Shaken and Stirred: Hello Darkness my Old Friend

 

I have discovered the wide, wide world of AuthorTube recently. It’s YouTube, but for novelists. Topics abound like Publishing, Plotting, Marketing, Writer’s Block, Bad/Good Advise and Tricks of the Trade.

Mind. Blown.

(Yes I realize I’m behind the times but I am only a nublet novelist after all.)

So, as with every new and exciting endeavor, I dive in. The first channel I come to isn’t one of the “big channels” that have 350K subscribers and whatnot. It is a humble channel created by published Sci-Fi/Romance author Alexa Donne. She’s a lovely person who tells it like it is. I like the forthright honesty about her journey and how she humbly inserts her opinions about certain topics while not invalidating others who have differing ones. She’s a classy lady.

She also terrifies me.

Her words for me are like an ice cold bucket of water dumped on me after a nice hot soak in the sun on a breezy beach. Panic and disbelief grip me as I listen. I feel my brain slowly start to shut down the longer I linger on her channel. I reach for the Whiskey bottle and grip it like a life line.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING IS TERRIFYING.

I know I’ve talked about this before but I think I white washed the memory of it to preserve my fragile self-esteem. I should have stayed well away. As I listened to her explain her journey from querying agents to finally having her book appear on shelves, it made my idealistic heart shrivel. Why? Here, lemme break it down for you:

1. First, you have to make the shitty first draft. You have to write it, ignoring your inner editor, muddling through the “marathon of the middle” and dealing with real life to carve out time to write.

Great! You finished! (You, not I. I have not finished a single shitty draft yet .-.) You have birthed something from your soul and now it’s here and you couldn’t be more proud. Put it down and relax for a week or so. Let your brain detox.

2. Now cut it to shreds. Keep in mind while you re-write all those technical details like pacing, character arcs, conflict, stakes, plot holes, villain arcs, Story Structure, emotional arcs and a phenomenal ending. You have to cut out beloved scenes and lovely prose that don’t work, no matter how hard you try to validate them. You may even have to re-write entire chapters or ACTS, depending on how bad you effed up the first draft. Joy of joys.

(Okay, these things I already knew had to happen and you did too. Over and over again, this is the main advice authors have. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! It is the hardest part of this whole process just putting words on a paper. Or so I thought. Alexa delves into the nitty gritty of what comes next and it’s mind boggling. More Whiskey please!)

3. Query agents. And if you fail, re-write some more and Query again. This could take months.

4. Hooray you have an agent. Hopefully. They help you fine tune your book some more and collaborate on all the stuff that needs to happen and they make a list of all the publishers they want to throw your book at. Hopefully you get accepted but often times you won’t on the first round draft. If they send letters, read them and take their advice and re-write. AGAIN.

5. Lets say this book does finally get a publisher interested. Yay! Oh gawd…brace yourself. *hands you a glass with two fingers of whiskey, no ice*

6. Edits. Ten days, Developmental

7. Edits. 1 week, Copy

8. Edits. 5 days, Line

9. Edits. 2 weeks, Proofreading

10. Marketing, formatting, copyrighting, cover design

11. Edits. 5 days, Final

Times may vary depending on publisher and when your book is launched.

But seriously! It’s overwhelming at the least to see this and know that eventually, you/I will have to go through this. How do authors not hate their books after reading it through 8+ times? How do agents re-read it over and over and still like you after it all? How do editors not shake their head and shove the shitty ugly baby manuscript off their desk in disgust after the 4th go-round?

I sat there at my desk after the first numbing shock wave wore off and I took a good hard look at myself through amber-colored glasses (of whiskey). Did I REALLY want to be a writer? Was I enough of a story-teller to put my ideas on paper for the world to read? Did I have what it takes to go through the publishing process; me, ever the procrastinator?

Questions laced with doubt that I countered with logic.

I’m aiming to get my Bachelors of English so I can go into the publishing world, maybe even be an editor myself. I’d love to know that side of things. Am I more editor than writer? Or do I aim to get my Bachelors to know more about writing?

To be honest, I really don’t have an answer to these questions. I know this: I know I have great story ideas that people would enjoy reading. However, I don’t believe (yet) that I’m the best one to write them, especially being a fledgling novelist. I feel the ideas deserve a seasoned author to do them justice, ya know? I would be so disappointed if the finished written product did not live up to the hype in my head. I would also be sorely disappointed if NO ONE wanted to read my book and it never saw the light of anybody elses’ day except my own. How awful to put in all this work into a creation built from scratch only to have it cast away from the Pearly Gates of Publishing Heaven.

Part of me understands that this doubt comes from not having a system yet; from not having DONE it yet. I don’t know if I’m a pantser or a plotter or a hybrid. I don’t know how to organize my story to track arcs and conflict and plots. I don’t (yet) have the motivation to write every day like I should. I get discouraged easily and my self-esteem is at an all-time low when it comes to sharing my ugly baby stories. AuthorTube plunged me into a Pit of Despair.

Or more like a Ditch of Disparity between what is and what can be, if I put in the hard work.

Seriously, could I have picked a more challenging passion? (Or whatever this twisted obsession is.)

YouTube has shaken me to my core, for better or worse. I take it as a good sign that I still come back to it, slowly acclimating to the shock value but I am still shaken. Maybe after I get used to it more, my confidence will come back and thus my motivation as well. There’s a lot of work to do for me. Starting with finishing a goddamned first draft.

Ugh.

Do you feel the same? How do you get over this depression?

Is it Whiskey?

Tell me it’s Whiskey.

Then I’ll know I’m doing something right…

Carry on my wayward People. No rest for the wickedly lost.

Advertisements

When your dream chases YOU…and you run away screaming like it’s Freddy Kreuger

Wouldn’t it be romantic and wonderful if you and your dream could prance and frolic in a field of flowers, laughing and singing like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music”? It would put a flower behind your ear and tell you you’re beautiful, even when you don’t meet a deadline or happen to be too busy to focus properly. It would massage your aching feet and make you a cup of something delicious and say it’s with you till the end, for better or worse.

Goddamn you Julie Andrews.

*Takes off reality filter*

You’re on your third cup of Bailey’s and coffee, staring bleary eyed at your computer. The insipid cursor is taunting you, winking in and out of existence and echoing like the steady TAP TAP TAP of a school master’s expectant shoe on a sterile linoleum floor. (Yes, it makes noise if you stare at it long enough). Your fingertips are numb from counter-tapping on the desk, attempting to inject a melody against the TAP TAP TAP; trying to drum up inspiration.

It’s 2:36 am and you have to be to work at 7:00. Something falls in the kitchen and you startle so badly you slosh your coffee, your body jerking awake, ready to leap into action. OKAY! You’re awake again! Your fingers tap tap tap on the keyboard for a while and then stab the back space button in annoyance. This happens for perhaps half an hour more. Ridiculous. This is getting you no where. It’s time for bed and you can continue with fresh eyes when the sun is out again.

Your blankets greet you warmly, tucking around your shoulders and snuggling up to your back. Your pillow cradles your aching head and its feathery fingers reach out to pet your hair and relax the nerves. You close your eyes and sigh deeply. Time to shut up and shut off….

*poke*

You twitch and open one eye and survey the room. Nothing but darkness and the familiar shapes of  your furniture. Must be a muscle spasm. You curl your body in on itself and pull the blankets up higher. Sleeeeeep.

heh heh heh heh heh…..

WHADAFAQ? Your ears sharpen in the yawning silence and behind your eye lids, your eyes rotate spastically, trying to catch the sound again. Surely this is sleep deprivation. Your body is trying to keep you awake for a fourth wind. It can’t let go. So much to do and too much worry. You try deep breathing. In two three four. Hold for seven; let out for eight….

JessJessJessJessJess……..

It’s not real! You are still as you can be, devolving back to kindergarten where all children know that if you lay like a dead person, the monster can’t find you. You’re afraid to open your eyes. It’ll go away. It always does. You’re freaking out over nothing.

*poke poke*

OMGOMGOMG!

*POOOOOOOKE* hehheheheheheheheh….

DEFINITELY NOT A SPASM! OMFG it’s FREDDY KRUEGER! Its FREDDY!!! Or Jason! No, not Jason! It’s PREDATOR!!

You throw back the covers and stand on your bed in a crouching position, piercing the void with your suddenly superhuman sight. You grope for a weapon; you grab a chewed up pen from your night stand. Your spine feel likes its electrified and your leg muscles tremble, waiting for another poke to prod you. Waiting, waiting…

Nope. Nope nope nope you’re not waiting. You make the snap decision to move before it can get you, leaping off the edge of your bed (because the carpet has turned into lava and you can’t touch it or you’ll die) and landing as close to your doorway as you can before stumbling through and slamming it shut, locking the monster inside. You run back to your desk chair and you put your feet up onto the seat, pen in hand and now armed with your still hot coffee.

It’s a small eternity of you waiting and watching before you feel safe enough to turn your back to the door way. Since you’re up again and clearly not going back to sleep any time soon, might as well work. You feel a warm breath against your neck and you shudder.

Jeessssssssssssssssssssssssssss.…………………….

You’re doomed. That’s it. Game over. You can sleep when you’re dead, which might be sooner than you anticipated.

An invisible pair of hands grips your wrists and plunks them down on the keyboard and you feel like a puppet being manipulated. First it stabs your index finger down, and then your pinky and then middle finger of your left hand. You squint and try to make out the words you’re involuntarily typing but after a while, you give up and give in to the compulsion. The breath is still at your neck and the weight is on your hands for hours, TAP TAP TAPing away, showing that cursor whose boss.

When you come to, the sun is out, it’s 6:30 am, and when you look at the screen, your word count has jumped up 6k and HOLY SHIT it’s actually GOOD. You look around, neck sweaty, muscles tight. At some point, you were fed because there’s an empty Cheez-it bag to your left and a glass of juice you don’t remember pouring to your right. (Is that juice?)

You turn in your chair and stretch, your eyes gritty from strain and deprivation. When you stand, for a split second you see a form in the shadows and your body spikes with alarm. And then you shake your head because you swear you got the impression that it winked at you and saluted before drifting away and releasing you from its thrall.

And you smile.

Dreams aren’t romantic. They’re goddamn scary MoFos and they come at you like Hell Hounds when you’re least expecting it. They mean well though, you see, because they want to come alive too. They want to live and breathe and take shape and because YOU are their vessel, they have to push you past your comfort level sometimes. Only the really good dreams do this; the ones that hold on to you like a dog with a bone.

The dreams that chase YOU are the ones you need to keep close. Those are the ones worth not giving up on.

(This is a true story from the life and times of Jessica Jordan.)

It’s coming….Winter is coming

How did it get here so fast!? How could I possibly have ignored it’s looming presence for so long?!

Is it some deep psychological need to bury my head in the sand every year and hope it passes me by like an Egyptian Plague from the Bible? Is it fear that blocks the self-inflicted mental and emotional exhaustion imminent in the month of November? Or have I really been so distracted with other deeply frustrating crap on top of sleep deprivation that I simply didn’t notice the date on the calendar?

(It’s probably the first one. Just sayin’.)

Okay. Okay. Lets say it together folks….

 

 

Rip it off like surgical tape on leg hair…

 

 

NANOWRIMO

 

*shudder*

National Novel Writing Month. I can’t decide if this reaction is from pleasure because I’m a masochist or genuine cringiness. A month of pure writing. Of deadlines, goal-setting, hair-tearing, possible crying, freedom, imagination, accomplishment and satisfaction. It’s the best and worst for me.

NaNo is a glimpse into an author’s life, for any of you who aren’t writers. 30 days of angst, pure creativity and harsh reality. You should try it to get a taste. It starts with an idea. Bright, shiny, maybe a little outrageous. Something you haven’t read before, or thought of before. It latches onto your mind and you poke it to see what squirts out. A unique character. And amazing setting. A flash of the most perfect plot you’ve ever seen. It only takes one thing to get you hooked. A creative drug you will chase the rest of your life.

So you start to massage out this idea. You roll it out like dough in your mind and take some cookie cutters and outline some shapes and patterns. November 1st is coming and the pressure to have SOME SORT of direction mounts. But it’s okay. Just a basic outline because you know that your characters are going to run the show as soon as you get into a groove. They’ll take you in unexpected directions and you can ride their coat tails into plot and pacing perfection.

Protagonist you love? Check. Antagonist you love to hate? Check. Quirky side kick? Check. Love interest? Ehhhh we’ll see what happens there. Basic plot outline and a vague idea of the ending? Let’s hope so! October 31st, 11:59….GO!!

Week 1: Easy. The words are flowing like milk and honey from your fingertips. You post on the NaNo forums and update your word count proudly. You earn badges and maybe even donate to get the fancy halo on your profile picture. You help others with their novels and maybe even join a write in. You’re doing great! Everything going to plan!

Week 2: Okay, a little harder. Kinda like eating a second slice of cake at a party. The first one was delicious and sugary and wonderful. Second slice is harder and you feel yourself start to slow down and get sick. Your eyes stray to the dreaded word counter more and more. Your brain starts to wander to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, getting a second cup of coffee, laundry, walking the dog…anything else.

Week 3: Suddenly your bright shiny idea looks like sludge. Crap that you’ve seen on thrift stores shelves a million times over. Your protag isn’t unique enough. Your antag isn’t nasty enough. Your ending is dull and lifeless. Life sucks in general. You want to quit. You’re 5K words behind and you feel hopeless. Sitting at a keyboard looking at the blinking bar not moving. You mentally table flip.

Week 4: You find the time and energy to catch up the word count. You know it’s filler. Unnecessary scenes and lengthy dialogue just to get words on your counter. You add in characters for fluff. You take the setting to some place new to give a breath of fresh air to the plot. Maybe you add in ninjas in desperation. But you’re dragging yourself over the shattered dreams from week 1. Just get a novel down. Get 50K. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be written. You can’t edit nothing. NO! DON’T THINK ABOUT EDITING! That’s a death sentence!

November 30th. You “Select All” and “Copy” your shitty manuscript. Shamefully; hopefully. NaNoWriMo.org, you “Paste” into the “Validate novel” box and with your heart beating fast, you click the button. And there it is. 50K+ words in a month. You made it. You’re a 2018 Winner! The accomplishment of setting a goal and actually finishing is yours to revel in. You have some semblance of a novel. You created something from nothing. BE PROUD. Get that Winner t-shirt. Eat the ENTIRE pan of brownies.

December 1st. Now go sleep for a week and binge-watch Supernatural on Netflix.

I promise you this is not over-exaggeration. Every single November this happens to me and millions just like me. Sometimes, like last year, I don’t even get past week 2. I think I’ve only won once actually. But the point is that I don’t stop trying, as much as I dread the ending days in October.

I have many stories in me that want to be told but I’m a perfectionist. I want a full and complete product to come out of me on the first try. (HAAAAA talk about unrealistic expectations!) The best pieces of advice I’ve ever seen on Pinterest were these:

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ~ Terry Pratchett

“First drafts don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written.”~Caroline Mitchell

They are my biggest writing challenge to meet and it is something I’m striving for every word that comes from my fingers onto the screen/paper. I have to embrace imperfection and be willing to commit to taking this turd of a first draft and make it a turd sandwich that looks like chocolate and biscotti.

Commitment sucks. But it’s a cornerstone for a writer. Nano is a small exercise I can do to help that. So, alas, 7 days and approximately 11 hours till D-Day.

Come join me friends. It’s fun!! Haaaa……..

Walk the Line: a deviation from Paint splatters

You wanna know why it’s so detestable to color between the lines? Because it’s boring!

Yes you can make the sky plum purple and the cow aquamarine with chartreuse spots but the colors are still defined by lines. Thin black tyrants of doom and conformity.

For me, story structure rules are a little like those black lines. I detest them and started this journey without a care, stepping on all the lines, breaking mama’s spine all over the place. (To those of you who don’t understand the reference, it’s a game my sister and I used to play where we couldn’t touch the cracks/line on the side-walk or we would break mama’s back/spine. Childhood is fraught with horrors. Do you KNOW what Ring Around the Rosy was about?)

I had an idea and the will to write. I read about it a lot and that’s basically the same thing, right? It’s the same as coming to this country as a foreigner with $20 in her pocket. It’ll all work out if I just believe, right? It’s the land of dreams!

My gawd I’ve never been more tortured in all my life than by that singularly stupid idea.

Writing a book, or attempting to, is the hardest work I’ve ever done. Seriously. Having two children within ten months of one another is a cake walk. Breaking both my elbows at the same time was slightly harder to endure but I’m still mostly whole and have forgotten the pain. Putting words on paper (or on a screen, whatever the case may be) is like that special pen from Harry Potter that uses your own blood as the ink to write with except that the scars it leaves are on your soul instead of your hand. It just leeches everything out of you, bit by bit until you feel like giving up from weakness and frustration doing the same lines over and over.

I counted all my unfinished book WIPs yesterday. I have 14. 14!!! All with great plots that I haven’t read before and nary a one has a completed first draft. Why? Because I detest lines. I prefer paint splatters. I can write a pretty damn good scene but if there’s nothing to connect it to, nothing to contain it, it’ll dribble off into oblivion, appreciated for a moment and nothing more.

I can’t deny it anymore. My piddly-ass stories will never be read by anyone but me (and Owen ❤ ) unless I grow up and take the long, less colorful road to success. Don the boring suits of a young professional and wear the boring black loafers that look hideous but apparently are very comfortable.

Here I go.

To have a decent story, at least for beginners, we need to start at the beginning, which means following a pre-set path laid down for us by the giants that came before us. A good way to do that is to be a mockingbird. Pick a story you really like (book, movie, manga, whatever) and break it down by identifying the story structure set up. Let’s be boring and do Harry Potter and run with a theme here, kay?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling (SPOILER ALERTS BIG TIME)

(Part of this analysis was referenced from The Friendly Editor on this website https://thefriendlyeditor.com/2013/07/18/story-structure-rowling-potter/ )

The Set up: Harry’s life is crap. He gets picked on and abused by his cousin. We feel sympathy for Harry and his stunted existence. Wonder where his parents are.

Hook: Harry makes the glass to a snake cage disappear and reappear at the zoo, trapping his cousin inside. How? Why? He also talks to the escaping snake. Interest is peaked. Harry keeps getting letters from owls delivered to his door step.

Inciting Event: Hagrid comes and tells Harry he’s a wizard invited to go to Hogwarts.

First Plot Point: Harry is standing at King’s Cross Station waiting to board the Hogwart’s Express and meets the Weasleys.

First Pinch Point: There’s several for Harry that happen over the course of a chapter or two. He meets Malfoy, an obvious antagonist once Harry rebuffs him, meets Snape who despises him at first sight, feels his scar ache for the first time and is warned about the third floor corridor (though we don’t know this is important until later)

Midpoint: When Harry makes the connection between the package Hagrid took at Diagon Alley and what’s hidden on the third corridor. Finds out someone might be trying to steal it and decided to take action instead of standing by. reaction turns into Action.

Second Pinch Point: Harry sees Snape with a bitten leg and assumes he’s trying to get past Fluffy, the three-headed dog guarding a trap door on the third floor. Harry then is forced to contend with a cursed broom stick at a Quidditch match where we see Snape muttering and assume he’s doing the cursing.

Second Plot Point: When Harry realizes it’s Voldemort and not Snape who wants the stone, having been attacked by Voldemort in the forest. Then Hagird tells him that he traded information on how to get past Fluffy to a stranger for a Dragon’s Egg. Harry feels he needs to get the stone first to save his life and everyone else’s. Faces a series of tests and spells that hinder him on the way and his friends get hurt.

The Resolution: Harry gets through the tests and faces off with Quirrell, not Snape, who is discovered to have Voldemort inside his body to sustain him. Voldemort figures out that Harry has gotten the stone and they fight but Harry has a hidden power that makes Quirrell turn to ash when he is touched by Harry’s hands. Harry defeated the minion but Voldemort ultimately escapes to love another day. Harry saves the day and the world.

 

And there we go. Story Structure basics. Eat it. Drink it. Sleep with it. Marry it. Because it is your entire life as an aspiring (and seasoned) author.

This really is the first step in creating any sort of story (except non-fiction), not just fantasy. You need to be able to identify these steps quickly and clearly for every movie you watch and book you read because they are the building blocks for your own stories. Yes, it’s boring to stay inside the lines but if you get good enough at doing it this way, you can start to color outside them a little.

This is admittedly a difficult task for me because I get so invested in the story I forget I’m supposed to be analyzing it. Add to this the desire to write something different from anything I’ve already read (because breaking the cliché is my favorite thing EVER in stories) and my life just got three times as difficult as I needed it to be.

Let your first attempts suck. They’re going to. Accept it and move on. I am at this stage. Leave my really GOOD stories for later, when I can give them due diligence, and in the mean time make crappy romance or lame cliche fantasy princess stories.

Start at the beginning with the boring black loafers. I promise, this will save you so much time and energy being wasted on trying to make your sparsely outlined novel fit into a different structure. Give yourself over to the work because this is part of the journey too. Keep writing your brilliant scenes and witty dialogue. Keep them in a three-ring Unicorn binder or in a document folder on your hard drive and bust them out once you have a solid grasp of Story structure. Just follow it long enough to let it guide you in the right direction.

To be a writer, you need to read. But read with two brains: the Writer AND the Reader

There are more terrible ways to pass the time, no? 🙂

(p.s. ROAR ROAR GRYFFINDOR!!)

Poor Unfortunate Soul

Passion: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept

I’m beginning to wonder if Passion isn’t a unicorn.

Or maybe a natural talent. Like, some of us have it and others don’t.

I don’t know if it’s cultivated at a young age; being the lucky kid that has parents that expose you to different kinds of things so you can have a chance to find out what you really like to do. Or merely liking something and being curious enough to stick with it and nurture it.

Maybe I’m thinking about the definition too acutely. Maybe I think passion is supposed to be a zealot-like, all-consuming devotion, like those people who give up all worldly possessions and dedicate their life to saving the rain forest.

Either way, I have zero passion in my life. I LIKE writing. I LOVE reading. I really want to lose weight and become a healthier person. I don’t have any strong desire to fight for any charity or injustice. I don’t really care about saving animals going extinct (although I wish it hadn’t come to that in the first place). Laziness beat all these out. Work? Pfffft! Oh, and forgetfulness helps. My short-term memory is shot to hell.

I’m a little jealous of these artists that can bang out books every year or clothing lines every season or produce awe-inspiring paintings for top-notch galleries. What drives you people? It it the love of creation? Is it the memory of a grandparent whose words inspired strength and resolve? Is it the illness of a sibling living life to the fullest while they can?

Why don’t I have this? Did something stunt me as a child and block some fundamental necessity to cultivate passion? Is it a personality flaw? Can it be fixed?

I was never disciplined enough as a child to stick with much of anything, except school and books. I wasn’t interested in anything enough to pursue it wholeheartedly but I was interested in everything. Clothing design. Drawing. Baking. Embroidery. Interior design. Quilting. Guitar. Choir. Calligraphy. Clay sculpting. Mixed Media Arts.

Jack of all trades, master of none.

Can one LEARN to be passionate or is “disciplined” as good as it’s going to get for me? Maybe I have to get through one to have the other? Is it depression submerging me in doubt and I just can’t see clearly? Maybe I haven’t found that ONE THING that fires me up and makes me happy to be awake every morning.

I thought for a second just now that I don’t take pride in anything and that was my problem.

Some people take pride in their homes. How clean they are and how nicely decorated. Some people take pride in their work. Some take pride in raising their families or being a devout (Fill in the blank ______ ).

None of those really apply to me. I’m happy to be able to do these things with some modicum of competence but eh. That’s life. What I do take pride in though, is making things well. Trying a new recipe and it turning out delicious. Seeing something on Pinterest, copying it and making it better than I’d hoped. Being given a task and having the person who gave it be pleased with my accomplishment. Making pretty things for people and getting nothing back.

I take pride in being generous and kind. I take pride in being able to create beautiful, quality things. I take pride in making people happy.

Still doesn’t help me with my writing though. Really, it’s somewhat of a distraction, making all these pretty things. Not complaining. Just saying. Cuz it always comes back to writing.

I thought for sure Writing books was my Thing; my passion; the thing I HAVE to do every day or I feel anxious and shitty and half a human being. Turns out I can go MONTHS without writing a single word! That’s not passion. Is it? I certainly think about writing a lot. I have conversations with my characters out loud sometimes. I write scenes in my head. I funnel my emotions into different scenarios. I make music play lists to guide me through the stories. I think about all the things I SHOULD be doing like character bios and plot lines and back story.

Thinking is good. At least the desire isn’t completely gone.

It seems writing won’t give up on me. Maybe it’s a stubborn as I am, waiting for me to get a grip. As it stands, it’s literally dragging me face down across the glass-strewn ground that is my life, walking determinedly forward. My wrist aches, my heart is dead, all I want to do is sleep and yet…it’s still there. So I ask:

Can Passion merely be the thing one comes BACK to?

Are there levels of passion out there? Some gently simmering for longevity and others blazing strong like the sun for a short until a project is done and then fizzling out? When can I have some? Share the wealth!

For reals I know that to be an author it takes work and time and experience. And practice. And planning (which I’m rubbish at). That Maya Angelou quote never seems to be far from my brain as a reminder:

“When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come’.”

So it comes down to forcing my fingers to move until passion/inspiration/motivation strikes? What a sad existence I have at the moment. But I know that eventually, after my first book is published and I look back, it’ll all have been worth it.

But still…damn. A little heavenly light can shine on me any time now. I’d appreciate the boost ❤

SQUIRREL! Errant thoughts of a writer who is blocked

I can’t move my fingers.

They are reluctant to obey me.

My brain refuses to churn out any sort of ideas and words simply won’t come. Playlists don’t work. Word sprints don’t work.

Nothing will come.

________________________

“What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?”

I sing this randomly during the day. It was from a hulu commercial and got stuck in my head. I sang it once in my high school choir. I think I blocked out the memory because it wasn’t until I got to the chorus that I even remembered I had.

Darn Ear Worms. But at least it was something good, right?

_____________

I have a shameful secret.

I’ve read 11 books in two months.

That’s not shameful though. What IS shameful is that I’ve read them on my Kindle. My brand new Kindle that I swore up and down I would never own.

The Kindle that saves space and trees and has free books I can save to my account on Prime and Good Reads. The Kindle that has page-free convenience, which also means hands-free, which means snacking and reading at the same time.

The Kindle I bought a special leather cover for that was made to look like a book.

It was blue. Dark blue. A color I don’t normally gravitate to. Beauty and the Beast blue.

__________________

I don’t know if I could ever live in a Tiny House with my family. If I was by myself  or with a partner then yes. If we could travel together then definitely yes. I could see myself in a Gypsy Caravan.

I have too much stuff. Too many clothes. Too many crafts.

No that’s not true about the crafts.

But the stuff, yes.

I either want a big sprawling house with four bedrooms and a large, lush yard or a Tiny House. $430K or $30K.

Man I wish I could afford either. Instead I’m in government housing in southern California.

_____________________________

I like looking at Wedding Dresses. So many fabrics and styles. Ugly, beautiful, intricate and plain.

Somebody dreamed those up. They took the images from their heads and put it on paper and then sewed it into a dress. The completion of an artist’s dream and the pinnacle of a bride’s dream.

I like looking at women in wedding dresses. No matter what they look like or where they came from, they all share the same shining hope. They have the sparkle of a woman in love, dressing up in the most beautiful outfit she’ll ever own, to walk toward the partner she wants to spend the rest of her life.

Every lady deserves to feel like the star of the show; a modern day princess, at least for one day (although it really needs to be more).

Even if most wedding receptions suck unless you have thousands of dollars to spend.

Weddings. Guh.

________________

I am so grateful for my cat. I’m glad I didn’t get a dog.

She’s brought so much joy and tranquility to my home. She’s affectionate and hilarious and protective. She loves music and having her shoulder blades scratched and she doesn’t mind so much when I pet her belly anymore. She doesn’t even mind when I call her Fat Girl. Winter was good to her.

(Thanks mom, for the extra food!)

When I call her, she comes and maow’s at me, blinking up at me with her yellow-green eyes.

She knows where home is and she doesn’t let any other cat near. Or dog for that matter. Unless she doesn’t have a choice.

She loves her collar. She won’t let me take it off to change it.

Sometimes she’ll sit at my feet when I’m at the computer and reach up with her claws and hook into my thighs until I rub her head. And keep rubbing until she can’t hold on anymore. My skin has permanent claw pricks. I’ve gotten used to the sting.

I get slow blinks and I am often a snuggle partner when we read together on the bed. She sleeps between my husband and I find myself pressed up against the wall in the morning to give her maximum room.

She loves new blankets more than anything, especially quilts. Fresh out of the laundry and folded as thick as they can get is preferred.

___________________________________

Sometimes I miss being in choir.

I couldn’t read a lick of music. I just knew when a dot was higher on the line, my voice needed to go higher.

I could match pitch though. As long as there were others to match with.

Never did I ever try out for a solo.

I liked being part of a group, working toward the same goal. I liked the music and the way my body felt after singing.

Like it was vibrating.

Like a bell.

I still want to punch my high school choir teacher in the face. Or maybe in the throat. What an asshole. Chipmunk man.

I’ve sadly lost my singing voice to age, child birthing and obesity.

I tried a karaoke game with my kids and I couldn’t even get through 5 songs without my vocal chords seizing up.

I’m sad I’m an alto/tenor now. I miss my soaring soprano voice.

The little Writer that Could

So I’ve been going at this whole blog thing for a good year now. YAY ME! Wait, has it been over a year? Has it really almost been two years? Nahhh. Maybe? I’ll have to check on that later. I took a break in the middle to ruminate on my depressing life and schtuff hit the fan but I came back, like a beaten but loyal dog. I guess that really says something about me since I never stick to ANYTHING.

But I did start this blog because I want to be a published author and that is still my end goal, even if life throws wrecking balls in my way. What’s life without a few random steel balls blowing through your path, am I right? (You’re welcome for the ear worm.)

Wow. That’s actually a good analogy for what I wanted to write about today. Wrecking balls in writing. I’m taking the next step!

Lemme ‘splain…

See, I’ve gotten over the initial fear of failure that had hindered me when I first started this journey. I was afraid of people not liking my stories or not caring what I have to say. I was afraid of not sticking with it, of giving up on it, of being WRONG about what I wanted. Not so much anymore. I’ve gotten used to writing on the blogosphere and putting my vulnerable self out there.

I’m starting to settle into a writing voice that sounds somewhat like me. My entries have mostly been consistent in that department though someone else would have to tell me yay or nay. I can’t really judge that for myself yet.

I’ve even gotten a little writing routine down for myself (a friggin’ miracle if you knew me at all). Get up, get kids breakfast, sit down and start an entry, get first daughter on the bus, come back for another twenty minutes and write, then walk second daughter to school, then come back and finish. I try to write until at least 10 am. Even more amazing is that I start to get anxious when I can’t write any given day or a miss a blog entry. It feels like back sliding and that cannot be permitted!!

I had never written a short story before and now I’ve written a dozen or more. I’ve even written ongoing stories, divided into parts. Bonus too is that I write stories I actually ENJOY re-reading. (That almost never used to happen.)

There are all mini goals I had set for myself early on and I’ve met them. I’ve gotten used to them and they no longer intimidate me.

Now it’s time to ramp it up.

What brought this on? Fame and money did of course. “Published” is the name of the game remember? NO, I’m kidding! Actually, I read an article on pinterest about writing (what else?) and I realized that I needed to break past the comfortable once again. The article talked about putting conflict in stories and using character development to solve their problems. Conflict sells readers. I am NOT a confrontational person by nature so this is a goal I know I’m going to struggle with.

I mean, I don’t enjoy reading stories with no conflict, obviously. Boring! So why would I write them? It’s one of those things I think takes time to develop in a writer brain. How much is too much? What conflicts are relevant to plot continuation? How does one narrow down the infinite possibilities to make a great read? My brain aches just thinking about all the details. But I’ll do it, dad gummit!

Another thing I really ought to start doing is outlining. I thought to be a complete panster writer before, just punching keys willy-nilly and letting the characters tell the story. But that doesn’t work because of the aforementioned problem of being a pacifist. And the fact that I get so lost in the details I completely forget why I’m even writing the story. I lose the forest through the trees. So having an outline, even a basic one, will help me keep track and remind me of the big picture.

To help with this situation I’ve decided to ramp up my iPod Shuffle Short Story or “iPod S.S.S.” entries. These are blog entries you might’ve seen sporadically on my page where I put my iPod on shuffle and write down the first 5 songs that pop up. I’ll analyze them, write down thoughts and feelings and then come up with a story for them, using the Plot Structure diagram to write the story. It stretches creative muscles in the way that I don’t like using clichés so trying to make a story that’s outside the box is a double challenge.

The next goal I want to set for myself is to be on my Facebook bakalove page more often to get a wider reader base. I mean, I literally only have to cut and paste what I write on WordPress over onto Facebook but I find that task exhausting some days. Probably cuz Facebook is exhausting with all the drama. And it sucks me in for HOURS catching up on all that I missed and IMing friends. Bleh.

It’s gratifying to know that I was right about the most important thing: The Journey. It’s rare that a person can write a best seller right out of the gate but it happens. The rest of us have to toil and do the hard work and sharpen ourselves against the stones of adversity before we can even THINK about publishing. We’re so vastly rewarded by this though! We’re building a solid foundation of creativity and logic so that we may succeed in any writing endeavor we choose.

We’re the Little Writers that Could!! CHOO CHOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I’m more glad than I am frustrated by my progress I think so it’s with a happy heart I end this blog. To be able to reflect on my progress, meet my goals, and make new ones is very humbling and encouraging.

I hope your goals are within reach as well! Keep chugging little Writers! ;*