Thursday, December 13, 2012

Being Writer: On Writing as an Art Part II--- There's no App for That

If you read Part I of this little shebang, you'll remember me saying that I have a bad habit of trying to save the world, even though I've known that I can't actually do that. It's impossible.

After talking with Molly (it was a great convo. You should totes check it out. I cut out all the irrelevant bits. Now go read it!), I realize that saving the world isn't really my job. My job is to live. To learn. To teach others what I've learned. To do. To do some more. To live some more. And then, just like Finals, I'm DONE.

Guess what I learned this week? I learned that it's okay if you wake up and discover that you don't like the writing process. It's okay to not be a writer. It's okay. As Molly said, you've got to love the process to be a part of the field. But if you don't, that's okay. You can find a process you do love, and you can work your butt off until you're where you're destined to be.

Because writing is an art. It's a science, too, if we're working off of Molly's "art: creation:: science: discovery" analogy. Writing is about the creation of worlds. The discovery of truth. The combination of both, used to make connections with real live people and to express an appreciation for the genius that is mankind. God is SO good sometimes. Because I get all kinds  of excited when I think about how awesome He made us to be. We all have something genuinely special about us. Something we can excel at. Something we can work hard for. But it all comes back to creation and discovery. Man has a NEED to create and/or to discover. Think really hard about what you want to do in life. Tell me this isn't true.

And guys. Writing has BOTH of these! My toes are tapping as I type this because it makes me so happy that I've discovered why I love this field so much. I'm an artist. I'm an ARTIST. Because I love to create, but there's no WAY my mind could be at peace if I weren't learning and telling everyone about everything I learned as the knowledge came to me.

An artist isn't hindered by too many boundaries except for those set forth for them by the size of their canvas. As a writer, I have so many platforms. My canvas could be as small as a Hallmark card or as big as a blank Word document and all I have to do is fill it.

Mentally, I think artists suffer from copious amounts of self-doubt. What if I'm not good enough?... What if my work isn't good enough?... Artists share SO much of their minds--- of their souls--- with the world that it's hard for these doubts to keep at bay. In fact, I hear they never really go away. But the difference between a writer and an author isn't publication. It's perseverance  Writers are just as much of an artist as an author is--- we're just undiscovered yet.

And like all undiscovered artists, we should be working fervidly to hone our craft. To get better at the skills in which we know we could improve. We need to KEEP. GOING. Life doesn't end with rejection and neither does passion. Or skill. Or time.

The longer it takes you to realize you're an artist, the longer it's going to take for you to take your art seriously. You don't have to be the best writer to have a story to tell. But you will have to invest in your craft--- some artists use pens or paintbrushes; you might have to invest in freelance editors, find critique partners, take some classes, or conduct a bit of research. But don't think you don't need these tools (here's a post or two on the "tool" matter for further reading). You're an artist. Remember? Start acting like it. Do what all good artists do and practice. Embrace the journey. And remember that it's okay if you find out you don't love the process. Writing's a ride you got on all on your own; you really can unbuckle your seat belt and get off at any time.

Happy Writing,
P.S. Arianna is no longer doing WanWc with us. :( BUT we need to welcome Laila! She's our new team member and I'm beyond glad to have you on board, Girly. :)
P.P.S. You can still become an Ninja!

Commenting on Comments
Prerna- Woot! I hope you found the most awesomest CPs to look after that manuscript of yours. I'm so rooting for you, Lovely!

Laila- Thanks for sending again, Love. And also, thank you! I take my song choices vair seriously. Lol! I think, originally, the email just went to my junk mail. Sorry, again, but I'm glad you're with us now. :)

Being Writer: On Writing as an Art Part I--- Thanks Molly

A long time ago, I said I was going to do a series called "Being Writer." In the first Being Writer post, I talked about the secret to writing a novel (SPOILERS: there isn't one). But I never did any more posts after that. Go figure, right? This is ME we're talking about.

Today, I was flipping through my archives and saw my Dear Writer post. I almost teared up reading it, just because of the relevance it held with what I was going through today and how it still rang true. I still have those same sentiments. I still want to save the frickin' world. But I've known for a long time that I can't. And last night I went to a friend's apartment for a "Finals are Over, Let's Celebrate!" get-together.

I think I had the most awesome conversation EVER before I left for the night.

I'll tell you why this post is split into two parts. First I have to tell you a story, and then I have to make a point. You see how much time that could take? Days, maybe, and that's if we're lucky. Instead, I'm going to talk to you about what Molly and I discussed here. If you're still interested in my actual point after that (or just wanna skip) go on over to Part II.

Molly is probably a genius. I say this because she was helping me let go of my fear of failing my friends without even knowing she was doing it.

We were talking about art. Molly's an artist. As we were hanging out in her room, I was looking around and saw a painting she'd done hanging on the wall, and without thinking, I'd said, "I wished I were better at art. My mom told me I could be, once, if I had just practiced. Like normal children."

The "like normal children" part was my own invention. Though my mom does think me strange, she'd never compare me to the other children... And Molly wouldn't either. She said, "Well, see, that's the thing I've learned. I often say that an artist has to be in love with the process of drawing or painting or whatever... Not exactly in love with whatever the finished product might be, but in love with every stroke, and every little line, and every second that goes into the process of creating a finished product." (Molly also likes to emphasize things. We are kindred spirits--- either that, or I'm just remembering our convo with lots of imagined italics.)

I told her I understood. "I'm a writer," I'd said, "not published or anything, but I love writing. Every word, every rejection, every painful and excruciating sentence--- I love it. The process of it I mean."

"There you go!" she exclaimed. I agreed with a loud clap and a laugh that almost woke up her sleeping roommate. And I was so excited about where this conversation was going that I went on to include an example about food. I love food, I'd told her, but I hate standing in a kitchen, over a stove, in front of raw ingredients that are nowhere near as delicious as the finished meal.

"So I don't cook," I finished.

"So you probably aren't going to be a chef," she agreed. "But that's okay! It really is! Because some people love the process of cooking. I hate to cook, but I love to bake. I like mixing and pouring and putting things into an oven... And the process you love might be baking,or drawing, or writing, but whatever it is, that's what makes us go one way or another... That's what really separates the ones who are destined for a field from those who might dabble or look on or even just appreciate it... It's all about the process that speaks to us."

My mind... BLOWN.

I've always known that I was strangely obsessed with the process of becoming a published author. Whenever anyone asks me, "Oh! So you're a writer! Are you going to be published?" I laugh at them and say, "Hopefully, one day! But what I really want to do is intern at an agency... I just want to work with books for the rest of my life, wherever that might be."

AND NOW I GET IT. Now, I know why I wave around my rejections like the American flag and enter contests up the wazoo and carry around "BrainBooks" with a pen slipped through the spiral AT ALL TIMES... I get it. I am a frickin' writer. But I'm not only a writer--- I'm a writer destined for the field of writing. I may never be an author but I love the process too much to quit the field. It's my passion. It's my place. It's my home, in a way. It's where I feel the most free and the most happy and the most secure if that makes any sense at all.

And because of this, I've found my own art. Writing. IS. An art.

We writers forget that sometimes. We forget that we're not just "writing novels"--- we're creating. And discovering. Molly went on to tell me she loved art and science. "'Cause if you really think about it," she'd said, "since the beginning of man there's always been this... compulsion to create. This need to discover."

She thinks that's what art and science are. Art is creation and science is discovery. But writing is both. Both creation and discovery.

Join me in Part II of this dialogue if you want to hear my final thoughts on this topic. No reservation required to come on over. :)

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams..."
-Henry David Thoreau


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Write A Novel With... The Pink Ninjas (OF DOOM)

Finals are over. Pitch Wars, through. And now there's the rest of December staring at me saying, "Whatcha gonna do about it?" 

I'm gonna write a novel. Duh.

In case you didn't see my last post, Arianna and I are participating in WanWc (Write a Novel with Cupid) as a team of our own--- The Pink Ninjas (OF DOOM). I bet she hates that I put that last bit in parentheses. I CAN'T HELP THAT I LIKE UNICORNS, MMKAY?!

But a few of you wanted to do Pitch Wars with us! And this post is just for you!!! I'm so excited and glad that you guys emailed me expressing interest. You know what this means, don't you? It means that you're not only going to write a novel--- but you're gonna finish it. Cool, right? 

Some people are confused on what WanWc is. To be honest, there are no definite "rules" per say, but there is a goal. The goal is to write a novel, edit it, and get it ready to submit by the end of the year. How are we going to do all of this? Well, I've decided to break this up into "deadlines." And I've also decided to change the rules up a little bit so that anyone who wanted to join still can. 

The First Deadline is January 31st. 
Our mission? To have a first draft of our novel DONE by 11:59 PST of that day.  
How are we going to accomplish this? Easy. I have three steps to success that I'm hoping will give us more structure as we tackle this thing. 

1. Make a plan and submit it to me ( 
The plan doesn't have to be like NaNo where you decide you're going to write 1,000 words a day--- but it can be. What you want to do is give yourself a writing goal you know you can manage. It can be daily or weekly, but it has to be something you're definitely going to stick to. I'm going to assign you a Sensei and that person is going to check in with you EVERY SUNDAY to make sure you're sort of on track.

Examples of "writing plans" include but aren't limited to:
-a thorough outline of your novel that's divided into "chunks" you're going to tackle every week.
-a simple summary of what you want to do and more general plot points you're hoping to hit at the end of every week
-a NaNo-like goal of so many words per day.
-a chapter a day until finished.

I'm setting a deadline for this so you're motivated to actually do it. (I will bug you. I can bug!) 
Deadline 1.1:  Monday, December 17th.

2. Stick to your plan and be a good Sensei by motivating your ninja!
You're twenty bazillion times more likely to finish something you've started if you have a plan. So theoretically, at this point, you have a plan. Stick to it! 

What also helps sometimes is encouraging someone else to reach their goal. I know that if Aria hadn't been writing and revising TLOATH at the same time that I was struggling with PW, it would've never been finished. And that is a fact. By encouraging her, I subconsciously was motivating myself. She was getting words done. I needed to get words done. If she wasn't getting words done, I needed her to get words done. So that I could get words done. You see how that works in its own twisted way? We're a team so we should all be motivating each other, but ESPECIALLY give a kick in the pants to the person you're assigned to. You're going to be the first person who gets to see their work, so you want it to be AWESOME.

3. Take the deadline seriously.
January 31st. 
Do it.

It's not too late to join The Pink Ninjas (OF DOOM). If you want in, just email me! Send me your plan! WRITE YOUR NOVEL! In the meantime, I want to give a round of applause to our current team. Arianna, Elle, Ava, and Me! I think we're going to have a fifth (Laila, Guuuuurrrlll--- email me!), and of course, you're welcome to join, too! 

Hearts and hugs,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wanna Be a Ninja? (Plus, a Tag)

Hey, there, Everyone! NaNo went well. I finished one of my two goals so that's something, at least. I'm continuing with GOING SOMEWHERE over my Winter Break. For now, though, I thought I might tell you about something Arianna and I are doing.

It's called "Write a Novel with Cupid" (and if you're an aspiring writer and don't know Cupid, OHEMGEE--- go check her out NOW). Basically, instead of ONE month to write a novel, we're using the months of December AND January to get a first draft out of a brand new project. Then, we'll plan revisions and submission goals that we're aiming to get through by the end of this upcoming year. And if you want to be, you can get in on this, by becoming a part of our personal team--- The Pink Ninjas (OF DOOM). I put the "OF DOOM" part in parentheses because I, personally, am a fan of unicorns. But Aria is our Team Leader and the name is a kind of insider betwixt us (DANG TWITTER), so that is what we call ourselves. If you want to be a part of our team, just email me at so we can start supporting one and another! ALSO, feel free to start your own teams and tell me about them! It'll be fun to have some competition. I promise to still love you all!!!

And now, onto the tag. Bethany Myers, an author Aria and I follow on Twitter (and who we found in a writing contest over at Mother Write! Bethany's awesome) tagged Arianna who then tagged me to do a tag called "The Next Big Thing." Aria wants me to talk about PW and therefore, I shall. Here we go!

What is your working title of your book?
PLANET WEIRD, or PW for shortsies.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I honestly love telling this story, but I'll try to make it brief. Basically, my younger sister and I were waiting for a bus one day, and a girl I knew from school who was waiting at the bus stop too started talking with me to catch up on lost times and the what-not. Then she went into this completely dramatic and yet totally serious account of how she had met a vampire that day. The details are still fresh in my mind about that conversation, and the story she gave me was so hilarious, ridiculous, and true that I couldn't help but wonder, "What kind of a school admits a self-proclaimed VAMPIRE?" Forks High School. Ahhhhh-bviously. But also Planet Jr. High where all of "the kids were weird."  That was the first line that came to my head on the bus ride home. The idea that followed is one of my favorite storylines yet.

What genre does your book fall under?
I call it MG Sci-Fi, but at one point when I had doubts, I called it a MG Adventure.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
As long as the cast is diverse, I wouldn't care who played my characters! I hardly keep up with the youthful stars of the day. Can we pull people off the streets and say, "AY! Please be my main character, please?" Okay, thanks.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Disguised as a thirteen year old human named Drew Vardaman, an alien runaway attends Planet Jr. High in hopes of leaving behind her predestined responsibilities, but instead runs right into them when a parasitic shadow starts possessing her classmates.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I don't have the energy to self-publish professionally. It's my dream to be represented by an agency, but who knows if this is the project that'll get me there?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Minus the time I spent procrastinating? A month. Plus the time I spent procrastinating? A year.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The "destiny" part is what people tend to focus on, but to me, PW is about conformity and non-conformity, learning what it means to be yourself, power vs. responsibility, and things like that. Only, told in a light, fun setting--- a junior high school in the middle of nowhere. I haven't really been reading lately so I'm almost at a loss on this one, but it sort of has a hint of the themes in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and the sort of "right in front of your face, but you can't see it!" fantastical stuff reminds me of The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi and Percy Jackson by Rick Riordian. Plus, it's in that age range, so there you go. :)

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Sahara Blank. My sister, Kia. And our nephew, Chris. They all played their parts, believe me. :)

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
1. There are portals.
2. There's a story within the story.
4. Drew is actually a person of color though in her Earth form, she doesn't appear to be.
5. It's a love story--- in a sense. PW's about learning to love yourself, and learning how to love others who may seem to be worlds apart from you. Shoot, PW's about A LOTTA THANGS. But that's one of them. :)

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

I tag Talia, Prerna, and Nicole (because I hear you're writing again! Am I misinformed?). Basically, if you're writing something and you're a human being, you should do this tag. Please tell me if you do it! I'd love to check ya out! :)

Lots of love,
P.S. This song is called "Simply Falling" by Iyeoka. Steal my heart like a ninja and join our team!