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The Cycle, an Explanation

There’s a method to the madness of becoming a well known author. To becoming an author. To be someone desired by publishing companies. Through the years, I’ve becoming increasingly more aware of the things that are needed to be done for exposure and to be recognized and sought after and have people like me.

My last post, Intimidated, was a reflection of my becoming overwhelmed by it all.

I feel like I’m sitting at the base of a cliff with only half of the supplies needed for my ascent in rock climbing, which I’ve only ever done indoors, in a controlled environment.

I see friends tackling things on their own in ways I have given up or gotten too shy for. Sharing my works on different blog sites hadn’t yielded much of anything by the time I realized it was a fruitless effort, but I’ve had this problem before.

There are many things I can say, I can write here, I can put it on Facebook or on Tumblr or even find a bigger platform, but who’s to say that it’s even going to get anywhere? On this blog, I’ve had stunted success with having an audience at all, which resonates everywhere else, and when I look at it, and look back at the cliff, my feelings are mixed.

Some days, I feel like conquering it with gritted teeth and a strong resolve. Other days I feel like I’m not going to get further than halfway up the cliff and fail.

Everyone is going to think that what they have to write and how they do it is interesting enough to be worth something. That their voice and style is perfect in a lot of ways and, of course, how could anyone not like it?

Even if I had finished my courses in creative writing, I doubt it would have mattered much. I’d have felt like I wasted money, and not even my money, on something I could have learned on my own in time.

I’m staring up at a cliff of trying to get myself out there more. I am ready to put my hand up on the first rock I can hold onto and hoist myself up, but whether my fingers slip or I keep pushing until the final pieces, to the very top, is dependent on people that I can’t control. I can write for a specific audience, but it’s difficult to tell who would like what, and simultaneously battling the thought that shouldn’t I be writing for myself anyway?

On top of it, my sister sent me a list of the different writing jobs I could get, and instead of making me feel like I could try  at something again, and maybe become better, it made me feel more like I wasn’t doing something right. Which is on me, of course, not on her.

But the only way to find out what will happen is for me to try, and I’ve been very happy keeping my writing between a few friends. Branching out is uncertain and sometimes painful, but I can do it. So many others have done it before, right?

That was the other part. So many others. You could get lost in all of the authors out there, and there are only a handful who are really well known, household names. It goes back to competing, but I need to remember, I think, that no matter how many others are out there, they don’t have a voice or style or ideas like mine.

We’re all unique, no matter how many in number we are. No matter how similar it might be, there’s always a difference.

So I guess it’s just time for me to swallow my pride and take the first step up the cliff. I have a decent support system, in the face of anything that may go wrong. I’ll be caught if I fall.

The Novice Wordsmith

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Coming in Fighting

happy_new_year_2016

My mom told me once, years ago, that the way your New Year’s Day went would indicate what your year was going to be like.

Even after knowing it was an old wive’s tale, I tried to see if it was true. Of course it wasn’t, but it never stops me from trying, from seeing what comprises of my first day into the new year. If nothing else, it helps me try to start the year off right.

It’s hard for the year to be measured in a day. You can’t expect to be jobless by the end of one after having one coming into it. Loss can’t be seen from a single day, from the bottom of the hill before you climb up it to see the actual view. All that you can really tell is if that day feels good to you.

But last year, I started it off with writing, after having so much difficulty over the summer and fall. I conquered what blocks and sluggishness held me back, and that was reflected well in my writing that year, doing better than what I had done the one before.

So this year I wanted to start it fighting, and writing, and hopeful, and impossibly optimistic.

And while I know that an old wive’s tale isn’t true, I believe in setting the pace for the year, like it’s a race or a run of some kind. Figuring out how fast you want to go is the key to whatever you do have in your control.

Though, on the other hand, I do encourage taking advantage of nap time. There’s nothing sweeter.

If there is something I have learned from this past year, though, it is the importance of being kind to yourself. If you feel like something is wrong, or you can’t handle something, or you aren’t getting enough chance to fill your lungs with air, examine what’s going on, and what can change. What should change.

Life is already going to put you through hell, you don’t need to help it make you feel worse. You have limits. Listen to them.

Thank you, for those who’ve been watching me this past year. I know my posts have been sparse and erratic at times, but I appreciate you putting up with me and my wisdom whenever it surfaces.

Here’s to another, and hopefully better, year.

Cheers,

The Novice Wordsmith

Crossing the Finish Line

First of all: Holy shit. I just finished my first novel ever.

This past November had rough parts, but overall it has turned out to be not only my most productive, but my most successful as well. I wrote the epilogue and final words to the novel this morning at 4:30 am.

After pushing myself through with the mantra of, “Just get it done, edit later, don’t worry about anything but getting through the chapter, you know what you want to happen,” I reached the finish line, almost a whole month later.

I kept meaning to post about NaNo during Nano, but it never happened. I mean to do so many things for this month that I didn’t get to on the blog. I wanted to keep encouraging everyone and give progress updates and say awesome things and show off things I’d found through the Facebook group for my Wrimo region, there was so much on my mind, but I had just kept diving into the novel further.

Which is the right thing for me to have done anyway, but again I find myself looking back at how I push myself and causing undue stress because of my ambition.

Either way, I muscled my way through to a finished first draft and I couldn’t be happier. I only hit 85k at the end of the month, 5k off from my personal best, but overall this was a much more successful time than any others.

I’m ecstatic that I finally finished something. That I had finally forced myself to stay on task and get through to the finish line like I had written about so many months before. It is an incredible feeling to know you can finish something, like reading a huge book and looking back and saying, “you know what? I did that.”

And I did. And all it takes is to push through. Shove away the thoughts that it’s not good enough. You’ll get to it later, there’s always the chance that you can go back and fix it when the time comes, but what’s most important, always, is to get to the end. Find a first draft. Make mistakes. Screw up. Make epiphanies to new hooks and ideas and go back and work on them later, but do it, at all.

The hardest part will always be getting through the initial stages. Do not work for perfection, just work. Think about the ideas and get to them. “Just so many more chapters or words until I get to this,” and keep setting goals, mini goals, things you can reach for.

It is so satisfying to look back at what I wrote and to know that I managed to get all of my ideas and visuals out on a document.

I remember getting discouraged about Friend pushing past me in a blaze of glory last year and the year before. “I should be hitting 100k too,” or “I should be at what you’re at,” and his response was the same: “I’ve been doing this far longer than you have.”

You aren’t going to get it on the first try, but that does not mean that you are not going to get it at all. It takes crap attempts and bad months and really shitty drafts, but you’ll eventually find what makes it through to the end.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that an erotica was the first thing I finished. It was the first time I had written a novel for that genre, and I enjoyed writing every word of it. Well, almost, some were more boring than others, but it was still an incredibly fun experience for me. Something new and it turned out to be the spark to a fire I hadn’t discovered yet.

But everything takes time. It’ll take time to hone your skills and get better at writing and developing a style. It takes time to learn how you work and how you build characters. You have to figure out how you work and then find something that works with how you do.

Still, I know it’s not as easy as saying just that, but seeing someone say it helps. If you’re like me, not being the best can be discouraging. Just remember to keep your chin up and worry about what’s on your screen, not anyone else’s, and eventually, you’ll get where you need or want to be.

-The Novice Wordsmith

NaNoWriMo Prep: Intimidation Factor and How I’ve Never Finished a Novel

This past Saturday was a “kick off” party for NaNoWriMo in my area. It wasn’t kicking off into writing, but it served as a party for a lot of us to get to know the others who will be writing in November. It’s where you learn about everyone’s goals, how long they’ve been participating, what they hope to accomplish, how many novels they’ve finished, and where you eat cookie cake and mingle and talk about what a book might be about based on its cover.

It was also where I got incredibly intimidated by a lot of the people I came in contact with.

“I feel so unoriginal,” I told Friend as I was on my way out. “They have so many ideas. All of them are so creative.”

A few had even been published. One had brought in two of her own books to be raffled off, and she acted like it was nothing. Nonchalant. (“Don’t pick that book, I wrote that one eight years ago, the other one is much better.”)

My mind boggled. I felt so small within the group. In comparison to those who had books published, those who had even finished things, I have been staring at three NaNoWriMo projects that haven’t reached the finish line yet, though one is dangerously close. The other two I want to start all the way at the beginning again and re-write.

“Have you gotten published yet?” Was a big question around the room, and one a lot of people could answer quickly, whether it was out of hopefulness or because they’d actually done it.

But to me, the answer was the same. They had something ready to publish. The one woman had said she’d done a bunch of research for it. The one who had two books, she had gotten a contract by putting one book out for an open call (I think that’s what they called it).

I felt– I feel– like a kid in a sea of adults, like this is just something I’m playing at still.

I started to think about it, though. That’s me in a room full of writers, maybe about 20 or so, give or take about five or ten. There’s an entire world out there filled with writers. How many people are even participating in NaNoWriMo? There’s got to be at least ten times more than that all over the world, every one of them having ideas and creativity and imagination that they want to let loose for the rest of the world to see.

What the fuck am I worried about? I’m one of those thousands, if not millions, of people. Whether I know what I’m doing or not shouldn’t matter right now, and on the other side, it is perfectly okay for someone else to be published, to know what they’re writing, and to do it well. Because it can happen, and it does, every day.

It’s back to my competitiveness. Back to my Type A personality, which tells me that I need to be the best forever.

But on the other hand… Isn’t it awesome to be in the middle of something like that? To be around people who are so creatively charged that you aren’t the only person in the room who has wild, crazy ideas that are all over the place, it’s another way of fitting in. It’s belonging. It’s finding your group.

It’s a common bond that brings us all together, no matter what our color, size, gender, etc.

They aren’t there to intimidate, they’re proud of what they’ve accomplished, because it’s still a ridiculously rough path for anyone who decides to take it. Those who publish, those who finish, are there to inspire, because for as many who have, there are just as many who have trouble finishing anything large (slowly raises hand).

So I’m going to try and embrace it, instead of letting it make me feel smaller. Because god dammit, just because I haven’t finished something yet doesn’t mean I won’t.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Reblogged Post from Skye Hegyes: Publishing… a Go!!!

So, this post, I found a while ago and is from one of my followers. I’ve been wanting to reblog this since I saw it because of the information she gives about her publishing process and what it was like. She does a really good job detailing how things went. Also, her book that she talks about, is now available!: http://skyehegyes.com/2014/11/19/1402/

Don’t forget to follow her if you like what you see here! http://skyehegyes.com/

Editor’s Block

Other than the writing of the story, the editing process is my favorite. As time goes on and you spend more time with the novel or the short story, or whatever it is, you learn what exactly you want to do with it, and you have a better idea of what fixes to make.

I admit that it lets loose the perfectionist in me. I get a second and third and fourth glance at the content and have an ability to make any tweaks or even re-write as I see fit. As someone who is very picky about what she writes, I manage to have a very difficult time through NaNoWriMo, when the biggest principle is simply to “keep writing, don’t revise until the month is over.”

Though, in some cases, revising and editing can be a worse task. John Green said once that he had re-written 52,000 of Looking for Alaska’s original wordcount when he got to the first round of editing.

That, to me, however, is incredibly intimidating, but I can see where it comes from. You have a better idea for the story and its direction, and accordingly, you need to re-write and take things out where it’s appropriate to accommodate.

Others, however, hate the task of editing. Friend finds it rather a daunting process, to go through all of the 60-100,000 words. While I relish in the chance to be able to mark up  my work and get it in the form and pristine shape that I want it, he’d rather leave it as is. There’s so much to read through, to try and fix other than the obvious typos.

If you hate editing and revising, there’s still hope, you can do it! I have faith in you! You can do the thing! <pom poms>

First, take it a little bit at a time. Measure it chapter by chapter instead. If you’re having trouble remembering what exactly happened in the novel, there’s no shame in going back to re-read it and getting it fresh in your head, to return and do the best work on it that you can.

Second, focus on typing mistakes first.

As you go on, you’ll likely see things you do or don’t like, things you’ll want to improve or leave or expand upon. This is where the third step comes in, but it should come naturally. Your writing instincts should be able to tell you what you want to keep and what may need to be re-written.

The more time you spend on it, the more you’ll do. It’s a natural progression, start small and work your way up. It doesn’t deserve to intimidate you, it’s your work, you own it.

Another option is to send it to a friend you trust, who also writes (preferably), and get a second opinion. Take it into consideration, and try to see what you think is the best course of action.

If you’re going the professional route of being published, you’ll likely have an editor who thoroughly checks and rechecks your work for errors and gives you their opinion. A writer back in the 50s (forgot the name), who I was studying for a Fiction Writing class back in college, had an editor that would take out huge swaths of his story and re-write them, or simply take them out. Looking at a revised copy of his original work was like watching the short story go through the chop-shop.

Then again, that editor was credited for the man’s great success as an author.

Personally, that’s a little terrifying. To encounter someone who changes that much of your work and to have to put your trust in them for getting anywhere with the story. Whew.

I love editing, like I said. If you don’t, I know you can make it through; think of it as selective writing! You’ll get to the end quicker than you realize, if you stick with it.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Flashback, a Prompt

Some of the best explanations can be done without a character talking at all. Going back in time, or forward to the conclusion your character may be jumping to in their head, can accomplish more than simple conversation would be able to. Not only does it allow you a chance to describe in detail certain important pieces of the puzzle, but it shows a side of the character the reader may not have seen before.

This works, as I’ve found, beautifully, for the characters who are intensely guarded.

Not to mention it can eat up wordcount like a beast when you need it (typically only done for nano, as far as I’ve seen).

Obviously, consider what you can do with it, but the flashback is a tool at your disposal for when everything else just doesn’t cut it. It can help to relate the character to the reader, to explain how they act or why they speak in a certain way(or not at all), and any number of things you can think of. The possibilities are endless!

They can be as deep as being a whole separate scene, or as light as being a random, drug up thought by the character, whatever the story calls for.

The Wordsmith pauses then, considering a time recently when she created something of the sort, but shakes her head of the thought and carries on, too embarrassed by the way it turned out to let her mind linger on it any longer.

Indulge, experiment, and consider. It can take up a few lines, or a few to several dozen pages. It can set up a scene, or the whole book. Though, that’s another thing entirely, going back and forth between times, to show off certain parts of a story and particular points, for the express purpose of telling it one specific way.

I am reminded of Friend’s Nano novel of last year, which roughly 1/4 to 1/2 of the story was a flashback, setting up the rest of the book and/or series. The year before, a flashback turned the tides of the story in a way he wasn’t expecting.

On the other hand, my flashbacks all tend to be small, thoughts, light ideas that flicker in and then out.

Now I can’t help but think about the show/movie version of these things, which trips you into a different part in time with a wavy layover or a dreamy, misty coloring at the edges. Which happens either while a character thinks, or when they’re telling someone about an event. Think of the majority of Phantom of the Opera, if you’ve seen the one with Gerard Butler, at least.

Let your mind run wild, and then somehow get it into writing.

-The Novice Wordsmith