How appropriate that just as I am starting to do a bunch of posts about publishing, the orangutan librarian should tag me with this bunch of questions about the writing process! The original idea was created by the Long Voyage- so definitely check out the original here!
This tag asks writers about whether they have ever engaged in a number of (mostly disreputable) behaviors. The headings will say the behavior, and then I’ll comment about whether it applies to me.
“Never Have I Ever …“
. . . started a novel that I did not finish.
I have started, and not finished, a number of novels. You know that whole idea that an artist can create a complete work in his or her head and then it’s irrelevant whether they ever put it on paper or canvas or whatever? That’s baloney. The actual process of enfleshing the work forces you to include so much more detail than you do in your head when you see the end from the beginning.
. . . written a story completely by hand.
(gets dreamy look)
As teenagers, my BFF and I used to write stories together. We would pass a notebook back and forth. Each of us controlled certain characters. We would write notes to each other and argue with each other in the margins.
My parts of those particular stories were the worst tripe ever written. We all have to write our awful tripe on the way to becoming writers.
. . . changed tenses midway through a story.
. . . not researched anything before starting a story.
It’s never possible to do enough research.
But the experts don’t agree.
Also, if you research too long, you can end up talking yourself out of the premise for your story, at which point you’ve ripped out its heart.
So far, my stories have been inspired by cool theories (“research”) about the ancient world. So, I take the premise from the research. (See the ‘ancient world’ tag on my blog for all the stuff that interests me.) I have, so far, avoided setting my stories in really well-documented periods of ancient history (such as Rome) because of the sheer amount of research that would be required so as not to make glaring errors about the details of daily life.
Anyway, see the Bibliography page of this blog for a constantly slightly outdated, constantly growing tally of my sources.
. . . changed my protagonist’s name halfway through a draft.
I like stories that feature someone assimilating to a foreign culture. A total or partial name change is often part of this. So my protagonist Nimri starts out being called Nimri, which is basically Sumerian, but as they get to know him, the people around him eventually start calling him Nirri and that’s how he finishes the story. This is kind of an inconvenient feature, actually, because it makes it difficult to refer to him in summaries.
As for changing a name completely, just for the heck of it, I haven’t done so yet. But Find & Replace will make it easy to do if someone ever comes to me and says, “This name means [dirty word] in [major world language].”
. . . written a story in a month or less.
Short stories, yes.
. . . fallen asleep while writing.
. . . corrected someone’s grammar irl / online.
Scene: Husband and I have been married less than a year, visiting a friend of his.
Friend: I need to go get some groceries. [Names several cleaning supplies, none of which are edible]
Me: Those things are not normally included in the core definition of ‘groceries.’
Friend: Well, excuuuuse me!
Me: (laughing) You are talking to a linguist.
Friend: That’s not the word that I thought of.
. . . yelled in all caps at myself in the middle of a novel.
. . . used “I’m writing” as an excuse.
More like finding other tasks as an excuse not to write.
. . . killed a character who was based on someone I know in real life.
Mmm sooo …. I used to create characters based on my crushes and then kill them off. Yes, I was a sick puppy. Putting the best possible construction on it, I had figured out that killing off a character was the most poignant thing you can do in a story and I was overusing that tool sort of like a kid constantly dropping a new vocabulary word.
. . . used pop culture references in a story.
I avoid these because I am certain to use them clumsily, plus they will soon become dated. It’s part of the reason that my novels are set in the distant past, and that I may never try a “contemporary” novel.
. . . written between the hours of 1am and 6am.
Only at university, when finishing a paper due the next day. (Fun fact: if I stay up all night, I throw up!)
. . . drank an entire pot of coffee while writing.
While writing papers in college, yes, remembering that my “pot” only made two or three cups at a time. Also, vending machine brownies. Good times!
. . . written down dreams to use in potential novels.
Only once, age eleven.
. . . published an unedited story on the internet / Wattpad / blog.
No, but I have turned in a crummy first draft of a devotional essay to a church magazine. I believe the editor used his discretion and didn’t run it.
. . . procrastinated homework because I wanted to write.
Well, this gets into the whole topic of my work habits, which I’d rather not discuss …
. . . typed so long that my wrists hurt.
Not that I recall. I tend to take pauses for thinking.
. . . spilled a drink on my laptop while writing.
No, but that’s probably just dumb luck. I don’t take care of my equipment nearly as well as I should.
. . . forgotten to save my work / draft.
No, and I have even been known to send copies of Word documents to relatives so that copies exist out there in case my house burns down.
. . . finished a novel.
Two and counting.
. . . laughed like an evil villain while writing a scene.
… Um … I don’t think so? Not aware of the sounds I make while writing. Possibly grunts.
. . . cried while writing a scene.
Even in real life I am more likely to cry when angry, frustrated, or humiliated, rather than when sad. I’m not sure what that says about me. Nothing good, probably.
But I have certainly given myself the sads with my writing.
. . . created maps of my fictional worlds.
. . . researched something shady for a novel.
what happens when a person falls into a super-hot sulpherous pool, as at Yellowstone National Park
All equally terrifying.
Now, Your Turn
In the comments section, tell me all your writerly habits! Or, judge mine!