I've been working my way through the NGTCC on Romance Divas, still need to go through and reread and reread some more, as well as Lynn Viehl's LB&LI workshop as I've had the chance. Tabs open for hours upon hours with me not near the comp but that's the way life goes.
I'm at a point I truly want to get serious about my writing.
Oh. Lord. do I have a long way to go.
Thing is I know this. I've picked up a lot of bad habits born of laziness and no care but having fun.
I learned how to read at the age of three. Been obsessed with that since. Started making up my own stories about the same time. My little sister was subjected to a lot of those. She wasn't quite two. She didn't object. I can't begin to tell you how many times my mother had a fit on the lines of "you wasted all that paper I just bought already!"
I've always written. I have more than one "universe" in my head that is, in years of existence, well past old enough to drink, the oldest universe is at least twenty-six, that one I have a hard time remembering it not being somewhere in my head. My head can be a scary scary place.
I know these universes inside out and backwards, the races, the politics, the tech, the magic, the monsters. They are far from the only ones. My head's a pretty cluttered convoluted mass of voices some days.
Things I know:
1. I suck at self-editing. Last several years (many, over a decade) I haven't bothered attempting it much at all. Writing has been my relaxation, my grip on sanity and ability to catch my breath and just breathe with everything that's been thrown at me by life.
2. If I don't write at least a little every day--oh god. Writing's also my therapy, my way to make my brain actually attempt to work. I've always been prone to mind racing. Add in damage done by sustained 104 fever from staph infection after surgery, convulsions and oh all that fun stuff. Add in an insomniac child who can set off my own (used to be mild and rare) insomnia because by the time he sleeps I can't. I can't not write, I'd lose my mind. I wouldn't be able to function.
3. See 2. Yeah. Oh my yes. Bad days on the thinking front, bad days on the sleeping front add in #1. Yes. I've got a very long way to go.
Things I think I'm not bad at:
1. World building. Conversely I can get lost in all the minute details and never get anything pieced together that actually has start, middle, end and is a story. Tend to get lost in episodic bits and pieces rather than a whole self-contained story.
2. Characters. I'm not too bad. I definitely can improve, but I can capture them fairly decently. A gruff warrior or a blue collar mechanic with scarred up knuckles are easier to right than a society miss for me. I own one pair of flats. Have a couple nice skirts for weddings or funerals. I live in blue jeans, tshirts, I loathe shoes and have had to go back to the house to grab my tennies after getting blocks away on more than one occasion. my hair is down to my waist but is in a perpetual pony tail or knot out of my way. I don't so much as own a tube of mascara. Needless to say, a female character who is into shoes and fashion and makeup girly-girl type is a terribly hard voice for me to grab. A reason I've drifted toward writing m/m a lot more than m/f in the last few years.
Things I have managed to accomplish while acquiring tons of bad habits I need to break myself of:
1. Writing a sex scene that doesn't make me cringe when I go back and reread it more often than not.
2. Writing an action fight scene that only makes me cringe a little.
3. Spotting the meandering. (Not that I've bothered to go back and edit out or try to rewrite for years) but I've learned to spot it and to stop it if I catch myself while writing.
Despite all the bad habits I've picked up, I *have* learned one thing. How to say the hell with it and try to write out what is running around my head. If it sucks, well it sucks. I've at least learned how to spot the screw ups making it suck even if I have yet to learn how to avoid them.
The writing how-to manuals I've avoided because budget limitations, I went for histories and biographies when I bought non-fiction. Things I would use and enjoy then, and still useful. I've browsed through and poked at the writing how-to's. Wasn't at a place to justify cost versus use. Time to start sifting through reviews and reccomendations of those of where to start.