Uncategorized

Writing is writing

FullSizeRender

Things have been crazy because I just started school again and when I meet up with other writers they ask me if I’ve been writing lately.


And I say yes.

But I hesitate. Why do I hesitate? Because I’ve been writing loads, just not fiction. I’ve been blogging a lot about my experiences at school over at my Cosmorphosis blog and it’s been extremely rewarding and fascinating, but there’s some tiny part of me that believes writing = writing fiction.


This is clearly a flawed thought and I have no idea where it comes from. Non-fiction is obviously a valid and important form of writing, from news to memoirs, sharing stories of the real world and our own lives is extremely valuable.

But it’s not fiction.

I think the moment I really committed to writing fiction was the same moment I officially committed to being a writer. Even though I had been writing non-fiction and travel memoirs for years, for some reason I only decided to take the moniker of writer when fiction was my focus.

It’s not a good, healthy thought. Writing is writing and all of it is great.

Whether it’s tweeting, blogging, writing a book, a poem, a single line or even a lab report (which I did for the first time ever this week), writing is important and meaningful because it’s all just various forms of expression. I can find the joy in any one of those forms, as evidenced by the fact that I loved writing the lab report.



I don’t want to limit myself to the form of fiction for my expression and I don’t think anyone should. As a writer, a creator of art, my focus will change throughout my life and as someone who considers herself open-minded and well suited for change I want to embrace that and proudly proclaim my love of self expression, no matter what form it comes in.

Advertisements
Uncategorized

On Love

Love

Ben and I got married four years ago today and we met five years ago today. Love is great. Because I love Ben and because I love lists I thought I would make a list of what I believe about love.

What I believe in…

Love at first sight – it can happen and it can work out long term. Sometimes you just know a person from the very first second you see them.
Trial by fire – we were tested in the beginning of our relationship and it was shitty, but there was something wonderful about it too. It forced us to crack each other open and see all the bits inside, all the tough bits, all the rotten bits, all the broken bits. We fought side by side and came out alive and kicking. Even though I don’t recommend what we went through, I still recommend doing something outside your comfort zone with the one you love; travel the world, put yourself into a tough spot you have to get out of. Trial by fire forces you know a person deeply (and sometimes madly) and if you don’t come out of it holding hands, you will know the truth about your relationship.
Love is hard – it’s not perfect and to truly know someone and accept them for everything they are takes work. Endless conversations, sharing feelings, opening up. Working things out. Making sure you never shut up or shut each other out.
• Love is worth fighting for – if there’s a problem that seems impossible to solve, it’s always worth fighting for. Keep fighting until your hands are bloody and your body aches. But make sure you’re fighting together, because if both of you aren’t fighting or you are fighting against each other, something’s wrong.
• You can be with a person every waking moment (literally) and never get tired of them – people always talk about ‘needing space’ but I don’t need it from Ben (and he doesn’t need it from me). Sometimes we just sit in silence and work or read, but I don’t need to leave him to find peace.
Change is good – changing for each other is a good thing and it will happen naturally, but sometimes you need to work for it. It should never mean giving up who you are, but embracing who you are together.
Love changes – just as we are never the same person we were yesterday, neither is love. But if the change isn’t making your love stronger there is a problem. Every change should be for the best, bringing you closer not driving you apart.
Opposites do attract – Ben and I so different, but we hold the same beliefs, values and many of the same passions. As Ben likes to say opposites aren’t black and plant, they are black and white which means they are on the same spectrum. If you aren’t even on the same spectrum as someone and you are constantly clashing, that might be a problem.
Love is scary – because the idea of losing it is terrifying. I never worry we’ll break up, I’m more of a catastrophic thinker and I head straight to the old mortality angle.
It’s hard to find – you have to be diligent, don’t settle and don’t be afraid to turn it away if it’s not working out. But once you find it, work for it, hold it tight and love the hell out of it.
Our wedding was only the beginning – our wedding day meant very little in our relationship, it was cool, we eloped and had a good time. But every day that has come after that is the best day and the more we know each other the better it gets.
Intentions matter – even if someone gets upset it’s important to step back and inspect the intentions. There is never any intention to hurt or cause upset, so is the upset really necessary?
Ben is the best (for me) – although he started out perfect (for me), time only makes him a better match for me because we are growing together. He’s the patience to my impatience, he’s the calm to my insanity, he’s the grounding to my driving, he’s the person who makes me feel better no matter what. He’s the best. Ever.

Happy Anniversary Babe!

Uncategorized

My Agent Wish List

ImageSince I decided to apply myself to my burgeoning career as a writer I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject of agents.  How to get an agent, what an agent can do for you, why bother to have an agent etc… I made the choice to pursue the traditional path of publishing because I’m brand new to the whole writing world and I wanted to find someone who knows more than I can read on the internet to guide me.

Now, for obvious reasons, agents aren’t easy to come by.  There’s the querying, then the sending the pages, then the anticipation and long waits.  But in a lot of cases once you get accepted into Agentland it seems like a pretty good place to be.  However, I have heard some horror stories, tales of neglect and being cheated, of communication breakdowns and other issues relating to writers and their agents.

In all the talk of getting an agent, the breathless hoping and the crossed fingers, I don’t often hear about people setting expectations for their agent.  In fact, more often than not, it seems to be the other way around.  Perhaps it’s the scarcity of the acceptance letters that keep writers from being realistic and business-minded about the prospect of getting an agent’s attention, but the more I dip my toe in the waters of the agent sea, the more I try to solidify my own expectations and form a wish list of my own for finding a good agent match.

I’m an entrepreneur.  I’ve been in business for myself for probably around eight years now and I find that has helped me to understand what it is I’m looking for in a business partner.  Because that’s what an agent is, a business partner.  Agents are the people who will represent you in the publishing world, they are the people who will help you make money and they are the people who will champion your work just as much as you will champion it yourself.  As a writer, you are definitely an artist, but you are also a business person running your own small business and I find it helps me to see it as such.  Because I don’t want just anyone to join my business, do you?

You can learn a certain amount about an agent through internet searches and websites, but the real trick is getting to know them (if they like your work enough to give you a call or offer representation).  It’s at that point when you have a choice.  You don’t just have to jump into business with the first person who likes you, although it may be tempting after all that longing and waiting.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and figure out if the agent you are in contact with is the right fit for you and your work.

Agents often have wish lists, books they want to represent or topics they are interested in (which you can generally find in their interviews or on their websites), but as writers I think it’s important that we do too.  As I spend more time in the industry, meet people and do my research, I try to narrow down my own agent wish list to the most important points.  So in the future when I (hopefully) get the chance to work with an agent, I’ll know what I’m looking for.

Here’s my agent wish list:

Good Communication – Communication is key for any good business partnership.  Can I be honest with this person?  Can I ask them questions?  Do they respond in a timely manner to my communications?  Are they willing to be honest with me?  Do we have a good flow to our communications?

Shared Literary Interests – Although I have a style and a general tone to my work (typically magic realism), sometimes I like to experiment.  I want an agent who enjoys all of my work and is interested in a bit of diversity of style, genre and format.

Open Minded – Most of my main characters tend to be bisexual.  I sometimes write books about sex and drugs (not always, but it happens).  I need an agent who is open to LGBT characters and the idea of things getting a little racy.

Hands-On Industry Guidance – I’m a publishing noob but I’m totally willing to work my ass of to make my career a reality.  I’m looking for someone who wants to work with me to help me learn the ropes of the industry.

Passion – I’m crazy passionate about things I dedicate myself to.  Sometimes to the point of insanity.  I need an agent who is just as passionate and excited as I am, because I want to feel the shared love for the work.

Sense of Humour – I like my business partners like I like my friends, with a sense of humour about things.  Life’s too short to take things too seriously and I want to know that I can have a laugh with someone I’m going to work closely with!

That’s pretty much it.  I guess it’s not a lot to ask for, but I’m sure there are agents out there who will fit that criteria and those who won’t.  But when it comes time to decide I don’t want to settle for someone who won’t be a good long term business partner, I don’t think any writer should!

Writers – Do you have an agent wish list?  Feel free to share!
Agents – What are your thoughts on writers having wish lists? Do you have wish lists of your own?

Uncategorized

Don’t settle

Image

Ben and I had a great idea for a book a little while ago.  It seemed like it would be perfect, right up my alley.  We decided we would make a plan for it, unlike the last book which was a bit of a free-for-all, so we sat down and worked it out.

We figured out the whole story, plotted the chapters and I was completely, terribly uninspired.  It was confusing, because the concept was interesting, the characters were compelling, but my my interest in the book was painfully flat.  I hated it.

There’s something about making a plan that makes me feel like I ought to like what I’m doing.  Like I would be a flake if I just called a timeout and changed horses mid-stream.  It’s a weird feeling.  I guess it’s partially to do with the investment of time, we spent a great deal of time coming up with the story, discussing it, being excited about it.  But as the idea of actually writing the damn thing drew near, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

In the end I finally said ‘I hate it’ out loud and we gave it up, put it aside.  Maybe I’ll like it in the future, who knows?

When I’d finally accepted the fact that I didn’t give a fig about the book I was going to write, Ben and I went for a walk on the beach and worked out a new book in about half an hour and I was instantly inspired to go home and start writing.  I am now ten thousand words in and going strong.

The point is sometimes things don’t fit and here’s a solid piece of advice that can be applied to absolutely every aspect of like (including writing): don’t settle.  A story should reach out and grab you, bite you, shake you, gnaw at you in the night.  I always say to Ben that I know it’s a good story when I get up in the morning and don’t want to go back to sleep because there’s too much to write.  Writing should propel you, inspire you, make you cry and laugh and all those good things about living.  If your story isn’t doing it for you, don’t force it.  No matter how much time you invested in the outline or world or making a new language for the alien species on your world it doesn’t matter because it will feel flat and lifeless unless you love it with a passion.

I want to write things that I can’t wait to write more of, that I need to write, that I love to write and I’m not willing to settle for anything less.

Screw settling, write it like you mean it!

Tell me about a time when you refused to settle.

Uncategorized

Breaking the routine

Image

Routines can be good.

They allow us to have consistency, get in the flow and concentrate at certain times.  For example, I like to write in the mornings, I find (unless I’m exhausted) my brain functions better and there are less distractions in the morning.  I like the sunshine and the sound of the birds.  It feels like the morning is a peaceful and contemplative time, with everyone just having woken from dreams there is a certain stillness to it that makes it ideal.

So I try to keep my routine.  I think it’s important to write every day, whether it’s just a blog post or a few words on a work in progress.  Gotta keep the juices flowing.

On the other hand, routines can be bad.

Writers should be keeping their eyes open for the unexpected parts of life, the parts that jump out, make an impact, feel different than the every day.  If you are stuck in a routine and every day falls into the same pattern, how are you going to experience the unexpected?

Routine can also become an excuse if you let it.  If I told myself I was going to write every morning from 9am-11am and that was my ‘writing time’, what would happen if I was busy one morning?  I don’t want to use a routine as an excuse not to write, or to lock myself into something so completely that I feel guilty if I don’t do it.  For example I missed the past two days of this blogging challenge.  I immediately got cranky with myself and tried to think of ways to make up for it.  Then this topic of routine came up and it got me thinking.  I don’t want to beat myself up for not doing something, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s a good way to live.  I want to do it because I love it and not stifle myself with routine.

I want to break the routine and embrace the spontaneity of my passions.

That’s the joy of freelancing too, the lack of routine.  There is no nine to five, we work when there’s work and play when there’s none and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  If I need to I can work at midnight to finish a project because I just had to finish that episode of The Office (see the symbolism?).  As long as it gets done, it doesn’t matter when I do it.

So routines can be good for some things, but what’s better than sticking to a routine tirelessly is breaking with routine and embracing the unpredictability that follows.

* *

This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

Uncategorized

Advice for new writers (or old ones that need some inspiration)

Image
The Short

Just write.  Writing isn’t about being good, it’s about being passionate.  Don’t let anyone tell you how to write or what to write, just keep writing and don’t stop till your arms hurt and your eyes refuse to focus on the page.

The Long

Each time I sit down to write and stare at an empty page, a void opens up in front of me.  It’s a wide expanse that alternates between self doubt and emptiness and I peer into it with wide eyes and half a heart.  Sometimes it lasts a fraction of a second and other times the seconds march on into minutes, but either way, it’s my job to leap over the void and into the story.  Each time it’s my job to overcome my boundaries and write.

Art is an act of bravery and writing is an act of art.


When we put words on a page it exposes us, our hopes and dreams, our darker side, our interests and passions.  We are exposed to whomever might be reading our words, but more importantly, we are exposed to ourselves.  When we write honestly and openly, there’s nowhere for us to hide and that can be a scary thing.


Try it now.  Open a word document or a journal (of you like writing by hand) and write a series of statements about yourself.  Each one should start with ‘I’.  Write until you come to a natural end.

Did you do it?

I did:

I am tasting the water.
I am speaking with fire.
I am opening my eyes.
I close them too often.
I am thinking of something I don’t want to do.
I dream of things I’d rather not speak of.
I wish for little but hope for everything.
I am waiting for summer to arrive.
I wish I could see the moon on the lake every night of my life.
I want to write well.
I want to be good.
I need to be real, or else what am I?

So what does this mean?  Maybe something, maybe nothing.  It’s just words on a page that came from my mind.  Sometimes it is more meaningful than others but if we spent our whole lives trying to read into the words that we conjure, we wouldn’t get anything done now would we?

So my advice is to write…but how to write?

Write like no one’s reading


Because no one is.  Sure you’re reading, but you know yourself right?  So it’s not all that bad.  The more you write for other people, the more you will veer away from what you are passionate about and what drives you.  If you aren’t writing for you, you will probably get bored of it mighty fast.

Write like there is no good

There are so many different kinds of writers (and readers) out there, who’s to say what good really is?  And even if there is a good and you’re not it, as long as you are doing what you love, why should it matter?  If you’re writing for fame and fortune, it’s a long shot anyway, even for people who are really crazy amazing.  So best stick with the love and try to go from there.

Write with curiosity

Try new things.  I’ve always written urban fantasy, but I have a great deal of respect and passion for truly well written high fantasy (which I believe is scarce), so I’m going to give it a try.  I’m curious to see if I can write high fantasy well.  Don’t limit yourself to what you think you’re good at, try new things, because they may surprise you and if nothing else, the challenge will hone your skills.

Write free

People will try to tell you all sorts of shit about your writing, I promise.  Everyone will have a different opinion.  Some people will love it, some people will hate it and, unfortunately, some people might even try to read into your psyche through your writing. This is about as effective as a psychic reading (meaning not effective at all).  Sure writing exposes you and opens you up to your inner voice, but trying to make sense of that in any psychologically profound way is nigh impossible and ridiculously fruitless.  Write free.  Don’t read too deeply into your writing.  As humans we are great at (and love to) find patterns.  We will even find them when they are vague or nonexistent.  So don’t cling to patterns and let yourself believe they mean things about your subconscious, and for the love of all the gods, don’t let anyone else do it either.

Write with the knowledge that you can always edit later

Everyone has a different way of doing things, but I like to get a full thought out before I edit.  Whether it’s a paragraph, a chapter or a whole story, if you’re in the flow don’t chicken out and go back to check if everything’s al good.  The past is the past and it isn’t going away, so move into the future as far as you can before venturing back.  But please don’t forget to venture back, because it isn’t perfect back there, not yet.

Write with passion

Write for the love, not the money (because the money will either be slow to come or will never come at all).  Write because you can’t stop yourself.  Write because it makes you happy (or makes you miserable not to).  Write because you’re curious and you want to try.  Write because beauty is possible.  Write because life is too precious to go without mentioning.

All of the points above are well and good, but they all have one thing in common.  The word ‘write’.  So at the end of the day, the take home message is, was and always will be: write.  Just close your eyes, jump over the damn void and write like hell.


Tell me about your challenges and share your ‘I’ lists!

* *

This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!