Confessions Of A Writer #22

I haven’t posted a “Confession” in quite some time.  A part of this lapse in time is due to the blog space being transformed into a showcase for my latest project, “Project Thankful.”  Another part is because I have not really been working on either novel in Night Creatures series.  The first draft of the  sequel to Darkness Calls is finished.  The first draft of the sequel to The Hunted is still a work in progress.  But a good work in progress.  The type of work in progress where the story itself including the characters are all, “Look here, author lady.  You’ll finish the novel.  You just have to leave us alone for the novel to take shape, so that when it’s time to write, we can tell you how the story is going to play out.”

That said, I recently started working on the sequel to The Hunted.  Today, I surpassed a writing goal that I would say is the hardest to achieve: the first 10,000 words.  Because the first 10,000 words are the hardest to write.  They are the beginning of the novel, and just like a beginning of a relationship, a beginning of the novel feels awkward to write.  You have all these big ideas, but then aren’t sure if they will work or be realistic within the construct of the story, and you fall in and out of love with the characters, and you wonder why you thought the series itself was worth it at all, and you question whether you should unpublish your work and be done with it, and you abandon your original notions regarding how the novel will take shape and what will happen because as you write, the story tells itself and the characters show you what will happen.  And as the plot is being revealed to you and you are caught up in this collage of characters and action, the idea of unpublishing your work seems ludicrous because writing is so much fun.

And then you look down at the word count, and you’ve passed 10,000 words.

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Confessions Of A Writer #20

We all lose it sometimes.

I lost it at work the other day when a student began shrieking (can hear the student outside in the back of the building very clearly, shrieking).  Knowing that there were other staff in the room, I told one of them I needed to leave and walked back into my room.  My supervisor stared at me confused, and I said “I can not take that screaming.”  My supervisor gave me the “what the hell is your problem” look and harshly said how I would need to get another staff member to go in there then.

Following a very bad meeting with my supervisor that afternoon where words were exchanged by both sides (and my low opinion of her became even lower), I returned home.  That’s when I realized that I had officially lost it at work.

Upon realizing I had lost it, I was consumed with a mix of fear and “hell yeah, I stood up for myself.”  And after those two emotions battled it out, the pride in standing up for myself won out.

Because that’s the thing about losing it: sometimes we need it.  I needed it that day for me to fully accept that the current job I am working is not the right fit for me and that there are indeed other things out there I should be pursuing in lieu of letting the misery I feel about the job cloud out the things I like to do.  But beyond that, I needed to lose it to be inspired to go after those things that make me happy.

So, go ahead: lose it.  You never know what you’ll find in return.

I Made It!

I am doing a happy dance right now because I received an email from Amazon with great news: my books have amassed enough sales so that I have reached the required minimum $10 sales mark to get paid!

I have reached the minimum.  I’ll take it and continue with my happy dance.

Being an e-book author, you are pretty much your own team for the most part.  Marketing, editing, cover design, etc are fields you often have to take on yourself in addition to, oh yeah, writing the books.  So when you hear that you are making it, you are overjoyed.

It’s been a slow struggle.  I will be the first to admit that my sales are not phenomenal or that my books are not hotcakes flying off the e-book shelves.  But they’re great books I worked hard on and worth a read.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible and continues to make this possible.  I’m talking about you, Reader.  A writer would be nothing without readers, and I thank you.

And resuming happy dance.

My Version Of A Love Triangle

I am reaching a very important point in my life.  That point is the place where I ultimately come to terms with my quarter-life crisis and solve it, making my decision in a very love triangle, girl must choose one boy to be with, sort of way.

See, post-college I was just hoping to get a job, like, anywhere in this sucktastic economy.  In my fairy-tale like recent post-college haze, I figured this job would come and that I would have this job all while focusing on my fiction because writing fiction was the choice I made post-college.

I applied to grad schools, didn’t get in, decided it was a sign that the Universe really wants me to focus on writing fiction as my path in life.

So I did.

A year later, guess what happened/is happening?

I am going to apply to grad school.  Again.

I should note that this time around it’s different because I am a lot more serious about grad school than I was the first time I applied.  I am reaching out for help, not afraid that I might be bothering those former professors (hey, remember me?), and I am applying to more programs this time around since PhD programs are SUPER competitive.  Especially where I am applying with my BA instead of applying with an MA.  And I went to a state university.  Oh, and did I mention that the schools I am applying to are not only very competitive and hard to get into because they are PhD programs to begin with, but also because they are top rated English graduate programs?

I am the underdog.  Hopefully one of these programs will recognize that this underdog is stronger than most of the other dogs in the competition and should totally be accepted into the doctoral program.

Where was I?  Oh, right, the epic love triangle decision of my life.  On the one hand, I have the continue to seek employment while concentrating on writing figure.  That was the decision I basically went with after I graduated from college.  On the other hand, I have the go to grad school while writing as more of a hobby figure.  After thinking Option A was the one I wanted to be happy with for my life, I realize that I am not that happy with it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love writing fiction; to me, it’s fun.  But grad school, pursuing my academic interests…I’m realizing that’s where my heart truly is.

In the love triangle model, the doctoral program is the boy the girl chooses in the end while writing fiction is the boy the girl didn’t choose, but who remains friends with.  And, yes, I realize that sounds very much like Twilight.

 

Confessions Of A Writer #17

Sometimes I reexamine a career decision and wonder if it was a good decision.  I always come to the conclusion that it might not have seemed like a good decision at the time, but it was a necessary one to help advance me towards where I ultimately want to be.

If this was Twitter, that would have to condensed to 140 characters and would be #noregrets.

As I reflect back on where I was a year ago, I realize that a year ago I was at a crossroads in terms of my career.  I was accepted into the English MA program at Northeastern University although I had only applied to the English PhD program at Northeastern; I wasn’t accepted into the PhD program, so my acceptance into the MA program felt a bit like a consolation prize.  Torn between pursuing a career in Academia and focusing on my writing, I reluctantly sent in my acceptance (along with the $100 fee).

In the end, I decided against going to Northeastern due to the very expensive price tag in loans I would be paying back in addition to my undergrad loans.  At the time, my decision against grad school did not seem like a very good decision.  For me, grad school was a sensible, logical decision given my strong background in academic research as well as my interest in Academia.  Besides, going to grad school would make me sound impressive.  Instead of saying, “I’m a substitute teacher, currently looking for something more permanent,” I could say, “I’m going to grad school for my Masters.”

A year later, I do not regret my decision against attending grad school.  Because if I had gone to grad school, I would not have published my books or created this blog or any of the other blogs.  I might have eventually, but building my writing career would have continued to remain on my To Do list.

I guess the point of this blog post is this: go after what you love.  No, I rephrase that: don’t simply go after what you love; do what you love.

There is a wonderful video from a Dale Carnegie Training conference where the speaker says, “Give Your 100.”  To illustrate his point, he tells the story of how a teacher one time called him to the front of the room and asked him to try to throw a piece of paper away.  What did he do?  He threw the piece of paper away.  The teacher said no, try to throw the piece of paper away.  So, the speaker took the piece of paper in his hand and kept flicking his wrist, making the motion of throwing away the piece of paper without ever actually throwing it.

If you try to be a writer, you won’t be successful because you won’t actually be a writer.  Try is a word implicit of a void in action.  Don’t let your life be filled with voids; fill your life with things you do, not try.

Help With Kindle Formatting For Your Manuscript

Last night, I was reading a post on thinkinglazy (thinkinglazy.wordpress.com) about how the blogger has decided to publish their story on Amazon Kindle.  As I was reading their post, I had a déjà vu moment because around this time last year was when I really thought more about publishing my books on Amazon Kindle.  After conquering my fear of heading out into the great unknown – the Internet – I published both books on Kindle the end of last summer.

When I decided I was going to publish on Kindle, I began doing my research on manuscript formatting.  My head felt like it was spinning worse than on an upside down rollercoaster.  There was no red, bolded section on the Kindle formatting guides I found that read: The Way You Wrote Your Manuscript Is the Wrong Format, You Will Have To Completely Reformat It This Way.  Instead, I was left searching for simple instructions that did not make me feel like a total tech loser on how to format my manuscripts so that they would not look extremely distorted on Kindles.

In all my research, I found one site that was the most useful.  It’s an article written on the site WOW! Women On Writing, and it is appropriately titled “How 2 Format Your Manuscript for Kindle and/or NOOK.”  This is the link to the article: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/46-How2-FormatManuscriptForKindle.html

I hope it helps!  As always, best of luck with your writing!

Confessions Of A Writer #12

There are always excuses not to write.

I’m busy.  I’m tired.  I’m distracted.  I had to work today, and the students decided to throw pencils up into the ceiling among other offenses.  I have errands I need to do which will take the entire afternoon.  Someone is leaving for work, and the house is running at a faster pace so they won’t be late.  Someone comes home from work and wants to talk or have you go somewhere with them.  The weekends are nearly impossible because I am always out doing stuff.

These are some of my own most popular excuses I find not to write.  Chances are some of the same ones I listed are ones on your list of excuses too.  Because the fact is there is always an excuse not to write.  We’re only human, right?  Plus there just aren’t enough hours in a day, and the hours that are there get booked up with other things a month in advance, and whenever I sit down to write something happens that breaks my focus and where I was headed with this chapter.  Writing gets penciled into the column “When I have time,” which feels like never.

When you are a writer, you have to make writing a priority and make time to write.  But there is no time, right?  In reality, we are constantly making time to do things.  We make time to go to the gym.  We make time to stop in the morning and get coffee.  We make time to meet up with friends for a drink.  We make time to do all those things and more because we allow our schedules to be flexible enough to fit those things in to everyday life.  We tweak our schedules in order to accommodate those activities.

Just as your schedule allows for those activities, you need to start including writing into your daily routine.  You are a writer after all, even if you are currently working another job to help support yourself.  Writing is one of the things you want people to know you for.  In order for them to know you, you need to write.

It can start small.  Bring some note paper with you to work, and write when you take your breaks.  When you get home, instead of spending half an hour flipping through channels to see if anything is on television, spend half an hour writing.  Write during commercial breaks.  Write during that sliver of time when you know no one is going to be home, or after everyone has left.

You don’t have to wake up an hour early everyday so that you will have an extra hour to write.  Find those little windows of opportunity throughout your day when you can write.  Very soon, writing will become a natural part of your day.