm in parenthesis.
If you can't hear me it's because sometimes I'm in parenthesis.

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Some highs and lows over the last few weeks.

I've hit a patch where it's hard to write, hard to get myself motivated. I've let some days go by without writing, and that's no good. I had gotten frustrated with the story I was working on. But generally I think I recognize now something that will stick with me if I continue writing: A tendency to think my ideas are crap, regardless of whether that assessment is accurate or not. I wonder if I can get to a place where I can evaluate my own work more objectively. Surely I can find a way to detach myself a bit.

On the plus side I've found a writing partner. We got together over drinks last week, just to hang out. He's a self-published writer, and I had thought about approaching him about writing groups, but the insecurity mentioned above was weighing on me. I was feeling it was pretentious of me to think of myself as a writer. I still hadn't brought it up when the conversation turned to "What do you want to do with your life?" areas and he flat out asked me if I could do anything, what would it be. I couldn't not bring it up.

So we spent the rest of the evening talking about writing, and various ways to get published, and we agreed to be a sort of writing group of two. We'll read each other's stuff as requested/needed and offer encouragement. He told me about an upcoming writing contest that’s free to enter, and I just might do it.

Since that conversation I found the motivation I needed to finish that story I was stuck on. First draft, at any rate. The relief is palpable. I’m setting it aside for a few days before rewriting. By the end of the story I had a much better idea what I wanted the whole of it to look like. At this point it’s like a rough carving in a block of wood: You can tell what it’s supposed to be, but details are indistinct, leaving questions in need of answers.

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"The 76-year-old actor recently released a statement lending his support to a new initiative undertaken by Oxford University to explore medicinal cannabis, the first of its kind in the UK, revealing that he’s partaken of marijuana daily for the past two years to treat his arthritis. It’s a bold public stance that Stewart hopes will help to remove the “prejudice, fear, and ignorance” surrounding cannabis research..."

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For some reason this flick popped into my head just now, so I looked it up, and I saw it way back when, probably renting it on VHS, though I may have watched it on TV and I vaguely remember it being awful and OMG turns out it was Tom Hanks' first leading role. [/streamofconsciousness]

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What's with the guilt trip, Barnes & Noble?
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In which I get personal, possibly whiney, and a little vague...

It’s been two or three days since I submitted my story to F&SF, and now that the part of my goal I can actually influence is over my motivation has been non-existent. I was thinking the first part of that sentence was the caused for the last part, but as I think about it more it may in fact be due to upheaval at work. I found out Tuesday that one of the few layoff survivors is leaving. I think I was literally the last person to know. I found out from a former coworker when I was at our contract manufacturer. Nobody at work told me, not even my boss.

Nobody talks to me anymore, except for one or two people. What have I been doing? Have I been pushing people away? Does wearing earbuds convey the message I don’t want to interact with anyone? Has it been something else?

Moving production to our CM feels like defeat. We’re transitioning to a shell of what this company was when I started. All these changes are hard to go through. Watching good people lose their jobs. Giving up aspects of my job I’ve been doing for years. I haven’t been trying hard to see the positive, though there is a little. No more month-end pressure. That could mean more flexibility for taking time off.

If anything, now more than ever, I need to stay focused on writing. If I really want to make a serious go at making this the way I earn money, I need to improve. I need to get short stories published. I need to find a novel in me.

I understand I don’t actually know how to write a novel. I need to learn about the inner workings, the structure. I’m not there yet, though. I need to spend more time with short stories. It sounds presumptuous for me to say “perfect” the short story form, but honing my skills is the goal. It needs to be something I understand with some amount of intimacy, rather than the superficial treatment I give it now. I’m glad Becky thought MPD was a good story. I wonder if magazine editors will agree.

Maybe it’s time to look for a writing group...
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