26 January 2011

Do You Doubt?

I have the best support system any girl could ask for.  I have an amazing boyfriend who gives me all the quiet time I need to write and is there to bounce ideas off of.  I have a Mom and Dad who are always willing to edit and read draft after draft of work.  I have a sister who is excited to be a part of my work.  And I have two dogs who sleep beside me while I write and keep me company.  These are my main supporters in my path to being a writer, along with friends, cousins, aunts, and grandparents.  All of these people are great at critiquing my work and not letting me think I am better than what I am, but at the same time they let me know I am not chasing after a dream I have no talent for.
If I know I am talented, have the dedication to work hard, and the willingness to learn, then why do I still doubt myself?
 Occasionally, I doubt my ideas aren’t creative or that what I find interesting no one else will.  A lot of the time, I doubt my knowledge of grammar and punctuation.  Sometimes, I doubt that no matter how hard I work and how much I love what I do that no one, outside my circle of supporters, will respond to my work.  Most of the time, I doubt my writing, that when placed next to others it will fall far short.
There are two ways I can respond to doubt: one, I can stop writing and keep my stories in my head, and two, I can acknowledge my doubt and continue to work hard.
While reading other paragraph entries on Nathan Bransford’s blog, I was intimidated by many submissions and I definitely questioned how mine looked up against theirs.  I think this is great though because the only way I will improve is by reading and learning from others.
What’s especially cool about posting on Nathan’s blog is that TWO people liked mine.  Not ZERO, but TWO!!!  How cool is that?!  I know it’s not ten, or twenty, or a hundred who said something, but I was thrilled that both Patti and Sophia responded to my post.  Thank you both.
I believe all artists doubt, perhaps all people in all areas of work doubt their abilities.  The only way I want to respond to my own doubt is to push them aside and continue to work.  Doubting myself will only make me write…err, work harder.

24 January 2011

The First Paragraph

I have always had a hard time writing the beginning of stories, mostly because of a conflict I have: I have always been torn between how I want a story to begin and how I think it should begin.
I feel and believe that a first paragraph should be clean and simple.  It should make the audience ask a question and also give the promise that all questions will be answered if the rest of the piece is read.  The question shouldn’t be, ‘what on earth are they trying to write about?’  The writing should be clear, not wordy, so that the reader absolutely understands what is being written.  Know, that I mean the reader understands not the answers to questions raised, but the writing in and of itself.
On the other hand, I have thought a first paragraph should be eloquent and make great use of vocabulary- in a sense, wordy.  It should be interesting- maybe an exciting event or action scene.  It does not have to stand alone.
Nathan Bransford, a writer and past agent, is holding a challenge on his blog.  The challenge is to write a first paragraph, that paragraph is posted in the comments section of the blog entry and very cool prizes are awarded to the winner.  Definitely check it out, his blog in general is pretty awesome (www.nathanbransford.com).
This is the paragraph I wrote this morning while straightening my hair:
                The soup was poisoned. Henry knew it. He watched as she carefully lifted the spoon to her lips, tasted it with her tongue, and then let the concoction slide down her throat. With childish glee, he wondered how long it would take her to die.
I like this paragraph because it is simple and clean.  It raises great questions (who is Henry and who is the woman? Did Henry poison the woman? Why does someone want her to die?) These are easy questions for the reader to develop and also there is the potential for very interesting answers.  It maybe not be an action sequence, but it still grabs the readers attention.
Anyways, I’m not sure what most people think a first paragraph should be like, but I think I’ll stick to my idea of clean and simple writing.
I also challenge you all to write a paragraph AND post it here- if you feel so inclined!

19 January 2011

Rupert's Voice

            At some point in the past week I have become unhappy with how “Rupert” is developing, both as a book and as a character.  I am roughly half way through my first draft, and the past couple thousand words have felt forced and lacking…something.  I finally realized yesterday what that something was- Rupert’s lost his voice. 
            Or more correctly, I’ve lost his voice.
            I read “Island of the Blue Dolphins” this week and was completely blown away by the voice Scott O’dell creates for his main character, Karana.  I completely believed I was reading the thoughts and experiences of this girl, that every word he wrote was not a word but a moment.  After reading this book, it hit me that while writing, I completely bulldozed over telling his story and was more concerned with having a finished product.
            Karana, from “Island of the Blue Dolphins” showed me that it’s time for me to spend some quality time with Rupert outside of the story I think I want to tell.

            Every piece of writing has a different voice, this is what makes every book interesting and unique.  I could write a story on- let’s say dogs- and so could you.  Even if we both wrote on exactly the same dog the stories would turn out completely different.  This is because of the voice we would write through.
Voice is influenced by personality, experience, color, and tone.  The voice of writing changes for every piece of writing someone creates.  Perhaps this is why I have begun to test different styles of writing, so I am able to develop my own voice further.

            Here is a good example of what I don’t know about Rupert and definitely should for me to write his voice:
            Rupert’s parents are away on a very long trip and he lives with his aunt.  I told this fact to Cale and he, of course, asked why he wasn’t with them.  All I could do was shrug and say, I don’t know.  I know where his parents are and what they are doing, but I have no idea why they did not bring him with.  This is probably very important and is definitely something that would affect a real child!

            Even if I know my own personal voice, that certainly doesn’t mean I know Rupert’s.  Rupert is the filter through which I tell the story.  It is definitely time for me to sit back, learn who he is, and get out of the way so he can tell his story through my fingers.

15 January 2011


            I don’t often wonder where ideas come from.  Creativity strikes, a world is born, and I do my best to keep up and write it down.  I have been asked recently where my ideas come from and I have read some posts on creativity, so I’ve decided to write one of my own.

            Where exactly though does creativity come from?  Is it something inside us or is it motivated by outside forces?

            When I was in middle school we had classes in separate parts of the building.  I remember walking in between classes day dreaming to myself.  I’d have to shake my head and remind myself of where I actually was.  For me, I believe my writing and creativity is some sort of mutation of reality.  There are bits of truth in everything I write, or at least things I hope to be true.

            I’ve learned over the past couple years that creativity is not confined to one aspect of life, such as music, painting, or writing.  It also resides in sports- someplace I never would have thought to find it.  The greatest sports players are creative geniuses, able to think around a situation in an instant.  Creativity comes in different forms and is used in many different ways.  Perhaps all of us, even those of us who think we aren’t creative, actually are.

            Over all, I believe creativity is something sparked by the outside world, a part of us grabs onto that spark and something great comes to life.

12 January 2011

Books I'm reading

Usually I stick to reading one book at a time, but currently I have five opened books by my bedside.

Putting Your Passion into Print by Eckstut and Sterry: This is one of the books Cale gave me for Christmas.  It's a pretty thick book and has a lot of good info on the business of publishing.

The Elements of Style by Strunk/White/Kalman: Another of the books Cale gave me for Christmas.  I am finding this little book invaluable.  I'm not the best with the English language and this guide has already made a difference in my writing.  (I also really like that it's illustrated!)

Just Beyond the Veil: Storieds of Death and Dying, Grief and Loss by Kate Anderson: This book was self published by a woman who works with my mother.  I have only  read the preface, but so far it seems like a wonderful guide for helping with grief.

The Wave by Susan Casey: Cale reads at least two books a week but I very rarely pay attention to his books because they usually aren't my preferred genre.  I happened to read the introduction to this book and was immediately drawn in.  I guess this teaches me to step outside of my box of books to read.

The Long Run by Matt Long: I also got this one for Christmas, but from my sister's boyfriend, Chris.  This is a very inspirational book about an endurance athlete/firefighters who was run over by a bus during a bike ride.  His eventual return to running and triathlons is detailed in this book.  I'll keep this one on the top of my book shelf to look to when I'm having a hard time working out.

If anyone has any suggestions for other books I should read, send them my way!

As a note, Cale tends to read historical/factual books that are hundreds of pages long with very tiny print that I find very boring.  My comments above did not mean to imply that the books he reads are bad.

08 January 2011

Writing Always Improves...Hopefully

I just pulled out my short story, The Suit and was interested at the quality of my writing from only three years ago.  I thought ya'll might find it interseting to read the differences.

From 2007:
Samantha’s foot bones cracked on the hard wood floor, she absolutely hated that sound.  Very rarely could anyone ever find her with out a body suit on, but currently she couldn’t figure out which one to wear.  Pacing the floor in front of her closet she moaned slightly in agony.  Panic rose up in Samantha’s throat as she stilled and observed her most current dilemma.   

From 2011:
Samantha grimaced as the bones in her foot cracked against the hard wood floor.  It was early morning, she stood naked, without a body suit on to cover her bleached bones.  The black voids that were her eyes stared into the depths of her closet attempting to peer through the mess.  A quiet moan rose up in her throat, and she took a quick step forward to reach into the chaos.

I guess my point with this is, with time and committment, writing does get better.  I am hoping that over this next year my writing will improve by leaps and bounds.  I absolutely would love any and all help from any of you have to offer.  I will keep working on this piece and will hopefully post the entire thing sometime soon.

I'm also going to post a piece soon on running, keep watch.

04 January 2011

New Years Resolutions

I have four resolutions this year:
1. Become a published author, whether it be a short story, an article for a newspaper/magazine, or a book.
2. Learn how to cook!  I can bake with the best of them but the art of cooking has continuously evaded me.
3. Play the piano every day (this will commence once the piano is brought back out after Christmas decorations are taken down).
4. Floss.  (Impressively, I am on my fifth day in a row of flossing).

I have joined the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (scbwi) and am extremely excited for all they have to offer including finding a critique group to join.  They have a conference coming up in February in Atlanta, GA that I would love to attend.  Unfortunately, the trip would cost upwards of $400 and that just isn't in my budget right now.  Thankfully, more conferences will come up that I will be able to go to.

Currently, I have a few books in progress.
1. A trilogy for young adults that  I have been diligently working on for a year now.  After all that hard work, I have decided to take a break and am working on a fun children's book entitled
2. Rupert and the House that Spews Dragons, although I imagine that title will evolve and change a few dozen times before it is finished.
3. I have pulled out a short story I wrote in my second year of college: The Suit.

 I hope one of these will make its way to publication this year.

Stay tuned and I will hopefully put up an excerpt from one of my works in progress :)

03 January 2011

My Very First Post

Hello all!

First, before I write a real post, I am going to figure out how to work this site.

Thanks for your patience :)