Friday, September 23, 2011

Dusting it Off

I realize that it has been some months now since I have posted, and I am no nearer my goal now than I was then. The point is that this happens to writers all the time; Life gets in the way, the writing doesn't seem good enough, inspiration hides while insecurity rears its ugly head... at least that's what has been happening with this writer.

Now that I have finally been doing something to wrench myself from this very deep depression I have been in, I have decided that it is well beyond the time for action, and that I need to fight harder to meet my goals. I know that life is going to throw curve balls at me, but I intend to throw them back. Instead of making excuses, I intend to do what I have set out to do.

Sometimes there's a voice inside our writer heads.  

'The work is no good.'  
'Your novel will be too late and miss the fad.'
'You have no talent.'

Occasionally you just need to shut that voice out and do it anyway, and as I keep telling myself that right now, I am going to end this posting and get to what I set out to do.

What does your writer voice tell you? What are some obstacles you are overcoming in your own writing?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Talk it Out

Friday night was really an eye-opening night for both myself and the book. I had been spending a lot of my free time wondering what kind of climactic moments I wanted to add to the book in the upcoming chapters. While I really could have come up with these things all on my own, I like to bounce ideas off my fiance to see what his take is on them and to see what kinds of things he likes to see out of a story. The reason I do this with someone who is just a reader instead of a writer is that a reader knows the kinds of things they love about a story and what keeps them reading a book or buying the next in a series while a writer thinks more about setting, description, and tension. Also, I am always left wondering about motive with other writers, as sad as that sounds. I have to wonder why they gave me that idea... do they truly want me to succeed? Was the idea their own and it failed at one point? Are they sabotaging me? Are they going to hate me if the idea they gave me was a success and I wasn't sure to mention them in the credits? Too much paranoia. Too much to worry about.

I feel that everyone should have an "idea guy". Someone that you can talk bones with. Someone who doesn't know much about what you are writing that can give you some of their unbiased thoughts on what it is you are writing. Yes, I know that my fiance does have a bit of a bias because he wants me to succeed, but that is the best kind of bias you can find in an "idea guy". As far as the book goes, though, he is unbiased. He has no personal connection with the characters, and therefore doesn't really care what happens to them. He can be completely unrestrained with his ideas and I can be the one to take that idea and bridle it a bit. And there's no hurt feelings on his part if I take his idea and change it all around. I can tell him "that's not going to work because (this event) happens" and he just tries to come up with something else. I don't even have to use a single one of his ideas, and he doesn't get mad. I can get perspective with my "idea guy" by telling him what's going on in a story and asking him what he thinks of it and he has no problem telling me when he thinks something is overdone, or underdone in a story. I like that.

Do you have someone in your life that you consider an "idea guy"? Someone you feel completely comfortable sharing your story with that can give you ideas without giving you criticism? I hope this finds you well, fellow writers!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Publishing Can Be As Easy As Luck

Hello once again, fellow writers! Sorry it has been so long, and I have totally ventured away from my goal, but for good cause. I don't want the craziness of the other blog to leak into this, but suffice it to say that I have been rather distracted of late.

This past weekend I went to C2E2 in Chicago, Illinois, and decided to get my schmooze on. I have thought many times about making Cherry a comic book, but just wanted to meet people that I could talk to about it. I wanted to meet artists and writers and get their perspective on how the process has to begin, their advice on how to get there, etc. I got some great information out of these lovely people, and it was my plan to see Patton Oswalt ready to laugh my proverbial ass off. While my brother stood in the front of the line for seats I went outside for a pre-show smoke and a random gentleman with a pass marked "Speaker" walked out and lit up. I made a very lame comment about not seeing any wires, and we had a chuckle and got to chatting. He introduced himself as Julian and we got to talking about what we "do" and why we were at C2E2. I was telling him about my thoughts for making Cherry a comic and he seemed genuinely interested in what I was saying. I gave him a short synopsis of the book, and he gave me a card. That card said "Publisher". I have researched the company. It's legitimate. He knows the book isn't finished, but he wants to see the first chapter and I am beside myself about it. On the one hand, I really want to send off the first chapter but on the other, I really want to get the book finished before I get too excited about publishing... then again, he could give me some insight into what I am doing right and wrong, and that could be great but he could also say, "Hey, this work is shit! Why did you bother sending it to me?!" and then I would probably be crushed.

The point of all this is that sometimes you luck into meeting people, which is why you should be prepared to talk to strangers because you never know whether or not that stranger is a door to other opportunities in your life. I have to make my own decision in this matter, and you would too. You could get all the advice you want but in the end it is YOUR call as to whether or not you want to trust a stranger with your baby.

My best to you, fellow writers. May this find you successful in your own endeavors.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What to do With That Idea Now That You've Had It

I don't consider myself to be an expert on this subject by any means, but a friend mentioned that she had all of these ideas in her head but wasn't able to get anywhere with them. I know her pain, certainly. "Cherry Blossoms" had started out as an outlet piece I was writing while I was really pissed off. I envisioned a character ripping someone to shreds, blood splashing the walls and her arms drenched in iron scented gore.... Yeah, I was that mad. Rather than lash out at the person responsible for this ulcerous anger rising up inside of me, I took my laptop down to the hotel bar, ordered a drink and began writing Cherry.

At the time I had no idea about a middle and an end now that I had written the beginning, and that was probably the worst possible place to be. I have learned through writing this novel (and starting many failed ones in the past) that you are not going to get anywhere without some sort of outline. I used to be one of those people who thought I could just write what came out and hope that something came to me as far as the rest was concerned. That led to a lot of novel beginnings but like my current P.O.S car, stalled out at every stop light. Getting to my destination now becomes key. If you have no idea where you want your characters to end up and how they got there, you might as well forget novel writing. A story doesn't end with three chapters of a beginning and the characters left as only introduced. It takes some planning.

For free-writers like me, this became a real hassle. I am now asking myself to plan where this thing should go instead of allowing my creative side to just take hold and vomit words out on the page. When writing a novel, this just doesn't work. This doesn't have to mean that you sit down and write out one of those bubble charts that your high school English teacher made you work on but you should at least take a little quiet time to think about where you want things to end up. This means coming up with conflicts and resolutions within the story, and then the overall resolution for the story. You have to decide the message your story will convey throughout, or if that message creeps its way slowly into the ending by means of a discovery process.

I would like to think that this holds true for any kind of story, really. My lovely cousin (a very talented writer as well) writes creative non-fiction and is working toward finishing the story of her life. Having read some of it (or what it used to be when I read it) I can see that she has worked hard to make sure that the story has the overall conflict; a woman's spiritual and physical journey through abuse, and mini conflicts throughout. Each chapter allows the reader to feel what she feels and experience what she experiences, and each conflict gets to a point of resolution, for good or ill.

While it's certainly not true for everyone, poetry has been my bane throughout my years of writing. Not because I think it's a wishy-washy form of writing, that is certainly not how I feel, but because it allowed me to just write whatever I felt like writing in whatever way I felt like writing it. I could break the rules of grammar, and in some cases, spelling. I could write for no more than ten minutes, come up with a gem, then consider myself finished. It in no way prepared me for the novel writing process. I didn't know going into this how many words were expected... and how they had to be woven together into a tapestry of words that not only made sense, but went somewhere. I had to find a way to remove myself from the way I wrote poetry to the way I write novels. I still write poetry from time to time, but I find that my poems now read more like short stories in poem form. I am not sure if I think that is a sign that I am becoming more the novelist that I wish to be or if novel writing has ruined the way I write poetry. I suppose that will all depend on how well this novel is received when it is in print.

I also found that being involved in a writer's club can be the answer that you are looking for. The friend I spoke of at the beginning and I had a thing going on Sundays for a while, but with the holidays it kind of floated into the ether. I am hoping that now that the holidays are over we can start getting together again. Not only does it keep you motivated to write because others around you are doing the same, but it gives you a person or a group of people to bounce your idea off of. You can get feedback and ideas from them, they could beta-read your work, help you with editing, and provide support when you need it. Keep in mind though, that these should be people you trust with your piece of work. You need to know that they aren't going to take your ideas and make them their own, that they aren't going to share your work with others, and that they won't make you feel as though your work is not as good as theirs. 

As I said in the first paragraph, I am in no way an expert on novel writing. I am just sharing my journey with you, and what has worked for me. Maybe someday when I am a famous published writer I will come back to this blog and laugh at how little I actually knew... and in some ways that is comforting. I have no illusions that I know all or even most of what there is to know about publishing and writing a novel. I am just lucky to know some, and to have my own journey to look back on. I wish you well, dear readers. Happy writing!