The Collectors Case for April 2017 has the theme of “Fantasy & Adventure”, and featured “Lord of the Rings” and “Dungeons and Dragons”, with the chance for a Mystery Pop and/or a Sean Astin autographed print. Pretty awesome stuff! Don’t forget to check out the link in the description box of the video if you’re interested in checking out The Collectors Case for yourself!
There was a crack in the wall.
Gregory had been up and down every inch of the new house, hoping to find something cool, something special, something that set it apart from their old house, the one his parents had dragged him so far away from that he wasn’t even certain they were in the same country anymore. He missed the friends he’d made in his first-grade class, the soccer team on which he’d been one of the best kickers, and the huge tree that had been in his old backyard, just ripe for climbing. And he missed his old house, which had a secret cupboard under the stairs just big enough for him, a huge old attic with spooky corners where the light didn’t shine, and a closet in his bedroom that was big enough to build a fort in by draping blankets over the clothes racks.
The new house was too tall, too skinny. It was all the wrong colors. It was too close to the houses on either side of it, and the backyard was far too small. He’d thought the fireplace in the living room was pretty cool, but his mother refused to build a fire in it because she had some insane belief that he would, like, just decide to leap into it and burn to death. His mother was always so weird like that, like she thought he was stupid or something. Father knew better, but he also knew better than to question mother’s decisions.
So Gregory searched, from top to bottom, front to back, he searched every inch of every room, praying for something cool, determined to find something that would make this horrible new house interesting. He searched through the old wood-panel cupboards and in the large closet in the porch that had shelves made of unpainted 2×4. He searched every nook of the cement-floor basement and briefly considered the grey pole in the center that his father called a “load-bearing” something-or-other. He knocked on every stair, hoping for secret compartments. He ran his fingers along every inch (that he could reach) of every wall, wondering if there were any hidden doorways. He looked and looked and looked until he was positively exhausted of looking and was finally quite certain that his family had moved into the most boring house on the planet.
And then, on the fifth night in the house, as he was laying awake in bed and wondering what he could do to convince his parents to move back home, Gregory noticed the crack in the wall. It was staring at him from across the room, precisely at eye-level from the position of his pillow, and he was sure – absolutely sure – that it hadn’t been there the previous four nights. He stared at it for quite a while, frowning, his eyebrows furrowed. It was a thin crack, but long – probably as long as his arm. And it was jagged, going up and down, this way and that, but the basic shape of it was like a bit of a semi-circle. It reminded Gregory a bit of a smile.
Finally, too curious simply roll over and go to sleep, Gregory slid out of bed and creeped across his bedroom floor, careful to avoid the spot that he’d learned would let out a loud creeeeeaaaaak if he went anywhere near it. The crack-smile seemed to grow bigger as he approached it, so that by the time he was crouched in front of the wall, reaching out a hand to touch it, it gave him the distinct impression that it was happy to see him.
A little thrill of fear – mixed with excitement – went up through Gregory’s throat, and for a moment he considered dashing back to bed and throwing the covers over his head. But even as the thought crossed his mind, the tips of his fingers brushed the crack in the faded blue wall and a light began to emerge from the tiny space between the slabs of paint.
And as the light grew and grew, filling the room with an unearthly glow that he couldn’t have described if he’d tried, Gregory remembered thinking, “Now this is more like it.”
NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge – Round 1 – Pool of Diamonds
Last week I told you guys about how I’d joined NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Challenge. This past weekend was round 1. We had 48 hours to come up with a thousand words or less for our group assignment. I was placed into group 31, and our prompt was: action/adventure, a sewer, a canteen.
It took me a little bit of thinking to come up with an idea, but once I had it I whipped my story up pretty quickly and I’m pretty happy with it! I had planned to just give you a bit of a breakdown of the round 1, but what I found out recently is that it’s actually okay to share your story elsewhere while you’re waiting for the results. So, lucky you! You get to read my first round entry, “Pool of Diamonds”!
This story has been removed and is now an exclusive gift for supporters on my “Buy Me a Coffee” page.
Writing Process Blog Hop!
Last week fellow writer and blogger, Jay Dee Archer from I Read Encyclopedias tagged me for an interesting little blog hop about the writing process. The questions are based around your current writing projects and process, which I thought was really fun and informative. I always enjoy hearing from other writers about what works for them and what they’re working on, so of course I had to take part in this particular hop. Please feel free to check out Jay’s entry when you’re finished with mine. 🙂
The obvious answer would be the zombie apocalypse novel that I should be working through the final edits on instead of writing this post. But, since most of you have already heard about that often enough, I thought I’d talk instead about the project that I’m going to be working on as soon as the aforementioned edits are complete and out of my hair.
My next project is going to be something that I’ve been working on for a decade, but is going to have me pretty much starting back from scratch. I’ve mentioned this particular piece before, but for those who don’t know, the tentatively titled “Parallels” is the story of a young woman who, during a tumultuous time in her life, is transported to a parallel world and tasked with saving that world from an ancient evil. Back when I first started writing this story it was just a bit of cathartic fun to help get myself through a rough patch, but it grew and grew until I began to have visions of this epic story. Throughout the years I wrote and rewrote, changed the story, massacred the plot-line again and again, and eventually found myself with something that was a heck of a lot different than what I began with. In the past year or so I’ve spent a fair bit of time working on this particular piece, and I’ve had a lot of fun and came up with a lot of good ideas, but now it’s time for a truly big change. I am planning to begin the story over again, right from the beginning, as a young adult series. Because of the structure of the plot and the “A to B to C to D”-style goals involved with the story, I’ve come to the conclusion that “Parallels” would be much better set as a series than a single novel. I suspect that it will end up being six parts, based on the goal style mentioned, and I think that chopping it up in this manner will greatly improve the overall readability and enjoyability of the story.
How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?
This is actually a really hard question. I guess, in one sense, it differs from other works because at the core of the story is a creation built of my own personal thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires. Speaking from a more general standpoint, I’ve had people who have read bits of the story tell me that I have a fairly unique writing “voice”, which I’m pretty sure is a good thing. Aside from those two points I’m not really certain that I can answer this question without giving away any major points of the story.
Why Do I Write What I Write?
Whether it’s horror, fantasy, adventure, fan fiction, personal stories, or anything else, I write what I enjoy writing, and what I personally would enjoy reading. I’ve been reading scores of books since I was in grade school, so while I may not be the most talented writer in the world, I know what is fun, enjoyable, and captivating. I aim to write those kinds of books. I try to write the kinds of things that I love to read, like the horror scenes that make you squirm with discomfort, or the love scenes that makes your skin feel hot. If reading my own writing creates those kinds of reactions in myself, then I’m confident that it’ll create excellent reactions in others, and that’s my big overall goal.
How Does Your Writing Process Work?
The writing “process” for me is something that I’ve been struggling with since things other than reading and writing began to become important to me. When I was young I could literally sit for hours with a notebook and a pen and just write, write, write, but as I grew and began to enjoy other things, gather responsibilities, and change in numerous ways, it became harder to convince myself to spend that kind of time on my writing. These days my process is a bit of a hodgepodge mess of pantsing and panicking.
I’ve managed to bring some little bit of order to my writing life over the past couple of years via this blog. The desire to have a successful blog/author platform has driven me to keep returning to write posts on a five-day-a-week basis regardless of what else I have going on in my life. In the past year I have missed only a handful of days, and most of those were due to extraordinary circumstances. Blogging is my rock, the thing that makes me think of my writing as a bit of a job, and keeps me putting words to paper/computer screen.
Unfortunately that seems to be where any semblance of organization and dedication stop dead. I write sporadically, not on any kind of schedule. I very very rarely plan anything out in advance, instead opting to write from the cuff as the words and ideas come to my head. Sometimes I will write random scenes as they come to me, but for the most part I feel the need to write things in order, and I’ve been known to rewrite entire pieces from the beginning because one plot problem or inconsistency bugged me.
I’m a disorganized artist, and I don’t think I’ll ever be anything else, but as long as I get the writing done, that’s all that really matters, right?
I’m going to follow Jay’s example on this one, and tag those people who have commented the most on my blog and who also happen to be writers. So, L. Palmer, Tom Slatin, and Djinnia, consider yourself tagged! No pressure to participate, but if you do please link back here and let me know. 🙂
A to Z Challenge Day 26: Zelda (the Hyrulian Princess)
A lot of you are probably unsurprised at my choice for the final letter, letter “Z”. After all, I’ve already chosen video games, and “The Legend of Zelda” series is up there with some of the greatest video games of all time. That said, some of you are probably quite surprised because, really…Zelda? Sure, the games are named after her, but she’s not even in most of the games for more than a few scenes. Link is the important character, the hero, so why talk about Zelda?
Well, there are two “Legend of Zelda” games in my history that were terribly important. One is “A Link to the Past”, the Super Nintendo game that is well-known by anyone who grew up through the 90’s. The other is “Ocarina of Time”, on the Nintendo64.
SPOILER ALERT, if you have somehow managed to avoid this game (not to mention all the “Smash Bros.” games) and yet have reason to want to play it in the future. I loved this game for a thousand reasons, and one of those reasons was “Sheik”, the ninja-like sheikah who appears throughout the game to help Link out, and then disappears just as quickly in a puff of smoke. Though you never got to play has him, Sheik was an extremely cool character in the game. He was mysterious and suave, skilled and knowledgeable. Playing through the game you just kept waiting for him to show up and desperately wanted to know who he was.
And then you found out that he was a she all along. It turned out that Princess Zelda had created the alter-ego for herself in order to escape capture, and had used that alter-ego to guide Link through his adventure.
From that moment on Zelda became one of the coolest characters ever. A princess, who until that point had only ever been good for getting captured, had suddenly become her own hero. Sure, she still relied on Link to do a lot of the adventuring, but it was also his destiny, so what can you do? The point is that the princess took matters into her own hands, designed a whole new persona for herself in order to outwit the bad guys, and then too it upon herself to journey into dangerous situations in order to assist Link in his destined tasks. She also apparently spent some time learning ninjutsu or something because damn.
The point is, I’m always a fan of female characters who refuse to sit around waiting to be saved, and I’m just as fond of characters (male or female) who realize that sometimes they need to stand back and allow others to help them out. Zelda – at least the “Ocarina of Time” version of her – has that in spades.
Liebster Award 2014
It’s been a while since I received one of these, so I was thrilled a couple of weeks ago to see that Jwls MacKay over at 2B Creative had sent me a Liebster Blog Award. It’s always so great to receive peer recognition, and I particularly like this award because it is meant to be given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, so as to help the gain some publicity. To participate in the award, you must answer the ten questions left to you by the person who nominated you for the award, then award ten more blogs that you think are worthy and send them ten questions of your own.
So without further ado, here are my answers to Jwls’ questions:
1. When did you begin blogging on WordPress?
My first WordPress post was written and published on February 19th, 2012, right after creating this blog. I had had several blogs, journals, websites, and the like over the years and I’d finally decided that it was time to start acting like a professional. I closed down many distractions that had been fun at the time but ultimately served me no purpose or had no future in my life, and consolidated my online presence to what I felt were the most important sites: Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and a few others that serve a purpose. Then I created this blog to bring it all together and to give myself a place to interact with the world while writing consistently and building my own personal voice. It hasn’t grown as fast as I might have hoped, but it still amazes me every day to see that people are, in fact, logging on to read my words.
2. What is your main focus on your blog?
It started as a place to talk about writing, being a writer, and the writing process. I soon established that this kind of focus isn’t really sustainable in the long term, and it is also only really interesting to other writers. I started splicing in little stories about my own life, my opinions on things, and bits and pieces of fiction that I’d written. These days I would say that my “focus” is simply maintaining an online presence while sharing my writing and my style with the world.
3. What inspires you to write?
Art of all kinds, whether it be ancient or modern, prose or poetry, adventurous or romantic. I draw inspiration from others’ books, TV shows, movies, and video games. I see what other people have done and I think to myself, “I can do that.” When something of another person’s creation gets my heart pounding, or makes me cry, or makes me think, or turns me on, or blows my mind, or gives me goosebumps…that is what inspires me to write.
4. What is your most unusual writing place?
Probably the one I’m using right now. I’m currently scribbling this post in a 3″ notepad while I sit in a trailer full of instrumentation techs (my coworkers). I’m wearing two layers of clothes underneath a pair of dirty coveralls with screwdrivers and wrenches in the pockets, and I’m leaning the notepad on my lap as I write because the table I’m sitting at is covered in work folders, paperwork, and our lunches.
5. Does music inspire your creativity?
It depends on the music. Pop music…absolutely not. But a more classical piece…yes. Music with words doesn’t really inspire me most of the time because a lot of what’s out there is just a pile of carbon copies of the same few themes: I love you, I hate you, I miss you, I wanna party, I wanna do nasty things. But with classical music you can imagine your own story emerging from the highs and lows, the beautiful melodies and the dissonant notes. I find that kind of thing very inspiring, not to mention peaceful and relaxing.
6. Why do you follow blogs?
The simplest explanation is usually the correct one; I follow blogs because I enjoy reading them. I like hearing about what my peers have to say, what they’re worrying about today, or what achievements they’ve enjoyed recently. I also feel that “author platforms” and social media communities are a two-way street. If you want your blog posts (or status updates, or tweets, or whatever) to be read/followed/liked/commented on, then you have to take the time to do the same to others’ work.
7. What other creativity sites do you belong to? (Instagram, Instacanvas, writing.com, etc)
These days I don’t use many different creativity sites because I’m more I’m more about focusing on my blog and my fiction writing. I have an old DeviantArt account that I never bothered to close even though I never draw anymore, and I’m a member of Flickr only because it’s a treasure trove of images that I can use on the blog (if the owner has given the proper rights). As for sites that I really use, the big one is FanFiction.net. Since I love writing fan fiction, but can’t legally publish it, I love this site for sharing what I’ve written. I also have an account on the sister site, FictionPress.com, but I don’t use this as often. It’s meant for sharing original work, but since most of my original work is stuff I’d like to actually publish someday, I don’t tend to post anything there these days.
8. Do you believe the arts should be taught in school?
Not only do I believe it, but I feel that they should be given significantly more focus. I’m not saying that we should neglect important things like math and language, but I feel that artistic kids are given the shaft in today’s educational system. Creativity outside of the highly-limited art and music classes are generally frowned upon, as the system tends toward favoring wave after wave of little carbon copies who memorize and regurgitate. And I’m not just defending those kids who genuinely want to become writers, artists, or musicians…creativity is extremely important in many other fields, such as marketing, architecture, and journalism. Being able to think creatively can give kids a huge step up on an unlimited number of vocational options. Hell, being able to be a little creative and think outside the box is probably the only thing that makes me a decent instrumentation tech.
9. How old were you when you decided to develop your creativity?
Young enough to barely remember. I’d say the trigger happened sometime around the third grade. Back then was when I first started both writing and drawing. I wrote because it was fun, and it simply never stopped being fun. I drew mostly because I enjoyed the positive reinforcement I got from people when they saw me drawing. Eventually the positive reinforcement wasn’t enough for me…I wanted to actually get better, and it seemed like I never did, so drawing started to lose it’s appeal. Writing, however, has never lost any of it’s appeal to me, even during times of my life when no one was reading.
10. What is your paying occupation?
As mentioned in a previous post, I’m an Instrumentation Technician. Most people tend not to know what the hell that is, and the simplest explanation I’ve come up with is that I’m like an electrician, but I work with valves and control programs instead of motors and high voltage.
Now, normally this would be the part where I nominate ten more blogs for a Liebster award. Unfortunately I won’t be doing this part, but I have a good reason…see, after the first ten minutes of sorting through the list of blogs that I follow it became evident to me that I’m one of the only bloggers I know who falls under the “200 or fewer followers” category. Almost every blog I follow has many hundreds, if not many thousands, of followers. I’m sure there must be a few blogs on my list that meet the criteria, but to be perfectly honest I’m not willing to spend the next few hours sorting through them. So, blogger friends, if you happen to fall under the category of having fewer than 200 followers, I officially nominate you for a Liebster. If you wish to accept and answer my questions, please leave a comment here letting me know so that I can check out your answers. 🙂
That said, for any who wish to accept my open award, please answer the following questions:
1. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
2. If you didn’t become what you wanted to become, why not?
3. What kinds of cartoons did you like as a child?
4. Be honest…are there any cartoons that you still watch now?
5. What is one skill that you really, really, really wish you had?
6. What TV show or movie could you watch over and over and over, and why?
7. If you could be any superhero in the known universe of superheroes, which one would you be?
8. What is one regret you have about your past?
9. What is one wish you have for your future?
10. If you could go back in time and tell your past self about your present self, what is something that past you wouldn’t believe about his or her future?
Hoping to see some responses!
Currently Reading and Playing
I didn’t make these part of my goals for 2014, but I hope, this year, to read more books and play more video games. If that sounds like a huge waste of time given all the other things I have to focus on, let me reiterate a tad: I hope, this year, to read more books and play more video games instead of wasting time on the kinds of things I usually waste time on, like checking my Facebook feed fifty times a day.
I’ve been letting my books and games pile up for quite a while now, and with the new year and the fact that I’m going to be spending a lot of time on airplanes in the near future, I thought it was a good time to declare my desire to work on those two piles. And in honor of that, here’s a quick review of what I am currently reading and playing:
Dead and Gone (a Sookie Stackhouse novel)
Honestly, I didn’t know that these books existed until a friend of mine introduced me to the True Blood TV show. I’m not a great lover of the wave of “tame” vampires that are storming the nation, but I have to admit to loving True Blood, and so last Christmas my parents bought me the boxed set of books. I whipped through them in a flash, only to find out that the boxed set was not, in fact, all of the books…just the first so many. So this year my hubby bought me the next four in the series.
These books aren’t going to be for everyone, of course, especially if you’re not a fan of vampire romance, but that’s not the whole point of the books, like so many others. No, these books are actually quite well written, have a delicately interwoven plot of dozens of characters and twisting, turning story-lines, and are filled with lots of danger, adventure, and mystery. And yes, a fair little bit of romance. Really, these stories have everything. And I must admit, the author has surprised me on quite a few occasions. Pretty much every one of these novels has some kind of main mystery involved in the plot (who killed who, who planted the bomb, who kidnapped such-and-such) and I can’t honestly say that I’ve been able to guess any of the endings yet. Maybe that just speaks poorly for my own cognitive skills, but as I’ve been known in the past to work out the ending of a book/movie/TV show/video game well before anything began to be revealed, I personally think it speaks more of the author’s writing skill.
If you can’t stand the idea of any vampire ever being a good guy, stay away from these books, but if you’ve got a bit of an open mind and enjoy reading about supernatural creatures of all kinds, give them a try. Personally, I’m hooked.
Tearaway (Playstation Vita)
I didn’t know much about this game before hubby picked it up for me for Christmas, aside from the fact that it was made by the same people who did Little Big Planet, but I am definitely glad that I got to give it a try.
The game-play is very unique, cute, and fun. The game utilizes both the rear and front touch screens of the Vita, as well as all the buttons as well. You play as both the messenger, Atoi, and yourself as the mysterious “You” who lives outside the game world. Atoi is controlled by the main buttons, and “You” interact via the touch screens. For example, when certain types of ground appear in the game, “You” can touch the rear screen, which makes your finger burst through the ground in the game. You can then drag your finger back and forth around the world to knock out the bad guys, known as Scraps.
There is a lot more interaction as well, including taking photos of yourself for use in the game, using your finger and virtual paper to create papercraft items for the characters’ use (one little squirrel asks you to make him a crown), and tilting the Vita back and forth to move various platforms and obstacles.
All in all the game is just adorable, amusing, creative, and lots of fun to play. It’s the first game that I’ve beaten in quite a while because I just couldn’t put it down, and now I’m busy going back and collecting all the extra little bits and pieces. Seriously, if you have a Vita this one is definitely worth a go. It’s by far one of the most innovative games I’ve seen in a long time.
Hopefully in the following months I’ll have more books and video games to talk about, but in the meantime, please share with me! What are you reading or playing?
To Be a Writer
Recently I came upon a contest that Amazon is having. It involves writing a blog post that talks about the moment you knew – really knew – that you were a writer. I decided to give it a go, and before long I had surpassed the word limit that the contest set. I didn’t want to change anything, because what I wrote was truth, plain and simple, so I thought I’d just post it here anyway.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since the third grade. That was a revelation in and of itself, but it isn’t the same as actually knowing that you are a writer. Many people talk about that moment when they knew, that singular event that caused them to realize “I AM A WRITER!”, but for me it’s a little more complicated than that. My “I AM A WRITER!” moment was less a moment and more a culmination of the passage of some 15 years of growth.
I knew I wanted to be a writer after a school assignment in the third grade. We were to write a short story, print it out neatly on white paper (this was before we had regular access to computers), draw a cover, and bind it all together with construction paper and string. I can’t recall the exact plot of my story (although I could probably locate it in my parents’ attic if I looked hard enough), but I remember that it was called “The Mystery of the Emerald-Eyed Cat”. My cover featured two glowing green cat eyes below the title, and it was all bound with green construction paper. I also recall that I signed the cover “by Tracey Lynn MARIE Clarke”, not because I had any sense of what a pen name was back then, but because I was a little gone in the head and often changed my name a bit to suit my childish whims. (My teachers just kinda…ignored me, I guess…lol) I was very proud of that story, and my teacher at the time was a truly awesome man by the name of Mr Power who praised it and suggested that maybe I might consider writing as a career choice in the future. Though I was an avid reader, this was thought that had never really occurred to me before; but in that moment I knew for sure that this was what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Around the same time that I made my startling future career revelation, I met my best friend Kelly for the first time. As chance would have it, she loved writing too, and over the course of the rest of our grade school career we wrote a series of stories called “The Game Masters”, an adventure tale of a group of kids (ourselves and a few friends) who could travel in and out of video games. What Kelly and I had was an odd kind of a beta-reader relationship. We each wrote our own versions of the story – similar in many ways, but different in quite a few as well – and whenever we had each finished a chapter or two we would swap notebooks and read what the other had written. We praised each other for how clever we were, marveled at the amazing ideas we came up with and how “great” our juvenile writing was. We taught each other very little because we were so in awe of ourselves and how awesome we were, but it was excellent practice none-the-less, and it taught me another one of the joys of writing. I would strive daily to write as much as I could so that Kelly could read it. Even if the writing wasn’t perfect, it was a great thrill for me to have her read it and tell me that she enjoyed it, and so with that rush of fun and reader-acceptance I continued on with the belief that I absolutely wanted to be a writer.
Junior high school marked the turning point when Kelly and I both began to dabble into more mature original fiction. I can’t remember much about those first original stories because I personally tended to jump from storyline to storyline; whenever I would get a new idea I would drop the old one and start anew. Even so, it was excellent practice in creating characters and worlds and coming up with compelling plot lines. This era also marked my first foray into fan fiction, although I hadn’t ever heard the term at this point. Kelly, her cousin Melissa, and I became enormous Star Wars nerds in these days, and part of the way I expressed my nerdiness was by writing my own little Star Wars stories. I read a lot of Star Wars novels, and I got it into my head that I was a big enough fan that I could write one as well. My story involved Luke Skywalker discovering another lost Jedi – a gorgeous young girl, of course – and training her while trying to keep her from going over to the dark side. It was incredibly geeky. In these days I began to discover that I really had quite a lot to learn. My grade 8 English teacher, Mr Reilly, was not shy about telling me exactly what I was doing wrong when I wrote, and I would regularly compare my writing style to Kelly’s, which always seemed much better to me. I learned a bit of humility, but I was still totally wanted to be a writer.
By the time Kelly and I hit high school writing time became significantly more scarce. There was more work to do, and our social lives (such as they were) became more important as well. We started dating boys, we had extracurricular activities and lots of other unrelated hobbies. Regardless, Kelly and I still found ourselves writing little stories, only now they were quickly-plucked-out mini-chapters that we would write on typewriters during our keyboarding class. This time, rather than writing two different versions of the same basic plot line, or writing our own personal original fiction, we would take turns writing chapters of the same story back and forth. The “story” was loosely called “The Day the Earth Blew Up” and featured ourselves and our friends in an ever-more-ridiculous plot of adventurous hyjinx and tomfoolery. For all intents and purposes, the point of the story was to keep trying to make it more and more foolish. At one point there was an invading army of flying mini-pizzas. Yeah, we were a little bit loopy. But this little exercise of ours taught me a few more things about writing, such as the art of collaboration, and how to keep your mind fresh and new, constantly churning out interesting ideas. Though there were now many other things in my life vying for attention, I was still certain that I wanted to be a writer.
High school graduation was a turn in the wrong direction. When it came to the desire to be a writer, I dropped the ball. I’ve mentioned it before, but in these days I made a conscious decision: I was going to put my focus into technology. I still wanted to be a writer – oh lord, how I wanted to be a writer – but I was scared of failure, scared of the financial implications, and so I made the decision to move into a field in which I knew I could still thrive, but in which I was significantly more likely to obtain gainful employment. My inner child, the little grade-3-aged girl who had just written her first story, was positively screaming at me. “You want to be a writer!” she shrieked. “What is wrong with you?!” I hold that the decision I made was a good one in the long run, but it definitely set me back several years on my true desires.
I wrote nothing for a long time. As many young people do I spent my university years cramming for exams at the last minute, ripping out assignments on the bus on the way to class, and drinking away the weekends. The work load was intense, and I had to work part-time jobs to help pay for it all. My long-time boyfriend broke up with me and I started dating the man who would become my husband. We moved out on our own and had to learn to feed and clothe ourselves while somehow paying for rent and taking what felt like hundreds of hours of classes a week. At one point, sometime during my fourth (and final) year of university, I had an extreme loss of confidence in my future. I had done fairly well in all of my courses – aside from Calculus (which we won’t talk about) I made 80s and 90s in most of them – but I had this moment when I looked at myself and thought, “What the hell am I doing?” I had no idea what kind of career I was going to end up with, I had no confidence that it was going to be something I actually enjoyed or was good at, and I’d already spent upwards of $40,000 to come to this conclusion. It was around this time that Kelly reintroduced me to what we now know is fan fiction. She’d been reading a ton of the stuff on FanFiction.net, and encouraged me to do the same. The result was somewhat different; I ended up writing on the website. I didn’t really have the time to be writing, but I became somewhat obsessed and did it anyway. The one story I managed to complete, a Harry Potter fan fic called “Cry of the Wolf”, became surprisingly popular on the website, and with that I remembered something: I still wanted to be a writer. I had put a lot of time and effort into becoming a technologist, and I was going to finish that journey for sure, but all the time, no matter what else I did, I still wanted to be a writer.
It’s been seven years since I completed my university degree. In that time I got a job, moved away from home for it, bought a car, married my husband, bought a house, gave birth to my daughter, lost my job, found a new one that required me to travel back and forth across the country, and recently got laid off from that one because the job is over. And throughout all that I kept writing whenever I could. I wrote more fan fiction, I participated in several NaNoWriMo‘s, I set daily word count goals for myself, and I started this blog. I did all of this because regardless of what else might be going on around me, of the turns my life had taken, I still wanted to be a writer. Notice that I keep using that phrasing, over and over again: wanted to be a writer. That’s the phrasing I always used in my head when I thought about myself. I always used a future tense.
“I want to be a writer.”
“I’m going to be a writer.”
“Someday I’ll be a writer.”
That has been my thought process since that first story back in the third grade.
That is, until about a year ago. I’d written a zombie apocalypse novel for the previous years’ NaNoWriMo, but over the course of the month-long challenge I’d only gotten about 2/3 of the way through the story. I desperately wanted to finish it, as I’d never finished an original piece of fiction (that wasn’t a school project). So I set myself a goal: I would write at least 1000 words a day until the novel was complete. I can’t honestly say that I stuck to it every single day – sometimes life gets in the way, after all – but in what seemed like no time at all, suddenly I had a finished story. Sure, it still has to be revised and edited, preferably beta-read as well, but I had it; I had a whole original story, from beginning to end. That was the moment, though it wasn’t as much a revelation as a slow realization. Looking at the last sentence of my novel, and thinking back to everything I’d done up to that point, that was when I realized “I AM A WRITER!”
I may never succeed in becoming traditionally published, and I may never gain financial compensation for my work, but I’ll always be able to look back on that little third-grade girl and say, “Hey, guess what? You are a writer, and you always will be.”
A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.
41. How a hobby has made you a better writer
I gave myself a night to think about this one, and when I woke up in the morning I had realized the truth: pretty much all of my hobbies have made me a better writer. No, I’m not joking or exaggerating. Seriously, almost all of my hobbies lend themselves to writing in one way or another.
Hobby #1: Reading
This one should be pretty self-explanatory. I love to read, and what better way to learn about pacing, sentence structure, spelling, grammar, setting, etc.
Hobby #2: Video Games
It sounds unlikely, and parents and teachers would probably baulk at the idea that playing video games can be excellent for improving one of the finer arts, but those parents and teachers would be closed-minded. Video games – even the older, significantly less advanced ones – can have rich worlds filled with action, adventure, romance, horror, mystery…you name it! Video games are excellent inspiration for ideas. They’ve even helped me practice my writing via fanfiction (I’ve written several chapters of a Final Fantasy 3/6 fanfiction and also started a Chrono Trigger one as well).
Hobby #3: Movies
This one is more my husband’s hobby than mine, but I guess it’s mine by proxy since I do, in fact, enjoy the movies. This falls under the same category as video games; movies are excellent for inspiration, and if it was a particularly good movie, the kind that gives you shivers and has you thinking about the plot line for days later, it can even be just plain motivational. In other words, experiencing such an amazing story makes you want to write one of your own.
Hobby #4: Writing
Seriously, you didn’t see this one coming? Writing has been one of my most predominant hobbies since I was in grade school. From little one-page scenes my best friend and I would write back and forth to one another during class, to a very powerful fanfiction obsession in college, to the manuscript I’m still working on editing, I’ve been writing for fun for the past 20 years or so. And isn’t that the most important part of being a writer? Actually putting in the effort to write? Or is this just my clever way of saying that I’ve already run out of hobbies to list? That’s up for you to decide.
It’s fun…what other reason do you need?
A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.
4. How you knew you wanted to become a writer
When I was young I knew I wanted to be a writer at some point in my life because, to be super-blunt about it, it was tons of fun. I started writing (other than for school) sometime around the 3rd grade, and I loved making up crazy stories, particularly ones starring my friends and I as the characters. Sometime near the end of grade school I wrote this series of stories starring myself and my friends (and a few people who I wished were my friends…how sad is that?). The stories were based around the idea that this group of friends could enter video games and experience the game like a real-life adventure. As the series went on there were also real-life monsters that came to destroy us, and I believe at some point there was a convoluted past-life plot line that got really silly and smacked of wish fulfillment (but hey, gimmi a break, I was, like…11). I would be beyond embarrassed for anyone to read those stories now, but at the time they were the best thing in the world, they were a blast to write, and they cemented my desire to write professionally some day.