Tag Archives: discovery

Friday Link Pack: 3/28/14

It has been two weeks too long for one of these. I am still super happy that K.M. Alexander asked me to fill in for him during February, and I hope to continue this tradition as well. I had a hard time remembering what posts I thought were outstanding this week, so the list below is only composed of those that I do recall being exceptional. I will do a better job bookmarking the links I need throughout the week.

Writing:

Terribleminds has a “Five Things I Learned Writing….” series that is awesome! Two that I read this week really resonated with me:

Adam Christopher writes about ensuring that you werite what you love and story concerning yourself with staying in-genre. If you’ve followed my blog at all, you will know that I struggle with this. I always want to write what I love, but I was trying to force everything into the Fantasy genre. Once I stopped that, a bit of magic happened and I am much happier with what I am writing. I know that I will get ‘back’ to the Fantasy genre that I know, love, and aspire to write in, but for now, I just need to write what inspires me.

Wendy Wagner teaches us that babies are not for eating. Also, that you need to leave room for characters, good or bad, to be hated but not abandoned to sheer hopelessness for being saved. If your character becomes a ‘zombie’, as she puts it, there will be no reason not to destroy every single part of it – there is no redeeming quality left. I love this idea, because not every villain is totally black-hearted and evil. Backstory can create sympathy and tension. To take it a step further, in the pilot for Walking Dead, there is the scene where the mom is a zombie, and Morgan Jones watches her through the scope of his hunting rifle. The wife is a zombie, there is no saving her. She must die. Do not let your villains or antagonists get to this point.

Four Secretes From My Writing Process

Lauren Sapala is a name that I bring up often. That will not change. You need to follow her. Anyways, she was asked to do a blog hop and reveal four hidden truths of her writing process. It was incredible insightful. More importantly, it motivated her to share even more of herself with us on this post.

Random:

Fireside Magazine Year 3 Kickstarter

I admit to never having subscribed to, or even heard about, this magazine until now. I am excited for what their mission is: “We have two goals: finding and publishing great storytelling regardless of genre, and fair pay for creators.” This is an endeavor every writer should back.

Aether Magic by Happy Mitten Games

This is an amazing game. I have play-tested it with Jeff, Lee, and Kyle. I am also intimately connected to the project, and am proud of what it has become. If you are into board games at all, you should listen to HMG’s podcast – the talent that they interview is pretty outstanding. Follow them @HappyMitten as well.

 

Farewell Gif of the Week:

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Discovering Your Voice & Not Knowing How to Use It

Wow. It has been a while since posting anything and I feel as though each day without an update is alienating me from my writing peers – something I never want to do.

I have had a few letdowns and a few breakthroughs since NaNoWriMo destroyed my writer’s confidence. I would not have felt so defeated had I not felt so prepared before the month began. I had an outline, character sketches, a writing strategy, and a dedicated space to do it in. I also had an amazing support group. It just wasn’t meant to be in 2013.

In December I had a dream. A week later I discovered my voice through a whimsical short story. I was writing outside of my preferred genre and it felt great. The beginning paragraph formed in my head while I was trying to sleep – I could not stop thinking about it, turning it over and over in my head until I reached over to my nightstand and grabbed a mangy little notebook that was warped from being used as a coaster. It didn’t matter. None of the things that I thought of as ‘tools’ mattered. The Evernote Moleskine notebook wasn’t needed. Neither were the eight different colors of the new Sharpie pens, for which I had a color assigned to each character. I realized later that perhaps they are all distractions. When the lightning flashes, you will use anything to write with. The instrument is nothing more than a conduit- be it a pen, iPad, eyeliner, crayon, or keyboard. It also didn’t matter that I was exhausted, writing into the early morning. I even fell asleep writing in mid-sentence once.

Since then, however, I have struggled – floundered even. This post discusses what I believe to be the underlying issue.

Discovering Your Voice & Not Knowing How to Use It

To be enamored with your own writing style is a special thing. I am not sure how many writers feel the same way, but when you finally write your way through a piece you feel is worth a damn and come out on the other side feeling excited about it…that is special. I was writing fantasy before this breakthrough. I have always loved the idea of being a fantasy writer. It stems from being an avid role-player for the past twenty-plus years. It stems from loving to read in that genre. It stems from being a total worldbuilder junkie.

What I did for this story was completely different though. I was transcribing a dream and adding little elements that were either hazy in my recollections, or that made sense to me on a purely subconscious level within the dream. I didn’t have to think about anything. I just wrote what I saw and felt and tasted. It came out snarky and whimsical. I feel like, if pressed to put it in a genre, it would fit in Urban Magical Romance. Sort of.

I woke the next morning and sped to work, wanting to share the breakthrough with my writing friends there. I transferred the story onto my computer and sent it to a few friends. Once that was done, I was energized to write more. I needed to cling to the crackling energy that was dissipating. I must have destroyed a dozen pages of my notebook trying to let that voice ooze out of me. Nothing happened.

So this is where I find myself today, more than a month after my breakthrough. I have a work that I believe, with a few rounds of editing and the dawning of realization that I figure out exactly what it is, could be worth sending out. I have the knowledge that I have a voice worth reading – I even hear that voice echoing somewhere deep within. I also have the stare-at-the-screen, deer-in-the-headlights, drool-on-the-notepad paralysis. I have no idea where to start or how to begin.

Perhaps finding a way to bridge this new voice with my beloved Fantasy genre is where I need to experiment next? Perhaps I need to find inspiration in the ridiculous things around me? Perhaps I need to shut the hell up and just write?

I know that other writers struggle with this. I know this because Lauren has a great post about How to Hunt your Writing Voice, and she knows lots of spectacular things about writers. I know this because my peers talk about this regularly – even the ones who are publishing.

I want to know about your struggles with voice. I want to know how you are working to overcome those struggles. I want to know that you overcame them.

One.Hundred.Thousand.Words.

One.Hundred.Thousand.Words.

That’s nothing, right? Right? Seriously. I can do that. Can I do that?

I have been coming to terms recently with the fact that my story, no matter how desperately it wants to be told, will not come to fruition without BiCHoK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard). I have neglected my writing for a couple of weeks now and, after some introspection, I think I have found a few key factors for this.

First, I am going to be a dad. What?! Yuppers. My wife and I are now out of the DangerZone in terms of risk for the pregnancy and we are excited to be able to tell people now. Obviously this has been a fantastic, frenetic, and (insert any applicable ‘f’ word here to continue consonance) time for us. We were busy planning the different announcements for our family members, celebrating, and combating some morning sickness.

That aside, I was able to sleep through the night so I cannot use exhaustion as an excuse. As the end of CampNaNoWriMo was drawing to a close, I saw my required daily word count rise from 5,500 words to 6,150 to 7,342. What I actually saw was my goal pompously defying logic. It floated farther and farther away, yet it appeared larger and more menacing each day. Discouragement set in.

My expectations were set too high. One night I participated in @FriNightWrites and #WriteClub and wrote over 1,000 words in a half hour sprint. I was amazed. I let a scene flow out of me with inhibition. I wrote from the PoV of my second main character who, ironically enough, I was initially more interested in as the primary main character (ugh, I know that sounds redundant, but I have twin brothers as protagonists and so there is really the primary main and the secondary or supporting main).  I thought from the beginning that I would be writing his PoV from the get go, but working from the other brother’s PoV first allowed me a deeper insight and thus the writing flowed quite nicely. I created a crumpled, wrinkly old woman who is tough as stone and as warm as fresh bread. I set up backstory for the village in which the story starts out. It was a completely positive experience.

So I thought, “Self, if you just do this 100 more times, which is only 50 hours, you would have a first draft.” The logic is solid. 1,000 words every half hour. 2,000 words an hour. 20,000 words every ten hours. 100,000 words every fifty hours. I imagine that is the pace that self-professed speedster Rachel Aaron writes at (her book, The Spirit Thief, is pretty rad to boot).

This all seemed so damned easy to me. Then I tried writing the next day. I could hear the sucking sound as words had to be practically pried from brain. It was excruciating. So I gave up. I let my lack of willpower defeat my aspirations. That burdened me with guilt. Guilt led to depression. You get the idea? Does it sound familiar? I have gathered from this new exploration into the craft of writing and learning about other authors’ processes that this is sort of common. I want to move past that.

I have also been struggling to find my voice. Lauren Sapala’s fantastic blog recently had a post about How to Hunt Your Writing Voice that gave me insight on my perception of discovering my voice. Just like her opening example discusses how a fellow writer thinks about his craft, I have decided to try and conceptualize my process. At best, to this point, I have given myself a fantastical scene in which I am an adventurer digging for an ancient relic (remember, I write fantasy). Each word is nothing but detritus being flung atop a heap of writing scree. They say that you have to write a few novels before you write one worth publishing. My process is simply to do that. The more I write, the closer I get to that ancient (although future) relic of my first published book. The product implies the completion of the journey. I hope.

So this is my pledge. I want to give myself and all of you at least one blog post worth reading each week. It won’t come on the same day. It will pertain to writing or creating. I will try but do not guarantee that you will find something to take away with you from it. Right now, this process is for me – the books I publish will be for you.

Face My Fear

I have a confession to make – more to myself than to anyone reading this – but a confession none-the-less. I am coming to terms with the fact that I am terrified to become a writer. This is a realization that has revealed itself to me very recently…today, in fact. I find that others have pushed me, encouraged me, smiled and nodded as I rambled on, and otherwise allowed me to come to this realization on my own. Perhaps that is exactly why I feel so responsible to fix this particular issue.

Thinking that I had a breakthrough (with the gentle nudging of a fellow writer who knows who she is) today, upon arriving home, I strode into the bedroom and promptly woke my sick wife. “Honey,” I said. “I know what my problem is. I am scarred to write … the thought terrifies me.”

Heather, the amazing woman that she is – even when not feeling well – gave me a familiar gentle smile and head nod, somehow telling me that she already knew and was glad that it dawned  on me as well. We talked for a moment. She arrived at the exact same conclusion mere hours earlier.

This is confirmation. I can write it in stone. Give me a slate tablet and a chisel – no need for a hammer though, I will just repeatedly pound my head into the chisel to do the work. This fear is as hard to get rid of as blood on a white shirt or grease stains on a graphic tee.

I really do not know what I hope to accomplish here. Well, I do know, but I fear that I won’t actually accomplish it. In the idyllic landscape that is my mind – the place where the notion of writing and becoming an actual author sounds glamorous and perfect – I hope to use this blog as my centering, my focus, where I can write to clear my head and know what I am writing before I write it.

This is as good of a time as any to discover myself as a writer and I intend to do just that. I will not fear writing again, regardless of how daunting it seems or how much I self-depricate by comparing my words to another author’s.

My writing buddy tweeted a quote for me tonight because she is awesome like that.

Do what you fear and fear disappears.
~David Joseph Schwartz