Yes Virginia, There Really is a Writer's Block

Submitted by C B Wright on

There are writers out there who are very clear in their opinion that there is no such thing as "Writer's Block." They are convinced that the phrase was invented by, I don't know, lazy writers seeking to excuse their own lack of commitment to their work, or writers who have been duped into thinking they are victims of some kind of strange external force bearing down on them, or something. I've read any number of articles from writers about how Writer's Block is a myth and it doesn't exist and how writers should stop using the phrase immediately.

For the record: I am not one of those writers.

April Really is the Cruelist Month

Submitted by C B Wright on

The thing I hate most about short-deadline, high-importance projects is the way I feel after it's done.

I mean, there's not much I like about short-deadline, high-importance projects in general. If it's “high-importance” and “short-deadline” together, the circumstances that led up to it are usually not good, and the work is usually unpleasant. When the work happens to be security documentation—and in the 20 years that I've been technical writing, security documentation takes the prize as “my least favorite kind of documentation in the world”—the situation is even worse, because in my experience nobody really wants to do security documentation, and they resent you for making them do it, even if you're in the same boat they are.

Let the Record Show

Submitted by C B Wright on

Last night on Twitter I found myself in a state of what might best be termed "in high dudgeon."1 The dudgeon relates to a particular theory concerning writers and their priorities, and the dudgeon was high enough that I felt it appropriate to declaim, in 140 character snippets, the following:

(more after the more-thingy)

  • 1. a feeling of intense indignation (now used only in the phrase `in high dudgeon') - WordNetWeb

An Experiment in Present Tense: The Points Between Chapter One

Submitted by C B Wright on

The Points Between is on hiatus until July (and hasn't updated since last November) but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything with it. I actually have part of Chapter 26 written (just not all of it) and, since it is a story that is radically different from anything I've ever tried to write before, I spend an awful lot of time brooding over it and tinkering on it. I often wonder how I will rewrite it, when the time comes.

Enter Curveball. This prose comic is very different in style and tone than TPB, but it is also similar in one respect -- I've never written anything quite like it before. In Curveball's case the difference is that I'm writing it in the present tense, something that, at one point in my life, I swore I would never do.

I swore I would never do it because the first time I read a story written in present tense I hated it. It took effort and it made me tired when I was finished. For a long time I assumed it was because the tense made the setting of the story too immediate and artificial. Now I think it may have been the author didn't use it correctly, because I've read other stories where it worked quite well (Howard Tayler's short in Space Eldritch is a good example of present tense done well.)

I don't know if I'm using it well in Curveball or not, but it feels right. And I notice that as I'm writing in present tense (which feels incredibly difficult to me, still) I'm forced to think about the story differently and it occasionally leads me to write in ways I wouldn't have considered before. Which is neat.

So a few months ago, as an exercise in "trying to look at old material in a new way," I decided to take the prologue and first chapter of TPB and re-write it in present tense, to see if it helped me look at the story in any differently, to see if it changed the tone of the story, for better or for ill... and mostly just to see what would happen. The results were interesting to me--the result feels different from the original, and in the process of writing it I wound up adding hints of things that weren't touched on in the story till later. I printed out a hard copy to edit and then promptly forgot about the whole thing...

... until this weekend when I found the hard copy as I was sorting through stuff to pack or throw away. The soft copy was still sitting on my hard drive. I still think it's interesting. And since I don't have a lot else planned for the site this week, I figured I'd post it. So if you're curious to see what the opening of The Points Between looks like when told in present tense, it's right here, under the cut.