The benefits of writer’s block: there really are none

Writer’s block: an inability to think, combined with a deep sense of guilt, that no amount of caffein seems to be able to take away.writers block

But, I’m trying to look on the positive side:

  • I’m learning patience, especially with myself.
  • Challenges produce perseverance and character.

Meanwhile, all I have to write is AHHHHHHHHH!

No – actually – here are some strategies I’m about to try out:

  1. Find coffee
  2. Pray
  3. Find more coffee
  4. Procrastinate with Netflix
  5. Go for a run
  6. Stop procrastinating
  7. Coffee, again
  8. Pray, again
  9. Just write something (even though you’e probably delete most of it tomorrow)

No, seriously though: this is what I’m going to do: find one detail or scene that I really like so far and write three more sentences about that. I just ant to be able to write three sentences today…is that too much to ask for????

Time to drink coffee, pray and write those three sentences.

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo

Today, I accomplished my goal of writing 50,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Things didn’t go as planned:

  • I’d started Camp NaNoWriMo with a fresh new outline of Mirror of Sparrows, and I envisioned myself writing a complete first draft based on that outline. What a convenient vision!
  • About half way through, I realized that my outline had some major flaws. Oh well.
  • I started deleting and rewriting major chunks; I thought there was no way I was going to make my goal. I was very sad : (

Unexpected friendships and support:

  • I discovered a wonderful writing community.
  • On days when I really didn’t know if I could write #nanowordsprints made all the difference in the world.
  • Thank you @_voxveritasvita for encouraging me to stop deleting and just keep writing. Your time management skills, productivity and thoughtfulness inspired me.
  • I now love Twitter.

POV experiments:

  • NaNoWriMo was a great opportunity to experiment with point-of view.
  • I tried writing chunks in first person, and had so much fun doing it: I discovered that words flow fast for me when I write in 1st POV and its much easier to go really deep with the characters.
  • In the end, I decided to stick with third person. Though many YA novels are in first, I enjoy reading the third perspective more. Go figure.

New ideas:

  • Now, I have lots of fresh material and ideas for a new outline! Back to where I started!
  • I realize that some of you, especially those of you who care deeply for me, are concerned about the amount of rewriting I’m doing. Please don’t worry about me; I love it!

 

Christian Bale, Kristen Stewart, Joaquin Phoenix, and Colin Firth?

Some writing advice blogs suggest finding picture of who you imagine your characters to look like; therefore, I’ve been having a little bit of fun with this. However, if the characters look different in final Mirror of Sparrows, please don’t be irritated about it. Also, the people I picked are all ridiculously famous and good looking, so forgive me for being superficial. I’m procrastinating from doing real writing.

Colin: main character (though Molly is a tight second/originally she was the main deal) if I can pull off writing from a male POV. He’s a seventeen-year-old expert lock picker, has crazy star tattoos, fighter, needs to figure out where he belongs. I’m thinking young Christian Bale (my son and I just finished watching all his Batman movies).

young christian bale

Molly: sixteen-year-old who loves the rain, fighter, younger sister of Hugo. This came as an unexpected choice for me, but for some reason I’m going Kristen Stewart.  I really like the persona she carries.

Kristen Stewart

Hugo: twenty-seven-year-old champion stick fighter of Correnstrait, Molly’s older brother, rather mysterious personality. He’s a big deal. I’m thinking Hugo reminds me of Joaquin Phoenix. Originally I thought Joaquin would be Colin; but Colin appears a bit more light hearted.

Joaquin Phoenix

Barnes: drum roll please, the antagonist…of sorts. This has been the hardest and most fascinating character to discover. I’ve been trying to figure him out for a while (originally, he was a woman), but when this part comes together I think it’s gonna all fit together. Anyway, I’m going to go with the one and only, Mr. Colin Firth. Don’t ask why; I’m not entirely sure yet myself.

Colin Firth

Uncle Felix: Colin’s awesome uncle. I’m thinking Hugh Jackman. I love Hugh Jackman; I had to put him in here somewhere.

Hugh Jackman

Peace: Molly’s bestie. Dreaming big with Scarlett Johansson.

Scarlett Johanson

There are a few other important characters, but I think this is a good start for now! If you read this far, thanks!! And now you know a bit more about my book : )

Why I like to write in the morning, a poem

Why I like to write in the morningI like to write in the morning,

before reality – sets in.

I like to write in the morning,

before I recall what –

logically, probably, certainly – ain’t happenin’

I like to write in the morning,

when they day is

– still untouched.

Then, anything is possible,

And any dream’s attainable.

I like to write in the morning,

before the birds begin their words,

when stars are still out,

when the coffee is hot (decaf for lent, Kylie).

Fresh mind.

No stress.

No fear to interfere.

Only hope

– in the morning.

I like to write in the morning,

’cause that’s when I dream the biggest dreams.

When the improbable feels tangible,

when I feel unstoppable –

That’s why I like to I write in the morning.

Friends who inspire

Often, it’s tempting to disconnect from the world of people. After all, aren’t certain social interactions super challenging? Or, am I the only one?

There are those friends and family, however, who manage to tread lightly and inspire: these life givers tug me along in more ways than they can imagine.

One of them is my dear friend, Asami. Asami is one of the kindest, most authentic, creative and fun people I have met, and I wanted to record what huge a part she has played in my writing journey.

Sort of against her will, I filmed her playing the piano; she said she made mistakes in the below clip, but all I hear is a friend willing to play for me and fill my home with beautiful music. Thank you, Asami, for your friendship, generosity and your constant willingness to discuss life with me.

5 reasons why I feel like a writing failure

failure

Here’s what’s led me to feel like a writing failure:

  1. Reading what I wrote eight months ago and realizing how awful it was…and wondering if that’s how I’ll feel eight months from now about my current attempts at a novel.
  2. Suddenly noticing that my character arcs are pretty much non existent; and why hasn’t this occurred to me until today?????
  3. Proofreading an email; sending said email out to several dozen people; rereading said email and seeing a massive, embarrassing typo.
  4. Facing the puzzle of not knowing who my main character is anymore; should I have two main characters? Should I ditch my original main character? But I love her! It’s complicated. Sigh.
  5. Knowing that there are second graders out there who spell way better than I do (I helped as a round keeper at a spelling bee this past weekend). Double sigh.

Definitions of failure, just for fun (not):

Failure = lack of success, falling short

Quotes on failure, and my responses, for some more fun:

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden

What if you can’t figure out how to change, or you have the inability to…at least within one lifetime?

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch

I wish I were a phoenix; then, at least I would know I had hope.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Yeah, I’ve found about 500 ways…does that mean I have 9,500 left to go? Cry.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

It’s a long road and I’m walking barefoot, in the mud, and with a broken heart (okay, maybe not that bad).

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I don’t fear failure, I live and breathe failure.

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

Is it? Really?

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

…but how about several dozen? I feel confused.

Okay, that’s all I have for now…time to go have a cup of coffee.

sunk-cup-of-coffee

 

Why I want to give my book an awesome love story…

Background info:

  • I’m not fond of sad love stories, or weird love stories.
  • I want to be inspired by love, not left sad and depressed.

How I define an awesome love story (but this is not set in stone, I’m looking to grow from here):

  • A story that replenishes hope.
  • An endearing couple who, even with the odds against them, find a way to make things work: they show increasing resilience, persistence, creativity, and strength.

What should a happy ending look like? Is it a wedding, a bunch of healthy/happy kids, and all your goals and dreams come true?

  • To me, a happy ending is finding out who will journey with you – they love you and won’t let go of you – and they let you do the same for them.
  • Basically, I don’t want a story where love dies, but a story where love lives on…physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I that too much to ask for?

calvin-on-love

 

Transformed perspective

 

path-up-a-mountain

At the end of February, I will have been writing Mirror of Sparrows for two years! Somedays I get discouraged at the pace I’m going, but then again, I’m super excited about something else: time, study and effort have completely transformed my approach to writing, and I no longer write, read books or watch movies the way that I used to.

Here is a little summary of my journey:

First draft story (end of Feb 2015-fall 2015): Almost everyday, I put in the time and the words, and wrote whatever came to mind. The result was fantastic! Within a matter of months I had a complete novel … a completely unstructured and meandering novel…but I had actually accomplished what I’d set out to do, write a whole novel. Hurray!

Second draft story (fall 2015 – spring 2016): After reading a few books on writing, I reworked Mirror of Sparrows, this time with attempts at structure (1st plot point, midpoint, 2nd plot point and climax). I also hired a freelance editor (or two); but honestly, I don’t think that they had much more of a solid grasp on novel structure than I did. Nonetheless, a few people read my novel and thought it was decent (that was my impression), though not without some issues.

Current draft story (spring 2016-present): My current freelance editor shredded my novel to pieces, and it took me several days to recover. But that’s when I decided I was committed to making it happen, no matter how incompetent I initially felt. I’ve learned how to rework my novel on so many levels since then! Although it sometimes seems like I have little to show for (I’ve been spending a TON of time on it), I can see my words take on life beyond my wildest imagination. You would think that creativity and effort alone would be sufficient to write a novel (and to some extent it was enough…for my first draft), but I’ve found that structure and clear principles of writing are bringing my characters and plot alive.

Goals: My goal is to keep on writing and learning. I feel like a sophomore now. I know enough to realize how little I know…and many times I find out that I think I know a lot more than I actually do : ) I can’t wait to see the end product!