Cheyenne, Wyoming

pizza 2

This is John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in our Stars (and other great books). He’s one of my favorite YouTubers, as he and his brother Hank make weekly videos about nerdy, silly, serious, relevant, and random things. They make you laugh, make you think, and make you want to make a difference in the world.

Oh, and John Green occasionally talks about book-writing. ANYwho, a few months ago he made a video called Cheyanne, Wyoming, in which he brings up something really interesting: the idea of mentally going away while writing.  Here’s the video if you want to watch it, otherwise, just skip down below!

 

I think there’s definitely some merit to this: to write, we have to live in our story a bit. I think this is why NaNoWriMo works so well for so many people: writing a novel in a month forces you to stay in your story for that time without getting out. It’s like signing up for a month in Cheyenne, Wyoming – and you tell your friends and family about it, so they hopefully understand that you’ll be mentally checked out for 30 days.

But what about when it’s not November?

For most of us, we have Day Jobs (or as my friend Amie calls them, ‘Muggle Jobs’) that take up our time.  Or we’re students, and class and homework are our day jobs.  We have family and friends and responsibilities.  We encounter things every day that make it hard for us to exist in Cheyenne.  How do we apply this to our busy lives?

Here’s something I’ve found: the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to jump back into my story. Or on the flip side, if I write every day, it’s so simple to climb into my story when I sit down to write.

That being said, the sentiment “WRITE EVERY DAY” tends to make me angry, because it implies that if you miss a day of writing, you can’t be a writer (which is NOT TRUE). But if we look at the heat behind it – that to stay mentally connected with your story, you have to visit it frequently – then I think we’ll learn a lot.

I traveled a lot this past summer.  I visited two different continents (Europe and Asia), three different states in the US (Virginia, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and flew over 23,000 MILES.  It seemed like I was gone more than I was home. But now I’m home, and settled, and ready for somewhere new.  I’m packing my bags for Cheyenne, Wyoming. Anyone wanna come?

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Truth and Lies

I’ve been struggling with writing lately.  Am I really cut out for this?  Should I just give up and do something else with my life?  Is this all just a waste of my time?

There’s a lot of voices in my head. (That’s why I’m a writer, right?)  Today’s post is to put them into writing, and then set them straight.  Time to sort out the truth from the lies.

Lie: My writing is no good.

Truth: Some of my writing is bad, but most of my writing is decent and has potential.  And some of my writing is actually really, really good.

Lie: My work isn’t good enough to get published.

Truth: Even if my current WIP doesn’t have publishing potential, that doesn’t mean that I can’t get published.  Hard work and perseverance pay off.

Lie: If my First Finished Novel isn’t good enough to publish, then it’s been a waste of time.

Truth: If that WIP never gets published, it still has taught me so much about writing (and publishing).  It was still an amazing project and I am so grateful for its impact on my life.

Lie: Writing isn’t fun anymore.

Truth: Writing really is fun.  Not-writing-but-thinking-about-writing is awful.  Also, sometimes working for too long on one project makes it dull and boring, but writing itself is something I really enjoy.

Lie: If I don’t have good plot ideas, I can’t write.

Truth: Most of my plot ideas come to me as I write.  The act of writing generates ideas, and the more I write, the more I’ll be able to.

Lie: Sitting down to write is a waste of time.

Truth: Sometimes, I don’t get anything done when I sit down to write.  But most of the time, if I start writing, the Muses will meet me at my laptop.  Sometimes they don’t, but the more I pursue them, the more likely they are to show up.

Lie: I have to wait for inspiration to be able to write.

Truth: Writing produces inspiration.  Writing is hard, but it’s worth it.  Put in the hard work, and it pays off.

Don’t listen to the lies your brain wants to tell you.  When it lies to you, just say “that’s enough of that.”  Get on with your writing and make 2017 a good writing year.

thats-enough-of-that

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.

I’m Back! And “Doing The Hard Thing” Discussion.

Hello world.  Have you missed me?  It’s been two weeks, but I’m back.  The real reason I haven’t been posting is because I haven’t really been writing or editing much.

To be honest, I had hit a bit of a roadblock.  One story needs last minute edits, the second needs fairly large re-writes, and the third needs to be written.  I was at a place where I didn’t have the motivation to jump into any project.  I just wanted to sit at home and read and watch TV.

But never fear!  I’m back.  I’ve jumped back in.  I’ve written a brand-spanking-new opening scene for my first novel (it involves sneaking out of a second-story window), and I’m psyched to get the other edits finished this week.  I’m back, and I’m here to stay.

Because I’m not a dreamer.  I’m a WRITER.

Dreamers write a little for fun, but when the going gets tough, they switch to another story, try something different, or simply give up.  But Writers – Writers – push through, keep trying, and write til their fingertips are sore.  Writers will do the hard thing now because that’s what we do.

I think this whole concept is summed up pretty well in a recent VlogBrothers video:

 

So this blog post is a promise that I will keep doing the hard thing now because I want Future Me to be a published author.  And maybe this post will also be an encouragement for any of you out there who have been waiting around for the opportune moment before you get back into writing.  Don’t wait, don’t dream.  Write.