Saturday, February 4, 2017

What Unemployment Taught Me About Writing

I, and many college graduates in 2009, didn’t expect to graduate into a world with no jobs, and yet we did.  I was, perhaps happy for awhile.  We had a savings at the time, and Ryan hadn’t yet lost his job.  I watched way too much Buffy, lived off of yogurt and farmer’s market berries with iced coffee while writing all day and I should have been happy.  
I should have used the time to write and submit and publish.  But I am in love with the art of creation, as much as any other writer.  I am incredibly hard on myself and am not inclined to think a thing is ever truly ready.  I should have decided to aproach my writing as a business then.  Vut at 25, I was just too you, too inexperienced with anything outside retail, and far too unconfident.  Even though, to many people around me I didn’t seem it.  I looked my most confident back then.  I appeared and sometimes even convinced myself that I felt the most self-assured.  
But I didn’t do the one thing I wanted with my life:  make a living off of my writing.  I spent so much time blogging and trying to understand the changing publishing world, that I did not take the leap.  I didn’t believe in myself.  Not really.  
I thought that I did.  
Unemployment taught me to feel guilty about my writing to think of it as an effort that didn’t earn me a paycheck.  A time sink that ate up all the time that I should have spent applying for jobs.  
It taught me that I chased my value--not as a writer like I thought I did--but relative to a paycheck.  What a great disservice I did myself.  
At least unemployment taught me that in order to move forward as a writer, the one great area I needed to work on was confidence.  In time, the lesson was learned and now I can make a  decision about what direction to move in.  I understand that I need to make money from my art to see myself as professional, as contributing to the amazing world of literature.  I learned that when I don’t fully engage with these things I wound myself.  I deny myself.  
I have to--had to--find confidence in my own abilities in order to give myself what I need.  A future as an author. A professional writer. So now I can work toward that goal.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What College Taught me About Writing

I, naturally, chose a writing and thinking heavy major in college.  I loved professors best who made me question all of my assumptions about myself and my world. These skills, like a good book, open the mind to see from new perspectives.  
What this taught me was to strive for newness.  Freshness.  
Anthropology, my major, introduced me to other ways of living,thinking, structuring a society and the harm caused by Imperial actions and ethnocentrism.  It taught me what culture was, despite that being such a  vague and intangible concept.  It gave me the tools to analyze my own indoctrination and see where and how my preconceived view of the world helped or hindered me.  The ability to analyze gave me the vested interest in looking into how I, personally, could grow in the direction I wanted to--a direction that represented my true values and ideals without merely mimicking that given by society.  Not that this process is foolproof, or ever complete.  But it is a skill at self-analysis.  
In writing this helps, particularly in Fantasy because of the breadth of issues presented is fodder for stories and the tenants of culture give a writer much material to craft one's own cultures. Also helpful is developing an understanding of cross-cultural power relationships and how this transforms individuals. This has helped me take some of the large cultural ideas that I learned in college--and in life--and be able to break tem down into character driven stories.  You, my readers, can judge how successful I am with this. But all things are a process.
There are questions, too, that come from our modern world.  What is privilege?  What are the constraints of power?  How is prestige given and taken away?  How does perception of one’s place in society promote action?  Or inhibit action? And that is just a few questions that float through my mind right now.  
Questions like this.  Experience.  This settles in a writer’s mind and slowly, subtly affects what writers write.  My perspective affects what I write.  So come and explore these questions with me.  Explore the characters and places that questions and experience shape through a jostling of information and imagination. It should be fun.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why I Write

If you ask a writer why they write you’ll get a million responses that are likely to reduce to a simple “because I must.”  But why?  
If you asked me why I wrote when I was eleven and had discovered the desire, the need to write, my response would have been: “Because the characters in the books I’m reading won’t do what I want them too, so I’m going to make my own.”
If you asked me at thirteen: “Why do you write?” I would have said: “The world in my head just keeps getting bigger.  At a novel a year I won’t have enough time in my life to tell all the stories rolling around in my head.”
If you asked me at fifteen:  “Why do you write?”
“Because this is what I want to do with my life.  I want to develop the skill through hard work to tell some of the stories I know I’m not yet mature enough to tell.  My writing is who I am.”
At 21: “Because if I want to publish, I have to get it right.  It has to be perfect.  I’ve put so much time and effort into my stories, so much work,  I need them to be what I do with my life.  I need them to sell so I don’t have to find another job path.  There’s nothing else I want to do.”
At 25: “Because I can’t imagine my life without this. I’ve graduated college, but  I’m unemployed, thanks to the recession, and my writing remains all that I have left.”
At 28: “I write when I can, as I can, through the pain, the despair, the hopelessness. I’m not certain I’m very good at it any more, but when I do write, when I can write--I’m not being hemmed in by the diminishing options. When I write, I’m not here.  I am almost myself again.  Almost.  The doubt and despair goes away.”
At 30:  “I am inspired by my day job at a local bookstore which has put me back in touch with strengths I almost forgot that I had. In the interest of starting fresh and learning how depression changed my voice, I started a new project that has put me on an unexpected writing path: Young Adult Fantasy. But really, I am writing my way back to mental health.  I’m writing to discover who I have become.”
Currently, at 33: “I write to maintain self through expression.  My hardship has taught me that this tool I have honed through good and bad times is necessary.  Now, expecting a child in May, I also wish to write to have some solace I can give myself--something that is mine--as I go into motherhood.  I want, also, to show my child we never give up on our dreams, no matter what trials life tosses in our way.”  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Return to Blogging

My return to blogging is due to a sort of re-commitment to my writing as a career.  It isn’t that I exactly lost focus on it as such, but that I had some shaky years in there and had to immerse myself in fiction writing to survive them.  This mode of writing, blogging,  while I tried it on occasion, no longer did me any good.  
That said, I am back to a place where I can see myself working to advance my writing as a career again. I will be working toward being a hybrid author, some writing will be self published while I seek to traditionally publish novels I have poured my energy and time into the last few years.  
There is much change on my horizon and one thing that I know:  I need to be a full time writer.  So now, every bit of my time and ounce of my energy will be directed to this endeavor.  
What all of this means is that I have sought balance.  I had to find my feet, my path, anew.  And I have. So now it is about going forward.
What does going forward look like?  
I am going to be launching a patreon, blogging regularly, posting a web-exclusive novel to my shiny new website and also launching a newsletter.  By the end of the year I will have a body of work that I will independently publish, while also seeking traditional publication for different works.  There are a few other things in the works as well and I will announce them when they are a little more concrete.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Endings Blogfest! How do you end a novel?

Thanks L.G. Keltner for hosting "The Endings Blogfest!"  And congrats to her on the 2nd anniversary of blogging.

So what do I think about writing endings?

I am obsessed with the right endings.  I wrestle with the endings to my projects for months, and often fixate on them while writing the whole rest of my rough draft.

With the massive project I've been kicking around the last few years, Silver Mask, I even got so tired of waiting that I opened a doc titled it "Ending 1" and plunged right on in.

Setting up the perfect ending, in my head, often teaches me a lot of my characters' various back-stories. Mostly because I'm popping into the most tense time for all my characters and throwing them together in a way they just won't interact at any other point in the novel.

How these characters act when everything hits usually teaches me more about their characters, the direction that they are growing in and their relationships with the other characters than I might see imagining any other time/scene.sequence in a story.

In Silver Mask, the ending is complicated, full of a lot of threads.  I don't want to miss any of them, and i also want to make certain that when the rough draft is done, each character has been developed evenly.  Writing the ending now is going to tell me how to get there.  It'll also tell me what the main tensions between characters are going to be earlier in the novel, by providing me the instances in which these tensions are addressed in some fashion or another.    

Endings are just so much fun for me.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Insecure Writers' Group January 2014: Genre

   This is my first post of the year!  Sorry for the delay... there were colds, Nanowrimo and too much work in November and December. That said, sharing my goals for the year and my fears about them is the best start to a new year of blogging.  That said, be sure to check out the rest of the awesome participants in the  Insecure Writers Support Group.
     I have been working in a small independant bookstore now for over a year and I've been learning so much about the book industry.  It's been interesting seeing the relationship between book sales, media and staff-customer interactions.  That said, the internet and brick and mortar stores have an uneasy coexistence.  I can't be as anti-amazon and anti-self-publication and the latest technological gadgets delivering books to readers and whatever.  I tried, in the past to be resistant to change, and now I am tired of that.
There is no amount of resistance that will make the future other than it will be. That said there is a synergy among internet dissemination of information, traditional marketing avenues, readers, and bookstores that is a little difficult to put a finger on, much less explain and it doesn't help that so many patrons of the store are either pro-e-book or anti-e-book, with more on the anti side than admitting to owning a Kindle, Nook, or Reading on their iPads.
But the relationships among these things are exactly what I want to understand this year--particularly in its relationship to genre. This question came to mind particularly with iO9's list of the top SF books of 2013.  Their list included titles like "The Accursed," by Joyce Carol Oates, and "MaddAddam," by Margaret Atwood, which in our store is shelved with the literature.
I talked to someone who occasionally helps out in the store, who writes mystery, and he talks about the genre blending lines in mystery as well.  I feel that understanding how the big publishers make these distinctions, or why, can help to understand what the relationship among the new technologies and communication patterns, traditional outreach methods --t.v, radio, and newspaper articles/reviews-- and brick and mortar stores/online stores (sales).
The questions I want to answer with my reading this year will be:  What is genre? What is literature? What is YA? How does genre fiction characterize itself and is there any underlying characteristics that differentiate it from literary fiction?  If there is what are these and why do they exist?
These questions should get me closer to an understanding of what characterizes particular audiences, and lend a more in depth understanding of how the book industry works, and the significance of these various categories to readers and to the industry.
It's kind of an academic approach... and the reason for that is that I *did* manage to complete both Camp Nano and Nanowrimo in 2013.  I have two 50k word rough drafts to turn into something publishable by the end of 2014.  I want to know where my writing falls on the spectrum and why.
So I am planning to read a lot this year, across many genres, while revising Rule of Magic and The Lady and the Bow.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG Post: Uncertainty in Revision

I have had so may insecurities the past few years, and a few successes.  The Insecure Writers' Support Group is the place to vent them, to read others' opinions, feelings, successes, insecurities, and to just generally share in the ups and downs of writing and publishing.  Participants post the first wednesday of each month, and can be found here.  If you just generally want access to the best hub of links and advice for writing, check out the new IWSG website.  It's amazing.  Thanks Alex J. Cavanaugh!  I am really enjoying reading through the site, and following the links.

Last year, I was so worried about completing a rough draft.  Then, in July, I finished a rough draft.  I wrote so often that I had the urge after Campnano was done.  I just didn't know what to do.  I didn't feel "done."

Well, it isn't done.   But it needed to sit awhile until I was ready to make any real edits, no matter my hurried read-through and obsessive notes after the initial completion.

There was a brain fog that moved in once I wasn't writing every day, and then I never quite got around to making any of the big changes.  I started... but it's still waiting to be done.

Now, I'm entering the November Nanowrimo, and I plan to finish it as well. December will be a month of brain-fog, and I should be ready for it.  After that, 2014, will have to be the year that I brave the revision.  I have learned just how much I need order and structure. If I have found a way to apply it to completing a rough draft, I certainly can do the same for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd drafts.

Do you have a system that you employ to make changes to your rough drafts, and if so, what is it?