writing

A Reason <3

pexels1Writers do what they do for eleventybillion reasons and then some. I know–I’ve counted. And at least half of those are the same reasons that drive me to keep working towards publishing what I write even when it’s not an easy road to tricycle or bigwheel or otherwise travel. And so it goes, me doing what I do because Reasons. But sometimes, someone gives me a reason or at least provides context for me to articulate one of my reasons for doing what I do. This happened to me last week. I’m neck-deep in edits for a SUPER exciting piece, planning and outlining several more rad projects of win, hammering away at Day Job duties while life happens in its lifey way around me when suddenly, bam—a message from an old friend.

We back-and-forthed for a bit but she utterly floored me when she told me that she had two of my characters in her head, just hanging out with her while she folded laundry, that she had deliberately carved out time to not just read my work, but leave a super!awesome review on Goodreads. Best of all, she told me that she wanted to read more. This friend is a busy woman. She is immersed, as all of us are, in the thousands of big and little things that drive us through these minutes into hours into days of our lives but at some point, she allotted some of that time to my words and then took more time still to tell me that those minutes with my words made her day better.

What grander of a compliment can a writer receive? More of your work, please…more that I will have to make time for (totally not her words, but that is the reality of sitting down and getting a thing done)…

I write to explore, yes. To build worlds. To be who am I not, and doubly who I am. However, in the end, I write to communicate and if what I’ve done takes someone on a journey, provides respite or just a bit of fun then holy wow, I’ve done something right.

So to my friend, and any other readers who have enjoyed my work or to all the other writers and readers out there creating and seeking narratives to enrich their lives in some way—thank you. You are the everything, to quote R.E.M. You are the BEST. Read on, write on, and now that I’ve taken minutes to say these words, back to edits! <3

Thriving Artists

Hey, creatives–Imma say a thing. *ahem* Once upon a time last year, a fellow writer cautioned me, telling me that I shouldn’t ever expect to get paid for my work.  No. No, no. No. No? No. NO! Nooooooooooooo. Newp. I keep running across this same issue with other writers, jewelers, artists, musicians, sculptors, and so many other creatives (forgive me if I’m leaving you out–I’m keeping this brief for the sake of impact). Now, I understand that exposure for your project or product is a good and right thing. Free samples, demonstrations, or sales on affordable commission all make good sense. They make even better sense when you offer them from an already existing creative platform such as your portfolio website or your writer’s blog where it’s clear that you are not just some kid in a sandbox offering to build a moat, but a creative professional with a valuable product to offer. I know some of you will wince at the word “product” and maybe even legit barf when you hear “branding,” but it’s true. Not just true, but necessary if you want to be paid for creative work which in my humble opinion, is healthy and just as it should be. We don’t question paying for someone to cook our food, for getting our hair done did, for having our cars cleaned and detailed, for personal trainers. Why do we devalue our own work, then? Work that takes hours to produce and hone, that takes a lifetime to get just right?

If you start to feel like what you’re doing is not valuable, please address this feeling with a Stuart Smalley-esque pep talk, and look at this graphic I made for ya’ll (use it any-damn-where you want) and remember that what you do is important to the world, that it takes time, resources (sometimes expensive resources) and more time, and that getting paid for it is as it should be. The “starving artist” mentality is not what we should be keeping in the collective consciousness when it comes to creativity–I’ll go with thriving artist any day. <3

thrive

How To Beat Writing Anxiety

Happy Friday, writers and readers alike! Lately I have been thinking about how every single writer (and artist and musician and human being) I know seems to suffer from bouts of self-doubt, low esteem, and anxiety that can lead to creative blockage and existential crises. With this in mind, I developed a little checklist of helpful hints on battling these gremlins of doubt.

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AGGRESSIVE SILHOUETTE PEN WILL SHOW YOU HOW IT’S DONE–

I am new to writing and publishing, and I can’t help but find it intimidating when so many of my friends make it look easy. How do I deal with that?

WRITE! Find your process, discover your voice, and understand productivity cycles, your genre preferences, and where you shine. When you are not writing, fill your well with inspiration and research places to send your work, and how to start sending it. Like anything else, you’ll discover that you have your own strengths and routines and it will start to feel second nature.

I feel like I’m running into blocks the size of planetoids. How do I get past this awful writer’s block?

WRITE! Let yourself play, explore, frolic in the spring-lush meadows of an unsullied page. Scribble in notebooks, type nonsense–just write like you don’t even care and you’ll be surprised how sneaky your subconscious mind can be about slipping you ideas that you can use to sabotage those blocks!

What do you suggest I do when I look around me and can’t help but feel like everybody is better at this writing and publishing game than I am?

WRITE! Practice makes awesome, and if you’re busy writing, you don’t have time to compare yourself to others. Writing is work but as with any craft, the more you practice it, the better you will get and the more confidence you will build in the process!

So I wrote a thing and sent it in and now I’m going nuts, waiting waiting waiting. What do I do when I’m anxious about pieces I’ve submitted and not heard back on?

WRITE! Waiting is just an inevitable part of the submissions process, should you choose to go that route. Knowing this, just dive into your next project. Writing occupies your mind and gives you a wonderful sense of accomplishment, plus you have another manuscript ready to send out when any other is grabbed up!

I got a rejection and I’m kind of freaking out. How do I handle that sort of hit?

WRITE! I’ve lost count of the rejections I’ve received (though I am sure I could go to my writer’s spreadsheet and tally them). Rejection is another inevitable part of the process and getting a rejection is a great way to work at professionalism, growing a thick skin, and knowing how to improve for next time. Writing through the frustration can do nothing but help you, ballast you, and prove to you that this is for real, that you are serious about producing quality writing and working towards your goals.

I got an acceptance and I’m kind of freaking out. How do you handle fear of success, odd as that sounds?

WRITE! Also, if required, EDIT! If you were able to land a piece somewhere, then it’s a good sign that you did the work and did it well. It’s also a sign that you might be onto something, and that maybe, just maybe you have more in you that the world will want to read. They can’t read it if you don’t write it, so you know what to do…sit your heinie down (after a celebration because, omg GO YOU!) and, you got it–WRITE.

 

 

#carltonhappydance

I am finished with a giant editing project. I have started a SHINY NEW PROJECT OF SO MUCH YESSSSSS. The sun has come out for more than two days in the last two weeks. That means it’s time…time for THE CARLTON DANCE.

So for your homework, listen to this:

And look at this:

YdmGHYG

That is all. As you were, soldiers.

The One

Life can be so full.

Full of both beauty and awfulness in the world at large, full of minutia in our work-a-day routines, full of the emotions and road-bumps and triumphs that comprise any human life. This fullness affects us. How can it not? I’ve been struggling with time-management lately–prioritizing the Day Job, the Emergent Writing Career, my important relationships, my interactions with a difficult world, and my attempts to make things better.

One lesson emerges over and over again, smacking me upside the noggin with its simple obviousness: One thing at a time. The masses of work, of problems to be solved, even of facets of life to be loved are overwhelming so I have to remember to step back and break things into smaller, more manageable Heres and Nows. I can’t do it all. I can’t know where any one step will take me in the future. Instead, I am in this moment, doing this one thing. And then the next one thing, and the next.

So, lovely readers–how do you deal with the stresses of everyday life, of balancing careers and hobbies and volunteering and all the other millions of things that you do?

theone

I AM A CREATOR (AND DESTROYER) OF WORLDS!

I was thinking this morning. Sort of. More, a stuttering Morse-coded pulse of half-formed ideas fueled by a small cup of coffee. Out of these disparate telegraphs came one actually useful realization…holy crap, I am a creator (and sometimes destroyer) of worlds! (MUAHAHAHAHA?)

Terrifying, in the wrong context. But as a writer, it’s kind of my job to terraform, conjure, weave my magicks, and build-build-build. We wordsmiths have a tremendous amount of power. We scheme and plan and imagine and create. We establish the rules, systems, and patterns governing our creations. We populate our vistas with myriad creatures, with stunning fauna, or with desolate wastelands. Out of the raw stuff of our minds, we fashion heroines and villains and all the shades of gray in between. How freaking awesome is that?

There is nothing like that lightning-strike instant when, over tea and the sound of rain pattering against the windows, something hits me–an idea. A vision, face or a snatch of song. That snippet gives way to a rickety bit of scaffolding that then morphs into an empire. Amazing. There is so much possibility in this nascent phase of writing. So much magic–particularly in spec-fic, where I can create whatever I can imagine. It’s the playground of writing where I linger before the hard work of plotting and hammering out those pesky words. I surround myself with music that inspires me, with movies and games that fan the flames. Suddenly, a world is born. And I push up my sleeves and get to work crafting the stories that take place in this newly forged world. Anyone reading this–do you experience that same sense of wonder? Or is world-building a Herculean task that you find more daunting than all the plotting in the universe? I’d love to hear your thoughts.