Monday, June 25, 2012

Meant to be Written?

Let's talk about something fun. For this NaNo I've been working on a story that I originally started about two years ago. I loved the premise, but to say the plot was weak is an understatement. I kept writing though, thinking it would come to me. 563 pages later the plot still hadn't magically appeared. I stopped writing the story at that point, though I never forgot about it.

So. I started rewriting for NaNo, this time with a vague idea of major plot points. Twenty days in and I was doing good - before I realized I was writing the same story again. I took two days out of writing and wrote a one paragraph synopsis for each chapter until I reached the end of the story. It's tight. It flows and it doesn't stop - exactly the kind of story I like to read.

I started writing it yet again, this time knowing what was going to happen. I wrote the first line and then the first paragraph and then the first chapter. It felt different, right.

But then there's always those doubts that creep in. Was I creating the atmosphere I wanted? Did the tone I set convey that feeling of something just being a little off? Was it all in my head that this could actually be good? Am I using the correct pov and in the correct way? You get the idea. I started doubting myself and everything I'd written.

Writing is a very solitary business. I swore to myself that I wouldn't let anyone read this until I was done. Too many times I've gotten sidetracked by what others think I need to do. I don't want to do that anymore. For as many people out there who genuinely want to help, there are the same number or more who would like nothing more than to see you fail. For some reason, they see other writers as competition. That's stupid.

But I was desperate. I needed someone to tell me if it was shit or not (and yes, that's an official ranking criteria I ask my critiquers to use). I decided to ask someone to read my opening paragraph. Not just anyone, but someone who's seen my work grow. I have this friend. She's a wonderful friend and just a lovely human being. She's also an editor. She mainly works with magazines, but the ones she works for are known nationally and internationally. In other words, she knows what she's talking about. I try not to take advantage of her though. Her feedback is invaluable to me. I emailed her and asked her if she'd be willing to read the first paragraph. She responded instantly and I sent it out.

Within twenty minutes I had a response:

"I love it! I want to be there. I LOVE the pair of ocean/water metaphors at the beginning -- love it so much that I think you could benefit from playing it up even more. Like, maybe there's a stronger, more active verb or phrase that you could use instead of "...covered the..." -- one that conjures a more specific image? That's such a powerful beginning. So much awesome in this paragraph!"

Immediately after reading this, I almost cried. That's all I wanted to know. But then I started thinking about my first sentence that had the  "covered the." I'd rewritten this sentence maybe five or six times and I knew it wasn't perfect. I took her advice and spent an hour rewriting that one sentence. I sent that one sentence back to her.

"Yes!! I think that's a big step in the right direction. Very distinct image, and just a little hint of creepy."

That was it. That is what I needed. She didn't tell me it was perfect, she gave me the nudge as to what I could do to improve it and I did.

Anyway, this is my attempt to not neglect this blog so much. I never know what I'll write about and didn't really intend to write about writing, but that's what I'm trying to focus on instead of thinking of other things. Hope love and happiness find you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

bad stuff

Eeek. I didn't realize it's been almost a month since I've posted over here. I blog twice a month over at We've been going since February and I've actually managed not to miss a deadline. Over there, we talk about all the writerly things that I don't talk about on here. You should check it out.

Anyway. I'm doing NaNo right now. I could use that as an excuse for why I haven't posted this month, but it wouldn't be entirely true. There are some things going on in my life that are beyond myself and beyond my writing. I feel like I'm dancing on a glass floor and a single misstep is going to send my world crumbling. I know it's coming and there's nothing I can do to prevent it.

It's hard living a life full of worry. It ages you. It turns you bitter. I try not to worry, but I can see the toll it's taking because sometimes there's nothing left but worry. The saying, "don't worry, be happy" is ideal, but unrealistic. I'm sorry that I can't choose happiness when someone close to me is facing a medical prognosis that's... well, not good. I wish I could say I choose happiness, but no. I worry. Everyday and every night. Which is why at almost five in the morning I'm up typing this after tossing and turning for a few hours.

People tell you to think positive. It's kind of funny. When I was laid off, people told me to think positive. When we were losing our house, people told me to think positive. When we camped out in a one bedroom apartment with no plumbing or electricity, people told me to think positive. When we worked through the summer to get the place livable and had someone belittling us and making life more miserable than it already was... yeah, you guessed it, people told me to think positive. I don't begrudge them saying that to me, what are they supposed to say? It's easy and supposed to be comforting, but instead, it makes you feel as though it's somehow your fault these things happened because your thoughts weren't happy enough.

I know people mean well when they say it, but it still sucks.

Is this a depressing post? Yes. Yes, it is. Am I sorry? No. I don't deal well with this kind of stress. I like challenges, like getting published or playing a game. But there are some things that come along in life that no matter how much you fight, how much information you have - you can't beat it. I don't like to lose. I withdraw and want to cover my ears and not hear anymore bad news. But I can't. I'm an adult now. I have to be stronger for my son and my family. They need me to be strong. Sometimes I hate being an adult. I'm not ready for this, but then, is anyone?

This is my place to get my thoughts out there and try to make sense of the world around me. I truly hope your world and your reality are kind to you tonight.