Tag Archives: Aspiring Author

Originality

I struggle with this concept so much, but never more than when I’m prepping to query. Whether I’m stalking agents on Twitter, perusing agency websites, utilizing the fantastic and wonderful Manuscript Wish List or just trying to craft my query in general, it never fails that this topic is brought up and I’m stuck with these hidden emotions that I wish I could describe, but I’ve always been so scared to say, because I don’t want to be disrespectful or appear ignorant. I am genuinely curious. My question regarding originality keeps nagging at me and the itch to talk about this is still here, so the secrets out, friends:

It irks me a little bit when someone asks for something “new” or “original,” not because I think we shouldn’t want these things, but because I don’t have any idea how the hell to achieve said things.

Because what is more original than sending out something I’ve written; a person you’ve never read before, with characters you don’t know, even if aspects of the plot or tropes are familiar?

Granted, I’m sure if some professionals in the publishing business read this, they’d be rolling their eyes at me. I don’t mean to sound inconsiderate or disrespectful or rude or anything aside from actual curiosity. I totally understand why agents have to be picky (while starting off securing an agent may be a dream come true for writers, it is a job for agents and they obviously have to be cognizant of that when choosing authors to represent, amongst a variety of other factors) and that they each have their own personal tastes. One agent is completely tired of vampires while another isn’t interested in angels. Another wants both.

I totally understand that and respect it 110%. So please don’t get the wrong idea. I just don’t understand what they are asking for when they ask for something original. Because what it is original? Is that even possible?

I know my stories aren’t breaking any new ground. I do things that have been done before. I also am fond of twisting a lot of traditional tropes, building up expectations only to disappoint and surprise my readers later on when the story takes a different turn. And as I grow as a writer, my stories have also grown in complexity and in creativity. My first trilogy is so filled with tropes (though that did inspire my latest project, which I’m arguably most excited about) and is the only one that I’ve queried so far, so I totally understand why it has only been rejected (especially when you factor in that I queried it before it was truly ready and my query could have been improved tenfold). And though I have moved on and written other works, some which still have tropes, some that don’t, I still work on this story and I still hope it can get published one day and be enjoyed by readers, even if it isn’t original.

Yet isn’t it?

I guess it’s not agents requesting that they want to see something original that irks me slightly, it’s that my work, because it’s been “done before,” it isn’t considered original. Yet how original can you be? Can you do anything completely and totally new? There are always going to be elements that you draw from, inspiration, works that mirror yours, tropes that you incorporate and twist.

And I guess, writing this, I realize that my goal for my books isn’t for them to be the most original books you’ve ever read. If that ends up being a side-effect, fantastic! I just want to write the most enjoyable and fascinating stories that I love, in hopes that others might love them, too. If they are never labeled as original or unique, but you enjoyed them nonetheless, then I think I could be okay with that.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear other opinions about this, especially from any agents who impossibly stumble upon this post: what is your definition of originality? Can it still be achieved in writing? Has everything been done before? Does writing your own work hold any originality organically simply because you wrote it?

Cheers.

 

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Liebster Award!

Y’all know R.K. Brainerd, right? The amazing writer and fantastic human being over at Awake Dragon? I’ve bragged about her before and will prolly brag about her numerous times as our careers explode in the best way possible and we take over the world using puppies, goats and straw houses  we work our asses off and get published.

Anyway, recently she got nominated for something called a Liebster Award. Her responses were glorious, hilarious and down right awesome. Naturally, as with any of her posts, I read through it with an unhealthy fervor, excited to learn so many new and interesting things about someone I look up to and a good friend who I’ve actually never met, but that doesn’t matter, because I love her anyway. Then, I was pleasantly surprised when she nominated me for the same award, which basically means you get a free pass to write about yourself and tell other people to write about themselves and so-on and so-forth.

Image result for you just gestured to all of me gif

*cracks knuckles*

Here are the rules:

  1. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate up to 11 bloggers and write 11 questions for them to answer.
  4. Bonus Rule, added by yours truly: wonder about the significance surrounding the number 11.

Facts: 

  1. I’ve had surgery three times. Once when I was two and they removed some weird people skin from my face (still dunno what that was), leaving a scar on my cheek. Second was when I was seven and broke my elbow in half, leaving a scar on my joint where the screw holds it in place and causing my body to adjust and now both elbows are double-jointed. And last on my tongue when they had to shorten the part that connects your tongue to the lower part of your mouth, leaving four X-shaped scars from the stitches that dissolved.
  2. My undergraduate thesis was a page-turner (*snorts*) about how you could read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings as an environmental warning for what is to come, comparing New Zealand to the Shire, England to Isengard and industrialization to Mordor. It was 47 pages long and spoiler alert: we’re not listening and it’s a war we’re losing.
  3. Brevity is not my strong suit.
  4. I have veins on my right leg that form the number 12.
  5. I struggle with depression and anxiety, the former which is directly tied and associated with my weight or body size.
  6. The current series I’m working on, The Adventures of Artemis Smith, was directly inspired by my frustration at not getting published, so I wrote a character who couldn’t get published (yet has kept writing and persevered into almost his seventies) and was forced to live through troped stories as an actual character, only able to escape and move on to the next story if he was able to figure out a way to break, twist or revert the trope he was currently stuck in to make the story unique and publishable. Only one book down out of nine, but I’ve learned so much more than I ever imagined possible and I am so grateful to him, and can only pray I am just as positive and stubborn with my writing.
  7. I read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy for a project in high school history because our teacher said no one else had ever read it for that project, always scared by the length. I read it in three days and wrote the paper the night before, receiving a 97% (I’m ridiculously proud of this, for some reason).
  8. In films, books, TV, whathaveyou, you could kill every character I have ever loved and I still won’t cry as much as if you kill or harm an animal (especially a dog).
  9. Though I claim that my biggest dream is to be published, I think my “real” dream (as if you can’t have multiple) is to find a man to love me unconditionally, without me needing to lose 40 pounds or becoming “cool” to do so. Yeah, I really, really want that.
  10. I’m really excited to get a home with a yard so I can get dogs. Yes, plural. I plan to name them after my favorite dragons.
  11. I have four tattoos and plan to get a sleeve on my left arm, comprised of three “sections,” if you will: Lord of the Rings, writing and my favorite video games. If anyone wants to fund this, I’m always taking donations. 😛

Questions for Me: 

  1. What’s your biggest regret? (We’re starting off deep here, apparently)
    1. Hating myself for so long, particularly physically (we’re going real deep here too, apparently). Especially considering I judged my worth as a human being based on the opinions of others or what size jeans I wore. Worse, I’m still working on switching this mindset. But my regret is taking so long to realize and admit that I was wrong.
  2. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
    1. Dragon. No pausing or consideration about it.
  3. What’s your dream writing space?
    1. I’ve always wanted to live in a small house with a turret that held my spiral library with a secret door into my writing space. Within the writing space would be my Tolkien collection. This place would be in the woods, far enough away that I can’t hear the cars but close enough that I can run and get ice cream when I need it (especially after I kill my darlings). Also, if we’re talking dreams, I’d be able to visit the ocean whenever I wished, because I also lived close enough to that. This location, if possible or real, is probably in New Zealand.

      So, really, my dream writing space requires me to become a Hobbit. I am totally okay with that.

  4. What author are you currently learning from/being inspired by?
    1. Christopher Husberg, author of Duskfall. On his blog, he catalogs his writing journey, amongst other events going on in his life. Not only was Duskfall the best new book I read this year, but reading Chris’s advice, his publishing journey and his musings about writing has resonated with me.
  5. What’s your biggest writer goal you’re working on right now?
    1. Editing is the hurdle I am battling. I have quite a few books under my belt, but none of them are ready to query just yet. I’m itching to query. So I’m trying to be patient and give my work the attention it deserves, while also trying to balance writing new material and ignoring the plagues of self-doubt that constantly berate and belittle me.

      So, just trying to be your average writer, at the moment. 😛

  6. What’s your biggest life goal you’re working on right now?
    1. Definitely loving myself wholly and fully. And figuring out how to pay freakin’ bills.
  7. If you could change your eye color, what would you want it to be? Strange colors totally allowed.
    1. Actually, I think I’d want it to change based on my mood (I know, that’s cheating). I love my blue-green eyes, but how cool would it be for them to turn pitch black when you piss me off or a crystal blue when you’ve wooed me or yellow when I feel threatened?
  8. Who’s your current/favorite book boyfriend/girlfriend?
    1. I love this question. But how does one choose?

      We got Mr. Darcy.

      Image result for Mr. Darcy

      Oh my Lord.

      Image result for mr. darcy pride and prejudice and zombies

      Definitely swooning.

      We got Murtagh.

      Image result for murtagh

      I don’t care that the film was shite. This man.

      We have Jon Snow.

      Image result for jon snow

      No caption necessary.

      We have Aragorn.

      Image result for aragorn

      I would follow you, my Captain.

      We…have a type, apparently.

  9. If you could get one material item right now without having to pay for it, what would it be?
    1. Do airplane tickets count?
  10. Outside of writing, what’s your dream job?
    1. My dream job isn’t actually possible within the realm of reality, so we’re going to roll with that, because I’d basically wanna be a rip-off of Tarzan. I’m a sucker for animals, particularly exotic ones. I’m the moron that recognizes that a tiger wants to eat me but still want to pet it because look at those paws. So my dream job would be opening up a wildlife sanctuary, like a zoo, but nothing is enclosed (so, basically, owning my own island specifically for all animals) and none of the animals want to eat me, so I can love on them all the time.

      Image result for baby tiger gif

  11. Finally, any exciting book release/promotion stuff going on? And if you’re still wandering in unpublished land like me: what’s a recent writing/life epiphany you’ve had?
    1. The biggest epiphany I’ve had in the past year is that I can actually put writing first in my life and life will still move on. I can write every day and make time for it. I can give it importance, because it’s real and it matters. There are prices to pay for that, of course, but with the output and the growth that I’ve had, it is totally, completely and utterly worth it.

Questions for Victims: 

  1. If you could choose one author to be your best friend (we’re talking giggling at sleepovers and having brunch on Sundays to talk about the latest tabloids kind of best friend), who would you choose and why?
  2. Favorite kind of cheese?
  3. This is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of question. Path A: What book series should be adapted into a video game and why (I’m thinking a la Witcher here)? Path B: If you don’t play video games and thus can’t travel down Path A, please tell me how you function without such soul-sucking enjoyment in your life?
  4. If it were my birthday and you were buying me a puppy, what kind of puppy would you get me (pictures preferred)?
  5. What are you most excited about writing wise right now?
  6. What is the plot of the ultimate dream story you want to write (or have written or are too afraid to write)?
  7. How do you plan to better the world?
  8. What “rule” do you break in writing (purposefully or otherwise)?
  9. Which fictional characters make you question whether you’re actually fictosexual, i.e., who can I swoon over? (Also, adapted this one from R.K. and I don’t apologize for it).
  10. What fictional language do you wish was actually commonplace?
  11. Lurtz (see below if you’re not on a first name basis) is about to kill you. What do you do?

    Image result for uruk hai lord of the rings

    ^^ Lurtz

Victims:

  • Marie over at Light A Fire Instead: A great friend in real life who recently brought back her blog and got into writing again, despite real life trying to get in the way. You’ll want to support her and know her before the rest of the world (inevitably) will.
  • Rob over at Robert F Nugent: Discovered this gent through his blog and then started creeping on him on Twitter. Makes awesome armor, writes really amazing medieval stories I can’t wait to get my hands on and an all around person-you-should-already-be-social-media-stalking.
  • Philip over at Phil Charles R: A gem amongst stones, this man is. Loved his first book and can’t wait to see how he raises the stakes. Also, great guy and so encouraging. So happy that we’re friends and going to take over the world writing books (if you’re jealous, go say hi).
  • Ana over at AZ Pascoe: There aren’t enough words to explain how fantastic of a person Ana is, how lovely her blog is and how awesome her writing is. The only question is: why aren’t you friends yet?
  • Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek: The Book Review King, in my opinion. I absolutely love reading his reviews and he is so sweet to take the time to read mine, even though my site is still young. Go find your next favorite book (and reviewer) over on his site.
  • Joyce over at The Writes of Passage: One of the most encouraging souls I’ve ever met on the interwebs. This woman is going places, but she’s making sure none of us are left behind in the process, either. I adore her.
  • Tanna over at TeaPunk Noveling: My kindred spirit. My dragon-soul-sister. My INFJ twin. A fantastic writer, human and friend. You need her in your life. (Also, advertising now: our book series, both featuring dragons, will have a dragon tour across the world, taking place in a cave near you, years from now.)
  • Jessica over at Elldimensional: I have never had such thoughtful, well-spoken and kind thoughts commented on my blog than the ones written by Jessica. Consistently. Honestly. I support her indefinitely and I hope you do, too!
  • A.Z. over at AZ Anthony: Just stumbled upon this blog and human during #WIPJoy. I love making new connections and this one is pretty rad. Stoked to see where his writing takes him.
  • M.A. over at M.A. Crosbie: Though we’ve never met in person, I advocate for this human so much. So caring, so sweet, so genuine, so driven. I cannot wait to see where life takes her and what she does.
  • Sione over at Sione Aeschliman: An inspiration if I’ve ever known one. A mentor who I’m not sure wants to be labeled a mentor. A knowledge mine that explodes every time I ask a question that leaves me scrambling to absorb all of the information and less of the debris from the ground (I’ve read that analogy three times and I’m still not sure if it works. I’m sticking with it). If you ever dream of succeeding as an author, this is a soul that you need in your life. I promise.

Thanks for the nominated, R.K., and thank you for reading way too much info about this stubborn artist. Stoked to read your responses (if I didn’t tag you and you still want to answer my questions, GO FOR IT).

Cheers.


Querying Versus Job Hunting

You know, these things are actually quite similar. I’d never realized it until after talking with one of my coworkers, but the similarities are pretty obvious.

He’s a college student preparing for a career fair next week. Of course, that means amping up a resume and preparing his pitch. I was a liberal arts major and didn’t really plan for the future after college aside from living in a mansion purchased from the tears of my readers (yeah, that hasn’t happened yet), so I never went to a career fair. I didn’t realize how intense they were. He was describing everything he needed to perfect and convey, aside from his resume. He had to know which companies he walked to talk to beforehand. He needed to be aware of their mission and interests and be able to convey how they aligned with his own. He needed to be aware of their projects and how those projects would benefit from him working on them.

He also had to convey all of this–and more that I can’t remember, just being overwhelmed listening to him–in a 30 second pitch.

Naturally, I felt for him and do not envy being in his shoes.

Instantly, it made me think of the querying process and reflect back on the single time that I pitched in person to an agent (and completely botched it). I explained to him how I’d suddenly made the connection. When you’re pitching your book, you need to get to the heart of the matter quickly and succinctly: who are the main players, what are the stakes, who is the audience, what is the age range, what is the genre, how long is it, what makes it unique? In a live pitch, do this in under a minute and as few sentences as possible. In a emailed query, a few paragraphs, tops–and don’t forget a hook to make the agent keep reading in the first place.

Naturally, he felt for me and does not envy being in my shoes.

I was never very good at cover letters or resumes. It’s not surprising that my track record with query letters isn’t exactly fantastic, either. Or that my fluttering nerves and innate awkwardness makes pitching in person a nightmare for all involved. Yet as we compared the seemingly impossible tasks that we both were faced with, both of us not at all jealous of what the other was trying to accomplish, deeming their plight the harder of the two, I have to admit that I’m grateful to be querying again hopefully later this fall. Despite how difficult it is. Despite sucking at it. Despite it feeling impossible sometimes.

Because one day, that work is going to pay off. One day, I’m going to connect with that agent and they are going to understand exactly what I am doing with my book and they aren’t going to reject it. They are going to love it, sign for it and help me make it the best version it could be. And all of those blotched pitches, all of those less-than-fantastic query letters? They got me there, to that moment, when I write a bomb-ass query letter. I had immediate faith that my coworker is going to kill it on Wednesday and land some interviews and hopefully, a job that will jump start his career post college. I need to work on having a little bit more faith in myself to do the same.

And in the meantime, waiting for that faith to set in? You guessed it: back to query writing.

Cheers.

 


The Itch

I’ve been going a little stir-crazy the past few days, ever since this happened. I’ve learned that it’s important to let your work breathe, after completing a draft. Jumping right back in, regardless of how desperately you need to or how much you really want to fix that one scene that’s been nagging at you since chapter three. By letting your work breathe, you’re able to return later with a more critical eye, refreshed, and your work will only improve because of it.

I know this and I’ve managed to stay away from Artemis’s story, even though I really want to keep the ball rolling, editing through another draft before I send out the call for beta readers and critique partners. But coming off of the most impressive writing output I have ever managed to writing absolutely nothing is driving me a little bonkers.

It’s only been four days, people.

The itch to write and create that has been driving me insane–even with the distractions of family and friends this weekend–is something I wouldn’t trade for anything, however. It’s a sign of how much I’ve grown as a writer, proof of how important these stories are for me and my emotional well-being. It shows the weight I have placed on them and the adjustment I’ve made in my life in order to give writing the utmost importance, starting last year during NaNoWriMo. (Speaking of NaNoWriMo, have you seen their new T-shirts for this year? Holy shit, I’m totally going to splurge and buy one. I love them!)

I’m super proud to have grown so much, to the point where not writing for multiple days in a row causes me to feel a sort of emptiness and incompleteness that was otherwise being filled (yet, at the same time, I no longer feel guilt when life gets in the way or I choose to take a break). And while I don’t think I’m going to start writing another project until this November, working on a manuscript tentatively titled BLOOD’S PRICE, I do have another way to scratch this itch.

Editing.

And, Lord help me, I’m actually ridiculously excited to edit (if that doesn’t prove my insanity, then I can’t help you).

In the Spring, I wrote a novel–light on the science fiction, heavy on the need for gravestones–titled THE RESISTANCE, which focuses on one of the survivors of a war that no one realized was being waged until it was already over and 95% of the human population had been killed. The remaining 5%? Yeah, they are being harvested to power the droids, who are the special project of the singular man that wiped out the rest of humanity. Grayson Price wakes up to this world of extinction and has one purpose (aside from figuring out what the F is going on): reuniting with his soulmate, Rowan. As he learns about the new horrors of the world–which include total colorblindness amongst the survivors, droids, alien technology and a cracked Futurist who believes by exterminating the human race, he’s actually saving them–he knows he cannot survive it. So might as well put his efforts into something more productive.

Like not dying alone.

This story is so different from my usual niche of writing multi-POV fantasy. It was a lot of fun to write, though it had its difficult moments where my fingers dragged across the keyboard. When I finally finished it, I felt two things: stoked for how the ending turned out and the immediate desire to turn around and start editing it, as I already knew how I wanted to heighten the beginning. But I ignored that desire, knowing that this story would be better off if I let it alone for a while. Instead, I took a few weeks off, made an outline and started working on Artemis’s story.

I think it is only proper–and comes full circle–if I stave off my desire to immediately edit Artemis’s story by returning to the destitute and dark reality that Grayson is suffering through.

*pulls out red pen*

Cheers.


Weighing Importance

I’ve been doing a lot of adulting lately. Which, strangely enough, actually looks very similar to panicking: the increased heartbeat, the sweaty palms, the tears threatening to fall past your eyelids.

The shrinking bank account.

disney scared aladdin nervous worried

Moving out and living on my own in a kickass apartment is fantastic, but the bills that have followed are not so much. Pair that with working a three-quarters time job that doesn’t allow for a minute of overtime. Add in the fact that the bills I have acquired are barely covered by what I make in a month. All this results in a stressed out pseudo-adult who struggles constantly with the reality of my situation and the choices that result from that.

The reality is that my bank account is pretty much stagnant, as all my income directly vanishes to pay bills. So the money that I had left over from the move and saved up during my time living with the ‘rents sits in my bank account without the possibility to increase. In fact, with bills such as utilities and groceries varying month to month, the chances are that my very small nest egg is going to decrease over time. It definitely isn’t going to increase.

This reality leaves me with two main choices that I switch between on a daily basis.

Option A: Getting a Second Job
The obvious remedy to my financial stagnation is to get a second job. That second job could help increase the nest egg that I currently have and also help take the pressure off to not spend any extra money, if possible. I still have plenty of things that I would like to get for my apartment. I really want to save up my vacation time to travel abroad once each year–can’t really do that when you aren’t able to save up money to fund said travels. I’d like to be able to go out to eat or catch a film in the theatres every once in a while without feeling guilt and freaking out about how much I spent. I want to start working on my sleeve that I have planned out in my head but never felt comfortable spending the funds on (plus, finding a good tattoo artist is hard). I have yearly doctors’ appointments that still need scheduling, an oil change that is looming and who knows what other one-time expenses that are going to pile up, thus depleting said nest egg. Getting a second job makes the most sense.

Yet at what cost?

The biggest one is time. Mainly, writing time. Since I moved out onto my own, I’ve been averaging roughly 5,000 words a day, writing roughly four hours a day. I have read four books. I’ve caught up on my editorial work. I’ve been writing more blog posts and book reviews. That output in extraordinary for me and something I am totally not used to. And it is something that I cherish highly, already, even though I’ve only done it for two weeks. I don’t want to give up that time for a second job.

But what does that cost?

Option B: Living off a Tight Budget
The cost of not getting a second job is obviously very literal. I’ll be living on a much tighter budget. I’ll have to really limit what I buy and when I buy it. I’ll have to minimize my utilities expenses any chance that I get. I’ll have to be more aware of where my money is going and be more on top of balancing my checkbook. Some of the things I’d like to have in my apartment might not get purchased. And unless my bills somehow lessen so I can make more than I owe, eventually, the money is going to run out and I’m going to be forced to resort to Option A. It’s inevitable.

But if I choose Option B, I can give my writing the attention it deserves. I can take it seriously and truly treat it like a second job (as I should). Though I’ll always be hyper aware of my financial situation and stressed out, I’ll escape from it all within the worlds I’m currently writing about or revising, at least for a little while. I can work towards my ultimate career goal of publishing books and making a living as an author. Even if choosing Option B is just for a few months, before I’m forced to get that second job (unless a miracle happens and my current job promotes me to full time. *snorts*)

Of course, I could try a hybrid of the two. Get a second job that I only work a few days in the mornings or work Fridays and Saturdays, so I don’t have a day off. Not write every day but still write a few days out of the week. Sleep a little less, be forced to prioritize my hobbies a little bit more. Yet I hesitate. I selfishly want a weekend. I enjoy the Friday Girls’ Nights that have happened the past two weekends. I’m able to go to my friend’s wedding this weekend without taking off of work. I can go home and see my family without trying to balance multiple jobs. And sometimes, I just want to be a bum on a Friday and play videogames all day, never changing out of my PJs and eating leftover mac and cheese.

*lesigh*

At the moment, I’m not actively searching for a second job. I’m going to begin the first round of edits on my fourth novel this week to prep for the #P2P16 contest happening in October. Yet I’m aware that while I really enjoy my schedule (working evenings and having the mornings and afternoons free to dedicate to my creativity), that schedule isn’t enough to live a life absent of financial stress. And I’m really tired of bawling my eyes out trying to balance my checkbook or watch as my bank account shrinks ever slowly. Yet is financial stability and comfort worth the price of creative output? Is creative output worth the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck?

I don’t bloody know.

Cheers.


A “I Finished Writing My Fifth Book” Freak Out Moment

So, about half an hour ago, I did a thing. I finished a book. But not just any book. My fifth book. A book that I began tentatively planning earlier this spring. A book that, when I made my goals for the year, I didn’t plan to start writing until around October. Did I imagine that I would actually finish this thing this year? Hell no. Did I imagine that once I moved out of my apartment, I’d be averaging roughly 5,000 words a day? That’s impossible. Did I think that I could jump from 35K to 75K in just six days? That’s ridiculous.

Yet I sit here, at work, with an hour left of my shift, and I was able to type something that resonates with, “This story will continue in the next book.”

My emotions right now are everywhere.

I feel powerful.

I feel excite. So excite, I mean, so dang excite, I’m completely forgetting the finer points of grammar! (If you completely missed that reference, stop reading this celebratory post and go watch this video by Olan Rogers. You’re welcome.)

I feel on top of the world.

comments wan gus psychi

I am in shock and complete and utter awe.

mrw just gus caption oi

I feel apprehensive, as I cannot contain this freak out moment of being so excited, so I’ve texted everyone close to me, blasted it on social media and now I’m writing this blog post; apprehensive that people will think I’m bragging or riding on a high horse. But I can’t help it.

I’m just so damn stoked.

I’ve written five books, you guys. Five freaking novels have been penned by my fingers slamming down on the keys of a keyboard (but most often the backspace key, no judgement). Over the span of these novels, I’m now unhealthily-emotionally-attached to three different main characters and enough secondary characters to make my head spin.

Despite every rejection letter, I have not stopped. Despite every shout of doubt that rings in the back of my mind, I have held onto my stubborn ways and kept writing. Despite every person who has ever question why I went to college for Creative Writing. Despite every time someone asked me what I really wanted to be when I grew up. Despite every time I felt like I sinking into a hole in the ground (where no Hobbits lived and that is no hole I want to be a part of!) because my passion was worthless because my books would never get picked up, they would never sell, no one would ever actually like them because none of them would ever be good enough.

Despite it all, because of it all, I kept writing.

And now I claim that I’ve written five books. One more and then half a dozen novels have the claim of a young woman named Nicole Evans to them. And this one was so special to me, because it is about a regular bloke named Artemis Smith who is 67 years old. He’s a writer whose written 25 books and never been published, yet he’s never given up, either. And he’s stayed positive throughout it all, no matter what life has thrown his way or how deep he slips into depressive doubts. By the end of this book, he still hasn’t made it, but he’s getting closer. And he’s not giving up. He never will. I love him for it and I strive to emulate him (even if he is very much inspired by my own struggles and hopes and aspirations, so pulling some Inception shit right now).

So here’s to stubbornness and creativity. To smaller paychecks that equate to more writing time. To dedication and channeling the Muses. To the celebratory ice cream I’m allowing myself to buy before I get home and unashamedly eat most of it as I play Mass Effect until the sun comes up.

But most of all, here’s to every single person whose believed in me, encouraged me, inspired me and told me I could make it one day. I promise you I’m trying. And I promise that I’m loving it.

Cheers.

 


Pantser vs. Plotter: Living In-Between

If you’re a writer, these terms have a lot of meaning to you. If you’re not, these terms could still have a lot of meaning to you. They are pretty simple, definition wise. A pantser is someone who likes to live on the edge, to “wing it,” to figure things out as they go. A plotter who someone who likes to know things in advance, who likes to plan and outline, before getting started.

Being the natural weirdo that I am, of course, I’m both.

*snortlaugh*

I love organization. On my computer, I have folders dedicated to each project that I’m writing and then, within those folders, numerous other meticulously-organized sub-folders: drafts, “completed works” (if there is such a thing), character profiles, outlines, notes, queries, the whole nine yards. I actually love outlines. I have an outline for every book I’ve written, which is usually some mixture including a chronological listing of major plot points, character tidbits, important notes, epiphanies during writing that I add in as I go so I don’t forget and spoilers abound. No one ever sees these outlines, but they are terribly helpful for me. The first book I wrote, the outline was almost a dozen pages in Word and so detailed, it could have been the book itself. I lived and breathed off that outline. I couldn’t imagine ever writing something without that guide to fall back on when I was stuck.

Until I did.

Crazier still, I enjoyed it.

Granted, I didn’t completely make the switch from plotter to pantser. On this latest novel, I started making an outline, like usual. I had the basic idea in my head: struggling old writer whose never been published gets approached by magical wizard-esqe being and becomes a self-aware fictional character in a story filled with tropes, with the goal of beating the trope to make a unique story being the only way Artemis (the writer) can escape from being stuck in that fictional world forever. I love this idea. I was so excited to write it, back before I started, yet I kept putting it off because I didn’t actually want to outline it. I didn’t want to figure out all the minor details or the other characters or the world. I just wanted to get started and see where it took me, but the plotter in me prevented that from happening. So, like I said, I started making a rough outline. After 30 minutes of meager details being recorded, I finally shut up the plotter side of me and gave into the pantser side.

I wrote the first chapter that day and haven’t looked back since.

As I’ve continued, I’ve adopted a mixture of pantsing and plotting that I think I’ll keep around for a while. I’ve removed the pressure of having a really detailed outline before I write a word–like my first book did–and instead just start with a basic outline; an overview of the most important plot points and anything extra is gold, but not required. And then I write and fill in the outline as I go, with new details that I’ve discovered, major trends or themes I don’t want to forget or scenes that I want to set up for later books.

Image result for Pantser

I pick both because I’m a hipster like that. Mwhahaha.

It’s rather fun, doing it this way, despite often setting off alarm bells for my OCD-esqe lifestyle. It’s been particularly enjoyable lately, as I enter into the second half of the book, where there are more elements unknown than known. I know how the book is going to end (and oh how readers are going to hate me for it) and I figured out what events need to happen between what I’ve already written and that ending, but I have no idea what order, no specifics on how it happens, no idea how my characters will respond or what surprises they’ll throw my way. The days leading up to this unknown next scene, I dragged in my writing. I dreaded figuring out what was going to happen next, despite my excitement at letting the story and my characters take the wheel.

Two days ago, I figured it out and it’s awesome (hint: it includes magical trees, rogue goblins and a freakin’ badass Spriggan). It’s so much better than anything I could have planned, so much darker than I originally thought this novel was going to be and the way things fell into place was truly magical, like everything I had written so far was written precisely to set up this scene that I had never thought about until I was actually writing it.

So if you ask me if I’m a pantser or a plotter (cough: I’m looking at you, NaNoWriMo), I’m sorry to say I can’t claim one side, but inhabit a little bit of both. And I think I’m a better writer for it.

Cheers.