4/22/17

Hey You: art is messy

Hey you. Yeah, you.

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say you’re in the middle of a project right now. It might be a novel, a short story, or a poem. It might be for teens or adults or children. You might be in the heat of the first draft, or in the craze of edits.

Regardless of which of these you’re in at the moment though, I can almost guarantee one thing.

Your book is just a little bit messy.

If you’re in the sea of first drafting, you probably feel like you’re trying to make a sand castle in the bottom of the ocean. The water is quickly destroying any progress you make, tearing away your carefully constructed details and reducing your work of art to a big hunk of blob.

If you’re in the desert of edits, you probably feel like you’re stranded in the Sahara and struggling to make that sand castle—only now you have no water and the sand is too dry to form much of anything at all.

And maybe you’re not in an ocean or a desert. Maybe you’re sitting at your desk with a sheet of nice clean paper. But when you look around for a pen, all you can find is a box of crayons, most of them broken and none of them pointy. A nice, detailed picture or elegant poem is nearly impossible. 




Writing is hard stuff. It’s messy. Whatever stage you’re in, you can probably relate. It’s frustrating when that scene just won’t come together like you wanted, or when you just can’t get your antagonist’s motive down.

And you know what?

It’s okay.

Not just because it’s nano, the notorious month of mayhem and mess, but because it’s writing. Writing is tough stuff. You can’t get it perfect the first, second, or third time. In fact, you can’t ever get it perfect. Not really.

And you know what?

It’s okay.

You know why it’s okay?

Because this is art. And with art, there is not perfect way.

There is no perfect way because there is no set standard. Art is about being expressive and unique. It’s about touching people in ways nothing else can.

People are all very different. Why would there be some set standard of How To Impact a Human? We are all impacted and touched by different things. Thus, all art is beautiful and different.

You—yes you—have power. You have words. You have things to write, a story to tell.

So enjoy the mess. Messiness is its own kind of beautiful.


And there’s always another draft.


How are you faring in nano so far, or whatever writing projects you're currently handling? Are you embracing your mess? 

<3

4/15/17

When You Hit a Wall

Two weeks ago, camp nano began. While everyone around me was getting pumped for it, I was blocked from day one. I couldn't write. I had some big changes to make, but nothing wanted to come out.

I hit a huge wall. And it was not fun.



I think post-inciting incident is my sweet spot for disaster. The day nano started, I sat down at the keyboard and stared at the letters, at the waiting word document full of words that needed editing.

And I couldn't write a thing.

Three days in, I had a little over 1k.

That's not normal for me. I usually write quickly.

I was forced to admit the sad truth that I'd naively hoped wouldn't prove to be with my precious new baby, The Dream Walkers. It had been so nice to me so far.

But no. I'd hit a wall.

What to do? I've set a goal of 40k words to edit (now at 35k, possibly going down to 30k). I want to finish this draft before June. And, above all, I do NOT want to have another "TC" disaster. I will not spend a year on this draft. I can't. Not again.

I needed to break this wall. I needed to get a huge hammer and smash into it with all the power of a steam train. But how?

The first step was figuring out why I'd hit the wall. You can't really break something until you understand how it's built.

There are two main elements to what created my wall.


PROBLEM 1: FEAR

This book had been so good so far. But as nano started, so did all the major changes I had planned. And so the fear came. Fear of change. Fear I might mess everything up. Fear I wouldn't do it right.

On top of all that, I'm sending this draft to betas. Therefore, draft two must be perfect.

Right?

WRONG.

What do you think betas are there for? I know it can't be perfect yet, but that's the thing that was not allowing me to write at all. I needed to throw the words out. To force them onto the page.

And you can't do that and keep the quality high. You have to get in the dirt and heave.


PROBLEM 2:  AN UNCLEAR DESTINATION 

Yes, I had some big changes to make. But I also had some brainstorming to do. There was world building I hadn't done (I know, shocking) and some character motives and secrets I needed to nail down. I got my notebook and began the brainstorming, and when I got home that evening, the words began to come better than they had all month.

I knew what changes I needed to make, but I wasn't really sure how to make them. I didn't really know where I was going, and I was left wandering about and gazing at the clouds.


So from these two points, I think we can guess how to fight the block.


SOLUTION 1: KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING

Get your journal. Open the doc. Grab the restaurant napkin and pen. Whatever spurs your creative juices. Grab it and get to work. Be creative. Write down everything that comes to your mind. You'll find something. I know you will. I believe in you.


SOLUTION 2: BE BOLD, DARING, AND BRAVE.

*glances at betas* Yes. Yes I did just do that.

A good book can only become great after a lot of work. It's not going to happen in just a few days and two drafts. It takes more than that. It takes trying new things and ideas and failing a little. It means scrapping things that don't work and trying things to see what does.

And that requires a little bit of boldness. A dash of daring. And a whole lot of bravery. You have to remember that there is no "failing". There are just things that won't work and things that will. You can always try again. The important thing is to decide on something, and go for it with all you've got.

Please, please, don't be afraid to write new things. To make changes. Some part of you wanted to make those changes in the first place. Likelihood is, it's going to make your book better.


SOLUTION 3: PUSH THROUGH IT

And if all else fails, you just have to do it. You might have to lower your target goal or make some changes to what you'd wanted to get done, and that's okay. Give yourself some grace. Writing is hard, and editing is even harder. It's okay if you're not as fast as you'd like to be.

Just take a deep breath and let it go. In this moment, you are right where you need to be.


I hoped this might have encouraged some of you struggling to get the words down!

AND HERE'S A SNIPPET FOR YOU. It's small, don't worry ;P But I just have to let you in on my little reference I made up there. This becomes a theme throughout the book. It was totally pantsed in first draft, but I've kept it and it's become and integral part to pretty much all the characters. *snuggles my children*

*happy sigh* my little children

And now off you go! Go break the block!


How has nano been so far for you? Have you fared better than I have, or are you struggling with a block too? 

<3

3/31/17

First Quarter of 2017 /// wrap-up

Yup. You read that right. Me, doing a wrap-up post? WOW. What has happened? *pantomimes bombs exploding*

I decided that I liked the idea of monthly wrap-ups, but didn't really want to do them every month. And there are twelve months in a year, and twelve is just an all around cooperative number so FIRST THREE MONTHS, YAY! That works great! And I can call it a quarter and EVERYONE IS HAPPY.

Ehem. Anyway. Here goes my first ever wrap-up post! *WARNING: this is going to be a little different than your average wrap-up. Be prepared for much poetry (most of it not the best).


this is what the weather has looked like this year


L I F E

The days drag by
full of heat and fury
frustration and agony
stress and fear
so much fear
but there is no fear in love
for perfect love casts out fear
and so I pray
day after day
Lord, take this fear from me.

The days slip by
the stress has faded
but now there are questions
so
many
questions
rushing to replace
the anxiety
and I have no answers 
and so I wait 
and hope.

The days crawl by
and I want them to hurry
for this school year to be done
for the summer to arrive
with all the green and life
and light and happiness
of a time without so much of the future
digging its claws into my back.

The future.
That is what I fear.
The future.
That vast unknown
full of unmade decisions
uncertain words
and tentative roads.

But I do not walk alone
and so
I will not fear. 


Translation: there's been a lot of stress in life and I've been writhing in the agony of it. Really struggling to trust God and His omnipotent hand.

I took the ACT for the first time back in February. That was the main source of stress. I'm actually taking it again in about a week from now. *faint laugh* *falls over dead*

W R I T I N G

The words do not wish to come
but I sit down
and I force them out
I force them onto the page
tugging hair
gritting teeth
until at long last
it is done
and the year I spent slaving away
rewards me with those beautiful words:
the end.

The order is placed
and so I wait
what feels like an 
e t e r n i t y
but they finally come
and I hold them close
and I sigh and smile
at long last
I hold these pieces of my soul
that I've spent so long
and put so much
into.

Edits begin again
but this time
they are smoother
and the words flow
and the smile stays.
there is no
ripping of hair
but rather
laughter
and joy and 
grace
grace for those hard days
and grace for the good ones
and I smile because
it gets better.
There is hope.

Translation: I have been somewhat productive so far this year, even with life being crazy. I finished the second draft of The Thief's Conspiracy back in February and started edits on The Dream Walkers this month. It has been soooo so wonderful and rewarding and I am very optimistic about this year!

*whispers* I also order printed copies of my books! And I read the Prologue and first chapter of DW to my family and they liked it. (Went much better than the last reading aloud attempt haaaa)

R E A D I N G

The girl longs for the world
of paper and ink
that captivated so many 
of her childhood days.

But time is short
and she must make choices
and so the books sit by
untouched.

Translation: I've read ... 9 books this year. *winces and hides* I know, I know. It could be a looot better. But IT COULD ALSO BE WORSE. And I have been writing a lot so THERE'S THAT. I'm getting back into reading right now and trying to get faster at it so I can do it more. 

Favorite book: The Screwtape Letters. This was my first time reading a book like this and I really, really enjoyed it. It took me several months to read, but it was soooo good. It was a lot to process, and it really got me thinking about everything differently, especially temptations and sin. 

Least favorite book: Sadly, I wasn't a huuuuge fan of most of the books I read? But my least favorite would have to be ... *whispers* The Raven Boys. I'd heard so much hype over this book, and all my writing friends (like, all of them) gave it four to five stars. Even though it wasn't really in my genre and the back cover blurb didn't appeal to me, I thought I should at least give it a try.

And it was okay. It was intriguing. I actually read the first one hundred pages in the middle of November after I hit 50k. But I had a lot of issues with it, and I just ... didn't like it. Especially the end. I felt really dumb, but I was so confused by the last paragraph that I had to look up the blurb for the next book to see if it explained what was going on, which it did and I WAS SO MAD CAUSE WHY. 

Okay I'm done ranting. *braces self for the angry Stiefvater fans* (I did like her writing style though!)

M U S I C

I close my eyes and let
the sound wash over me.

My lips crack
but I cannot sing 
for the lump in my throat
and the tears slipping down my cheeks.

Oh, how music
can touch the soul. 

Music has been a life saver this year. During the stressful month leading up to the ACT, I had Called Me Higher on repeat. It is such a good message. That we grow most when we spread our wings and let ourselves be vulnerable. God will watch over us and help us through the pain, and He will draw us closer to Him if we only let Him.

And this month, I've really fallen in love with Wonder. My cousin showed this one to me, and I've had it on repeat all this month. I'm taking Human Anatomy this semester and the two go so well together. It's so easy to get used to the world around us, but this song reminds me to open my eyes and really see the incredible beauty and brilliance in creation. 

O N   S T A N

This blog has much word. 
Most of them do not make sense. 
But I still attempt.


(And so I move from free verse to very bad Haiku which are actually very fun to write.)

The most viewed posts on Stan have been ...





F U N   F A C T


Random facts are fun. 
They make me perk up and look. 
This world is so weird. 


I love random facts. I could throw so many at you right now.

I think my favorite one these last three months, though, has been about the first noted instance of biological warfare at the siege of Caffa (now Feodosija, Ukraine) in 1346. Some historians speculate that this event is what cause the spread of The Black Death into Europe, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.

What happened?

Well, the Mongols besieged the city of Caffa. The Mongols decided to hurl the bodies of soldiers that had fallen to the Black Death over and into the city. In getting rid of the bodies, the defenders would likely have contracted the illness themselves. Caffa, being on the coast, had trade ships going in and out.

Lots of germs + citizens fleeing from dead bodies being hurled into their city = wild spread of deadly plague.

That, and the oldest goose ever reported to live was a gander named George that lived to a mighty 49 years and 8 months (according to the guiness book of world records).

And there are your fun facts for the day, brought to you by Hannah who surfed the very trustworthy and reliable internet for a stupid amount of time. #procrastinationboss


Thus ends my first Quarter wrap-up! Did you guys like this? Please let me know. If so, I'll make it a thing! :D

You will not be getting a post tomorrow (cause that would be too much Hannah for everyone) but I wish you all the best of luck for day one of Camp Nano! WRITE ALL THE WORDS! *showers you in confetti and coffee beans*

How has 2017 been for you so far? Any milestones reached, in life, writing, reading, or anything really? Any fun facts to share?

<3