It’s been over three years since my last post, and what have I been doing? Working at my day job, and working hard. A four-hour-a-day commute to the Bay, three days a week, and a relatively stressful job in laboratory science with a healthcare system. Very fulfilling work that I don’t regret, but impactful on my writing–I can see that now. I’ve made progress with my WIP, but not at the rate that’s possible when I’m off.
I know that now, because I’ve taken a work break since July 2, 2018, six months to see if I can make a significant progress on my two WIP, First Flight and Two of Cups. First Flight was accepted to the prestigious Nevada Mentorship program and I’m working with the awesome author Tera Lynn Childs (Darkly Fae, Sweet Venom, Oh. My. Gods.) on a total rewrite of this YA Fantasy which includes an Avian race that co-evolved with Humans, a lethal virus, and a geeky Avian teenage girl trying to make sense of the world. It’s been fun re-imagining this story and working on it again. Two of Cups is YA Magic Realism that is in second revision, a story about a teenage girl who goes on a trip to find her past, and instead finds her future in the magic of the Tarot cards. I’ve received an honorable mention for the first pages of this WIP, and interest by agents in reading the final version. But these books need to be finished, and to finish a book, you need time.
So now that I’m working at writing, what have I learned?
- Writing is hard! It takes discipline to sit and write every day, to crank out words, at least for me. I’m an internal editor, so I think about the words as I write them, worrying far more about my first draft than I should. Get your words down and remember that writing is like a muscle. You must work at it. Be kind to yourself and expect that the volume of words should improve over time.
- Get out of the house if your words start to suffer! I don’t think you always have to leave, although I have writer friends that do. But the house can be full of nasty distractions that can keep you from your writing goals.
- Write whenever you want to! Okay, I’m overusing exclamation points, but I have to say I’m really enjoying writing for a non-living. If I can’t sleep, I get up and write. There are no rules to when you write. Just do it!
- Your “story in your head” isn’t derailed by day-job other things. When I used to work, it seemed like I would lose the string of my story. I’d forget where I was, and where I was going. This doesn’t happen anymore. It’s not like I’m living in a bubble. I still do the laundry and walk the dog. But I don’t lose where I am with Janiya and Ashe, and their emotions. Maybe because I don’t skip days in writing, even when there’s a weekend. And every evening, I feel like I have to tell my family where I am in my story, usually because I need some technical help (can you use night vision goggles in dusk?), sometimes because I want them to know I’m not binge-watching Netflix on my time off!
- I’m BLESSED! I know that most of the writers I know get up early in the morning, take time off, and use their weekends to hammer out their art, and I’m in a position right now that is LUXURY! And I’m having fun, fun, fun. That is until I go into the depressive ugh, writing is hard, why would anyone ever want to do this mood that all writers feel at some point. Then I up the exercise, bring out the Kahlua and ice cream, and get a good night’s sleep, and hit the keys again.
Favorite Craft Books:
- Emotional Craft of Fiction, Donald Maass
- Save the Cat, Blake Snyder
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne and Dave King
- The Magic Words, Cheryl B. Klein
- The Emotional Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
- Dynamic Story Creation in plain English, Maxwell Alexander Drake
- The Plot Whisperer, Martha Alderson
- Beginnings, Middles, & Ends, Nancy Kress