Angst Man Rides Again!

I endure a lot of angst about who I am, who I think I pretend to be, and being unmasked as a pretender.

I’m not unusual. Many in western society seem besieged by angst. Writers, from what I read, endure high levels of angst that erodes our self-confidence. We’re always worried about being discovered as a pretender. I think it’s because we’re working alone so often, but also, subconsciously, we compare our works in progress with other published materials and writers. Right or wrongly, we can come out feeling like a loser because we see elements in others’ work that we don’t see in our work.

In retrospect, I believe I suffered an angst spell the other day, when editing fatigue overwhelmed me. There’s no doubt that editing fatigue afflicted me. That isn’t uncommon. I’m usually able to push through. Each of us have limits to how much we can push through. I’d hit mine.

And I believe that my angst contributed. Writing alone, with no one to talk to about my progress, doubts, victories and hopes, leaves me mentally, intellectually and emotionally diminished.

Writing about it was a successful gambit. Just opening up and spilling my concerns was a release. Also helpful is how other writers jumped in with their stories and suggestions. These were enormously helpful to lifting the shroud of doubt and weariness encumbering me. By the next day, I’d resumed editing and revising.

In the aftermath, I considered taking regular breaks from writing, editing and revising to keep me fresh and sharp. Multiple decisions are being made while editing and revising. Some require more thought about the impact on the novel’s overall arcs. It is taxing. Maybe taking breaks would be beneficial.

In classic personal faction, I decided, yes, taking breaks is acceptable, but…scheduling breaks is more troubling for me, so I’ll approach it organically. If I feel a break will help, I’ll do as some comments suggest, and listen to myself.

Now, I have my mocha and I’m at the table. It’s time to edit and revise again, at least one more time.

How to Research a Location You Haven’t Actually Been To

I enjoy blogs like this, that suggest ideas for how to do things, and stimulate your thinking about how to accomplish things like researching locations.

I’m a fan of Google Earth, myself, but I’ve found that Instagram and other social media sites are excellent resources. One of my most successful approaches is to Google a location and look at the images. After finding some that intrigue me, I search back to the source. There’s often a blog post or article attached with more details and explanation.

A Writer's Path

by Helena Fairfax

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, or read any of my books, you’ll know how important setting is to me in my writing. In this post about Richmond Park, for example, I wrote about how I tried to combine the setting for The Antique Love with the theme of the book, and how I used the setting to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of my characters.

So far I’ve been able to visit most of the locations I’ve used in my books. My settings range from Edinburgh to the south coast of France, and they are all within easy reach for me. But sometimes it’s just not possible to get to the place you want to write about. I used to agonise about this. I like to “see” exactly what it is my characters see.

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Today’s Theme Music

We’re experiencing unseasonably strange cold, wet weather in Ashland, southern Oregon, this week. It feels like late November, an odd juxtaposition against the full green trees, lush grasses and arrays of colorful blooms. It feels like it might snow, your mind whispers to itself, setting you into a groove of wondering what this rain is doing to the seasonal snowpack. Perchance this colder, wetter weather will diminish the wildfire season. Maybe, this year, we won’t have drought and water rationing.

But on a Sunday morning, it also settles coziness. What better things are there for cold summer weather but leisurely breakfasts inside, reading books by a fire while sipping coffee and tea, and, for us, going to an afternoon movie?

All this kicks the mental streams into retro-mood. From that morass of signals emerges an album from nineteen seventy-six.

Married less than a year and separated from my wife, nineteen years old, and experiencing my first overseas assignment in the Philippines, this album helped me keep my focus and balance. “Year of the Cat” wasn’t Al Stewart’s first album, but the song by the same name was one of his highest charting songs. Its piano-heavy folk-rock sound with mystical lyrics spoke to me as I walked around Clark Air Base and the surroundings Filipino cities and towns.

It’s a good song for a cold, quiet morning. Here’s “Year of the Cat.”

Floofhound

Floofhound (1) (Definition): A cat who thinks it’s a dog.

Floofhound (2) (Definition): A dog who acts like a cat.

Floofhound (3) (Definition): A loyal cat who follows you everywhere.

Floofhound (4) (Definition): A person who really, really, really enjoys the company, images, and stories about cats.

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