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Writing Posts

Write What You Love

Hello, lovelies!

Today is Valentine’s Day. Or Single Awareness Day. The day we use as an excuse to spent lots of money (or at least extra money) on those we love and buy overpriced chocolate that, at midnight, goes 75% off simply because hearts are printed on the packaging and don’t you know we don’t care about love and what it means after the 14th of February?

I’ve written about that a lot over the years, but that’s not the focus I want to place today.

Today, I want to talk about writing.

And the importance in writing what you love.

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I’m not sure what exactly happened in 2019 (aside from the fact that it was, um, the clusterfuck that was 2019) but since 2020 has come and graced us with it’s presence, I’ve seen a lot of resolutions and goals posts. Not uncommon for this time of year and I personally really enjoy reading them, so I was happy to see so many grace my feeds, curious what others who I respect and admire want to work on in the upcoming year.

Yet I was surprised to read how many writers felt they’ve lost the love of writing and wanting to recapture that this year.

Myself included.

I can’t pin down what happened within the writing community specifically that made this a more common goal I stumbled across more often than not–or even if there is a widespread reason at all and not just all of us a similar difficult journey that wasn’t made any better by the depressing state of the world and the fucked up political mindset.

For me, that was definitely part of it.

I think another part was just querying taking it’s toll.

But not just querying.

Also, dreams.

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You see, I’ve wanted to be a published author for longer than I can remember. I was one of those kids who listed “author” because “knight” and “wizard” when I was first asked as a child. I always knew I wanted to write and there’s hardly any memories of how I found that passion or why it won’t let me go. But that dream as always been there and I’ve been actively working towards making it come true since I was in 7th grade.

I’m 28 now and, though I’ve grown by leaps and bounds, the pile of rejection letters from BLOOD PRICE still sting.

I know I still have plenty of time; that not completing the dream so far doesn’t mean it’s impossible still to do so. I’m still determined to make BLOOD PRICE my debut. But as I move onto the sequel and start thinking of what I want to write after, I find myself missing loving the process, like I once did; missing getting excited to write, wondering what kind of stories I can create, what stories I fall in love writing.

Instead, I am just so focused on marketability. Of doing things “right,” whatever the fuck that means. Of making sure readers will like what I right, that I won’t step on anyone’s toes. Of writing something publishable first, instead of writing something I love first.

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It’s…a bit exhausting, to be honest. Especially when you’re still trying to create and dream. Especially during zero, first and second drafts.

I don’t really have a resolution to this post. Only that I know I’m struggling a lit, to love what means the most to me, because I’m so caught up in the dream, I’m forgetting to focus on the journey. And I hope to recapture the love for the journey, the fearlessness I had when I first started out, writing stories for me, that would enjoy.

Stories I fell in love with first, before worrying if anyone else would, too.

If you’re struggling with this, please know you’re not alone, though I’m sorry I don’t have any good tips or answers to give you. I hope we’re both able to figure out what’s blocking us and capture what we love again, even if it feels a little bit like going back to square one. But maybe, perhaps, that’s just what we need.

Cheers.post signature

 

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Writing Posts

My Neglected Passions and Pursuits

This writing break has been surprisingly hard.
I’ve finally figured out my writing routine, I think. I mean, it seems to be working, since I’ve written two first drafts this year when last year, I wrote none. There’s a lot that times into that–including being in a better place, mentally, this year, as well as buckling down and choosing, actively, repeatedly, to try and write at least five times a week, i.e., every day I also work my day job, so it’s like I’m working a second job. I’m really excited that I’ve figured this out and I’m no longer nervous, when I take a break, like I have now, that I’m not going to be able to get my momentum back. I totally know I will. I have the tools to do so and I know how to implement them.
Even if it’s going to be a little bit different the second half of the year, with editing.
I’ts definitely a brain switch, between writing first drafts and editing old drafts. Especially because editing every draft is going to be quite different, because there are always different aspects to focus on (I have a new editing method I’m going to try and I might write a post about it next week!). But I’m excited for the mental change, because it’s always nice to switch it up a little bit, yet still be making progress on these stories. Especially because, by writing new drafts during the first half of the year and then editing during the second half, I can start a system of querying (and, after finding an agent, going on submission) while still working on other projects and books. I think this is going to really work for me and I’m super stoked about it.
But, I told myself I wouldn’t start editing until the 9th of July. I wanted to take a couple weeks off, to reward myself for finishing my first draft early. Catch up on blogging, reading, those kinds of things. My neglected pursuits.
Yet I keep finding myself itching to write. To edit. To brainstorm ideas.
This is a great problem to have. To know that my spark isn’t gone and isn’t going anywhere. It’s fantastic to catch up on books I’ve been meaning to read, beta read for fellow writers, get caught up on all my blogs. Sure, I’ve had some moments where I could have been more productive with these things (and not been on social media as much), but it’s also been nice to kind of relax a bit, instead of constantly stressing out over my word count and trying to figure out the rest of the scene.
Though I’m itching to get back to it, I’m embracing this break for what it really is: a break to enjoy other pursuits, passions and hobbies before I switch my brain into editing mode and work my ass off for the rest of the year, editing (if I can really kill it) three novels (one at the third round of editing and two at the first round of editing, which take various degrees of effort). I’m excited to start.
But for now, I think I’m going to get back to reading.
Cheers.

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Remembering Roots Amongst Bark, Branches and Leaves

In the past year, I’ve become a pretty serious writer, despite what my last two months’ output proves. I think writing four books in a year is a sign that I have given myself permission to dedicate my time and my passion to my craft, even if I’ve stumbled recently and fallen off of the “writing consistently” wagon. I think one of the reasons I have done so is, however, because I’ve become more serious about my craft. That feels backwards, I realize. But in taking myself more seriously, I’ve also honed in my focus, considering elements that I used to not think about so directly whilst in the middle of crafting a story; elements such as proper word count, plot, character, voice, pace, originality, marketability.
Don’t get me wrong. These elements are not bad things to be aware of. In fact, many of them, if not all, play a factor into the true possibility of whether a story I write has a chance of being published or not. They are all important elements in play. And I should be paying attention to them and being attentive. Yet, recently–particularly with my latest WIP, very tentatively titled BLOOD PRICE–I’ve realized that I have been focusing so intently on all of these pieces that go into creating a full and engaging story (and getting stuck when I’m not reaching the mark), that I have been forgetting to focus on, possibly even include, one very important element.
Having fun.
Think of a tree. You can focus on so many different aspects of a tree. You can focus on the basics, the necessities, in order for it to exist: the roots, the trunk, the branches, the leaves. You can think about the outside factors that play an important role, as well, like sunlight, water or the various seasons. You can dig dipper, looking at the bark’s specific coloration or the veins in the leafs or the strength of the branches. All of these elements are important and are needed, in harmony, to make the tree exist. When first planting the tree, the roots, the seeds, the birth, the creation, is the focus, the source of the excitement. As the tree forms, the focus both shifts and expands until potentially, you forget the roots amongst everything else that now exists.
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, trees to trees?:
For me, having fun while writing is the roots. And I have forgotten all about them and their importance.
When I was writing my first book, THE PATH OF THE PHOENIX, it was a lot of hard work. I had a lot of fear and a lot of doubt within me (many thanks to the bestie for being there and reading nth number of first chapters and reminding me that I could perfect it later, because at that moment, the only thing that mattered was completing chapter two). I’d never written a novel before and though I had the intense desire to do so, I didn’t realize–not fully–how important and how necessary writing was to me. Nor how possible it was to actually write a book. Yet once I started finding my groove, it was ten times harder to stop to do homework or eat or sleep. I just wanted to keep writing this beautiful story that was unfolding right before my eyes, surprising me with every new chapter as these characters were coming to life, both in my head and on the page.
When I finished the first draft, I felt an accomplishment and an elation that has never been replicated, simply because of the newness and the “first-time-ness” that was associated with it. But also, I think, because of the innocence of being a new novel writer. I didn’t focus on making my voice distinct. I didn’t think about how I might offend people if I wrote about X thing. I didn’t worry about word count or fret about pacing or over-analyze plot and character motivation. I had fun. I wrote the story that was forming in my head as it formed. I wrote without fear, without concerns of how marketable it was or what was necessary in order for it to have a chance to be published. I gave my creativity and my imagination full permission to do what they wanted. It was fantastic.
And at the same time, easily the worst draft of anything I’ve ever written, when I finally got around to editing it and focusing on all the necessary elements of storytelling; taking in account the branches, the leaves, the bark, the roots and how they all were meant to complement one another, yet in this first draft, they barely threaded together. That’s how much of a mess this was.
But that doesn’t matter, what level of quality it was. All that mattered is that I wrote it. I got the words down on the page. I wrote it for me. I wrote it from my heart. And I had a blast doing it.
Now, with almost half a dozen books under my belt, I’ve have a mix of writing days. Some days, I crank out over 7,000 words and curse whatever caused me to stop, because I wasn’t finished. Others, I write 40 words and have an itch to not only delete them, but every one that came before and could come after. Some days, I write nothing and feel guilt. And still others, I write nothing and offer myself mercy. No matter what, I’m much more cognizant of the words that I am writing down and how they play into all the elements that help shape the story. And though that is not a bad awareness to have, I think I have been so stuck on trying to perfect and figure out this story in this first draft that I forgot the entire purpose of a first draft to begin with.
I repeat: to have fun with it.
Since starting this WIP, the best day I’ve had was just a week or so ago, where I wrote a solid 2,000 words and then had to pause to write out all these ideas that I suddenly had, when I wasn’t so focused on trying to reach my second inciting incident before page 50; or concerned about my word count; or stressed over how female readers might perceive my depiction of periods. These ideas swarmed around the quest that Natanni, my main character, had just begun; a quest that was suddenly complicated by the environment in ways that I hadn’t allowed myself to think was possible.
As ideas starting shooting off in my head, I almost halted them, thinking about the finer details that should only be paid attention to in any draft that isn’t the first. But just as quickly, I shushed my own head, telling myself that this was a fantasy story. If I wanted to pour of creativity into the environment to complicate things–which then spurred a Pinterest session for concept art to reference and furious scribbling into an outline–why was I trying to stop myself from doing so? Especially with the thought of creating a jungle that blinds you, a desert that sucks your soul away and the final destination only being reached through the complete opposite of what I excepted (and vaguely hinted at here to not spoil anything), excited me more than anything else about the WIP since before I started writing it?
So I’m giving myself permission to have fun. To let this first draft of this story be as shitty as it wants to, because even the shittiest version of this story is better than the option of it never being written down. I’m planting my roots and I’m okay with the idea that the tree might come out crooked or cracked or incomplete. I have the comfort that I can edit it as much as I want in the future. That comfort should be all that I need to write this draft as fearlessly as I want. The first book of Darryn’s story that I mentioned earlier? Yeah, I’m on draft 14 and I may have to revamp everything again. And that’s totally okay.
Writing is a blessed craft in that there are so many ways to approach it, no right way to achieve it and the first try doesn’t mean the end. So how about, on the first try, no matter how you do it, you just enjoy the hell outta the ride?
Cheers.

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GUYS, I'VE WRITTEN FOUR BOOKS

Whoa, I think that’s the first all-caps title I’ve ever had. It’s a bit overwhelming, but it captures my emotions pretty well, so I’m keeping it.
A few minutes ago, I finally finished a full rough draft of my current work-in-progress, which as been tentatively titled THE RESISTANCE. It’s the work-in-progress I’ve been referring throughout the past few blog posts. Yep, the same work that I’ve been a chapter or two away from finishing for the past two weeks and thus, putting off finishing for the past two weeks. But it is done! And by done, I’m using the writer’s definition, which basically means it will never actually be done. Instead, I’ll continue to edit and edit until it finally becomes “good enough” and editing further would only hurt it. I already have a list of notes regarding aspects I want to change and worldbulding/scenes I need to add. The hardest part now will be waiting a solid month or so, starting around Independence Day, before I go back and touch this beauty. I want to start editing now. But, the story needs to breathe. The characters, which I know so well, need a chance to become less familiar, so that when  I go back to edit and improve come July, it will be with a fresher pair of eyes, which will enable me to catch more of my mistakes. And trust me, there are *plenty*.
It’s weird, being able to say I’ve written four books. (I just noticed it is the same number of tattoos I have…interesting). For some reason, four is just so much more substantial to me than three. Three is a hearty number, a very solid number. But four…perhaps it is because this is the first book that isn’t part of the trilogy that makes up the previous three, proving to myself that I’m capable of writing multiple stories and thus, have the promise of building a career. Perhaps four rings with slightly more accomplishment because it is a step closer to being a “real” author. It is a sign of my commitment to my work and my art. This book isn’t any more important than the three previous books–in fact, I think Darryn’s trilogy will always hold a very important place in my heart and I can never give up on him–but Grayson’s story has taught me a lot. And I think Grayson’s story has the potential, if I put in the work and do my research, to help me get that much closer to achieving my dream.
Grayson’s story started out a screenplay I wrote my senior year of college. The assignment was to write a full-length (60 page) screenplay. Mine ended up being 108 pages–the longest screenplay my professor had ever received and he was retiring after that year. Ironically, it is the shortest book I’ve written, falling just under 73,000 words. To be a contender, I need to add about 7-10K, whereas my previous trilogy, I need to cut roughly 10-25K from the first two books. *le sigh* But I’m not worried about the word count, though I stressed about it a lot as I was writing it. Instead, at this moment, I am so proud how the story has evolved and the future it has.
It is an adult science fiction about the extinction of humanity. Originally, it was planned as a stand-alone. The final scene–made more for the screen than the page, but works in both instances–is perfect to leave audiences questioning and not the least bit pissed off. I never had any plans for it to go anywhere else. But as I wrote and learned more about the characters, complications arose that made it necessary to set up a sequel, though expanding it into a trilogy…I’m not so sure. Yet the best part is that it still reads as a stand-alone with series potential and considering that is what agents want, that’s bloody exciting.
It’s a world that lacks color and is quickly running out of humans. In the fight not just for survival, but to continue as a species, it becomes difficult for the remaining survivors to determine who their real enemy is: the aliens that proved the catalyst to the Collapse, the droids that are the weapons of mass destruction, the single human that is the mastermind, or themselves. Throw in some betrayal, death (plenty of it), whispers of romance, grotesque scenes that made my toes literally curl as I wrote them and technology I don’t even fully understand, and there you have it: THE RESISTANCE.
I know this is a braggy blog post. I apologize if I am coming off as haughty or snobbish or self-centered. That is not my intention. It’s just I am so excited about this book. I am so excited that I am taking myself seriously as a writer and giving these stories the attention they deserve. Even if the moment directly after finishing the book was lackluster compared to the shaking, the sweating and the tears that followed finishing my first book, the joy and the excitement are still there; particularly when I realized that I can start plotting my next series, featuring a old man named Artemis Smith, broken dreams, a magic mansion and all the tropes and clichés you can think of. I’m SO excited to meet him and discover his story, as it has been knocking around inside my head for quite some time now. Plus, while plotting that, I’m going to return to Darryn’s story and work hard on figuring out how to make professional readers love him as much as I do. And I’m excited, despite the work involved there and this being the nth time I’ve edited this story, to return to that familiar world that I love so much.
Friends, I’ve written four books. It’s been roughly five years since I finished the first draft of book one. I have improved so much, but still have so much left to learn. But better yet, I still have so many stories to discover and write. I seriously can’t wait for you to read them one day. Thank you for the support and for being friends with a person who lives mostly inside her own head, stuck with the thoughts of other characters, and being willing to read my ramblings about them and the experiences that result through this blog. If my dream ever comes true (and I’m stubborn enough to believe that it will), at the end of the day, it will all be because of you.
Cheers.