Category Archives: Writing

Entering a new world

Lately I’ve been working on doing only one thing at a time. For example, if I’m watching TV, I’m trying not to be on my phone, or checking my phone while reading. And while I’ve only just started writing again, I’m definitely going to carve out specific time for it, without other distractions.

Most of last week was spent working on the beginnings of an outline for my newest project. It’s only partial, and not overly detailed, but it’s enough to start from.

Set in a dystopian world (which, I always thought I didn’t like, but, turns out it’s just specific kinds of dystopian stories I don’t like. Usually the predictable and boring ones.), society is broken into two groups: those who live in the cities, connected to technology through, essentially, virtual reality, and the fringe society who lives outside the cities, living off the land and as much without technology as possible. This fringe society generally believes themselves to be better than the city folk, who spend all their time creating fake worlds and fake identities to live in.

Aliyah (I think I’ve chosen this as her name. It’s what I’ve begun using, anyway) is part of the fringe society, and while she recognizes some truth in what her leaders say, she also finds herself discontent with the way they live, turning their backs on most advancements and help, because it isn’t done with a person’s own two hands.

She’s on the verge of being ostracized because of her love for books, and it’s this same love for books that causes her to cross paths with a city girl during a scavenging mission. This city girl (name unknown, at the moment) is also discontent (surprise!), finding it hard to have meaningful and genuine relationships in a virtual world where a person can recreate themselves at will. It’s impossible to know who anyone truly is. The two determine to find a middle ground, and try to make both halves of society recognize the benefits of the other, while also seeing the flaws in themselves.

 

When I started writing the first chapter, I was surprised at how much I wanted to lose myself in the world and in my writing (though it was hard because other stuff was going on in the background). I only wrote a couple paragraphs, but it was enough to help me remember what it feels like to get lost in creativity.

I know that as the days and weeks go on, it’ll be a challenge to make myself set aside specific time for just writing. It’ll be tempting to turn on the TV and pretend that I can watch something and write at the same time (I can’t, and I’ve always known I can’t. That’s why I used to pretend to study with the TV on during finals, because I felt obligated to study, but I knew I didn’t really need it.). But, as long as I keep making it a priority, even just 15 minutes in a day, I’ll hang on to that feeling of getting lost in this new world of my own creation. And that’s exactly what I’ve been missing lately. I’m glad to have that joy back.

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New year, new projects

I’ve never really been one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I can’t deny that the start of a new year makes the perfect time to think about what I want to accomplish in the coming year, and to set some goals, even if I refuse to call them by the same name everyone else does.

Last year felt like I wrote the least I’ve even written in my life. I struggled to get motivated with projects, I skipped NaNo, and even though I did get a short story published, that little burst of motivation and pride lasted only a week or two.

I journaled semi-regularly to try to help quiet my mind and my anxiety before bed, but even that felt like a chore some times.

Overall, last year was just hard. It was full of ups and downs, my husband putting out job applications, waiting, hoping, being let down, and waiting some more. Last year, everything felt draining. I just wanted to lose myself in worlds of someone else’s making whenever I had free time. I watched a lot of tv and I read a lot of books (62, to be exact).

This year, I feel better. I’m getting to a better mental place, slowly, and I’m recognizing my creativity as a necessary part of that process. Last year felt like I wasn’t passionate about anything. But, I’m ready to pursue my passions again. I’m ready to set goals, to have dreams (small ones to start with), and to start achieving things again.

I know that I’m starry-eyed right now, forgetting (ignoring) the fact that writing is hard work, and that I’ll want to quit a lot. But, I’ve got a few ideas I’m excited about. And if I make a point to work just a little bit a few times a week, it’s a starting point.

I’ve already started fleshing out my first idea, and I intend to at least start a detailed outline this week, if not dive right in to the writing. I love seeing the worlds other people create, but I’m ready to start creating my own again.

Several people will be excited to know that I’ve got an idea on how to make my published short story, Hope Unchained, into something longer and more detailed. It’s only in early stages of plotting, but the general idea is there. We’ll see if it can live up to your expectations.

The Right Stuff

I first hear about Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff when I read Scott Kelly’s biography, Endurance. Kelly had said it was what inspired him to become an astronaut, so I was interested in reading it.

In a laid back style, Wolfe looks back on the beginnings of the space program and NASA and it’s first astronauts.

Before the space race, the highest achievement for men wanting to prove their mettle, their cool, and their possession of “the right stuff” was to work their way up to test pilot. When the opportunity for space flight came up, there was a choice to make: keep climbing up through the rest pilot ranks, or stake a career on a new venture. Many people saw space flight as little more than science experiments, considering the Mercury flights were not controlled by their “pilots.”

In the end, as we all know, the astronauts came out on top, not only in public opinion, but also finally in winning pilot controls for their space craft.

Wolfe’s style of writing is conversational and a little sarcastic. It reads just like how someone would tell it to you, down to the snippy little asides and comments. It’s an open, inside look at the early years of the space program, and how it went from thought to reality.

While not quite what I was expecting when I started in (I expected a little more of a biography, not a sassy history), I enjoyed it immensely, and I can fully understand how it would inspire someone to pursue a career as an astronaut. All in all, it was a fun read, and a good place to start if you’re interested in the history of NASA and the space program.

Reigniting dead habits

While I didn’t do as much creating as I wanted to this week, three days is better than no days.

I swear, every time I had time for myself, I got the inevitable text from my brother: “COD?” Video games have consumed my free time, because it’s just so easy to agree to one more match. Then, four hours later, it’s time for bed. The struggle is real.

I did do a couple exercises from my writing book, which we nice to get me back into the creative spirit. And I did pick a project to start editing, I even read the first four chapters! I’ve decided to revisit the children’s book I wrote last year. (Was it really only last year? Or two years ago? I’m not sure…)

If you’ll recall, it deals with childhood cancer and death, so some tough stuff, but also lots of imagination, so it’s a lot of fun, too. I think so, anyway. I think a big challenge, as I read through and work on it, will be reminding myself that it is aimed toward children, and the intrigue that I might use for an adult novel might be too much for a kid’s book. I don’t have to layer on the mystery in the same way. And yet, I want to make sure that I’m not writing something boring or underestimating kids’ abilities. It might be a fine line, but one I look forward to walking.

A motivating opportunity

I’ve really let this half of my blog go, since December. Naturally, I wanted a little time off after NaNo, but what I did was let myself get out of the habit of writing and let my motivation and my creativity fall by the wayside.

But, that changed last week when I received an unexpected email.

I was contacted by a gal who works for a small publishing company that’s putting together an anthology of up and coming writer’s (they are doing a volume for each state). She had seen my blog (part of me feels a little embarrassed by that), and invited me to be submit some work for consideration. This isn’t vanity press, I’m not paying for my work to be taken, but it’s not quite traditional either, as I’m not actually getting paid (unless my work is selected, then I can get commission sales from the book, but that’s down the road). But what it is, after doing some research, is a chance to get some of my work out there, seen by others, and a chance to maybe network and see what might come of it.

So I spent the weekend whipping up a few short stories to offer up, and we’ll see where it goes. It’s not like it will be a big break for me, but, it might be a foot in the door to start something. And, it’s always nice to have someone think your work would make money.

It felt good to get back into writing. It’s one of those things that you don’t miss til you come back to it. So, I think this opportunity may also just be what I needed to dip my toes back into creativity. I’m going to pick one of my drafts to start some editing on again, and start thinking maybe about something new.

I guess even with recreating habits, it’s better late than never. And maybe this will finally be the year I make it a solid habit that sticks. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

A fresh beginning

So, obviously December didn’t really go as planned, as far as writing was concerned.

Work got in the way, and I was tired and desperate to watch as many Christmas movies as I could. January has been off to a slow start too. I hardly feel like I know what I’ve done with the last week, and get it’s gone, just the same.

But a slow start is better than nothing, and I will be intentional about returning to my editing, wrapping up the project I’ve been working on most of 2017 and choosing one of my other projects to return to.

While I’ve enjoyed a break to carelessly watch tv and soak in reading, I’m excited, too, to return to the creative process.

In the book review department, I’m hoping to meet at least the goal I met in 2017. My goal was to read 52 book, one per week. I think I had review blogs posted every week, but after counting, I know I read at least 55 books, because that’s how many I reviewed. Not bad, I’d say. (Some of the reviews won’t be posted on my blog until later in January, though.)

So, here’s to a new year full of creative opportunities. Join me in creating this year, and tell me what your project is going to be.

November: A Recap

I completely forgot to write a blog post last week. I think I remembered when I was going to bed on Monday night, and I just never got to it.

November is over (duh), and I’m proud to say I’ve got yet another first draft of a story done. The Thanksgiving week was tough but I pushed through and stayed on target. The hardest part, I think, was the last 5,000 words or so. And that always seems to be a struggle. My stories seem to fall into one of two camps: either I put off writing the end because I don’t think it’s time yet, or I have to drag it out because I didn’t plan quite enough to get my word count where I needed it to be. But that’s ok. This year, I finished. And I wrote just about every day (I missed November 30, I was done with my project and I needed a break.).

My story this year turned out to be very different than what I’d intended. While on the surface it stayed mostly the same, my characters surprised me. I didn’t mean to when I set out, but I wrote several misunderstood characters. But that made the process that much more fun, because I got to enjoy the journey of discovery as I went.

For December, I plan to try to revisit the nameless project I’ve been refining all year. Then perhaps in January I’ll be ready to dig into the hot mess that is my NaNo 2017 novel. But even if all I do this month are some writing exercises from my Writer’s Notebook, that’s ok too. I think I have earned a little break. I’ve worked hard this year.