Best Laid Plans

I had three days until my next job assignment was due to start.

Fantastic!

pexels-photo-58457

I had my plan. My Camp NaNoWriMo project was a few words over my recommended total. I would finish my 20K novella on time. And with three days to work on it with only a few trips to make for my local writing group, I would build a surplus of words. That way if I were frazzled by starting a new assignment, it would be all right.

As the saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. (Robert Burns, translated)

Know that from time to time your plans for writing may go astray. Maybe you spend the bulk of an evening dealing with important issues and your writing skills are used to compose a tactful email to someone who has gone off on a rant. Or your instructor had more than a few questions about the homework you turned in. Maybe your husband decides it’s a perfect time to trade in your old vehicle for a newer model and you spend eight hours, over two days, going to the dealership, answering questions, filling out paperwork, signing paperwork and of course the endless… waiting.

LIFE HAPPENS.

Do not beat yourself up about it. Things will need to be handled, where you are needed. If you know you are going to be sitting around, being bored:

  • bring a book on the craft to study
  • bring a character profile form and fill it out on your secondary characters
  • consider putting your character in your place and ask how they would handle the time
  • imagine what these salesmen do in their off hours

You are important and you need to do things for yourself too. So make the most of your time. As a writer, I always keep a small notepad in my purse. That way if an idea comes to me, I can jot it down. Because the one lie I have told myself in the past is… I don’t need to write it down, I’ll remember. Hence the notepad. Oh, and I did have a weird idea about all those trade-in vehicles.

The next important thing to remember is to get back to your writing as soon as you can. Get back into your habit, you will feel better for the temporary reprieve.

And if you must, you could consider the time as a payment on your future success. I think the time may have been worth it…

20170726_132558

What do you think?

 

Advertisements

Discover your writing, don’t hobble it

Hobble

What do you write? Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Comedy, or maybe a subgenre of one of these.

What do you write? Short Story, Novel, Poetry, Flash Fiction or maybe an Epic.

If you only picked one item from each list, you just hobbled yourself. You put an invisible rope around your feet that only allows you small area to roam. I know I did it to myself. I would proclaim to anyone who would listen, that I was a Romance writer of full-length novels.

But I feel every writer is a multi-genre author if they only cut that invisible rope in their mind.

I was so focused on my novel series that I let many an idea slip through my fingers. Then one day I had thought about a conversation I’d had at the end of a writers group meeting. It refused to go away as many before had. So, to get it out of my head, I wrote it.

That story had no romance in it whatsoever. It was a dark comedy, short story. I presented it to my critique group and they tore it apart, but were very encouraging too. When the group decided to produce an anthology, I submitted the piece. Then the three members who were in my story wrote retaliatory pieces, which are all in the anthology.

Check out ‘A Murder of Authors’ the four part series at the end. Tales of the Forest

The next opportunity I had to write something different was a challenge on an author website, which is not around anymore. The challenge was to write a 500-word piece in which someone must dance. Wala! I wrote my first Flash Fiction piece.

When my father past away, the only thing that helped me express myself was poetry. Some of the poetry is sad, but some is joyful. Writing helped me deal with a loss and I will always be grateful for that.

Recently I saw an advertisement for submissions for the Chicken Soup for The Soul series. One of the books is about ‘My Crazy Family’ and a story from my past instantly came to mind. Now I have another comedic short story ready for submission.

Now don’t get me wrong. My passion is still Futuristic Romance novels.

But now I know that I can write something else. I’m no longer stuck in my little area only focusing on one thing. The other benefit is that some of that comedy can leak into my novels giving lighthearted moments for my characters to enjoy themselves.

Consider your writing. Are you hobbled, or are you free to roam the genres? If you’re free, what other area would you like to explore?

pexels-photo-220147

Craft of Writing

I’ve read it time and time again… you must first know the rules before you can break them. Writing is no different.

But what are the rules and where can I find them?

To answer the first part… it varies. I know that isn’t exactly helpful.

Immediately after I wrote the question, I looked on Google for ‘fiction writing rules’. A boatload of articles came up, touting 5, 7, 10, 16 rules. I even found ‘60 rules for Short SciFi/Fantasy’… if it’s short, why do you need 60 rules? Really.

Some examples:

  • Show, don’t tell
  • Write what you know
  • Don’t use the passive voice
  • Choose A Point of View (POV)
  • Create three-dimensional characters
  • Finish everything you start
  • Emulate the Masters

The answer to the second part of that question… everywhere. Books, blogs, articles, essays, quotes, etc.

Now for my take on this.

Search, peruse, read, and read some more. Find what works for you. I checked out a book, which came highly recommended on the art of writing. The author was a professor with a MFA and his introduction insinuated that only degreed writers could really write and claimed that emulating the Masters was the only way to go. I forced myself to read part of the first chapter before I sent it back.

I continued to search other books, many with the same adherence to the adages of ‘write what you know’, ‘choose a single POV’, and/or ‘emulate the masters’. One of my problems is that we no longer live in an age where Melville’s Moby Dick would be published. I did not read it in school; I listened to an unabridged audio of it about ten years ago. It was the most boring story I had ever listened to. At this day in age, an editor would have had him cut a good third of the story with all the whaling industry details. Then cut it again to show more emotion.

New generations of readers

pexels-photo-374912

We as writers now must cater to the MTV/Live Streaming generation. We cannot wax poetic for multiple pages on the beauty of a flower.

Luckily, I finally found an author of murder mysteries whose book on the craft hit a cord with me when he said ‘emulating the Masters’ causes a writer to lose their contemporary voice. His book is the meat and potatoes I was looking for.

Find a Master of your own choosing and read them. Look to see how your favorite authors follow or break the rules.

My study of the craft

The first rule I broke was ‘write what you know’. My current series is set in Earth’s future and on seven planets across the galaxy. In a recently published short story, I killed off and disposed of the bodies of three writers who are in the critique group I belong to. These are all my imagining, for I don’t have a TARDIS and those three writers are all alive and well today… I promise. Many writers do research or dream up what they write.

‘Finish everything you start’, if I’m blocked, or playing with a fanfiction piece, I can set it away and come back to it later or never. Sometimes you realize what you wrote is crap. So why continue to write something that is not going anywhere and is only wasting your writing time? I save it and someday I can dust it off and find that nugget buried in all the refuge.

Continue to learn or you become stagnate.

pexels-photo-256455

I study the craft because I want my work to be the best it can be when I release it out into the world. I don’t want to just play at this, but have a second career in writing.

 

  • Read
  • It’s never too late to start
  • Find your Tribe
  • Craft of Writing

Just a note I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. My goal is a 20K novella. Help me remain accountable… ask about my progress.

By myself, yet not alone

person-woman-apple-hotel

Finally, I decided I wanted to write this thing, which had been growing in my head.

I did research to find a writing group. The first and the one closest to my home, met once a month. I attended and while they were a nice group, I discovered they were not what I was looking for. They gave a prompt at the end of the meeting and at the next meeting, you brought a story or poem based on that prompt.

I wanted help writing this thing in my head. The lead for this group understood and suggested I check out this upcoming event called NaNoWriMo. In case, you’ve never heard of it… National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Check them out at www.nanowrimo.org.

One of the things I learned during my first NaNoWriMo in 2013 was that while I was sitting at my desk by myself, writing my story, I was not alone. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world were doing the same thing as I was… WRITING!

I finished my story on the final day at 4:30pm with 84,509 words.  Then I was by myself again, with a raw first draft.

I turned back to the internet and found another writing group. This time I found what I needed. A critique group who offered me a place to present some of my work and receive constructive feedback. I will admit at the meeting I was brave enough to present the Prologue of my book, I was very nervous.

They butchered my baby!

After going home from the meeting and sobbing for a good long while. I went back to read the notes I had taken. I looked at my work with a swollen and puffy, critiqual eye. Discovering much of what I received was right and I needed to admit it. Some as the group referred is ‘utter twaddle’, because the critiquer did not understand where my story was going.

My writing and I as a writer have grown over the four years I have been with them. Yet, there are still things I need to learn about my chosen craft, which I will discuss in my next blog.

Know you may be by yourself when you sit down to write, but you are not alone in the world of writing.

Find others like you, your tribe. If the first or even your third group is not what you need, keep looking until you find those who are. As you grow, you may need to move onto another group that meet your needs as a writer.

people-coffee-notes-tea

  • Read
  • It’s never too late to start
  • Find your Tribe

Did I start too late?

ncEEdey7i

I did not yearn to be a writer when I was little or even into adulthood.

But then again, I never aspired to be an accountant either. The job evolved from being an eager worker and data entry proficiency. So it should not be surprising to me that writing evolved from a love of reading and extra time on my hands.

In 2013, I found myself unemployed for an extended period of time. You can job search for just so many hours in the day.

While playing on the computer I discovered a Harry Potter fanfiction site and read several pieces. Some good, some great and others, not so much. After a few days of reading, I thought to myself, “if they can do this… I certainly can.”

You see, there were chapter endings in the books I’d read or endings of a book, which I felt should have been written differently. This was my opportunity to correct them. I wrote a few chapters and had people comment that they liked it, which I was not expecting. This was a way for me to pass time and enjoy what I call, ‘playing with other people’s toys’, just in my own sandbox.

During this time, I had an idea come to me one morning as I lay in bed. I ignored it, because it wasn’t something which was fanfiction. Yet, this idea, not only refused to go away. It grew, and continued to grow. Dividing, multiplying into something, which refused to be ignored. I left it in my head, not writing anything down.

Finally, I decided I wanted to write this thing.

But one of my big fears was… Did I start writing too late? At the time I had already past that big 5-0 mark. Would anyone read something written by someone who didn’t become a writer until the latter half of their life?

Its never too late to put pen to paper or fingers on the keyboard!

Consider these authors:

Lee Child began writing at 40. You may have heard of his Jack Reacher series or seen a movie or two featuring Tom Cruise as the title character.

Others who began writing in their 40s: James A Michener, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Helen DeWitt, Marquis de Sade. While Bram Stoker dabbled until 43 before focusing, Dracula was published at age 50.

Even older: Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty when she was 51 and Richard Adams and Donald Ray Pollock began in their mid-50s. Angele’s Ashes by Frank McCourt was published when he was 66, while Harriet Doerr and Mary Wesley both published in their mid-70’s

To write, you must first…

I often joke that much like a superhero or masked avenger… I live a dual life.

An accountant by day and author by the dark of night.

I always liked to read. When I was young, my mother was not an avid reader; rather she was addicted to reading. Any time she had her nose in a book, the house might be crumbling around her and she wouldn’t notice. To get her attention, I placed my hand on the book, covering whatever she was reading and push the book down at the same time. She often tried to convince me to read the books, which attracted her as a young girl. A Wrinkle in Time is the one that remains clear in my mind. She never encouraged me to delve into what she read at the time, Barbara Cartland.

I did read books, which caught my fancy at the library, no one seemed to keep me reading. Until the night, I sat in a college library, waiting for my husband to finish a night course. A display of paperbacks on a rack caught my attention. A small young woman perched atop a golden flying dragon with an ominous red planet in the background, drew me in. Dragonflight by the late Anne McCaffrey transported me back into the world of reading. Her Dragonriders of Pern series renewed my love of the written word.

I went back to college in 2007 and all my reading became academic. At that time, I discovered books-on-tape then audio-CDs, and now audiobooks. With a forty-five minute to an hour commute, one way, I indulged in more stories and discovered new authors and genres. From mysteries by Janet Evanovich and JD Robb to Urban Fantasy by authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jim Butcher and Christine Feehan. I thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter series, thanks to the wonderful narration by Jim Dale. Currently I have over 75 authors whose work I follow. My iPod Classic contains more than 300 stories. You could say I am an avid reader with eclectic taste.

What has this to do with writing, you are asking yourself.

Everything!

To write, you must first read.

PNGPIX-COM-Open-Book-PNG-Transparent-Image-1

Tell me about your reading experience:

  • What did your parents encourage you to read?
  • If you stopped reading for a while, who reignited your passion for reading?
  • Do you have a favorite genre?