Post Writers’ Conference Hitch

Oh my goodness.  How am I supposed to get back to normal?  Attending my first writers’ conference in early May was a dream come true.  Really.  I learned so much more than I ever thought I would.  There is one little hitch though.  Now, I over-analyze everything I write.  Every sentence, practically every word.  It’s starting to get in the way of the plot because I am focussing too much on the words and structure.

So, exactly how am I supposed to get back to normal?  I mean, every time I write a few sentences, I start to think that they aren;t punchy enough or I have used the same word too many times or the structure isn’t right.  I am even finding myself fixing previously written text to accommodate what I learned at the conference.

Am I just over-editing?  Will I return to normal soon?  What am I supposed to do if all I think about is how mundane my writing must be?  Oh the conundrum!

As usual, writing things out, especially issues I have, seems to help me come up with solutions.  My first thought is to get back to writing and worry about the editing later.  Somehow I have to trust that my story is more important right now than which words I choose and how many times I use a word.  This has always been difficult for me, but now, trying to add in the nuances I learned about at the conference, is making me crazy!  Not to mention, the “Doubt Monster” is really tearing at what little confidence I have in my own writing abilities.  I almost feel as though I cannot write at all.

OK, ok, stop whining and practice not editing. See how that works out.  Hopefully I can return to some normalcy in my writing soon.

(also posted on She Writes)

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Perfectly Placed Eye Lashes

I have a distinct appreciation for make-up, eye make-up to be exact.  I can get drawn in by the flawless application of color and lashes.  I look closely at the details. I focus on the closeups to see how the color was applied, where the shadows are, and how the lashes blend into the eyeliner.

smokeyeye1What has all this talk about eye make-up got to do with writing?  Nothing, on the surface; but if you think about it, it’s the same as writing a great story.  You draw your readers in with the flawless application of plot and characters.  Your readers will fall into the perfection of the scenes.  As a writer, I read other authors closely.  I scour the details, focus on the events, how the action is applied, and how the subplots blend into the main theme.  The meat of the story is in the details. It’s how I learn to write better.  It’s how I understand the structure.  The finishing touches, the satisfaction of the ending, reminds me of perfectly placed eyelashes.

New Year, Refocus

I read a lot of posts about the new year upon us and new resolutions.  For me, 2015 brings a time of reflection and refocus.  I mean, so often we make the same resolutions every year, only to see them dashed by the first week of January.

This year, I am reflecting on the goals I had for last year and refocusing to improve results.  All the wishes in the world won’t make your goals come true.  So I am in for some hard work.

Truth be told, the hard work is the easy part.  After all, I LOVE to write.  It’s what I do.  It’s the time I get to spend on writing that is so difficult to come by.

Last year, I resolved to get up very early (before dawn) and write.  This worked out well for a long period of time and I got a lot of writing done.  I was starting to get up on my own, without the benefit of an alarm clock.  It seemed the characters wanted to tell me their parts of the story!  Unfortunately, after several weeks, this time no was not always my own and the wonderful man to who  am married and share my life with sometimes forgets that interrupting my train of thought when I am writing is a big NO-NO!!!  So, I became less productive.  Then I caught a cold and stopped getting up early.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to be more fierce in my demand for writing time.  Like right now, I am cooking breakfast while writing this post. Yes, I will still get up before dawn to write and, yes, I will still be interrupted on occasion; but maybe, just maybe, the fierceness will overcome the interruptions and I’ll get this darned book finished!

Happy New Year ad happy writing, everyone!!

Character Building

I have been working on this novel for years now and, every time I hit boulder in the road, I realize I have missed something.  Likely the reason for hitting the boulder.  This most recent boulder revealed that my MC has not been defined well enough to cause her to be passionate about this quest of hers.  I ask myself why she would be so willing, eager, to go along with the journey she must follow and I have discovered that there is no answer — in the book, that is.

So, now I have to figure out where to put this information and how to write it into the story.  Do I do a flashback or give her a present-day situation that expresses her interest and belief in the plot line?  After all, this is not exactly a normal plot line.  She is experiencing some situations that are somewhat paranormal.  Why would she believe in the paranormal?  Maybe I need to make a world where the paranormal is part of the normal?  Or maybe her world includes the paranormal?

While I grapple with yet another snag, I feel some excitement to the process.  After all, I am learning what will be needed on my next project.   And, for me, these questions indicate that I am on the right track.  I think that if I weren’t coming across these little discrepancies, the story would have no continuity.  As strange as that sounds on the surface, when looked at in depth, I am writing a plot line that fits my characters.  Thus it lets me know when those characters haven’t been as well-defined as they should be.

As a writer, we know our characters inside and out, backwards and forwards.  If we are smart, we have written their biographies.  And I did that for all the major characters.  The issue comes when we realize they are in the throes of the plot and we have forgotten to tell the audience how and why they are handling the given situation in a particular way.  For example, I know my MC is a determined and focused.  She is not easily deterred.  She also has “the sight” as her guide calls it. This means she understands and sees the world in a different way than most people.  But how does my audience know that?  So, I am thinking of adding in a dream sequence or a flashback to exhibit her unique perspective.  This should help the reader understand her later reactions to the plot turns.

Back to work…

-AH

Fear Factor

I read a lot of tweets and posts about the fears we writers have — blank pages, writer’s block, inner critics (aka monsters), lack of ideas, rejection, etc.  I think about these things and I think I fall more into the fear of finishing group.  I fear finishing my novel because I not only have the usual fears noted above, but I’m really not sure what to do after I finish it.  Editing and all being obvious, what do I do afterwards? Do I get an agent? Do I submit to publishers?  Do I self-publish (and that option opens up a whole new set of questions)?  What do I do?

Then there’s that question that looms in my mind…what if I am such a bad writer that I will never publish and the book will be a total embarrassment?  You know, like those poor young people on American Idol who can’t carry a tune, but get up there and mortify themselves because their family has always told them they sounded terrific.   Oh heavens, yet another fear to handle.

Fear is a great paralyzer, the root of much procrastination, especially as a writer.  It’s a wonder any one gets the words on a page, much less published.  The big FEAR is always standing in our way.  We all have general fears in life, it’s human nature.  But as writers, there are so many fears directly related to our craft that breaking free of them can be an insurmountable task.

How do we trudge on?  For me, it takes a lot of pushing, a lot of will power.  I push myself to get up early, to open the computer, to actually write.  I will myself to forget all the “what ifs” for the time I’m on the computer writing.  I will myself to just write and not think about the monster in my head screaming at me that I am not good enough.

In the end, I hope to be published and, more importantly, read by many.  I don’t need a bestseller, but it would be nice. Then there’s the other “what if” that I fear. What if I can’t get published and/or no one reads my book, will I continue to write? I suppose I’ll find out soon enough; but the longer it takes to finish, the longer I can live in my dream world of being published someday.  And there’s the catch.

Happy writing!!

-AH

Writing a First Novel is Painful!

I wrote a quick Facebook post this morning saying that I was not in the writing mode today and it’s torturous writing a novel. In fact, I am feeling pretty tortured the last couple of days. Trying to write a novel can sometimes be like like trying to pull out my hair one strand at a time. So very painful. Other times, when things are seemingly flowing smoothly, it’s very exhilarating.

Lately, I have been trying to get the MC, Branwen, to her destination, but I know I need some action and some strife intermixed with the plot line. I work on this and come up with some nice subplots that start to take good shape. All is well, right? Wrong!!

I wake up in the wee hours of the morning and start thinking about why Branwen would believe that a spirit would come to her and expect her, a single young woman, to change the world. Then I start worrying whether my scenery is well-defined enough to help readers understand where the characters are and what they are seeing. I used to think that writing dialogue was difficult. Not so. Having come from a technical background, I don’t often think about the finer details like lighting, or the color of the walls, or the shapes of windows. I think about the meat of the story rather than the potatoes.

So, I suppose I’m wondering if I can go back, after finishing the meat, and add the potatoes. Then, I realize, this is my novel and I can write it however I want, in whatever order I want.  I don’t think there’s a specific order in which to write a novel, is there? It’s pretty much up to the writer how s/he gets the work from beginning to end.

I think I’m just so frustrated with the amount time it is taking to work on this project and I feel like I should be so much further along — like done already!! I beat myself up for getting stuck and it’s difficult to stay motivated. And maybe, just maybe, now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, I can go back and write more of this novel?

-AH

Back on Track

In the midst of the day-to-day, I am back on track writing in the early morning hours. We are experiencing our usual September humid-heat wave, so it’s been really warm in the mornings. This morning, I took my laptop out to the lanai and wrote as the sun came up. Very inspiring!

While I am trying to flesh out one of the subplots of my novel, I finally feel like I am heading in the right direction. The main plot is starting to take shape and I understand what needs to happen.

I had a realization this morning that changed everything for my MC. She will be able to make more sense of her main goal despite the chaos happening around her. I’m feeling so much better about the middle of my WIP now. Phew!

Back on track — writing and plot. Yes!!

-AH

Also posted on my other blog site at https://andreahunter313.wordpress.com