Brin Jackson, Fantasy writer & daydreamer

Writing, fantasy, craft, sharing, chatting. It's all about books!

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Memory and procrastination

Back in 2012 I sat down with someone I admire; someone whose thoughts matter to me. I admit being flustered and ill-prepared.

I was asked, “What authors in your genre have you read?” I spluttered off several names.

When he said, “Your writing reminds me of — ,”

I began to squirm.

“You’ve never read, — ?” He asked. An incredulous look upon his face.

I’ve never forgotten that encounter. I doubt I ever will. 

It’s not that I hadn’t read some of the authors he mentioned, I have a terrible memory for names and titles. How’s that for a writer? Sucks, huh?

Here’s how it works:

You: “Have you read Blah Blah, by Blah Blah? The one on the best seller lists.”
Me: Blank look.
You: “You know! The book where so-and-so goes and meets so-and-so. They travel through a worm-hole and end up on an inhospitable planet! They’re in a terrible battle using a combination of archaic and modern technologies. They ride beasts that resemble crosses between alligators and chimpanzees. The universe almost collapses!”
Me, after several moments of running through a mental rolodex: “Yes! Now, I remember!”

At the best of times, with prompting, I remember. When I’m under pressure though, I lose all facility to locate my mental rolodex. Without context of who, what, where, and when, I’m unlikely to respond with: “Sure, of course I’ve read Blah Blah by Blah-Blah.”

I figure when I’m next in a situation like the one I mentioned, rather than splutter incoherently, I’ll fess up. “To be honest, I have a terrible memory. Once I have context of the story, it’s likely I’ll remember.”

How’s your memory for titles and authors? Can you rattle off every book you’ve ever read, or do you struggle and need prompts? What would you do in a similar situation? How would you respond?

Procrastination. I admit I’m procrastinating. Rather than dive into the emotional quagmire and messiness of this draft, I’m opting out with excuses like, “I have a client in two hours. I can’t go with puffy, blood-shot eyes!” Rubbish. Of course I can. Hm. Well, maybe not today.

How do you disengage from your writing and work?

I know what I need to do, and what I want to do. The longer I put it off,
the more agonizing it becomes. Like I’m at the top of a luge run, the icy track  before me. Get on the sled, woman! Timer’s running.


How’s your writing going?



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Plugging away on origin stories.

Looking at my work in progress with new eyes.


Back in November I attended the WU UnCon in Salem and, I’m not surprised to say, I came away feeling like my head was filled with those little pieces that flit and float about in a shaken snow globe. It’s taken months for them to settle.

They dust the ground of my imaginary world. They settle on the rooftops of my townships; the flora and fauna of my making. My cast of charaacters, all of them, wear cloaks of shimmering white. It’s in their hair and on the end of their noses.

Each of those dazzling fragments are snippets of wisdom I jotted down on index cards. Wisdom from each of the presenters I had the pleasure of listening to, and in some cases, got to spend time with.

Prior to leaving for Salem, I bought the Kindle version of Lisa Cron’s latest book, Story Genius. Whilst in Salem, I bought the hard copy. All right, I admit to a fan-girl moment when she signed my copy. Lisa is an extraordinary, animated, delightful and warm woman. Her sessions resonated with me, and working through Story Genius, I dove into my work in progress, particularly my protagonist’s origin story and major life events, these past months.

What a rich experience!

As I worked through the exercises, digging, digging, writing in deep first person point of view, cringing along with my protagonist, feeling her pain when her world view was spun on its head. I learned things about her hitherto unknown to me.

Now, the task is to write the origin story for each of my main characters. All will be equally profound, I’m sure.

I hear wiser ones words, “Each character believes they are the protagonist.” “Each character has their story to tell.” And, on, and on.

So, it’s up to me to discover what their stories are, and how they fit into the world with my protagonist.

This isn’t rocket science. What it is, I think, is understanding that like our characters, we all have our stories. We all have that moment in time when our worldview, our belief in something, or someone, changed. Usually, when we were a child.

It’s uncomfortable rooting around down there. It’s dark and filled with creepy crawlies, but it’s what makes each of us unique and well worth knowing – don’t you agree?

How are you doing on your novel? What are you discovering about your characters?
Photo from: Greenhead finds cool new stuff.