This Writers Life:You know you’re a writer when…

20121101091032-you-know-you-re-a-writer-whenYou know you’re a writer when… You are sitting in a waiting room because your teenager needs a sports physical before school starts and you’re people watching for facial expressions and mannerisms to use for your characters.

You know you’re a writer when… You’re back to school shopping and you’re mentally mapping out the store as a place in your fictional world you’re working on.

You know you’re a writer when… Your teen rolls her eyes at you and storms off and you take note of how her hair moves, the sound she makes as she moves away, the expressions of others around you, all so you can use it in a scene.

Around here we are gearing up for back to school. Which means running around, shopping, and exhaustion. It means going to about fifty different stores because you have four kids to buy for and you take them all separately. It means, people watching and using everything you see, hear, smell, touch as inspiration and research for your current work in progress.

That has been me this week. This will also be me next week, and the week after, until school starts.

What really drove this post though was the waiting in the doctors office. I caught myself looking around, mentally taking notes of everyone around us. How they were sitting, what their body language was saying about them, their facial expressions, and even how they spoke to each other and the ladies behind the front desk. All of it.

It was kind of surreal. I mean, I have never actually caught myself doing it, it was always something I just, did. But this time, I caught myself because I was focused on my daughter and she looked up at me, gave me a face and asked “WHAT?” That’s when I realized what I was doing.

I just kind of smirked and shook my head at her and looked away. Not really ready to explain what I was just doing. Knowing it would make her feel uncomfortable as she was the focus of the moment. Though, since I know she does read this blog, I’m going to say “Sorry!”

It’s in those moments, when you catch yourself doing something as habit, something you never have really thought about or taken notice of, when you realize “Hey, I’m a… (in my case) Writer. So this is not weird.” To the writer at least.

It’s those moments that make me smile. That make my heart soar. That make me feel giddy. Those moments where something that once felt like I would never remember to do this thing, is suddenly a habit that you don’t even realize you’re doing it. It comes naturally all of a sudden.

And, You know you’re a writer when… You finally, after years, say I am a writer.

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The Solitary or not so Solitary Life

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So if you were like me growing up, you thought that writers hid themselves away, toiling over their work. Agonizing over every word, sentence, and punctuation. They locked themselves away from all forms of life to finish the next great novel.

Well, part of that is true, I have found.

The parts where you drive yourself crazy over a word choice. Pull your hair out over sentence structure. Work for hours on end when the muse has you in her clutches.

What I found not to be true? The hiding away part. At least, for me.

I need that interaction. That contact.

I need to see facial expressions, hear voices (that are actually talking to me and not just my characters in my head), converse, laugh, have fun. Without it, I don’t seem to have any inspiration.

I had always believed when I was younger that the life of an author was a solitary one. While I do spend many hours on my own, in my office, writing away, I am not actually alone.

There is always someone in my house. Whether it’s my kids, or my husband. Someone is talking, someone is laughing, someone is running through the house.

They say that to be a good writer, you should write what you know. Well, how are you supposed to write great dialogue if you don’t hear it? How are you supposed to describe body language if you don’t see it? How are you… well, you get the idea.

For me, hiding in my office for days at a time has hindered my inspiration. I find myself struggling with scenes, characters, their interactions. I have to get out. Go into the world. If it’s to people watch at the Arts Market, or just go swimming with my kids. I need that to keep writing.

So don’t think that in order to write you have to lock yourself away and hide from the world. Go out. Gain experiences. Live life. And then, come back and write about it.

Book & Writing Humor

So, I love reading, that’s no secret. I love writing, that’s no secret either.

What is a secret? I waste countless seconds, minutes, hours on reading and laughing at memes about reading and writing.

I’m sure a lot of bookworms and authors do this, so it’s not something shocking. But today, I thought I would share some that I just find funny and I like. Some that I feel are “Just oh so me” and some that make others laugh.

So here we go, enjoy.

 

The trouble with connecting

“MOM!”

“Mom, where are you?” She screams as she slams the front door.

I make my way out of the office and look her over. Her eyes are squinting, fists clenched at her sides, posture stiff. She’s upset. She won’t cry though. That’s not her style. Instead she’ll stomp around the house, slam doors, and yell.

Such is the life of a teenage girl.

“Some idiot called me weird.” She complains as she slings her backpack into the corner of the living room. She’s been taking extra summer courses.

“What idiot?”

She waves me off. Not planning on giving me a name. “Do you think I’m weird?”

I smile and shake my head, “Of course I don’t.”

Her fingers move to her hair, twirling through her curls, pulling a few strands in front of her face so she can she the deep purple color. This is her look of the moment.

We have gone through the girly and pink and dresses, the tom-boy backwards hats and skater shoes, and now we’re on multi-colored hair, headphones, and combat boots. I think she looks cute.

She sighs and I watch her shoulders slump forward, “No.”

“Want me to go up there? I think I can take them.” I smirk. This does elicit a smile from her finally. No matter how many times I’ve offered, she has yet to take me up on it. But it never fails to make her smile.

See, the problem with connecting is finding those who share the same soul as you. The same dreams, and passions. No matter what they are. If it’s music, or writing, or chess, or math, or even the same choice in style. There are always others out there that will share these interests.

You just may not always find them close to you. High School is tough. You’re finding yourself. Figuring out what you like, don’t like, who you are. Teenage girls are, I believe, the cruelest animals on the planet.

We all want that connection to other people. To feel welcomed, accepted, and in High School that’s just down right impossible it seems. I try and remember back when I was in school, and I remember it was rough. But things have changed dramatically since I was in school.

These days kids have all sorts of ways to connect with each other, with all the various choices of social media. But even with all of those, it seems kids are less truly connected with each other than they were before. Yeah, you may like a post, a tweet, a pic; you may have thousands of friends on facebook, but the true connections are lost.

If you’re struggling to connect, finding that rough patch of high school, keep in mind it will get better. I know when my mom said that to me I didn’t believe her, but it is true.

And now that I have a teenage daughter of my own, I’m finding out just how hard my mom had it, and oh how right she was.

Writing Dreams

It’s five am. The house is quiet and dark. The only sounds are those of the ruffling blankets when the kids shift in their beds. I sneak to the office, cursing the squeaky floor board and say a silent prayer it doesn’t wake anyone in the house up.

Lowering myself into my desk chair I press the power button to my computer. It roars to life with a flash of light and the woosh of the hard drive that sounds like an airplane about to take off. Yeah, I need a new computer. Dark-Office-300x200

The room illuminates with blues, reds, greens as the screen flickers and soon I’m ready to get started. Fingers flying across the keyboard, words flowing as if the muse has me in a stranglehold and refuses to let go until I have these last details down.

I lean back in my seat and let out a sigh of gratitude and amazement. three thousand words in under an hour. They are all perfect, and beautiful, and no editing needed.

And then.

I wake up.

This is a dream I have over and over. When I seem to be stuck on a scene or a chapter. I wake up and struggle to remember what I wrote in my dream. I reach for my journal that sits next to my bed to scribble it down as fast as I can. Reaching for anything that may come through.

I think, most writers have dreams like these. Sometimes they’re nightmares, sometimes they’re not. Like this one.

As a writer I tend to draw inspiration from everything around me. The way my daughter says something, or an expression she makes. The way my son almost gives me a heart attack sometimes. And even dreams I have, in which sometimes my characters come through and tell me what they want.

This dream though? Is unlikely to come true. If only for the reason that I cannot, for whatever reason, get myself up at five am. I never hear the alarm. But maybe parts of it will.

How about you? Do you have dreams like this? Even if it’s not about writing. It can be about anything, a passion you have, a goal you want to accomplish. Let’s hear ’em.

What I would like to see in YA

So, I have been reading a lot lately. A lot, A lot.

So much so that this:

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Was my birthday present from my hubby. To carry all the books I leave with on each visit. Seriously, I love it. Link included if you want to get your own: Here

So, what am I getting sick of seeing in YA and what would I like to see more of?

Well there in lies the crux.

I have loved a lot of what I have been reading. Some I could have seriously done without. But I am getting sick of the damsel in distress who is supposed to be the heroine. Why does the male protagonist have to come to the rescue all. the. time.

Why can’t she just be strong on her own? Why can’t she save him? Yeah, that. I want more this.

Also, the insta lurve.

I mean really. Show me how it progresses. Not just: “I saw him, and he was gorgeous, and there was a strong pull, and I knew. Knew. We were meant to be. I love him.”

Come on.

It’s never love at first sight. It’s really not. A connection, sure. Things in common, yeah. But love immediately? Not likely.

I want to see the progress. I want to see the initial feelings and watch them grow. I want to be as involved in them getting together and staying that way. I want to feel it. And I want to know why. Not something superficial, I want to know something deeper that’s driving them to be together.

You can attain this without slowing down the story. I’ve seen it done. It’s just not done enough. Again, do more this.

And finally, one of my more recent gripes based on my recent reading torrent.

If it’s a series, I know there will be some questions left unanswered. I get that. But each book should stand on it’s own. Answer most of the questions at the end. Leave some unanswered to make me want to continue the series, but not everything.

I recently finished reading a book and NOTHING was answered. All of the questions raised were not addressed. The plot was not fulfilled. And there are TWO more books in the series. When I finished it I was left very unfulfilled, disappointed, and angry. So much so, that I will not be continuing the series. And I am an avid reader and loyal series follower.

Mainly because knowing there are two more, I’m afraid the second book will do the same and nothing will be answered until the final book. Which does not make me want to continue.

Why would I read something that’s going to leave me disappointed and angry?

Exactly. Stop doing this.

Ok, so that’s it for my rant on what I would like to see more of in YA. How about you? What would you like to see more of? Less of?

The 5 Stages of grief…

So, for those of you who saw my last post, you know that I recently lost all of my work on my two works in progress. All. Gone.

So I had to start over. Yeah, that sucks.

So, I decided to use that, and the feelings I went through for writing tips. If I ever wanted to have my characters to convey the five stages of grief, I had already had plenty of experience, but now it’s fresh, and raw, and new.

It was akin to losing something to near and dear to your heart.

So here we go.

Stage 1: Denial

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This. Cannot. Be. Happening.

Check. I was there. I could not believe everything was just, gone. I ranted for, oh, four hours, on how it was not possible. I ran various software designed to find and recover deleted files. The whole while thinking, “This will work. It has to work. It can’t just be gone. No way.” Yep. Denial.

The emotions were: Confusion, Disbelief, Wonder. And I felt a knot in my stomach the size of China. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But it felt big.

 

Stage 2: Anger

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Later that evening I hit this stage. After all software confirmed the same thing. It was gone. I wanted to throw my USB in the trash. It was the problem. Had it been a better USB this wouldn’t have happened. I will never use another USB.

The emotions were strong. My face flushed red when the software confirmed my fears. I took it out on my desk. It was less than civilized. Feet stomping. Door slamming. I was a spoiled three year old. It was not pretty.

 

Stage 3: Bargaining

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This stage came when my husband got home. He’s a wiz with computers. And I was sadly under the impression he could make it all better. “If you please restore my files, I will love you forever.” Well, I mean, I already will, but that, plus a dinner bribe and he was on my computer with the USB.

I paced. I nagged. I looked over his shoulder while he worked. All the while making him terribly uncomfortable until he ultimately kicked me out of the office to work in peace.

 

Stage 4: Depression

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Yeah, this one hit me hard. Lasted all weekend. When he finally told me that everything was in fact gone. I cried. I laid in bed and wallowed. I moved around the house like a zombie. I didn’t want to do anything. The task of rewriting everything seemed so monumental and daunting; and not something I wanted to tackle. Yeah, I was pathetic.

 

Stage 5: Acceptance

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This came Monday morning. When I realized all was not lost. That I had hand written my outline for both stories in my notebook, and that I had emailed the first five chapters to critique partners right before everything went dark.

So most everything was gone. When I started there was nothing. It was a blank page. But now, I have my outline. I know where the stories were going. I have the first five chapters as a good starting point. I just have to start at Chapter Six. Which, while a big task, doesn’t seem as bad as starting at Chapter One of two stories with nothing.

 

 

So there you are. The five stages of grief. Hopefully it will help some, I know it will definitely help me. And who knows, I may change a few things in my stories so my characters have to go through these. Even though I know it’s not their faults.