Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not Lost. I've shifted.

Well I'm sure many of you have noticed it's been a long while since I've updating my blog. It's not like I've abandoned it entirely, well part of that is true. I haven't forgotten it, that's the right way of saying it. I have been occupied and I can't say that I've been occupied with better things because Psychology and Sociology are definitely not better things to be occupied with. I have returned to school full time this semester and am working part time...I have no time. Sometimes I feel like my whole life has been taken away from me and I don't have a single extra second for anything different and aside from school. I don't like it but I'm trying to juggle it and make it through and set my priorities. Writing is still at the top of my list and I'm sad to say that I have put writing aside for a while now. I haven't looked at my current writing project in weeks and I haven't submitted anything new recently. It's not easy to do many things at the same time and though I'm trying I feel like it's not getting easier. So where is writing in my life right now?

I write every morning still. I have not given that habit up and I won't. There are some things that I will keep and I will do them because for me writing is second nature. Without it I don't feel right and with it I feel complete. I wish I had 48 hours in my day. I could accomplish so many things and the thing I'm learning right now is to still respect sleep and take it. I don't want to take sleep for granted and think I can run on five hours every day and still get through my day because honestly I can't. I remember telling myself that something will lack when I start school and work and that something is writing. Most people would probably say it's okay, just pick it up again when you can and when you're out of school but it's not like that. I miss it. I miss staying up late at night and working through my character's minds and discovering new things about my protagonist. I miss laughing with my favorite character and crying inside when something tragic happens. What I miss most is staying up late, drinking tea, and typing away and locking myself into the world of fiction. But then there's another side of me that says I need to work towards this degree and once I get it I can move through publishers and be an editor for a publishing house. I'm trying to look at that goal and not look behind because I don't want to grow discouraged and lose that vision.

My characters are still there and they are waiting for me to finish the story for them. I have to finish the path for them and give them a future and I will. I won't leave them hanging because if I do that a part of me will hang. I will do this and it's not like I've thrown writing away, that won't ever happen. I tell myself all the time that I'll write until the day I die. I'll write when I have a family someday and I'll write because remember, writers CANNOT stop writing! Write for yourself. Even if people come against you don't lose hope and don't lose your vision even if it's shifted a little.

Only you can determine where you'll take your writing so go after it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Keep It Moving

What are you working on right now? Anything you care to share? I find it interesting how I always have some sort of project in action. This past week I worked on a short story. It wasn't because I was bored (though that would have been nice because I would have had a lot of time on hand). I worked on a short story because I needed to for school. I was allowed to write a story of no more than 1,000 words and in any genre. Particularly I find it difficult to write stories of no more than 1,000 words. It's not enough words for me. I like the 1,500-2,000 word kind of stories. The ones that stretch into 6-8 pages. With this short story I didn't have much of  a plan. I don't recommend this actually. If you can write from the top of your head and still make sense by ending up at the end with a good punch, go for it. Some of us can't do that and that's okay. It doesn't mean you have less experience or aren't nearly as good. Your mind processes in a very special and unique way. You're the type who needs a plan, a guide and map in order to know where to go. There are many writers out there and all of us are different. No two writers will be the same, even if they are novelists, they will not write the same. We all have our techniques, our strengths and the weaknesses. For me I find it difficult to show, not tell and avoid to be verbs. It's extremely difficult for me to put those verbs away and write in a different text. I'm not sure what your weakness is, but don't focus on the weakness. Concentrate on the strengths and what you can do. I think it's more important to know what you can do instead of paying attention to the areas you lack.

Well back to that short story I worked on. I completed it in two days and funny thing is, it ended up with a different twist than I expected. I had this vision, this plan with this story and kind of knew where I wanted it to end up. On the first day I ended with 500 words and then on the second day that's where my twist came in. All of a sudden I had this desire to cause something terrible happen to my main character. I didn't see that coming from the start but when I started thinking about it I liked it. And sure enough I allowed it to happen. In my opinion I say follow the flow. Writing a plan down or an outline is not a bad idea. In fact, it's probably the wisest and safest thing to do. It keeps you accountable and on track, but if a change arises and you happen to like it, go for it. Don't stop just because you have something different written down, another intention. Sometimes the best stories come from a spur of a moment, an epiphany. Don't block that sensation. My advice: always keep an open mind when writing. You don't know where your characters might take you. Sometimes they decide to do this major turn but it can end up being the best.

So word of advice for the rest of your writing week: KEEP AN OPEN MIND.

And as always, write. Write what comes to mind. Here are a few tips for you to put to practice and remember:

  • Where are you going with this?
  • Who are the characters?
  • Did you establish a hook that pulls your readers? 
  • Can your readers relate to your characters/setting/images? 
  • How intense and realistic is the conflict? 
  • Remember, you're in show business--show, don't tell!
  • Are you moved emotionally?--if you're moved, most likely your readers will relate 

Tell me what you're working on this week!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Read! Read Anything and Everything!

Last week I mentioned how I was at the lowest point in my writing. I felt hopeless and as if nothing could bring the spark again. To be honest, I almost gave up last week. There was a thought that ran through my mind and I'm ashamed of that thought now. But since we're all writers, I can share and I know you'll understand. I thought of deleting my novel from my files. Why? I didn't think it was good enough. I didn't think I had the greatness to hone the craft. I won't go on to explain everything again, you can read my past post and perhaps gain some encouragement from it. But I will tell you what I did to rekindle the fire within my chest. I read a book. Sounds simple, right? Well, read along and you'll sooner discover.

Last week Bethany House Publishers sent me one of their newest releases, asking if I can review this book for them. Of course I agreed and once the book came in I began reading. It didn't take long and my writing juices were back up, probably higher than before actually. I read and my eyes spotted great sentences, descriptions, dialogue, context, character development, and much more. I then turned back to my novel and skimmed through a few of the chapters I composed months ago. I read them and I was impressed. You must have a healthy balance of pride for your work because if you don't believe it's good, who will? You need to believe you can do something and even while you're doing it, don't ever give up. There is greatness in you and you can master the skill of writing a book. You can write a short story of 1,000 words, it's possible. You need to put your mind to it. Read books. Read anything to inspire you. Sometimes I'll search for encouraging quotes on writing and read those. Because sometimes all it takes is that little push to get us back on the road and once we're there, there's no turning back. If you have the passion in your heart to write, then don't fight against it, fight for it.

Reading helps bring out the best in your writing. It can establish new ideas for you or plainly encourage you that you too can write something. Yesterday morning was one of my days where I was discouraged, more like depressed. I have a birthday coming up and this whole thing is bringing me down. It has nothing to do with my writing actually. I told a friend of mine that I feel incompatible, wondering what have I accomplished in my life. When he shot back words, "Not many have written book in your age" I realized how true that is. We each have done something differently but have accomplished something great. And if writing is your strength, get out there and write. So I beg you to not give up. You will fall down as a writer and you'll hit the ground real hard but when you do, you must get right back up. Read something inspirational to get you started again and once you're back on track, don't get off. It's harder to stay on than to stray off.

Read, read, read. Writing comes from reading and reading comes from writing. They go hand in hand. Master the basics of literature and whatever you do with your life, don't ignore your calling. If it takes you to go the extra mile to achieve it, then do it. Don't stop now. Read historical, mystery, romance, adventure, contemporary, Christian, how-to, articles, testimonials, and whatever else you can get your hands on. You've come too far to let go and forget you were a writer. Because if you really are a writer, you'll be strong enough to fight the deadliest words about your craft. You'll be brave enough to step out on your own. And you'll be persistent enough to finish.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Write My Friends. Write Beyond the Dark Days!

I have thought about my post for this week. To be honest, I didn't know what to write. This is very controversial to my character because every week I always have something planned to write and talk about. But honestly, this week I have been a discouraged writer. I haven't hit this point in my writing journey in a long time so I know the positivism, the spark, it will come again. Every time I crash and hit the lowest pit, I have hope the light will come again and I will find the joy in my craft. I will find the enthusiasm I had a week ago and I will find the excitement and passion that fills my writing.

I haven't yet discovered what really takes away my passion in writing. It doesn't make any sense at all. Maybe exhaustion? Because there are the days and weeks and even months where I know I'm doing the right thing. I write. So obviously, I'm a writer. But what does it actually mean to say I'm  writer. Does that mean I am cooped up in my room, left out of this world, and placed in my own world with my own characters? Partially true. But that statement can scare new writers. It scared me. When I discovered my love for writing I was scared. I didn't want to do it alone and be alone and be looked upon as a psycho. Let's face it, when we think of writers, we think of those people who wear shabby clothes, shower once a week, isolate themselves from society, and have weird philosophies about the world and universe being one with our mind. But when I refer to myself as a writer, I don't refer to myself as living the writer life. I hone the craft, but the craft doesn't hone me. If that makes any sense learn from it.

But as for this week I have been a discouraged writer. I am working on a novel right now and sometimes I feel as if I'm going nowhere with what I'm doing. I have hit a block in the road so many times this week and if I hit another block, I don't know if I'll have the strength to climb over it. I usually don't express my feelings when it comes to my work and yes, writing is my job, but I figured anyone can learn and even relate to this. We have our bad days and our bad weeks. They will come with such power, trying to knock us down and make us look ridiculous, as if we can't conquer anything. Perhaps our characters are confused and they aren't working for us. Or the setting sounds unrealistic and an incident that just happened sounds impossible. But it's your work, your writing and no one has the right to tear you down. Kind criticism, the type that will grow you is acceptable, but the one that rips you apart and makes you feel worthless, I command you to throw it out. If you truly believe writing is your passion, the one thing you drive on, then go for it and fight against those crummy days or weeks. They will come. I've had mine this week.

I woke up one morning this past week and one of the first thoughts entering my mind was, "I'm not made for this. I will never publish. I have been rejected and it's too hard." Those few words tore me down for the rest of my day and even now it's hard to get out and believe otherwise. But last night, I had an epiphany, I guess you can say. Who am I writing for? Audience. People besides myself. People beyond my family. People apart from my friends and those in my area. But if I don't start with the immediate circle my feelers won't be tested. I need to test my writing in the water I'm comfortable with and then go out and beyond. It starts in steps. The first step is to know you want to write. Second step you must write. And third step, you must write no matter what comes your way.

So for the remaining of this week and next week, who cares what the enemies of your craft say. It doesn't matter. And when you're having a down day with writing, be encouraged, brighter days come right after the dark ones.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where Are All the Writers?

I have discussed the important elements of writing. What you need to do when the book is done and where to go. Find your market and make sure that publishing house will accept the manuscript to propose. As I mentioned last week, make sure you send your work to the right publishers. You don't want to send a book focused on a romantic theme to a publisher who avoids all sorts of romantic work. Find a publisher who shares your interest of writing and is willing to work with you alongside with your genre. So today I want to talk about writer friends and how important they are.

When I first started writing I was alone. I literally felt like those people in the movies who isolate themselves and create their own life away from society. I was in my room for hours writing. The first novel I tackled kept me occupied because I couldn't get my characters out of my mind. I had to keep the story going because I was curious to know what would happen. I know, it sounds so weird. I am in control of my characters and I set things in their way but oftentimes I don't know what will happen until I write. I start with a plan and then it goes out of the window. Besides that point, I was alone in the writing world. I would go to the library and check out at least ten books at a time and read them. I read on the craft of writing, gaining your writer's voice, writing fiction, the rules of novel writing, and so much more. Many times I would sit in the library reading and taking notes on this craft. I wanted to get the most information possible. But I was still alone. There were nights where I was up until past midnight writing. I would wake up in the morning and still write. Sometimes my mind didn't even shut down. Believe me, I've had plenty of dreams about my characters, it's actually disturbing, especially when something terribly happens to my protagonist. 

Eventually the word got out that I was a writer. People began talking about it and spreading the word that "Vanessa is a writer." Now, I always chuckle when people say that. Some will say it with such enthusiasm whereas others will say it with this query sound in their voice, almost as if I'm not doing anything. I'm sorry, I might be bias on this but being a writer IS NOT easy. You struggle against criticism all the time, a foggy brain, nonexistent characters who want to live but only live in your world, and of course the snide remarks from the outsiders. But somehow we still keep writing. We ignore the critics and know that in the end if we just write for ourselves, it'll still be rewarding. But yes, writer friends. Where are they? Believe me, they are out there and there are plenty of them. And once you find a writer friend, you'll have so much to talk about. I found my writer friends at a conference I went to. I remember one night I was up until past midnight discussing the amazing aspects of writing. There's this special connection with writers. There are many things that are related and the similarities are incredible. You can bounce questions off of each other, ideas, inspirations, complaints of course, and insights. I remember having a two hour conversation with another writer. We talked about our characters as if they were real people. We discussed the setting and even though this writer composes fantasy, talking about her fictionalized world seemed so real. 

I encourage you to find writer friends. Those who understand the many toils you experience with honing the craft of writing. There are many English lovers out there, the ones who find enjoyment and relaxation in writing. You are not alone in what you do. Believe me. You ought to go on a little scavenger hunt and search for them. Look for them just as you looked for your passion in writing. But the importance of having a writer friend is for your benefit. You can go to this person and cry when you're rejected and they will understand. You can ask them questions and hear their opinion. You can be weird with them and talk about your characters and how you can't sleep at night because they are running in your mind. And once you find your writer friend, I encourage you to not let him or her go. Just recently a writer friend asked me to look over her novel. We all need each other. Sharing your writing isn't easy at first, but once you establish that friendship and trust, it'll become easier and easier. We all go through the same things. The insecurity and shyness of presenting our writing. So search. And once who find that strong friend, keep him or her around. You will grow from each other and eventually, it might lead into three, four, five, even ten friends. 

Keep pushing your creative juices this week and go beyond the limit you did last week. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Even When It Hurts

The book is done. It's perfect, or at least from what you can see. You spent too many hours to count making it perfect and now that's it done you want to show off the work to others. I met other writers who have clearly stated they don't want their book to get pass their family and close friends. They are just writing for that group and not for the whole world to see. I respect that decision and preference. I find it incredible how many writers will write on hours for end and find it honoring for their families to just read. But then there are the other writers like myself. I write not only for my family to read but for others to learn about my writing and name. I write because I want to be recognized and noticeable in the writing world. When I finished my first novel I hit a rock in the road. I was writing on end and edited without a problem, all until I finished those two steps, then I was stuck. I figured I had to get it published but how and who. I had not the slightest idea about the publishing world and what's required. I bought many books on publishing a book and braced myself for this next endeavoring journey. I mentioned in a past few posts that my book got accepted to a publisher a few weeks ago. Well I shouldn't say accepted. I was asked by an editor if they could have my book proposal. I used every spare moment I had to compose this book proposal and then sent it off with prayer. It took exactly one month for something to come back (though it felt a lot longer). The moment I saw that email in my inbox my fingers couldn't more fast enough and for a long minute I felt sick to my stomach. Sure enough, all of my actions proved true. The book was rejected. They never do say why, though I was tempted to ask what exactly happened. But I reminded myself that they are busy and have a lot of projects to work on. I was thankful they looked at it at least and now I know I need to go back and work on it more. When? That's the problem.

It's not easy being a writer. There are many, many complications and difficulties along the way. Hurdles that seem impossible and sometimes I think if I even have it to be a writer. But then the thought hits me the same way it hit me when I discovered my passion to write. I recently read that if you write more than three sentences in a facebook status, text over 160 characters, and cannot help but write more than three paragraphs in an email, you are a writer. Yes, all of those points fit me. I cannot help but write lengthy and in detail. I want my voice to be heard and this goes all the way to my book and how I want it to get out there. I want my writing to be noticeable. If people were to read my writing and become engaged in the work, I would be pleased. I have imagined myself being a bestselling Author for years now and when that editor first asked to see my book, I was appalled. Of course I was even more appalled but more hurt when it was rejected. It hurt because I thought I had my foot in the door and something could come out of this. But I learned that even if I write just for myself, my family, and friends then that will be enough. I won't write for the fame and money. I write because I love it. When I put my hands to the keyboard each  morning, there's  a powerful emotion that overcomes me. I write and can't stop writing. My hands fly across the keys and punch in letters. I soon realize I have gone over one thousand words and I'm still writing. I know without a shadow of doubt that writing is my niche. It's my desire and I belong to writing just as much as writing belongs to me.

With all that said this isn't much of a post to learn from or gain insight from. Perhaps you can take it as a lesson to never give up even when people give up on you. If you were made for writing then you will have the endurance to stick through with it, even when the stumbling blocks come between and literally flip you over. Study the market. Know which publishers will accept your work and which won't. If you're writing a romantic novel and send it to a publisher who just accepts mystery, well don't be disappointed when they reject you. Be wise in which avenues you pick and someday soon you will receive that book contract to sign and get on with the business. But the most important thing is writing. Because without you writing there would never be a book, a book full of your imagination and ideas! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Writer on Writing

The past few weeks I've been talking about different aspects and avenues of writing. I've discussed the many roads you can take and various things you can write and how it all starts with one action: write. I talked about writing a book proposal and staying consistent with yourself. But today I'm going to talk about myself. What am I working on what right now? I think it's always encouraging to hear from other writers and know what they're working on, it helps perk the brain a bit. To be honest, today is one of those days where I'm struggling. I can't think of anything, my mind is foggy and feels a bit overwhelmed. I know the cause of this though. I have a terrible test for school today so this is definitely taking up my entire mind because I am worrying about it. Anyway...

My writing. What am I currently working on? A novel. Yes, I have tackled writing another novel and currently I love it. I'm not sure if I love it more than my past novel but it's definitely a favorite. I know I have said this many times already but it doesn't hurt to say it again. I love my characters in this story. My goodness. I have fallen in love with my protagonist because in many ways she's just like me, except for being overtly emotional.  There's one scene I wrote a while back and I can barely read that scene without feeling the hair on my arms stand up. By that motion, I know I composed an amazing scene because I was moved. I once heard that in order to move your readers you yourself have to be moved. I one hundred percent agree with that. You cannot expect to move your readers if you weren't by the least touched with what you wrote. There was one scene I wrote where I grew angry with a character. I was upset, torn, and disappointed with this move he made. By the time I was over my little fit I realized I wrote that scene and am the only one to blame.

So, yes I'm working on a 95,000 word novel right now. My goal is to complete this book by the fall and then get it into the whole publishing ordeal again--honestly I hate that process. But yes, I write every day, no matter what the day brings forth. The weekends tend to be a bit up in the air at times so I normally give myself some room on those days. But throughout the week I write up to 6,000 words in five days. I don't stop until I've reached the 1,000 word mark on any given day. Once I've reached that point, I'll stop. I'm also reading a novel this month. I make myself read a novel a month. This month I'm reading one from Karen Kingsbury. Last month it was Francine Rivers. I have a friend who endeavors sharing his novels with me and I have to admit, they are very good. I read novels to get ideas and open my mind with reading that I write. You cannot expect to be a novelist and hate reading novels. With that said, I'm always working on some sort of writing. If I'm not working for a publication I'm working on my own kind of work because I have anticipation to work with a publisher when I'm done. Set reasonable goals for you day. I plan my month with big goals I need to accomplish and then break it down into weeks and then days. Set your goal. Write as many words as you can in a day or go for time. 


Another thing I do that you might find helpful or not is not look back at what I just wrote. I will write and write and write and won't read what I wrote until the entire product is done. Now if I'm working on a short story I do a total different approach. But with my longer pieces of work I take my time and write until the certain word count (usually 95,000) is complete. I then take two or three days of a break before I get into my editing mode. Once I go, I don't stop. This is my way. You might have a total different approach, something that works for you. If so, leave me a comment, I'm curious to know. 

With all that said, keep writing and enjoy what your characters are showing you and telling you!