FtB Fundraiser: Creativity Coaching Session Auction

As part of FtB’s September fundraising efforts, I’m auctioning off a half-hour creative coaching session via Zoom. What’s that, you might ask? Here’s the idea: if you’re having trouble with a creative issue, say determining your short- and long-term creative goals, finding more time to work on your projects, or figuring out which projects you want to work on, I’m here to help.

Okay, that sounds good. But who are you, you might also ask?

Hi, I’m T.D. Walker. And I’ve had a lot of creative problems. Problems like, oh, determining my short- and long-term creative goals, finding time to write, and figuring out which projects I want to work on. And even bigger ones, like not writing poetry, my main genre, for eight years…. So, I’ve been there, and I’ve done that. What helped me get past my blocks was taking a long, hard look at my free time, getting together with other writers to talk craft, and figuring out ways to bribe encourage myself to sit down and write. Which worked, I’m happy to report.  Talking about ways to make things work with other creatives was a big part of that.

Here’s what I’ve done, in third person, as you do:

T.D. Walker is the author of the poetry collections Small Waiting Objects (CW Books 2019) and Maps of a Hollowed World (Another New Calligraphy 2020). Her science fiction poems and stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apricity, The Future Fire, Web Conjunctions,The Cascadia Subduction Zone, Abyss & Apex, Kaleidotrope, and elsewhere.  She curates Short Waves / Short Poems. After completing graduate work in English Literature, Walker began her career as a software developer.  She draws on both her grounding in literary studies and her experience as a computer programmer in writing poetry and fiction.

So that’s me.

Basically, I’m open to helping you with anything in the realm of solving creative issues. That said, I can’t, for multiple reasons, critique your writing or other creative work, tell you whether I think your book/painting/taxidermy armadillo will sell, or participate in anything unethical or illegal. But if you’re a creative of any sort and you’d like to talk out a challenge you’re facing with an objective third party, I’m here!

If you’re interested in chatting with a published author about anything creative, you can put in a bid in the comments.  Or you can place an anonymous bid by emailing me at info@tdwalker.net. The winner will be the highest bid as of Sunday September 27th at 11:59pm CST.  (That’s Monday, September 28th 4:59am UTC.)  The winning bidder will submit payment to FtB’s PayPal account and then contact me to set up the session.

Please note: I have set a minimum bid of $30, which is pretty good for this type of thing. Plus, it’s for a good cause!  Have any questions?  Please feel free to contact me or leave a note in the comment.  Thanks!

A Few Podcasts of Interest for Overwhelmed Creators

Greetings after a long absence.  There are a number of reasons for my time away from the blog, though it’s mostly that I don’t have much time to write, and I have been dedicating what little time I do have to fiction and poems that explore the sorts of issues I had been blogging about here.

Even though I think I’m better at getting into the complexities of social issues through fiction and poetry than I do through blogging, I haven’t felt much like writing anything of late.  And I know I’m not alone in that.

So, how do we get back to the necessary creative work we do?

I’m still struggling with that.  One shift I did notice lately is that I didn’t want to listen to writing podcast episodes, which I usually do the day they’re published.  Why not?  Because I felt guilty listening to writing podcasts when I should be paying attention to news.  Because writing–especially writing science fiction and poetry–feels less vital than doing whatever it is I should be doing right now, even if I’m already doing it.

That said, writing podcasts give me a sense of the larger writing community, outside my local community which, of course, I’m not socializing with for the foreseeable future.  Listen to just one podcast, I told myself.  See what happens.  And it helped.  The writing is slow, and I’m easily distracted, but I’m writing.

In case this helps anyone else in the same situation, here are a few episodes I recommend:

  • In episode #486 of I Should Be Writing, host Mur Lafferty reminds us that we need to adjust to life as it is now, rather than pressuring ourselves to use “free time” to write what we feel we should be writing right now.   (Though the podcast is for “wannabe fiction writers,” I’ve found Lafferty’s advice just as useful after the publication of my first book as I did when I had just come back to writing.)
  • The title of episode #203 of the #amwriting podcast says it all: #HowToWorkAnyway.  Practical advice on how to get the writing done when so much is changing around us all.
  • More practical advice from host Rachael Herron in episode #174 of How Do You Write?
  • And even more from Rachael Herron and her co-host J. Thorn on their podcast The Writer’s Well.  In episode #168, they ask each other “Do You Pray?”  Their answers are “no” and “not really,” but they have an interesting conversation around the topic.

So, these are the podcasts that have eased me back into writing.

How about you?  Are you finding it difficult to create now?  Have you found anything that helps?

 

On Writing: Drafting, Revising, and the Critique of an Ever-Shifting Present

One of the perils of writing–or, more specifically, revising–the sort of near-future science fiction that I write in the slow manner that I tend to write it is that the issue that sparked the story often changes significantly by the time I get around to polishing up said story.

Stepping back a bit: I’m in the camp that believes that one of the purposes of science fiction (and really, any form of literature) is to critique some element of the present. Yes, these stories should be full of interesting characters having interesting conflicts while doing interesting things. But there should also be something that grounds readers to the present, or something through which they can view that present.

But what happens when that present suddenly and dramatically shifts?

What got me thinking about this is that I recently came back to a story that I drafted in 2014, a near-future SF story about a young new mother whose repressive family twists the circumstances and narrative around her child’s birth. Back in 2014, I wanted to explore the collision between recent research on altering memories and the usual reproductive rights issues that find their way into my fiction.

And then in 2015, we saw a religious backlash in the US to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, a backlash that gave a platform to certain southern judges and county clerks.

And then in 2016, the current US administration was elected, sort of.

And then in 2017, the Texas legislature passed laws that allow child welfare agencies to deny adoptions and discriminate against prospective parents based on the agencies’ “religious freedom.”

And so on.

Which left me wondering, should events in the intervening years affect the story? Or the world-building around it? Given the damage done to reproductive rights in Texas in the last legislative session and the real threats to religious freedoms handed down from the state and federal levels, should I alter the society as I’ve imagined it?

The readers of the story will be inhabitants of 2018 (or 2019 as publishing schedules usually go), so it makes sense for me to address anything that no longer works with current policy and so forth.

But ultimately, the question must be what will make for the best story? If I just want to explore the consequences of a given law, then I should just write an essay or a blog post. If I want to write fiction and affect readers, then any changes have to be in service to that end. The critique has to be secondary.

After all, if no one is moved or intrigued or delighted or enraged by a character, then what’s the point of telling her story?