Friday, April 6, 2018

On Trying New Things

Well, hello there. Remember me?
Yeah, so it's been a long time. A really long time. I don't have much of an excuse, except that I'm lazy. Also, college classes. They are so much better than high school, but take up a lot more time and energy.
I'm not going to lie, these past few months have been a struggle for me in more ways than one. I'm not going to go into any detail, but I can tell you that this hasn't exactly been beneficial for my writing career. By that I mean, I basically haven't written at all, except for a frantic last-minute short story I entered in Write Out Of This World again this year (I didn't win). Not that I'm that surprised, the story was nowhere near my best work and I would have expected a third place at most. Still, it's sad, and I've struggled with it a little bit, but not nearly as much as my first year entering. 
Now, to get down to it.
One of my college classes this year is Writing Fiction 1. That's right folks, I'm taking a creative writing class! I decided to take this class because my tentative after-AA plan involves a major in Archaeology and a minor in Creative Writing, and I realized I should see if I actually enjoy doing it in a classroom atmosphere. So far, it's been cool, though it only started last week. I guess the class overall is a "new thing," but that's not what I came here to talk about.
Just today (about half an hour ago, actually), I discovered that this class strictly forbids genre writing.
Yes, I'm serious.
That means no aliens or crazy technology, no fairies or magic, no ghosts or monsters that lurk in the shadows. 
I was a little irritated at the thought, honestly. 
If you've been following me for a while, you'll quickly realize that all I write is genre fiction. In fact, I believe the majority of people in my class do, too. 
But "strictly forbids" is probably a bit stronger of a phrase than I needed to use. It's not that the teacher hates genre fiction or anything, it's just not what the class is for.
And in no time at all, I became excited.
Perhaps writing genre fiction will not be taught, but in its place, we will be learning to write literary fiction. 
In the words of my writing teacher, 

"This [genre fiction] is to be contrasted with “literary fiction,”
which refers to the fiction written in literary tradition with freeform rules and standards.
Literary fiction emphasizes character, setting, figurative language, and structure."

"No. Just write literary stories. If you are still unclear on what that means, hang in there.
Just remember the basic rule: focus on character, not plot. Write stories about people who are “real"
and who are compelling. Don't emphasize plot too much and don't slide into horror,
sci-fi, romance, fantasy, or..."

That last part is the part that comforted me. Instead of being angry at not being able to write in my dear sci-fi genre, I was intrigued. I was going to learn something, not just spend a class doing something that was a fun little hobby. And at the same time, I realized: these techniques will be useful in all my writing, including genre fiction. The concepts of character-driven stories, or focuses on structure and language, or settings are in no way exclusive to literary fiction. Sure, we may not see much of that in modern genre fiction, but there are no rules against it. Perhaps I will be limited in some ways in this class, but in another way, I will be more free than ever. I will be learning something valuable and exciting, and both my writing and I will be the better for it.
So, there you have it. I'm excited to try something new in this class. I can easily foresee it being a struggle, especially at first, to come up with story ideas that don't involve a futuristic or fantastic basis, but I will be expanding my palate in the long run. As (I believe) I've said before, the reason I enjoy writing short stories so much is because their length gives me a chance to experiment with new styles and genres without committing to a whole novel. In a sense, that's what this class will be doing, as well.
To trying new things!

Friday, June 23, 2017

So, It's Been Awhile...

No, I haven't dropped off of the face of the earth. I just got busy. Really busy. So, I'll do my best to catch you all up on some of the more exciting and/or important elements of my life in the past few months.
You remember that little thing called "Camp NaNo?" Yeah, that didn't happen. I mean, it did, but not for the whole month. Don't get me wrong, I loved the story I was working on, but I just ran out of motivation to write it. Which is something I'm going to try harder with this July, when I do Camp again. Wish me luck!
Hey, you remember that little writing contest called Write Out of This World that I entered last year? My whole big thing about rejection? Well, brave little me entered it again this year. And this time, I won 2nd Place! Yep! Pretty cool, huh? Honestly, though, the best thing about that wasn't the award ceremony (which was pretty awesome) or the prizes (50 bucks to Barnes and Noble was just one of the many prizes) but the community. I mean, I got to spend some quality time with fellow writers! How awesome is that?!
Anyways, if you guys want to read my WINNING story, just go here and look for "And the Stars Sang."
Also, just to show you how epic my award ceremony was, here's a picture my dad took of me reading an excerpt of my story.

Well, not much else has really been exciting in the past few months, but I CAN tell you that I've been working on a few short stories, so stay tuned! I may be sharing them with you guys in the future! In the meantime, thanks for reading, and stop by anytime!


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Camp NaNo Day 4

Yes, I know - I've already missed a day. BUT, in my defense, yesterday was pretty rough on me and I was too upset to finish my word count or make a post.
Luckily, I had enough free time (and willpower) today to make up for yesterday AND get my words done for today! So...Yay me!
Day: 4
Total words written: 6,720
Words written today: 2,565
Words left: 43,280
Favorite excerpt from the day: 
Meg couldn’t hear words coming out, but there they were, formed on Maeve’s trembling pink lips. Help me, Meg. Help me.
“Wha-” Meg slid to the floor, clenching the towel with white-knuckled hands. Her breathing had become heavy, her whole body shaking with fear. “How-”
Maeve’s face started getting more and more desperate. PLEASE! HELP ME!
“I don’t-” Meg trembled, tears rolling down her pale face.
And then, just like that, Maeve was gone. A spot of darkness filled the mirror, spreading until it engulfed the whole pane of glass, and then - it shattered.
Glass sprayed across the room. Meg put her arms up just in time, covered her vulnerable eyes but leaving the rest of her body bare. There was enough force behind the breakage to send shards into her skin; blood started to drip from scratches where she had been grazed.
But Meg just sat there, still, staring at where the mirror had been.
Where Maeve had been.

A few hours later, Megan’s mother found her sitting against the wall of the bathroom, surrounded by glass, bleeding, and fast asleep from exhaustion.

I got SO many chills writing this. And, I'm a little embarrassed to say it, but I tend to kind of act out the emotion as I write XD (Just another reason to write alone - imagine how weird it would look if I was in a coffee shop writing that part.)
And I have to admit, writing a novel set in the 90s is quite enjoyable, because of the research I get to take part in. Yes, that DOES mean 1. looking up 90s fashion 2. researching obscure things like "what literature was assigned to highschoolers in the 90s" and, my favorite, 3. listening to 90s music.
Let me share some of what that experience was like for me:
This was the first song that came up when I played a Spotify 90s playlist.
So. Bad. *shudders*
Thankfully, the next songs were more like this:
I refuse to be ashamed of the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this song.
And then, of course, there were these types of songs:

And yes, it's just as bad as it sounds.
And of course, thankfully, there were also Nirvana songs that popped up in my research. That made it all worth it, I think.

Well, that's it for today, but thank you all for reading! If you have any suggestions on good 90s music for me to listen to while I write my novel, leave it down in the comments below!
(Hopefully) I'll write to you again tomorrow!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Camp NaNo Day 2

Well, it looks like day two has come and gone, with me finishing my word count for the day in the nick of time. Nothing says writer like staying up into the wee hours (or ten-thirty) trying to get all your words in. And hey, I'm proud of myself for actually finishing it, because I didn't have a great day today. (But I won't bog you down with the details)
Day: 2
Total words written: 3,423
Words written today: 1,704
Words left: 46,577
Favorite excerpt from the day:  “Here,” a whisper said into her ear. She turned and took the box of matches from Aidan’s shaking hands, gingerly plucking a single matchstick from the box and dragging it against the rough side. A flame flared, and Meg lowered it gently onto a waiting candle. The light grew gradually as she watched, flickering in some invisible breeze.
A thought came suddenly to Megan’s head as she stared at a glowing picture of Maeve.
“Wherever you are, Maeve,” she whispered quietly into the still air of the auditorium, “I hope you’re alright.”

This is random, but I want to thank you guys so much for reading. It makes me so happy to see the number of page views I get every time I post. Your following of my misadventures into the world of writing is making me so much more confident in my abilities!

Thanks, everyone!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Camp NaNo Day 1

Hello all,
it's day one of Camp NaNo, and guess what...
Ahhh, I love me some MST3k GIFs...

But, to get back to the point, YES! I actually met my word count goal for the day!
And, trust me, it was difficult. I think the hardest part was the very beginning...coming up with an opening sentence. That's not something I typically have difficulty with, but for some reason, I did today. 
But that doesn't matter right now. Like my favorite writing quote says, "it doesn't have to be good, it just has to be there." (I honestly can't remember who said that.)
Now, let's get down to it: the daily log!
Day: 1
Total Words Written: 1719
Words Written Today: 1719
Words Left: 48,281
Favorite excerpt: The sound of an angry seagull jarred Megan out of her peaceful slumber. She blinked in the dim light of the tent, closing her eyes against the glare of her watch as she checked the time: 2:37.

“Maeve,” she croaked, her mouth bitter from the cocoa residue on her teeth. When no reply came, she rolled over, ready to poke awake her sleeping friend. But, much to her surprise, the sleeping bag was empty, not even unrolled from its pack. She furrowed her eyebrows.
“Where is she,” she murmured to herself. Forcing herself to stand despite the still-sleeping feeling in her limbs, she unzipped the tent, peering outside. It was pitch-black, the fire no longer glowing and the peaceful sound of snoring emanating from the boys’ tent next door.

I hope you enjoyed that little snippet of my writing!
Well, keep me in your thoughts as I trudge on through the jungle that is Camp NaNo...and keep reading along as I *attempt* to do a daily log every day throughout April!


Friday, March 31, 2017

NaNoWriMo Survival Guide

Hey all, as Camp NaNo time is rolling around again (in about 9 hours, to be precise), I thought I might share some of my tips and tricks for surviving the craziness that is Camp NaNo.
What is Camp NaNo, you ask? Well, Camp NaNo is a smaller, more casual and free-form version of the full NaNoWriMo of November. Camp NaNo happens in both April and July, and writers are allowed to set any word goal they want, and any type of project (from novels to short stories to poems).
I sticking with the good ol' novel this year, and I'm really excited (albeit somewhat nervous) to participate. I did take part in the July camp last year, and well, let's just say it didn't work out. (I got 8k words in before I gave up).
I don't quite know what it is, but something about Camp NaNo just doesn't feel like the November version - a lot less intense, I suppose.
All that aside, here's my tips for surviving NaNo, whether that's the traditional November one or the Camp versions.

Tip Numero Uno: PLAN PLAN PLAN
Okay, I get that some of you out there are pantsers. You thrive on taking NaNo by the seat of your pants, and maybe that works for you. On the other hand, there are also the planners, who plot out every scene before hand. Or there's me: the plantser. I'm a little bit of both. I plan up to a certain point, but after that, I wing it and plan as I go.
But this one thing is important: whether or not you're a panster or a planner, you NEED to have some idea of what you're going to write. Don't ever say, "hey, I'll just come up with an idea November 1st and it'll be fine."
Honestly, just come up with a very simple plot at least, maybe a Pinterest board with the feels you want. (I love me some Pinterest, guys)

Tip #2: Sustenance of body and mind
Okay, it's pretty obvious that you need food to survive NaNo. I mean, you need food to survive every other month out of the year, writing contest or not. BUT, what you may not think of, is that you need food for the mind as well. But I'll get to that later. First, let me tell you about some of my favorite foods for NaNo.
FROZEN FRENCH FRIES: Easy, not (too) unhealthy, and you can pop them in the oven for a few minutes and write while they're cooking. Last November, my awesome brother brought a couple bags home for me and I feasted for a week.
Now, for drinks:
LA CROIX: My favorite drink for NaNo, and, honestly, the rest of the year. Healthy, with a hint of fruit, and they come in a million flavors. In my house, we can easily go through a couple cases a week.
A bonus of the November NaNo is leftover Halloween candy. Unfortunately, there's no Halloween during Camp NaNo, BUT there IS Easter! I'm seriously looking forward to some Creme Eggs and Peanut Butter Cups...mmm.
Sustenance for the mind:
Just as important, but easily overlooked. Stock up a collection of favorite books (or books you've been meaning to read) and settle down in between writing periods to keep your creative mind going. I got a few writing books for Christmas, and they're going to be my right-hand men this April as I work on my novel.
Wonderbook: Okay, this book is freaking WeIrD, but it's also insanely helpful. With selected essays and interviews with published authors, and surreal but somehow inspiring artwork, it'll answer a lot of your plot questions and issues.
The Emotion Thesaurus: This book is amazing. I have a weakness for Thesauruses, and this one takes the cake. It describes in detail physical and internal reactions to different emotions. It's especially helpful for getting around cliches that might come with certain emotions.
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy: A masterpiece by a master, Orson Scott Card. It helps you create worlds, cultures, and other things you might need in your speculative novel.
The Elements of Eloquence: A great book for the prose writer in all of us. This book has a huge amount of literary devices to help create the perfect turn of phrase.

Tip Number Three: Escape when you need to
I'm sure that most of you out there have at least one roommate. I, personally, have to share a home with two brothers, my mom, and two obnoxious cats. So, if you live in a crazy hub of activity like me, I give you permission to ESCAPE in order to get writing done. Whether that's to your room where you can put in headphones, write in peace, and *hopefully* not be interrupted, or to the nearest coffee shop, you should always have a fallback spot for when everything gets too crazy and you need some peace and quiet.

Well, that's it for today. I'll do my best to keep you updated on my progress through April (probably won't happen though lol).
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year, everyone!
I hope that this year is filled with joy, and love, and kindness. That's what makes the world go 'round, you know.
Anyways, I'm here to tell you all of my new resolutions for this year. But first, let's go back and check up on last year's resolutions and see what did and didn't get done.

#1: Write a novel (outside of NaNoWriMo)
Yeah, this didn't happen. As I've outlined before, I have trouble finishing writing projects when they land outside of deadlines or structures. But hey, I sure started plenty of novels.

#2: NaNoWriMo-Vol. 2
HEY I did this !!
And, I did win! (Just realized I totally meant to do a post telling y'all that and never got around to it - oops.)
But hey, I'm 1 for 1!

#3: Enter the WriteOutofThisWorld contest
My last resolution, which brings my tally up to: 2 for 1!
If you remember, I did a whole post about disappointment in a writer's life. That disappointment came from my initial entry into this contest. But at least I did it, right?

That brings me to this year's resolutions.

#1: Write a novel outside of NaNo
Yep. It's the same as last year. And considering I didn't get it done in 2016...why not try again?
Actually, I'm already well on my way. I've started a novel that's been in my brain for a while now, (go to In The Works and check out "A Season of Discord") and I'm really happy with the whole idea. Now, if I could just stay motivated...
But let's hope that even if this novel doesn't make it, I'm able to write another one.

#2: NaNoWriMo - Vol. 3
Yep, yep. I know. Another repeat. But this one is pretty much a given, so is it really even a resolution?

#3: Enter the WriteOutofThisWorld contest
Why, yes, this IS another repeat. But I'm actually pretty proud of myself for this one. Even after the huge disappointment of last year, I'm willing to go back and try again. And hey, nothing says "writer" like being rejected, am I right?

#4: Write short stories
Finally, a fresh resolution that hasn't been recycled from last year.
This is something that's been on my mind for a while. After working on my short stories for the contest, I've realized that I actually really enjoy writing them. I love the fact that it doesn't take up too much time (ergo, my brain is able to stay focused on them) and that I can take little concepts that aren't enough for a whole novel but I still love and put them into something short but fun. Plus, I'm hoping to post my stories on here, so you all can get a taste of my writing!

#5: Push myself
This kind of applies to everything in my life, not just writing. But for your sake, I'll outline what I mean when it comes to being a writer.
I want to write more and stay focused on the big projects (like novels!)
I want to write out of my comfort zone - write things I wouldn't normally write, like genres besides sci-fi or fantasy.
I want to allow more people to read my writing. I tend to get hung-up on people's opinions of me when it comes to my writing, but if I ever want to be published, I need to get past that fear. There will always be haters in this world.
I want to find a community - other writers who I can chat with and can be my peers when it comes to writing. People who are safe to read what I write and can constructively criticize my writing - something, like I said before, I'm almost afraid of.

Well, that's it for now. Thank you all for reading!