Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Playlists, pictures and writing

Whoa! It's been a while. As usual, life has taken over my summer. I finished a manuscript and needed a mental health break. A story can take you over and suck the life out of you. I'm trying to start something new and rework a fantasy I started over a year ago. Writing is funny like that. Inspiration can take hold of you and a squeeze you dry. It's a strange feeling when creativity takes a back seat. The whole rollercoaster ride on the tracks of writing. I'm a visual writer. I see a lot of the story in my head so I need to find things to ignite an idea.

I have one idea that's been in my head for a year. The problem is the character isn't really talking, only showing me snippets. It can be frustrating, but I write down what this shy lady is showing me. What has been a wonderful help is music. It amazes me how a certain song will spark the mood, voice, and scenes of a story. For me this is key. It gets me excited about an idea. I will play an inspiration song over and over till I get something. It's funny how it can just click. I will go into a distant stare and let the vision take over. Don't do this while driving though.

Anyway, this idea is starting to take shape, which is a good thing. I currently make playlists on Spotify. I can label which book they are for and add songs to each. I have made playlists for every book I've written. It's crucial for my process.

Another thing that's good to do is make a visual chart. Pictures can help you visualize your characters, scenery, even clothing. Pinterest is my go to for this. I have a board for each book and put inspiration photos under those headings. You can also use Scrivner for this.

Getting outside is another help. Even visiting a new place helps. It opens your eyes to the world and people. I tend to observe more than I interact. It helps when writing your characters.

Well, there you have some tips on reigniting your muse. I'm sure I've written about this before, but it always helps to be reminded.

Any tips you have to make an idea pop?

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Working through the kinks.

Writing is one of those things where words can be flying onto the page one minute and turn bone dry the next. I've been working on a manuscript for about a year. The first draft mind you. I'm not super proud of that time line but it's something I'm trying to figure out. I was super passionate about the project when I started. I did get feed back early on, which may have slowed my process and hindered the flow. I put it aside for many months, hoping that I would get those fuzzy feels for it again. It took a while and now there are some tingles in my belly for it. I am struggling though. I think I'm overthinking things as I always do.

It's the first draft fright. I'm a reviser. It's what I like to do. First drafts scare me. It could be the perfectionist in me, but I like revising. First drafts are messy and disorganized. You would think I would be an outliner, but no, total panster. This might make you think I would love first drafts. I don't. So how do you survive them? I don't think there is a straight answer. This is my fifth novel and I still squirm when I open a blank page. I listen to the voice and plug along, but then that scene comes where you have no idea how to connect it to the ending. Did I mention I write out of order? Yep, guilty.

Right now, I'm at that point. I have 43,000 words. The beginning, most of the middle, and the end are written. I just have to connect (think big climax) the middle to the end. I know what has to happen, it's just getting something down so I can read through and fill in and polish. My brain is having a hard time with it. My solution is to keep going. Even if I develop a twitch in the corner of my left eye, I have to accept that I can write the word "transition" or "needs something here" and continue on. It's okay to do this.

Working through a first draft, for me, can be tedious. The thing is-- we all have our own process. As we hone our skills and write our babies, we figure out what works best for us. It's getting over fears or at least calming them down, taking a breath, and jumping in. So here I go. I'm off to write a big battle scene.

How do you get through your first draft?

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year!

Well, it's a new year. I have to say, I'm in good spirits. I think I'm at a point where I'm settled with my writing and with my life. It's always a juggle but I've come to a point of accepting things and dealing with them.

Writing seems to have taken on new meaning for me. It's about strengthening. That's my focus. My focus is not on validation or racing to publishing. It's about honing those skills. So this year is all about becoming a better writer. I have plenty of material to work on so whipping them into better shape is what I'm going to do.

What I'm going to do with this blog, I'm not sure. I've focused on many things from teaching what I learned to promoting others to life and feelings of a struggling writer. I'm not sure what to put on here. For a while, I felt as if I was repeating myself. I did enjoy the community I once belonged but many of them have left or are busy. So what to do next? Not sure. I don't call myself an expert and I still need to own the title as writer. It's something I struggle to call myself. It's a lack of confidence/imposter feeling. I don't even know when one can call themselves an author.

So here are a couple of questions for you.

1. What are your goals for this year?

2. What is the blog world missing? What would you like to see?

3. In your eyes, what is the difference between an author and a writer? To me it's if you are published or not, but I could be wrong in that line of thinking.

I'm hoping to start doing something here again, I'm just not sure what yet.

Happy New Year!

Have a great day!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Swallowing the bitter pill of querying

Whoa. Yep. I'm still alive. I have to say things are coming into view. I'm not sure how much that makes sense. Maybe I'm maturing (who would've thought). I see things differently now. Some things are less significant while others take priority. Still not understanding?

When I started my path to publication, I was wide eyed and believe it or not, optimistic. Well, as optimistic as a pessimist could get. I wanted to belong and be respected. I blogged and felt like part of a community. It supported me and I felt as if I belonged. I gather with locals and engaged in writerly conversations. Deep down, I wasn't sure if I was this writer everyone kept saying I was. I went through the motions, writing and revising, critiquing and being critiqued. All because I wanted to be published. I wanted my book in print. I knew it would take long. "At least ten years," many would say. I guess my na├»ve nature was like a mask. It only pulled over a false sense of belonging. I heard stories both good and bad about the whole industry. I researched the business and followed the trends to know what was out there. I scrolled on Twitter more than I like to say, which bombarded me with more information than I wanted to know. I never said I was an expert at anything and maybe that was my problem. I always felt below. I wrote four books in four years (not that any of them are good). I pushed myself and broke down a lot. I fought depression regularly, which held me back. And I posted it about it on my blog more times than I like to admit. Yes, embarrassing. I took things to heart and felt deep guilt that I wasn't cleaning a room or that I was taking time away from my kids to write. But I wanted to query.

So I did. To date I've queried three times (3 books). Over 150 rejections. I did have a few partials and fulls, but so far nothing. Now, I know my story is not one of woe. Many have had worse. I know, because I hear the tales. I hear how horrible it can get. What I want to stress is to not let it get to you. Easy for me to say, right? Not so much. Querying has crumbled me. I'm a person who needs validation. I thought I could get it through querying. That I could actually get something that would say that I was a good writer. I relied on the professionals to determine if I was worthy or not.

Since I wasn't getting anything other than--"it's not right for me" or "it's not sellable," I began to wonder what was wrong with me. Do I suck that badly that they can't even tell me? It's a blow that for those with weak confidence, can throw you so far into a hole, climbing out of it doesn't seem worth it. Let's face it, in my mind, I'm only going to continue to get rejected. The thing is my story isn't that sad. I do have a couple of poems published and my crit group can't be more supportive. They are awesome! It's me. It's something that I have to over come to get through it. Querying can leave a bitter taste in you mouth. One that you don't want to taste again because it has made you sick over and over. But it's one you have to overcome to continue.

It made me not want to write for a while. I'd open up documents and shut them. Like I was mad at them for not being good enough. The problem is I love those stories. I needed to believe in them. I needed to get better. I've distanced myself from many things that I used to enjoy in the writer community. I think I needed to reconnect with why I love writing in the first place. It's the story, the character, the idea of traveling somewhere that may or may not exist. I must swallow that bitter pill and get over what querying can do. Fill it with sweet candy (preferably chocolate) and immerse myself back into the worlds I love. Look at querying as just a stage. If they don't like it, they don't know what they're missing.

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Believing

So it's been a while. I have no excuse other than I'm finding myself. Does that even make sense? I've been trying to figure myself out for a while especially my writing self. As with all journeys, my path has been a rollercoaster and continues to be. When I first started taking this seriously, I was wide eyed and probably had more confidence in myself than I do now, which is not much. I've learned along the way that that's only part of the puzzle. I've struggled to find my place, which leads to me not having anything to say or repeating myself like I am now. The one thing that I needed to grasp is to believe. You know the cat poster in THE LEGO MOVIE. Yes, believe. If you don't have it in your heart that you can, you won't. It can be a difficult thing to do especially for someone like me.

Along the way on this path, I've written and rewritten, cried and did happy dances, got many critiques, cried some more, received many rejections, didn't want to talk about it, but the one thing I don't think I was consistent with was believing. There were times, but it wasn't a feeling I always possessed especially in my stories. It was hard to sometimes because I'm always getting rejected. Seems understandable, I guess. But the thing is --if you don't believe in the story, it won't believe in you. It will show. Some of my stories are hot messes because I was changing them to fit the market or an opinion. I didn't believe in it. I didn't back it up and stand up for what I was trying to do. This turns into learning how and what you want and only taking the advice when you know it will improve the story. Some have told me if more than two critiques address a problem then listen. It's advice I've known for years but haven't implemented myself. I was too scared that I wasn't experienced enough to know.

The truth is I am. So I'm not a teacher or librarian or bookseller. I dabbled in my visions and took them to the next level. I have to believe that I can and that what I'm doing with my stories is what I want even if no one wants it. Believing does make a difference. It shows through in the writing.

How about you--have you learned to believe?

Have a great day!

Friday, June 5, 2015

While you wait

The thing about this business is there is a lot of waiting. I think that was the biggest and hardest part to get used to. Still is. I'm no where near having a book published but the waiting in the query zone is enough to make you rip your hair out then bang it against a wall. When I first when through this, I was a mess. I was on edge and I kept repeating that no one would like it. After thirty queries and no bites, I gave in to defeat. The next two times have been more manageable. There has been some interest and I prepared myself for the months and months of nothing. Still, my neurotic brain can't help but allow the pessimistic voice to creep in. You know, the I'm-not-good-enough thing. It's a human reaction or maybe it's the lack of confidence and daily reminder that it may be true. I have developed more of a thick skin about, in fact, I think I expect rejection more than I expect someone to say they like it and want to read more.

But enough about that downer. I don't want to start complaining because I've been in this long enough to realize it's all part of the game. The one thing I keep doing is writing. On with something else. I have been writing a fantasy, as you know, and it has been my biggest problem child. I started to get frustrated and discouraged with it. The problem is--the story will not leave me alone. I'm anxious to get the first draft down in order to let it sit before revisions. But when I sit to write it, I overthink it and ask too many questions so nothing gets done. This has happened to me before, but it usually doesn't go on as long. Finally, after much anguish, I decided to just let it sit for a while and go to something else. It's funny how things come back around. My frustration with this fantasy is I'm forcing myself to think too much about it. Where's the creativity in that? I'm pushing myself and that leads to bad writing. I was missing that joyous, giddy feeling I get when I write. That feeling seemed to fizzle at some point--between learning more about the business and pressuring myself. So what do you do?

Well, you either start something new or revise something that made you feel awesome at one point. Since no new characters were burning in my brain, I decided to revisit an old shelved novel that used to make me all smiley. I don't expect anything from it other than jumpstarting the happy fuzzies and hopefully getting me out of the funk I've been in. So far, it's working. I'm looking at it differently and moving things around, playing with structure to make it flow better. The characters are like long, lost friends. We're picking up right where we left off. It's comforting. I'm not sure what I'll do with it when I'm done. It had been queried at one point, you know the one with thirty rejections, but it'll make me happy to see it in better shape than it was.

How do you get out of your writing funk when you get down?

What do you do while you wait for your queries or submissions to be answered?

Have a great weekend!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The respark

Whoa. It's been a while again. I apologize, but I've been writing a novel that's kicking my butt and it's finally flowing again. I go through these dry spells, which I should be used to by now. It's as if the well of creativity dries up and there's no rain in sight. A drought so to speak. It could be a burn out of forcing it to happen. I don't know. But I love it when it rekindles. It's like taking a breath of air after holding your breath for ages. Anything can do it. For me, sometimes a song, a movie, but my most recent spark is a book.

My good friend, Joanne Fritz, gave me a book called RUSH by Eve Silver. I've been sort of down with my writing. I don't write the norm nor do I write anything that's "sellable" but I like what I write, it makes my frowny face turn upside down. So when I can find something that allows me to see that what I'm doing is okay, my insides flutter and my brain restarts. It makes me happy so why get down. Taking breaks are fine, the brain needs to reboot.

Anyway, this book has everything I love--first person present tense, scifi, teenage romance with a "bad boy", short choppy sentences--it's the stew that makes my heart beat fast and my brain wanting more. There are some things that bother me about this book, but the pros outweigh the cons. I'm a sucker for these books and I took the bait--hook, line and sinker. I like to read many different things but when I'm in a slump, reading what you love to write can ignite a fire that makes you feel giddy. It's makes what you love to write okay. And I love it when it happens. It's that mountain moment making you crawl out of the deep crevice you fell into. It sort of a validation. Basically, write what you want to read and stick to it.

So have you had the moment of clarity?

Have a great week!