Sunday, April 9, 2017

Disappearing Act

I just posted a saved draft that I actually wrote six years ago, but it still applies today. Unfortunately, I've seriously neglected this thing, and I'd like to get back on track with blogging. I need to focus on my brand and put myself out there, even if no one is listening at first.

A lot has happened since I last updated; six years is a long time! I moved to L.A. in 2014, and I've been working as hard as ever on my writing. Currently waiting to see if I get into my dream school, trying not to hold my breath. It's a writing intensive program, and it looks amazing. It's very competitive, though, and... well, there's a whole story behind my application experience, but we'll save that for another day.

Over the last few years, I've had a short story and poem published. I finished my first novel. I've written scripts and worked at a film company. I've even finally learned to be proud of myself and accept that I'm a talented writer. It only took years of people telling me so to get there. Hurray. But seriously, in 2015, I noticed that I'd reached a new level of improvement, and I think that was part of my confidence. I suddenly didn't feel jealous of other writers anymore. I started to believe I could write whatever I wanted.

There will always be ups and downs, and the writer's ego is a desperately fragile and needy thing, but I believe in myself. It doesn't hurt, either, that a lot of other people believe in me too. So here I am, ready to take on the world. If I don't pass out first. Why am I so sleepy?

Right now, I have a million projects, as usual, but I'm making steady progress on my social satire/dark comedy, Headline Babies. It's the project I'd been reaching for over the years, and I finally came up with the ideal concept for what I wanted to do. Here's hoping I can finish this thing soon. The chapters are very structured due to the nature of the novel, and I'm at nearly 50K, but I'm thinking my estimation of 90K-100K is now a little low for this draft. I have no idea how much longer this is going to take.

At any rate, time to get back to writing. Or sleeping. I never feel like I've slept enough. Why isn't the caffeine helping???!!

Thanks for reading, and happy writing!

The Internet: An Addiction

So a few days ago I was sitting at my computer, trying to get myself to focus, when suddenly disaster struck. My INTERNET went out. I felt the familiar sense of panicked denial as I started refreshing the page a few times, then the router. Nothing. I waited for a moment, hoping it was just a bump in the road. Waited. Waited. Nothing. Not a problem, I'd just call my internet provider and find out what the deal was, maybe see if they could help me out. Heart rate rising, I reached for my phone and dialed them up, only to be greeted by a cold, mocking busy signal.'s an automated number! Things were getting out of hand. I could sense the shakes coming on, my vision blurring. Four more tries to my internet provider, busy every time.

I sat there in my cold, lonely room, trying to rationalize it to myself. There are other things I could be doing without the internet. In fact, I'd been trying to work on my writing all day. Begrudgingly, I opened a document and put my fingers to the keyboard. My brain sent the signal to my fingers to begin typing. Nothing. Oh god, the withdrawals were already setting in. All I could think about was *what if.* What if I needed to look something up? What if I needed to e-mail someone about the story? For God's sake, what if I needed to tweet about what I was writing?! It was more than I could take.

Of course, writing would be much more productive without the internet, but somehow it's much more painful when it's gone without your consent. How quickly I succumbed to the inner battle between what I wanted and what I needed--not to mention I was actively at a stand off with my computer. One of us had to give, and by God, it wasn't going to be me. Yeah, this was no laughing matter!

It's so easy to forget just how much we rely on the internet until it's gone, even if it's only gone for a little while. What is it about the world wide web that has us twitching when it isn't available at our fingertips? What's worse, why do we let it prevent us from being as productive as we should? We write because we love it. Love it more than the internet, probably. Getting away from it is healthy, even if losing access can make a person a little bitter. The most prolific and successful writers have to fight the urge to get online. As much as I've been growing and learning lately, that's one lesson I still can't kick in. Maybe this internet break needs to be a daily thing. A little discipline is definitely in order. This was my chance to take a good look my issue. I have a problem, and admitting it is the first step to recovery.

The feeling of panic began to subside, and my brain started to work again. I needed a break; my writing deserved it. So I stopped glancing at the little box in the corner of my screen that told me whether or not I was connected and got to work.

In the end, I had no choice but to close my browser and resign myself to my writing. By the end of the day, after the withdrawals had subsided, I had written 3200 words. And wouldn't you know it? Eventually my internet turned back on.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What I Know and What I Write

For years, I've been told that I should write about my childhood. My experiences were unusual, bizarre, and kind of unpleasant--so I guess some people find them fascinating. However, I have never been the sort of person who was comfortable with the idea of talking about myself to strangers as if they cared what I had to say. Now don't get me wrong, I can talk about myself just fine; once you get me started, I may never shut up. But the act of working on a manuscript about myself made me feel like I was being incredibly presumptuous, assuming anyone would want to read about some chick they don't know.

That being said, I did feel like drawing on my memories of that time. As writers, that's what we do; the things that happen to us shape our creations. I knew the story wouldn't have to be an auto-biography: I just had to take that period in my life and insert a random character to experience it instead. Unfortunately, the problem was I've just never been able to put a lot of my own encounters into my fiction. Watching what happens to other people and twisting it to create a story is a lot easier, at least to me, than explaining something that happened to me in an interesting, confident way. Even as a child I couldn't insert myself into my stories. It just never felt right. So making a character very loosely based on myself didn't help. Though I felt very strongly that the story needed to be told, it was just impossible for me to start something compelling enough to survive to the end. I tried making the characters very young. I tried making them much older. I tried giving the story a supernatural twist. I tried making it more comical. I tried writing it in third person, first person, past tense, present tense. Nothing could make the story flow. I was just too uncomfortable talking about this girl's life when it was so much like my own. I felt whiny, and I almost felt like I was tattling, talking about things that had happened so long ago.

Then one day, when I finally sat down and really picked the manuscript apart, I realized part of the problem was in the girl I'd chosen to take the lead and my expectations for her. This girl was far too passive (the polar opposite of myself!) to share the story the way I was envisioning it. This girl didn't see the world the way I did. She was too young and naive to grasp what she had to do to crawl out of her own situation. It was only then that it occurred to me that the story didn't need to be about her life or mine. This was merely a part of living. There are so many things that make up our existence, and the point wasn't to relay strange events like a laundry list. It was a journey, a young woman growing up as her relationships and perception transform and mature. Suddenly the story I had originally been trying to force completely dissipated, and a new story rose up. Through my character's eyes, I watched the world change as she left childhood and became an adult. The focus was no longer on the events in her life, but on the things that mattered most to her and how those things were affected by her encounters. As it turns out, that was far more interesting and plot relevant. For the first time, it didn't feel like I was talking about myself.

After an eternity of trying to write the same story fifty different ways, I feel a strong sense of victory in finally coming to terms with the direction this novel wants to take. It's nice to discover that I, too, can write what I know without feeling like I'm giving too much away. After all, this book isn't about me. Not even the pieces here and there that are based on things that did happen to me or to the people in my life at that time. It's about growing up and learning the truth about the world around us and how our pasts mold our futures, regardless of what our history might be. Reaching that realization helped me to get over my worry and embarrassment long enough to finally tell my story.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It starts!

I'm finally putting on my big kid shorts and doing as my past writing teachers have been suggesting I do for years: I'm making a concerted effort to send my work out into the world. Since I could scribble words onto a page, I've aspired to be an author; however, for whatever reason, up until last year I had never sent anything out for consideration. I don't know if it was just that I wasn't prepared or that I wasn't confident of my abilities yet--that's something that I should probably address in order to avoid future self-sabotage--but I do know that it was never a fear of rejection. I was thrilled to get my first rejection letter as I felt it made me a "grown up writer." I vowed to save every response I received, and though I couldn't know how many would come before I got a bite, I was just thrilled to be in the game. Fortunately, ten rejections later, I'm celebrating my first success on the most unlikely of pieces.

I don't typically write poetry, but now and then, inspiration hits us all in ways we wouldn't suspect. I wrote "Warfare" quickly, after several lines steamrolled the horror novel I'd been working on. I finished the poem within an hour or so, then sent it off that night on a whim. I was surprised when a month later it found a home. Sure, I'm not really a poetry writer, but it was encouraging to know that acceptance wasn't just a dream attained by people who aren't me. It's a baby step, but it makes me feel like there's a chance that I really can get my name out there with enough effort and perseverance. For now, I've started up the practice of sending something, anything, out to magazines and anthologies every month. None of my novels are ready, but I'll always have a surplus of short fiction, and I want to see where it can take me. A part of me doesn't truly believe I can become what I dream, even though I've learned as much as I can about the complex world of writing professionally and know it's attainable, even if it might not come with the financial stability so many people imagine is tied to getting that first manuscript published. I believe I just have to take pride in the effort I'm making, especially when I spent so much time encouraging others to submit their work, never taking my own advice.

So, that in mind, I want to start making even more of an effort to connect with other writers out there. Being surrounded by like-minded people feeds inspiration, and you can never have too many connections or resources. I don't imagine networking will be easy, but I'm going to make an effort at least. We'll see where that takes me.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Coming soon!

I'm guessing I'll need one of these soon enough, so I may as well get it started. In the unlikely event that you've stumbled here by accident, feel free to return in the future if you're interested in writing or connecting with authors. Of course, when I say "future," I could mean a month or five years, so honestly, your best bet is to just forget you ever saw this. I WILL NEVER STOP LOVING YOU!