Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book... By Hand?

            Back in 2007, I was a student at a California Community College near San Francisco. I had a straight B-average courtesy of working just hard enough to get decent grades, but not hard enough to truly be impressive. That’s kind of how I do just about everything. Anyway. I was looking to transfer to a University the following year. I had a few choices. I could have transferred to a state school in California, or I could transfer to a school in New Orleans. Yeah, you heard that right, New Orleans, Louisiana. I had been fantasizing about visiting New Orleans for years, but it had never panned out until that October in 2007.
            During my visit there, I fell in love. The school thing didn’t work out after a semester for a few reasons, but something even more important happened after I took a leave of absence from school.
It was early 2009. I had been living in the city for a little over a year at this point. I was driving through uptown, admiring the beautiful homes than line The Avenue, and letting my mind wander. As with every other story I’ve thought up, I can’t tell you what exactly sparked the birth of the book; but I can say that I ran home and wrote down as much as I could. And from there an idea grew into a multi-book supernatural YA series.
This book, Anomaly, has been my pride and joy as well as the red-headed stepchild in my life as it is less than half done. Yeah, do the math—it’s been over two years since its inception and we’re not even mostly through it yet! Mock away. I have had many (many!) conversations with my friend, Brenda, about this book and my lack of progress in writing the damn thing. She, too, has been struggling in wrapping up a book that she began last year. However, she has some fifty thousand words written and is just a few chapters shy of completion. Brenda and I have mulled over this a hundred times, if not more; but neither of us can figure out why we just can’t finish our books. After a major outline reconstruction back in March, I hadn’t touched Anomaly in months. And then something happened.
I was at work the other day, and had a little downtime. I pulled out my spiral notebook and began writing a random chapter of Anomaly. I have since written two more chapters and going strong! I’ll be the first to admit that they’re very rough, and oftentimes written in shorthand. Sometimes I even write [DESCRIBE GARDEN HERE] in place of handwriting it all out; but I’m making progress!
So, I wonder, has the computer possibly gotten in the way of our creative spirits? While it’s great for networking; and who can really argue the efficiency of typing over handwriting large bodies of text—I worry that there is a cost. With spell check and grammar guides built into your everyday word processor, does the emphasis on “getting it right” effect a writer’s efficiency?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my computer and would truly be lost without it; but for now, I’m going to try going at this thing the old-fashioned way and we’ll see how it goes.
                        See ya tomorrow,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Failure by Design

            Today’s blog post is about failure. When I started racking my brain for a topic for today’s post, it seemed like a no-brainer to talk about failure; especially considering that just a few days ago I made a post promising myself and my followers a blog post and a thousand words a day.
            And have any of you seen a post since then?
            So, failure is a rather appropriate topic, wouldn’t you say?
            There are two sides to failure. One side of failure is obvious—it means that you didn’t reach a goal, you were proved unsuccessful. And, well, that always sucks, doesn’t it? Not necessarily. Sometimes, failure can be a good thing. Without experiencing failure, how are we to learn persistence and humility? Of course, most people don’t set out to fail, and that’s how it should be; but make no mistake about it: failure has value.
            As writers, we fail all the time. Failure is something that you have to get comfortable with if you’re a writer and you’re seeking publication. As successful as they are now, even Stephen King and Anne Rice were rejected by agents and publishers; and surely each have had a number of days where they failed to meet their own standards, much less someone else’s. Such is life.
            If I want to look back at why I haven’t always succeeded, I’m sure I’d be able to come up with a decent enough excuse; but the truth is that failure is a part of life—and nobody comes out unscathed. What matters is not how many times you’ve failed to meet your own standards or someone else’s, but where you go from there.
            No matter the issue at hand, I always look at my failures and try to figure out what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future. Some would say that I spend too much energy on this particular area; to the point that it’s actually a detriment to my success. They could be right. Self-criticism is important; just don’t let it become destructive. As for failure… well, if you find yourself failing often, then maybe you need to ask yourself if your expectations are too high?
            Not everybody can be Stephen King or Anne Rice. Not every mediocre writer can have such incredible luck to wind up on the Best Seller list of The New York Times ala Stephenie Meyer. And some days, I just don’t have the time or energy to write up a blog post. But this is a goal, so I’m going to keep trying. As for the “1k a day” goal… well, I need to go work on that now.
            See ya tomorrow,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Post a Day

I have goals like any other somewhat competent adult out there. Unfortunately, like all too many, I’m also a slacker. So, as the days go on and my already lengthy to-do list gets longer; I find myself wondering why I’m such a slacker. Is it a matter of honestly being lazy or is there something else going on?
Let me begin by saying that I am not a fan of excuses. Regardless of what is going on in your daily life, if you want to be a writer, then you’ll do it—you’ll write. It sounds simple, and yet, for so many, it is an awfully challenging feat they have yet to accomplish. So, when I begin to examine my motives, or lack thereof, and I find myself making excuses for my lack of progress; I feel really hypocritical. And I don’t like being a hypocrite.
So, I have a goal. But I don’t like the word goal because that infers that it is something to reach toward—that it is something that requires great effort to achieve. Perhaps goal is not the right word; or, perhaps so. I’m not terribly inclined to pull out my thesaurus in an attempt to sound smart by using a more appropriate and far less common term. I’m content with being of average intelligence.
And how things usually go, this blog post has lost its point. Thankfully, I’m much more coherent and far less distracted in my fiction writing, or pursuing this career would be a bit of a joke. Not a very funny one, but a joke nonetheless.
From today forward, I will make one blog post and I will write at least a thousand words of something (other than the aforementioned blog post) a day. I will strive for good, settle for decent, and will remember the spirit behind this promise to myself. Writers write and the most successful ones never stop working on their craft.
Do you think this will work? Think I’m crazy or wanna join me in my little adventure of literary enrichment? Let me know what you’re thinking, and who knows, we may be able to help one another toward the ultimate goal—actually finishing something.

To Blog or not to Blog

            This is the question that I think most people who spend even a miniscule amount of time online asks themselves: to blog or not to blog. Entire families have blogs for each member and they all network by sharing their photos and daily lives with one another. And while I see many blogs that are wonderful and informative, I wonder whether or not I have anything to say that isn’t completely irreverent.
            So… to blog or not to blog?
            Well, Writer’s Digest recommends that budding authors try to establish a web presence. The idea is that if you have already proven that at least some people care what you’re saying and have interest in what you’re writing, that you’ll be marketable and that your built-in audience will likely grow. In short, web presence equals interest which equals sales. So, I figure, why not? I mean, it can’t really hurt, can it? And if it does, we’ll just add this to the long list of “oops” moments in my life.
            Here’s hoping that I don’t royally embarrass myself with this blog and who knows, maybe gain some friends along the way.