Dear Past Writer-Self

13 years ago today, I finished writing my first novel.

Heyo, blog! It’s been a minute. Not having written in ages makes maintaining a writing blog, well, like a frying pan: hard. Who knew, right?

Anyway, August 31 is a special day, since in 2008, on that date, I finished my very first full-length novel.

It must have been pretty exciting, considering how many exclamation points I used on the page written in red pen in a spiral notebook when I wrote The End on a novel for the first time.

That was half my life ago now.

Since then?

  • I’ve finished some half-dozen novels, a couple of novellas, and a couple dozen short stories.
  • I have several other tales in various stages along the way.
  • Haven’t published anything.
  • I’ve given up on some publishing dreams, had new ones, given up on those, and need to probably poke one or the other of those dreams awake again one of these days. (The problem with dreams is they’re always napping on the job.)

I can’t help but compare my excited 13-year-old self who had just finished her first novel in a spiral-bound notebook (I think it was like 95K words), who was on top of the moon and enjoyed writing for the sake of it, to my half-my-lifetime-later mid-twenties self who hasn’t written in four months due to . . . something.

If I figure out what, that might help. Exhaustion both physical and emotional, busyness, lack of focus . . . something. I know I should give my writer self the benefit of the doubt — I’ve been dealing with a lot in my life this year and I have a job, neither of which my 13-year-old writer self would understand.

But the fact remains that my writing has been nonexistent or barely-there for a long time now.

My stories are not silent. I’ve had several brainstorms for several of my WIPs these last few months. They knock on the door of my mind, often without warning, sometimes without even knocking — simply barreling the door down and presenting me with new mind-blowing revelations about plots and characters and settings and storylines that I’ve been neglecting on-page for too long.

My stories are not silent. They are alive and bursting with new brainstorms — sometimes a torrential thunderstorm, sometimes a quiet flickering summer lightning storm if I’m busy or tired. But I’m always discovering new things about them as they simmer on the back burner like a patient oatmeal or a scientific experiment waiting to fizzle over and explode — not sure which.

My stories are not silent. It’s only my pen that is.

2020 was bad for my writing. 2021 has been worse.

In 2020 I wrote less than 40% of what I usually write. In 2021, so far, 2/3rds in, I’ve written less than 40% of what I wrote in 2020.

I have a coiled-threads mess of feelings about this that I’m having a hard time untangling.

  • Sadness — I haven’t been writing.
  • Super Stressed — Will I ever write again?
  • Resigned — Well, I’m busy and have no energy, so there’s nothing I can do about it right now.
  • Apathetic — Okay but do I really care tho’ [*slaps apathetic self who is probably just tired*]
  • Be-kind-to-yourself — Life is stressful and this non-writing is just a season. Breathe. And stop feeling guilty, for the love of frying pans. (Who knew, right?)

I’m not sure which of these is . . . the real thing . . . if there is one.

Did I mention I overthink things? ๐Ÿ˜›

Dear 13-year-old-me:

I’m so proud of you for finishing that first novel! Ethan and company (okay, mostly your Duncan obsession, and the bears too) are in written-book form, and regardless of what happens to it in the future, that’s something awesome.

If you could write a letter to me now, I wonder what you would say?

Would you be impressed at what I’ve written since then? Would you be disappointed I haven’t published anything? Flabbergasted that I could go four months without writing a single thing? Confused at how I’ve managed to make everything that used to be a joy about writing and reading into a chore?

Would you tell me to find my joy again? To write for the fun of it? To breathe in and out and forget that I have failed so many times and instead to just start again?

Start again . . .

That brings to mind the song “Start Again” by Red. (Listen. Or lyrics.) It’s one of the theme songs for two brothers in my WIP The Other Half of Everything.

I’m singing it in my head, to you, past-self. (Even though you don’t like rock music yet.)

Can we start again?

Love, your future (now present) mid-twenties writer-self

Writer Ups & Downs

It’s a funny thing: it seems the writers’ life consists mostly of ups and downs.

I mean, there’s all these times when we’re either SUPER EXCITED about writing and just so energized, and other times when we’re super down about it and think our writing is worthless etc. etc.

One moment we are all:

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

And the next:

Quoth the raven: Nevermore.

Our writer lives are a series of mountains and valleys. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It seems that there’s not an even road, where we are just quietly content in where we are in our writing, things going smoothly but not exciting (because if it’s going smoothly, that IS exciting), or just generally “meh, it’s okay” (because thinking that rockets one quickly to: “there must be something wrong with it if I’m feeling that way about it!” which turns to super down), and it’s all extremes.

(I’m generalizing, and if you’re not this way, then just ignore everything I said. XD)

But I suppose it makes sense, since writers are primarily storytellers, and in a story, things mostly ARE extremes. It’s either enormously happy for our heroes or super-super-enormously, extravagantly bad for our heroes. (Usually the latter; being a book character is a poor career choice, let me tell you. XD) Because in a story, if it was just meandering along a flat place where things were okay or all right, then… there wouldn’t be much of a story.

Perhaps we writers are attuned to that (and are also dramatic souls *cough* *guilty*) and tend to take it in extreme emotions one way or the other.

I’m not saying this is good or bad. XD I’ve just been thinking about it. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Again, if you’re not this way, forgive my ramblings and let me know otherwise. :P)

I’ve been going through some writer ups and downs this year myself.

I’ve been writing short stories, which means I’ve been finishing things! But that also means I haven’t been making progress on novels.

I’ve been writing in small dashes of this-and-that, not focusing on any one thing, which means I haven’t made any serious progress on ANYTHING. But I HAVE somehow amassed about 20,000 words of writing this year!

I’ve had some great “clicking” moments that have resulted in excitement over various stories! But I’ve also not been excited enough about one thing to focus on it.

I’ve been writing in snippets, so I haven’t made consistent progress. But I’ve been using Scrivener and that has helped with my snippet tendencies and I’m getting fun inspired scenes down!

I’ve (hopefully) decided what to write for NaNo and gotten super excited about it! But NaNo is 4 months away. (That’s both good and bad. XD)

I’ve written three short stories this year, which total 14,700 words (Wintertale, A Tale of Two Boxes, and a Kedran’s Wood “fanfiction” that will never see publication but was fun to get me back into the series). I’m 2000 words into another short story, Invisible Beauty, and almost finished. I’ve written at least a thousand words of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood a.k.a. KW2 (I haven’t been keeping very good track, just trying to get further since I’ve been stuck) and a snatch of KW3. I’ve written 1700 words of snippets of The Other Half of Everything. And a couple lines of random other things. Plus various plotting I’ve done.

In a way, it’s not very much for six months. In another way, it’s far better than I was doing this time last year during my huge burnout!

Plus, I’ve been doing a LOT of reading and reviewing, getting my story-and-writing-fix that way.

I’m at the point where I have decisions to make of which paths to take as I wander these mountains and valleys of my writing… and these decisions, too, are huge opposite decisions, in keeping with the ups-and-downs-extremes theme of this post. XD

I either need to get seriously back into writing soon, OR take a serious break in order to recharge.

I either need to buckle down and decide that I will focus on one specific story and pick it and stick to it, OR embrace my work-on-multiple-things-at-once thing I’ve been doing slightly and make it work for me.

I either need to start writing in order again and focus on getting things done that way, OR I need to embrace my scribble-snippets-out-of-order-all-over-the-place thing I’ve been doing and make that work for me too. (Scrivener might help. But it’s hard to sew the quilt-pieces together once I’ve made them, so… I don’t know.)

I also need to remember tips that I’ve learned in the past that I don’t always remember to put into practice, such as:

  • Draft zero. This is a huge friend of mine, or at least has been in the past, and it could really help me if I’d remember to use it.
  • Timers and wordsprints. Especially the awesome wordsprint timer on the NaNo site. This is also super helpful for if I want to write something and just don’t have the motivation. I’ve only used it for NaNo and Camp so far, but the amount of progress that can happen in 15-or-20 minutes with this thing is astounding, so I should probably go for it again sometime.
  • Music. I know music can be super inspiring and get me in the grove, but I just don’t remember to listen to it much. (It doesn’t help that the speakers on my laptop are shot, so I have to remember to use earbuds, and I just don’t.)
  • A time to focus. I don’t write when I can’t focus, which means I just don’t have a time for it in my life right now. I need to set aside a time every day, or at least occasionally, to block out distractions and just open my Scrivener documents and at least TRY. Normally those times come at night and I’m either too tired, or I decide to read or write a review instead. Problems. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway. There’s a bit of a ramble on what’s up with my writing life of late, and its ups and downs, and partially just to remind myself of some things I should know. (Does that ever happen to you?) Writing is how I understand things in my life, so writing this out helped show me where I am, which is helpful. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m going to leave you with a scribble of poetry that was meandering around my head at 2 a.m. when I was trying to sleep but instead thinking about all these things.

Writer ups and writer downs
We will don our paper crowns
Take up our most loyal pens
Find out where the story ends

Thanks for reading! ^_^

Letters from Characters

In which I am at a loss because two of my characters from two different books write me letters.

TareBW

Tare

To the author:

KW2coverPNow that you’ve been back from your writing hiatus for a full five days… get back to writing. I mean it. You said you would, but I’m doubting your word now.

Your fears that if you write the last consecutive scene you have plotted in my story you will get stuck is unfounded, unwarranted, and completely transparent as a shameless excuse to be lazy.

Or, if you really are concerned about it, maybe you should actually… oh, I don’t know… think about the next scenes after it, instead of constantly musing on scenes halfway through the book that will not be here anytime soon and that happen to be some of the most distressing ones for me.

Your priorities are skewed. Sort them out.

Or I promise you’ll regret it. Even if I don’t do anything about it. Which I’m beginning to change my mind about.

TareSignature

 

 

***

knight

Sir Durand

My Lady,

CoverHeartseekerIt comes to my attention that you are back from resting your mind on the subject of my tale and others.

It likewise appears that you have not decided to start again on penning them, because you are divided in your mind on whether to work on mine, or on the deeds of a certain person called Tare in a strange other world. (Yes, news of him has indeed reached us, even here in this strange and perilously beautiful forest where you have seen fit to leave us for so long now.)

I ask that you would kindly cease your worry, my lady. Go write of him. It is clear where your heart lies, and I will not be the one to keep you from it by having you pretend to yourself or to anyone else that you care about my story.

In all courteous fact, as I am not liking where my story is heading, you need not ever return to me, if it please you, Lady.

Whatever you deem best, of course.

I am, very coldly,
Yours,
SirDurandSignature