I feel like I’ve been busy this week even though I barely left the house. Now that I’m more mobile, I can do things like cook for myself and do laundry. My knee is still kept straight in a brace but I can get around the house without even using my walker. So, while I can do more, it still takes me longer to do these things. Between this and spending a total of 4.5 hours on my Continuous Passive Motion machine, I haven’t had much time to write…or do much else, really.

As of this morning the CPM is officially gone! A tech from the rental company picked it up this morning, so I got 4.5 hours of my day back. While it really helped at first I don’t think it was doing much this last week. (Plus the doctor’s office said to stop.) I’m still doing exercises, but now I can actually, you know, take a couple hours to write.

I have a good outline for the next Define Reality novella. It’s not a full script, but I made a list of every single scene, and I’m even getting ideas for other novellas in the series. If/when I reach the end of this project, I might actually consider querying agents.

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This Week’s Theme is “Perseverance”

I’ve had a rough week. It started with frustrated tears after my doctor’s appointment, continued with more frustrated tears due to my sudden inability to use crutches, then ended with overwhelming relief when I realized I could get around fine on a walker. Several days of my body rebelling against this new work-out schedule  put me through the emotional wringer. As someone who had no muscles at all pre-surgery, I faced the conclusion that using crutches for more than a few steps requires strength and coordination I don’t yet possess. Switching to the walker seemed like a failure at first, but now all I care about is being able to get around my house on my own.

Meanwhile, I finished my novella this week. I’m in that weird limbo where I’ve finished a project and don’t know what to do next, despite my earlier post about entering contests. Believe it or not I feel like editing my novella. In the past I would always write, but then never look at the project again because it would never be good enough for anyone else to read. I would move on to my next creation instead of editing a story I worked on for months. Now, I miss projects and want to go back. A writing career encompasses more than churning out a first draft, so maybe this is a sign that I’m finally ready for one.

Recovery is Fun and All…

…but I’m ready to make some money now. While it’s great that I’ve been saving for years, I still cringe at every new medical expense. Not to mention, once this is over, I get to do it again with the next knee. (…if the surgeon agrees to do a second surgery with this complication I’ve been having. I don’t want to talk about it.) A few weeks ago I looked into freelancing and I got nowhere because I couldn’t make a single decision. Do I go with this website, that website, maybe write a post with a bigger blog in mind? Never had a clue. There were so many potential pitfalls that I let it go until after surgery.

Well, surgery was about three weeks ago. I’m sick of spending money that I won’t be able to replace in the near future. Personally I love working on my creative writing projects, like the novella I just finished, but that’s not going to help any time soon either. I want to write and see results now, preferably in my bank account.

I know. Don’t we all?

When tweeting today I came across this beautiful list of writing contests. They even list the contests according to the nearest due date! There’s no guarantee, but it’s something. I plan to fire up the ‘ole imagination and churn out as many short stories as possible, maybe even fix up the only novel I’ve managed to finish. At least it’s something to focus on besides physical therapy.

Writing Tips from an Unpublished Writer

Title says it all. If it helps, I started writing almost twenty years ago.

Yeah, that doesn’t help.

We won’t talk about the numerous commitment and confidence issues preventing me from querying agents. Instead, I’d like to mention something else: I give good advice. This talent doesn’t usually work on my own life, but I’ve helped countless others over the years. I’m like those psychics who can’t predict lottery numbers. If I wanted to take out more student loans, or listen to people talk about their problems all day long, I could easily be a therapist. I’d rather be an unpublished writer.

Anyway, you clicked on this post for the potentially-helpful advice that you might remember five minutes from now. F-Y-I, this is all from trial and error. If I went to college for writing or joined groups, maybe I would have learned this sooner or drawn different conclusions. All I know is that they’ve helped me…not get published. You’ve been warned.

  1. Write. I know, every advice article tells you this, but it’s for a reason. You won’t get better unless you write a whole lot of crap first. Thousands and thousands of words of pure, glorious crap. Oh sure, some of it might be grammatically correct, and your mom-teacher-friend-random person online might think you’re a natural. I’ve been there. Keep going. There is no conclusion to this point because the process doesn’t end. Your writing style has a life of its own. The way you write will develop five, ten, fifteen years from now. It’s an incremental change that results from individual decisions. You’ll get what I mean the first time you notice sentence length, or how often you use adverbs.
  2. Read. It took me a long time to get this. Logically you’d think writing and reading are inseparable, but sometimes, they drift apart. You get so wrapped up in producing that you forget how important it is to consume. Picking up a paperback, losing yourself in the story for hours, not stopping until the next chapter break…all of it reminds you why you write. I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t matter what you read. Read an interesting book/article/comic/etc., and you’ll want to write.
  3. Have a reason. This is another one that eluded me for years. A key element missing from my writing was emotion, and I could never figure out why. Why did all my original stories fall flat? Why was it so much easier to write fanfiction? I  couldn’t tell you my exact light-bulb moment, but in the last few years it finally clicked. The way I created stories needed adjustment. Characters and plot are important, but I should spend an equal amount of time on the message, the purpose. Why do I want to write this story? What do I want to tell readers? A story doesn’t have to be preachy, but it should have a theme. It will help when you lose interest in the middle and don’t know where to go next. This brings up my next point…
  4. Write however you want. I prefer to start at the beginning, but you don’t have to. Are there scenes you can’t wait to write? Write them first. For one novel (the only draft I actually finished), I skipped ahead to a collection of scenes between two of the main characters, which ended up in the middle of the story. That reminds me…
  5. Not everything will be usable. I’ve abandoned countless stories, written dozens of pages no one else will ever read. It’s okay. Sometimes you need to write scenes to get them out of your system.
  6. Shake up your routine. If you haven’t worked on your Super Important Manuscript in weeks, work on something else for a while. The novel that’s going to make you famous will be there when you’re ready for it. Sometimes, the new project you start becomes Super Important too. On the other hand…
  7. Don’t give in to “Writer’s Block.” Raise your right hand and say it with me: “Writer’s Block is an excuse. I could write if I really, really wanted to.” If it’s a schedule thing, make time. Wake up earlier or go to bed later. If it’s a story thing, ask yourself why. Are you dreading the next scene? Write another one (see Tip #4). Is the next scene necessary? Should you write it from a different POV? Turn the story around in your mind until something works. If you don’t have a story, then…
  8. Brainstorm. This is different for everyone, but it works best for me when I branch off from a topic (see Tip #3). Other pieces fall into place after that. What plot would best relate to this topic? What characters would this plot have? Eventually you zoom in on a main character.

 

Fresh Air

The crankiness has passed. My birthday was a surprisingly good day even though I never left the house (and I’m 28 now…). This morning I woke up wanting to move, so I walked with my crutches on my own and even sat outside for a few minutes. It was my first time out of the house since getting home from the hospital last Friday.

I’m also writing. For the past few months I’ve been working on a novella, but it’s really the current incarnation of a concept that’s existed for two years already. (I don’t want to admit that, but yeah, the earliest document was from 2014. I wrote it as a script then but put the idea on the back burner for a year while I wrote my first novel. Yes, the completed first draft of a novel written by me exists, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day again.) I went back to this concept since I was looking for a “new” project. My original goal was to turn it into a series of short stories, but that didn’t work so I landed on the novella format.

So I don’t know exactly what I’ll do with this. I love the characters and this particular world I’ve created, but I don’t love the idea of stretching this into a novel. It works just fine as a novella based on the script I wrote two years ago. I also have more ideas for these characters that would work perfectly as novellas. (Since it started as a drama pilot I’m still thinking in “episodes.”) I plan to put each novella on Wattpad, but I’m not sure what to do beyond that. Individual ebooks seem like a logical choice if I want to publish them separately.

Another option is to consider each story part of a larger novel. Authors divide novels into Part I, Part II, etc. all the time. If I want to go the route of traditional publishing, this might be the best tactic.

Getting Things Done

I am at the mercy of doctors’ offices and insurance companies. “You can’t get clearance earlier than two weeks,” they said. Okay. So I went to my primary doctor last Monday and went to the soonest cardiologist appointment available, which was Thursday. The holiday weekend probably screwed me up but here we are, two days before my surgery is supposed to happen, and my surgeon’s office still doesn’t have clearance from these offices. Not only that, but after contacting my insurance company, I found out the surgeon’s office hasn’t put in for the authorization yet. Oh, and by the way, the Continuous Passive Motion machine my surgeon ordered isn’t covered by my insurance at all.

No, I’m not panicking. Why do you ask?

It’s one thing to feel nervous about the surgery and want to postpone it, knowing I won’t really reschedule. It’s another to worry about actually postponing it because of medical industry crap. Bright side? I’m focusing more on getting clearance in order than the procedure itself.

On the other hand, my novella is on track to be finished…soon, if not by Friday. It will definitely be a novella because I’m at 15.7K words and the story is almost done. I think this is a good format for me. Writing-wise, my biggest problem has always been finishing the story. I can get inspiration from anywhere and churn out the first ten thousand words just fine, but after that I hit a wall. Very rarely do I go past that mark. You’d think after a while I would stick to short stories, but I always get ideas for novels. I didn’t finish the first draft of one until last year when I’ve been writing since middle school. It is easier for me to finish a fanfiction story, but even then, many multi-chapter ones have been abandoned. Maybe it’s because the fanfictions I do finish are really novella length.

With novellas I can write a piece longer than a short story, then move on before I lose interest. My plan right now is to write a series of novellas for this particular world I’ve created. Maybe I’ll try to get it published as an anthology, maybe I’ll make them into separate ebooks…who knows? Right now it’s just nice to reach the end of a story and still want to write about the characters.

A Forked Road with a Million Branches

At this point in my life, there are many career paths open to me.

It’s overwhelming.

People in my life tell me – “you’ve been writing for years, so get published.”

I won’t reply, but I’ll think of a million reasons why it’s not as easy as they think. Publish what? For what audience? Do I need an agent? Would anyone besides them buy what I did publish? How do I turn stories I write on my laptop into a career? I could also be an editor, should I do that too? How about this blog? What should I do with it? And the elusive “freelancing” career? How the hell do you find a website that won’t rip you off? While venting my frustrations over the weekend, I actually debated starting my own publishing company. Should I create my own path?

So, you see my dilemma. All these options are making me dizzy. Usually I end up doing some research, getting discouraged, then going back the work-in-progress that will never be published. The useful links I come across while doing my research (that journalism degree comes in handy sometimes) sit on my bookmarks tab until I eventually delete them. I’ve had a bad case of information overload since…well, high school.

One thing I can do is share what I find. If I discover links that will help aspiring freelancers, short story writers, screenwriters, whichever, I’ll make posts and sort them into categories. Here’s all the links featured in this post:

http://publishing.about.com/od/BookAuthorBasics/a/Literary-Agents-Do-You-Need-A-Literary-Agent-For-Your-Book.htm

http://epicintrovert.com/how-to-find-high-paying-freelance-writing-jobs-for-beginners/

https://screenshotmonitor.com/blog/how-to-avoid-scams-on-upwork-and-freelancer/

http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1810

Freelance Writing Jobs

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/how-where-to-get-a-short-story-published

Goodinaroom.com: “How to Become a Screenwriter” 

Life Is Short – I’m Reading Whatever I Want

Whenever the subject of literature comes up, you’d think I’d be the first one to say how I love Jane Austen or Mark Twain or any number of authors we’re forced to read in high school. Writers are supposed to love the classics, right? They’re the best of all time, the epitome of “good writing.” I should have a long list of classics that changed my life, which I often rattle off in order of influence.

Here’s the thing – I don’t. I love reading though. From the beginning I devoured any book I got my hands on and could spend hours in a bookstore. This is also true now. What I didn’t love was being forced to read classic literature in school. My friend from high school and I still joke about how we both fell asleep reading Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Sure, I liked “Catcher in the Rye” and “The Great Gatsby,” but I wouldn’t call them my favorites of all time.

What do I read? Anything else. I love genre fiction, always have. Give me a good mystery, supernatural or even a romance novel any day. My Kindle app has a growing collection of Nora Roberts trilogies (mostly her paranormal romances). Sometimes I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, but I always have one or multiple “currently reading” novels. Lately I surf Kindle for self-published ebooks or read works uploaded onto social media websites. To me it doesn’t matter what people read as long as they don’t fall asleep while reading it.

(Personally speaking, it’s ironic because with music the opposite applies – I prefer The Rolling Stones, Motown, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel. This phenomenon only happens with classic literature over thirty years old.)

Maybe I’d seek out more classics if I came across one I liked just as much as a contemporary novel, but it hasn’t happened yet. Now, that doesn’t mean classics don’t have value. They do because they influenced the authors who are on my Kindle app. They shaped the way we tell stories in the present day.

Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to read them.

I do hope I’ll come across a classic I absolutely love and finally get it. Once in a while I feel guilty about all this, but time is precious and I won’t force myself to read a book solely because librarians think I should. I’ll still write what I want and hopefully, some day, people will read my stories because they love genre fiction too.

I Miss Having a Bookshelf

I know, I know – “You call yourself a writer and you don’t have a bookshelf? What’s wrong with you? Next you’ll say you don’t have a library card!” Hear me out, okay? (And for the record I do have a library card!)

My family and I live in a three-bedroom detached house in Queens, and I use the term bedroom loosely. Two are average and the third is the size of a walk-in closet. I started out with the bigger room, but after a few years I voluntarily traded for the tiny one because it had more privacy. The bigger room my sister now uses also has the only actual closet in any of the “three” bedrooms, including the so-called master. Her room also has the only door to the backyard. (This house has the weirdest construction ever, I swear.) So you see how both a supposed grown adult and a teenage girl would have issues with it. Even now my sister regrets instigating the trade.

For the most part I don’t care about the space. It’s a place for me to sleep when I’m not hanging out downstairs in the finished basement/lower level/potential apartment. When I graduated college I had delusions that I would be living in my own place soon anyway, so why obsess over a room in my family home? The part of me that hasn’t completely given up hope still feels this way.

When chatting with my friend a while back, I realized that I miss having a bookshelf. When I was a teenager we had a huge colonial – three bedrooms, not including a private sitting area attached to the master, a finished attic room and an unfinished basement. Plenty of storage for everyone’s stuff. Built-in shelves in the spare room housed my library of YA books and junior novelizations (the latter probably led to my fanfiction obsession now that I think about it). Sadly we got rid of almost all of them when we moved and I dormed at college.

Now I wish I had at least one bookcase. In my own hypothetical house or condo in the far-off, hypothetical future, I want an entire room with wall-to-wall bookshelves. This will not double as my office though, because all those novels would be endlessly distracting. My office would have writing resource books and large desk for my desktop computer. For the most part I stay in the present, but sometimes it’s nice to fantasize.

For now I’ll have to settle for the Kindle app on my phone and laptop. I’m not an ebook snob so I’ll gladly buy that version to save space. It’s just that I would like to buy regular paperbacks without thinking “Where the hell am I going to put these?”

Nothing much to report except I’ve been constantly adding to my novella for days now. I’m at that sweet spot where characters, backstory and plot have finally clicked together. It feels like this took a long time since my novella was a drama script first, but the script did help me figure out the plot. I’m thinking I might write a script version before all my novella and novel projects.

I might be writing so much because my surgery date is coming up fast. I know, I can always write after (especially since I won’t be able to do much else), but for some reason it’s like a giant deadline in my mind. I’m midway through my novella so part of me is curious to see if I can get it done.

Soon after I’m probably going to post it on Wattpad.com. Before that I’ll have to make a cover, but I have some Pixabay images bookmarked so it should come out okay. Most of the time I stick to writing but once in a while I like to play around with graphic design.