Experience it all

I have finished the story I discovered last week. It was a rush job because I wanted to get my ideas down while I was in The Zone. It’s in dire need of editing now, due to that rush. Damn, the flush and excitement of having finished it is really nice.

Now, MtM!

By Ryzen (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Do Writers Need College to Write?

(page 20) EXERCISE: What have you learned from LIFE that has given you themes, experience, and ideas for stories you can start telling right now?

I’ve worked in offices and in retail. I’ve done manual labor and intellectual labor. I’ve worked from a chair and on my feet. I’ve packed and shipped, engaged in Q&A and challenged many up the chain of command in every organization I’ve been in and held their feet to the fire to support the very Q&A standards they put into place.  I’ve pursued hobbies that gave me joy; parlayed them into paying gigs.

I’ve learned about people and how their own life experiences colors things for them. I’ve seen destructive behavior and great leaps of kindness.

This is something I’ve known for a long time, for as long as I have wanted to be a writer. Watch people. Pay attention. Glean from my surroundings. Be quiet and observe. The world, life, will show you more than you can possibly imagine if you just slow down and listen.

So, no, I don’t believe a writer needs college to write. Would they benefit? I think so. Just like I think they would benefit from doing anything at all that would broaden their horizons and expanding their experiences.

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Sideswiped by an old story

Something wonderful has happened.by Lynn Davis from freetrangestock.com

Like most writers I know, I have my moments of doubt. Those dark places where we wonder ‘is what I’m doing any good?’ It is usually followed by ‘why am I even trying?’ and ‘god, I hope no one sees this’.

Many who hit that wall eventually give up. What they’re writing doesn’t seem to mesh with what they envision the final product to be, and they stop.

Now, I’m not talking that middle novel sag where all of a sudden, out of damn nowhere, sparkling new ideas come at us from all directions vying for our attention because we’ve hit the saggy part and we follow after happily, chasing that new high because what we were doing looked suspiciously like work. Boring work. That most certainly happens.

No, I’m talking about the creeping self-doubt that dogs our heels when we’re writing. The words are coming in a white-hot moment of inspiration…and then when we make the mistake of reading back over it, we’re plowed down by the momentum our self-doubt had built just trying to keep up.

Something thunks in our self-esteem as it plummets and we quietly slip it to the side, hoping no one noticed what we did and pray that they never actually find that piece of dreck. Yet, we don’t want to throw it away because maybe we can cannibalize it later, for when we’re a better writer and can do it justice.

Yeah, so, you know, that happened to me. I can’t remember why I put this particular piece to the side. Maybe I thought my plot was weak. Maybe I thought my writing was trite and cliche. Whole lot of maybes that I have certainly thought before, so I’m sure one or two of them caught up with me while I was writing this story and I used that convenient excuse to trunk it. Less than half done.

Well, in the interest of housekeeping on my harddrive, I happened upon it. Honestly, by this time, according to the save date a year has  passed, I barely remember this story. So, before I decide to delete, I open it and start reading.

And that something wonderful happened.

…It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was pretty damn good. I mean, I know it was rough but what was I thinking trunking this story? I know myself well enough to know that the most likely cause of it getting dropped was I thought it sucked. Bad plot, cliche and trite. All that, maybe more.

I dug up the synopsis I wrote for it, just to bear my theory out about a sucking plot.

Nope. The plot seemed pretty solid.

So, the writing was actually pretty good, the characters were ones I enjoyed reading, the plot seemed to be solid…why on earth did I trunk this bad boy?

No clue. Absolutely no clue, save one. I believed the voice of self-doubt and put it aside. Now I’m so sorry I did. It’s not quite at the half way point (so I can’t blame Saggy Middle Syndrome) but it’s still a solid story

This sucker is getting dusted off and finished. What do I lose? Nothing. I have no firm project on the table at the moment so it’s not like my attention is getting diverted from anything.

The thing I hope to take away from this is that no matter how dark those moments get, where self-doubt smothers me, I’m never as bad as the self-doubt tells me and I can’t, simply can not let it convince me to put it aside.

Finish. Edit. Let my betas help me smooth the suck out of it if I continue to be convinced of its suckitude. But I will never let a story get dropped again.

something something rolling stones

How I Found Myself Here, or Why I Became a Writer

(page 9) EXERCISE: Answer the following question in between 100 and 250 words: I’m taking out the words ‘limit’ because I’m a wordy person. I type, think and get it down until I’m done.

What obstacles have you overcome in your life to get where you are, and what obstacles do you foresee facing as you pursue your dream of writing?

rockThe obstacles that keep me from getting anywhere in my life? Pretty short list. I’m lazy as hell. It applies to everything in my life.

I don’t like doing things, I like having done things.

The trick is to bridge that gap between doing and having done. It’s where I need the biggest kick in the pants.

Oh sure, I know intellectually that my novel won’t write itself. I’ve heard all the rahrah of Ass in Chair. 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. See, I know that. It doesn’t make getting my ass into my chair any easier. Momentum is a far bigger impediment to my achieving anything than any inspiration.

Once I get my momentum moving, I’m a steamroller. I’m hard to slow down. It’s getting the motion from being at rest. Gravity, inertia…I weigh a ton so the lever to unwedge me needs to be really long.

So the key is, how to overcome this obstacle that is clearly going to impede me? That’s the real crux of the problem and one that I will continue to examine as I move through Mugging the Muse.

And away we go!

I’ve learned this about writing — if you will not put yourself in a position to fail, you cannot succeed. — Holly Lisle, Mugging the Muse 2nd ed.

pen and paper

Since I don’t know how long or how intensive these posts will be, it’s hard to predict how frequently I’ll update. Right now, I’m shooting for once a week, saving up all my work from Mugging the Muse and dumping it into a blog post.

I reserve the right to change my mind if it becomes too much for one day, up to and including more frequent posts. This will be a process in progress.

Right. On to Mugging the Muse. 

So much for starting on Friday, though. We were without power for much of yesterday and so I couldn’t post. I still did the exercise from Mugging the Muse. Pen and paper for the win. Just add seat by the window for light and I was good to go.  Here is the answer, typed up word for word with no editing.

Everyday Courage and the Writer

(page 6) EXERCISE: Answer the following question in between 100 and 250 words:

What scares me the most when I consider writing for a living, and WHY does it scare me?

Oof. She starts off the bat asking the one question where I feel I suffer the most. I’m not sure I can even put it into words.

A lot of it is this flying without a net. I’m all about being safe. Which is what this entire exercise is about. Learning to do what I love and realize that being safe leads to comfort. Being in comfort means I don’t stretch myself.

Definition time. Writing for a living means, to me, making my primary living as a writer. And writing for a living is self-employment. There is no job that allows me to write novels and offers a stable health plan, handles taxes and 401k and the like. I’m responsible for my own taxes, my own social security, my own health plan. There’s that netless situation now.

Because I have no idea what I’m doing! That leads to more fear. What if I do it wrong? What if I fail?

That’s it, isn’t it? Fear. It all comes down to fear. Fear is uncomfortable. Fear is the unknown. Fear is being outside the comfort zone and if I’m nothing else, I’m a creature of comfort. But I can’t reach my goals if I’m comfortable. Extending outside my comfort zone is reaching into the unknown. The unknown is full of fear.

The thing about cycles, though, is that to get anywhere, sometimes you have to step out of the cycle. Step out on faith.

Easier said than done.

Yet, here I am. I’m using Mugging the Muse and my love to let it all hang out to shift me out of comfort. It’s terrifying. My heart is pounding and my mouth is dry. It’s funny because I don’t have another choice. Either I get out of my comfortable complacency or I’ll never achieve my dreams.

Fears at war.

I love it when a plan comes together

ImageAfter a rough couple of months getting my personal life squared away and my professional goals back on track, I am at a place where I can do something I’ve wanted to do for years now.

It’s a very exciting time. Exciting because I’ve managed to pull together the project I want to complete to launch this blog.

I’m not new to writing and I’ve certainly finished things before, although I have not sold yet. I have high hopes this will change if I can stay focused and continue moving forward, even if there doesn’t appear to be any forward movement on the surface.

Hence this blog was born and this project finally gets underway.

In real time, I’m just a no one. An aspiring writer who cut her teeth on fanfiction in an obscure fandom almost a decade ago and for reasons had to put writing away for a time. My life is now coming back in full, and I’m able to forge ahead. Where I didn’t have the tools and the confidence to try this before, I find that being a little older, a little wiser has given me wisdom (I hope) and experience to reach out for my dreams. What I lack in wisdom, experience or even information, I have the tools necessary to find what I need.

See, I’m a How-To book junkie. I love to read how-tos. Not just for writing. None of my hobbies can escape my obsession; from my addiction to how-tos. Not just books, either. Web blogs, creative courses, advertising pdfs used to entice the casual web browser to sign up for their mailing lists…I have read so much that my thumbdrive is groaning beneath the weight of the thousands of kilobytes of information available to the aspiring writer. Politely, we won’t mention my other hobbies….

There comes a time, however, that I need to stop reading and start implementing.

Now is that time.

And since I have all these books and this advice on writing, specifically, I have decided to utilize all the information at my disposal. The first being Holly Lisle’s Mugging the Muse. I’ll use this blog to keep up with my progress through it as I work through her exercises to get thoughts and ideas in order to get my first novel written.

So this  will serve as a record of my journey. For all internetlandia to see, I’m documenting it all. My successes, my failures, my plans, my direction changes, here as a reminder that I want to do this. I want to do this. 

Starting Friday, my work through of Holly Lisle’s Mugging the Muse.

Image  © Evhen | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images