A Little Thing I Wrote

Some days, the words just won’t be written.  The novel is hiding in a far-off land, the plot is taking the day off.  On those days, you take the elevator to the top floor of your school’s library, let go of your expectations, and simply write for fun.  Sometimes, writer’s blocks need to be written around.  Sometimes you need to remind yourself how to connect your brain to your fingers to the keyboard.  Sometimes you need to remind your fingertips how to sing their melody as they tap the rhythm of a story.

Somedays, you don’t get any noveling done, but you fall a little more in love with the power of writing.  Somedays, that’s all you need.

I’d love to now share with you a little thing I wrote: Libraries and Dragons.  It’s not really a short story – more like an essay in an imaginary world.  It hasn’t really been edited; it’s not going to win any awards.  But I love it anyways, and this little tiny piece reminded me that writing is a sort of magic that I adore.  So.  Enjoy.

One last note: the first paragraph is a note to myself.  But it’s kinda a part of the piece, so I left it there.

Alright, brain.  You’ve had your coffee, now write your words.  Forget the product, the answer, the perfection.  Write the words.  The words are the only thing you care about.  The words, the words, the words.

All libraries are living things.  Picture them dragons, if you will.  They’re not dragons – no, they’re nowhere near as polite as dragons – but picture them dragons for a minute.  They’re really quite similar if you think about it.

The largest of the dragons are the Nightmares, ancient things, all black scales and blazing eyes, huge leathery wings that haven’t tasted night air in centuries but would blanket the world in darkness if they were opened.  These dragons are like the Great Old Libraries.  The libraries that now only exist in faraway lands and are in danger of disappearing entirely.  Most people only see pictures of them on Pinterest.  But a picture can’t capture the smell of thousands of souls, aging away together for centuries until their stories are all intertwined.

The next in size are your Sea Dragons – not really dragons, per say.  (Although never try telling a Sea Serpent that she’s not a real dragon; it will be the last thing you say.)  These represent your – uh – electronic libraries.  Provided for you by deities such as the great River-God Amazon.  Do they count as real libraries?  Can a book still be a book if it’s pixels instead of paper?  Can a dragon still be a dragon if she doesn’t breathe fire?

The next largest in size are the Green Giants.  It’s said that they like to impersonate hills, curling up for years on end, covering themselves in dirt blankets, letting green grass feel at home on top of their already emerald scales.  These are the noble dragons, quick to come to the aid of needy kingdoms, quicker still to deliver justice to those who betray their trust.  These are like College Libraries.  They come in many shapes and sizes, but most are light-filled and shiny, always being renovated and repaired, full of bustling students and sleepy sunshine.  If you’re not careful with them, they’ll suck you away and you’ll never be seen again.

Then you’ve your Common Dragons – your Public Libraries.  They come in all shapes, sizes, textures, and colors, each full of their own magic.  First there’s the fast-growing White Dragon, which is full size in six months, and eats only vegetation.  These are the shiny new public libraries, such as you’ll find in any suburbia: spacious and brimming, with smiling librarians and fast wi-fi.  Second, you have the Blue Gypsies – these smaller dragons are known for speaking in verse and giving directions (usually in rhyming couplets) to those who have lost their way.  These are represented by those quaint, compact little libraries you’ll find in small towns. Candles of light and knowledge for the weary traveler come home.

Finally, we come to the Hound Dragons, named for their small size and dog-like trainability.  These are the most popular species to keep as pets, as they are quite happy to nest indoors, and also will follow humans with unwavering devotion if they are treated fairly.  The males are deep purple and the females are scarlet, and they have clever faces, bright eyes, and nimble talons.  Their smaller wings are only practical for short-distance flying, and they prefer climbing, hoping, and bounding with short bursts of flight, unmistakably like large grasshoppers.  These dragons are like Home Libraries.  Some are quite small, some are more impressive; some are old, and some are filled with crisp new spines.  Like the Hound Dragons, home libraries tend to reflect the nature of their owners, and one can learn a great deal about what sort of house one is in simply by examining either the dragon or the library.  If a house is missing one or both, it is recommended that you exit the premises as soon as possible, as the home may be prone to Nargle infestation.

There you have it: hopefully this discussion will help you in the future, either when dealing with the winged beasts or the book-filled creatures.

Caring for the Writer Outside – Part 2

Last post, I talked about caring for your inner writerly-self by consuming good art, and finding inspiration in the things you see and listen to and read.  The second part of this Writerly Care discussion is on Self Care – that is, taking care of the Outer You, the shell you walk around in every day.  We as human beings – and especially as writers – tend to forget to take care of ourselves sometimes.

Here’s the thing: I feel like it’s so much easier to access that creative side of my brain when my body is well taken care of.

I’ve found some pretty straightforward self-care methods that help me feel like a better, more energized person – so therefore also a better writer.  Here’s my top 5 tips for caring for the Outside of the Writer:

1.  Drink Water

*Whispers* okay I know this one is a bit cliche, and writers hate cliche things.  But really, folks.  Drink water instead of soda.  Drink water when you feel hungry.  Drink water as you write.  Drink ice water when you want something to make you feel better.  Drink water.

2.  Exercise (or at least go outside!)

I can feel your reactions.  You’re all doing this:

cas head tilt

“Hmmm, exercise?  No thanks.  I’d rather shoot myself in the foot.  Then I’d have a valid excuse to sit in my comfy chair all day.”

But listen.  I’m not saying you have to run a marathon.  I’m saying get up from your laptop and do 20 Jumping Jacks.  I’m saying take your dog on a walk.  Who knows? Maybe you’ll find some plot bunnies while you’re out walking around.  I know that for me, personally, I feel a lot better after exercising.  My mind is clear, my body is tired-in-a-good-way, and I feel energized and ready to face the day.  And when I do sit down to write, it’s that much easier to focus, sink into my world, and let the words flow from my fingertips.  A small writer’s block is often cured by some sunshine and fresh air.

And if the outdoors is too much for you, get up and put on some music, and dance around like a drunk giraffe (as demonstrated by the 11th Doctor in the gif below).  It will get your blood flowing and your ideas churning.

drunk giraffe

 

3.  Eat (something) Healthy

I like to munch a lot as I write, so it’s important that I have some healthy snacks in my house.  If I consume chips and chocolate all day long, my body and mind feel yucky.  That’s not to say that you can’t eat chocolate.  Please, eat chocolate.  But also find some fruits or veggies that you enjoy.  Writing is hard, you guys, so why not fuel your physical self with good things instead of yucky things?

Also, I’ve heard some of you lovely writerly folk say that on a particularly intense writing day, you simply forget about meals.  I get it: there have been times when I’m mid-chapter and forget about eating lunch or something.  So, I recommend you stock your refrigerator (or, if you’re a college kid, your lil’ mini-fridge) full of healthy snacks like yogurt and fruit before a big writing day.  Then you can grab something nourishing and get right back to it.

eat you'll feel better lupin.gif

 

4.  Get Enough Sleep (at least occasionally)

I know we have this idea of the Brilliant Writer being up at 2am, madly pounding away at their keyboard.  But that doesn’t have to be true.  *Checks time* 1:58 am.  Hehehe.

Sure, if inspiration rears its ugly head at midnight, get up and type for a while.  But also, try to give yourself enough rest.  Don’t be afraid to take a night off to go to bed early and recharge your body.  You’re not going to be your best writerly self when you’re brain’s got a Tiredness Cloud hovering about.

Yes, coffee is a writer’s best friend.  But sometimes sleep is a good pal, too.

coffee

 

5.  Forgive Yourself

Okay, this last one is a more about your inner writer than your outer one.  But this one is an important thing for me to remember: writing begins with forgiveness.  I grabbed this idea from this blog post, but let put it this way: don’t let yesterday’s failure affect today’s success.  Forgive yourself for not writing yesterday, or at all the past week, or the past month.  And then sit down and write today.

Look, right now I’m a busy college student, and writing isn’t my job.  It’s my hobby.  Being a full-time student is my job, and as much as I want writing to be my profession, it’s not right now.  So, if I’ve spent the last three days studying for exams instead of writing, I’m not going to beat myself up.  Sitting down to write today is wonderful and delightful, and if it’s the first time in a while I’ve done so, that’s okay.  I’m going to enjoy it anyways.

Which of these do you struggle with?  Do you relate to this advice at all?  Do you have any more writerly wisdom to share on the subject of self-care?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

End Goals

Sorry I’ve been gone for a while.  You can assume that when I’m not blogging as much, it also means I’m not writing as much.

College Life has kinda got me like:

bucky being epic.gif

I can hear your response:

drama-queen

Okay, yes.  I’m being dramatic.  I only have 2 finals this week, and neither one will be that painful.  Hopefully.  I’m really enjoying college, and I’m also really ready for break.

So. Writing.  I’m still writing The Sequel, just not as fast as I’d like to be. (This is the sequel to my finished-and-edited novel, The Sound of Color.)  I’ve been reading a ton, and not super motivated to write.  I’m feeling very un-motivated.  I think this is why:

I don’t feel like I’m moving forward.  There’s a voice inside my head going what’s the point in writing the rest of this series if it’s never gonna get published?  And I think this has to do with the Querying Phenomenon.  Let me explain.

In all other parts of the writing process, it’s fairly easy to see your progress.  For example, in writing the rough draft, you can see your word-count go up.  You can measure that your plot is moving forward.  You have an End To The Story, and each paragraph you write gets you closer.

Same with re-writing.  Each scene you cut or add is a tangible step towards the finished story.  Okay, editing can seem endless.  But you know that the novel will only take roughly four or five “passes” before it’s “done,” or at least “good enough.”  (Four to five is my own personal number.  You may have your own, and that’s cool.)  With each editing pass, you can feel the story getting stronger, better.  You’re streamlining, adjusting, and you can see the Final Product take shape before your eyes.  There is a clear end to editing.

But querying?  Not so much.  There’s this far-off day when maybe an agent emails back, asking for more chapters of the story.  There’s this impossibility that perhaps they’ll like that chunk enough to ask for the whole story.  And then, perhaps, per-maybe-haps, they will sign you on.

And even after that, there’s more work.  More edits.  And finally, finally, you get published.

Getting an agent… it just seems so improbable.  Agents get tens of thousands of queries each year, and they might take on two or three new clients in that year.  So the “getting an agent” thing is just hard.  And it’s not like “oh yes, once you send out the magic number of 43 query letters, you are certain to get an agent.”  Nope.  Your first query letter could land you an agent.  Or your 402nd.  Or you could sent out 1,000 and never hear back from an agent, except for “no thank you.”

If I just knew how many query letters my personal novel required, I would have finished by now.  Like if I knew it was going to take exactly 78 query letters, I would have sent out those 78.  But as it is, there is an unknown number between zero and infinity.  It’s hard to make a single query letter, or even ten, seem like a substantial stepping stone compared to an unknown infinity.

That’s not to mention that each and every query letter requires about half an hour of research.  It’s a lot.  And it’s not really fun research.  It feels like half an hour down the drain when they reply a week later saying, “This sounds delightful, but most fantasy novels should be over 100,000 words.  Your isn’t.  So thanks but no thanks.”  (I got an email back basically saying that.)

And just when I was feeling ready for another round of queries, the holidays hit.  Most literary agencies close shop in December and January, so I can’t start querying again until then.  So, here’s my goal.

By February 1, 2017

  • Finish the re-read/edit of TSOC that I’m doing now
  • Re-evaluate (for the 100 millionth time) my query letter
  • Write my synopsis (because some agents are evil and want an amazing query letter AND a flawless first ten pages AND a 1-2 page synopsis.  Yay.)
  • Be ready to send out fan-tab-u-lous query + first 10 pages + synopsis when necessary

Also, if time:

  • Finish the rough draft of The Sequel.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’re doing finals this week, best of luck.  Study like Hermione Granger is watching you.  Be kind to yourself, and be kind to others.  Remember that stories are important.  Your story is important.  Someone out there needs to read it, so please keep writing it.

I’ll be over here studying, reading, and writing.  Oh, and also drinking coffee like this:

this, my friend, is a pint

I’ll see you when I’m on Winter Break.  And as they say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome.