Sunday, February 27, 2011

I can do hard things!

I am currently employed as a journalist for several newspapers. Journalism isn’t my true passion, (that would be creative writing) but I still enjoy journalistic writing.

This week, I had to write two book reviews. Now I am a member of the goodreads society and write reviews all the time. However, writing a professional review of a novel—now that’s a little different.

I don’t ever recall taking more dutiful and accurate notes while reading any other novel. And as an English major that’s saying something.

I reread those books more times than I care to admit. I researched all the previous book reviews and I still felt unprepared to write it.

I interviewed with the authors and came home dreading writing this review feeling positive that I would let them down.

But I had a deadline and I had made a promise. I had given my word that I would write these reviews and I wasn’t going to back out now.

So I sat down and started writing this review…and I discovered that I can do hard things.

I wrote a review…a pretty dang good review if I do say so myself. Better than at least half I had read, equal to most I read, and worse than just a few of the ones I read.

However, considering these were the first two formal reviews I’ve ever written, I was pretty pleased with myself.

I can do hard things. I felt totally unprepared to write, but I just did it.

AND NOW the tie to creative writing: sometimes I don’t feel like I have the skills or knowledge to write certain pieces, but the key is to just simply start writing.

I can do hard things and so can you. So just start writing. Everything else will work out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are your characters you?

As a writer, people always want to know how much of ‘you’ is in a story and if it’s based on real life or if it’s just pure fiction.

For me, I never intentionally write based off real life and I never intentionally write myself in the story.

Having said that, I will admit that there is always some trait of mine that manifests itself within them.

However, my characters are not me. I have never faced a fraction of what happens in my stories. These characters can’t be me simply by their lives.

I do have to admit that my main protagonist is typically female and has the same value and moral system as I do. My characters do resemble me in a way. I have decided that often my main characters act like I would if I were placed in that situation.

But although my characters may resemble me, they are not me. They have traits, quirks, beliefs, and ideas that are absolutely contrary to myself. But to those who look close enough and know me well enough, they will see similarities.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I've been converted!

I have found my niche for short stories—a first person and a reminiscent style of writing with the protagonist looking back on their childhood in a tone that might be a tad depressing in nature.

But what can I say I love writing these stories. I have now written about five of them.

And even if they are never published and I’m the only one who ever sees them, I am still happy that I wrote them.

 I learned that although I’m a fantasy writer by heart, I can also write mainstream fiction and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have loved getting inside the head of so many characters. There’s the misunderstood Sloan, the vivacious Elle, the sensitive Katie, and so many more.

It has been an incredible exercise simply exploring these different lifestyles and mindsets. I can see myself one day wanting to explore these short stories and expand them.

I simply love writing short stories—now that’s something I never thought I’d say, as I used to hate short stories and thought I could never write one. But it’s true. The fantasy novelist has now converted to a short story writer. I take back any negative comments I have ever said about short stories.

These last two months where I have focused on writing short stories as well as novels has been so cathartic. I’ve been able to explore issues that I didn’t even know I was struggling with and analyze my own morals and beliefs. I’ve also improved my characterization skills. Bascially I’m ecstatic.

So in one simple phrase: Here’s to short stories!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Art of the First Draft

The art of the first draft:

Type. Type. Type.

Oh no, I have two characters named Maria. Flag that and note to self: fix that later.

Type. Type. Type.

What the heck is happening? This wasn’t supposed to happen. Oh well I guess I’ll just have to go with it.

More typing.

No! No! No! This was definitely not supposed to happen. Josh, one of the characters, this is all your fault. You better fix this.

More typing until I finally realize it’s three in the morning and my fingers are no longer hitting the right keys.

I step away from the computer and sigh. The adrenaline rush refuses to fade and my mind is racing. How am I going to get my characters out of this mess? When did this happen? Do I even like that this is happening? Does this even fit the first half of my novel?

Who knows, the only way to find out is to keep typing and never look back until you type ‘The End.’

And that is the art of the first draft.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ideas, ideas, o where art thou from?

As a writer, I have found that you can not escape this question: where do your ideas come from? If you write, you will most likely be asked that question at one point in your life.

My answer: I get ideas from everywhere. Sometimes a phrase enters my mind that inspires an entire short story or novel. Other times a character is formed so vividly in my mind that I simply have to write about her/him. And other times a scene, a moment, is captured in my mind so clearly that I want to get to know the characters who dealt with that scene.

Ideas come from everywhere. I look at a picture in a magazine and a story idea rushes into my mind. I look at a phrase and I feel the need to grab a pen and start writing. Ideas are everywhere around me. They literally come from everything.

Where do I get my ideas? They are all around us. It’s simply up to us to find them. I don’t believe that anybody could ever run out of ideas to write about. You simply need to look at the world around you and ideas will jump out at you faster than you can write them.
All you have to do is be willing to step outside of the norm and make different connections that nobody else would think of. That is what great writers do…and what I’m attempting to do.

Ideas will always be staring you right in the face, you simply need to know how to look for them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm a writer...what else compares?

I love writing. That simple phrase constantly resonates within me.

I love the feeling of trying to capture an idea and transform it into an scene, a picture that everybody else can visualize as well.

There is a power in writing that is incomparable, a feeling that you just can't get anywhere else.

People say that a picture is worth a 1000 words. And that may be true, but writing creates thousands of pictures within readers. Writing is powerful.

I love to write. I wake up and think 'I'm a writer.' Nothing compares to the feeling that accompanies that simple statement of I'm a writer.

I know I already posted a blog post today, but I had to add these few short paragraphs.

I never could fully capture why I love writing and my passion for it, but perhaps, these few short paragraphs offered you a glimpse of why I write.

Yesterday was Valentines....

Yesterday was Valentines.

And that was the line that unexpectedly popped into my head. Yesterday was Valentines Day.  That simple phrase refused to be silenced.

Next thing I know, this whole life story unfolded before me. I didn’t have time grab a notebook. I just started writing on my napkin—praying that I could capture this story.

That young boy’s story entered into my mind so forcefully, so powerfully that I still can’t stop thinking about him even hours after I finished writing it.

Yesterday was Valentines Day. Who knew that single phrase would elicit a 500 word response? Yes, yesterday was Valentines Day and I now have a story that I otherwise never would have written.

It’s interesting how the smallest of ideas can spark an idea so powerful that hours after writing it you are still sitting in front of that napkin in awe.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Don't you understand. I don't have a rule for that.

Alright for today's post I'm going to share an interview I had with my character Mary Jane Gordon:

Me: You seem to have a lot of rules Mary Jane.

Mary Jane: Rules offer safety.

Me: I see. Want to share some of your rules?

Mary Jane: Sure. Silence offers safety. And solitude offers protection. Never draw attention to yourself. It’s better to always remain unnoticed. Arguments are part of the fool’s artillery. Silence a sign of the wise. Better to appear submissive and obedient. Follow the paths other want you to take. That way you’ll always be safe.

Me: Silence is good. But what are you going to do when your morals are questioned? When you’re asked to do something you simply can’t justify doing?

Mary Jane: I don’t have a rule for that, so I can’t answer that question.

Me: Throw out your rules and just speculate with me.

Mary Jane: I can’t do that. That's a rule. Never speculate. Never dream. Just stick with what you know.

Me: What happens when you're forced to confront something you don't know, something you don't have a rule for, or something you morally oppose?

Mary Jane: If I don’t have a rule, I couldn’t possibly handle that situation.

Me: But let’s say you did have to experience that, what would you do?

Mary Jane: Don’t you understand! If I don't have a rule, then I simply don't deal with that situation.

And from this interview, a new idea was born.

I’ll confess I was at a loss as to what direction to take this story until now. I knew the beginning and my final destination, but had no idea how I was going to get there.

But now I do. Mary Jane firmly believes in her rules. But how will she react without any rules to follow?

An interesting question and one that I definitely intend to explore.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Facing your fears.

Yesterday was a good day. A day that gave me a lot of reasons to love life and feel accomplished. Yes, yesterday was a good day.

In one day, 40 people have read my short story, Three Shards of Glass, two people have commented on it, and three people have gave it a rating of 5 stars out of five stars.

Now, that’s definitely an inflated review, but I’m still proud of myself. Two people commented and one used the word juxtaposition in her comment, one of my favorite words.

At any rate, I’m very excited.

And Sparrow, I appreciate the pie. I might just go buy one myself now.

The scary aspect was showing/sharing my work with those closest to me. For some reason showing it to a stranger didn’t faze me. I didn’t really care if they didn’t like my story.

But being rejected by my friends and family—now that was a scary idea. However, I was brave and shared the link with a select group of friends.

One of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but I’m proud of myself.

Here’s to facing your fears!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I've been published---the most beautiful phrase in the world.

Today I received an email. I stared at the sender’s name for minutes growing more panicked with each passing second. This was the email I’d been anxiously awaiting.

Yes or no. Accepted or rejected. I didn’t think I could handle knowing. Tentatively, I clicked on the subject and saw the email appear before me.

Ten seconds and five deep breaths later I started to read the email…more like frantically skimmed.

Three phrases seemed to jump off the page. Accepted. Published. Being considered for print publication.

Yes, that’s right. I’ve been published….it’s just an online e-zine, but still I have now officially broken into the world of writing and I’m being considered for publication in their print magazine.

April’s story is now being told to hundreds if not thousands of readers. I introduced April here on this blog in this earlier post http://danicapage.blogspot.com/2011/01/you-have-your-story-so-please-just.html for those interested in reading more about it.

Yes, I’ve been published. It is an online e-zine but still I’ve been published. My dream is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Published. Accepted. Being considered for print publication. There aren’t words more beautiful than those three phrases.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The characters have spoken. Time to get back to work.

A few blog posts ago I introduced you to April. April was one of the more interesting characters that I’ve ever written. She had depth and an interesting voice.

After that, I introduced you to Mary Jane Gordon. She also has depth and an interesting voice.
Last post, I introduced Clarissa (I never mentioned her name)…who once again has depth and an interesting voice.

I’m sensing a pattern here. They were all written in first person even though I typically write in third person. And they were all literary/realistic pieces even though I typically write fantasy.

I enjoyed this break from writing fantasy immensely and will continue writing in the literary genre. After all, I never thought I could write in that genre and I enjoyed discovering that I can.

However, I’m going through fantasy withdrawals and my characters from The Chosen One didn’t give me any choice. They think it’s time to work on fantasy novels, specifically their novel.

I woke up at four this morning after dreaming about that novel.

Alana: I know that you’re really pumped with the discovery that you can write in the literary genre, but….

A minute later.

Me: Yes, Alana.

Alana: Well if it’s not too much trouble and if you wouldn’t mind perhaps you could maybe finish editing the first six chapters that you have been editing forever.

Me: (in awe) Wow I haven’t edited in the longest time. No wonder I’m dreaming about your story.

Telyn: Alana’s not forceful enough, so I’m going to step in. Get to work.

The characters have spoken. It’s time to get back to work.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Apparently short stories equate to literary writing

For some reason in my brain short stories equate to literary writing. Novels equate to fantasy. I simply can't write anything but literary short stories.

No idea why that is, but as a result I've been writing a lot of literary pieces.

For example this is an excerpt from a recent piece I’ve written:

It’s been ten years since my Chris left me. Ten long years of loneliness and emptiness. I still find myself rolling over to reach out and squeeze his hand only to find that he’s not there.

 Ten years have passed and the grief hasn’t faded. My family has told me I need to move and perhaps they are right. But the simple truth is that I can’t move on. For I still have Chris with me. The love we shared will never disappear. We had five years together. Five years of absolute bliss—actually that’s a lie. Our love was a rollercoaster full of passion and emotions. We had our ups and downs. But I loved him dearly and at the end of the day I knew I could always count on him.

And then he died. Even ten years later I still think of my Chris daily. I never thought I could love after my callous life. But Chris had changed everything. Now that he was gone I couldn’t settle for anything less than the best. And nobody was ever even remotely as good as my Chris.

Chris urged me to write down my life story. My story, my life was never easy or boring. I’ve had all the adventure I can handle, but still I feel the need to honor his request and write down my life story. Maybe it’s vanity and if so then I’ll have to deal with that. Nobody knows the full story, not even my Chris. I suppose I need to rectify that now. Where to start? That’s a good question. I suppose I’ll just start from the very beginning.


I must say this is one of my most interesting ideas. No idea where I’m going with it. But that’s all the fun. That’s the adventure.
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