22 April 2014

S is for Stalling

I'm having one of those problems again. I have no desire to work on the current chapter of my second draft. It's frustrating because I really want to work on the chapter after it, since it involves several shocking moments and will be really exciting to edit. I know I could just skip ahead, but since I'm sending my book chapter by chapter to my readers, I feel like I have to edit in order. So I'm stalling.

Really, I'm just not doing anything. Every day feels the same. Get up, eat something, blog, get ready for work, work, go home, go to bed. That's it. No time for anything else. I really, really, really want to finish the second draft before I leave my job, since some of my coworkers are reading it and I'd like to get some reactions. But usually whatever free moment I have is spent being exhausted. I just don't feel like writing.

The thing is, if I get past this chapter and write the next one, I don't think it will take me long to finish the book. After this turning point, there are only a few major moments before the end. There's not a lot of major editing I have to do, as far as rearranging scenes or making plot changes. It's mostly just word for word rewriting, which really won't be so hard.

I'm thinking of taking my writing with me to work today, since I'm working a position where I'm pretty sure I'll have some down time. I was kicking myself last night for not bringing a notebook since it was a lot slower than I thought it would be. And hopefully I'll get through this chapter. Otherwise I'll just keep stalling.

21 April 2014

R is for Reading

Like most writers, I love to read. Writing and reading pretty much go hand in hand. My problem is that I never seem to read all that much anymore. Every year I make a goal to read 100 books, and every year I fail. I never even come close. This year I've only read two books so far. Two! It's pathetic!

Like everything else, my problem is time. I don't have all that much of it, so whatever free time I have left after work and well, life, I try to spend that writing (try being the main word there). But I also know that when I do find time to read, it makes me want to write more. It's so much easier to get inspired when you're reading regularly. So while I try to use my time to write, I know it also suffers because I never read anymore. So basically, I can't win.

So I'm really looking forward to having more free time. I miss reading. I don't even know who my favorite authors are anymore. If someone asked me what kind of books I like to read, I wouldn't even know how to answer. I really would love to read anything I could get my hands on at this point. I do love my Kindle ever since I got it, and I bought a bunch of books written by my blogger buddies, but I still haven't gotten around to reading them. I think I'll start slow right now. I'd like to devote just a half an hour a day to reading. We'll see how it goes.

How is everyone else doing? Do you feel reading fuels your writing? What books are you reading right now? I'd love some recommendations.

19 April 2014

Q is for Questioning (with an excerpt!)

Ok, I have to admit this post is kind of a cop out, because hey, guess what! I'm on another double today! *headdesk* But it also occurs to me that I've never ever shared an excerpt from my WIP, Uneven Lines, so it seemed like a good day to do so. You know, since it's already written...

If you want to get to know someone, the easiest way to do so is to ask them questions. You can find out where they came from, what sort of things they like to do, etc. Some people are shy and aren't always going to willingly give up that information, so you have to dig deep to get it out of them. This sort of questioning is a central part in the first few chapters of my book. When Jordan first meets Tom, he wants to get to know him, but it isn't easy. Tom is shy, and since it is actually his job to tutor Jordan in geometry, he likes to keep the focus on that. Of course, this isn't good enough for Jordan, so he starts asking questions. Lots of them. All the time. He asks so many questions that Tom can't possibly ignore all of them. So each answer is like a tiny little victory.

But anyway, to the scene! I like this one because it shows a few sides to Jordan--he's crafty but he's also still a typical teenage boy who zones out and fantasizes. As far as the questioning goes, he's able to find out something about Tom that he's been dying to ask, but is able to do so without being too obvious. My favorite part, though, is the very last line, and it's probably my favorite chapter ending in the whole book.

So here is the scene from the second chapter. There is a very brief sexual reference at the end, but like I said, he's a typical teenage boy *wink wink*

            Figuring out the volume of a sphere is in no way necessary to life. I’m sorry, it just isn’t. The only spheres I was interested in were Tom’s eyes. I was trying to name their exact shade. If I dug out my biggest box of crayons, I wouldn’t have found a match—not sky blue, not cornflower. I mean, they were blue, like, gorgeous blue, but sort of clear, almost. Like Caribbean waters. I just hoped he would actually think I was paying attention since I was staring at him.
            “Jordan? Are you listening at all?”
            “Huh?” I shook my head. I had been zoning out a bit more than I thought. I glanced down at the notebook in front of me. “Where were we?”
            “Where were you?”
            I guessed my daydreaming had been more than obvious. I shrugged. “Swimming.”
            He just blinked those blue eyes a few times. I should have said drowning. “Oh, ok, swimming. In February?”
            “I was thinking of someplace tropical.” I yawned and stretched my arms above my head.
            Tom sighed. “Well, we’ve got five minutes left. You can do one more problem.”
            Always with the freaking math, this one. I groaned, throwing my pencil onto the table. “Seriously? Can’t we just call it a day?” Not that I wanted him to leave or anything. But if I came up with a good question I could get him talking for those five minutes. He frowned, so I sighed. “Come on, this is pointless. You could be baking something delicious right now instead of staring at circles.”
            He just stared at me, completely serious. “They’re spheres. They’re three-dimensional.”
            “So’s a cake.”
            I rolled my eyes. “How does this crap not bore you to death? It’s ok, you can go. Don’t you have a girlfriend to go see or something?”
            He chuckled and shook his head. “No.”
            I picked up my pencil and tapped it against the table. I had a thought, and I tried to fight it off, but I just couldn’t help myself. I mean, I had no proof. Not even the tiniest shred. God, I just wanted it to be true. “Oh, I get it. Boyfriend?”
            His entire body jumped as he looked back at me. “What? No.” He looked down at the table, quickly scribbling, but his flushed cheeks said it all.
            I dropped my pencil on the floor and fumbled around like an idiot to get it back. I sat back up, trying to keep calm. Didn’t want to start drooling or anything. “So, um…what was that formula?”
            I was so excited that night that I couldn’t get to sleep. You know, until I rubbed one out and slipped into a coma. But before that, I had a million thoughts going through my mind. This little sliver of information was my greatest victory yet. I just didn’t know what to do with it. Just because he was gay didn’t mean I was going to get anything out of him. Not that I wanted anything. Or did I? I kept telling myself that it didn’t matter because there was no possible way he could ever want me.
            Then again, I always liked a challenge. 

18 April 2014

P is for Poetry

One of the things I never seem to have time (or inspiration) for is writing poetry. For a long time during college I had given up on writing fiction, after two fiction writing classes proved disappointing. But in those classes, you could only write short stories, and if you read my N post the other day, you can imagine how well that went for me. So after two semesters of fiction, I decided to try poetry instead. And I loved it. I'd written poetry before, most of it in high school, most of it more awful than you can imagine. But I was older and wiser now, so I had more things to write about and more perspective to write them well.

I thought poetry was my calling, as I kept taking classes up until my last semester at college. In my final semester, I had the option to create a thesis project in order to obtain a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) instead of a BA. I chose to write a poetry portfolio. The other options included writing a novel or a collection of short stories, but poetry had been my thing for so long that it seemed like the natural choice. I had developed a certain voice in my poetry, one that was distinctly mine, with a feminine edge and a good amount of sarcasm. It was always easy to write poetry because I was usually writing as myself.

I also decided in my last semester to try one more fiction class, which was either the greatest or worst decision ever. The first short story I came up with eventually turned into the novel I've been working on for the last three years. I don't think I would go back and change my mind if I could, because I really believe this particular story is my calling, but it's been a rough journey. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stuck completely with poetry. Where would I be in my life right now? I suppose it doesn't matter, especially because I feel everything happens for a reason.

One of my biggest regrets, however, is that I never write poetry anymore. It was easy to come up with ideas when I was in college and forced to hand in a new poem every two weeks. Now I'm so focused on my novel that it's hard to come up with poems. Even when I do get an idea, I never actually write it down. It just kind of floats to the back of my mind. I know if I had more time, I would be able to focus on poetry more, not just writing new poems but finding places to publish my old ones. Because it kind of breaks my heart that I'm not really a poet anymore.

I was going to share a poem, but I couldn't find one I liked enough! They all need a lot of work...

17 April 2014

O is for Opposites

When you're crafting the characters in your stories, do they tend to turn out like yourself or other people you know? Is your main character a modified version of yourself? Or are you complete opposites?

In the case of my book, I could not be more different than my main character. Jordan is outgoing, charismatic, never afraid to speak his mind. He can come up with a snarky comeback with a snap of his finger. As for me, the person actually coming up with those comebacks, well, I have to stare at the computer screen for a few minutes before every line is perfectly crafted. I'm ridiculously shy, introverted, and I stumble with words when I talk to people. It's a lot different when I can hide behind my fictional characters.

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who feels that they live through their characters. Your characters can be nothing like you or they can have things in common with you. I think either way, writing from these points of view can be therapeutic. If your main character is your exact opposite, then it's a lot of fun to pretend to be him. It's fun to write your characters doing or saying things that you never would. On the other side, if your characters are like you, that can help these characters be more realistic. You could also have your stories reflect real life, use your own experiences to fuel how these characters react in certain situations.

As for me, I'm most like one of the minor characters, Eric, who ends up being Jordan's best friend by the end of the book. The subplot of the book is actually a bit reflective of some things that happened to me in high school. I can simultaneously use my experiences to make the story richer, and use the story to work through any unresolved feelings. Of course, you always want the story itself to be your main focus. Don't get too caught up in your own issues to forget that these are fictional characters.

Honestly, though, I have more fun writing as Jordan than any other character I've ever created, and I'm sure the fact that we're so different has a lot to do with it. I guess even when it comes to writers and their characters, opposites do attract.

16 April 2014

N is for Novelitis (Plus Giveaway Winners!)

I've talked about the "curse of the novel" before (back when I had about five followers so I'm sure no one read it), but since I've put a name to it, I thought I'd go a little bit more in depth. I have novelitis. I can only write novels.

I'm sure this seems a little silly. I've talked about writing poetry before, and I've only finished writing two novels, but that doesn't even begin to cover all of the ideas, snippets, and partially written drafts that I've worked on. The problem I have with actually finishing novels is a topic for another today. My problem is ideas.

Both of the novel I've finished started out as short stories. By the time I finished each short story, I realized there was something else there. I could keep going with the story, or in the case of my current WIP, stretch it out so the plot wasn't so rushed. Basically, I've come to realize that I am incapable of writing a short story. Any time I come up with a good idea, it's always too big for the short story format. I just can't reign it in.

Now this isn't always a bad thing. My current story really does work better as a novel than a short story. But it can be a bit frustrating to set out writing a short story, and then realize that there's a LOT more work to do. Writing a novel takes a lot of time and energy, and you have to commit to it.

Maybe I'm cursed, or maybe I just think too big. Either way, the struggle continues. Maybe someday I'll write an actual short story.

And now for the fun part! Thanks to everyone who participated in my 100 Followers Giveaway! I'm at 97 now (getting there, getting there). So now it's time to announce my two winners. The winner of the $25 Amazon Gift Card is (insert drum roll here...) Anna Cade! And the notebook and pen goes to...Leandra Wallace! Yay! Congrats to the winners! I'll be emailing you so you can claim your prizes!

This was a lot of fun. I'll have to come up with more giveaways in the future. :)

15 April 2014

M is for Moving On

Thanks to everyone who entered my 100 Blog Followers Giveaway! I'll be announcing the winners tomorrow. Still only at 95 followers, but I just realized the A to Z Challenge is only half over! Yikes!

So I think I've finally made a decision about my life. My last day of work is going to be June 3rd. I haven't told my boss yet since I think it's too soon, maybe sometime in May. I wanted to give myself a little more time to earn just a bit more money, so I'm not diving into my savings right away once I'm jobless. My fiance and I are going on a trip to Las Vegas on the 5th so I figured that was a good time to leave. So I'll quit my job and immediately go on vacation! And no, we're not getting married there...

It's a really, really long time coming. When I went back to work after my staycation and still felt burnt out and miserable, I knew I really couldn't do it anymore. My job is sucking the life out of me. If I'm in a position where I can afford to give it up, then I really think I have to.

I still want to finish my second draft before I leave my job, which honestly, is probably the main reason I'm giving myself almost two more months. I have a lot of planning to do, but I'm really looking forward to being able to focus on my writing and looking for a job that is something I actually want to do.