Write Night 5

In process (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

I almost didn’t write this post.

It’s not a good sign when you’re trying to duck accountability to anyone who might be following posts about your erratic writing practice…by writing erratically about it.

So, I put my first few chapters onto Scrivener, after downloading a trial copy (for PC). Buddy @thesiswhisperer has sworn by Scrivener for ages (for academic research work) and I’ve been meaning to try it.

The problem is that I’m always in a hurry to use new software. I don’t read manuals; I flick around the menus and buttons until it does what I want, drawing on my experience with other software.

I spent a fair amount of time putting things into the right folders and having chapter and character summaries. It’s the kind of categorisation and detail work that can keep me occupied for too long. And it did.

Then I lost momentum with the actual writing because I was spending all that time faffing around with the structure, tweaking characters (giving them traits and details that may never be germane to the narrative). I got obsessed about the diversity of the protagonists, agonising over what their cultural heritage/race should be. Should this drive the narrative? Should I take a ‘colour-blind’ approach in the narrative voice? I know these issues have been interrogated or thrashed out by writers with much more dedication and nous than me. I still haven’t resolved the issues. I keep thinking of the ‘ethnic’ characters in the Australian mainstream pop cultural sphere (e.g. Neighbours), and how they’re always defined by their cultural baggage. This leads to the frustration evident in the round-up post earlier this year about “screening diversity“.

I don’t want to get bogged down in over-thinking identity issues while trying to lay down the first draft. That leads me to creative inertia.

As well as that, we’ve started watching Game of Thrones Series 1 (and the Jonas Armstrong/Richard Armitage series of Robin Hood in between episodes as a palate-cleanser…). My tv habits could do with some curbing.

I usually write my personal blog posts in the evenings, and I used to be much better about making time during the week to craft a first draft that gets polished on the weekend. The weekly commitment to these posts, as well as to the fic writing, has fallen by the wayside this past month.

It’s all a tale of negligence and woe.

The writing project isn’t abandoned, but it has been deprioritised consistently in recent times. I angst about it occasionally but I’ve felt guilty about not-writing for decades now (all through my academic years – none of it is ever enough), and I need to find another way of thinking about my avoidance. Another buddy @noojies has said to me that she feels she has to write. Because I haven’t touched base with the story for a while, I’m not feeling in control of where it should go. The plotting feels forced. Is this normal?

There you have it. A post that is and isn’t. Hopefully, Write Night 6 will bring constructive news.

>> Previous Write Night posts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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About Tseen Khoo

Dr Tseen Khoo is a lecturer in research education and development in Melbourne. In previous incarnations, Tseen has been a research grant developer, and also a research fellow. She founded a national research network (AASRN), edited an academic journal for 5 years, and has been part of successful major competitive grants. Other than that, she can be quite normal.

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