Please welcome my guest, Emily Ryan-Davis!

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Writer, Know Yourself

Good morning, faithful Victoria fans. I’m a fan, too (she’s a lovely person and her characters fascinate me) so I’m pleased to be able to say you and I already have something in common.

I’m here today because Victoria generously volunteered a little of her cyberspace for my promotional efforts. Between the initial offer and now, however, I’ve decided not to do the promotion thing. I’d much rather talk about myself and my grasp of craft, and invite you to talk about yourself and your grasp of craft, than talk about my books. So. That’s what I’m going to do today. If you want to know what I can write or where to find it, Google will help you out.

So…I’ve been thinking about self-awareness a lot lately, in part because I’ve been observing beginner-author yearning for an experienced eye, for confidence in the decisions they make about what they’re writing or going to write, and for an end to the frustration of realizing they’ve made a self-uninformed decision. While writer self-awareness might not technically be a craft issue, I consider it as important as understanding of mood, theme, motif, story pacing and all that other stuff you can learn about from any number of books. And because my ego knows no bounds, since I decided self-awareness is as important as story structure, I’m going to treat it as a craft topic today.

About me: I don’t plot. Honestly, I care very little about plot, much to my critique partners’ dismay. Characters fascinate me. They could exist in a void for story purposes, their story progression taking place over the course of hours without any real-life sort of time allowance to lend realism, and I would be perfectly happy, both as a reader and as a writer.

Right alongside my plotfail, I also suffer from detail and logic problems. I just don’t care about the logic if it’s in the way of exploring my characters’ emotional transition from broken to…maybe a little less broken, ideally via an intensely sexual route. Again, my preference as a reader and as a writer. (If you’re an author reading this and you ever hear I skipped the middle of your book in order to read the end, please don’t take it personally; my habits are not necessarily commentary on the quality of your product.)

So I don’t plot and I have no head for details or logic. Or organization of details and logic. I do have a deep-seated penchant for whining and panicking when my characters dig in their heels and stop talking in an attempt to force me to give them some plot and details. I also have an immense appreciation for praise: go ahead. Love and adore me. It’s even OK if you criticize me as long as, underneath it all, you still love and adore me and are aware I’m going to resent your suggestion that I add some plot because it’s going to ruin the rhythm of my prose. I’m also bossy and not as generous with my praise as I expect others to be with theirs.

I’m not all flaws, though. There’s some awesomeness mixed in here. I’m a great speller. I barely stutter over query letters. I consider myself a master at nagging an editor without coming across as a nag. And I might be in love with the sound of my own prose, but I am totally not the only one.

Granted, the flaws outweigh the awesomeness. I’ve come to the conclusion the only reason I’ve managed to acquire and keep critique partners is honesty. Since I’ve figured out these things about my writer/reader self and have learned how to vocalize them, I’ve been better able to pinpoint my needs, explain my failings in advance, and warn people of what they’re getting as part of the package.

Self-awareness is working out pretty well for me. I find myself less frequently stalled in the middle of stories I think I want to write even though they’re not the kinds of stories I really want to write; sometimes people even come to me for advice or answers, despite my general lack of helpfulness.

How’s your self-awareness? Do you spend much time mulling over your high points and low points? Do you ever falter from what you know about yourself and decide you can change and be something different? (Boy, do I. Witness just about every one of my stories that try to wrestle with more than two characters and a miniscule plot.)

I’m inviting you to make use of Victoria’s blog comments for the purpose of talking about yourself. Tell me all about your flaws and your awesomeness. Don’t bother to check your ego at the door. I figure if you discover something about yourself today, you’ve learned something you’re not going to find in a how-to book. And maybe we’ll discover we have something in common besides mutual enjoyment of Victoria’s awesomeness!

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Thanks, Emily! I’m looking forward to reading the comments on your post.