It’s no secret I have been ass-deep in alligators on the novel I started writing earlier this year. Nearly seven hundred pages have been written for the final draft, and there is still much work to be done. It’s limited my time because it’s an all-consuming type of story. However, I’m a firm believer in getting it right. So if you’re wondering what I’m up to, in all likelihood, I am probably working on the final draft of this particular manuscript, knowing there are many more like it up ahead.
I wish I had a dose of wisdom to bestow upon you today, but I don’t. I wish I had something to give that somehow made even just one person’s day brighter or easier, but I’ve got nothing. I am all out of poignancy at the moment. 😦 The thought is disheartening, to say the least.
I had an amazing character idea come to me in the shower the other day. Normally I would have immediately taken notes and elaborate on that idea, but I’ve decided to let it simmer inside my head. My fictional characters are loosely based off of people in my life. Some, not all. Many are an amalgamation of many people rolled into one. If a person is deeply entrenched in my life, they’re probably not safe showing off all of their character flaws in front of me. There’s this awesome mug I want and it says “Piss Me Off: Pay The Consequences”. As a writer, I definitely get my best revenge in print. Nine times out of ten, no one even knows what I am talking about, and that just goes to show you how unaware they are. Me? I’m self-aware and I’m glad for that because if someone were, on the off-chance, to write about me, they’re not smart enough or subtle enough for me to miss it. Reading between the lines is a special gift.
Call me crazy, but I don’t feel the need to make a laundry list of “2016 Writer’s Goals”. I’ve seen about a thousand of them on Twitter and they almost all say the same shit, ad nauseam. This year, I enter my 29th year as a writer. Far too many newbies discredit experience, mostly because they don’t have any to speak of. There is much to be said for the experienced writer who is comfortable in his or her own skin and mind.
The handful of times I have doubted aspects of my fictional work, a little voice would pop into my head and say “Pssh! You’ve written SO much. You’re attentive to the point of it being creepy. You’ve GOT THIS!” That is experience whispering in your ear; much like the angel/devil on each shoulder that some people like to speak of. My inner voice doesn’t lie, but people do, so I don’t put a lot of stock into a handful of people “loving it”. I’ve learned that a lot of people are scared to challenge me when it comes to my work or my words (and sadly, in my life in general), and so they will agree with me as opposed to saying “I didn’t really like or understand this part, can you elaborate?” I’m not SO bad that people have to fear asking a question or disagreeing with me, but apparently I am intimidating and intense, though my closest friends only see this on occasion, it is not a daily occurrence.
Finding people who will challenge you, and not agree with every single thing you say, is crucial for any writer (or artistic creator). The few friends I have that do write are relieved that I don’t sugarcoat things. They know they can present their work to me and get an unbiased, honest thought process. They know I will push them to produce their best work. Honesty is a foundation of greatness, especially for the truly creative soul. I’d rather someone speak the truth as opposed to be fake with me, and this expands to all aspects of my life. I’m confident enough in my talents, but if I trust you enough to share my work ahead of publication, it’s okay not to like something. I will not bash you with a hockey stick for being real. I’m tough, but I’m not THAT bad. 😉
I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that it is important as a writer to take stock of your health. You can spend 16-20 hours a day in front of the computer, and while that might get you a completed manuscript or a ton of smaller completed projects, it can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. I know because mine required a LOT of rest and slowing down in order to go into “remission”. To this day, I still experience some pain in my hands and wrists and actual weakness in both hands when I overdo it, but thankfully it’s not daily. Don’t take your hands for granted; you only get two, if you’re lucky.
Posture is everything. Don’t slouch at the computer. If you feel your shoulders begin to touch your ears, you’re stressed and you’ve been sitting there way too long. It is time to take a break, straighten your neck/back. get some stretching in, and take a walk. You will already find that staring at the screen isn’t helpful, or productive. Magical words will not flow out of your fingertips. Step away and stop touching your face when you’re doing the slouch of exasperation in front of the computer. Sometimes it’s a good idea to pick up a notebook and a pen and make notes for a while, it often leads to a better period of writing because it helps spark creativity. I have always found that if I jot down 1-5 pages of notes, ideas, or dialogue, it will later result in roughly 15-30, or more, pages of high quality work that I am proud of. I type more than I write by hand, so when I’m filling up notebooks, you know I’ve got a dozen tricks up my sleeve.
I’d rather write 300 pages of my best work, than 600 pages that aren’t cohesive in the story-telling. I have to be able to read it from start to finish and say “Wow! This is really good! Who wrote this?” I have to be able to get lost in it. I have to be able to impress myself; no one else. I am not the first writer to exist and I am certainly not going to be the last, but I do have to be a captive audience.
Okay, so apparently I DID have something to offer today. I’ll celebrate that fact later. 😛
Carry on everyone, and unleash some genuine creativity this weekend.
I have some things to do today that may not give me the opportunity to write or post for a few days. If everything is copacetic when I return, I’ll share some thoughts I have running circles through my head. If not, I will be back ASAP.
Thank you to everyone who has sent me encouraging words and supportive thoughts. You’re awesome. 🙂
When I first started writing, the advice that has stayed with me for 28 years is this: Write what you think, write what you feel, and write what you know. It doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t like it.
There may have been some profanity thrown into the mix, but that was the gist of it. I’ve been writing ever since.
I was a quiet, shy, observant child. Painfully so. Writing became this exemplary form of communication for me. It is through writing that I discovered my voice, the strength in that voice, and it allowed me to become incredibly comfortable speaking in public. I used to avoid eye contact and concentrate on the words I’d written, but now I make a point of making eye contact with people as I speak and memorizing several lines in advance to avoid looking down at what I’ve prepared. I’ve found that this alternative form of being even more direct than usual actually makes people uncomfortable. They look away, but they don’t stop listening.
To this day, I am still quiet and observant. I’m not the type of person that pushes herself upon anyone in terms of friendship, or even conversation. I don’t walk up to strangers and have conversations with them for no reason. I tend to keep to myself and my circle of friends, a circle that I am drawing tighter each day.
In my core group of friends, I am the only writer. I’m also the one who communicates differently than everyone else, probably because I do write and putting my thoughts down, in any form, is generally how I keep from killing others, but it’s also how I fight for the things that are most important to me.
Of late I’ve been reading a lot of different statements about writing from people on different levels of the spectrum, and I either find myself inspired or irritated.
I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: Proverbial puking words onto a page does not make you a writer. Cohesiveness in storytelling might not even make you a writer. Sad, but true. We are all different. The people who drive me insane are the ones who have, quite literally, been writing for 15 minutes and expect fame and fortune.
Getting published traditionally and being successful to the point where you can quit your day job is a longshot. You might very well have a greater shot at winning Powerball or Mega Millions. A writer I love talks about that a lot, but apparently no one is listening to him. However, I’ve read all of his books since about 2003, so I don’t perceive my work as “perfect”, “fantastic”, or “superior” because I see greatness in so many people’s work. It might be someone on the New York Times Best Sellers’ List, but it might also be a little-known blogger or an Indie author. So many people have great stories to tell, and many more do not.
Several years ago I was in Barnes & Noble with my Aunt. They were remodeling that particular store and the genre I write in had been moved around. There were probably several thousand books, all one genre, all potential “competition”. I could have had an outright panic attack looking closely at them, but I didn’t. I decided that there was room left on the shelf for me. I did have a moment of serious doubt, but it quickly passed. The fact that people have told me they love my characters and would buy my books, based solely on reading a few chapters, is special to me.
This platform is where I come to be myself. There can be a plethora of emotion here, and I do not judge myself, or others, for any of it. In my professional work as an editor, I am supremely honest and direct, just as I am in every other aspect of my life. And when I’m dealing with my fiction material, it’s not that different. It’s still my voice, harsh honesty, and intensely strong characters that you will either like, love, or love-to-hate. I like, respect, and appreciate the honesty within the fiction because that’s what helps breathe life into it.
In the future, I hope to be able to share it all with you. For now, I’ll be here… Writing what I think, feel, and know. I don’t care if it’s liked or not.