i believe in honesty –
x is x and y is y –
like frost on snowy days,
and also in
the off-key notes
that every artist plays,
barely thought out rhymes,
and in the bizarre colors
that you see when you
i believe in honesty –
x is x and y is y –
like frost on snowy days,
and also in
the off-key notes
that every artist plays,
barely thought out rhymes,
and in the bizarre colors
that you see when you
This year has not been my greatest writing-wise.
I finished one draft of a novel I’m happy with; everything else turned out to be a mess. Perhaps 2017 has been too emotionally loaded for me to connect with characters. Maybe it’s more optimistic: it could be that I’ve improved so much, I can’t be happy with anything I wrote two years ago.
Edits for The Autumn Prince have become rewrites. There was no other option, as my writing style became too advanced to blend with older chapters. I could have forced myself to keep going; however, I asked friends for advice and did some contemplation. I realized I would be wasting my time sticking with a draft I couldn’t feel.
Someone told me that if I don’t want to write a story, readers won’t want to read it. Because of this, I decided to start over with a new plot. This time I created an outline, so I’ll have a map when I begin in January. The original Autumn Prince will soon be on Wattpad. I spent a lot of time on that story and don’t want to toss it out.
Reading is a wonderful way to improve your writing skills. I had always known that, but never experienced it so clearly until now. Though I am still fond of the original Autumn Prince, I’m relieved to not be forcing a storyline that doesn’t feel natural. With this outline, a new book will be finished in 2018.
I’m entering 2018 with greater drive and focus. My birthday wish was to write The Novel, and though I’m not sure what I meant by that, I’ll never find out if I don’t work hard.
What are your writing plans for the new year? Have your novels ever changed radically as mine did?
They say to pay attention to what interests you most, because it is part of you. In the past, if asked what my passion was in life, I would likely have responded, “Writing.” I would have said without hesitation that I lived for story, nothing more and nothing less, but as we grow, we learn.
My recent interest in French seems to have come from a mix of things–the convenience of Duolingo, the lovely sound of the language, and my own stubbornness. I didn’t go into it thinking it was a passion, though: usually it doesn’t take long for me to quit a new hobby. This time, things were different.
For almost a month now I’ve been obsessively learning words and phrases in French, using not only Duolingo but Memrise and even Tumblr. (Of the three, Tumblr makes learning more enjoyable; it helps to see regular people blog in their native language.)
Though I cannot speak it aloud with ease yet, I’m getting the hang of reading it, and if I keep going at this rate–well, I can feel very optimistic. I already know Spanish because my mother is Peruvian, and she taught me. It will be nice to speak a third language now. This makes the world so much bigger for me, and also makes me wonder if my passion really was story all along.
Could it be that my passion is really language–that I am in love with the art of words, and not the stories they tell? Do I have the heart of a writer or a linguist? Am I a storyteller, or do I collect vocabulary used in lovely poems?
I have no plan on what I’m going to do with my French. I hope to learn well enough to write short pieces in the language; I most certainly hope to read French classics in their native languages. I enjoy meeting people who speak it–I’ve made many good friends since my journey began.
In the end, do we really need a reason to learn new things–to explore and see the world differently, even if it’s through the way things are said? I have no reason not to learn a new language, and as I slowly piece words together in the form of sentences, I feel myself changing as a soul.
I am growing, and the French might not be the only reason, but it certainly shows how I as a person have become stronger. I’ve lost 13lbs since August and I wrote a new book; I’m learning a new language and enjoying the process. For the first time in a while, I am comfortable with myself.
C’est la vie. I will keep you updated–and maybe one day I’ll have a blog in French!
Where do you go when you fall asleep? Have you ever wanted to know more about your dream land?
We writers encounter plot bunnies in bizarre things while awake. We find something that catches our interest and store it away for later, usually forgetting it–there’s no way for us to write all of our ideas.
Most of the time we overlook adventures we have while sleeping. Anyone who remembers their dreams will be baffled by the odd things that happen. Are your actions things you secretly hope for, or mere dust as your mind clean itself?
Whatever the case, dreams deserve attention: they’re unpredictable. Dreams are special adventures that reveal colors we never encounter while awake.
Most of the time I remember dreams, but only recently have I taken up the challenge of recording them. My dream journal is unique because they’re stories I came up with–me but not me, uncharted territory of my brain.
It can be hard to hold details of a dream while I scramble for my journal, so I don’t record them chronologically. This journal isn’t organized like a novel; events and details are tangled. What matters is having as much as possible on the page for reflection.
This will become a collection of journeys that will one day puzzle me. I wrote this–yet I didn’t–it’s me but is not me. These are people I know doing things they probably wouldn’t in real life.
Maybe some of these entries will become proper tales.
I’ve only been keeping this journal for a few days, but it’s already worth the effort. Should you decide to take up the challenge, keep your journal somewhere you can reach it upon waking.
Be patient if events slip through your fingers, because there are no rules in dream land. The point isn’t to write an award-winning story, but to know yourself and have fun.
It is therapeutic to keep a journal, digging into the corners of your own inner wonderland. Have you kept a dream journal? What has it taught you about yourself?
Recently I asked myself why I never update my blog, even though I have so many ideas. Writer’s Block is portrayed as blankness; it’s the absence of a muse, staring at a notebook without hearing her sweet whisper.
We claim the Block as a reason why we have nothing to say. I wondered, Do I keep silent because I can’t say things perfectly? Is it Writer’s Block or fear? Does perfectionism keep words in my heart because I am apprehensive?
There’s a difference between having nothing to say and having much to say that you can’t phrase. You might be full of thoughts that make you speechless. Ask yourself if you have the Block or are afraid to brainstorm.
The only way to know is by starting!
I might have Writer’s Block on one topic, but can’t have it for all of them. I need to stop letting Writer’s Block become an excuse not to write anything.
We’re able to write lovely words; we have freedom to express ourselves. We even have the means to communicate them instantly! I don’t think we should waste this–I certainly won’t.
The next time you have Writer’s Block–for novels or for blogging–ask if you truly have nothing to say. You might find that the muse never left–she got bored and moved on to another topic. Follow her and keep writing!
Anyone I’ve spoken to in the past month knows about my mysterious rewrite. Back in July, I began work on a new, fresh version of a novel you may have read (hint hint: it’s called Dissonance) but, being me, I did not outline at all.
In my experience, letting a novel loose to do whatever it wants is a guarantee that it will look nothing like the original.
Now I am baffled at the parallel: it is a rewrite of Dissonance, but has little in common with Dissonance at all. The characters have different roles, names and backstories. Reflecting on it, I’m not sure what the rewrite has in common with Dissonance.
Perhaps it’s different enough that I can try something that has been nagging me all year – traditional publishing. However, I don’t know when that would be, since The Autumn Prince is still first in line for querying. It could be years: I still have to edit Mysterious Rewrite, and chances are I’ll get impatient and start working on the next books of the series.
I’m surprised as you are with this development. Don’t ask me why I wanted to rewrite so badly – perhaps I knew that certain elements in the Dissonance plot could be focused on and improved. Perhaps I wanted to delve into characters that didn’t get much attention the first time.
Don’t worry about the original series – I still have a Book Three draft somewhere on my computer, and it’s so different from Mysterious Rewrite that I don’t have to abandon it, like I had feared initially.
For now, I’m just going to celebrate that I’ve completed a draft longer than 60,000 words. I’m basking in the job well done and sipping lots of orange juice. I’ll figure out what to do with all my manuscripts later.
Check back for updates when I eventually figure out my path.
One is never truly finished writing a story.
I’m not an expert on technique; my attention span does not allow me to study complicated books on style. My muse shies from the idea of outlining, flash cards don’t help me at all, and I follow the 7-point method very loosely.
The one thing I know for sure after all these years writing is that an author is never quite done. I’ve spent weeks pondering the meaning of imagination, how humans can take an idea—a goblet or a stream of water—and then write universes surrounding it.
You can play with object size and volume (you cannot contain the stream in the goblet; if you throw the goblet into the stream, it will disappear.) You can play with the history of the object (where does the stream come from? Did the goblet once belong to a king?) You can explore creatures that dwell in the water, gemstones on the side of the goblet, the craftsman who made the goblet.
A writer can do all this until there is a web of facts and lore. When it’s a character we’re dealing with, things become more complex, because—as the old cliché goes—each person is a universe. For those of us who write the story, we are never done and never want to be. However, there’s a contradiction, an instinct when we must find a place where imagining stops and story makes it onto paper.
Most writers have the desire to see our story bound as a book on someone’s shelf. This means we have to work out when to stop imagining the words, instead forming them with ink. It seems I’ve not figured that out yet.
I’ve been thinking of my ideas and characters, some of which you might know, wondering how they got where they are. Rereading my novels, I realized that even the secondary characters would have epic tales. Like most protagonists, they start out in a low place; I want to know how they got higher. I want to know how they succeeded.
Because I am the writer—because ideas are loud—I have been exploring the hows and whys of the universe I created. The answers are surfacing in the form of a new story. I’m not far into it and haven’t a clue whether I will finish, but writing from a new perspective has unlocked different parts of my imagination.
If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to think about your stories—your characters—their hobbies and their favorite objects. Delve into their histories and explore qualities you never thought were important. Petty things like this will help you get to know your universe.
Elizabeth Gilbert and Madeleine L’Engle wrote of writing as if it were a religion or magic. Storytelling helps us create things that, to us and our readers, are very real. A dedicated reader, when engrossed in a good story, will reach a point where they forget they are turning pages.
When you reach that depth, you have made magic.
Read Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know there are other books about storytelling, but again, I don’t spend much time reading technique.
Though I recommend these books, remember we only learn so much from the discoveries of others. An artist’s joy is in the complexity of our own ideas. Consider these great writers as guides to help you on your own journey.
Take time today to think on your own, exploring your worlds in a new way. I promise it will be worth the effort to bask in the eternity of a brainstorm.
Imagine your mind is a forest. The edge of the forest is a place where you pause and get distracted–a place of heldbreath, of course.
Sometimes we wait at the edge of heldbreath for days, months, or years. I’ve been lurking there for several weeks, skillfully talking myself out of a very important task.
Should I start editing now? I asked myself, then laughed and shrugged it off, eager to examine the next tree.
Some writers enjoy edits more than they do writing. I have never been one of those writers; in my haste to move on and write other stories, I put off edits again and again…and again.
In the forest of heldbreath, it’s easy to pretend we aren’t procrastinating. This isn’t the first time I’ve been in that place; the only difference now is that I’m writing about it, giving this place a name and personality.
Heldbreath is procrastination.
I inched away from editing until it was a small place hidden by the trees. I know where it is! Somewhere in that general direction – between two oak trees – it might be that hollow, or perhaps the one after?
Two weeks ago I searched the forest of heldbreath, looking for the corner where my manuscript for The Autumn Prince was. I found myself surprised by the short length of the novel, and thought this couldn’t take long.
It would be quicker if I would keep walking and stop procrastinating.
It’s easy to get distracted while searching the forest of heldbreath; we can convince ourselves we are where we’re supposed to be, when it’s quite far. I want a decent, clean version of The Autumn Prince this summer; I will wander the forest heldbreath in circles until I make it.
Have you been to the forest of heldbreath? Of course you have, we’re both human! Let’s meet at the edge and talk about the goals we will meet someday.
In October of 2015, I released a serial on my blog called The Autumn Prince.
It became more popular than I had anticipated; one reader called it the “highlight of her month,” and I am still humbled by that. The following year it was adapted into a short story for the Crows on Heartstrings anthology, where it shines among dozens of beautiful tales and drawings.
After the release of Crows on Heartstrings, different projects related to my Fallen Faery Tales series distracted me from The Autumn Prince. It managed to slip my mind for a long time, until now.
When the serial finished on Halloween of 2015, the story just wouldn’t get out of my head! I wrote it again as a novel that November because the characters and ideas were still so vivid.
A week ago, a friend encouraged me to find that draft and read it again. I couldn’t believe I had written it! I found myself wanting to know what happens next. So The Autumn Prince is back.
This April I’m working on edits for The Autumn Prince. My plan is to have it shine by the end of the year so I can query it in the winter. For this book, I am going to seek traditional publishing. The Autumn Prince has a different feel from Dissonance and Serenade; it wants to take the different road.
It wants to hit bookstore shelves. It wants to be your autumn read. For that, I need to work on it.
If you enjoyed The Autumn Prince when it was a serial on my blog, I hope you’ll like it all the more as a full-length novel. I’m surprised at how well I did adapting it into a book; it may have been a first draft, but it didn’t make me cringe!
I enjoyed reading it, and being the author, that’s saying something. I hope and pray you will enjoy it too.
The old doorbell had been silent for over twenty years. After this house was abandoned, people eventually stopped coming to visit, or even to try and sell things. It had been so long, in fact, that the ghosts started to assume it was too rusty to ever make another sound.
Three generations of ghosts dwelled in the old house; they drifted lazily up and down the stairs, reenacted balls in the parlor, had the same conversations that had echoed in the halls for hundreds of years. They spoke of wars long finished and weddings whose couples had long been buried together.
In the midst of this nostalgic echo, this perpetual sigh, the doorbell rang. It was really just an old bell situated somewhere by the front door; someone outside rang, and a string caused it to rattle. It wasn’t the loudest sound, and it hadn’t been touched with the greatest strength—the noise it made was indeed feeble—but when that doorbell rang, everything stopped.
The ladies dressed in ballgowns stopped their repetitive gossip to look at the door, wide-eyed. The butler, who had long run out of things to do, stopped mid-pace with his hands clasped behind his back. The scullery maid got to her feet, bouncing; an old greyhound who rested by the chilly fireplace lifted his head, whining.
“Visitors!” cried one of the ladies, fanning herself (in vain, because she could not produce any air with a ghost fan.) “I do miss playing the piano!”
“Stop it, Dinah,” said her companion with a deep, dramatic sigh; “you know as well as I that we cannot touch anything. Not even the door.”
Dinah played with a lock of her long blonde hair; it had come out of her elaborate knot, somehow, over the course of her years being dead. “Then who’s going to answer the door, Annie?”
Her companion, clearly the wiser of the two, shrugged with a regretful smile. “None of us can. We cannot touch anything.”
“But we should be polishing the silver,” said the butler, speaking for the first time in centuries. “Lighting candles. Dusting the curtains!”
“We can do nothing of the sort, Mr Brown.”
The dog whined, putting his head back on the ground, nose twitching as if struggling to hold back real tears.
The doorbell rang again, a bit more loudly this time. The ghosts stared at the bell as it rattled into silence, some hugging themselves, some breathing heavily, all knowing perfectly well that they could do nothing about it; they had no physical hands with which to open the door for them, no real voices with which to greet them or sing happy music.
“Then what did we get from any of this?” asked the maid sadly, sitting back down on the ground and crossing her legs as they listened to gravel crunch—their visitor was walking away, having realized no one was home to answer them.
Annie paused, gazing at the bell as she forced herself to think, really think, for the first time in a while. “It woke us up, Dinah. I think that’s good enough. It woke us up.”
With that, she took a step back and crossed to the other side of the room, where she lifted her chin and stood with her shoulders back.
“And I propose,” she continued, “a change. Shall we spend the next twenty years in this corner, rather than that one?”
Dinah watched Annie with a quaint frown. At last she shrugged, seeing as there was nothing for her to lose anyway; she crossed the room as well, while the baffled Mr Brown watched, himself reluctant to do anything differently from how it had been done a century ago. “I say,” she exclaimed, “it’s sunnier in this corner.”
The dog got up and crossed the room after her, where he sat down at her feet in the exact same position to listen. Annie smiled, taking Dinah’s fan and using it herself—it was her turn, after all.
“Now, then,” she said to her friend, as the other ghosts slowly began to shift position until the next person rang the doorbell, “tell me about your wedding plans.”