Tag Archives: Writing

Social Media Hiatus

It might seem a bit dramatic to post that I’m going to go on a social media hiatus, as I don’t spend a ton of time on social media to begin with–especially after I deleted all the apps off of my phone, ages ago. But I still spend enough time scrolling through Facebook and Twitter that I know I’m wasting precious time I could be using for something else. But, mainly one thing:

Writing.

I’m still not sure why, entirely, I am so apprehensive when it comes to working on my own writing. It’s been months–monthssince I’ve properly written. I have numerous books that need to be edited. So many ideas that I want to chase. After writing so much last year, hardly writing anything this year and it’s already almost June…it feels like a part of my identity is just completely gone. That I’m living a lie, somehow.

Quitting my second job has definitely freed up some time, but I’ve filled most of it with working out and cooking. Which means  I need to free up some more. I don’t want to hide behind the excuse that I don’t have enough time to write. Writing is my life. It should be priority, not something that always gets pushed aside. For now, one of the easiest solutions is lessening my social media intake; lessening the hours I spend in the evening scrolling through updates and rants.

So, apologies to anyone on Facebook or my Twitter fam. I may not be there for a while.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll be completely silent. I’ll occasionally check Facebook or Twitter. I’ll still post pictures on Instagram and my blogs will still link to both locations, so I won’t entirely ghost out. But if you need to contact me or want to chat, social media might not be the best avenue to go. In fact, I have a couple of email chains going with some friends that I adore (even if it takes me a little while to respond). So if you want to still stay in touch regularly, message me sometime this week and we can definitely get an email chain going. Otherwise, I wish everyone all the best of luck, in every aspect of life luck is needed–and perhaps, sometimes, even when it’s not.

I have some writing to do.

Cheers.


Harsh Personal Truths

Months have passed since I began questioning my identity–and my claim–as a writer. Since November, I’ve struggled to write anything, which has hit me harder than it ever has before. Back when I really started writing more consistently (and tentatively say seriously), I’d still always go months without writing anything, before picking a project back up or starting something new.  And it never really bothered me. I never questioned whether I was a writer or not. I got busy. Life got in the way. I was in school, which got harder and busier with every passing year. Not writing for months just made sense.

Then, last year, I wrote four books.

I’ve never been so productive writing in my life. And it felt amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more whole, when writing was my norm, something that I structured everything else around; the main aspect in my life that took precedence. I think that’s why these past few months struggling to write, hating what I’ve written when I do, or–the worse of it–choosing not to write at all out of fear, have been so difficult to me; so difficult, in fact, that I’ve begun to feel false when I claim to be a writer.

How can I be a writer if I’m not writing?

Sure, I’ve written books. Half a dozen of them. Sure, I have ideas for more and plans to write them. Sure, I’m part of a short story blog and have been writing those, but short stories have never been my medium. Novels are. So can I still call myself a writer if I allow months to go by and not work on what I’m most passionate about? If I give into fear? If I choose to do other things instead of write?

I’m not sure.

I know everyone will have their own opinion on this. And if you’ve been in a writing rut like me, I don’t want you to think my judgments I’m placing on myself should also be placed onto you. Each of us has our own definition and parameters as to what qualifies us to be labeled writers. And I’m discovering, lately, that for me personally, when I’m not writing, I feel like a fraud based on my own definition. A writer writes. Period. Maybe not every day–I will never deny the power that life has and its uncanny ability to get in the way. But they try. Oh, do they try. Certainly much more than I have these past few months.

I’ve also discovered I hate feeling like a fraud–especially when it’s associated with the aspect of my identity that I feel is most truly me.

Luckily, I also know how to fix that: by writing.

Currently, I’m about to undergo the first round of edits over ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE VIRTUOUS MARRIAGE QUEST. And I certainly count editing as writing. I’m excited about these edits. But ever since I started planning out these edits–almost a month ago–that fear, that sense of falsehood, that disconnect between my identity and my actions, has still lingered. Even now, as I finish this post, with every intention to go and work on revamping my first chapter after I finish this, m heart is filled with fear. Fear of what? I’m not truly sure. But I do know that I loathe that feeling. And I miss the elation of writing. I miss the dedication I had. I miss creating worlds that I fall in love with and characters that become true friends. I miss stumbling upon narratives that I never planned in my outline, yet excite me more than anything I could have ever plotted. I miss storytelling. I miss the details, the environments. I miss challenging myself. I miss how dark my stories become, threaded with gore and littered with tombstones–just as much as I miss how they are always glistening with stubborn hope and positivity, despite the darkness.

So, please excuse me as I go search for that elation once more. Because I’m a writer, dammit. And writers write, despite.

Cheers.


Differing Opinions: Part One

I really struggled writing my most recent story for our Muses short story blog, which ended up being titled The Triggering Scent of Rabbit Stew. The prompt was super interesting and had absolutely so much promise, but an idea didn’t immediately strike me. And in our email discussions, the Muses talked about trying to write some lighthearted stories for the month and that was why that prompt was selected, as it had so much promise to create some much-needed hilarity.

hero-prompt

Before I realized it, almost three weeks had passed and my story was due in less than a dozen days and I didn’t even have an idea yet. A small amount of panic had set it, but I was at work and couldn’t truly do much about it. Listening to the Welcome to Nightvale podcast and catching up on some scanning requests, I grew slightly frustrated that my fingers kept slipping into the frame in order to hold down the peskier pages. And, without missing a beat, I thought, “Well, at least it isn’t a claw.”

And the story idea hit me.

A shapeshifter who can’t control her ability to shift due to the changing environment surrounding her in the office. Yes, that could totally work. The original idea was to have the story be the scene where she was called into her bosses office, because he had half a dozen scans that revealed body parts of different animals instead of your average, intrusive human phalanges. The boss would be aware of her talents and would ask her to tell him what triggered each of these transformations throughout the day. The humor would come from which ordinary things would cause such a drastic, unrealized transformation. I had no idea how I was going to end it.

When I sat down to write it the next day, the story itself obviously had a different idea.

If you’ve read the story, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, it’s linked up above (but no pressure). Instead of changing into multiple animals, she only slipped into one form accidentally, a wolf. Instead of awareness, her boss was ignorant. And instead of a lighthearted, humor-fueled piece, by the time you reach the end, the entire story is dark and the ending ambiguous.

After writing it, I wasn’t happy with it. Even though there was no requirement to write something lighthearted, I felt I had failed the Muses, in a fashion. It made me wonder if I’m naturally more of a dark writer, considering all of my stories have had darker elements within them and the next story is going to follow that vein. I decided to let the story sit for the weekend and then edit it to have a lighter feel, perhaps more akin to the original plot idea. Hopefully, after doing so, I’d like it more.

Yet when I went to edit it, I didn’t revert it back. I kept the darkness. And I still didn’t really like how the story turned out. I didn’t feel it was my strongest work and I felt like the piece could have done more.

Stranger still, the response from those who read it was quite positive.

Obviously, an artist and their audience are bound to have different opinions (so bound, in fact, that I’m writing another blog post this week over the very same topic, only in a different setting). But I really didn’t expect anyone to enjoy this story because didn’t enjoy it. Yet people did. It was a needed reminder for me, as someone who has been having a bit of an identity crisis recently in the writing department (which is another blog post to be happening this week).

Just because you doubt yourself doesn’t mean you’re right.

Cheers.


Interweaving Narratives

Two Fridays ago, I posted my second story on our Muses blog. I…was actually really proud of it. The first story, I was excited how it turned out, but the entire day before I posted it, I was so nervous. I kept telling myself how shit it was, how no one was going to like it and I would be letting my fellow Muses down by writing something so unreadable. Yet with this story–with The Beginning to the End of the World–I was counting down the days to post it. I was so excited to share this story with the world, because I just had so much fun writing it and I was so proud to write something, once again, completely out of my normal realm.

Yet it didn’t start out that way.

When February’s prompt was first introduced, I was really excited about it. I loved all the possibilities and there was so much promise. I was eager to start writing the story and see what ways I could challenge myself. I knew off the bat that I didn’t want to write a contemporary setting, but something fantastic.

Yet I didn’t get much farther than that.

Days passed and I had adopted a new mantra, a new roadblock that was stopping everything else from moving forward. It haunted me while I slept, when I was showering, at the gym, during meals. Over and over, I would whisper and repeat my conundrum, sometimes dripping with frustration, other times, choked out as a begging plea.

Why can’t we dig here?

I had a setting. I knew my protagonist was male and snarky as hell, with questionable morals and teeter-tottering levels of sympathy and hatred from the readers (or, at least, that was the goal). I heard him, one night, while showering. So clearly in my head, he told me about the Inn he caused to burn down and the bastard he had begotten, yet wanted no association with. Later, I even woke up in the middle of the night, desperately snatched my notebook out of my bag and wrote out the first paragraph in the dark, my protagonist spoke so distinctly to me. Yet I could never shake the main issue. I could never answer my question.

Why can’t we dig here? 

A week and a half before my story was due to be posted, I made an impromptu visit home to pick up a few things. My Mom was working late and my brother was at a basketball game, so my Dad was the only one home. We don’t get a lot of 1-on-1 time and I had surprised him, so he wasn’t expecting it. We made some leftovers for dinner, went downstairs and turned on some Family Feud while we discussed college basketball and the weather. I’m still not sure how, but somehow, I weaved my struggle surrounding my short story into the conversation and explained everything to him.

And, without a moment’s hesitation, he looked at me and said, “You know what would be really cool?” before proceeding to speak for the next five minutes about hidden trees of opposing wills and the accidental uncovering of the Tree of Darkness, setting off the quest to find the Tree of Light. As he kept talking, it was like my protagonist was alerting every possible siren inside my head, shouting, “That is why we can’t dig here!”

I went home and wrote the entire story the next day.

I’m sure I could wrap up this blog post now and it would feel properly closed; a struggling writer finds inspiration by bouncing ideas off another soul and, by doing so, writes a story she actually loves and makes her deadline. Sounds like a complete arc to me.

Except this is so much more than that.

I’m very lucky to have a great relationship with both my parents; with my entire family, actually. My Dad is one of my greatest role models and utmost inspirations. Yet we haven’t always been the closest. Nothing to do with bad blood or anything of that sort–far from it. It’s just I tend to talk with my Mom more than my Dad when I visit home. In the past month, however, my Dad and I have been hanging out and talking more and more. And after he gave me the missing link to my story, I surprised him and mailed him a copy of it, after it was edited. Due to his non-existent online presence, he doesn’t read any of my blogs or see any of my work; not because he isn’t interested, he simply doesn’t have access to it. A few days later, he texted me and told me that he’d read my story and he thought it was awesome; really enjoyed the ending and the only drawback was that he couldn’t help reading it in my voice–which, if you read the story, you’ll know that my narrator’s tone is definitely not akin to mine. He then proceeded to let his entire crew read it, who also messaged me throughout the next week with fantastic feedback and support.

And we haven’t even reached the end of this arc, yet.

This past weekend, I went home to watch hoops with Dad. On our way to the grocery store to pick up some dinner, without prompting, he turned to me and asked, “So what’s this month’s prompt? Need help coming up with an idea?”

I’ve always believed in the power of words, in the awesome power that writing has. Yet to experience it firsthand…especially from my work, in such a personal way? Sometimes, I forget how real life narratives can be affected by the stories we write, read and tell. And in this case, where my writing became a springboard to help strengthen my Dad and I’s relationship?

Talk about fantastic.

Cheers


My Quirks Using Beta Reader Feedback

In November, I wrote a blog post sending out a call for beta readers for two of my novels: THE RESISTANCE, an adult science fiction that’s light on the sci and heavy on the gravestones; and ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE VIRTUOUS MARRIAGE QUEST, my favorite story that I’ve ever written about a staring artist who overusing tropes in his writing and has to conquer them by becoming characters in stories and living through the tropes that plague him. Ever since I wrote that blog post and ten brave, sweet, fantastic souls signed up to help me, I have been anxiously awaiting their feedback. According to my emails, five people have sent me responses so far.

And I haven’t look at a single comment.

Don’t get me wrong: I really want to look at this feedback, see what is working in my stories and see how I can improve. I really want to edit based off of this feedback and start really working on getting these stories to the query ready stage. Yet I also want to wait for all of the feedback to come in (respectively, for each book) before I do any of this.

Seems odd, I know, to wait for all of the feedback to be collected before diving in. Personally, I feel like it is a bit rude towards my beta readers, to ask them to critique my work and try to get it into me by a certain date, only to “ignore” them once they send stuff my way. And, there is the potential problem that, if I have any follow up questions, the time lapsed between a beta sending me their feedback and me actually reading that feedback becomes too long and they can’t remember enough of my story to answer my questions.

Yet despite all of that, this is how I need to use beta feedback.

You see, the quirk I discovered during a previous beta experience is that once I read that feedback, I push forward, guns blazing. I will have no self-control and go straight into editing mode. How could I not, when I have all these new ideas and decisions to make, based off new, outside feedback? This time around, I have multiple beta readers for each story. I did that purposefully, so I could get a wide range of opinions. I’m waiting to get all of them collectively so I can compare those opinions and be best prepared on how I want to edit. I don’t want to decide to make changes based on one opinion if the other four opinions actually suggest the opposite. Plus, with my inability to stop thinking about feedback once I get it and my insane desire to edit immediately after receiving it–even waiting just a few days to process like I need to is hard–it’s important for me, I realized, to wait until everything comes in before I actually look at it. But once all the feedback is in, I am so stoked to order a large bowl of potato soup at Panera, sit at a six person booth and cover the entire tabletop surface with printed critiques, notebook paper, sticky notes and my laptop, and spend hours there taking everything in and making a game plan for the stories so close to my heart.

The reason I wrote this post, mainly, is to apologize to my beta readers. I realize this is possibly a very rude way to receive your feedback and could be taken, by those of you who got me feedback so quickly, as that I’m ungrateful or not truly invested in the work you did for me. I want to be clear that isn’t the case. It’s exactly the opposite. Your time and dedication and thoughts on my work means more to me than I can ever express. And I owe all of you a beta read if you ever want my eyes on anything you’ve written. But, despite the risk of offending those who have been so kind to me, I have to do what is best for my stories. As quirky as it is, the best thing for me to do is to wait, even though I’m itching to dive in.

So thanks again, beta readers, for kicking ass and taking names, and helping this struggling writer out and getting her one step closer to achieving her dreams. I can’t wait for that Panera date and see how much work is ahead of me. 😉

Cheers.


Writing the Wrong Thing

I’ve been meaning to outline the books I want to write this year for a few weeks, now. Yet every time I pull up a blank word document, I just stare at it uncomprehendingly and the words don’t follow. Eventually, I’d close the document, wondering why the ideas weren’t being written down, because I know they are there. And I know that, if I could just get the basic premise out there, then the rest of the story would unfold before my eyes–and I really want to discover where some of these stories want to go. So why was it so hard to get even the basics written down?

Because I was trying to write the wrong thing.

I was so focused to how I was writing my outline instead of just bloody writing it. I had to get the wording just right. I had to set up the characters, the conflict, the stakes while all representing the tone, the age range, the genre, the uniqueness. I had to make it appealing, make it sound beautiful, yet also be concise, distinct and memorable.

Doesn’t sound much like an outline, does it?

Sounds helluva lot more like a query or synopsis, though.

You know, the things you must craft for professionals to see in order to pitch your work. The documents that are the only chance you have at catching an agent’s attention and hopefully starting the journey of getting your book published (if you decide to go the traditional route). You know, the things that you usually write–and stress over–after the book is finished.

Not an outline.

An outline is something for me. It can be as orderly or as sporadic as I want it to be. It can be as chaotic or as jumbled as I need it to be. It can be as detailed or as sparse as I create it to be. There are no rules for formatting, no pressure if I don’t have all the kinks figured out, no consequences if it doesn’t reflect all of the elements that make my book publishable in less than a paragraph. Yet unconsciously, I’ve been transferring the pressure I usually feel trying to craft the perfect query into my outline, where that pressure certainly doesn’t belong.

No wonder I haven’t gotten any of these outlines down.

But, now that the revelation has been dawned and the blog post has been written talking about said revelation (as tradition demands, if you follow this blog), I have a good feeling that I’ll be crossing out “write outlines” from my To-List in the very near future. And I’m really excited about it, because outlines means fresh ideas, new stories, new characters to obsess over (and kill) and renewed excitement about writing. Sign me up.

Cheers.


Quest for Happiness: Week Two

qfh

Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

Fitness:

  • Long-term Goal: Shape the body I want and become healthier.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Go to the gym. Once.
    • Status: Success! I didn’t leave myself any room for error on this one. Tuesday was the first day I had time to go to the gym. When I got home, in-between jobs, I changed clothes, ate lunch and then headed straight there. By the time I walked in, it was too late to give into anxiety or fear what would happen once I arrived. And I surprised myself by actually loving it…and going two more days, making it three in a row for week one.
  • This Week’s Goal: Four days in a row!
    • Definitely doing babysteps. Eventually, I hope to be going five days a week, 45 minutes a day, and incorporating a healthier diet, counting calories (potentially), tracking water and mixing up my fitness routine. But for now, going one more day to the gym than I did last week is a good step forward.

Writing:

  • Long-term Goal: Edit three books, write four new books and query at least one.
  • Last Weeks Goal: Write three times a week on BLOOD PRICE and outline another novel.
    • Status: Partial Success! I did end up writing three times last week (twice for almost an hour when the goal was 30 minutes and once for only 10 minutes but that is better than nothing). And I got to the point where I’ll be doing more new writing and reworking than I will be editing previously written stuff, so I’m really stoked about that. Didn’t outline another novel. So guess what I’m doing this week?
  • This Week’s Goal: Write four times. Outline novel.

Reading:

  • Long-term Goal: Read 60 books.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Read every night before bed.
    • StatusSorta? I read four days last week, usually during meals and cranking out 60~ pages per session. Yet I never read before bed, because I was just too dang tired once I got off work. Plus, reading Lynch requires my devout attention, not sneaking in a few more pages with heavy eyes.
  • This Week’s Goal: Finish The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Blogging:

  • Long-term Goal: Increase output over all three blogs, i.e., post more consistently.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Try out new blogging schedule and see if it works.
    • Status: Partial Success! I do really like the new blogging schedule, but I missed it by one blog post for each blog. I think, as the routine grows, I’ll be able to keep it up, but it was a nice trial run week.
  • This Week’s Goal: Write three blog posts for each blog.

Financial:

  • Long-term Goal: Manage money with more awareness, start retirement fund and build savings.
  • Last Week’s Goal: Balance checkbook for the week.
    • StatusFailed. While I did manage to save receipts to track spending, I definitely didn’t write anything down and actually balance my checkbook. I could blame it on forgetting my pen at home and not having one in my purse, but…
  • This Week’s Goal: Actually balance checkbook. Talk to manager at second job about keeping consistent hours.

For the first week, not a bad start! I really like the routine I got going, even though it has me going nonstop Monday through Friday, making it hard to squeeze in anything else. I loved that I was able to jump over some mental hurdles (making it the gym, writing words on the page again) and prove to myself that all of these goals–even the ones I fell short completing last week–are all very, very possible and achievable. It’s simply a quest to get there.

And I’m stoked to be adventuring.

Onward to Week Two!

Cheers.