darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Robert McKee: Story: Style, Structure, Substance...
Christopher Vogler: The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
Shawn Coyne: The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
John Yorke: Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey Into Story
Larry Brooks: Story Physics and Story Engineering and Story Fix Larry Brooks

Lately I've been wooed into the left-brained world of editors and screenwriters writing about story structure. Studying these books (blogs, podcasts, presentations...) has helped me see my work's real flaws.

But because I'm more analytical than creative myself, I'm in danger of over-engineering my novel to fit a Grid, a set of Tent Poles, or a Hero's Journey. It's getting hard to tell whether I'm improving my story or ruining it.

A metaphor keeps springing to mind from a craft I'm more proficient in: sewing.

Crimson velvet and chiffon ruffles )
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
"Writers, you need this book."

That was the tweet from my friend Sue last Monday morning. Ordinarily, "Yeah, yeah, whatever" would be my response, because I have never gotten anything of out of books for writers.

But last Monday was different. )

It's like a fucking miracle.

Writers, you need this book.
darkemeralds: Photo of espresso with caption "Straight Up" (Espresso)
This is so cool! I'm standing here at my work desk and I feel like I'm across the street at my favorite downtown coffee shop.

It's Coffitiviy, "Ambient sounds to boost your workday creativity".

I've read in a bunch of places lately (most recently this Smithsonian article) that creativity is boosted by cities, by metaphorical friction among ideas, by noise. The ambient sound of a coffee-shop, studies are suggesting, is just right.

I'd like to spend creative time at caf├ęs--and god knows I live in a place with plenty of them--but several limitations have made this impracticable: my laptop is just a hair too big to cart around, and there's no slimmer computer in my near future. Keyboard+tablet has yet to equal actual fast typing for me.

Also, my creativity-hours and my caffeine-hours don't usually overlap. Or when they do, I'm still in my jammies with crazy-hair.

But right this minute, with Coffitivity playing in my earphones, I'm feeling oddly looped in, yet not chafed, engaged but free-floating, comfortably alone in my head but surrounded by a sense of people. It's surprisingly pleasant!

Try it and let me know what you think.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
It's probably a coincidence, but following Friday's migraine-aura-neurotransmitter-cascade-hangover-hormonally-induced-brainstorm*, my brain shifted gears.

Detail of bright yellow knitting

This is only sort of a knitting post. I think it's about creativity. )
darkemeralds: detail of beaded purse, caption One Bead At a Time (beadwork)
This post was going to be about thinking styles. [personal profile] azurelunatic and I were discussing the different brain processes in knitting and crocheting, and [personal profile] yourlibrarian and I were talking about pattern thinking and the autistic brain, and I was having Very Thinky Thoughts.

I riffed for a while on my brain, my making-of-things, my peculiar set of limitations and strengths. I took some photos. I coded some links, I wrote and deleted some sentences.

But it's a sunny Sunday in June. I had a bacon cheeseburger for lunch, I've spent my morning beta-ing the work of two writers, both brilliant, and you know what? My brain isn't up to the task of making coherent noises about itself.

So instead, here are some pretty pictures of beadwork, as metaphors for two modes my brain likes to use.

Photos illustrating what I'm not capable of articulating in words. )
darkemeralds: A young woman circa 1945 is intent on her knitting. Caption "Knitting For Victory" (Knitting)
I've spent part of my four-day weekend at Sock Summit 2011. It's a convention for people who knit socks.

I'm not a sock knitter (or wearer, for that matter), and am only a marginal knitter, and I live just up the street from the Oregon Convention Center, so my participation was pretty casual, and I can't give much in the way of insider rapture.

But as a general craftswoman I can say that Sock Summit is a very impressive thing. I took a specialized class ("Cast On Cornucopia") on Thursday, and today I had a chance to wander around the vendor market; both experiences confirmed that creativity is absolutely going off the charts.

People are putting new materials to ancient uses (carbon fiber knitting needles! Plastic drop spindles printed on 3D printers!), and pushing out the boundaries of labor-intensive manual processes like hand-painting fleeces. You can knit with a range of fibers unimagined by the average American knitter thirty years ago (bamboo! hemp! yak!). You can accurately replicate socks worn by 12th century peasants in Norway, and socks worn by rich gentleman-golfers in 1890, and silk stockings from a Constantinople lady's wardrobe in 1500.

And here's the thing: there's not a craft or hobby being practiced today that isn't experiencing the same kind of explosion of creativity, digging into the past, borrowing from the future, leveraging technology, and spreading ideas across the world.

So although I managed to escape the show floor with only one purchase, a handmade wooden tabletop swift of truly elegant simplicity and functionality, I came away absolutely loving life in the 21st century, and glad to be alive in such an exciting time.
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Decluttering)
It's gonna be a few days, I think, before I've got my skin back on after posting the last of Restraint. I feel pretty raw and fluttery at the moment. I tossed and turned last night after hitting the go-button on the AO3, not out of any particular fear or anticipation of the reactions the story would get, but because this huge thing that has occupied my creative territory for more than two years has pretty much decamped, and the place looks like Max Yasgur's farm on August 19th.

I overslept this morning--on purpose, really--and rode to work in the freezing wind, which actually felt good. I look like hell, too: puffy, red eyes. I cried a lot. I mean, seriously, if I were an actor? And needed to cry for some scene? I could just think about the last few paragraphs of Restraint and bingo. Insta-tears. I'm such a sap.

So what's next? Podfic, I think. I think I could just about face transforming someone else's creative work. I'm looking forward to digging back in to Blue Skies From Rain, and participating in [community profile] podfic_bingo.

Losing weight continues to be a surprisingly creative endeavor, too.

And also? Paint. I might just paint the whole inside of my house.

Later on, when my skin is back, I hope I'll get another story idea.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Felicia Day Tweeted about this earlier today: The Cult of Done. I'm spreadin' it around because it just shivered me timbers:

The Cult of Done's manifesto reads a heck of a lot like Finite and Infinite Games, one of my favorite books ever.

For instance, compare:

There are two kinds of games, finite and infinite games. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, and infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.


The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.

One commenter on the original blog post says, not unreasonably: "Let me know when you design an airplane, or automobile, or CAT scanner, or fire extinguisher, or elevator, or SCADA system, or microwave oven using this method, so I can be certain never to use it."

To which another commenter, also quite reasonably, responds: "I think nay-sayers are missing the point. It's perfectly possible to apply this to large, technical projects. You just need to break them down into smaller chunks. Chances are you were doing this anyway; this is a great mantra for keeping momentum going."

And that's Project Empty in a nutshell. Thin-slice it, get it done.

Bre Pettis, the blogger, has a couple of nice posters to print or set as wallpaper. Me, I've made a Wordle:

Wordle: The Cult of Done Manifesto

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