Friday, January 12, 2018

Powering Through

Being creative is hard work. It takes effort, commitment, time, dedication, and tenacity. I've seen artists become successful on a local level, but I also know how many years it took them to get there. Writing and editing are no different from other forms of art.

Writing for me comes naturally. My first drafts are messy, convoluted, and sometimes need a huge overhaul, because I do a little bit of outlining and a bunch of pantsing. I go into writing with vague ideas that end up getting fleshed out halfway through, which means I always have to go back. Rewrites are a big part of my writing process, and they are also more time consuming than writing.

There's something about re-reading the first words I've put down that makes me a bit disheartened. I think in my head, "This isn't good." I second guess myself and my art. It pushes me to the edge of wanting to give up, because the words didn't flow the way I wanted them to.

Rewriting is where I get stuck. It's the part of the process where I have to power through and just "do it." The only person holding me back is the inner editor inside me that dislikes (hate is too strong of a word) my first draft.

Drafts are not supposed to be this shiny, perfect thing that you can push out into the world. Drafts are for shaping and folding, mending into the story you want it to become. This part of the process should be fun (at least on some level). I have this novel in my hands that I created, and now I just have to make it better. I should look at this as enhancement, but I always struggle to get through.

All writers struggle with some part of the process, and despite the struggle, you should never give up.

Being creative takes time and dedication. You have to forgive yourself if it's not perfect, and then you have to work on making it better. I could throw this book aside and say, "Eh, I'll get to that later." But if I stop now, I'll lose momentum. I'll, essentially, give up.

What is your reason for powering through when you are struggling creatively?

Mine is the characters I create. I know they have a story worth sharing, which makes me want to finish what I've started. Even if the story is over, the characters never really leave me.

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Year, New Planner

I'm a saver, not a spender, and as such, I hardly ever buy things for myself. Sure, sometimes I splurge with this "I really need this," but I have to justify it to myself, much like a child would a parent. I have to explain to myself how vitally important this item is.

One recent purchase was The Simple Elephant Planner. I tried doing the bullet journal thing last year, but I found the page set up to be tedious. I wanted my planner to look cool with awesome spreads, and I spent so much time making each calendar month look great, that I spent less time actually doing the items on my list.

This year, I decided to try The Simple Elephant, and so far so good. It's simple and goal-oriented. It has to list the five most important goals for you to do this year, and it comes with a few easy instruction guides to give you advice on how to set up your goals.

Mine are:

  1. Shop Dissimulate to 50 Agents
  2. Publish two additional works
  3. Better Overall Health: Mental breaks, meditation, and lowering waist size
  4. Read 50 books
  5. Take a Vacation
Ideally, I won't reach 50 agents with Dissimulate, but since "get an agent" isn't a quantifiable goal, because it depends on the agents I shop to. So, I've decided on something more straightforward and gave myself a number to shop by the end of the year. Dissimulate has a lot in it though: a futuristic sci-fi theme, existential discussions, and a GLBT main character. This one will find a home.

I wrote most of it for NaNoWriMo, took December off to get Overwatch loot boxes (I'm a bit obsessed with opening shiny treasure boxes in that game), and I'm finishing up the book now. I'm at 64,000 words and approaching the end. My rough drafts always skimp on description, so the rewrite usually adds 10k in story and descriptions.

While it is only January 4, I feel really great about the simplicity of setting up this notebook. It breaks down overall goals into monthly goals, breaks down monthly goals into weekly ones. Then, it helps recap your week with successes as well as what can be done better.

Now, I know I have to have Dissimulate done by March for shopping. Now, I know once that's finished I can pursue the other two titles I wish to publish this year. I expect big things from myself in 2018, and you should expect big things from yourself, too.

What are your plans for the new year? Any big goals? What are you using to track your progress?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How I feel when I write a novel ...

Some people ask me: What is it like to be a writer? What does it feel like writing a novel?

Well, there's a lot of heart and soul that goes into writing a book. And sometimes, you lose yourself a little bit in the characters and the story and the drama.

So what does it feel like to write a novel? A little bit of everything. The proof is in the video.

Happy reading and writing!

Friday, March 3, 2017

YA Gets Real: Sacrifice

The four of us watched in horror as green light exploded from the tip of the witch's wand straight into Madison Patrick. Madison's eyes rolled back into her head, her body shuddered once, and she collapsed onto the ground.

Josephine, Carlyle, and Trevor gasped behind me.

The witch, who I thought would be ecstatic to have just ended Madison's life, glanced at the end of her wand. Her brow furrowed, and she frowned.

"Why did you not save her?" Her voice came out tinny and hollow.

There was a long, outstretched moment of silence. I gazed at the charred clothes on top of Madison's chest. I swallowed back a bit of bile from the smell filling the stone-walled space.

"We tried. We just got here too late," I said.

"No, Lex, we were here just in time," Josephine squeaked.

I narrowed my eyes and took a step away from my friends, the people I had spent ages on this journey with. We had come all this way to subdue the witch and save Madison's life. We had arrived at the tower too late, and there was nothing we could have done to save her. The witch had been casting her spell before we entered the room.

"We were too late," I said again.

Trevor shook his head and glanced down at his sword. "We could have saved her."

"No, we didn't have the time," I said.

"You could have," the witch said, eyeing me.

Finally, it clicked into place. I blinked at my friends and swept my eyes over the sullen looking witch. She had used all her magic on that last spell. She hadn't wanted to kill Madison at all. She had wanted to kill me.

"Whoa. Wait a second." I stepped back from all of them, holding my hands up. "You had expected me to travel across the continent, defeat the wraith, drain the swamp with the formi inside, and beat the harnessed rider to what ... to sacrifice myself for Madison Patrick?!"

None of them could look me in the eyes.

"I barely knew her! You barely knew her!" I pointed out to my so-called friends. "Sure, I was trying to save her life, but I wasn't prepared to die for her." The words were true, and I'm not sure what kind of person that made me. While I had failed to save her, so had they. No one stepped up on this one.

"You have the amulet," Carlyle finally said, eyes sullen and lips taut. "It would have brought you back."

"How was I supposed to know?" My voice rose, panic bubbling into my throat. "You guys never told me that!"

"They couldn't," the witch said. "It would have only worked if your intentions had been pure, if you were actually willing to sacrifice yourself for her." She shook her head, looking at me with disappointment. "I can't believe I planned all of this just to get to you." With that, she turned and marched out of her tower.

I stood there, jaw open, stunned.

"You weren't the person we thought you were," Trevor said.

"No one had to die today." Tears welled in Josephine's eyes.

"So are we letting the witch go?" I asked, putting my hands on my hips. "Because she's, you know, a murderer now."

As if in a trance, the three of them repeated, "No one had to die today."

"You can't tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing!" I slammed my foot down, hoping to break them out of whatever had just happened. This wasn't all on me. This wasn't all my fault, but they were making me feel like it was.

They continued repeating the sentence over and over again, "No one had to die today." Slowly, my companions shuffled out of the room, leaving me behind with the body of Madison Patrick.

- - -

Thanks for reading the parody series YA Gets Real! It's a parody series of shorts that make fun of the tropes we know and love in Young Adult literature. There are quite a few books where the main character does sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. I won't give any recommendations for this one, because that would give away too many endings. ;)

Cheers! Another YA Gets Real will be posted in two weeks! Stay tuned!

Friday, February 3, 2017

January 2017 Book Wrap Up and Giveaway

At the end of every month, I wanted to do a vlog with a wrap up of what I've read, or more specifically, what titles I recommend reading and why. However, I have found myself continuing to read books that I feel "meh" about. Despite knowing that I should put them down and move onto a different read, I still finish the title despite knowing I'll probably never really enjoy it.

Thus comes the idea that perplexes me. I can go months and years without finishing a writing project, but I can't seem to permanently walk away from an already written book. There have been very few exceptions to this rule. Very few. If I reach fifty pages in, I can't stop.

I tend to research books before I read them. I check out reviews from people I trust, because books are a huge commitment for me. A recent book I read had a huge red flag review, but I still started it anyway. I continued to think, "I should just walk away" until the very last page,

I did read a book in January that I'd like to recommend. At first, I was upset by one YA Trope used toward the end of the book (perhaps I'll make a YA Gets Real post out of it). But as time goes on, I find myself remembering the description, the characters, and the writing, because it was all really strong. The dialect was hard to get used to, but Orleans by Sherri L. Smith is a fast-paced book that starts slow and then becomes chaotic, much like her depiction of Orleans itself.

When I finished reading it, I wasn't as big of a fan as I am now. The trope almost killed it for me, but perspective has made me appreciate it more.

I also wanted to provide a few more recommendations based on the books I read last year. You can click on any of the photos for a link to amazon.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Silly somewhat dystopian Lord of the Flies take on a beauty pageant. When I started reading this book, I thought, "Man, this is going to be a trip." It was, but in the best way possible. These girls learn to kick butt. Who cares if it might be a totally outlandish plot, I adored every single ridiculous second of it.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
A disturbing and psychological look at a boy who needs the most amount of help possible. Intense and gripping toward the end when it all slams together in a fast-paced near nightmare.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
You know how all those supernatural stories have other people in them that never get talked about? The ordinary people who somehow manage to still have a normal high school experience despite the insanity going on around them? In this quirky and lovely book, Patrick Ness explores the lives of those people, creating an extraordinary story out of the ordinary.

If you are looking for indie authors to read, I've enjoyed books by all of my fellow Scriptors. I cannot recommend any of their titles enough.

That's it for January. Hopefully February will have several more titles to recommend and more current reads. I'm hoping to break the streak of mediocre books with some amazing titles in the future. Also, YA recommendations are welcome! Leave a comment! a Rafflecopter giveaway