Category Archives: writing

Happy Birthday TPaL!

Happy Birthday Week TPaL!

Tomorrow, I turn 27 (years young!?) and my baby, The Poppet and the Lune, turns 1 year old. To celebrate, TPaL is available for FREE in the Kindle store until the end of May 17th, our official birthday! (Go on! Get ye to the kindle store! Download an app! It’s FREE!)

an original illustration from my little blue journal which holds the earliest chapters of TPaL

In another bit of happy news, somehow this whole “free” business has gotten TPaL some visibility! As I write this, The Poppet and the Lune is ranking #129 for free books in the entire Kindle store, #6 in free Fantasy Kindle books, and a mind-blowing #6 in free Children’s Sci-fi-Fantasy Kindle books. I am shocked, and amazed, and so, so grateful.

It’s been almost a year exactly since I published TPaL and released her to the world at large, and I want to say something about what I’ve learned. I’m not sure exactly, how to say it (a more common problem for writers than you think), but I’m going to give it a try.

Some of you may recall that TPaL was originally a free web serial hosted on my wordpress blog, with a very small, but very kind and loyal following. The story was told for the sake of telling stories–it was meant to be fun, and adventurous, and to explore the heart of my own love of story. I hope that it’s been all of that to those of you who have read it.

If manuscripts are like people, and many authors say that their manuscripts are like children, or lovers, or enemies, then I would have to say that The Poppet and the Lune has been a dear and constant friend. She has never been demanding. She has never been difficult. She has always been exactly what she is and was meant to be, never straying, never giving up. Even when people cock an eyebrow at her premise, or shrug their shoulders when trying to think of publishers to sell her to, she is steadfast, and certain.

I have a lot to learn from that.

original illustration from the blue journal

It’s so easy in life, especially in the publishing world, to lose sight of who and what we really are. For the sake of marketing, we don genres and audiences as if we’re trying on winter coats, seeing if our stories appeal more to one crowd or another, wondering if our story is appropriate for one age group or another. The line between telling your stories and finding an audience versus fitting your stories to a specific audience is not very fine, but it does get blurred. We get blurred–when we lose sight of who we are, and the heart of our stories.

Being true to your story means being true to yourself. Sometimes that doesn’t get you an agent, or a book contract, or very much in royalties. But it gives you peace of mind, and that is invaluable. That is what primes you for your next book, and your next. There is clarity there–precious, priceless clarity–that is sometimes called insight, or inspiration, which is at the heart of all creation, of all storytelling. We cannot afford to lose sight of that–we cannot afford to lose sight of who we are, even as we grow and change.

Birthdays and anniversaries are about more than celebrating that first breath, kiss, or step into the world. They are about taking stock, reflecting on change and what you’ve learned, the ways you’ve grown–they’re about setting goals, and planting hopes and dreams–and celebrating every victory and failure that has shaped you into what you are today.

So with another year under my belt, and many lessons learned, I think I’m going to take the time to do that for the rest of my birthday week.

Happy Birthday, TPaL. You’ve come a long way.

And Happy Birthday, Self. Remember, you never stop learning.

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Small Victories

I did something this weekend that I’ve never successfully done before: I outlined my novel!

I know, I know, that’s not really a big deal for all you clever people out there who always outline your novel because you realized long ago the importance of having a track for your writing, so you at least know when you’ve fallen off of it. But I’m not as clever as all of you. I’m what they call a seat-of-the-pants writer. I get a basic idea that excites the hell out of me, a handful of characters that slap me around until I get them right, and a general idea of the ending… and then I write. I figure it out as I go, each scene as surprising as the next. This seems horrendously inefficient when I explain it like that, but it’s how I’ve always worked best.

So why outline now?

I’m beginning a second re-write of my current Work In Progress, a novel that has been an off and on love affair since 2008 (more obsessively the past two years…I kind of wrote it around The Poppet and the Lune). This new (and I hope final) version is a combination of version 1 and version 2, plus a little tweak that fixes a million different Problems I’d been having, so there is a lot less creativity involved at this point when it comes to the plot and structure of the story and character arcs. My job now is to write the scenes as beautifully and gut-wrenchingly and hilariously (you get the idea) as I can.

So I’ve outlined, essentially, to make a to-do list. Scene execution is the best part about writing–it’s the actually word play, the actual act of writing–so now it’s like I have this long to-do list full of things I can’t wait to do. Which is why this outline is so exciting!

I suppose what I can take away from this whole experience (if the outlining helps as much as I expect it will) is that perhaps my first drafts should be more like very detailed outlines. I can still write them seat-of-my-pants style, but also not lose as much when I discover plot holes or pacing issues. In writing version 3, I’m throwing away over 200,000 words from my previous versions. Which…ouch. Just ouch. Those are some really good words I’m tossing. But a novel isn’t just the sum of its pretty words–the pretty words need to weave within the structure of a well-crafted world and story.

We’re always learning about ourselves and our craft, aren’t we?

Anyway. I’m excited!

What about you? Do you outline, or write seat-of-your-pants? Do you perform major surgery on your first drafts to make the second draft work, or do you find most of the revisions in later drafts are less massive? Let me know! Sharing is caring!

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Try, Try, Try, Repeat: Lessons for a writer, from my ukulele

It just so happens that I have some (limited) talent with musical instruments–the mediocre kind of talent that means I can pick up almost any one of them and play Jingle Bells within five minutes of fiddling around (except for percussion instruments, silly). My Instruments Practiced list includes violin, piano, cello, upright bass, bass guitar, saxophone, clarinet, bassoon, acoustic guitar, and my latest conquest, the soprano ukulele. 

This is me with my ukulele. Really.

Music has never been my passion like writing is–it’s more like my therapy. I took a break from novel rewrites the other day, feeling like I’d re-written one scene a bazillion times, and decided to practice a few Radiohead songs I’d been picking up lately (I’d found the tablature on-line a few weeks  ago).

I had a moment like this:

Did I just play Exit Music for a Film, when I struggled with Three Blind Mice not one year ago?

I did!

Back when I first got my ukulele, “real” songs had seemed so out of reach it almost wasn’t worth it to keep practicing. My fingers weren’t used to the small neck of the instrument, and they didn’t bend the way the chords asked me to bend them. But has that ever really stopped me?

This is probably more accurate. I do practice on my porch, and I am a dirty hippie.

I remember a few years ago when I first got my Casio keyboard, living on my own in a little one bedroom across the street from the zoo. I would hammer out scales and make up meandering melodies and feel generally like I wasn’t learning, wasn’t getting any better, because I wasn’t being challenged. Too cheap to pay for lessons, I picked a song that I knew had a killer piano part–Ben Fold’s Brick–printed out the sheet music, and told myself I would learn it.

I staggered along learning the left hand first, then the right. I’d play through, one-handed, over and over again, then with both hands, fitting their separate notes and rhythms together like the broken pieces of a shattered plate. I would play a measure or two, mess up, go back a few measures, repeat (repeat, repeat, repeat…), until eventually the notes I was trying to play came out the way they were supposed to–the way they were meant to be played.

I had a little epiphany while I was sitting on my porch, feeling all proud of how far I’d come with my ukulele skillz: when you’re writing a novel, sometimes it’s a lot like learning to play a song. You take it slow, you go over the parts you have trouble with again and again, writing, rewriting, and rearranging until all the pieces finally fit. You know you’ve gotten it right when the story flows, just like a song, harmonious and dynamic and alive.

Too bad I can’t find the tabs for my novel online.

I don't know what's happening here. I just wanted to share this.

 
What are some challenges you’ve faced and are proud to say you’ve conquered?
 

5 Reasons Why Aspiring Authors Should Not Trust The Internet

Wary woman is wary. Hmm...

Call me a hippy, or an optimist, or whatever you like, but I have a personal rule about any kind of advice: if it makes you feel good, take it; if it makes you feel like shit, it’s probably wrong. At least, it’s probably wrong for you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surfing around the internet looking for advice on a particular aspect of the writing process or the publishing process, only to have a brick dropped on me that makes me sick to my stomach, makes me question all 20+ years of my experience, and honestly believe that this king or queen of the blogosphere knows what he or she is talking about better than I know what’s right for me. Countless times. And it still happens, even though I make a concerted effort these days NOT to look for advice from anyone but trusted friends. I know it happens to a lot of us out there, innocent creative types searching for wisdom an guidance, and instead we have our dreams and ideas crushed beneath the jackboots of the All Knowing Bloggers.

This is not to say that the internet is useless, or that you can’t trust anyone out there/here. But I strongly, strongly encourage you to take all of what you read and experience in your pursuit of writerly knowledge with a large grain of salt, including this blog and this post.

Which brings me to this:

5 Reasons why aspiring authors should not trust the internet

1.) Opinions are formed from personal experience. I once read a blog post about how dream sequences ruin books and should never be written by aspiring authors, and it crushed me. What does it say about me as a writer that I love a good dream sequence, both writing them and reading them? Ultimately I got over it (I know you were worried), but it seemed irresponsible to make a statement like that when you have hundreds of readers out there who trust you to give them at least thought-provoking, if not good, advice. But almost all blog posts that give us “rules” or “10 Reasons why” are based on personal experience and opinion, and therefore are never actual hard and fast laws. Maybe the author admits to that, and maybe they don’t, but it’s usually easy to overlook the admission because…

2.) These posts are written by writers, the best liars of the creative world. A good writer knows, consciously or not, how to get their audience on board with them–make them believe in magic, and true love, and that good can occasionally triumph over evil. A good writer also knows how to write a blog post and make it sound like they are an authority on the matter. I’m doing it right now. Don’t I sound official? It’s because I’m just telling you things, and I’m stating these things so matter-of-factly that you’re beginning to see the truth of them, whether it’s there or not. The other reason is because you want to believe people are doling out free professional advice. You saw a list of ten things to avoid or ten reasons to do or not do something, and that made it sound simple and easy to follow. These are all tricks, which brings me to the fact that…

3) The thing the internet wants to do most of all is trick you. It wants to trick you into clicking one more link, or into believing you need one more social networking site, that if you don’t re-post that status about fighting cancer then you’re not as good of a person as that person’s 10% of friends who actually care. Worst of all, it wants to trick you into wasting time, and believing you are working. “Oh, but I was reading an article on world-building,” you think. “It’s okay, I want to be a writer, so spending X more minutes learning about my craft is excusable.” No, actually, it’s not, because unless that blog post was written by Frank Herbert (greatest world-builder of all time, thank you very much!) himself, you’re not even getting professional advice. Have you ever noticed that, for the most part, the busiest writers aren’t writing blog posts about craft? That’s because they’re writing.

That’s probably the worst way the internet deceives us: it tricks us into giving up time for writing, in exchange for well-crafted amateur advice.

4) Haters gonna hate. Really, I don’t want to hear about how the gate-keepers are keeping us down, and so any self-respecting author should self-publish. And I don’t want to hear about how self-publishing authors need to keep their filthy DIY hands off of the term “independent publishing,” unless you’re that excited about being a hipster that you have to shout it from the rooftops. I’m not interested in any blog that paints a negative picture of any group of people, because that kind of advice can only reinforce narrow-mindedness or make you feel bad about the path you’re already considering. Really, when was the last time you Googled “advantages to self publishing” when you weren’t interested in what it had to offer?

The same thing goes for the old, salty veterans, weather-worn and wearing their badge of “experience” like a shroud. They’ve been through the system, they’ll tell you again and again, and the system is cruel. Well, we covered that in my last post, and you can’t take one author’s experience as gospel.

5) Bitter people are always more than happy to give you their opinion. That is certainly not to say everyone giving their opinion is bitter (ahem). But if you’ve ever given up your writing for a critique and gotten back the kind of feedback I’m talking about, you know it: hyper-critical, personally biased, and ultimately nothing but destructive (unless they’re clever at hiding their bitterness, in which case they do a compliment sandwich: “I liked this… hate hate hate hate hate… and this part was pretty interesting too.”). Offering up your writing to strangers can be, on the one hand, an amazing experience worth putting your faith in humanity to the test. But you have to be wary–the internet is full of trouble-makers. I’m probably one of them.

~*~

Now for the actual, constructive advice part of this post:

If you’re anything like me, or if you hated this post and will probably just ignore everything above, you’re still going to read advice about writing on blogs. So here are some tips I think we can call benefit from.

When reading a blog about writing, ask yourself:

  • How does this post make me feel?
  • Is this narrowing or broadening my perspective?
  • Am I inspired by this post, or do I want to smash my monitor/swallow my smart phone and all the shame it holds on its shiny little screen?

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with that, so I’ll just leave that alone for now.

There are a few blogs that I almost always enjoy:

Nova Ren Suma‘s blog has a guest post series on Turning Points for writers that offers a rainbow of different experiences from all kinds of different authors.

Intern Spills, by… the former intern of a publisher, or agency, I can’t remember. I read all of her blog in two days at work one week, and loved it to death. You will see, however, that this is the site of the entry regarding the dream sequence hate. I got over it, but I do read everything after with an eyebrow ready to be raised.

Terrible Minds, a blog by Chuck Wendig, the King of the “[NUMBER] Things About [SUBJECT]” posts. The reason I love his lists is because he is full of wit and snark, and actually gives solid advice about the craft of writing. How do I know it’s solid? He is constantly admitting that the rules are bullshit if you know what you’re doing.

So what about you? What do you love or hate about finding writing advice on the internet? Do you have any writing blogs or sites you’ve found valuable? Writer by Night wants to know!

In Like a Lion

"I do say, good Sir or Madam! Is it March already?"

It’s MARCH. WHAT?

Winter has been shockingly–shockingly–mild here in Buffalo. For the first time in years, we can accurately say at the beginning of March that spring is right around the corner. For me, spring always brings with it a surge of passion and determination. My To-Do list quadruples, but so does my Got-Done list (and this year, my first year as a homeowner, my To-Do list is going to be loooooooong); I breathe more deeply, but have more moments where my breath is taken away. Maybe because I’m a springtime baby–born mid-May, when Lilly of the Valley is out in force and the world has just finished turning that bright green of new growth–but spring is the season in which I learn, and re-learn, every year, that Life is a beautiful, beautiful adventure.

In typical hey!-It’s-almost-spring! fashion, life feels like it’s picking up speed, though I don’t have much to point to as evidence. I sent some chapters to an agent who requested them, which is EXCITING and NERVE-WRACKING. I also happen to know that a copy of my book, The Poppet and the Lune, is sitting on a shelf in the home of an amazing, prolific, and iconic fantasy author, which is both baffling and thrilling. These things feel awesome to me, and they happened all at once which makes life seem like it got really interesting all of a sudden.

But in reality, life always has something interesting to offer if you’re looking for it. These have just been external events, things in the outside world that are taking place and making things exciting. Really, every day something amazing has been happening in my head–a story that I am still head-over-heels in love with has been unfolding and transforming, like a gooey-winged butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. It’s spreading its wings out to dry now as I’m hammering out this new draft, all colorful and elegant, and strikingly, beautifully, fragile. And soon I’m going to see just how far and how high it can fly. How is that NOT exciting?

All around me, people are announcing wonderful news, from fantastic cover reveals, to life-altering leaps of faith. My heart is brimming with joy for them. In my own life, the excitement is quiet and internal, a deep-seated, riveted joy, patiently focused on the little miracles happening within and without. And I keep getting this impression of abundance, just… everywhere, and in all things. I keep getting a glimpse, catching a whiff, of something huge, and ineffable, and satisfyingly good.

So, spread the joy! What wonderful things have been going on in your life, or in your head?

Wailing at the Wall

Life has been a whirlwind.

Let me tell you about the past few weeks as succinctly as I can. Nothing major has happened, not by certain standards anyway. But my brain and my heart have been on a strange journey that can’t quite be captured in words. Perhaps that’s the reason behind my blog-silence–it’s certainly never because I have nothing to say.

I was in the desert recently, physically and metaphorically. Creatively, I was all dried up, too terrified of a misstep to even crawl my way towards water. But then, I went to Israel. Really. For ten days, I traveled the country with a tour bus full of other 20-somethings, thinking about the history of the land, about our ancestors, about what it meant to be who we are. It was from a Jewish perspective, in many ways, but for me no deep thinking is possible without my creative self cropping up.

 

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

 

I looked out over the complicated border between Israel and Lebanon. I partied in Tel Aviv, and stuck my feet into the Mediterranean Sea. I felt an array of complicated emotions, complicated further by socio-political awareness, and my unwillingness to identify with a cultural pain-body. I wandered in the desert, stumbling over sun-bleached bones. I heard the call to prayer ring out over Jerusalem from the Muslim quarter, as the sun set over the holy city. I came to the Western Wall, as unreligious as I am, and cried. And I saw thousands of names at Yad Vashem, not knowing who among them I might have called family if history had not been what it was.

I am still unpacking that journey. I don’t know all of what I felt, all of what it means. But I do know that when I returned, despite having come down with the flu during the last days of the trip, I felt stronger and more resolved than ever.

I’d broken through something, managed to inch forward in my creative desert, and the moment I did that I found my oasis. I found the strength to recommit, and begin again.

The book I have been working on these past few months, the one that stalled after some intense interest from agents, for which I’d begun to put so much pressure on myself because of that interest, suddenly opened up to me like the arms of a loved one. “You have changed,” it told me. “And it’s okay for me to change, too. I’m ready to be what you want me to be. And you’re ready to write me as I am.”

Hopped up on decongestants, I began a total re-write of this manuscript last week, switching from first person present to third person present, and then last night I switched it again from present to past tense. I am okay with these sort-of-mistakes, and the work it takes to correct them. I am okay with the new scenes my mind is drawing up, the new ways the characters are showing themselves on the page, the new focus of the story as a whole. I’m okay with leaving behind the beloved scenes I crafted for the original draft. I’m okay, because at least I’m writing, and that will always feel better than standing still in the desert.

I am slowly peeling back the layers of this new manuscript, and at the same time peeling back layers of myself–as a writer, and an artist–as a traveler changed by my journeys. I’m no longer beating myself up for failing my “original” story, or beating my head against the wall trying to make it something safe, something appealing, something that fits into the mold of what an author’s first agented book should be.

Not only that, but my office is finally taking shape, after months of disarray. We moved into our house this past August, and just last weekend we finished painting the chalkboard wall, and I was finally able to set up my desk, move my bookshelves, unpack my reference books, run an extension cord so that all my electrical things had outlets. I finally have my own space, where I can slam on the piano keys and compose ballads on my ukulele, play movie scores on my cello, or do yoga without a cat scratching at my legs. Oh yeah, and I have a place to write.

Something about my trip to Israel has made me come undone, in an excellent way. I stopped fearing. I embraced the grace in my gracelessness, the thrill of each uncertain step. I found faith in things I cannot name. I came to terms with the fact that the desert will always be just beyond the border of the oasis, a fact both comforting and sobering.

And I understood, and understand, that I will learn these lessons again and again, until the day I die.

Here’s to finding an oasis–and the exotic fruits of a strange journey.

Let Go.

In the past month, I’ve reinvented the universe, abandoned my baby, and discovered the power to be found in completely giving up. That’s right–as I write this, I am on the waning side of a full-fledged creative block. I realized my novel needed to be hacked to pieces in order to be fixed. So I decided to take a break. And I let it go.

And life has shown me so much since then: the story has unfolded to greater depths than I thought possible; I’ve learned more about myself as a human being, and as an artist, and as a writer than ever before; and I’ve renewed and strengthened my faith in that unnameable force that compels us to do what we do. I am grateful, and humbled, and in love, once again, with the sometimes painful, sometime beautiful, always transformative art of storytelling.

But during these transformative weeks of late, I went to some pretty dark places, asked some pretty cruel questions, and thought some pretty mean thoughts. It took some time to get here, to this let-go-and-let-god(dess)(es) place that is working out for me remarkably well.

One of the dark things in my mind was: yeah, maybe you’re good with words. Maybe you’re good with building expansive worlds and subplots, and metaphors, and making a scene heart-wrenching. But are you a good storyteller? Do you have any real talent for the structure? For compelling your readers to keep going and to care?

The truth is, I don’t know if I have that talent. And I could go on and describe the pit of despair that I sat in while I contemplated that, but instead I will tell you this: all that pain I felt, thinking I had no talent for stories, knowing how much I want to tell them, was just the pure and simple evidence of my soul screaming out it doesn’t matter if you have talent. You have love. Stop belittling your passion and desire, and just dare.

Stories… are sacred. They are vast, multitudinous, and, like human beings and snow flakes, no two are the same. There is no wrong way to tell a story, just as there is no story that is completely worthless. If it was told with the sincere desire to tell a story–a desire as real, as important, and as ineffable as to drink or eat or be loved–it is good.

I know, it takes more than that for a book to sell to a publisher. But some part of me knows that my desire, my passion, is so strong and unwavering, such a driving force behind my existence, that I can and will learn to tell stories in the way that they need to be told. No matter what.

In hindsight, clear of the fog of despair, I don’t actually think I’m a bad storyteller. I think that I’m impatient, and enjoy the wild adventure of seat-of-the-pants writing too much to outline and make sure my pacing and structure work before I dive in. As much as I love spontaneity, my stories tend to be massive, fat, hearty things, huge adventures that require planning. I can’t escape that. Even The Poppet and the Lune, written and posted sometimes the same day, had at least a vague outline in my head before I sat down to begin the whole thing.

And I can’t escape the fact that sometimes my stories take longer to percolate than I would like. I have to learn patience–I am not a fast writer by nature, though I can pump out thousands of words a day. But, especially if I am unable to come up with an outline, I have to recognize that maybe my story isn’t ready to be put on the page just yet.

It’s not, and nor will it ever be, a step by step process. To conceive and create a story, and then a manuscript, has more to do with intuition, feeling, and emotions than experience, knowledge, and understanding. I suppose that’s why I keep journaling about the process here and elsewhere, despite my repetition, with the hopes that I might keep gaining insight, enough to avoid the same pitfalls–and maybe help navigate the new.

All that said… I feel so incredibly blessed to be where I am: so much closer, every day, to knowing how to tell this story, and future stories; I am humbled by my recognition of my shortcomings in the past, and I am proud to have survived that, grown, and matured–I am, right now, the best storyteller and writer I have ever been; and I am so, so grateful for the incredible support I have received and known through all of you reading these entries, and writing your own stories in your own entries, and offering the world and me even the slightest assurance that it will be okay.

Life is so strange, so beautiful, so full of surprises. I suppose we have no choice but to be okay with that… because to resist it, even when it seems like it makes sense to cut yourself off? It hurts. But when you go with it, just let go and let god(dess)(es), it is such a beautiful ride.

So I’m working in that. I think I will be until the day I die. And I guess I have to be okay with that, too. :)

The Artist as Batman

Like most of you, I have a day job. I happen to work at a pharmaceutical telemarketing group from 8:30 to 5, not using my degree in media study whatsoever. Maybe I’m using a little bit of my anthropology minor when dealing with a bazillion unpleasant receptionists (however, the cross-cultural appearance of generic job dissatisfaction in a particular segment of the working population is not very interesting compared to, say, studying the enduring universal phenomenon of “witchcraft hysteria.” :p).

But at the end of the day, I do not call myself a marketing rep. By now, I hope you’ve figured out that I consider myself to be a writer. Oh, I am much more than that–a daughter, wife, friend, sister, traveler, mediocre ukulele player, etc.–but this isn’t that kind of blog post.

I have to assume that most of you who bother to read this blog are also writers or creators of some kind (artists, if you’re comfortable with that word). Many of you also work a full time job, be it at an office or in the home raising children. I’m willing to bet, whatever you do from “9-5” (your hours may vary) that it is not necessarily your art/creative pursuit. But I bet you wish it was. I bet you hope that, someday, the after-hours effort you put into your creative pursuits can become your day job.

Or maybe you don’t. But if you do, you probably know all about the emotional roller coaster of being an artist by night: the pain of “wasting” your days for a paycheck, especially if your day job is in a field you have no love for; the stress of finding the time and energy to do your real work after all your other responsibilities have been met; the guilt of choosing sleep or laundry or making a healthy dinner, over putting in time with your art.

Pictured: a mild-mannered artist by night.

Being an artist by night is not unlike being Batman: most of the people you interact with on a daily basis have a poor understanding of the person you become after work, with a pen/paint brush/instrument in hand; you have your passion, your conviction, your determination– maybe even a utility belt full of handy tools that help you on your quests; you have a whole second life that you live, fighting crime/writer’s block, surveilling Gotham City from your Bat Cave/studio/laptop. There are plenty of criminals/plot bunnies/inspiration droughts out to get you, and the good people of the city/your family and friends don’t necessarily agree with what you’re doing, or believe you have the right to do what you do.

So how do you do it?

This is something I am always trying to figure out. I am constantly re-balancing my schedule, my life, always trying to find a better way of organizing myself and using my time so that nothing gets left behind. Something always does, of course. Something probably always will, even after my writing becomes my day job (fingers crossed!). But I’ve learned to love this state of constant upheaval. To me, it feels like passion–like life force being summoned through me. I am not an advocate of difficulty for the sake of difficulty, but there is some degree of personal validation (or perhaps confirmation) when you see how hard you are willing to work for something. And I believe the key to surviving the upheapal is found in that passion, and the life-affirming  joy of the art itself. After all, if we didn’t love our art, why would we be willing to put up with it’s bullshit? (just sayin’.)

What about you? How do you make the time for your art/crime-fighting after a long day of work? Do you find that you often end up alone, like Batman, with no one but your trusty butler/take out menus to keep you company? How do you take care of your relationships, your friends, family, pets–yourself even–and still make time for your art?

Inquiring minds want to know!

On writing and dreams and life and things

Things have been crazy. So much editing, revising, synopsizing, brainstorming…only to ultimately have to just let it go. My book, my baby-out into the world. My ideas for the future, half-formed, half-fleshed–naked on the page before the people who I can only hope will love them as much as I do.

I just had a solid 2 days without working on it. And, yes, I felt guilty the whole time, not outlining or writing or researching for the next books in the series. I do love what I’m doing. I am following a dream that I’ve dared to dream since I was old enough to tell a story, and every precious moment that could be spent as an investment in myself and my stories counts. So the moments when I do nothing, when I am aimless, when I am still (but so unable to be still), feel like a waste of life, and time.

But humans need balance. We need to replenish the wells we draw so much from. We need to take care of our bodies and minds, our homes and our relationships. We need to pursue our dreams-yes–but we must also have moments, hours, days maybe, where we pursue nothing at all outside of the ability to be present. To be still. We need time to dream a little more, a little broader, just for the fun of dreaming.

When I am older than I am now, hopefully living my dream of writing novels and stories for a comfortable living, I want to be able to appreciate it. I want to be healthy, and still madly in love, and attentive to my friends and family. I want a dog. I want to travel some more. I want to have a kid some day (ok, cat’s out of the bag).

I refuse to sabotage myself by killing myself with my dreams. I will not berate myself for failing to write as much as I wanted to write in a day. I will not hate myself for getting a bad review. I will not eat fast food because there is no time to cook when I am trying so hard to be an author. I will not forgo exercise because it is time away from writing. I will not ignore the ones I love because I cannot stop thinking about how character 1 gets from point A to point B. I will not lose the ability to have conversations about anything except for my craft. I will not drive myself mad with procrastination or unrealistic deadlines, comparing myself to others, going against my gut, or forgetting the part of the desire that made it a dream.

Self, I am making a promise to you. We will be happy, and human, and well. We will tell stories that change the world (for at least one or two people). And I will remember that the point of all of all of all of this is to be happy.