Oh, It’s Winter.

When I woke up today it was snowing. I have very mixed feelings about snow. I think it’s beautiful and if it’s not too cold or too wet or icy, I can really enjoy walking in it. However, I do not like being cold and once the salt has been put down, it starts to look really gross. Here in Boston we have slush more often than real snow–at least, that’s how it’s been for the past few years.

It hasn’t been very snowy this winter. There’s been no accumulation at all, and when it does snow, it’s disappeared within a few days. I prefer a slightly warmer winter, but I wouldn’t argue with a persistent, manageable layer of snow throughout the season.

In honor of the snow, have a look at the short story I’ve had on this page for a pretty long time now. And leave a comment or rate the page if you have any thoughts.

Off to try to be productive…

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Ramblings of an Insomniac Writer

It’s 5 a.m. and I am unable to get to sleep. I could keep trying, and I’d end up falling asleep around 6 or 7, and accidentally sleeping until 1 p.m., which would pretty much ruin my plans for the day. So I’ve decided that instead, I’ll just not sleep. This might mean I’ll be too tired to be productive this afternoon, or that I’ll crash really early tonight and sleep through until Saturday morning. The only time I’ve ever pulled a true all-nighter (it wasn’t studying, in case you’re wondering), I slept for about fourteen hours the following night.

There are two upsides to my problem: 1. This gives me the chance to get things done much earlier in the day than I usually would. Prime example: I’m getting some of my daily word count in now, instead of starting in the evening like I usually do. 2. At least I don’t HAVE to be up right now, getting ready for work, or anything like that. I am convinced that it would make the situation far worse if that were the case.

I had a few days so far where I wrote nothing at all, and I was unhappy about it, but there’s no sense dwelling on that kind of thing. More recently I have been doing very well with keeping up with the word count, although I am about 1500 words behind. I’ve been writing all sorts of things. Stories, blog posts, journal-y rants about whatever’s on my mind. I’ve started to get a little farther on the first project I started to work on this year, a novel based rather loosely on Sleeping Beauty that I started years ago. (Side note: I should do a post about my fairy tale rewrites and why I approached them the way I did.) It’s becoming more and more clear that this is not going to be a good first draft. It will need a hell of a lot of revision in the second draft.

I’ve realized that the part of the story I’ve been working on is, in fact, incredibly boring. It’s sort of a between-plot-points spot that will most definitely have to be rewritten, and may end up being scrapped almost entirely. I think that in order to keep my own interest in the story, I have to move it on to when things are actually happening. When I was first writing it, I was enjoying the beginning of the novel. I happen to like exposition, if it is interesting exposition. But even if that’s the case, there comes a point when there’s just too much introduction and it’s not helping the story, it is killing it. So this will have to be remedied, but seeing as this is the first draft of the story, I’m going to let this be something I worry about later. As the outline I wrote a few days ago indicates, it’s not too long after this part of the story when things actually manage to get interesting!

But revising is going to be a bitch.

Here Comes 2015, the Year of Writing

I stumbled across this post on the Writing Realm tumblr recently and decided, without hesitation, that I’m going to try to do it.

A year-long writing challenge: 365 days, 365,000 words. One thousand words a day.

I’m sure it will be hard, and there will be probably too many days when I don’t write anything at all. Maybe some days I’ll be totally in the zone, and I’ll write thousands of words at a time. Maybe I’ll fall utterly short, but even if that happens, it’s a way to motivate myself to get back to writing. Blog posts count, and so does journaling, although I would have to count the words manually, so I’m not likely to put that toward my word count.

I can’t predict how this will go. Maybe I’ll start off well and then lose steam before too long, and the whole thing will fall apart, or it will take some time to get going but once I’m more used to writing every day, I’ll be unstoppable. Or, maybe things will just go smoothly overall, with some days worse than others, but most in a pretty good state. No, I can’t predict it, as is our general state in life–I can only try, without knowing what will happen.

I realize that some people do write this much or more regularly, and have for years, and since I haven’t been doing that how can I call myself a writer? Well. I used to write more often, but that was before the internet became as big as it is these days, with as many different options for passive entertainment. The point of the challenge, therefore, is to have a good reason to ignore all these other things I could do in order to do the thing that is one of my greatest passions. Or, used to be, and could be again if I make the effort to make it a part of my daily life.

I have had many story ideas in my life

Hi, I’m a writer. I thought it was prudent to state the obvious at this time.

Not too long ago, but long enough that I don’t remember when it was, I decided that it would be a good idea to keep a list of all my story ideas in a word document. It’s in google docs so that I can access it from any computer or my smartphone. (I know, I’m a genius). I started doing this because I know that if I don’t write down an idea, whether it’s good, bad, interesting, weird, conventional, or whatever else, I’m quite likely to forget it. We have to many things clamoring for attention. I’ve forgotten enough story ideas to know that this is a real thing that happens. It may not be the most pressing problem, but for a writer it is frustrating.

I currently have:

  • 17 novel concepts
  • 5 short story concepts
  • one note to just write microfiction pieces as I come up with the ideas

Then, there’s a different file, containing:

  • 9 plot summaries for modern fairy tales

… making a total of 31 story ideas. This does not include a whole bunch of partially-written stories and first drafts that still need work before they can be allowed to have contact with readers.

I’m sure I have forgotten countless other ideas and will continue to think up, write down, and forget many more.

This should be my most important to-do list. I suppose it is. But it should also be the most urgent, and it is not, because attempting to be a responsible adult takes that spot.

When You Can’t Write

Lately one of my many story ideas has been fighting for prominence in my thoughts. I don’t remember exactly when I first had this idea. Sometime in the past six months or so. I liked it a lot then, but for whatever reason I don’t often start new stories unless I can see the entire basic outline of the plot–for novels, anyway. Short stories I don’t mind just diving into. But I like to be able to see a full novel before I begin, fully expecting many of the details to change, of course. So I haven’t written any of this story yet, even though I did a basic outline. Now, it’s like the thing’s knocking on my door. (Brain-door?) “Hi. Remember me? I get that you have a lot going on, but you said we’d hang out. Just give me a little time, please?”

And what can I do? My “responsible” side (that I’m currently hating) keeps telling me that I have to take care of my obligatory work first, so that I can pay bills and afford to eat and stuff like that. I have a tendency to listen to that side because I’ve always been pretty responsible. But now my creative side is getting angry at being neglected. She will not stand for it any more. I have a feeling she’s just going to keep bothering me until I give in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want to. There are two reasons. One: I cling to that silly notion that I need to be in a better financial place before I can really give my attention to writing. Maybe this means I’m not a “true artist.” Maybe it means I live in a ridiculous economy and like everyone else I have to pay for things. I even have to buy my own health and dental insurance. Two: Even though I want to write, right now, more than anything, and I can honestly say very few things would make me feel as good as writing this story that’s jumping up and down, waving its arms at me, when I think about actually sitting down to write it there’s a certain resistance. I’m not sure where that comes from, exactly. I’ve been trying to pinpoint what that feeling is. Maybe it’s the knowledge that I still sometimes rely too much on cliches. Maybe it’s being kind of out of practice in fiction writing, and wondering if I still have any talent and imagination or if the real world sucked it all away.

Or it could be the certainty I have, when I look back at the last seven years or so, that I’ve already wasted so much time I could have spent pursuing things I wanted to learn, do, feel, experience. Some of you reading this (people who know how old I am) will I’m sure say that this is ridiculous, but I feel very old these days. It seemed ok to be adrift and uncertain when I was 24. I was young, just starting to live on my own (sort of). Few people actually have anything figured out at 24. Not anymore. As I get older, more and more people my age are actually finding full-time, stable jobs or starting businesses or families. This tells me that it’s my fault I’m still in such an unpleasant, uncertain life situation. They say you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, but I bet “they” do it too…

So anyway, this story is about love. A fair bit of it takes place in dreams, and it will sort of explore and/or blur the line between dreams and waking. I’ve actually had a lot of story ideas that involve that aspect. I also like the idea because I can include a lot of fantastical elements even though the story is not in the fantasy genre. I’m hoping that I can push through all my doubts and obstacles and start writing it. I hate asking this but please, click “like” or comment if you think this story sounds interesting.

Too excited to think of a title!

I have the best news EVER… maybe.

A long time ago I posted about having lost all the editing I did on a collection of stories. I had worked hard on the original versions, which I still had, but it was probably the most effort I had ever put into editing any of my creative work, and then I lost the files! …or did I?

By the definition of “lost,” yes, I did lose the work, because I could not find those files. But perhaps misplaced is a better term–because I think I’ve found the missing files.

I was looking through my external hard drive files and I saw there, finally, another file of these same stories. It was a larger file, indicating a fairly substantial number of pages, and it was saved in April of 2010, which is right around the last time I remember having that lost thumb drive. To satisfy my curiosity, I opened the file and had a quick look through it.

1. It has all five stories. I had been looking for them separately whenever I searched before, for whatever reason not considering that I had probably saved them all into one file.

2. The original files had preliminary titles for each story, but this one has the final titles. (Final, but with room for adjustment if I come up with something better.)

I have not yet looked carefully enough to confirm that this IS the file I’ve been looking for, but all signs point to yes! What a mood booster. I had the intention of sending this collection out to publishers, but got so discouraged at the thought of doing the first round of revisions again that I just put it off… and off… and off… and haven’t looked at it since. Time to dust it off. That’s a great conclusion to a Friday!

~

By now you might be wondering, unless you were here back then, what the story’s about. It was an independent study project from my college years, a joining of mythologies from various traditions all pulled together through the life of the Hindu god Krishna. I’ve always been fascinated by mythology and I loved writing these stories. One of the main comments I have gotten on this work is that the stories could be worked into each other a little better, so I will make an attempt to do that. I’ve also been told my female characters aren’t strong enough, which is odd, because I’m female–but not so odd, because it reflects the way female characters have been represented in much of the literature I’ve read. And I’m a feminist, too. MUST WRITE STRONGER WOMEN….

Why I Want a Traditional Publisher and Presentation on Bookstore Shelves

It’s no secret: these days a lot of writers are self-publishing, or going completely digital. We live in an age when anyone can publish anything, if they have the money or right online venue. I “publish” my writing on wordpress, although most of it is informal, stream-of-consciousness writing reminiscent of the incessant journaling I used to do. There are also sites like fictionpress.net, Fanfiction.net’s counterpart for original work. I considered once posting there, but I hesitated because of many literary magazines’ requirement that work cannot have been previously published, including online.

With the plethora of options available, and the reported increasing difficulty for new authors to be picked up by traditional publishers, it might make most sense for me to self-publish with one of these online companies. At some point in the future, it is highly likely that I will end up self-publishing some of my work. But for now, I continue to hold the dream of having physical printed copies of my work on a shelf in a real bookstore.

Why? There are a few points here.

These days, printing services for self-published works are actually getting much better, and although you can still generally tell the difference, the quality can be on par with traditionally published copies. You, the author, might have to work a little harder to make that happen, but it’s possible, and that’s great. That means that the packaging itself is not the problem.

One of the big considerations is marketing. From what I’ve heard and read, even if you’re working with a traditional publishing house, you will have to do at least some self-promotion if you want to get anywhere. However, they have a marketing department for a reason, and that reason is to promote the books they print. Self-marketing is not my strong point, mostly due to constantly fluctuating but ever-present levels of insecurity. It’s also partly because we’re constantly told that bragging is uncouth, and self-promotion feels very much like bragging. Being polite and “oh, if you feel like it…” about the whole thing gets you nowhere, but being loud and out there can make you seem either arrogant or deluded. It can be difficult to strike the balance and put out just the right level of confidence.

Author royalties are often much higher with self-publishing platforms, but of course the total made depends on the total sold, for which marketing can be a big help. That is most true in the beginning, I think. If you’ve written something really good, entertaining, useful, etc., then once a good number of people have read it, word of mouth can start to gain a wider audience. That means that getting the first 10, 100, 1,000 people to read it can be the hardest. I’d be crossing my fingers and hoping that I would sell enough copies to at least return to me the cost of hiring an editor. Putting out a non-edited work is just a bad idea, and it’s very difficult for a writer to be their own editor. You really do need external eyes sometimes to spot those things that might be bringing your writing down. A publisher would provide that, all bundled into the services they give their authors. Hiring a freelance editor for self-published work means that you get to choose your editor, which could be either a good or a bad thing.

These are good points, the things that I would imagine most writers consider when thinking about self-publishing. But now we’ve come to that one thing, the main reason I really want a traditional publisher, and it has to do with bookstores. (I think this merits a good “why we need brick-and-mortar bookstores” post, but I’m sure I’ve made at least one in the past, and there are many good posts on this out there…)

One of the biggest struggles for self-published authors can be trying to get their books into stores. Most larger stores (which, aside from Barnes and Noble, are all gone, right?) won’t consider anything that they can’t get right from their distributors, and even many independent stores won’t take the risk. From what I can tell, most self-published authors just sell online, and of the ones that do get books in stores as well (I couldn’t name one), internet and most likely ebook sales are where they make the most money.

I don’t want to imply that this is actually a bad thing. Maybe as time goes by I’ll be more accepting of the large-scale changes in how people read, and I won’t care that paper books are more or less a novelty as long as my content gets out into the world, to readers, in any form. …Maybe.

With a traditional publisher, it is much more likely that I’ll be able to see a copy of a book I wrote on a shelf in a real live bookstore. I want this to happen mainly, I think, because of how I experienced bookstores when I was younger. I loved reading as a child, and spending time in bookstores was something I did fairly often. Call me old fashioned if you will, but I find it’s so much harder to connect with a book when the pages are contained in a screen. Picking up a volume, actively turning pages, the texture of the cover, can be a very meaningful part of reading. As the technology develops, that privilege is taken away from both children and adults, and I think it’s unfair. Someday, when I have a book published, knowing that someone can find my book by taking it off the shelf and actually holding it in their hands will be reassuring. That is how I discovered many books. It’s how I hope to discover many more. And even though the convenience of e-readers is taking us farther from that, I can’t be the only one who feels this way.