Why I, an awkward person, Streams!

It is strange that I enjoy writing on stream. I am am not who enjoys people seeing the words as she writes them. I blame it all on teachers who walked the row of desks in elementary school and beyond. The ones who peered over my shoulder, and the shoulders of my peers, to either help with what we were doing, or to ensure no cheating was occurring during the test. But I had a tendency to freeze up whenever that happened. Words, numbers, whatever I was working on would suddenly STOP. FLOWING. In both my brain and then on down to my hand.

Part of it stemmed from the atrociousness of my handwriting. That sense of shame that my teachers could not read what I was writing. It was fine (not really) when they couldn’t read it when grading, when I wasn’t around to squirm with discomfort. But the moment they asked me—MID WRITING—what a word was, or pointed out that my writing was difficult to read, I would freeze up. Shame would paint my face red (as a ginger it is very easy to paint my face red. Nearly everything can make me blush, but I digress). I would mumble a reply, apologize profusely, and silently beg for the teacher to just MOVE on. Then glance with a mixture of anger, and that all too familiar shame, at the ink that stained my left hand. I would wonder if I had bad handwriting because of being left-handed. Smearing my pencil ink (because it was all pencil ink in elementary school) certainly did not help with the legibility of my printing.

It also didn’t help that there were periods in my elementary school life where I was told to try writing with my right hand. Perhaps I had been using the wrong hand! But a pencil in my right hand felt wrong. And the numbers and letters that flowed from the ink were just as illegible. We learned cursive, and a teacher realized that they could read my cursive better, so for a while they suggested I write in all cursive. And I can’t remember how long that worked. (Or even if my memory of all of this is correct or just a mixture of scenes from childhood, some disconnected but now connected in my head. A version of the truth that may not be correct, but feels damn correct to me. Memory is a wild thing and maybe one day I’ll blog about that. But moving along…)

Then it seemed like there was less of a concern for improving my handwriting. Teachers struggled to read it, but I don’t recall hearing about it, or being made aware of it.

And maybe this is not what brought about my weirdness of people watching or peering over my shoulder when I write. Maybe it was just the embarrassment of people seeing my unedited words when I wrote on the computer. The ease of it for people to see the mistakes that I made. The plot inconsistencies. The ridiculousness of it. There’s something vulnerable about exposing that rough draft of something to people. Of letting people see how much I mess up and how little sense that I make. Of seeing the way I process through the first stages of storytelling.

But with streaming, that stuff bothers me a little less. Likely because I have a giant square of color hiding MOST of what I write from anyone daring or bored enough to read it. The fun of streaming for me comes in the social aspect (gasp?) of writing in front of an audience. I like to know that other people are writing with me, at the same time as me. Maybe they aren’t writing but they are working on something else. We sprint (that is write/productive/whatever) for anywhere from 15 minutes to 30. Then we take a break and chat. Talk about what we have been working on, and it is nice. Then back to sprinting! During the sprints there are some chill Lo-Fi beats playing for everyone. There are pitfalls to all of this too, in that sometimes chatting can be distracting. But overall, it is nice.

There is the accountability factor too. I feel like I have to write something. ANYTHING (next up on the docket: learning to finish more of what I start so this blog isn’t so woefully sparse). People are literally watching me. They can kind of see my text scrolling (because I show the smallest bit of writing above my little colored box with text that explains the “rules” of my stream). They can get an idea of whether or not I’m truly working on something. Even if they can’t really read it. They can see it moving. Incrementally. Bit by bit. That accountability is nice. The feeling that I’m not alone as I do this incredibly solitary activity. It is nice to have an audience or the appearance of an audience to ramble to when I get stuck with something or excited about something.

I am an awkward streamer. I tend to chat into the void better when no one is around. But, overall I enjoy doing these streams. And I’m going to keep doing them to. There are loads of people on twitch doing more than just streaming video games (but watching people play games is also a lot of fun too). Check out some of those categories, and who knows, maybe you will try to stream yourself writing or drawing or whatever one day. It’s okay to be awkward. So if you are bored on a Tuesday or Thursday morning at 6am then hop on over to my stream: twitch.tv/agingerwrites. I can’t promise you will be entertained, you might find it boring as heck. But, maybe you will find it helpful to write with someone else. I’m not very good at shilling myself, eh? Speaking of which…

Remember that podcast I mentioned? It is live! You can listen to my husband and I talk scary movies and other scary things over at anchor.fm/creepycabinpod or look for Creepy Cabin Podcast on spotify, apple podcasts, and google podcasts. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you stream or podcast too.

What happens after A Ghost Story?

This blog entry is in response to a comment left by my lovely Aunt. Often, with these prompts I do, I have thoughts — LOTS OF THOUGHTS — on what happens to these characters once their prompt is told. Their story is not complete. It is a bit like real life; you know? How often do we just see snapshots of people? You go to the store and have an interaction with a fellow human, and odds are good, you won’t see them again. Or they work at the store, and you will simply see them in that setting but rarely anywhere else. Your interaction with them is not the entirety of their life story. Just, possibly, the entirety of YOUR story with them. And that is fascinating to me. The stories of people that are left untold, or that we do not experience personally. The ways in which we can probably never truly know another person and—… I am going off on a tangent that I did not mean to go off on.

Back to what the point of this entry is going to be. I am going to be answering some questions about what happened to Izzy following A Ghost Story. I will not say that I have her entire life planned out, but it is a near damn thing. Possibly.

We last left off with Izzy being too drunk off of alcohol and flirting to deal with the onslaught of emotions and feelings that she may or may not have regarding her ghostly roommate, Frederick. She isn’t romantically in love with him, but there is love there. An intense love too. Frederick is just around ALL the time. Proximity can sometimes bring about closeness in friendship, and that seems to be the case between these two. Plus, they mesh really well. They have a friendship full of teasing and caring. They clash a lot and are very different people. Their living experiences are completely different — both when Frederick WAS alive and now given the fact he is dead — and so that causes friction and head-butting; but they are willing to work it out. They want to work it out.

Even if Frederick isn’t paying rent, Izzy still wants him around. He still wants to be around.

(SIDE NOTE: In the universe that this story takes place, I am still not exactly sure what the mechanics are regarding ghosts/spirits being able to leave the house/place they are haunting. Does something tie them to the place? Are they able to leave whenever they want? How do they pass on if they wish to the afterlife? Must they do something in order to move on? These are questions I would clearly need to work on should I ever expand on the story but for now we will leave them unanswered but vaguely being shouted in the back of my head. The life of a writer is living with many voices in your head.)

Now onto the potential lover. SPOILER ALERT: Izzy and the man she danced and flirted with do in fact fall in love. His name is Raffi. He likes to read, although he and Izzy at first struggle to find common ground in the books that they enjoy. At least they enjoy cozying up on the couch together to read their separate books. They have a quiet relationship when they get together.

Raffi is introduced to Frederick before he and Izzy put a label on what their relationship is. Izzy just awkwardly texts him a link to her blog where she talks about Frederick. A lot of Frederick and Izzy’s initial relationship starts with flirting via text, but they cross back into the world of actual contact too. Frederick fascinates Raffi, and he isn’t jealous of the relationship that Frederick has with Izzy. Frederick, for his part, is a fan of Raffi too. They end up getting their own private jokes, leaving poor Izzy out of the loop occasionally.

What I want for Izzy, Raffi, and Frederick is a happy existence. Sure, there is going to be strife. There will be fights between the three of them, or sometimes just between two of them. But overall, all three of them will mesh well. All three of them will have their own relationships with each other. Because look I just want happiness and good times for my characters in this story.

So, overall, it is happy. Struggles will surface in their lives and unlives, but they will all overcome them for the better and live happily ever after. Even the one who is dead.

Not all my characters are destined for such happiness. Some that are percolating in my head and heart are destined for nothing good in the end. Some of these characters have been introduced in prompts, and maybe one day I’ll babble about some of those characters too. In a vague sort of fashion.

Anyway, I hope this satisfied anyone who was curious about Izzy, Frederick, and the mysterious Raffi!

Not A Finisher

I have a confession to make. My confession is: I don’t know how to finish novels and stories.

I have ideas galore, inspiration in abundance, and the drive to start. I can get pretty far into a project, and then… and then… I stop. I lose track of what I am working on. I lose the motivation to figure out the rest of the story, as a new idea beckons me, teases me with its newness and how easy it is to start something. I fall in love with new characters and stories with ease, and then I struggle, I place the older ideas on the back burner, always with the promise of returning to it. Yet, I rarely return to it, or if I do, I start over. Ignoring a lot of what I wrote before except for the world-building. Then those ideas stagnant and instead of pushing through, instead of trying to figure out an actual damn plot and not just a series of scenes that supposedly connect, I move on.

Even with my prompts, I don’t necessarily have an ending to them. There is always the chance that the story can continue. I don’t feel as much of a need to wrap it up in as neat of a bow as, say, a novel. I know novels do not need endings. There can always be the option of continuing the story. But prompts work for me because I keep them relatively short. I write a snapshot of characters who crawl into my mind. Characters who want some part of their stories told, but aren’t too fussy if at most it is 2,000 words.

Despite being a consumer of stories, I suspect I don’t really know how to tell one. That there is some disconnect in my brain. I understand the steps. I understand what readers look for. I understand what I like as a reader, and the stories that hold me captivated, and yet putting that understanding into practice, I flounder.

Maybe I am not supposed to be a novelist. Maybe I should just stick to the fun I have in writing prompts, in writing those snippets of stories that rattle in my heart and mind. Get my need for validation by posting them here on the blog and leaving it at that. I love to write. Publishing a novel, of having my name on a physical book, sounds amazing — but maybe, maybe I’m just not that person. Maybe I need to play to my strengths, which are half-baked ideas and snapshots. Maybe it is time to ignore the voice that whispers to me that not having anything truly published is a sign of failure.

Why does being published and making money off of my writing seem like a sign of success? Why do I feel the need to monetize something that I love? Would the act of making money off of it suddenly mean I am good at it? But isn’t it all subjective?

I don’t have answers to any of these questions… at least, not for myself. I know though; I want to prove myself wrong. I want to take an idea and see it through. I want to figure out the ending, and the middle bits. I want to figure out how to tell a story that is cohesive. I want to finish something that I have started instead of letting it languish and die.

So, this year, like every other year for who knows how long, I aim to finish a story that I started. I’m not going to call it a novel. I don’t know how long it will be. Maybe only 5,000 words. Maybe 100,000 words. No worries of polishing it up this year. No worries about making it perfect. Just a story that has something of a clear beginning, a middle, and an end. Something that makes some sense.

And I won’t worry about those other questions. I’ll continue to write for the love of it and the need of it. And hopefully, finish a damn story.

If you stuck around for this entire ramble, I thank you. How do you finish stories?