Dear Teenage Me – Writing Advice

Dear Michelle at 16,

Congrats on those half a million words you’ll have by the time you finish high school. I wish I could say that you’ll keep it up that pace in adulthood, but you’ll never have more free time than you do as a teenager. Either way, it’s cool that you spend it writing every day, pumping out a novel, one or two novellas (20-30k words) and multiple short stories (<10k words) a year.

Here’s some advice to you, and all the other teen writers out there, that might make the road a little easier –

1. Don’t feel bad about writing fanfiction. Fanfic teaches you about the basic elements of storytelling – the three act structure, plotting, conflict, dialogue, character motivations, tenses, POV, building suspense. Yes, a lot of that sandbox is built and there’s no world-building or character creation. But world-building and character creation are two of the hardest parts about being a writer. I don’t see any issue in discovering your voice, and how to tell a decent story, with fanfiction first.

2. Don’t feel bad that what you’re writing isn’t and/or won’t be published. Even if you wrote original stuff, it wouldn’t have been the Great American Novel. Sorry.

In fact, you’re going to look back on 90% of your current stuff with disdain. But if you write enough, and make the most of your time, that last 10% will stand the test of time. The first 30% is almost unreadable, the middle 30% has redeeming traits, the third 30% is enjoyable even if it’s dated or not publishable, and that last 10% is where you’ll say “dang. I was good. What happened?”

3. Once you get to that 10% area of good writing, the worst thing you can do is stop. That’s what I did, and now I’m back to that 55%-65% area. You’ll lose your skills if you don’t read or write for a few years. It’ll be hard to keep up with your talent in college, but make it a priority.

4. It’s not just about writing quality though. You don’t know this yet, but a lot of your work is ignorant to how the real world operates. That isn’t your fault. It’s just part of living in a manufactured bubble of public school and no bills. A lot of your opinions are just regurgitated from peers and elders, and a lot of your understanding of how the world works is rather elementary. No, the economy cannot be fixed by simply printing more money – and so on.

5. It’s not all bad – you can still write what you know and you do know a lot. You know one thing in particular that adults always seem to forget: how teenagers think, write, and behave. Really, your piece of work, pre age-18, that has held up the best is  The Outcasts. The one about teenagers doing teenager things. Not the political thriller or the high fantasy or the surrealist comedy. You weren’t ready for any of those others yet, so not much can be done with them now. Ignorance of politics makes thrillers nearly impossible and I think a good sense of humor needs some age on it too.

6. Tumblr and WordPress don’t exist for you yet, and you know you’re writing about copyrighted properties anyway. So you’ll never have to hear “teens can’t write anything worth publishing.” I see a lot of teen writers hear this now though, in 2015. I think it sucks. I get where the critique comes from, and I can offer my own interpretation of it – but the last thing you should tell a writer is “what you’re writing doesn’t matter.”

7. Publishing at 22 or 52 is just as impressive as publishing at 18 or 15. Don’t bother chasing an arbitrary deadline to publication just because Christopher Paolini did it. People can hardly believe Veronica Roth is 24, so you still have plenty of years left to impress people. Even still, no one cares how old you are when you do it. Age is kind of gimmick in that way. Just write a good book, no matter what age you are, and publish it when you know it is finished.

8. It was a good idea to graduate early from high school and major in chemistry. To this day, that choice  I made at 16 is probably the best I’ve ever made. You won’t end up a pharmacist like you intend, but you’ll still have a solid career that allows you freedom, money, and time to pursue all your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that majoring in creative writing or film is the only way to follow your heart. No one ever did amazing things by following the expected path – think outside the box and make your own fate.

The Fatal Flaw of High Concept Stories

This past weekend, I read Divergent. It was at the recommendation of a friend, because I wasn’t impressed with the movie. Upon reading, I was pleasantly surprised by Veronica Roth’s writing style and I found the world-building smoother than in the movie. But something bothered me about it, as has bothered me about the last few books I’ve read – a high concept that never delivers on its potential.

High concept fiction is all the rage right now and I blame Lost. People older than me could blame Twin Peaks, but I believe Lost is what brought deep mythology and perpetual puzzles to a mainstream audience. Everyone is still clamoring to copy that formula. Much like the abstract era or the postmodern era or the neoclassical era, mainstream art is now in the M. Night Shamalyan Plot Twist era. Everyone wants to read or watch stories which promise original starting concepts, twist endings, huge cliffhangers, and sudden deaths.

Often, such shocking revelations and bizarre world-building relies on mystery. Mystery isn’t new – Agatha Christie and other writers clamped onto human curiosity long ago. But instead of mystery being its own niche, mystery has now infected all genres to outrageous degrees. Who is the killer? Is it all a dream? Is he a clone? What is the monster? Why did the world end? Does this book actually take place in the past?

I like intrigue, but not the way most writers handle it. Lost itself failed on its own formula. For many series-long questions, there was no payout. There rarely can be. If you open up huge questions that have everyone speculating for YEARS, then the actual canonical answer will probably disappoint. People will say “I wish it ended like that guy on that forum said it would” or “*my* answer makes way more sense!” And that’s if you get an answer at all – half the time, high concept only works with smoke and mirrors, where they omit answers “on purpose” in order to cover up plot holes.

I’m not saying all threads must be tightened. Ambiguity can be good. But Cobb’s top spinning at the end of Inception is only fine because “Is this all a dream?” wasn’t a question you asked yourself for the entire movie. Instead, the damning question bad high concept stories pose is “What does it all mean?” That is a tremendous question that summarizes a whole novel – it should not come down to one twist.

What does this have to do with Divergent? Well, the characters are fine and there are no particularly burning questions propelling the reader through the novel. It’s not The Maze Runner, which works entirely off the manipulation of “What the heck is going on? I have to keep reading to find out!” So for that, Divergent is barely guilty of the high concept sins I’ve spoken about. But it still leaves its world so thinly sketched that the reader is left asking many questions about the origins and the villain’s motivation. And of course, those answers are promised in the sequels.

I…don’t like this. Basically, the only reason I’m reading the sequel is to get some more clarity. I want to find out if Veronica Roth has new ideas to bring to the universe she’s written. I don’t really care enough about Tris and her friends. I don’t really care about the message of the book. Divergent, like so many others, is nothing more than a carrot hanging at the end of a treadmill. From a marketing point of view, I guess it works. I’m still reading her book. But if I get my answers in book 2, who knows if I’ll bother reading book 3? And I certainly won’t bother recommending this series to friends as it currently stands.

And this wouldn’t be so bad if such stories truly used mind-blowing revelations that change how you see the world. Gone Girl is a rare and fantastic example of one that does because the twist was just the beginning. The twist was used as an artistic tool to cleverly manipulate the reader into making fun of themselves, or to manipulate the reader into realizing their own prejudices. Yes, I plowed through the first 100 pages looking for an answer. And once I got there, I kept reading because the answer was so interesting.

Don’t use mystery to bait and switch your readers, my friends. It will leave a bad taste in their mouths. You can be ambiguous and you can plant seeds for future installments, but neither of these things should be the biggest, most crucial thread of the entire book. Unless you’re doing postmodernism, ambiguity should not be the point of your book. There is nothing more unsatisfying to me than huge questions that are answered with a handwave – or never answered at all.

Especially when that question is “Why is this happening?”

What do you think, folks? Have you ever been let down when a story failed to work on concept alone? Or do you think overwhelming ambiguity and/or unexpected plot twists are usually a good thing?

What Happens After This Draft? – My Revision Process

As I approach the end of my next Paradisa draft, I’m already thinking about the steps that will follow. “Spell check it and send it off to beta readers!” says the village fool. Actually, completing a draft is just the first step – a few other “semi-drafts” will follow, plus a heck of a lot of re-reading.

There are a few types of drafts that I operate in at separate times. That seems like it takes too long, but trying to accomplish all of these tasks at once is just too much to me – I would get stuck on the same page for weeks, picking it apart, when I should be writing the rest of the book. So, splitting it into multiple steps is a much more refined process.

1. The Rewrite. A rewrite is a draft that is formed from a new outline. This is absolutely the roughest draft to slug through, because it basically requires me to write a new book (or a third of one, at least.) Unlike many authors, I do not start with a completely new document, riffing from a completely new outline, utterly ignoring all words used in the previous draft. I do pull massive amounts of content – all I can pull, really – from my last attempt. But when you want Plot Point A to occur three chapters before it did in the last draft, and when you want to separate your characters into two all-new locations for the big mid-book fight scene, and when you want to totally restructure your ending…there’s a lot of new content to be whipped up. This is honestly why Draft Five has taken me 4+ months. I am not only rearranging and cannibalizing so much of the existing text, but I’m adding over 30,000 words of new scenes.

2. The Big Picture Revision. Once a rewrite is done (assuming it was needed in the first place – hopefully 5 will be the last real ‘rewrite’ I do, and that all future edits will be minor), I reread my draft on my tablet. Reading as an ebook gets me into the mental state of a reader. Contrarily, reading it as an editable computer document makes me too much of an editor. I do keep a notebook beside me though, documenting all character, plot, pacing, continuity, setting, and structural issues with the novel. Does each scene have a purpose? Does each scene end on a cliffhanger? Does each scene begin in a way that sets the reader into the scene? Does the novel have a good hook?

Now that I’m past my first beta round, I will also revisit my previous critiques during this stage. I will make sure that all valid concerns from my betas have been addressed in the rewrite. When I’m happy with my re-read, I will annotate my Word doc with comments pertaining to all these concerns.

3. The Seasoning. This is where I trudge through and address all the comments. Sometimes it means changing some dialogue in a scene. Sometimes it means deleting or swapping a scene. The most “writing” I’ll do at this stage is to add paragraphs clarifying intent and setting, or to build pacing.

After this, another reread. Steps 2 and 3 may need to be repeated, depending on how much I like the new version of the book.

4. The Style Revision. I have yet to do a style revision for any previous draft. Now, I feel that the book is ready for a line-by-line analysis, in which I make sure every word is used to its full potential and all lines are my own. Ditch the clichés, ditch the redundancy, ditch the awkward phrasing. My style is very functional and inelegant right now – I have yet to regain the naturally beautiful way I wrote as a teenager (which I swear is due to my lack of reading in recent years, but hey, I’m working on that part!) Until I can turn on good style at a whim, this is the gritty alternative.

5. The Copyedit. Just for grammatical and typographical errors. This is my final read through before other humans see the book.

So basically, five ‘drafts’ in one! I will probably start considering this Draft Six around step 3 though.

And while some may warn me of over editing, fear not – as I said, this is my very first time editing style at all, and that is where over editing rears its ugly potential. I don’t think one can go wrong by making the story a more enjoyable one. I’m kicking myself a bit for taking five drafts to get where the plot needs to be, but part of me knows those previous four trials were all necessary. It’s like a scavenger hunt – you can’t jump to the end until you’ve found all the clues.

I do hope to start Beta Round Two in the spring, but you can see I have a lot of work ahead ;) I feel like it’ll all be downhill once I finish the rewrite though. Ugh. Rewrites really are the hardest part.

What is your editing process like? Do you revise your novel in multiple ways at once or break it down into steps?

New Year Updates To Aether House

I’m baaaaaaack! I don’t have a shiny new header or layout, but I have some new features and plans for Aether House in 2015 ;)

+ See that countdown on the sidebar? That’s how many scenes I have left to finish in Draft Five of Paradisa. I’m nearing the end, folks! Hopefully by the end of January, that number will be 0. I feel like displaying progress for all to see will be a good motivator. Give me a shove if you don’t see it descend every few days ;)

+ Check out my 2015 Reading List! I’m not setting a numerical goal, as I feel that’s a bit…strange, for me. I want quality over quantity. So I’ve picked out a dozen or so books that I truly feel I should read ASAP. Infinite Jest and the H.P. Lovecraft book are both over 1000 pages, so it’s plenty to keep me busy this year. I’ve scheduled time to read 30 min-1 hr each day, but I also have to clean, write, edit, cook dinner, exercise, budget, and practice the drums too (not to mention that 40 hr a week job and, heh, sleep!). There are only so many hours in a day.

+ I’ve also made a “favorites” list for my WordPress Reader, where I can easily find the blogs I interact with the most. I think this will help make me a better blog friend. ;) Instead of backtracking through several days and dozens of newsy posts, I can quickly see your recent updates.

+ I want to get back to posting at least 2 times a week. When I started my blog, I wrote a post every day. I had a lot to say ;) Recently, as my writing has lulled into casual editing, I’m at a loss for quality topics. I do not blog just to blog. I only blog when I have something thoughtful to talk about, something different from typical writing blogs. Luckily I have a decent idea list to go by until Draft Five is complete (and I start finishing books on the To Read list), at which point my brain should get interesting again.

Thanks for sticking it out with me. Hope everyone has a great start to 2015!

Who Do I Want To Be In 2015?

I am almost halfway through my “12 Days of Christmas”, aka the amount of days I took off work. I was hoping to use this time to finish Draft Five of Paradisa, but haven’t written much yet. Austin and I have had five Christmases since Tuesday and we’re gearing up for a sixth at the end of this week.

So today was my first semi-reasonable day for writing, but I was stuck with a headache for most of the day. ALAS! So the rest of tonight, Monday, and Tuesday will hopefully be my writing marathon days. I have about 24 scenes left to complete, 6 of which have to be written from scratch. I’m shooting for Beta Round 2 beginning February 1st. We shall see!

But this leads me to other stuff I’ve mulled about during my extended break. The new year is coming. Even if you are against “New Year’s Resolutions,” I think we all have high hopes for what the next cycle around the sun will bring. What we can accomplish. What can make us happy. I am shocked to say that in 2014, I went from a half-finished first draft to a nearly finished fifth draft of my maiden novel. I feel like it’s been longer but…I guess it has only been a year! Now, I also wished that I was querying by now, but I think I can say that goal looks promising for 2015.

Probably autumn of 2015, but 2015 nonetheless.

I think that it’s best to approach each new year with prospects of who we will be rather than what we will do. I would like to be an author of a finished novel by the end of 2015. I would like to be an agented author by the end of 2015. I would like to be a published short story author. I would like to be a successful cosplayer. I want to be a drummer. I want to be a business owner. I want to be a home owner. I want to love how I look and feel. I want to be an avid reader.

If I get any closer to any of those states of being, I consider it a successful year. It’s not about pass/fail accomplishments on a bucket list. It’s about making one New Year’s resolution, the same resolution, every single year – never grow complacent.

Best of luck to us all in 2015, as we continue to grow and develop our crafts. I hope to be blogging more frequently soon, once I get past the editing stage and have more interesting things to talk about again ;)

If I Can’t Like You, I Might As Well Fear You

Something has disappointed me about modern cinema, literature, and television. The art that’s held to the highest esteem these days seems to concern the most wretched personalities. Fight Club, Black Swan, Wanted, Looper, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, anything and everything on the FX network (American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, Archer, The Americans, It’s Always Sunny…jeez. It’s like FX is the a-hole network!), Gone Girl, and even Seinfeld.

Some of the above, I enjoy. Most, I do not. I’ve heard writers say “you can make a character unlikeable as long as you make him interesting,” but I don’t think that’s the *key,* exactly. Because it depends on what you define as interesting.

I can’t relate to Walter White. Or Joe, from Looper. Or Natalie Portman’s character from Black Swan. To me, they’re all just terrible or messed up people and I really can’t put myself in their shoes or care about their stories because I never would have gotten myself in their situations to begin with. I don’t have sympathy from drug addicted characters. I don’t have sympathy for characters “forced into a life of crime.” I definitely don’t have sympathy for characters who are snarky jerks just for the sake of being snarky jerks, or any other example of What’s Wrong With This World. If a character tilts back his seat on an airplane, I’m done – you, character, are a monster that I don’t care knowing!

Pictured: A deranged sociopath collecting his next victim.

Pictured: A deranged sociopath collecting his next victim.

 

Now, before you accuse me of rose-coating fiction, let me make one thing clear – I know that characters should be flawed. Characters should not be perfect people. They should have weaknesses, they should do crappy things to one another, they should have biases and -isms.

But think about your friends and family. None of them are perfect either, yet there’s something about them that makes you want to keep knowing them. Maybe they have some controversial views, or they drink too much at parties, or they’re flaky, or they’re late. Yet, the good qualities outweigh the bad.

On the other hand, if you’ve ever known a needy, drug-addicted self-destructive emo creep Holden Caulfield wannabe in real life, most people will probably tell you to defriend them on Facebook and cut all ties immediately. No, you probably don’t want to stick around and see if they “turn out okay,” or if they ever “redeem themselves.” You just want out of that relationship, and will probably never look back.

So, here’s my philosophy for what makes a good “damaged” character: make them say stuff that the reader will agree with and relate to. This is why The Joker in Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and Gordon Gekko in Wallstreet and Amy Dunne in Gone Girl were all so terrifying. They’re not really protagonists – they’re antagonists – yet they fascinate us because we agree with so much of what they say. Everyone has some degree of dark thoughts or secret judgement, and the best “dark” characters are those who address it. Not just some whiny, anarchist rebel who may represent a “phase” we went through when we were younger (at best), or the type of person we’d loathe to be around (at worst).

Think about it this way – the only “bad” people who are your friends are people who are “bad” in the same ways you are. Maybe they’re cynical like you, loud-mouthed, or equally as forgetful. You can’t really blame them for being the way they are, because you’re that way too. You understand them. Austin nor I are “nice” people by most standards, but we get along in our mutual misanthropy.

So, if I’m going along with  your story, the characters need to be likeable people, or they need to be so similar to my dark side that it terrifies me. The first are simply enjoyable to read about and the latter make me see the world in a different way. On the flip side, I just don’t get what completely irredeemable characters offer to the reader/viewer. If I’m not relating, I  don’t care. And if I don’t care, it doesn’t matter if they turn their lives around before the end.

Do You Let People Read Early Drafts?

Short answer? I don’t. I used to, back when my fingers were on fire while writing fanfiction and I was on the phone with my best friend Alyssa most nights, reading bits and pieces of every chapter aloud. She begged me to read her anything as soon as it hit the page. It was good motivation, I’ll say that.

These days, I don’t have a writing cheerleader constantly over my shoulder (although most conversations with Alyssa still include, “ARE YOU DONE WITH THE NEXT DRAFT YET?!”) And for that, I’ve shrugged off the tendency to show people my early drafts – even going so far to forbid it.

The beta draft of Paradisa from last June was, in actuality, the fourth draft of the book. The first draft was unfit for human consumption. The second and third could potentially be digested by my closest friends or my mother. Only by the fourth draft did I feel like it was ready for a variety of eyes, and even then, I did not allow anyone with a writing/English degree to read it. I had to turn down two willing readers for this reason – my friend Ashlynn , who is an English teacher by profession,  along with my copyeditor uncle Wes. I’m sure I will pass it along to them when the book is more ready, but in draft four it wasn’t.

On one hand, I do not want anyone reading my work unless it is borderline publishable. I want them to be able to compare it to published works within reason, or at least be able to see the potential. On the other hand, I deeply desire collaboration and interpretation to guide me, and it’s important to show people my works in progress while they are still….you know…in progress. It’s much easier to weave in good feedback when I’m still drafting.

I know when my book falls in the slot between “obviously still a draft” and “still capable of being enjoyed” when I’m unhappy with it for reasons I can’t sense. In every draft, I can usually sense problems, and I remedy them in the subsequent draft. I send it to beta when I know it’s not publishable yet but there’s nothing glaring that I’m positive about fixing.

Is there someone you’re okay sending your WIP chapter-by-chapter as you write? Do you write good enough first drafts for betas to enjoy immediately? Or are you a perfectionist who demands every page be immaculate before another soul reads? I think we all vary on how long we wait before we send our work to betas, which is interesting to me. Perhaps it has something to do with how willing we are to take critique, how able we are at sensing critique for ourselves, and how adept we are at getting it all right the first time. I must say though, even with a big beautiful outline to guide my first draft, that it still ain’t good enough for a reader.

Writing Is Not Iron Chef. Or, Why I Dislike Prompts.

Critique groups, workshops, and writing classes offer a wealth of help to an aspiring author. I’ve never been part of a critique group, but I did take two creative writing classes in college. One was screenwriting, and the other was a fiction class taught by Oprah Book Club author Bret Lott.

Both classes had assigned reading that I enjoyed and both professors offered wise feedback. What I didn’t like about either class was the excessive use of prompts. That seems to be how most writing workshops go, probably to make things easier on the teacher’s grading. They throw out an arbitrary scenario/emotion/buzzword and make the whole class write about the same thing.

Each student comes up with a different story. There is an element of fascination for that, because one can see how widely a prompt is interpreted by 30 different minds. But then you realize at least half the class has crappy stories – not necessarily because they’re crappy writers, but because their arms were twisted into writing a scenario they care nothing about.

We all have different reasons for writing. Let’s look at just three – 1) people who write as a stress relief/way to cope with life/way to process emotions (Empaths), 2) people who write because they want an audience (Performers), and 3) people who write because it’s fun to play with fiction (Tinkerers). You might be none, or all, or two of the three. This isn’t all-inclusive. Anyway, prompts seem to be aimed at the Tinkerers – as soon as they’re given a kernel of an idea, they can build anything. They’re easily inspired, they can get excited enough to make most prompts work, and they’re altogether a foreign creature to me. I think Tinkerers are probably Pantsers too, in that they work off-the-cuff.

I’m a Performer. I write because I have stories to tell. Or more to the point, I write because there’s stuff that I want to read and it hasn’t been made yet, so I take it upon myself to make it for the rest of the world. Yes, it is fun to me, and yes, it does help me process some emotion. But ultimately, I write because there are stories within me that are clawing their way out. They take up the majority of my headspace every day. It has been this way all my life. I am hard-wired to build world after world in my head and it’s almost like I’ll run out of room if I don’t sweep some of it out.

A notebook sits by my bed with 98 of my unwritten prompts in it. It’s overwhelming to know that I probably won’t get to them all by the time I die.

Additionally, I’m a Plotter, so I don’t feel comfortable with short deadlines to come up with an entire world (a prompt deadline can be anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of weeks, and neither are long enough for me to develop anything of meaning). So, I don’t respond to prompts like people are supposed to. I usually find myself shoehorning one of those 98 scenarios into the prompt I’ve been given. I feel like that’s cheating, as prompts are meant to inspire new thought, but otherwise my writing is inorganic and insincere. Which in turn makes it unimpressive. Which in turn frustrates me, because I know I can do better – if only I was writing something I actually cared about.

There are some exercises – like writing a paragraph without using any adverbs, or writing a half page two people after a murder without mentioning the murder – that I find short and clever. These flex a writer’s muscles without straining them. (When prompted with the murder assignment, I did use Connor and Clara from Paradisa as my characters. So…I still cheated.) I seem to like stylistic exercises that force me to use the English language in a unique way, or to play with storytelling mechanics.

But I am not going to be excited with a prompt like “include the words bucket, grenade, and apple in your story!” (an actual prompt from my creative writing class. No lie.)

How do you feel about prompts? Did you enjoy working with prompts in workshops, or were you bothered by them like I was?

Being Realistic About Tackling NaNoWriMo

I have spent the better part of six days in sick girl limbo. Not sick like…flu sick. Just sick with sinuses, lethargia, headaches, and a lack of coffee because my latte-making SO didn’t live with me for a few of those days. With the house to myself for a while, you’d think I’d get a lot done. But you don’t want to do much when a nail’s driving through your eyeball for two straight days, or when you just want to sleep.

I have chronic sinus issues, and the headaches are getting more difficult to deal with. Used to be, I could take two ibuprofen and knock it out. Now it takes about a day and a half and ~8 ibuprofen to kill the headache, and sometimes it’ll still come back the next day. As anyone who’s had a sinus headache knows, it’s not just about the pain. It makes you dizzy, nauseus, loopy. Like you can’t focus on anything and that you just want to sleep.

So, while I went home early on Friday and had a mostly empty weekend, I still barely sewed at all. And because I’m so behind on my cosplay and so swallowed by it, I definitely haven’t looked at my writing!

What does this have to do with the title – planning for NaNoWriMo? Because I know myself. I know my health issues. I know that at least 3-4 days a month are devoted to me clutching my skull and whimpering about how miserable I feel. And I know that on those days, I won’t be writing.

I also know that Thanksgiving is in November. And AtomaCon, which will eat three straight days from November 14-16. Another Saturday will probably be devoted to PlanitCon in Myrtle Beach. These are also days that I won’t be writing. I just know that I won’t. I’ve done this a couple of years now and I know that AtomaCon is WAY too busy to even look at my laptop, and sickly days are really hard to fight through.

I aim to write about 70,000 words (or a finished book – whatever comes first) this month. And I won’t be doing it in thirty days. I’ll probably be doing it in about 21 days, if I’m realistic about my busy schedule and my health.

So that means on the days I do write, I need to write more. I need to strive for about 3300 words a day instead of 2300 if I’m going to really finish in November.

Do you have your own personal minimum word count? Are there days you know that you won’t write in November, or are you determined to write EVERY day? Or are you just winging it, and what happens happens?

Ask Me Anything! (….About Writing)

As I mentioned last week, there’s a direct correlation between my motivation to write and talking about writing. If I’m not writing, I don’t really feel like talking about it. And if I’m not talking about it, I feel less enthused to write.

Some writers can create perfect novels in total secret, without ever needing to tell a soul, and good on them. Other writers like to tell everyone about that novel they’ve been working on for 15 years, yet they talk more than they actually write! But I’m not the type who talks about writing much in “real life.” Most of my recently made friends probably have no idea I’m a writer at all. I might have thrown into conversation, “I’m working on a novel” once, but that’s about it. And when asked about what I’m writing, I usually just wave my hand and say that it’s some fantasy thing about mythology.

Really, the only support system I have are my friends Alyssa and Greg, my immediate family members, and you guys. Alyssa and Greg are both college students – one of them is even a grad student – so I try not to bother them about my writing too much during their semesters. I seldom talk to my family, and my mom’s side are mostly just cheerleaders who will be excited about anything I do. I can see their eyes glaze when I start to get into the meta stuff.

As much as Dad is weird and I disagree with him a lot, he’s one of the more interesting people to chat about my stories with. If nothing else, he does offer a….different view of things. But Dad is a jettsetter business type who’s always in some different time zone, so he’s not an easy person to get in touch with. I called him last week for his birthday and we talked a bit about Paradisa, and just that one conversation got me jazzed enough to finish a chapter.

I don’t think it’s necessarily the pressure or influence of other people that “encourages” me to get my butt in a chair, but rather the joy I have in revisiting my ideas aloud. I was born from fandom, so I love meta and essays on character and talking about chemistry and shipping and weird details and all that stuff that means LOVE went into a fictional work. Conversing with other people forces me to explain my thought processes, and appreciate what I’ve got brewing. Otherwise, it just sits in the back of my head and…I sometimes forget why I care. Or I could have conversations with myself, which….I do anyway, sometimes, but the mirror doesn’t offer great feedback :P

So, fellow writers, readers, followers – I implore you to ask me anything about writing. It can be about my works in progress, previous work, future work, or just writing in general. Hopefully this will force me to dig up all those ideas and all that potential and all that excitement I have for my stuff, and it’ll offer me a permanent place I can revisit anytime the wheels get stuck ;)

You could also ask me anything about anything on top of that, ha, but I can’t promise you’ll like the answer!