Personal Milestones & October Goals

It’s September 30th… Tomorrow is October… Where has this year gone?

So yesterday was a complicated day for me. It was the anniversary of losing my grandfather, and even though it hurts knowing that I won’t be seeing his smile or hearing his laugh this holiday season, I spent the day doing what I do best: working.

Anytime there’s a significant date (for most, this is birthdays or other holidays), I take a few moments to reflect on what’s happened this past year, eg. how I’ve grown, what I’ve accomplished, etc.

In the past year, I wrote my third complete MS, had it beta read, and have deconstructed it to paste it back together. That deconstruction started mid-May and here I am, entering October, with only a few new chapters left to write/revise before I begin to polish for querying. It’s surreal, seeing how close I am to turning the page on this chapter of my journey (pun SO intended).

But (and I’m going to get super sappy here) I couldn’t have gotten this far without the support of my friends, family, and the writing community.

My poor friends and family. I apparently have two modes of conversation: writing and discussing world issues. I do try to act like a human being, but that never lasts long. People bring up a movie or tv show, I mention the writing or cinematography, then the conversation begins to lull. Woops.

But I have some of the most loving and compassionate people in my life. A couple weeks ago, I was experiencing this insane bit of writers doubt, so I called my dad, who I haven’t discussed my writing with very much in the past. And he was fantastic, truly, wonderfully fantastic. He didn’t give me a “it’s all going to be all right” pat on the head, but a “you’ve been working so hard toward this; you’ll continue to do so until you make it happen” pep talk. It was exactly what I needed in that moment… I may have teared up in the middle of Starbucks… I love my dad.

And since I’ve already climbed onto this sappy soapbox, let me tell you about my very lovely CP’s. There’s a lot that makes up the perfect CP. You want someone who will keep you excited about your project while still pushing you to write better stories. And I’ve found a brilliant group of writers who put up with my neurosis. All I can say is thank God for Twitter and Facebook DM’s. Otherwise, my brain would be rolling around on the floor because my skull couldn’t contain it. My dear friend, Lynanne (check out her blog, Daybreak In Autumn), is a fellow YA fantasy writer who will go back and forth with me about characters, plots, and world building; not to mention discussing YA books, trends, as well as some choice manga’s and anime’s.

Then there’s all of you beautiful people who visit this blog and leave wonderfully supportive comments. I wasn’t sure where this blog would go when I started, but I don’t think I was prepared for all the positive feedback! I remember reading a comment a few months ago and I was crying (again at Starbucks) because I felt so humbled and thankful for a stranger’s support. (Looking at you, Nicolette Elzie & Aura Eadon! Check out their blogs, A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly and Into The Imagination Vortex.)

Ok, ok. I’ll stop with the sap.

So I’ve added a few new things to this blog (Personal Musings being one of them), but I’ve also started posting book reviews. On top of finishing up the current draft of Guarded (the current WIP & Book 1 of my YA F series) and preparing for drafting Enveloped (NaNo 2015 Novel & Book 3 of the series), I’ll be posting my reviews of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. I’ve already posted my review of book 1, Throne of Glass. You can check that out here. A new review will be posted every Friday before noon CST.

What about ya’ll? What are your October goals? Who keeps you motivated? Share in the comments below.

Happy writing!

Writer’s Doubt: The Fine Line Between Useful & Awful

So in the past two years, my writing has grown and changed exponentially. I joined critique groups and found critique partners that have helped push me to write better prose. But the more my writing improves, the more pronounced my self-doubt becomes… makes a whole lotta sense, right?

Writer’s doubt isn’t exactly anything new. Everyone experiences it at some point, but what separates writers from people who want to write is how we deal with that doubt.

Writers take that doubt and turn it into fuel to write better stories. People who want to write let that doubt stop them from doing so.

Here’s the thing. A healthy amount of doubt keeps us humble and challenges us to do better. “Is this dialogue really necessary?” “Does this metaphor actually do what it’s suppose to?” “Am I actually portraying the right sentiment here?”

Those are useful questions when editing your manuscript.

“What the F am I doing with my life?” “No one could possibly love my stories.” “Why am I wasting my time with day dreams?”

Those are NOT helpful.

God’s honest truth: I’ve never asked whether I should stop writing. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had super crippling self-doubt. Had a fit of it last night actually. It was to the point where it felt like a vice on my heart. It sucked.

It was also NOT helpful.

I don’t think I could stop writing even if I wanted to. My characters and their stories would somehow separate one of my ribs and use it as a battering ram to get out (gruesome picture, I know). So the unhelpful self-doubt is nothing more than a painful annoyance that likes to make a fuss when it feels forgotten.

But when that happens, you just have to write through it. I know that’s easier said than done. But take that anxiety and turn it into words.

Rocking out to Florence and the Machine and Sia helps… that may just be me…

Happy Writing

Anxiety and Resilience: Waiting on the Critique

At the beginning of April, I took the plunge and submitted my WIP to beta readers. The five people reviewing my MS are all incredibly talented writers with works of their own and I am INDEBTED to them for taking the time tear my first book apart.

BUT . . . waiting for their notes has been . . . well . . . a rollercoaster of anxiety.

Now don’t get me wrong, I live for improvement. I am so excited to hear their thoughts and dig through their notes to make my WIP the best it can possibly be before I start querying it to agents. But no matter how excited I am for the draft that will result from their feedback, I can’t help but fear the potential for having my heart ripped out my chest.

For the majority, I like to maintain a rational, objective viewpoint when receiving critiques. No note is a bad note, regardless of its level of usefulness. I thrive off constructive criticism but this is my first time having my book read cover-to-cover. Safe to say, I’m out of my mind.

Below is an example of my mind this past month:

Right Brain: What if they hate it? They could hate it. It’s YA Urban Fantasy. They could definitely hate it.

Left Brain: Even if they did hate it, they wouldn’t say so. They’d give you criticism on what exactly obstructed their enjoyment.

Right Brain: But what if they hated it so much they just don’t have words?

Left Brain: That’s why there’s a rubric, to prompt feedback.

Right Brain: But what if it was so bad, we have to start all over?

Left Brain: Then we’ll start all over with their notes in mind.

On and on, this conversation went, plaguing my mind with stress and anxiety and doubt. These negative feelings are a part of life, especially in such subjective fields as writing and art. What’s important is how you react to it.

Regardless of what brutal notes I get from my beta readers, I know I’m still going to push forward and work hard until I achieve my goals. I’m just stubborn like that. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 24 years, it’s that your level of resilience must be equivalent to that of your projected success. Dreams take time and hard work to come to fruition. So when you meet those roadblocks, if success is important to you, you’ll find a way to overcome them.

Here’s to pushing forward!