Monday, February 24, 2014

Song rec

Sometimes I encounter some sounds so pleasing to my ears and so meaningful that I feel like I should share it to spread the goodness of it.

Especially the lyrics:

"We will have to cross the ocean
This is the price we'll have to pay
Standing just these know it's good for you and me. 
There is gold beneath the ashes
No matter what I have to say
There is a roaring sea there passing hard to find
And I dream of Zarathustra
Sailing through the Caspian Sea
Oh, the way the shining heart is
The fire of the Northern light.

We can build the temples for our fires, 
Set the world ablaze.
Whatever, after all this the way we chose
The beginning and the end 
Send me back to the Rockefeller joys..."

(adapted and revised from www.sing365.com)

There's so much about this song that speaks of the journey--of the sacrifices and goals of reaching something that is "the beginning and the end". 

And also the music is amazing. I love it. 

Happy Monday, everyone! :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pep Talk--on Overcoming Jealousy

Today, let's talk about something that all passionate writers/aspiring authors go through.

Jealousy. 

(side note:: it's not just writers; everyone goes through this.)

Authors Sarah J. Maas and Mandy Hubbard have both written incredibly articulate posts about this; (here) and (here) and I thought I'd like to talk/rant about it too. 

You know that feeling. When you're puttering around on twitter and your feed is positively glowing with great news from everyone else. When you scroll through blogs you follow, and someone just announced something amazing. When someone gets an agent. When someone sells a six-figure book deal. When someone happily squees over their own cover reveal and proudly displays the fan art they get from adoring readers.

And you're there, in your polar bear pajamas and gray sweatshirt and the empty pot of coffee, half-thinking about your own unpolished manuscript and blatant anonymity...let's just say that your heart dips a little bit. There's a little internal sigh of disappointment.

 Every writer feels this, and the words jealousy and envy sound so conniving and evil but most of the time, it's just this one tiny voice in your head that quietly says, "What about me?" 

It's the small feeling you get when someone you are friends with suddenly has a writing breakthrough. An author you admire sells another solid book deal and everyone is singing praises.

Here is the thing though: you know they deserve it. They deserve every inkling of their success. Their manuscript is amazing; the author is brilliant and kind and hardworking. But hell, you work hard too and you wonder if the day will ever come when someone talks about YOUR writing and praises your characters. 

I would like to call that feeling The Want. 

The Want is like a small, baby lizard.Or perhaps a little imp, a species derivative of the Monster (what I like to call my voices of self-doubt). Yes. let's stick with the imp. 

It's small and nagging, but if you feed it thought and doubts and worries...you feed it flames and then it turns into the Dragon of Jealousy. Which happens all the time. Unless...

If you stick with the Dragon of Jealousy and feed it more flames and resentment and anger, then the Dragon eventually destroys you and takes over your thoughts, and ends up hurting only you. Trust me. If you don't trust me, trust Sarah J. Maas. 

You can't ignore it, just like you can't ignore the Monster. 

Here's what you do; you use it.

You turn the envy and use it to fan the flames of your ambition. You take a look at your shelves of all the successful authors you look up to and you think, this is where I will be, and the conviction alone turns into pure motivation. You take the energy of envy and jealousy and turn it into an awesome, "THIS IS SPARTA" drive that will make you an unstoppable force. You vow to yourself that you will work hard, that you will writewritewritewrite until your writing is so good, so solid and beautiful that they have zero chance of rejecting you. 

And you snap some reins on the Dragon and race it to victory. 

Because there's something fiercely brilliant and freeing about being the underdog and the dreamer. Because at the end of the day, writing is your sport and you love writing and you love books and no one's accomplishments can take that from you. 

You hear that?

Use The Want. It is an incredibly, incredibly powerful tool. Take another's success and shape it into your dream and goal. 

And in the end, I may still be a completely unknown writer who is sitting in polar bear pajamas and blogging about dragons, but at least I am writing my stories, one word after another and slowly shaping my dreams into reality. 

Use The Want. 



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A few words on writing

Usually, it is my habit to make a cup of tea before I start writing, and lounge around with some music.

Today? I didn't make my tea. Some days, I get so caught up in my "writing rituals" that it makes me procrastinate. In order to get into the 'writing mood", I get caught on doing the things that relate to writing instead of writing itself. 

And here's the truth:

Writing doesn't need to be done to a big pot of coffee or a soundtrack blasting in your ears.

Writing doesn't need to be done with scrumptious tea or kittens lounging by your side. 

Writing doesn't need to be done with Scrivener or fancy plotting cards, even though they help.

You don't need an outline, but you can have one.

You don't need five thousand Stickies and a to-do list to prove that you're a writer.

Some people will tell you their processes and methods, their exact "methods of success" to writing.Some people have perfectly organized methods that I frankly envy and admire, but I have realized that it's just not me.  

And their organized processes can be perfectly effective, but every writer's process is unique. Sometimes, when I get too caught up in my own rituals, I just like to sit back and think and completely take myself back to the essentials.

Because you don't need "proof" that you're a writer. Scratch that; you need one.

You need to put words down on a page. One word after another. Then you're a writer.

And everything else--coffee, kittens, gin and tonic, stacks of writing books, even outline--that comes second.

Just words on a page, and you are a writer. What you do next is completely up to you. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Finally, a small breakthrough

So yesterday, I was working through some particularly tough scenes. 

Actually, this one particularly tough scene. 

First off, I want to describe my main character. 

I personally don't think she's particularly strong or feisty like many YA heroines that I love and adore. She's not too dramatic or unique, either. She's quiet. Where another character deviates from the rules and talks back, she keeps her mouth shut. She's a little broken inside, from something that happened to her a long time ago. 

And then this thing, this circumstance comes back to haunt her. I can't really say what it is at the moment, but it is something that once took her family from her and now again--after she thinks she's escaped from that, it comes back and again, it forces her in turmoil and begins to take everything she has gained.

What does she do, now that she's forced to face her inner demons? She has no choice but to become strong. She doesn't instantly transform into a kick-butt heroine--it takes a long time for her to find herself again.

I was writing the scene yesterday, when literally, everyone, everyone she loves is gone and what she holds dear is completely destroyed.

And--for the first time, ever, I broke down and cried. 

I've been writing for quite a while--and this book, especially. I have devoted more time and energy than I ever have to any other book I've worked on. 

But--I never cry in books. I cry in movies, but words rarely move me to the point of tears. I have always experienced this sort of detachment with my characters. In the back of my mind, at the end of the day, they lived on the page. For the longest time, I obsessed over the plot and the inner workings of the premise and didn't devote enough heart to my characters. 

Yesterday, for a long moment, I finally actually felt the main character's pain. I don't want to sound cheesy or melodramatic. It was perhaps the darkest scene in the book, where she hits rock bottom and she can no longer swallow her anger or hide her emotions behind her face. 

I think--for me, it was a sign of victory, of reaching the point where finally, I cared about the people I created enough to see the world through their eyes and reach their fictional hearts, and cry for them. It has taken me years to reach this point of writing, and I realize that no matter what happens to this book, it has certainly taken me to the next level of writing and given me an experience I won't, and can't, forget.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Er, music? On a Friday?

I realized I have written two quite philosophical posts in a row and so today I will blog about food and writing updates and chronicles from the revision tunnel.

Brief update/Not so frequently asked FAQ/conversation with self:

Q: Hi!
A: Hey. :) You look fabulous today. 

Q: What's up?
A: You're asking what is up? Snow. Lots of snow. Snowsnowsnowsnow. Some days have gotten so cold, really. It's 30 degrees out and almost feels like summer. 

Q: Any good books lately?
A: I recently read The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. I loved it and there was a page in the book full of MATH PICKUP LINES and it was the sweetest. Definitely a recommendation. 
ALSO; I read an ARC of Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard and SO MANY FEELS. 

OH OH OH Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is officially  2015 Abe Lincoln award nominee! 

Q; Books you're excited for?
A: Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor. April is so far awaaaayyyyyy. :(

Q: How is revisionland?
A: Hm. It's going okay. By okay, I mean with some moaning and writing and drinking way too much tea and thinking way too much about imaginary people. Being in revisions is like being stuck on that Lethargic Island or something like that in The Phantom Tollbooth; time passes so slowly and everything takes FOREVARRR. 
On the bright side, I now have a taste in music. :) :) :)

Q: Any music recommendations?
A: Definitely. Anything by Bastille. Anything. 


Also, I've been revising the last third of my novel to the soundtrack of Winter's Tale (which, actually, just came out today!) and it is AMAZING. I mean, it's Hans Zimmer, amirite?

My favorite is "I Love Blood on the Snow". 

(You may have to fast forward till about 2:30 for the music to get exciting.)

That's it! I'm quite close, actually, to finishing this round of revisions. Which is awesome.