02 April 2016

Bigger Than Me

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

“You can, if you want to. It’s not a big deal.”
“It is, though. It’s a very big deal.” 

A story can feel like a big deal. Sometimes writers choose their story ideas. Other times, the stories choose them. Well, what happens if you're not the right person for that story? What if despite all of your passion and desire to write it, it's just too much for you to handle?

UL has never been the right story for me, especially at the beginning. The idea seemed to come out of nowhere and was nothing like any story I had ever thought of before. Let's start with the fact that I thought I was done writing fiction. I was way more into poetry and hadn't thought of any new story ideas for a few years when this one came along. I'd never written from a male perspective, let alone a gay teenage boy's. Swears were a rare occurrence in my writing and sexual descriptions made me squeamish. It was weird and different, and yet I had never felt so passionate about a story idea in my entire life.

Of course at this point, I've been working on it for so long that it does seem normal, but that took time (and a stubborn muse). And I still don't think I'm strong enough to write it.

Let me explain. This is the kind of story that takes guts to write, and even more guts to publish. It's not a lighthearted story and it's not one that most people are going to respond to. I've already experienced negative feedback, and more than once. First, when I workshopped the original short story version in my fiction writing class, and then when I entered the novel into Pitch Wars. And this wasn't your typical "this needs some editing" feedback. People hated it.

I know this story isn't for everyone, and I'm ok with that. But I don't have the guts for the negative feedback. I take it hard. Super hard. I'm just a sensitive person. So why on earth would I be writing a controversial story like this? I really don't know. It's just that it popped in my head one day. I really had no say in it.

So if none of this is up to me, then who is it up to? Is it crazy to believe that the universe gave me this idea because it has bigger plans in mind? What if writing this story is just the beginning? What if there are other people out there who this story will affect or help? What if it leads to more--more books, a movie deal, who knows? Why am I asking you all of these questions??

If the universe does have bigger plans, what if I'm not strong enough to pull it off? I actually believe the universe sent me a sign about this, but that happened over three years ago. What if I've taken too long? I don't like to share the details because I feel like I'll jinx it, but there were just a lot of coincidences that lined up at once. I always thought I didn't believe in coincidences, but now I'm not so sure. What happens when time runs out on my dream? I don't even know how much time I really have. What if I can't finish?

I couldn't think of a picture for this post, but I immediately thought of a song that fits! So I'm going with that. This is a live performance of "Stray Italian Greyhound" by Vienna Teng, and this song definitely rings true for my mindset when I first started writing this story. And maybe it still does.

so what do I do with this/ this stray Italian greyhound/ these inconvenient fireworks/ this ice-cream-covered screaming hyperactive thought/ god I just want to lay down/ these colors make my eyes hurt/ this feeling calls for everything that I am not

01 April 2016

Attraction & Chemistry

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

He held out the pencil to me. I reached out to take it, making sure my fingers touched his. I didn’t expect anything, but he was much quicker to react this time. He held on to the pencil for just a few seconds, with this cute little smirk on his lips. I felt my face getting hot. I yanked it out of his hand, scribbled down my reason, then handed it back to him.

One of the things I constantly worry about with my characters is if they have chemistry. Does the attraction seem real or one sided? Is it even there at all? Will anyone care?

With any story involving a romance, as normal or demented as it may be (Like mine! If you didn't already know, you will definitely come to discover over the course of this month...), your characters have to have chemistry. If there isn't a certain spark between two love interests, then no one is going to buy that they would get together. Or worse, they won't care.

So how do you pull it off? How do you make that spark happen? I think it starts with attraction. Chemistry is going to be hard to come by if your characters don't find one another attractive first. There are different ways to show this. They could just come out and say it, if they're bold enough. Or, they can think it. My book is in first person, so when my main character, Jordan, first meets his love interest, Tom, he tells the reader pretty much immediately that he finds him attractive. This could work for third person, too, especially if you allow the character's thoughts to be known. Maybe you could even find out what both characters are thinking, even if it has to take some time to shift point of view.

So you've got attraction. Now it's time for chemistry. You'll want your readers to want your characters to get together, to ache for it until it finally happens and then they're jumping for joy (my story is a bit more complicated than that, but that's a post for another day). Do the characters give in to their attraction right away or do they try to fight it? Do they flirt all the time or do they just try to avoid each other? In my case, one character is an obvious flirt, while the other tries desperately to not give in to that desire, but occasionally he can't help it. So flirting happens. There are plenty of ways to show chemistry between characters, but it's important that every time they get together, that spark is still there.

Once that chemistry is established, the events of the story may change it. When they finally get together, does that spark get stronger or diminish? Do emotions get involved and change the dynamic? Does chemistry evolve into love or hatred? The possibilities are endless.

How do you show chemistry between characters? What's the most interesting way your characters have flirted? (In the above quote, my characters were also solving a geometric proof!)

21 March 2016

A to Z Theme Reveal

Where did March go??? If you can believe it, April is less than two weeks away and that means it will be the beginning of the A to Z Challenge! I'm starting to panic. I'm not prepared. At all.

But the good news is that I do have a theme! And today is the day where we reveal our themes for the Challenge. This year will be my third time taking part. My very first time I didn't have a theme and figuring out what to write about every day was difficult. Last year, though, I picked a theme (The Name Game!) and had all of my post ideas at least figured out before April 1. That made writing the posts soooooooo much easier. So if anyone out there is on the fence about using a theme, I would highly recommend it!

So onto the reveal! I went back and forth between a few ideas, and while I thought my guilty pleasures idea would have been fun, I just don't think I actually have 26 of them. And ultimately, I went with my gut. This is a writing blog, after all, so my theme for this year's Challenge is.....

The Revision Project

Third draft or bust! Well, ok, not really. I don't think I'll actually get the third draft of Uneven Lines done during the A to Z Challenge. That would just be crazy. What I would like to accomplish is to figure out all of the things that need figuring out. From the giant plot overhauls to the tiniest changes that need to be made. And that's where the Revision Project comes in. 

My posts will cover a wide variety of story-related topics. Stuff about characters, plot, voice, and so much more. Things that I'm trying to figure out, things I haven't figured out yet. Things that frustrate the hell out of me. While each topic will be inspired by my own novel, the posts themselves will have a more broad view so that other people will be able to follow along and relate. Some posts will be more specific than others, depending on the topic.

I haven't quite figured everything out yet. I'm usually too tired from work or being distracted by actual editing (which never happens so I've been taking full advantage of it!). Luckily there is still some time left to crack down and figure these posts out!

For this year's Challenge, I'm once again one of Stormy's Sidekicks! Because I'm a crazy person who thought she had way too much time on her hands, apparently. Also, if you anyone doing the Challenge hasn't been joining in the Twitter chats, you're missing out! They're so much fun and one of my favorite parts of the Challenge. They're Thursdays at 9PM EST and Saturdays 8AM EST. Just follow #azchat and be sure to use it in your tweets!

Well, I've got less than two weeks to figure out these posts. I should probably get on that...

14 March 2016

Chapter One, Round Three

Don't ask me how I manage to randomly figure things out. I have no idea.

What I really should have been working on this weekend were my A to Z posts. In fact, I was planning on writing about that for this blog post, too. But something even better, something unexpected happened. I'll probably be kicking myself on April 1st for wasting a whole weekend, but in the long run, it will definitely be worth it.

So I've been feeling some inspiration brewing for a while, like a really slow coffee pot that I couldn't touch until it was full. I knew eventually something would happen, I just didn't know when, or how successful that inspiration would be.

Since I was actually off this weekend I had a lot of time to focus on some writing. While I did make a list of potential A to Z post ideas on Saturday, I knew on Sunday what I wanted to do was try writing. Actual writing. Uneven Lines third draft writing. I KNOW, RIGHT??? I don't fully understand how it happened but I'm not going to question it.

I sat down at the table with a notebook, some notes I had made for the new opening, and the 2nd draft, and just started writing. And for once, it actually worked. I started with a complete rewrite of the first scene and managed to get halfway through the first chapter. A few paragraphs from the 2nd draft managed to make the cut, but overall, it's pretty different, and I hope a lot better. But the best part is that I actually wrote something!

I've always thought of the first chapter in three parts, and yesterday I got the first part done. Once the second part is complete, the third will be the easiest because I'm not changing much from the last draft. So if I can finish the scene I'm working on right now, then the whole first chapter will be complete. And then I can keep going. I wasn't sure the third draft was ever going to happen, but it looks like things may just be starting to work out.

AND since it's Pi Day, (and it's entirely relevant!), I thought I'd share a little snippet from the first chapter (just because, ok???). This is right after Jordan meets his math tutor, Tom, and is actually one of the few details that has survived since the original short story I wrote five years ago. Enjoy (I hope...)!

             I moved aside to let him in, taking in a good eyeful while his back was turned. That’s when I noticed he was holding a round dish covered in plastic wrap.
            “Oh,” he said, following my gaze. “It’s a pie.”
            I blinked a few times. “I can see that.”
            “A pie. Get it? Pie? Like pi!”
            He didn’t laugh but by the look in his eyes he thought this was hilarious. I had no idea what to make of him. “So…you brought dessert?”
            He shrugged. “It’s just a fun little icebreaker. You don’t have to eat it now.” He held it out to me with both hands. “It’s key lime, by the way.”
            I took it and placed it on the counter, all the while staring at him with a raised eyebrow. “Where’d you get it?”
            “I made it. Where did you want to set up?”
            My bed? “Uh…living room’s fine.” I led him over to the couch, trying to calm my rapid pulse. Seriously, who was this guy? Math tutor who makes lame jokes with baked goods? But, um, hello—yummy. And I didn’t mean the pie. 

Maybe I'll get to talk about those A to Z posts on Wednesday. Or maybe I'll be so deep into editing/rewriting that I won't be able. Either way, it will be a good thing.

07 March 2016

Jordan Takes Over (Except Not...): New Characters, New Voices

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. Except this month. This month, he didn't feel like it. He felt like sleeping. And since I've been writing a useless thing from Adam's point of view (aka Wannabe-Muse-2), Jordan told him to do it. I have no control over these things. So fine! Take it away, Adam...**

Wait, what do I do? No one told me what to do!

Jordan is sleeping and Sarah is glaring at me. I don't think she likes me. Well, ok, that's not true. She loves me but she really wants to hate me. Is that even a thing? Like hate to love, love to hate? Love but want to hate? Never heard of that. Sarah didn't want me to take over. It was Jordan's idea. Well, because he wanted to keep sleeping. He's so cute when he's sleeping! Uh-oh, Sarah's tapping her foot now. She didn't want me to write this post because apparently I "don't have a voice yet." Mostly because "nothing will ever be published from my POV." And anything written from my POV is "complete self-indulgent cutesy crap." Or something.

I guess I could talk about writers being totally mean to their characters, but I won't (I think Jordan could handle that topic better). But lets talk about having a voice. Voice is one of those things that a character needs, whether the story is written from that character's perspective or not. Every time a character speaks, you want that person to feel real. Not every character should sound exactly the same. That would get pretty boring.

So when you are writing from a character's point of view, it's even more important for that voice to be unique. First of all, you don't want your novel to sound like a textbook. If you're using first person, you want that character's voice to actually seem like a real person is telling the story. Their choice of words should reflect who they are and how they react to what's happening to them. And if you write a new book with different characters, you'll want it to sound different.

But sometimes you've got a new character. And you haven't quite figured everything out about him. Take me, for example. I still don't have a last or middle name, eye color, or a proper description of my hair, apparently. I don't know what the big deal is, it's just hair. But anyway, I'm also lacking pretty much all of my backstory. But that's ok. New characters are never going to be 100% complete when you first think of them. It takes time to sort out all those details, figure out what will work for the character and for the story.

The same can be said for voice. It isn't going to come to you right away. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be writing. Like all of those other details, eventually it will sort itself out. Once you start writing as that character, eventually how he speaks will start to feel more natural. You'll know exactly what he'd say about a situation. The most important things you can do are to keep thinking and keep writing. And eventually those new characters won't seem so new anymore.

I'm being told this is just a one time thing, since I will "never ever be an actual muse." So I promise I'll wake Jordan up for next month's post. Mostly because I don't want Sarah to yell at me...Bye!

04 March 2016

Fast Five Friday: Things You Covet

I haven't done a Fast Five Friday post in forever, but I saw this one on Deborah Hawkins' blog earlier today and wanted to join in (mostly because I came up with my ideas super fast)! As always, FFF is hosted by the ladies over at Cover Girls! I know I'm a little late to the party, but hey, it's still Friday, I worked all day, and my free time has been occupied because Adam is making me write something useless. No, that wasn't a typo. I'm sure Jordan is getting a nice nap during all of this. I'm getting four pages so far, so I'm not going to bitch about it...

Anyhoo, this week's Fast Five asks us to share five things we covet/ or would like to acquire. Here are mine:

1. A finished third draft of Uneven Lines
2. A book deal
3. A movie deal after the book deal
4. An apartment with more than one room
5. Hamilton tickets

Most of these are probably impossible. Especially #5. *shakes fist*

Well, I'm off. I have to be back at work at 6 am tomorrow and I'd like to get some writing done before I pass out. See you all on Monday (I hope)!!

02 March 2016

Where's the Motivation?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!

I stayed up way too late on Sunday night to watch the Oscars, just because. Actually, I love watching awards shows, but probably not for the same reasons as most people. They always give me a little kick of motivation. I usually get some writing done, maybe even make a big editing revelation about my writing. Why? Well, I tend to dream big. I would love to write something good enough to win awards. One of my dreams is to turn my book into a screenplay. I know it's a ridiculous dream, but if it helps me to get any writing done, I can't really say it's a bad thing.

But here is my problem: even when I do feel those surges of motivation, not a lot gets done. I know a lot of my issues involve time and energy, but my biggest problem is probably motivation. I'd say it's nearly impossible to motivate myself. Of course I really want to get things done, but it feels like that part is buried under the desire to just do nothing.

It's a vicious cycle, really. Not getting any writing done leads to depression, which makes it even harder to get anything done. When I have those few moments where I actually feel the desire to write, I'm caught off guard and spend too much time just trying to figure out which part to work on. Motivation isn't something that comes easily to me, so when it actually shows up, I don't know what to do with it.

I try to do little things to motivate myself. I actually made a short, six song motivation playlist, with the goal of starting every day by listening to it. Music usually gives me a little push of motivation, as well. But I don't listen to it every day. I don't even know why. It would be so easy to do, not take too long, and worst case scenario, I get to listen to some music that I like.

I don't know why motivation is so hard for me to come by. Maybe I'm afraid of my dreams. Maybe I'm afraid of failing. Maybe I'm just afraid that everyone will hate what I write, since that's been the case more than once. So I don't know. Maybe it takes more than motivation. Once I get that motivation, I still have to commit. And I still have to work. Like everything else, I guess I'll have to take it one step at a time.

Do you struggle with motivation? What do you do to motivate yourself?