Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tribute

Everyone has those people that they meet who have a profound effect on their lives, changing the course ever so slightly (or, in some cases, dramatically). They pop into lives, mix things up, then disappear, leaving better people in their wake. Writers are no exception.

Throughout my life, I have met a handful of people who have heavily influenced my writing career. They have changed the way I write, the way I think about writing, how often I write. They have challenged me to become a better writer, to push myself, to write even when I don't want to, to believe in myself as a writer. If not for those few people, I would not be the writer I am today.

Which might not be saying much now, but they have shaped me and put me on a path to someday achieve greatness.

I am losing two of those people this summer.

I suppose "losing" is a bit overdramatic. They are both moving away. I know with the internet, physical distance isn't the same as it once was. But still. I will miss seeing their smiling faces.

This post is for them.

Jessi - my writing buddy. Which is an understatement. She is the writing buddy. Always willing to meet to write no matter what mood either of us are in, always motivates me to write even when I'm not in the mood to, and she holds me to our scheduled writing meetings. Because of her, I have gotten so much writing done this year. She's been a muse - a sounding board for my ideas, and often helps me resolve plot problems when I get stuck. She's been my constant companion during National Novel Writing Month, and without her support I never would have made it through Nanowrimo last year, when I was writing the most difficult thing I had ever written: real life. She's the perfect writing buddy, really. She completely understands the way my mind works. We can sit without speaking, just writing, or we can talk for hours about it. And in the middle of a conversation, if a mind wanders off and misses part of it, the other just smiles knowingly and laughs instead of being offended. She's always ready with a cup of coffee (or chai!) and a hug. I love our Sunday mornings at Panera, and I'm going to miss those terribly. Someday I hope to join her in Seattle, where we can meet at Starbucks and write every weekend.

Ted - the Boss. He really is. He is the ultimate Municipal Liaison for Nanowrimo. We struggled for years to get our small writing group off the ground, and he took charge when there was nobody else. He knows just what to say or do to get people to write, whether it's threats or challenges or insults or comforting words. He's always been there for me, driving me to write more, to write better. I trust his feedback on my writing more than anyone else. He forces me to throw more obstacles at my characters, he pushes me to go with the twist that nobody expects, and he challenges me to write outside my comfort zone. I have improved as a writer a great deal under his tutelage. Without his encouragement, I never would have been ML for Nanowrimo (and some years I might not have even finished). I am still not sure how I am going to run the group in his absence, or hold Nanowrimo together without him.

I know this is not goodbye. Not for either of them. But they've taught me what they can, they've played their roles in shaping me as a writer, and now I have to do it without relying on them. Without a net. Taking off the training wheels. Jessi will always be The Writing Buddy and Ted will always be The Boss, and they will both always be my friends, but there won't be any more Sunday mornings at Panera, ML strategy meetings, or writing group meetings at Mirth with them.

Best of luck to both of you in your new lives! Don't forget about me. I'll never forget about you. There will be book dedications to you in the future.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The fine line between madness and brilliance

I think all writers are quite mad. We almost have to be to do what we do. Dozens, if not hundreds of characters live in our heads, all yelling at the tops of their lungs about their story that needs to be told immediately (at the most inopportune times, such as when the writer is trying to sleep or is taking a shower or driving - never when actually sitting down to write, it seems), and whole worlds are crammed in there as well. Dialog and character quirks and bizarre occurrences that make for amazing plot twists...it's all in there, clanging around like loose change in a dryer.

I've noticed in my day to day life that due to all of this brain clutter, I sometimes have trouble focusing on what is really happening. I was so lost in my own world the other day that when a co-worker interrupted me, I ended up responding to him like one of my characters that I happened to be thinking about.

Does this happen to other people??

Maybe I'm crazy for it, but I almost feel sorry for people if it doesn't. A mundane drive to work can become a dangerous flight through space, or a car chase, or the perfect place for a conversation with one of my characters. I sometimes feel like a foolish child for it, but I walk through life always expecting something magical to happen. I just know that one of these days I'm going to walk around the right corner and run into Doctor Who or Harry Potter or Gandalf. Kids are supposed to grow out of that. Most of them do.

But if that's what it means to grow up, I'll stay a kid forever, thanks.

And maybe my writing isn't brilliant. Maybe I'm just insane for hearing voices in my head and talking to myself incessantly and occasionally acting out a scene to nail down the particulars. But I have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. I just hope that I can capture all of the amazing adventures that go on in my head and that people will have as much fun reading them.

Monday, June 20, 2011

For the love of writing

Last week was a productive writing week. I got writing sessions in on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. I think that might just make up for the whole week I took off while I was on vacation. Almost.

I've made good headway on the next Sally Prescott adventure - wrote a couple more scenes, added in a new plot point for future stories, and outlined it through the end. I think I have three, maybe four scenes left to write. If all goes well, I will finish writing it this week/weekend. It needs a lot of editing work, so it won't be ready to post for awhile yet, but it'll feel good to actually have it written. Progress!

I also finished writing my Doctor Who fanfic story on Sunday! I am not really an avid supporter of fan fiction - is it really worth it to spend time writing something that you can never publish? - but it was hella fun to write. It actually turned out rather well, I think.

Sunday was absolutely amazing, though. I haven't spent several hours in a row doing nothing but writing (with the occasional trip to the bathroom or kitchen) since Nanowrimo last year. I'd forgotten what it was like to get so lost in writing that you have no idea what time it is, but being so excited about what you're doing that when you look up and it's been four hours, you don't even mind.

So I guess to answer my own question: yes, writing fan fiction is worth the time. Sometimes you just have to write because it's what you love to do.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Well Runs Deep

One of my biggest fears as a writer has always been that one day I will run out of ideas. Run completely and utterly dry. That maybe one day I'll get published, and my publishers will expect another book, and there will be nothing left in me. This (among other things) results in Writer's Block, an ever expanding pile of unfinished stories, cold sweats, and a crippling reluctance to submit manuscripts to publishing companies.

So one night as I lay in bed worrying about this, I started to tick off all the unfinished projects and ideas I have floating around. I found that I couldn't keep track of them all on my fingers. So over the next few days, I compiled a list - not just of ideas, but which of those ideas have sequel potential, as well.

After finishing said list, I am now more afraid that I will never be able to write them all! I am overwhelmed with the sheer number of stories that need to be told and that they are locked in my head until I record them. Terrifying!

So the hard part now is deciding which projects have the most potential - both for me actually completing them and also being published. I had probably better focus on those and stop getting distracted by the tangents.

(Yeah, right. I will always follow the tangents. Sometimes stories just pop up and insist that they need to be told right now, and I have no choice but to oblige.)

I am going to try not to panic. This is a good problem to have. Right? I really have my work cut out for me, so it's time to buckle down and get to writing.

We won't count the epically unproductive vacation I just got back from. I've put it behind me, and I will make up for it by plodding along with my regularly scheduled fits and starts.

Hopefully I will finish something soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vacation vs. Writing Retreat

I'm on vacation in Florida this week. I was super excited to have eight days of no work or responsibility so I could get a ton of writing done.

It's been an epic failure so far.

Saturday was consumed by traveling. Sunday we had our family reunion, and at the same time my brain decided that that wasn't enough, so it gave me a migraine. I lost yesterday to sun and surf - spent most of the day at the beach and the pool. So now I only have four days left here and another day of traveling home. I'd really like to finish and post the Sally Prescott adventure I'm working on before we head back towards Kansas, but I'm starting to worry that having too much free time as a writer is worse than not having enough. Vacation is not synonymous to writing retreat, I've realized.

Although in my defense, the beach is right there. And it's the beach. It's a hard thing to resist for a native Kansan.

Although actually, if I'm honest with myself, yesterday wasn't a total loss. I didn't get any actual writing in, but I did read through an old story I started several years ago - it's hand-written and one of my projects this summer is to transcribe all of my paper stories into electronic format - and I was impressed with how well-written it was. I had forgotten almost everything about it, and I got lost in the world while I was reading. It's a good sign when a writer can enjoy something he or she has written as much as an actual book. It gave me a burst of confidence. I am actually a good writer!

However...I decided not to start typing it yet. I realized what a huge project it is going to be, and I'm not letting myself move on to a new project until the Sally Prescott story is done. If I am ever going to build my writing portfolio, I need to work on finishing what I've started. Besides, I'm still really into the Sally Prescott world, which is where I need to be in order to finish her current tale. This new/old story will be a complete changing of gears. But. I am really excited about it now. It's going to be epic.


As I am a fair-skinned Kansan with a family history of skin cancer in Florida, I am banished inside between the hours of 11am and 2pm. That gives me a good two hours before I can make my way to the pool or the beach today. I think I'll try to make the most of it and get some writing in.

Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it. The ocean beckons...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Firsts

I got my first comments on a short story I posted on Scribd! And they came from people I don’t know and didn’t ask to read my stuff!! This may seem minor to some, but I am super excited.

It’s also gotten me thinking about the whole online publishing endeavor. I find myself worrying about things like copyright and story length and commenting on other people’s works in the community.

Copyright is my biggest worry right now. If I “self publish” my work on this website, and use the traditional copyright option (instead of, say, the Creative Commons Attribution/non-commercial copyright), does that somehow make it untouchable later for publishing houses? Am I even allowed to say my work is copyrighted, if all I’ve done is just say that it is, or do I have to go through some sort of process involving paperwork? Research must be done on this.

My second biggest worry is about which of my works I should post. It seems like my shorter short stories are getting more hits. I had thought about posting some of my “novel” length stuff from National Novel Writing Month (although I only have one of those finished and semi-ready to share), but now I wonder if they would even get readership. Book length might be too long.

The last worry is minor, but I have realized that in order to get my work more widely read, I have to get out there and read other people’s stuff. Because then they return the favor, and pass your stuff on to their friends, who may then pass it along to their friends. The networking of a writer has already begun. At the same time, though, I’m kind of excited to explore other works. Scribd is such a cool idea. Social reading and publishing. Brilliant.

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As the title of this entry implies, I have more than one “first” to share. The second “first” has to do with my editing “career.”

Editing is one of the career options I have considered pursuing instead of (or possibly in addition to) writing. My philosophy has been along the lines of the adage “those who can’t do, teach:” Those who can’t write, edit. This was before I would let myself believe that I am a good writer. The only thing I enjoy more than writing itself is reading, so editing seemed a logical choice. Plus I really get a thrill helping people with their writing (which is a topic that could be a whole blog entry in itself).

I mentioned my interest in editing to my old boss one day. As a faculty member, he’s always working getting articles in his field published. He said that the articles he was working on at the time needed another pair of eyes, and he offered me a freelance job. So I took home two of his manuscripts and spend a handful of hours pouring over the articles with a red pen. Quite pleased with myself, I returned his manuscripts with a tally of the time I put into them and quoted a couple of different hourly rates that I thought were fair (although to be honest I was just excited he was going to pay me anything at all).

That was maybe…eight months ago? I had almost given up, but I finally, FINALLY got a check in the mail from him. I officially got paid for my first editing job!

Can I put that on my resume? : )

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Your blog has been created!

Or so blogspot tells me, anyway.

I know I have about a dozen blogs already, but this is a special blog. This is my Prospective Writer blog.

From dictionary.com:

pro·spec·tive

adjective
1.    looking towards the future
2.    potential, likely, anticipated or expected


This blog will be a record of my journey. Which journey would that be, you ask? Well, maybe you don't ask, because the blog title is pretty telling. But for those of you who, like me, sometimes miss the big bold print: this is for my journey as a writer.

Not just any old writer, though. I already am a writer. I've been a writer since 1st grade when I wrote Sara and Cristina Go to Numberland for a class project. No, it's more than that. This past New Years I made a resolution (I really do try to achieve those silly things): my resolution, my goal, is to be a published writer within the next ten years. It was my 30th birthday, and I decided that it was time to get serious, and try to get published before I turn 40. I've toyed with a number of different career paths, but if I am truly honest with myself, I want to be a writer when I grow up.

And this means it's time to write. It's time to produce, it's time to finish projects that have been half-written for years, and once I have a substantial body of work, I will start trying to get published. Whether it be sending out query letters or self publishing online, my books will be available for people to buy.

So welcome, friends. Visit me often on my journey. I'll share with you the speed-bumps and the summits mounted, and I'll even let you read some of my work (you can find current works here, and I'll let you know when new stuff goes up). Now, go put on some hiking boots, grab some trail snacks, and let's hit the road.

Let the quest officially begin.