Analysis Paralysis

Guys.

My characters aren’t talking to me…

I’ve hit a creative wall with Dreamweaver. The pivot point I experienced with my plot a few weeks ago, which was awesome when it occurred, completely paralyzed my progress.

I started to second guess myself and wasn’t feeling confident at all. I was wildly unsure of where the story was going and I was so worried that I had gone in the wrong direction…

…and they stopped talking.

…which means no progress, and my nerves are shot.

Throughout the process, I’ve felt like I was actually writing what could be two separate stories, and I think this plays into my concern quite a bit.

Another part of me, though, that little voice that says, “Hey, stop questioning things and just write!” has been pushing me to believe in the story, move forward, and see what happens.

I’m in this horrible cycle of optimism, panic, and doubt, and it stinks!

What if I push forward and it seems forced?

Do I write in the other direction instead and see if it helps?

Do I lay it all out and organize what I have to better see the places where these “two” stories are running into one another?

Or do I just push down all of these negative connotations and accept that at some point, these seemingly separate pieces will come together?

I think a large part of this is also my hesitation to make progress. I want to sit down and write, but I get so caught up in wanting to make sure I’m doing it “right” and it just increases the uncertainty. I want this story to be written so perfectly that I get in my own way. I would hate to write it, publish it, and think, “Damn, I should have done _______ differently.”

Like I said, it’s a horrible cycle — one I’m sure many other writers can understand.

And I think all of these conflicting feelings within me are what has caused my characters to fall silent. I used to walk around with them chatting up a storm in my head, creating scenes, and words would flow across the page when I sat down to type them out.

Now, it’s crickets.

I did find a helpful post on a blog called Out Loud titled What to Do When Your Characters Stop Talking and loved what the author had to say. I fit into her “None of the Above” category which is, you guessed it, self-doubt.

I suppose I have found the answer to my own problem…

I just need to believe in what I’m doing, and trust the process.

Has this happened to you before? What did you do? What would you do? I’d love some feedback, and maybe to know I’m not alone.

Publishing Dilemma

As I push forward on my journey with Dreamweaver, I’ve come across a few hard-pressed decisions in terms of publishing. Namely, whether I should attempt the traditional route or if I should give self-publishing a shot.

I’ve been torn on which path to take for a few different reasons, but mostly because I am not sure what would suite me better. I want to maintain some control over marketing and have a say in the process, but I also like the secure feeling of the traditional path as well.

I have some time – my manuscript is still a work in progress – but it’s never too soon to learn about and create a plan to move forward with.

The downside to submitting to a traditional publisher is the fact that they could reject me. As could the next one. And the next. And so on. They have resources and know-how that I lack, though, so despite the obvious drawback of potential rejection, I am drawn to the alluring qualities that are still present with this option.

Self-publishing terrifies me, though. I have seen many authors self-publish and succeed, and I have seen them fail as well. It takes a lot of time and dedication, which comes with the territory, but the idea of having some of those time-consuming aspects outsourced to a publishing house makes self-publishing a less opportunistic idea for me.

However…I would get to decide how things would move forward and who I would work with on design and editing, and I could publish immediately.

I definitely have a lot to think about.

In the meantime, if anyone else is in the same boat as I am, take a look at this little blurb on Writer’s Digest’s website by Brian Klems titled The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing (& Traditional Publishing). It has some good, quick information and suggested articles at the end that may help as well.

For those who have published traditionally, self, or both, what route did you prefer and why? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Hello, 2017

Hey, guys! Happy New Year!

I’ve been reflecting a bit as we say goodbye to 2016, which I’ve now decided is the Voldemort of all years (we must not speak its name!) and I’ve come up with some thoughts that I think round out my intentions for the coming year pretty well.

However, I can’t go much further without first touching on the losses we felt toward the end of Year Voldemort. I know it’s rampant across the interwebs, but my heart is still broken over the passing of Carrie Fisher, and it broke even further for her family when her mother, Debbie Reynolds, passed a day later. I actually received a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas and put it toward purchasing Carrie’s new book, The Princess Diarist. I’ll admit it was hard to read periodically – she jumped all over the place at times – but it was a great book nonetheless. Even if you’re not into Star Wars, pick it up. It’s good stuff.

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We lost so many others, who I won’t list because I don’t want to create an unreal aura of sadness around this post, and their losses were felt deeply. May they all rest in peace.

Okay, on to business.

As I sat reflecting last night and throughout most of today, I found myself pouring over my current goals and projects and asking myself what I might choose as my resolution. I’ve never been one for the “new year, new me” sort of thing – mostly because I don’t find that it works – and I wanted to choose something that was meaningful to me. No cliché weight loss goal (already have that one going anyway), no daily FitBit goal, no “I’ll end this bad habit at 00:00 and never touch it again” goal. I wanted something I knew was something for me, deep down.

So I sat…and thought…and sat some more…and then I got up and walked a bit because I do already have a daily FitBit goal (haha!)…

And I came up with a pretty damn good resolution:

2017 will be the year that I live unapologetically.

And of course, I put this on Facebook and received some feedback. Good stuff, as always, because I have some kick-ass friends.

Anyway, back to deep and profound thoughts. I decided that this needed to be my resolution for a few reasons…

First, because I spend far too much of my time questioning my decisions and whether they are “right,” meaning, whether I think they appear “right.” Not whether they are right for me or my family, but whether they appear right to those who know me, follow me, or might be in either of those categories at some point in the future.

Second, because I don’t owe an explanation to anyone. Except my husband and my kids, of course, because they tend to be directly affected by choices I make. But anyone else? Psshh, nope. They can water their own side of the fence while I plant insanely bright flowers on mine.

Finally, I realized (and with great sadness) that I have been living this half-life of sorts, censoring who I am and not just putting out there the authentic bad-ass chick that is me. I spend so much time taming my inner-self and creating this false persona that I don’t let all of myself shine through, and that’s disheartening. Yeah? Yeah. And I’m done doing it!

If you haven’t committed to a resolution yet, feel free to join me, and if you do, leave a comment. I’d love to confab about how awesome this sense of freedom is.

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Anyway, on to businessier-business…

Dreamweaver. This tricky little project that I’ve got going on has been giving me a hard time and while I hoped for a Christmas update, I have nothing that I’m willing to share because, well, it isn’t ready. Plain and simple. And since I’m living unapologetically, well…it just is what it is. I do hope you understand and that you continue to have patience. I don’t want to put something out to the world that isn’t ready, and so far, it is telling me that it still isn’t ready. I have discovered so many additional pieces to this story that require more time and fine-tuning to get the details just right and even though it is frustrating as hell, I know they’re going to bring this whole thing together in a way I could never have imagined when I first came up with the idea for it.

Which brings me to another a-ha! moment I had in the last few days:

Not everything I write needs to be profound or insightful to be meaningful.

It doesn’t have to move mountains. What does matter is that I write. Period. It can be absolute crap or it can be a masterpiece. It doesn’t even matter what it is. All that matters is that it’s done, and done authentically. Writing is never done well when it is forced. End of story. Pun not intended.

Once I stopped trying to push myself to only write these philosophically-fueled pieces, for Dreamweaver or a brain dump or whatever, I felt this huge weight fall off my shoulders and found the words pouring out of me again. I don’t always have to create a work of art – that’s what editing is for anyway. 😉

Those are my thoughts for going into this new year. I will live unapologetically and authentically and I will write much the same.

Oh, and since it’s technically Monday, I do have a mantra befitting of the hashtag:

“Bitches get stuff done.”

I had posted a fairly pathetic goodbye to the year which shall not be named on Facebook and a family friend responded to it. She said,

“You’re a fighter and a doer. You’ve got this…we are all entitled to a little self-pity every once in a while. It’s human. Just have to brush yourself off and keep going which I know you always do. I’m a doer which sometimes makes me a bitch but bitches get stuff done.”

So there’s my #MondayMantra. Bitches get stuff done. And it is probably the best piece of advice I will receive all year.

Okay, that’s all for now. Check back or keep up with my social media for details alluding to an update on Dreamweaver, and kick the pants off of your Monday!

A Little Update

Friends, I have a confession to make. And please don’t judge me too harshly for it.

Until this last week, I’d never sat and watched the Star Wars movies in order, in their entirety. I’d seen chunks of each movie out of order, but I never had the opportunity to sit and watch the entire saga up from its beginning up until The Force Awakens. I have yet to see Rogue One, I might add, but it’s on the to-do list.

That said, I’m feeling rather accomplished. I’ve always wanted to sit and follow the story from its beginning all the way through and now I can say that I have, minus RO.

I don’t know about any of my other writer friends, but storylines like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and yes, even Twilight are fascinating to me for a few reasons, the largest being that these epic gifts to our pop culture all came from someone’s imagination – someone who had an idea for a story and created a world, or galaxy/ies for that matter – and launched a global phenomenon based on it. I will always find it intriguing to trace such stories back to their origin and then reflect on where it started, where it’s been, and where it will go. It is absolutely fascinating to me to take the journey with the creator from a writer’s standpoint as well as that of a fan’s, and it’s motivating to say the least.

Another take away from my marathon came in a connection I made to Dreamweaver. The premonitions that Anakin (my favorite character, by the way) experienced had small, though present, similarities to some of my own ideas and I had fun using that influence to sort of amp up my story and then dig deeper into it. I realized I’d still only been scraping the surface until that point, and it has made a drastic impact on where I plan to take my characters. Or where they plan to take me, I should say.

I also realized over the weekend that the Academy Awards are right around the corner and I am pretty excited about sitting and watching this year. Last year was probably the first time I really sat and appreciated them for more than just finding out who won best actor/actress and such. Don’t get me wrong, though, I was absolutely over the moon that Leo finally won! Anyway, last year’s show set a certain tone for me as a writer and I felt an overwhelming sense of motivation and pride in my craft after witnessing the talented screenwriters win awards for the stories we came to know on the big screen in 2015. My exact thought? “Why not me?” And man, have I clung to that belief. I’m not one to set unattainable goals, but it definitely makes me want to work hard and have a certain amount of confidence in myself as a storyteller.

Honestly though, why not me? Why not you? Why not any of us? I was talking to my mom a couple of weeks ago about how I was really starting to ask myself that question more often because I don’t like the idea of anyone telling me I can’t do something. Not because I don’t respect authority – I do – but because who is anyone else to tell me I can’t dream big and set out to make it happen? I mean, even J.K. Rowling (a huge influence, I might add) was told “no” multiple times before HP was finally picked up and published, and look at how that turned out. Her perseverance paid off. And I plan to do the same – persevere. That’s not to sound arrogant, ignorant, naïve, or anything of that sort. I just don’t think letting someone else guide my dream is a good idea. It’s MY dream, after all. One door may close, but there are so many other doors to choose from, and knowing myself like I do, if the door I’m looking for isn’t there, I’ll build it myself!

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good attitude to take into the new year. I want 2017 to be a year unlike any I’ve experienced before and I know that progression with my book so I can finalize and publish will be a huge aspect of making that come true.

Some of you might be wondering, since it’s been about a month and change since I’ve posted, if I’ll have that sneak peek for Dreamweaver ready by Christmas like I had hoped. At the moment, it’s a little up in the air. The plot shift I experienced over the past weekend changed a bit of what the story is doing and I don’t want to share something that will likely change as I work to solidify its course, but I do want to give you something, even if it’s small. Maybe main character names and backgrounds, maybe a scene that I know won’t change for any reason…I’m not sure yet. But I will try to make sure I have something to offer in the coming days.

In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the days leading up to Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate the holiday, I hope you are still finding joy in the beautiful season that is winter.

I’ll catch up with you all soon!

Sneak Peek #1

Decided to give a little sneak peek since I finally accomplished a fairly large hurdle with this novel! The image below is only a mock-up of a cover I made for my NaNoWriMo page, but I finally have a TITLE! I sort of knew all along that I’d come back to this one, but I wanted to explore a few other options first. At the end of the day, this one just fits best with the story.

I’m planning for sneak peek #2, which will be an excerpt from the novel itself, around Christmas, so stay tuned! And, as always, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me in this endeavor.  🙂

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Thursday Thoughts

Writing is hard.

I’ve spent two weeks filling a notebook with ideas and then sitting at my computer only to get back up again because I just didn’t feel ready; my headspace just wasn’t where it needed to be.

A lot of people, upon asking what I do for a living, say things like, “Oh, that must be fun!” or “I’ve always wanted to do that!” and I kind of sit back and say to myself, ‘You know, it is fun, but it’s a damn challenge more often than not.’ As for the latter, I just ignore it these days. I have to ignore it; sometimes I get a little too ruffled because I feel it sort of discredits what I’ve set out to accomplish. Yes, anyone can write, but when someone mentions writing like a bucket list item, I get a bit sensitive. That’s my deal though, and I’m trying not to let it get to me as much, especially since a lot of those people aren’t intending to come across the way I take it.

But sometimes it truly is hard to get around those comments because writing is so hard. You can literally sit and pour hours into a piece only to hit the delete button because it just wasn’t coming together and no amount of editing could save it. You can literally sit and pour your heart out onto a page only to question whether anyone will give a crap about what you’re trying to say. You can literally sit and pour your soul into something that you’ll never see a return on because aside from you, no one does give a crap about what you’re saying.

And aside from the time spent and the amount of yourself you pour into it, there’s also the faith that has to be there that it’s worthwhile. You have to have some semblance of faith in your decision to take this art and craft it into a tangible career prospect because without that faith, it becomes hard to keep pushing.

Because writing is hard. It’s long hours and not-long-enough days. It’s deadlines and stress. It’s procrastination and self-discipline. It’s worry and self-doubt. It’s research and fact-checking. It’s editing and revising. It’s hard work and dedication. It’s criticism and feedback. It’s rejection and perseverance. And it takes heart and soul.

Writing is hard because every word you put on a piece of paper or type into a processor is a part of who you are, and I know that for me, I want every word I publish to the world to be composed the right way. I want it to provide the correct and most authentic message, present my genuine voice, and share my ideas in a way I can be proud of. My greatest fear as a writer is that I’ll embarrass myself somehow or damage my own credibility, or even force something to the point that it no longer reflects who I am. The amount of work that goes into this craft far surpasses simply putting words to a page and is the reason I respect anyone who sets out to make a career out of it.

Despite the drawbacks and seemingly negative aspects, I wouldn’t change my decision to shape my career around writing. It has given me so much more than I could imagine with any other pursuit and at the end of the day, it is my greatest strength and the one thing I know I can make a difference with. I am definitely not the greatest, nor will I ever come close, but I do hope that I can make an impact in at least one person’s life with what I have to say. And that hope is what helps to keep me going, along with my faith and the fact that I’m not really living unless I’m creating art with my words. It’s how I make sense of the world around me and understand myself in relation to the world, and without it, I would be absolutely lost.

It’s hard, but so worth it.

Fall Session, Falling Back, and Falling in General

With the first half of my Fall session at ASU in the bank and the second half kicking off, I’m definitely feeling the pressure of my number one enemy: TIME. There is so much to do with this book and the clock just keeps speeding up despite my begging for it to slow down. I picked up two fairly heavy English classes for the second half of this term so my time spent writing is now time spent reading. I don’t mind that as much really, but it doesn’t make the process of writing a book any more efficient.

My saving grace? The fact that we’re about to fall back. I know it’s not technically a gain, but my brain tricks itself into thinking it is and that helps. If I think I have an extra hour, I feel more productive. Feeling productive makes me happy, and a good mood usually gives way to good writing — a win all around if I do say so myself.

Life has decided to throw a few more curve balls as well; some brief, others lasting, and it stonewalled much of my get-up-and-go. This is where that extra hour of trickery will come in handy (fingers crossed). I just hope my family can catch a break and I can catch a breath in there somewhere that allows me the clarity to organize this endeavor a bit better.

The point of this post, you ask? I’m just giving some excuses as to why I haven’t been present or working as hard as I should be on the novel. I really hate excuses, but it is what it is and sometimes things just move faster at times and slower at others. This is a slow time. But I think it’s also a good time to crack down and set a solid goal for myself that I can’t budge from. I’d really like to give the first peak at the world I’m creating by Christmas and I’m worried if I don’t commit to a schedule now, this dang story will never be told. And that’s a shame, because I think it’s pretty solid.

Anyway, to sum everything up — I’m slacking and I know it. Just needed to own that so I could cast off some of this overwhelming guilt and set a new line for myself. School is school. Fall is life. Life is in free-fall at any given time. But I’m going work on this story and have something to offer in the next 6-8 weeks. Maybe sooner if I have something I think is worthy of sharing to sort of amp up the excitement of a second sneak-peak.

In the words of the great Ernest Hemingway, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” And I’ve got a lot of it to do.