Hello there, Stranger!

I know what you’re thinking: she still exists? And pulled enough words together to write a blog post? Crazy, right?

Supernatural-gif-mouth-open

Where do I begin this? A few years ago, I managed to actually write a novel. The words flowed and it was glorious (the process, not the book). I thought I had figured out how to finish projects. WRONG. I’ve not finished a single thing since then (blog posts don’t count).

Maybe it was because of the depression. Work stress. Medicine suddenly not working. Too many things on my mind. I’ve toyed with idea after idea. I plot and take notes. When the point of writing comes, I’m “bored”. The desire to write the story has left and I hop on the idea train and start all over. Only problem is, these other stories stay on my brain. At first, I thought it was because it wasn’t the story’s time to be written. That may be right some of the time, but what was the cause for everything else?

Today, while productively procrastinating, I found the answer. Weeks ago, a tweet about Susan Dennard’s website and writer resources piqued my curiosity. It’s like this woman crawled into my brain and put into words all the questions I’ve had. She made me feel “normal” with her methods (which are so like mine it’s eerie) and that writer’s block is real (THANK YOU!!!!)

There, amongst the writerly goodness was a post called From F.R.A.B. to fab. Fear-Related Artistic Block. I read through the symptoms and realized this fits my problem to a T. Rather than paraphrase, I’ll let you read it for yourself.

http://susandennard.com/2014/01/13/from-frab-to-fab-part-1-the-oft-forgotten-oft-unspoken-culprit-behind-writers-block/

Which brings me to the real reason I’m writing this: accountability. I hope by sharing my fears, it will help in my befriending them. Not to mention others out there who might benefit from her posts.

So, here goes, my fears:

I fear failure. Of any kind.

I’m not good at anything in my life–there’s nothing I’m meant to do with my life.

I’ll never get it right/perfect and people will rip me and my work to shreds.

Everyone does better at this than I do. Everyone writes better stories than I do, why even try? I’ll never be as good as them.

No one will like my stories.

This is my dream, what if I suck at my dream? What do I have then?

I didn’t write this post or show you my fears to have you tell me I’m silly to have these fears. It’s obvious to me that I need to dig deep and find a way to get past them or as Susan says, to befriend them.

What about you? What fears do you have? Or have you gotten past your fear? How did you do it?

New Contest Time!

I hold these truths to be self-evident:

  • Dogs will always be puppies
  • Cats will always be kitties
  • New pens and paper will always make me happy
  • It’s been far too long since I’ve had a contest

How many times have you read a book or story and fell in love with it only to be disappointed by the ending? We’ve all read a story we wished had a different ending.

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Now’s your chance to fix that.

Using one thousand words or less, rewrite the ending to the book or story you always wanted to change. Comedy, drama, romance. Take your pick and fix that ending to be the one you had hoped to read the first time. Or if you just feel like fixing an ending for fun, do that too.

Always wished Prince Charming ended up with one of the dwarfs? Go for it!

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Hoped Caroline Bingley would be become destitute and a scullery maid? Have at it!

The sky’s the limit (beside that whole word limit thing). Go nuts.

Three winners will be chosen based on creativity. Prizes include Writer’s Digest writing books, inspiration dice, and maybe a few surprise goodies.

Entries will be taken Monday June 2nd – Saturday June 7th until midnight Pacific Time. Winners will be announced June 14th.

Email entries to: RedsblogChallenge (at) GMX (dot) com

*Disclaimer* I mean no disrespect to an author’s vision or writing. No author can make everyone happy and we all understand that. This is just for fun.

 

 

 

What I learned at Conference Year 2

*I will first say that I am lacking sleep as I post this so if it overlaps last year’s post, OH WELL!😀

  • I really should get business cards. Everyone there used them for networking and that is a good reason to go to a conference.
  • Get into a critique group or organization (Like SCBWI). Not only does it make writing less solitary, other members can help hold you accountable. There’s also help on making your work its best and more.
  • Phone calls in your hotel room at 5am mean bad things. Like some idiot hit my car in the parking garage. That’s two years in a row something happened to my car in that garage–well, last year’s was my fault.
  • Nathan Bransford is as cool as I thought he would be. And he has plenty of info to share. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself   http://blog.nathanbransford.com/
  • Conferences are full of people at different writing levels. So this means I’m not the newest!
  • When a session says bring pages for agent to critique, DO IT.
  • Sitting for really long periods of time make your butt go numb. Make sure to take advantage of break times and stand.
  • Agents and published authors are people too. They don’t bite (well, it didn’t leave a mark at least).
  • Don’t let fear stop you. You won’t drown if you think you’re in over your head (they promised).
  • There is no such thing as perfection. There is only good enough.
  • Permit yourself to make mistakes. I know, we’ve all heard this but it’s worth repeating.
  • Overnight successes are not overnight. They have worked for years writing. Maybe this book came about faster, but there are most likely others shelved along the way.
  • Bring dough, THERE WILL BE BOOKS! And almost every presenter will have a ton of suggestions, too.
  • Take advantage of your hotel pool and free toiletries. Do I really need to explain this one?
  • Leave the session 2 minutes early to avoid a line in the ladies’ room.

Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons to go to a conference. I learned so many things about avoiding writer’s block and plotting. I heard from published writers who have been in the trenches and lived to tell about it. I met fabulous writers from all over (including Australia) . And when I catch up on my sleep (did I mention our first night, we were kept up by really bad rave music with a nasty bass?), I plan to implement all the ideas these fabulous sessions put into my head. No matter what you get from a conference, you will not regret it. Maybe you want to pitch to an agent or just meet up with other authors, there is something for everyone. I went to the University of Wisconsin Writers Institute and it is a general conference open to writers of every genre and type of writing (i.e. novel, poetry, screenwriting, etc). There are also conferences specific to different genres and groups. Make sure to do some research to find the right one for you. And make sure to massage your butt every once in a while. You won’t want to leave your seat!

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Yep, I failed.

Looking back on the goals I had for 2013, well, let’s just say 2013 didn’t like me too much. I think I might have sorta accomplished 2 of my goals. Goals are great, but pressuring yourself and then feeling disappointed, it ain’t cool. I put way too much pressure on myself after having a stellar writing year 2012. Replicating that was going to be next to impossible, but I figured that I had found my groove. 2013 wanted to make sure I knew that every year is different. Every story will expose itself differently. One way works today and not tomorrow.

I finally gave up worrying this last month. If the writing wanted to come, I had to let it come on its own instead of forcing it. So maybe the moral of the story is that not accomplishing your goals is really a learning lesson in and of itself. Not accomplishing my goals taught me that goals are good, but you need to be flexible. Things don’t happen on your special timeline. Writing takes time. You have to make sure an MS is ready before it’s launched out into the world. Don’t stress over goals if they don’t happen or happen way later than anticipated.

I know that 2014 will be better than 2013 since anything is better than failure. Then again, even if I fail, at least I’ll learn something from the pursuit.

I am not everyone. Whew.

So some of you may have seen me tweet a little about my issues with depression or maybe not. Fact is, I’ve been in denial. Maybe I should back it up and explain a little something. My family has been my basis for comparison for years.  I did not want to be them. My mom went deaf at 25 years old so I was overly careful with my hearing. I’m 34 and both my ears are fine. In fact, from being so careful around loud noises, my hearing’s better than fine. Go me! My sister was diagnosed with bipolar (after a bazillion doctors, they decided she wasn’t bipolar but had ADHD. Not sure what that means, but anyways) so I always thought that any mental illness meant I was like her. When I felt I might be suffering from depression in college, I told a few friends, but I didn’t discuss it with my family. I saw a few therapists and the mild depression passed.

That brings us to the last few years. Life has not gone the way I planned. With these potholes have come frustration and bouts of depression. At first, they were stints that lasted a few weeks to maybe 2 months but then they were over, just like in college. Then things started to change. I was constantly tired. No amount of sleep helped. I had no energy and therefore didn’t do too much. I gained a serious amount of weight. Things that would generally make me happy felt like “eh”. I didn’t feel up to seeing my friends because I was just too tired. Some told me that it was due to my hitting my 30’s. I talked to my doctor and we started to investigate a possible thyroid problem. It was often elevated, but after a few rounds of tests, she concluded that a thyroid issue wasn’t likely. She suggested I see an endocrinologist.

I figured the “just barely functional” way of life was the way things were going to be. I knew I had symptoms of depression, but it had taken me almost a year to really notice that’s what it was and I thought the depression was a symptom of something else. Then it dawned on me, what if everything I’ve been going through is just plain depression? Because, why does it have to be something else? Isn’t depression enough?

All my life, I’ve fought having any kind of mental illness or admitting it let alone medicine for it. Finally, I realized that just because I may have depression, I’m not damaged. I’m not broken. I just need some help. I discussed this with my doctor and we decided that trying medicine is a good idea. I haven’t had a good quality of life for 2 years now. I want to remember what really happy feels like instead of numb and no feeling or crying all the time. Depression has hindered my relationships and my writing. I won’t let it do that anymore. I’m not weak to admit I need help. I’m not weak to use medicine to help. I deserve the best life I can have and if medicine can do that for me, then why wouldn’t I try it?

We shall see how this goes. I don’t want to get my hopes too high because nothing is perfect, but I’m hopeful for a change. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that something is wrong. It doesn’t make me my mom or my sister or anyone else. I am me. I am fabulous (most of the time) and I have depression. And that’s ok. It doesn’t make me any less me.

Nano Nay Sayers

Don’t Go Knocking my Nano

It’s that time of year again: Nanowrimo. Yes, National Novel Writing Month is in full swing again and I am deep in its trenches trying to help out my local Municipal Liaison where I can. I love Nano. It helped me write my first finished novel. It helped me make some fabulous writerly friends and learn about new opportunities for writing in my area. Why does any of that sound bad to people?

First, let me explain a little for newbies what exactly Nano is. A bunch of crazy people around the world (in the hundreds of thousands now) try to write a novely looking thing of 50,000 words in the month of November. While 50k is not quite a novel, it is a doable number for most people in 30 days. At the end of 30 days, most will have the beginnings of novel and can feel very proud for the great accomplishment.

Why would anyone want to down this crazy, fun time? Why must the nay sayers come out in full force? I get their worries, but why cram that down the throats of people who would otherwise never write a book? Here are the issues many have with Nano:

1. Too many people only write in November and then never again.

2. Too many people think that what they write in November is a shiny, finished project and try to sell their wares the second Dec. 1st hits.

3. We are goats following the herd and can’t think for ourselves.

4. If you aren’t Nanoing, we somehow won’t associate with you.

5. The writing of 50k words in one month means all the words are garbage (sorta goes along with #2)

I will start with number 1. This is true. There are some who only write in November because of the community they have surrounding them. What’s wrong with that? If that’s what they want to do, so be it. It doesn’t make them any less of a writer. A “real” writer doesn’t have to write 365 days a year, no matter what other people say.  If they aren’t in it for money, what difference does it make?  And what harm is that to these nay sayers? Some people dabble.  So what? Get over yourselves.

2. This is also unfortunately true. While it is only a small percent of all the people who participate in Nano, there are some that don’t understand the publishing industry and don’t do their homework before throwing out a very rough draft into the world.  It is sad, but to judge every single Wrimo based on this is ridiculous. No two writers are identical so why would you lump us all together because we all did a writing challenge? Not to mention, are you telling me that there aren’t people who do this that have never participated in Nano?

3. We can very much think for ourselves. We’re writing 50k words straight from our brain, aren’t we? Heck, there are some who can drag out 100k or even 150k during the 30 days. I think that requires a few unique brain cells. Nano has a great community and although writing is a solitary sport, we can commiserate with each other about the ups and downs we all go through.

4. Just because Nano doesn’t work for you or you choose not to do it, it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. We may not talk as much during November due to the insane quest to draft, draft, draft, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love people who don’t wanna Nano.

5. Um, to quote a whole bunch of famous, published authors: 1st drafts are crap. I don’t enjoy editing when I’m writing a first draft because it slows me down to the point that I would never finish and I would hate it all way too fast. If you like to edit as you write, good for you—I DON’T.  The choice of editing it all later vs. as you write just means we have two different methods. Isn’t that the beauty of being human? That we’re all different? If we all did things exactly the same way, we’d be robots and who the heck would want to read those mechanically written books?

There are probably other reasons that people hate on it and I’m good with not knowing them. People hate what they don’t understand and this is no different. Not everyone drafts the same. Some people prefer to edit as they write, most doing Nano don’t.  Being able to spew out words until we finish a first draft is the safest choice for people who have trouble finishing.  All writing is rewriting anyways, so getting the basics of the story out onto paper gives a base to start molding and shaping the story into something great.

Whether you like Nano or not, I hope we can all agree that a program that helps give new writers a place to feel safe and learn how to start a writing routine is a good thing. It’s just one of many resources out there for writers. Besides, one crazy month out of twelve really isn’t that much to deal with. Thirty days will be over before you know it! Uh, oh, I better go write!

Writing through the Fear of Mediocrity

I have this fear. I fear I’ll end up just mediocre so I tend to not try, so that way I can never say I failed. I can never celebrate my accomplishments either. It’s a crappy state to be in. It’s why I never wrote all that seriously. If I never finish anything, I can never worry that it’s not good enough. But who wants to live that way? I found Nanowrimo at my lowest point (well, my lowest writing point we’ll say) and I thought I’d give novel writing a shot after writing screenplays…or parts of screenplays for so long.

What a breath of fresh air this cliché is not and Nanowrimo was! I didn’t finish the story I was doing but I hit my 50k and that was empowering. I made writing friends with the community that Nano has built and was spurred on to keep writing more. It still took a little time before I was writing more regularly, but it was a start.

I now have my first complete novel that I’m editing (yes, I’ve blogged this all before. Shush). The point of this is that you can’t let the worry get you down. My words will never be perfect no matter how many times I change them. I can edit until my fingers bleed and I pass out from the lack of nutrients coffee doesn’t bring and it will still have mistakes or could be changed, could be better. We are not perfect which means our beautiful babies will never be perfect either. The great thing is: everyone else is flawed too! I’ve read plenty of traditionally published books and found mistakes or an overuse of words. It seems readers don’t mind little mistakes if you have a good story to tell. That and a fun and different voice. Now, don’t start panicking that your voice isn’t different or that your story is like everyone else’s. Again, I have read published works that aren’t perfect. Just write the best story you can. If you write it, they will come. Your voice will always be different because YOU’RE the one writing. No one else can write quite like you, but that’s a motivational blog for another day.

Now, one of you needs to remind me of this often as I tend to be a little forgetful….