When Life Throws you a Curveball

Warning: this isn’t a short post.

I’m currently in a writing low as of now.

As far as my WIPs are concerned, it’s in something of a doldrum from idea overload. Edits are edits, they are what they are. However, it is a bit worrisome that my blog is rather dead since I’ve been spending far too much time pinteresting, or making crude remarks elsewhere, as far as online presence is concerned. And I’ll cut right to the chase here: I’ve been really frustrated lately due to external factors, and that ultimately is the deciding factor of my mood.

I won’t converse about the causes of my distress here other than using it as a springboard to lead into how the emotional state of mind affects the creative process.

You hear countless times that writing is work. Why treat writing like it’s some hobby, if it’s something you’re really serious about? Do you have the option to skip work or school if you’re “not feeling the muse?” Of course not.

If you’re feeling depressed, do you skip work? And if you do, I doubt you can carry on like without repercussions until you get a doctor’s note – if your employer accepts such a reason.

So, like your day job, playing hooky with your writing will be a bad idea unless you treat it with responsibility, commitment, and basically, showing up.

But what do you do when depression, or a low time in this journey of life, attacks you when you least expect it? Or, in my case, while you’re riding high on a writing spree? Or, if your finances aren’t depending on your writing, what do you do when real life puts a major damper on your creativity?

Everyone has a different way of dealing with this, but the basic options would include: a) stop writing and be miserable; b) stop writing in your projects and journal your pain/sorrow; c) keep writing and suffer in silence; d) keep writing and ignore the external source of pain. You can tell me if there are more options out there; but these are the options I see in front of me whenever my mental life comes to a crashing halt. Because as emotionally stable as I’d like to project myself to be, it’s the farthest thing from the truth. If I’m happy, my writing muse is raring to go. If I’m miserable, my writing muse is hiding in a corner refusing to come out.

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And I wish it weren’t so.

So what do you do when your life just isn’t cooperating with your writing? When the only thing on your mind is what’s hurting you emotionally?

There’s nothing wrong with taking a break. It could be a few days, or it could be a couple of weeks. I’ve done this before, and I know I’ll do this countless times again because my problems typically don’t go away very quickly – or at least in the foreseeable years to come. They come and they’ll go, but it’s a neverending cycle. As a writer, the doldrums of writing due to external circumstances never last forever. I’ve underwent years where I didn’t write – hell, I didn’t even think about a single story – for over two years. It upset me, but as it were, the circumstance at hand took much higher precedence than plotting a story.

Now the ability to take a hiatus from writing may differ for someone who gets paid for their writing. Because I’ll remind you that my fiction isn’t by contract. I write for fun, for personal satisfaction, to see my writing in book form one day – because that’s why I write: because I love to read. And there’s nothing more fulfilling than to see my story in tangible format. A part of my library. To be able say, “Yeah; it may suck, but I did write all that. And I’m proud of it.”

But when to take a hiatus, and when not to? It’s really up to you. Only you know your situation well enough to know what’s more important: your mental health, or your desire to write. And everyone’s desire to write is to some degree more or less than the other writer. And that’s okay. There’s no reason to compare yourself to someone you admire (or loathe). No reason at all. Because if you’re comparing yourself to another writer, then you have to ask yourself this: Are you writing for them? Or for your own pleasure?

More often than not, your “competition” is oblivious to your private struggle. They don’t even care.

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When you begin to write for yourself, that’s where the fun begins. Because if you’re writing to score points, or be popular, or to impress… well, that’s where the trouble begins. That’s where stress comes into the picture. Because writing stories isn’t about making that A+, or one-upping your (perceived) rival, or being the next Stephen King. It’s about our own creative journeys. It’s about our self-fulfillment, and doing what makes us happy. So what if an agent rejects our story. So what if a publisher says our story doesn’t fit the times.

We write to fill our creative well. We write because we can’t help it. We write because it’s in our souls. And it’s a part of us. We can’t help it.

So when a bad time in life comes upon us, don’t despair. Our muse will never leave us. It may lay dormant for a while, awaiting our hearts to sync with its juices, but it will return. Never give up.

The artist inside never fades.

Random Post

I know it’s been pretty dead over here: fact is, I’ve been writing and painting a lot, and to come up with something thoughtful and intelligent for this blog is trying as of late. And in writing this post, I am, of course, procrastinating on the commissions.

I probably won’t be doing NanoWriMo this year because I really want to focus on the writing projects I have at this moment. To write 50k words in November would really burn me out. Currently, I’m still working on edits while dabbling on the side with fandom(s). Amid preparations for school, and trying to make ends meet, and getting in the last days of summer, it’s been hectic. I don’t like to write in here unless it’s something useful for you folks, so I will keep this short.

Basically, yes, I’m still alive!

And these guys are keeping me entertained. And introducing me to the wonderful world of asthma attacks.

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Miko, Chiko, and Jiji

Limelight Interview: Jessica Matteliano

A little shameless self-promotion here, hope you don’t mind! But I’m very excited over it! A million thank-yous for Leena Naidoo, talented writer, artist, and an all-around beautiful person, who interviewed me recently. You can view the interview in its entirety below!

I’ve known Jessica Matteliano as a writer for a while now. I was also excited to discover her work as an artist. If you have a fascination for portraiture, both animal and human, you’ll definitely want to have a look at Jessica’s lively work.

And here we have Jessica Matteliano In The Limelight!

Source: Limelight Interview: Jessica Matteliano

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Writing Drunk

writedrunkWrite drunk, edit sober. –Ernest Hemingway (supposedly)

 

“Write drunk, edit sober” – those are the famous words often attributed to Ernst Hemingway. The truth is he probably didn’t say those words, but it hasn’t stopped other writers using it as a technique to improve their writing.

After all, many brilliant writers were also heavy drinkers, including David Foster Wallace, Edgar Allan Poe, Truman Capote, and of course Hemingway himself.

The question remains: does drinking help the writing process?

The Expert Editor decided to look at the science behind writing drunk and editing sober. Check it out below.

The Science Behind Writing Drunk and Editing Sober (+ Infographic)


Thank you to Rachael Liu from the Expert Editor (UK/Australia) for sharing this informative infographic on the effects of alcohol… coffee!

Drinking while writing the first draft has actually been a beneficial experience for me (but only after 11pm). Surprisingly enough, while tipsy and writing, those tip-of-the-tongue words come to me so much faster than when I’m not under the influence. Or do they…?

Before I go on here, I’m not pushing alcohol on anyone here. It can be addictive for some, and alcohol reacts differently on everyone. So please don’t think I’m condoning drinking. I strongly believe in “to each his own” … as long as it’s not criminal.

So that being said, when I drink, I get happy. My introverted self becomes a bit more sociable. So why not try writing while tipsy? I did. On the upside, I wrote faster because I wasn’t hung up on “is this worded correctly” and “I’m not afraid to write down my first intuitive thought,” so there is a constant flow of words. On the downside, I rambled a little too much, and spelling and grammatical errors abounded. However, this isn’t a big deal to me because I only do this for the first draft. Getting the initial story written down is imperative.

Now I wouldn’t recommend using alcohol to fuel technical writing. I couldn’t imagine the amount of editing that would be required for fact-based writing. Unless you use tags to indicate something that needs precise thought.My only advice to alcohol and writing fiction is that it would probably be helpful to work with an outline to keep your writing in line. Even then, drunk writing is privy to meandering and wandering. It was an interesting thing to write drunk.

 

Do you, or have you, written tipsy/drunk? Have you found it a help or a hindrance? I would love to hear your thoughts!

An Update in the Form of a Tag

So I’m swiping this from the talented Amanda McCormick’s blog tag as an excuse to give my wonderful readers a quick update! I know I’ve been rather MIA for a number of weeks now, and I sincerely apologize. Some days, I wonder if I’m really cut out for this blogging thing. So much to do, so little time! And I’m hardly procrastinating, either!

Anyways, here goes!

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My new kittens! A friend at work showed me a picture of stray kittens underneath her deck, and of course, upon seeing three black kittens, I went over to her home the next day and we were able to snatch up not one, but three kittens. The black one was a keeper, and then the second one I caught just so happened to be a mini-clone of the cat I have now… So I kept two because kittens.

Not an official crazy cat lady yet.

Reading

I just began Steven Brust’s Yendi, book #2 of the Jhereg series. I wasn’t 100% crazy about the first book, but I’ve noticed this frustrating tendency of mine to leave a series unfinished more often than not. So being that there’s only 3 books in this series, and that the library just so happened to have a 3-in-1 book, why not?

I also just finished reading a book from the TOR eBook Club I just recently joined. If you enjoy sff, I highly recommend joining TOR’s eBook Club. It’s free, and they’ll send you a free eBook to download within a window of the first week of every month, and they even have a book discussion forum for the book of the month! I have yet to check that part of TOR out, but you know what? It’s awesome.

Watching

I’m watching my girls play Minecraft. I don’t watch TV shows… or any TV, for that matter. Except for an occasional 10 minutes of the Yankees when I go to my parent’s house every week. Was a rabid fan… now, I’ll pass on the sports.

Listening To

My OST playlist on Pandora that consists of Square Enix and Skyrim. Nothing special. My creative juices are kind of in a lull right now and, consequently, so is my draw to music. So currently, I am not listening to anything at all..!

Thinking About

The edits. Would you believe that I am actually thinking about using Scrivener? Okay, so this will be the third (fourth?) time I’m attempting the program. I need to do some more research on their snapshot feature (any tips?) before transferring my hard copy changes onto the computer.

I completed the first round of edits for July’s CampNanowrimo (which wasn’t nearly as much progress as I was hoping to have made for nano) and I must transfer them back into the document, then prepare for the second round of edits.

So after the impending trial run with Scrivener, I will commence edit transfers.

Anticipating

0280d405e44400820b328454b856700a14195c41_607x400The rice dumpling that is currently boiling on the stove because I am ridiculously hungry.

Wishing

…For a Leuchtturm notebook for my bullet journaling. But the self-imposing hardhead that I am, I will persevere with my $1.99 notebook until the very end.

Also wishing that I had more time for everything I’d like to be doing.

Making Me Happy

My kittens. My family. Good friends.

 

July Camp Nano, Week 2

Well, it’s the end of the second full week of July, anyway. 15 days down, 16 more to go!

And would you believe that I only just now completed the novella last night? In case you missed it, I was supposed to be editing this 40k word text dump (40,964 words, to be exact) this month. And technically, I’m about 40k words behind on that.

So today after work, and cooking dinner, and cleaning up, and taking 20 minutes to unwind and meditate, I came up with something of an editing plan. I’m printing the hard copy as I write this!

Here’s what I have on the agenda:

[Draft, Edit Versions]

[v.1.0] hard copy for general read-through, overview edit; minimal line edits

Check:  Logical beginning, middle, end

Correct flow

                      Transitions

                      Scene function

[v.1.1] notes on plot consistency; clarity

[v.1.2] notes on character consistency; clarity

[v.1.3] apply changes

[v.2.0] general overview edit; minimal line edits

[v.2.1] plot and character review

[v.2.2] apply changes

[v.3.0] review

[v.4.0] Hemingway/other text sample?

[v.4.1] line edits x2

Check:  Word choice; punctuation, etc.

                      Change font; review

I’m crossing my fingers that I can get this done in 16ish days… but the more editing “points” I kept thinking of, the less likely it seems that I can get this all done by July 31st. Actually, make that 15 days, since I have a crap ton of errands to get to after work tomorrow.

If you, dear reader, have any suggestions as far as editing when you’re crunched for time, or if you just have any general editing tips from your own experiences, please let me know!

This Camp editing thing is getting me a bit intimidated.

Just a bit.

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July2016 CampNano Week 1 & Other Events

Kind of off to a bad start. I was hoping to have completed the WIP by the beginning of this month, but with the holiday weekend, that didn’t happen. Fortunately, I was able to complete one scene, and I’m almost finished with the climax scene. But then I discovered that I can’t just end the story with the climax, so now there’s the “epilogue” type of scene to write as well.

Being that editing is, well, editing, and that’s what this month’s camp is all about for me, the ball really needs to get rolling. The novella is currently at ~39k words, and it probably won’t be complete for another 2k. I have a tendency to underestimate… everything.

So much to do, so little time. I just caught up with my weekly bujo setup* last night (Monday), so I was already two days behind there. Haven’t gotten much reading done, though I did manage to begin Wuthering Heights last week. I’m currently working on a dog portrait** commission (amid the ongoing online game art commission) and am nearly done with that. And I’ve fallen behind on my blogs, missed this past Sunday’s #storycrafter tweetchat, went to work on the holiday with a miserable hangover, and basically, my personal work is just all over the place.

But slowly and surely making progress. My life consists of: my kids, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, writing, digital art commissions, fine art commissions, blogging, trying to avoid rationing twitter, tumblr, RSS feeds social media, and reading when I can.

I apologize for the slacking of posting anything useful or informative here lately… it’s just been one of those not-feeling-motivated doldrums.

Last but not least, I’ve recently begun using Discord!

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No, not that Discord. Though he is a favorite of mine.

(Future Instagram post with Queen Chrysalis in the background, coming soon!)discord

I mean the group chat app. It’s essentially a gamer’s chat client for video/audio and text group chats, but my current Camp cabin uses it for a chat hub.

And I freaking love it! I have Discord on my laptop and tablet and it takes up hardly any memory, and it’s compatible with every platform out there

Sooo I was wondering, if I created a chatroom for us writers, would anyone be interested? Something like the twitter writing communities out there (I’ve been trying to get Faye in on it! But she’s got a lot her plate as of now) but without the character limit.

Let me know!

Happy writing and looking forward to your Camp updates!

 


* If you’re on Instagram, let me know! I would love to be your friend there, too!

** I post a lot of my artwork (and other informalities) on Tumblr! Don’t be a stranger!

Reading Habit Tag

I saw this tag from Amanda, a wonderful and talented writer and thought I’d give a go!

  1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
    Depends on the time of day. It’s usually my lovely armchair, but if it’s early in the morning before the kids are awake, I’ll be on the sofa. Cat companionship mandatory.
  2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
    I suppose my bookmarks would be considered scraps. I’ve tried using those fancy bookmarks from the bookstores, but they just don’t feel right. For a while, I used cross stitch thread, but I’m just not that fancy. So more often than not, it’s business cards, the occasional receipt, or coupon that’s within reach.
  3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
    I must stop at a chapter. I will only stop mid-chapter if I’m forced to, like if I’m waiting in the car or the doctor’s office. Because I’m OCD like that.2016-06-29
  4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
    I used to have this habit of eating nearly an entire of bag of Skittles in one sitting, but it’s been a while since I’ve done that. So no, I usually don’t eat while reading. I’ve drank once in a while while reading, but then I usually end up falling asleep so no, not much drinking while reading, either.
  5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
    Absolutely not. I need silence when reading. That’s all.
  6. One book at a time or several at once?
    One at a time. I used to read one fiction and one non-fiction book simultaneously, but I couldn’t keep the two subjects balanced in my mind. Then one book would be finished faster than the other… well, let’s just say I’m fond of balance.
  7. Reading at home or everywhere?
    I’ll read anywhere. Sure, I prefer reading at home because it’s a controlled environment, but I will read wherever I can.
  8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?
    I have kids so that’s the only time I’ve ever read out loud. And honestly, it’s too slow for me, so I would never do it if I didn’t have to!
  9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
    Confession: if a book stinks, I’ll skim every page. Because someone took the time and effort to write the story, so I have to give them the respect of turning every page to hopefully find that the story gets better. I used to lack self-control and sometimes allow myself to read the last sentence or two of the book… but I’ve since gained the self-control not to commit such a crime!
  10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
    You know, I have to say that this is beyond my control..! I try my best to keep my new books like new, but being that I tend to buy used paperback books, I enjoy the soft covers. I prefer paperbacks over hardcovers anyway, so I don’t mind a broken spine if that’s what happens.
  11. Do you write in your books?
    People do this kind of thing? Okay, so back in my schooling days, I’d write in and highlight in my textbooks. Better yet when they were already annotated and highlighted! But oh dear, I would never do such a thing to any of my books now, non-fiction or not. That’s what stationery’s for!

Feel free to consider yourself tagged, too!