Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Confession time

I'm going to confess one of the things I'm afraid of to you guys. One of my deepest fears is that I won't get published.

Something about me: I'm generally confident in my writing skills. I've been honing them since I was 11 and scrapped the screen play I was writing to start a novel (one of the best decisions of my life). In high school, I joined the school newspaper and became an editor. Both my degrees in college were heavily weighted toward writing skills. In my free time I continued to write novels and short stories and I got an editing job on my college newspaper. Last year I was a reporter – a writer for a living. Now I am a copy editor – my job is to make other people's writing better (among other things).

But here's the deal. No matter how good I think I am, sometimes I fear no one will see that. No one will pull me from the slush pile and take a chance. There are a lot of other people I will be competing against. And they may or may not have more interesting story ideas than I do. I don't know. I don't even get to size them up or anything.

But, worse than that, I sometimes am gripped by the fear that I may never actually finish a manuscript in order to be published. I have written about five novels, and obviously none of those went anywhere. I know this should be irrational. I haven't been in a position where I was editing a book, so that means that I'm progressing. I'm one step closer to what I want, but I can't help but think that I won't ever finish. This project has already spanned years. I know that must not be that impressive compared to what some other authors have been through. Still, I can't help but freak out when I think about all the work I have to do.

And yet, I continue onward. Not as often lately as I should, true. But I'm still writing. I'm still making my work better, more interesting, raising the stakes. And that, I'm sure, will make all the difference.

Despite the fear, I'm forging on. I'm not giving up. Not giving up is so important. It may just be the most important thing.

So tell me: What are some of your fears? What do you worry about heading out into the big bad world? I'd love to hear them and how you deal with them.
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Also, I'm signing up for this really cool project, Thrid Writers Platform Building. You really need to come check this out and sign up today. Follow this link or click the picture in the sidebar on the right.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My choice of genre

I am one of those people who will read a variety of genres. I like YA, fantasy and sci-fi all the time, a good mystery every once in a while, chick lit, grew up on romance, will attack a classic every now and again, and I'll read just plain fiction any day.

I mainly write young adult, however. It's the genre that I read most – and there's a reason for it. I find it easy to connect to. Face it, everyone goes through it at some time. When I was 10, I was reading YA because I couldn't think of anything I wanted to be more than when I turned 16 and had a car and some independence.

Now, I look back on those years as a very integral part of my life. Those few years made me who I am today and I'm proud and happy with who I have become.

And even today, I still feel like that kid sometimes. I still have conversations with my parents that make me feel like I'm just a teenager again.

A couple weeks ago my mom and I were coming back from grocery shopping and I was expressing to her a fear of mine. That I'd passed up many things during high school and college, and I was afraid that I wasn't actually living my life. Much as I love her, she just didn't get what I was saying and kept telling me things that had no connection to my actual problem. It was frustrating, but a familiar feeling in the land of YA.

That's why I think YA is so relatable. Even though I'm away from my teen years, there are still times that remind me of what I, and probably the vast majority of others, went through.

So tell me – do you have similar feelings about your childhood? Why do you write or read what you choose to? Let me know.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dreaming

First off, I have to say that I am a terrible blogger. So much for that summer goal, right? I'm really going to try to keep on top of this and post every Monday, Wednesday, Friday from now on, okay? Okay.

Second, I want to talk about dreaming. That thing you do when you sleep.  I have these really vivid dreams. Sometimes they are so real, I wake up all confused. Especially when I have nightmares about work. In the dream, I work hard to get everything done by deadline. When I wake up, I realize I haven't actually finished anything like I thought I had. Those mornings are pretty depressing.

I also have really weird dreams. Dreams that don't make any sense at all. (I'm walking down the hall of my middle school trying to complete a scavenger hunt, then I turn the corner and there's this corridor that looks like it was taken from the middle ages complete with torches.) I like these dreams, because I wake up and feel amused. Like I was watching TV all night. Only, you know, really weird TV.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has tried to write a story based on a dream. Most of the time, it doesn't come out pretty. And that's because I always make the mistake of trying to copy the dream. But dreams are weird, and most of the time don't make sense. That doesn't work well when most of the time published things are suppose to be understandable.

That doesn't mean dreams can't be used for inspiration. Feelings are easily pulled from dream worlds. But instead of writing a story where a person is naked in school (not saying you can't here – use with discretion) write a story about how it feels to be laughed at and ridiculed.

I had a better example from a dream I had earlier this week, but I can't remember what it was about anymore. So there is another lesson. Dreams are as slippery as eels. If you want to use something when you wake up, write it down immediately. Or else it may be gone.

So, have you guys ever written any stories from dreams or gotten a great idea while you were sleeping? Please tell me I'm not alone here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where to write is important

A week ago I started a new job. Two days ago I moved into my new place. Until Saturday, I was living in one of my coworker's homes. This (and the stress of a new job) kept me from writing.

When I lived in Cody, I did the bulk of my writing at this little coffee shop called Rawhide Coffee. Can you guess from the name that I lived in Wyoming? I hope so. I chose a shop rather than my own house because I am easily distracted by things at my home. Like books and the TV. Sometimes I even go so far as to clean the house to avoid a particularly troublesome section.

At a coffee shop, however, I only have what I bring with me – mainly, my computer and headphones for my music. Sure, on occasion I get distracted by other patrons at the store, and at the end because all of the baristas became my close friends. But most of the time I could find a quiet table in the back and slam away on my keyboard.

While I like the idea of working from home, I'll need a bigger desk and probably a second bedroom to house an office for me to really get some work done. I like that I get to spread out on a coffee shop table. I can not spread out on my desk. One day I will get one of those giant wrap-around desks that have oodles of room. But, I need to be in a more stable position for that to happen. 

That works for me, but it may not work for you. I know my critique partner Sarah isn't all that productive at coffee shops. She does much better in the comfort of her own home at her desk (although how she spends hours in her uncomfortable-looking chair, I don't know). She likes the comfort of being able to control her environment and is less distracted in a place she knows well.

It's important to have a place where you can write easily and productively. It may be in a shop, in your home or maybe a favorite table out in a park. It doesn't matter where it is, as long as it works for you.

I haven't found my coffee shop yet, which is why I've been a complete and utter slacker when it comes to writing. I'm trying to settle into a rhythm now that I'm in my house, though. I'll give you an update on Friday to let you know if I continue to be a slacker.

Where do you guys write? Can you write anywhere? Do you have a particular place you love? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Go forth...

Okay, I know that title is a little misleading. We aren't multiplying here. We're living.

One of the best pieces of advice given to me about writing is: Live.

This afternoon, I'm going to be starting a new job in a town I've only visited three times. It is an entirely new experience that I'm a little nervous about and a lot excited. I will be challenged in ways that I haven't been in a long time. Oh, and I'm not even staying at my own place. I'm staying at someone else's house until I can move into my house.

What does this have to do with writing? EVERYTHING! Writers have the innate ability to take the things that happen to them and apply them to writing. And that relationship is what makes writing so relatable to the readers. Who hasn't been in a situation where they felt completely out of place as I will tomorrow?

See, the best thing a writer can do other than sit down and write every day is going out into the world and experiencing everything and anything you can. No, you don't have to have done everything to convince readers that something is true, but don't you feel it would be more authentic to know what it's like to be drunk than to make it up on the spot? (Please, please, please don't try it if you aren't 21. I don't care if you characters are if you aren't of age.)

There is another upside – think how exciting your life will be when you say yes to things. It will be way fun.

So tell me, have you used an experience you had that was out of the ordinary for your writing? Have you ever agreed to something just for the sake of knowing what it would be like for writing? I would love to hear it.