The Woman in White

the writings and ramblings of a writer and rambler

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    Call me Westenra. I am the woman in white. Who writes. This blog will tell the story of my adventures while being an adventure itself. How very meta.

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Archive for the ‘on writing’ Category

Goals? Whowhatnow?

Posted by Westenra on October 9, 2008

So I was discussing this project with some friends of mine, the whole publishing fiction online-on-blog thing, and whether it’s a good/bad idea, and one of them said it really depends what your goals are. And I realized: I don’t have goals for this. So I thought I’d figure out what my goals ARE and write a post about them. So here we go.

(I warn you in advance: this post is going to ramble. Mostly I am writing it for me, because I think best by writing. But I do want you to keep reading anyway. It will give you insight into my psyche. Partly because apparently it is going to take the form of a conversation between me and some inner critic. I think her name is Sheila. Who knew?)

Goal 1: To have people read my fiction.

Why? For feedback, should anyone care to give it. I guess. Why do you want an audience for your unpolished writing? Cuz that’s what it’s going to be. Unpolished. Well, I need to get over my fear of publishing, because that fear is keeping me from finishing, so this is getting me around that. If I publish before I’m finished, fear of publishing won’t prevent me from finishing, right? Sure, honey. And how are you going to get people to read your fiction instead of someone else’s? Uhhh… write well? Publicize the blog the same way I’ve published my previous blogs, draw in readers… blah blah. I don’t know stop asking me hard questions!

Goal 2: Create an online space in which I can be a Writer.

So what was wrong with the previous online spaces you had going on, Westenra? I don’t know. I just felt like I wanted to start with a clean slate, start again so nobody would have any preconceptions about me or my writing. Frankly some of the friends and people reading my other blog would hate my writing. Somehow I feel like that would equate to hating me. So when readers here critique you you’re going to take it personally, is that what you’re saying? I’m going to try not to, but I make no promises. The difference is the readers here aren’t my mother and my coworkers and my best friends. Anonymity for the win.

Goal 3: Meet other writers who are like me.

There’s nobody quite like you, Westie. Uhm, thanks, Sheila. I mean other writers who are more interested in the craft, in the writing, than in producing the next Stephen King bestseller. Other writers who are doing it for love and not money.

Wow. That helped a lot. My brain is a lot clearer now on what I want out of this blog. I am ready to go forth and conquer the world!

*charges out of the room*


Posted in blogging, on writing, rambling, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

my own November challenge

Posted by Westenra on October 9, 2008

Scroll down slightly and you’ll see the post on why I don’t participate in NaNo. “I don’t write like that,” or some such artistic-soul hooey.

However, I’m going to give myself my own November Writing Challenge. A structure challenge. Because I need to get some structure in my writing or I’m going to just flail helplessly as the waters of failure close over my head. (that was an example of my artistic soul in action.)

See, I have this problem where I don’t write. I mean, I spend basically all day on my computer, and I’m totally unemployed, but I don’t really get much writing done. So what the fuck am I doing? I dunno. Internet stuff. I have a couple of blogs going on, a couple of forums/message boards where I like to hang out. Also there’s almost always an episode of Law and Order on tv, or NCIS. So much to do, so little time!

But I need to write. That’s the one thing ALL good writers have in common: they write.

My writing tends to come in waves. I’m one of those “when the muse strikes” writers. And when I’m on I’m on. I’ve written as much as 12k in one weekend. But when I’m not on, I’m… off. (this is an example of my artistic soul failing me.) And that’s just not acceptable.

So I need to structure myself somehow. I’m trying to decide between daily word minimums, daily time chunks, or some other method of writing management. I’m thinking I’ll try some various methods out over the next couple weeks, then choose one to commit to for November.

Because, all the writing I have to do, I need to make a plan if it’s going to get done.

So this is me planning.

Well, planning to plan.

If, perchance, you have any writing-time management ideas I should consider, let me know!

Posted in on writing, writing | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

on NaNoWriMo

Posted by Westenra on October 8, 2008

That’s National Novel Writing Month, in case you’ve been living under a rock/ aren’t a writer. Hey, it’s apparently their 10th anniversary. Who knew?

Anyway, the basic premise is that you take one month–November–and write a novel. The goal is 50k words. Forget about editing, forget about how good it is supposed to be, just brain vomit onto the page for 31 days straight. It’s supposed to be a good exercise, a good release of inhibitions, generally all around good for writers.


I’ve never participated. I first heard about it in college, when I walked past dorm doors that had various NaNo signs taped to them. My reaction was basically, “huh?” and then I googled it and went, “huh,” again, but without the question mark. I admit to feeling slightly superior at first–one month for writing a novel? my entire life is novel-writing. Psh.

I am over that now (while I am still superior to the rest of humanity, I am much less superior than I thought I was as a freshman in college). But I still don’t think NaNo is right for me.

Currently, it would just be a logistical nightmare. I’m working on two novels and the stories for tWiW. Add on another 2k words a day and–I just wouldn’t do it. So then I would just fail, and then I would be sad. Sad = bad.

But it’s also not the way I write. I can’t do that “brain vomit don’t think about it” kind of writing. Even the stories for tWiW, written possibly the night before I post them, are going to be gone over a couple of times, words are going to be deleted, paragraphs are going to be moved. It’s the way I write. My word docs are kind of like amorphous blobs. I mean, publishing as I’m writing is going to necessitate a slight change to the system, but basically I can’t help but edit as I write.

“Well that’s the point of NaNo,” I hear you say. “To get rid of that self-editor.”

Yeah, but I like that self-editor. I should probably give him a name. Alvin. Like the chipmunk. Me and Alvin, we get along great. And I just don’t think NaNo would make me happy. And really, that’s what writing is about for me: happiness.

So those are my ramblings on NaNoWriMo.

Posted in on writing, rambling, writing | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

why write…here?

Posted by Westenra on October 7, 2008

At one point, through one of my other blogs, someone sent me an article about why it is a bad idea for writers (young writers?) to publish their fiction in a free, online format. I unfortunately cannot remember who it was, what blog I was attached to at the time, and which of my dozen email addresses this article went to. Which annoys me, because it was a good article.

However, it wasn’t making any arguments I haven’t heard before, or since. Basically the “don’t publish your work online” argument can be boiled down to the same three points:

1. Money

Basically, so theory goes, nobody will pay for what they can get for free. (I learned this in the Economics class I almost failed.) This applies to food, sex, anything really. So publishing my work for free on a blog means that I am not going to get paid for it. Well yes. But, two things. 1) It might help me gain a fanbase, who WILL pay for longer works. (novels, when I finish them.) 2) I’m not doing it for the money. I’m doing it to write. I may have to do an entire blog post on that topic, because I think it confuses people.

But, say the critics, you’re weakening the market. Why would someone pay to read something of yours, when they can read your writing here for free? And of course, not only am I not making money for myself, but I am somehow leeching money away from other writers. By offering the product (fiction) for free, it is unnecessary for readers to purchase fiction from someone who IS charging money for it. Bad Westenra. Bringing the brotherhood down.


I would argue that fiction works in a specific kind of market. (which probably has a name, but I did almost fail that Econ class.) My product doesn’t replace anyone else’s. It’s not like, say, a refrigerator. When you sell a fridge, you’re preventing anyone else from selling a fridge to that consumer because, well, they’ve bought yours. They only need the one. But when someone reads my short story, there is nothing preventing them from going to read your short story as well. Also, quality counts for a lot in fiction. There’s a lot of free writing, and a lot of it stinks. There’s a lot of published writing, and a lot of it stinks. Readers are always looking for what’s good, and while they may go for the free stuff first (but then again, maybe not, there is this stigma that free writing = bad writing) if they want to read more fiction they’re going to read more fiction. You can never have too many short stories. You can have too many refrigerators.

I mean, the market can get saturated with, say, vampire stories or teenage-wizard-adventure stories, but that’s a different phenomenon.

2. Agents and Publishers will look down on you / will not accept your work.

Obviously, once something is published online, nobody is going to want to publish it in “pay-me” format because, well, it’s free. Somehow this fact is often grouped with “agents will not accept your work.” I don’t really understand why. And I don’t really think it applies me at all. I mean, I am writing here anonymously, so no agent, upon receiving the novel I sub them, is going to google me and be like, “ew, she throws all her fiction out for people to see? has she no respect for herself?”

Mostly this is not going to happen because I doubt the agent would google me. If they like the novel, they’ll rep it, if they don’t, they’ll send me a form letter. Good system, really.

But even if I were blogging under my real name (or subbing under Westenra?), I just really really doubt that having my fiction online is going to hurt anything. I mean, I am obviously not planning to earn money from the writings I publish here. I am not subbing this work. I just don’t understand why it would be an issue. If someone wants to explain it to me, I’m all ears, but I just don’t…get…it.

3. You’re not a real writer unless someone is paying you to do it. Until then, it’s just a hobby.


Emily Dickinson, anyone? Not that I want to be discovered after my death. Right now would be great. But still. Just because I’m not on anyone’s radar, doesn’t mean I don’t have talent, and it doesn’t mean I’m not a writer.

Writing is not a hobby for me. It is what I am. It is what I do. Everything else, just extra. While it would be nice to earn enough money writing that I could not do anything else, that is so unlikely in today’s world. I need a job. A real job with health benefits and a salary. I like to eat. I like to not get rained on while I sleep. Money is good. And even before the internet arrived, making money as a writer required a Herculean effort. Dickens didn’t write books the size of Great Expectations because he had time to kill; he had mouths to feed. (18, I think. Some ungodly number. Poor Mrs. Dickens.) Anthony Trollope ran the British Post Office, writing in the morning before going to work.

Things haven’t changed. People read less, so actually things have gotten worse. To make money, you have to be JK Rowling or Stephen King. Basically writers make Not Enough to Live On or Millions. Two extremes. I don’t actually think I could handle being a Stephen King or a James Patterson–the pressure, whoa.

So call it a hobby if you like. I guess I really don’t care what anyone thinks. But I’m doing what I want to do.

I’m a starving artist, baby. Living the dream.

Posted in fiction, on writing, publishing, writing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Westenra

Posted by Westenra on October 6, 2008

I now officially have enough ‘W’s on this page to capsize a small boat. But nevermind.

Welcome! This is the first day of the rest of my life.

I’ve blogged before (couple years now, kinda lost track) but I’m beginning again with a new nom de plume, because this blog has a new purpose. I want to write about writing, which I’ve done before, and write about me, which I’ve done before, and write. My intention is for this blog to be a mish-mash of fiction and non-fiction as I hone my writing to a sharp and dangerous point. Bwa ha.

I am not telling anyone about this blog, not my RL friends or my other blogging buddies–I truly want to start fresh. This means my blog traffic is going to be low. Possibly non-existent. Whatevs. Hello, void! However, if you’ve managed to stumble upon me, however you’ve managed to stumble upon me, I’m glad you did and I hope you enjoy your visit.

Comments are always welcome. =)

Posted in blogging, on writing, writing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »