Morning Salt

I sit at my desk, breakfast finished, coffee made. It’s the thirty minutes or so before I need to settle into work for the day – about five thousand words and some plotting and planning for May. So I occupy my time on the internet, because why not? Scroll, scroll, I like a post here, reblog there. Maybe I leave a comment.

I come across a post.

I do a double take.

“GUESS WHAT WRITER!? YOU’RE STILL A FUCKING WRITER EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN ANYTHING LATELY!”

O… okay. I guess I’ll just sit here and stare at my computer screen in a perpetual daze, not writing a thing, but somehow, I’m a writer.

Now, I get it. It’s an affirmation. Motivation. That push to remind you that you’re the thing even if maybe you’re not doing the thing as regularly as you should. It’s supposed to bolster you. Here’s my issue.

To be a writer, you have to write.

I’ll say it again: To be a writer, you have to write. Something. Anything. But you have to do the work to claim the title. This often involves writing even when you don’t want to, or when you’re tired, or when you’re not feeling motivated, or when writer’s block sets in. This is common. Writing doesn’t come without obstacles. You just have to bust them down. By writing. I think it does a great disservice to people who are writers or who want to be writers to foster this idea that going without writing is somehow a thing. That you don’t have to put in effort.

Please note, this is mostly for people who want to be writers for a living. It also doesn’t really pertain to people who have established works and can probably live off those works for the rest of forever. This is for the writers, who are writing now – or maybe not, who knows – who want to claim the title.

Perhaps it irks me more than it should because as someone who writes for a living ‘not writing anything lately’ means that I’m out of a job. It means I’ve let my lack of motivation ruin my discipline – something that you simply cannot do when you claim to be a ‘writer.’ No one is going to take you seriously if you sit around and tell people, yeah, I’m a writer, but I have nothing to show for it. But I’m a writer. In spirit.

That one hundred words back in the early 2000’s qualifies me, indefinitely.

Mostly, I think it’s because it’s rather silly and wrong to claim that you can be something without actually doing the work required to be that something. You are not an artist if you do not produce art. You’re not an architect if you do not design buildings. I think people like the idea of being a writer, but when it comes down to doing the work of a writer, suddenly they’re pulling their shades down and their computer is nowhere in sight and their fingers don’t work.

Writing is enjoyable, but it is also work. It requires dedication. It requires discipline. Motivation is merely an excuse when it is lacking. It’s nice to look at writing as this lofty, I’ll get to it when I’m blessed with mystical inspiration shining down unto myself from between the clouds of an overcast day parting just right – but that’s not how it works. I wish more people understood this. Unless writing is merely a hobby, in which case I think the better distinction is ‘you write’ as opposed to ‘you’re a writer,’ in the same vein that I can tell people ‘I play musical instruments,’ but it’s been years since I’ve dedicated myself to being a musician.’

 

Welcomed Weariness

I’ve never been more pleased with exhaustion. The kind that comes when you’ve worked all day pouring over words and typing pages and pages of story; when you’ve managed to grab a few hours of sleep but you should probably have curled up for a few more because five isn’t technically enough; when you roll out of the bed in the next morning and you’re still so tired you forget that you need your glasses to function, but you let it slide for a few moments until you accept that you really can’t function – then you spend about a half hour trying to find the damned things, because your bed ate them when you didn’t even have time to consider taking them off before you passed out.

It’s throwing back coffee and tea like water and taking five minute naps in between chapters of editing. It’s writing down your half-asleep ideas as they come to you, because you know those are your best but if you don’t jot them now they’ll be gone the next time you blink.

It’s a satisfied sort of constant tired, where you know you probably need to slow down but it feels good when you don’t. Where your motivation outweighs the limitations of your body and sometimes your brain, but you’re a creator and those limitations don’t matter where there’s things to do.

It’s that feeling when you fall into bed at the end of the night and you’re already asleep before you hit the pillow, but you do it again the next day because there’s no other way you could imagine going through life.

 

All You Need Is Love, Question Mark

In the spirit of February and the fact that I’m an editor who’s worked primarily with romance authors, we’re going to discuss a thing today.

No one knows how to write slow-build romance. 

People seem to be very invested in these sudden, whirlwind romances with hot, instantaneous passions, and deep, meant-to-be, single-soul loves, but quite frankly, they make so little sense it’s almost hard to stomach them sometimes. And don’t get me wrong, I like romance stories – I just have to roll my eyes at stories where people are somehow in love after a week, have had little to no real contact with each other but ‘understand the other better than anyone,’ and they trust each other more than that friend they’ve had since childhood. It’s ludicrous to the point where I just have to assume bumping into a stranger and locking eyes with deep, sultry pools of liquid sapphire just did something to their brains. Something stupid.

I get it, it’s fiction, it’s not supposed to be an exact duplication of reality – that would make it boring. But art imitates reality, and there’s something real and engaging about a romance that takes time, that shows that build from acquaintance to friend to interest to love, and it feels like the two people actually know each other intimately before they’re hauling off declaring undying love and affection for each other.

There also, for some God-awful reason, seems to be this conflation between physical attraction equating emotional investments and oh boy, I have a list of stories I have sent back to authors with notes in the margins stating ‘infatuation is not love.’ And it’s really not. That’s why it’s called infatuation. It’s temporary, and often rooted in superficial things like ‘Damn, she was really hot. Like her ass, in those jeans. Shit.’ Not exactly the love story of the century.

Now I’m not saying that quick romances don’t happen. There are plenty of people in ‘real life’ who have found love quickly. But there also tends to be some sort of, you know, process to it. You actually engage with the person. Perhaps you share common interests. Maybe there’s something in your lives that’s making you two (or three or more, polyamory is a thing these days) stick together. I loved an ex after three months of dating. We also spent, quite literally, every single day together and our interests lined up pretty well. The point is, there’s usually more to it than just ‘Woa, that guy was so hot. I suddenly want to marry him and can’t think about anything else other than how hot he was. Also I want his babies. Every single one.’

I think the main problem when it comes to stories like this is one of two things, barring the general ‘this person just can’t write the thing:’ people want the romance and the lust, passion, tension, but they don’t know how to blend these things together well, or they’re trying to make a romance out of an erotica and sometimes a story is just not that kind of level of story where you can take it there.

So, how do you fix it? The initial answer is simple, romance authors: Take your time. Your characters aren’t going to disappear into a void if you don’t make them love each other right this second.

The next is to actually understand that you’re writing about interpersonal relationships and that love – actual love – is something that just doesn’t happen over night and you need to be able to navigate the intricacies of human emotion well if you’re going to portray a romance well. This should also include understanding that in relationships (1) trust is not established overnight and (2) trust is not easily obtained after it is broken (one day I’m going to write more in-depth about this, but it is not this day.) Give your characters their due time to not like each other or not want to be around or with each other.

These are points that I make with the romance authors I work with the most, because the most frustrating thing about these stories is that they feel rushed; there’s no pacing, no subtlety – like the author is in such a hurry to get their mains together that they forget that they actually have to write out the process of getting them together.

That, or they’re lazy, and that’s just bad authorship.

Either way, I have yet to read a good love story that establishes a ‘deep emotional connection’ in the span of a handful of days, riding entirely on the basis of the electricity that flows across their skin when their hands touch.

I’m just saying.

 

All I Do Is Plot, Plot, Plot…

So a huge issue that I have when it comes to writing novels is the fact that while I can sit down and write drabbles or short stories with ease, it is almost impossible for me to do the same with novels, because I can’t make myself just go with the flow and freely write. When I write short pieces, it usually starts with a general idea, or an emotion or a tone that I want to capture, and I run with that. I liken it a bit to getting lost in a wood I’m generally familiar with, wondering and running around until I find myself out again.

See. I can’t do that with novels.

I have to plot every single little detail. And then when a detail changes or I get a new idea or the plot bunnies start to run around, I feel like I can’t just keep doing what I’m doing – I’ve quite literally scrapped entire stories because I realize I want to add or change something from the original plan. It’s why I’ve written a lot of short stories – but, exactly zero novels.

The problem is, I actually want to write a novel. I want that freedom that I get when I write short stories or drabbles, but it’s very difficult when my brain tells me that unless every single tiny detail and twist is worked out, I can’t do it.

Case in point, the recent story that I started. I realized about mid-way through the first chapter that it shouldn’t actually be the first chapter… it should be the fourth, or fifth, and I have exactly one day left before my ‘deadline’ to completely re-work what I had originally started working on and flesh it out into a line that makes sense and works better.

Hear that? The screaming in the distance? That’s me.

Ironically, it’s not like it’s hard for me to write with just a basic idea in mind. It’s what I do when I ghost write – I don’t have time to plot when I have to have a fully realized short story done by the end of the week. I just… do it. Of course, getting paid for work and doing my own is a lot different than having to appease clients, but it’s not like it’s impossible for me. It’s not like I’m not used to not having every single detail fleshed out before I actually get down and to the point.

The mental block between work and personal projects is astounding.

 

 

Morning Thoughts | 2.1.17

I’m finding my productivity goes down along with the temperature drops – the bed, after all, with its thick blankets and comforting pillows, is far more appealing than the frigid tile floors and chilly air that occupies my house.

(I should mention here that I live in the south, and it was forty-eight degrees this morning in central Florida – it was freezing as far as I’m concerned and the pinnacle of Florida winter.)

An hour and a half delay, but things are slowly converging back on the track. Mostly due to it warming up – it’s a toasty fifty-eight degrees now, lucky me.

Here’s to hoping the weather decides to right itself sometime soon, for the sake of my work schedule and my sanity.

 

Morning Thoughts | 1.18.17

I’m always in awe over the creative power of nature. The removal of oneself from the ‘real world’ and the willing delve into the natural, for me, lends a very effective, peaceful removal of the usual morning block that has me putting off beginning an assignment or sitting down to just write something.

On a nice morning, like the one today, where the sky is clear and trees are green and there’s blooms giving color, it’s hard to not find inspiration for a line or a setting, or even a mental state of peace. The mind takes all of this in, and it’s the sensory of the crisp air breathed in and the vibrancy of color, the warmth tinged with the occasional wisp of chill that pushes me to put those feelings onto paper (or to the screen.)

 

 

Morning Thoughts | 1.16.17

Waking up is the hardest thing when the only person keeping you accountable for waking up is yourself.

It’s one of the things that I’m learning, as I get into a workable routine writing and freelancing, running my own life entirely for the first time since, well. Ever. The bed is more inviting than the desk. It’s warmer, cozy, and some days I honestly have to ask myself if it’s really worth it to get out of the bed when I could just put off doing work for another few hours.

Spoiler alert: it’s always worth it to get out of the damn bed.

Take for example this morning. It was supposed to be a six o’clock day. Nice early morning, get breakfast and tea in me, go for a morning walk. Back home for shower, a little bit of writing, and then out to Barnes & Noble to occupy the cafe for a few hours and do work. Six o’clock ended up being eight. There was no walk, since I was brilliant and forgot to charge my phone the night before, and I like to be prepared when it comes to long, lonely walks in the woods.

That being, the day isn’t lost, merely pushed back. As I type, my phone is charging (or, will be, as a second glance has told me I have yet to plug it in) and I’ve got about three and a half hours before my afternoon trek out to do some work away from home – and, potentially new work to look forward to.

Here’s to a productive work week – and waking up on time.

 

New Year, New Habits | 2017 Writing Plans

It’s finally 2017. We’ve gotten over the horrendous hump of a year that was 2016, and are hopefully moving on to bigger, better things. I know for myself, the end of 2016 has brought a glorious halt to a number of frustrating life circumstances, and with ushering in 2017, is paving the way for new opportunities.

I talked briefly in October, I believe (it’s been a bit of a dry spell around here) about working towards freelancing full time, opening an Etsy shop, setting up a Patreon… things that were hopes for 2017 but not necessarily attainable. I was working retail, which gave me time to do some freelancing on the side, but not a whole lot to realistically put the kind of work and effort it takes to freelance full time, run your own business, and manage a platform like Patreon.

I struggled, trying to figure out how I was going to manage my jobs and the goals I wanted to achieve, when I made the choice to move to freelancing full-time, quitting the retail job to put forth all my energy and resources to freelancing, posting here, and most importantly – working on my writing. I’m going to talk a little more about how I went about preparing for becoming a freelancer full time, but suffice to say it’s a choice that I have yet to regret.

So. With a new year, new career track, and goals to make, here’s to laying down what I’d like to accomplish here in 2017:

  • Consistent daily writing and blog posting.
  • Finishing the first draft of my novel.
  • Organizing and launching Patreon.
  • Engaging more with the writing community, here and elsewhere.

I hope everyone’s New Year is going as well (so far) as mine.

NaNoWriMo 2016 | Day 2

I’m going to confess something. I’ve never completed a NaNoWriMo. Not even half-way.

Now, I’ve always participated, but you don’t win just by participating. Every year I have a novel lined up. I fill out all the fun information, I plot, I talk about it with my friends. The first few days go by amazingly and then I just stop. The steam is short lived, I get busy, I make excuses, etc., etc., etc.

We’ve established before I procrastinate, a lot. This isn’t anything new, really.

This year, however, I’m actually doing fairly well, at least as far as the starting part goes. I do have to balance out work, which means on my full days I can’t dedicate several hours to writing for NaNo, but I can at least dedicate a few hundred words, which I’ve done so far. Kudos?

In addition, I’ve managed to not edit while I write, which is quite huge since it’s very hard for me to go through a story without editing while writing. I sometimes forget that drafts exist for a reason, and the first one is supposed to be kinda trash – it’s your first take, the place where your mistakes are made and where you can note improvements.

So in the spirit of NaNo, I figured I’d share a snippet of what I have so far, ignoring the fact that I could probably do to edit and rewrite it. For anyone participating this year, happy NaNoing!

 Generations ago, before the Dwarves delighted in the surface for the first time, before the Elves sung their kingdom into existence, before the Humans learnt the ways of fire – there were Dragons.

They were great beasts, larger than any dwelling known to man, powerful by ways of strength and magic, they dominated the lands from Mira in the East to Rh’on in the West. Commanders of the elements, arbitrators of magic, these beasts roamed land and sea alike. In many places, they were revered, and in others, they were envied. Years they lived, flying high above the creatures of the Earth or swimming deep within the depths of the sea among the sea-folk – unbothered, unaltered.

It was the Dragons, according to legend, that bestowed the gifts of Magic unto the Elves, and Dragons who carved the first Dwarven caves deep within the Cratous Mountains. Humans, Dragons spurned – they gave no magic and carved no great halls. For this, humans became envious.

For this, they hunted the Dragons.

October Wrap-Up & November Plans

October started off really well for me – and then I fell off a bit. Unfortunately put behind by Florida’s inclement weather and needing to catch up on work, I’ve neglected this blog a bit. That being said, work has been phenomenal. I ended up scoring another editing client for on-going work, and am steadily building a long-term client base with clients that I already have.

I’ve also been working through ‘behind the scenes’ things for this blog and getting ready for NaNoWrimo, my Patreon launch, reading more, and cementing a little more what the actual purpose of this blog is. It’s an ever-evolving thing, I think, though having blogs in the past I know that consistency is important. I always tend to have a lot of steam starting out and then it peters out towards the end of the month, and I know that’s something that I need to work on.

Outside of writing, I’m working on an online store. The goal is to be fully self-employed within a year, between freelancing, and that. Which is going to definitely take a lot of work on my part, but in the end I think it will be a rewarding experience overall. I like having the responsibility, for one, and I also enjoy being able to set my own work hours, work to my pace – do things that I actually enjoy doing as opposed to the things that I don’t.

With that in mind, November goals:

  • Write consistently, every day – non-work related writing.
  • Stick to my blog’s schedule for certain posts, mostly freelancing articles and 30 Day Challenge things.
  • Begin, commit to, & win NaNoWriMo.
  • Finish up preparations for Patreon launch for December.
  • Stick with & keep up on writing routine.
  • Keep up with bullet journal (the only thing that ever keeps me organized.)

Simple goals, not too different from last month. Here’s to a productive, fun November.