The Writer’s Paradox

The Writer’s Paradox

Thank goodness for the online writing community. If I didn’t have a chorus of fellow writers echoing my gripes, I would think I was a lunatic. Why is it so common that, for those who love writing, writing is so damn difficult? (I know this isn’t true for all of us, but for the subset who share my very frustrating struggle, I hope you find some comfort in this commiseration)

I think about stories all day. At work, driving, in the shower, when I lie in bed at night. I hear them in song lyrics. When I write or read something, I immediately want to create something like it. I get so excited, I want to rush of and create something! So why is the actual act of putting pen to paper so difficult? I feel like I’m physically pulling the words from me, one at time. And they’re painfully stuck. I’ve tried to figure out exactly why this is, why I’m like this. Best I can figure from listening to others complain of a similar problem is the propensity for perfection and a fear of failure. I know that my first draft of something is going to be garbled nonsense at best, especially compared to the scenes in my noggin. Like, of course I understand that. It’s logical. It’s obvious. But in the moment, I can’t make that logic work for me. I can feel how overwhelmed I am when I write, trying to get it right the first time even though I know it’s impossible, even though I know I have all the time in the world to sit back and edit, and polish, and revise it into something I love. But since my dumbo brain won’t cooperate with this knowledge, I’ve tried to find ways to trick it. I’ve made a writing space with candles, and bobbles, and soft music, and nice pens. I break big goals into tiny ones. And it really works! Once I sit down and settle in and get over that initial block, I can get a good amount of writing in. Writing I don’t hate, even!

So now my biggest obstacle is getting my dang butt in the dang chair. I start to visualize that blank page waiting for me at night and I find every reason to avoid sitting down and doing the damn thing. So, to help me this NaNoWriMo, I’ve come up with a new gimmick. I’ve always been interested in tarot. I’m not really into any of the spiritual aspect of it, (or anything if I’m being honest- no disrespect intended for anyone that is) but I really like the idea of it as a tool for introspection and journaling. I was thinking of starting to keep a tarot journal at my desk, something fun and easy I can look forward to sitting down and doing in at the end of the day. It will serve (I hope) as a clever excuse to get myself settled into my writing space. Then once I’m done with a journal entry, I’ll be ready to write! If I tell myself I just need to get a few pages down, I know what will happen. When the pressure if off, the buildup gone, I usually get way more written then I’m expecting. I know this must make me seem like a 100% complete psychopath but I’m hoping that any other writers who have my unfortunate neurocies can take some inspiration from me. Or at least some comfort in knowing you’re not crazy and you’re not alone.

I hope everyone is having a low stress and fun November, whether it be productive or not. If anyone has any of their own little tips and tricks PLEASE add them in the comments. Please. XD

This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us: A Time Management Story

This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us: A Time Management Story

Another year, another Daisho Con in the books! I had a lovely time. I learned from last year’s mistake and did not schedule anything for any particular time in order to minimize the anxiety I get trying to get into cosplay. (I am very slow at cosplay makeup, so not having a deadline removed a ton of stress) That being said, boy did the weekend fly by. I feel like I didn’t have enough downtime to chill with my friends, and our schedules didn’t always align, which was a bummer but no one’s fault. I didn’t go to any panels, but I rarely do. I didn’t even make it to the vendor hall till the last day. The new layout with the convention center expansion was cool but the vendor room still needs a little work. The artist alley aisles got really congested really quickly. Still, it was a marked improvement over last year and I hope the con continues to improve and find ways to better use the space.

I loved seeing a lot of cosplay friends I’ve met through Instagram. (And quite the accomplishment for one as introverted as me) All told, it just feels like I didn’t do a whole lot before the weekend was over. I did get some killer pictures of two of my favorite cosplays- my old standby, Haruko from FLCL, and a dream debut of Sesshomaru from Inuyasha. I’m so grateful that my boyfriend is patient enough to help me get around with my cosplays and be my personal photographer. He has a really good eye. And I think my editing is starting to improve.

That being said, I’m ready for a break. I love cosplay and I’m sure I’ll always participate in some fashion for a long time yet, but I can’t see myself doing another big build like Sesshomaru anytime soon. I always underestimate how complicated these builds will be and they never get done on schedule. I was supposed to have it completely finished by Halloween so it wouldn’t interfere with my participation in NaNoWriMo. But work was so hectic in October with working six day weeks, I didn’t make it. Then, since I had underestimated its complexity, I tried to do the build and NaNo and ending up having to almost drop NaNo entirely and still ended up finishing the build the night before the con. Never again. I can’t be both a writer and a crafter. They both take up way too much time on top of working full time. I can only do one- and I know that. I want to focus on writing. Which means cosplay has to be shelved for a while. And I’m fine with that! I have plenty of costumes I can re-wear if I want to go to a con, plus I love just running around and taking photos. I’m sure I’ll get bit by the build bug again someday, but writing has to come first if I want to seriously pursue my dream of being published.

So while I’m very proud of my cosplay this past weekend, I’m ready to switch gears. NaNo was bit of a loss, though not terribly surprising given my track record. I’ll still write the rest of the week for whatever its worth, but it just means I need to work that much harder in December. I want to get my book ready for querying in the new year and I’m honestly excited to get to work. I refuse to be discouraged or down on myself anymore. It doesn’t accomplish anything. I can’t change the past, I can only focus on moving forward.

Pitch Wars? Pitch Wars.

Pitch Wars? Pitch Wars.

Heeeeeey remember how I said I needed to ease my way back into writing regularly? Weeeeeellll, then I remembered Pitch Wars was a thing…twelve days before the deadline. So I worked nonstop, writing probably over 100 pages worth of edits, rewrites, and hole-filling in order to meet that deadline. I honestly thought there was no possible way I would have it done and presentable in time, but I did it! I gotta admit, I am wicked proud of myself. Not only for submitting to the competition but for actually finishing a book! It’s not perfect by any means; it needs some structural troubleshooting and a ton of shine, but it’s a real & complete story. I’ve never had that before. (and 93,00 words to boot!)

I really don’t believe there’s much of a shot of me being picked since this was such a last minute Hail Mary, but I think the experience is going to be a great one no matter what. I wrote successfully under a tight deadline for the first time. I had my first run-in with query letters, a synopsis, and formatting. I’m making a bunch of new friends on twitter in the writing community. Plus, I finally have a full story to share with my friends and family and get some constructive feedback. I’m a huge step closer to being ready to start an agent search and try to break into the publishing world. This is so unexpected and so exciting that I feel like it’s already a victory no matter the outcome. Still, I won’t lie- I would be over the moon times a thousand to be picked for Pitch Wars. To gain the insight of an industry professional before wading into the querying trenches – how can I even begin to assign a value to something like that?!

So, here goes nothing! Let’s see what happens next.

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Keep on Keepin’ On

Keep on Keepin’ On

Long time no meaningless rambling! I’ve been keeping pretty busy. Still working six day weeks but, as we’ve finally hired another coordinator, the end is in sight. Well, kind of. We’re also going into (one of) the busy times so maybe I’ll get a second day off again by like… June? But I really can’t complain about the much needed OT. Finally making some progress in paying off my debt!

Other than work work (zug zug) I’ve been keeping busy busting out little resin crafts for my Etsy store. And I’ve started making a few sales! I don’t expect to make any real profit off this enterprise but I really enjoy making stuff and selling it is weirdly fun. At the very least, the money I make can help pay for new materials so I can make more things. In fact, I just made enough in sales that I could afford to buy a couple D20 dice molds. I can’t wait to try my hand at dice making! Even if they won’t work for play (I have no idea if they’ll be balanced or not) I can at least use them for jewelry. So excited!

If you like what you see, my Etsy shop is here. ;)

My other motivation through this constant tinkering is I’m hoping to create a habit of creative behavior. One that will carry over when I start getting back into editing. I’ve begun to chip away at it here and there in what few spare moments I can. But, boy, are they few and spare. Still, the itch is there again to get this story told already. And in that nagging, an often repeated question has resurfaced: what to do when it’s done.  For the last year or so, I was dead set on getting it ready to shop out to agents in the pursuit of traditional publishing. And I still want to, just to see what happens. But I’m also thinking about just posting it online again. I mean, it would be awesome to see some money back after all the time I’ve sunk into this project but that was never the main reason for writing. More than anything, I just want a readership. Any I know there are a lot of sites and other platforms where I think I could get at least a small pool of readers. I still think it would be silly not to throw it out to at least a few agents, just to see, but I’m becoming so impatient. I just want to get this in front of people! I want to share it and talk about it! Any other writers have this problem? Anyone have any experience posting on like fictionpress or wattpad or something similar?

Other than finishing this ding dang novel, I am aching to start taking pictures again. Just need the weather to improve. Any good cons coming up in the Midwest? I think I’ll hit Acen on Saturday.  And I’m going to Gen Con in August after a TEN year absence so I’m pumped for that. Anything I’m missing or may not know about??

Summer’s right around the corner! Or that’s what I’m telling myself anyway. ^^;;

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Another month nearly gone.

SpookyScarySkeletons

I love this time of year- always have. Cool, gloomy weather after a long hot summer, spooky aesthetic as the nights get longer and, of course, Halloween. Halloween always promises a good time. (especially when you love costumes as much as I do) I have a handful of various Halloween parties and stuff this week that I’m looking forward to. It’ll be a nice break before NaNoWriMo next week.

I know in past blogs I probably mentioned I wasn’t planning on participating this year. I wanted to focus on revising my book one rough draft- especially since I am so tantalizingly close to completion. And I know at the end of my last post, I said work on part four was getting complicated, but I still had hopes of finishing on schedule.

Well, that all kind of went right out the window. I’m stuck in the mire with my editing. I’ve gotten so caught up in analyzing my narrative direction- questioning my characters’ motives, their emotions, their believability. I won’t say I’m losing faith in my story- I’ll never say that. But I feel like I’ve got my nose pushed so far up against it now that I can’t figure out if I’m going forward or backward. I’m lost. I need to take a big, BIG step back. I thought maybe recharging my creative batteries with other stories would help (and I think it’s starting to) so I’ve been binge watching Volton (loving it) and I just started reading Throne of Glass. I’ve also (finally) gotten the nerve up and sent what I have so far to a couple close friends whose opinions I await with both excitement and dread. I need to know if what I have is working and, if so, on what level. Even if it’s bad news, I need to know.

Meanwhile, as I was watching everyone else gear up for the November Writing challenge, I was struck by how long it’s been since I went back to plain old writing. Though my revision process has included a ton of writing as I fill holes, bridge gaps, and rewrite scenes, it’s not the blank-page, zero-direction style of writing like when you sit down to make something new. And I miss that. And if I’m going to take some time off from revision, it doesn’t seem wise to stop creating altogether. Last time I did that, it was so hard to get started again. So why not write? The timing is perfect and I love the spirit and camaraderie of NaNoWriMo, even though I’ve never “won.” 50,000 words is a heck of a lot when you really get into it. I think my record is around 30k but I’m a sloooow writer so that’s pretty good for me!

I found a cool format I want to try this year. It’s called Reverse NaNo and it seeks to combat the burn-out you get towards the middle and end of the month, capitalizing instead on a strong start. Basically you begin the month with a high daily word goal (over twice the daily target of traditional NaNo) and then every day it gets a little less. I still don’t know that this will mean a victory for me, but it definitely makes better sense with my energy levels! Here’s a link to the daily writing goals if you want to see the breakdown. 

Dice Tray
Dice Tray – 1st attempt!

In the meantime, I’m still leaning into my other hobbies as a break from the frustrations of writing. I practiced some more photography using pop vinyls as models since I didn’t have anything else to shoot. I want to be ready to take a TON of pictures at Daisho Con next month and I want them to be good! I don’t have any cosplay to work on (thankfully) so I’ve turned to making more dice bags and dice trays to scratch that crafting itch. I need to make another bag and tray for a brand new D&D campaign I’m joining next week! Super excited for that.

Overall, just trying not to get my hopes down. I think I just need to take this frustration and channel it into productive new directions. That’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see how it works in practice.

Happy Halloween everyone! I’ll check back in next month once I’m in the thick of it. And good luck to everyone else competing this year!

Summer’s End

Summer’s End

How is it even remotely possible that we’re approaching the end of September already? If time keeps scootin’ by this fast, I’ll be sent into an existential crisis where I’m forced to examine the fleeting quality of life itself and stare into the face of my own mortality.

Also, I’ve been really, super busy.

Still makin’ progress on my rough draft! I wanted to be done with part four by month’s end and, while it’s still possible I make that deadline, this piece is also becoming a bit unwieldy. I was aiming for it to be around 45ish pages when finished, and right now it’s sitting in the mid-sixties. I’m not sure if that’s really where it’s going to land since it’s back-loaded with a lot of content that needs to be cut, but I also have some to add so…hard to say.

I’m just getting so itchy to be done and there’s still the final piece ahead. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the editing process- I am, but it’s a grind. I’ve had to bounce back to my finished segments a couple times now, just to remind myself that it really does turn into something not-so-crappy by the end. I’m also jonesin’ for some outside validation. I’m so ready for someone to read this dang thing start to finish and tell me what they think! I’m ready to see it whole. And I’m getting close. I think I can still have this thing finished by year’s end, but I’m getting impatient with myself. Writing is such a lonely hobby. It’s like I spend years and years isolated, with my head buried in a project, and then it can be consumed in a couple days. Pretty bizarre.

In the meantime, I’ve been satiating my need for interaction through cosplay. Cosplay and sewing and photography are such a great way to take a break from writing. It’s nice to work with my hands and let my mind wander. Plus, it’s a lot easier to create content and the community is such fun. So, that’s been keeping me sane.

Otherwise, things have been quiet. We went to a cool out-of-town wedding, I practiced some portraiture on my mom’s puppers, and I tried on a cosplay I might do for Halloween. (Marceline from Adventure Time, whom I’ve always wanted to redo)

Nothing else to report! Hopefully next time I update I’ll have better news on the editing front. Happy Fall everyone!