Saturday, March 25, 2017

Write Through The Pain

Hey, Everyone.
For a while now, I've been having a hard time writing with joy.
Not in the way you would think. I'm still and always will be super psyched to get my words down. To one day see them in print. I can write as enthusiastically as ever. I can type each word, each sentence, each page, and I can still feel the excitement reverberating beneath my fingertips as they pound away at the keyboard. I want to write this story. I want to see it through. I want to continue being inspired, and I am.
But underneath it all, I've been inexplicably sad. I may smile because I've gotten a sentence to come out just right. I may laugh to myself at an amusing bit of dialogue.
But underneath something has been hurting. And I don't know what.
A lot has been happening in my life lately. Some for the better.
More, for the worst.
I don't understand what God wants from me. I'm trying to still keep up with my writing, because I know that's what He wants me to do. I try to act happy, I try to work hard. I try to read, to draw, to concentrate on my school, but always, always, I find myself once again sitting in front of a blank page, waiting for the words to come, letting the emptiness swallow me up.
I've gotten a lot of writing done lately. Really good stuff actually to. Great stuff. Some of the best I've written.
But I don't feel like I am the words anymore. I feel like the empty sheet of paper beyond underneath the ink stains. The ink stains are comforting, but they do nothing to soothe me. I still feel empty and I can't find joy in their existence upon me. I'm just blank. I don't want to think about anything. I don't want to feel anything. I don't want to speak or move or breathe.
I just want to be.
I don't want to try to write, even though my heart begs me to. I don't know what's wrong with me.
I wish I could fix everything.
I wish I could make it better.
I wish I knew what God wants from me.
I wish I knew Why.
I know it will all work out in the end.
But what do I do until then?
I trust God completely with my current situation. I know he has a plan and this is happening for a reason.
But something within me feels wrong. I can't explain why I am sad. I can, it's because of what's happening.
I can't. Because I know God will heal and I'm not afraid of what's happening.
I torn between both worlds, but I still feel like I'm okay, because God is with me.
But I'm not okay.
I can write, but there's no joy behind the writing.
I can speak, but it's as though there is no logic behind my words.
So what can I do?
I can keep walking I guess.
I'll never really understand why I feel like this. I'm not hurting, I'm not sad.
But I am.
I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I just wanted to. I don't want people praying for me and comforting me, because I'm okay. I don't want sympathy. I just want to write it down.
I guess that's all I'll ever want to do.
Funny, now that I think about it.
Because once again it's come back to writing, hasn't it?
I suppose for me that's all there ever is.
So yes, I'm broken.
Yes. I'm hurting.
But I'm whole in the Lord.
I've been healed.
He's shown me a way to speak to Him without even knowing I am.
He's taught me that even when I want to give up, I can keep writing.
I can write through the pain, through the hurt, through the confusion.
And I'll always find Him in my words.
Because He put them there for a reason.
You know, when you ask most authors why they decided to become writers, they'll probably tell you a story about 'not being able to find the book they wanted to read' or 'wanting other people to experience their story' or 'using writing as an escape'.
I think I used to be one of those people.
But I think I know now why God instilled the desire to post on my blog just a few moments ago.
Even though I haven't for weeks.
He wants me to see. He wants me to know the real reason He gave me the love of writing.
Because when I write, He tells me what to say.
He knows what I want to say, and He shows me how to say it.
When I write, it''s as though He is moving through me. And that is why I find solace in it.
Because no matter what I'm going through, my writing is where I can find Him.
He's pretty much given me His home address to insure that I'll always have somewhere to go. Somewhere to call home. If I get lost, I can always get to Him. My GPS is always set to take me in His direction. No matter where I am, I can find some way to write, whether that be on a computer, or on the corner of a napkin with the broken nib of a crayon.
I've never been much for praying. I've always felt close enough to God that my every day is like an open-ended conversation. It continues throughout the day. Or maybe it doesn't.
Maybe it starts, and ends, when I decide to pick up that pen and write. And maybe, just maybe, that's what He's been trying to show me with this.
I've had it all wrong this whole time. No wonder I couldn't find joy in writing.
I wasn't acknowledging his presence when I sat down to work on my story. And I think that maybe subconsciously, I used to.
But I stopped. Why? Because I wasn't using writing as a way to connect with my God-given gifts. I was using it as an escape. And that's not why God made me a writer.
He made me a writer so that I could learn to be closer to Him. So that no matter what, I'll always be able to hear His voice. Even when it hurts. Even when it's so, so hard.
He gave me writing so that I would never be alone. Not really.
Now I know where my joy at creating stories comes from. Even from the beginning. Even before I was old enough to recognize it. My love of writing is stemmed by my love for Him. Even more.
My love of writing comes from His love for me.
I don't see things like other people do. He knew it. He knows it.
He gave me writing so that I wouldn't be lost in the dark, blind and afraid. He gave me writing as a lighthouse, a beacon calling me back to Him. I can see Him in my words, I can feel Him.
Even through the pain.
I know this is what He made me for.
this is why He gave me writing.
So I can live my life both for Him, and with Him. Because know He's shown me to see Him in the last place I expected to.
The first place He gave me.
Until the Dimming of the Stars, My Beloved Readers. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Writers Of Elysian: Divinely Inspired: Preserving A Constant State of ...

Sorry I haven't posted in forever guys, and sorry I'm technically not posting now. I have a ton of writing, schoolwork, and platforming I need to get out of the way, then once I find my niche I swear I'll start posting regularly again. Until then, here's a link to a post I did on my group blog, Writers of Elysian. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, March 6, 2017

How Being A Part Of A Writing Community Has Made Me a Better Writer

Hey, everyone! Since I am a tad short on time and currently juggling several school assignments, my book, and writing in general. I thought I'd post a short update on what I've been doing recently, as I believe it's been about a week since I've last posted. Anyhow, things have been kind of hectic around my house recently, for way too many reasons than I care to share.
The most annoying is currently the fact that I have contracted this really dumb cold that won't go away and is hindering my efforts around the house. I can't do or touch much without worrying about getting other people contaminated. So alas, I have confined myself to my room.

In case you were wondering, I'm really not that torn up about this.

So I've been struggling for a while with remaining on top of all my writing projects. The weird thing about me is that I'm super efficient. When it comes to school, I literally finish all my homework at least three weeks before it is due. I have a thousand word paper that isn't due until the seventeenth of this month that I finished two weeks ago. I'm like the crazy kid of my class, the one who's done with school before she gets there. 
The same goes for chores and social circle projects. I'm already done before anyone has had the chance to ask for help. Ironically, the thing I love most is the one thing I am the least efficient at completing. I've said before I've been a writer since I was six, I've also talked about (On my YouTube) how I started writing my current project/book when I was eleven. 

Eleven folks. 


I didn't finish the first draft of my novel until LAST YEAR. It has been FIVE months since I finished the FIRST draft. 
Guys, I've been writing this book for almost five years now. And yet somehow despite my efficient reputation, I've barely finished the first draft. I claim to love this story I have to tell yet I neglect to actually take the time to write it. 

Man am I a hypocrite. 

Unlike last year (in which I swore to myself on New Years Day 2016 that I would finish my book) I made no promises to myself to accomplish my goals. Sure, I've been scribbling in a notebook. I've come up with some crazy plot twists, made a historical timeline for my fantasy world, and yeah, I even started a rewrite of my book. But I never would have done any of that if I hadn't done one other thing. 

What did I do? 

If you haven't guessed by now I guess I'll go ahead and tell you. 

I joined a Writing Community. 

You know, much like a writer's notebook, becoming a part of a writing community is something every pro writer suggests. We amateurs hear it and think: Wow! Cool idea, let me make sure I never do that because I definitely should not take advice from someone who has walked the same path I'm on and learned from their mistakes! 

The sarcasm is real. 

Guys, we struggle so long and hard, trying to go our own way. We ignore the wisdom of people who have traveled this road before us and try to make it to our destination by ourselves. We have convinced ourselves that we don't need other people to tell us what we're doing wrong. I mean published successful authors have practically handed us a map to getting published and we've shoved it in our duffel bags to continue walking down that back road we all know leads to a swamp!

Darn it, now I want to go backpacking... 

My point is, sometimes it's okay to ask for directions! The Bible tells us:

"He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray." ~Proverbs 10:17
It also says:
"Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge."
~Proverbs 19:27 
Why yes, I did just finish Bible study. But that's not the point. (Well, it kinda is but...) My point is that sometimes listening to advice from other 'real writers' (Hey, don't get offended, I mean like published writers.) is the best way to reach our goals.

So, I joined YWW (Young Writers Workshop), a program developed by Brett Harris (ya'll might know him from the book: Do Hard Things) and Jaquelle Crowe. I can very honestly say it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I didn't join this writing community because someone told me to, I did it because I thought it sounded like a 'heck of a lotta fun'.

And you know what? It really is, haha. It's incredible to be able to meet and talk to and learn from so many other young Christian writers like myself. Not to mention the incredible amount of writing resources I've been presented with because of joining. Having trouble finding beta readers? Expanding your platform? Have a question even google can't answer? Need some feedback or encouragement?

Not anymore! YWW gives me all that and more, but on top of all that, it also gave me something that I really, REALLY needed.
You know, the reason I'm so efficient in other areas of my life is that I know there will be consequences if I'm not. In writing, however, I haven't given myself any. I can tell myself: You need to finish your book this summer. But if I don't finish my book that summer, so what? It's not going to effect me at all, I just won't have finished my book.

Yeah I'm really good at talking myself out of stuff.

But with YWW, suddenly I have all these people counting on me to get a certain amount of writing done. I'm being held to a certain standard, and not by force, but by choice. I've asked people to do this for me because I believe it's the one thing I need to truly help me work through my completion issues. Not everyone may suffer from this problem, but you know what? I bet most of us do.

So not only do I have to finish my book this summer now, I have to post on my blog at least once a week! (Lucky you who gets to hear more from me now!)

Since I joined this community in January, I've accomplished more than I ever have in my entire nine-year 'career' as a writer! I've developed my stories plot, the lore of my fantasy world. I've made maps and drawings, timelines of the history of my world, family trees, a 'freaken huge piece of paper with every dastardly plot twist I've ever brainstormed for my book scribbled down upon it! I've outlined my characters, I've made some MAJOR changes to my blog, and yeah, I even started a rewrite of my book! (Which is going really awesomely by the way.)

I've gotten so much done that my brain thinks in organized files and specific thought patterns to fit everything I need to accomplish into a writing schedule, one I plan to stick to from now on.

And all that is really great, but you know what's even better?

Meeting and being inspired by other young people like me, determined to make a difference with their stories, determined to write and edit and polish and draft only to do it all over again. It's truly inspiring to know I'm not the only one who has this dream of getting published. I'm not the only one out there struggling to meet deadlines and reach my goals. I've made some new friends and I've learned a lot.
 I know that I've said before that keeping a writer's notebook is one of the smartest things you ccan do as a writer, but I'm gonna go back on that.

Joining a community of other writers is the best possible choice out there for struggling writers. And I should know, because I did it. So yeah, I'm the expert now, ya'll should definitely listen to me. Or better yet, listen to some people who have been in your shoes. Listen to some advice from successful, published authors, because yeah, they've definitely got a trick or two up their sleeves.

Hmm... I wonder how hard it would be to convince my mom to let me go backpacking...

Until the Dimming of the Stars, My Beloved Readers. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Creating Characters That Last

     The Chosen One. Strong, brave, noble, willing to sacrifice himself for his cause. An untrained nobody thrust into a series of (unfortunate :D) events and forced to cope by saving the universe.

     The Bully. Nasty, large, dumb. Patronizes the protagonist for seemingly no reason, or, out of jealousy.

     The Girl. Flaunty, drop-dead gorgeous, brave, unnaturally smart yet stupid. Weepy, yet is a crazy ninjitsu samurai warrior who intimidates the protagonist with her skill. Tries to act hardcore when is really a jellybean. Plays hard to get or forces herself onto the protagonist.

     The Villain. Overkill powerful. Has huge army, wants to take over the world or is evil, simply for the sake of being evil. Is outwardly clever but always has a flaw that gets their evil scheme foiled by our 'Chosen One'.

     Sound familiar? These are all character stereotypes that are waaaay over-used. Why? Well maybe because they work. Or at least, they used to. But not anymore. Readers are tired of reading about the same kinds of characters over and over again. So should you try to break these stereotypes? Absolutely. Should you completely leave them in the dust?

Not necessarily, no.

     See, the reason these stereotypes are so overused is because they're just so good. It's interesting to read about someone destined from birth to be great, it's annoying when someone tries to make him miserable for no reason, and it's kinda funny/occasionally cute to see a girl being really hardcore, and you know what? It's just plain scary to encounter a villain so evil they kill for the pure joy of it. But you know what's also great?

     Someone who is told from birth that he will one day be a hero, a chosen one. But ends up being a useless nobody who gets his friends killed trying to be the hero he isn't and ends up alone. A bully who isn't really mean, just blunt and sarcastic, and darn smart too. Nothing better than a darn smart bully. A girl who tries to be hardcore, but is obviously very socially awkward and has a lot of trouble meeting other people's standards. And a villain so witty and sarcastic yet so unfeeling and intelligent that we can't help but cry when the random side character (not the Chosen One) defeats him.

     Now that sounds interesting. Or in the very least, different than the kind of characters we are used to. See, you can write a great story with the chosen one, the bully, the girl, and the villain, but if you really want people to remember your characters, and I mean really remember them; then you can't just do what everyone else does. As writers, we are told all the time that no one's writing is the same. You could give ten writers the same prompt and they will give you ten different stories so unique in each of their own ways that you wouldn't believe they had come from the same basic idea!
     So if no writer is the same, why should we use the same kinds of characters everyone else does? Why? Well maybe because we are afraid. We are afraid to create something new because we don't know if people will like it. Will your readers like reading about a hero who fails his mission?

Yes. They will.

     Will your readers want to read about a cruel or unfeeling character who is actually really smart and only acts mean to protect himself?

No duh!

     Will your readers care when your girl makes mistake after mistake and isn't forgiven?

I would.

     And finally, would your readers cry when the villain is killed; because he was such a lovable character that they'll miss reading his witty dialogue and crystal clear motives?

I did. I really miss this character. I'm glad he doesn't die until book four so I can keep writing and developing him. **spoilers**

     So yeah, maybe we are afraid to write something new. I mean, we know what people like, and good marketing tells us to give the people what they want, right? Well you know, the people didn't know what they wanted until someone gave them something new. So maybe you won't be the next Tolkien, and hey, maybe people won't like reading about a villain who bakes cupcakes in the shower. But you never know until you try right? And isn't writing about being fearless? Isn't it about putting ourselves out there for other people to see? You know what, writing is terrifying, but if you can have the courage to share your story with others, then you can have the courage to create something new.

     So next time you start fleshing out your characters, stop and think: How can I make this character someone my readers will remember?

     Whether it be his sarcastic speech, his endearing sense of humor, or his willingness to fight even after he has already lost.

Will your character be remembered?

     Sometimes the best characters aren't the ones we already love. Sometimes, the best characters, are the ones we've never met before. The ones that are more down to earth, the ones with faults, and heck, maybe a backstory OTHER than the death of his/her parents. (Man, I am such a hypocrite in saying that). Maybe the characters we really remember are the ones that we can see within ourselves. I know a lot of people say you shouldn't make yourself a character in your book, but why not? 

     No one has read about you, now have they? No. You are a real, feeling, intelligent person, and there's already a piece of you in everyone else. With every fault, every quirk, every bad habit. Your readers are drawn closer to your characters. So I'm not saying forget stereotypes, because stereotypes really do work. But there are a million ways you can use a stereotype and change it in a way that your readers won't expect. Plus, for those characters that appear exactly twice in your novel, well, let's face it. Most of them don't need their own novel's worth of backstory. 

     So keep those stereotypes on file, and when it comes to writing a protagonist your readers will never forget, remember to make him/her human. But also remember that not everything has to be original, and not everything has to be never-before-seen in the world of fiction. In fact, it's good to give our readers something familiar to cling to while we rip their world out from under them like the evil plot-twist-writing devils we are. 
     So give them something they remember, but show them something they'll never forget. 

Until the Dimming of the Stars, My Beloved Readers. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Writing is Like Music and You Already Know Why

Hey, folks! Well, right now, I'm listening to my little sister practice her violin and I'd like to share one note with you.
Writing is like music.
You're only going to get better if you practice.
You're only going to practice if you get into a routine in which you practice.
You're only going to get into a routine if you're actually serious about playing.
You're only going to be serious about playing if you have a passion for it.
You're only going to have a passion for it if you're good at it.*
You're only going to be good at it if you practice.
*Maybe not in some cases, but if you really think about it, that really is the reason most people like things.

And so the never-ending cycle of explanatory sentences you've heard a million times before continues. I could compare writing to a million things, but I happen to think that music is perhaps one of the best comparisons out there. Simply because Writing and music are both forms of art, they both contain rhythmic frequencies, and they are both a way in which someone can convey a story.

So you've probably heard people make this comparison a lot, in fact, to you, it's probably a pretty cliche thing to compare writing to. But sometimes it's better to use something people are familiar with to explain something than to use something new. Now I could tell you in detail how to edit/write a series with the RAPH Method, but we could also say that it would likely be much easier if I simply told you what everyone else does, write once a day and you'll get there.

Now in that example, which would you prefer?

When it comes to writing, a lot of people don't want to be told the same thing everyone else tells them. What most people need is detailed instruction on how to improve their writing, not just some vague magic sentence that everyone else says because they are too lazy to actually put a little effort into their assistance. So while I may be taking the easy route by comparing writing to music, that doesn't necessarily mean that I am not going to put any effort into using this comparison to help you become a better writer.

Now while I don't personally believe I am the most qualified to pass on instruction, many of are likely not receiving any at all. I have been a writer since the age of 6, which mean almost for 10 years now. So in our music comparison, that would probably make me a pro. However, on the writing side of things, since I began so young you can automatically assume that for the first 4-5 years or so I really wasn't any good. While that might be true, I also would like to point out that sometimes the most qualified teacher's are not the one's with fancy degrees or accomplishments but the ones who truly care about their students, as well as their own education. So, as I have gotten a little off topic, let me take you back.

Music and Writing are similar in most aspects, if not all. For a good time now, I have been attempting to learn how to play the guitar. I started wanting to learn by the age of 11, around the same time I started writing the EXTREMELY rough draft of the novel in which I am rewriting today. My parents gave me a guitar for Christmas with all the required provisions. I tried to learn it but my heart wasn't really into it, so I set it aside after learning only the names and positions of the strings.

Some time afterward, I suppose I picked it up again, but not having put much effort into it originally, I found myself discouraged when I couldn't easily learn to play it. So I set it aside again.

Starting to sound familiar?

After years of trying to learn it on and off, I realized something. All that time I had been learning something. Because just the other day I sat down and took my guitar out again. The instant I strummed a chord I could tell it was out of tune. So without thinking, I began to tune it.

By ear.

I had learned, somehow subconsciously, what each note and chord should sound like, even if I was not able to play them. And that, that was just incredible to me! And it made me realize, even if you don't write every day, or even every week! You could write maybe once a month and by the end of that year you will be a better writer, regardless of whether or not you wrote once a day, once a week, or yes! Once a month. By the end of that year, you will have become a better writer then you were at the beginning of that year!

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't put any effort into your writing, you should try to write once a day. But only if you can. What I'm saying is you don't have to have that fancy degree, that well-polished manuscript, that immaculate blog, and strictly organized daily writing schedule. All you really need, is just the smallest, even the littlest, hint of love within you for whatever task it is you want to accomplish. You may like writing, but if you don't love it, or rather, if you don't have any desire to love it, then there isn't much point, is there?

If you truly want to become a better writer then you will find the time to write. If you really want to get published, you will find the courage to begin querying. If you really want to share your story with the world, then you will, finish it. But in your own time.

No one's writing journey is the same. No one travels down the same path as everyone else to find their dream; getting published, at the end. But if you really desire it, deep down within you, if you really love it as much if not more than you think you do.

Then I know you can do it.

Just recently, I was listening to music when suddenly, I became inspired to write. And what I wrote off of that music I heard, it was incredible. One of the best things I have ever written. The death scene of one of my favorite characters. It was sad, poetic, and beautiful. Plus, I got a pretty sweet quote out of it.

If you know what character that is likely referring to and I have just spoiled it for you, I apologize. 

On the other side of things, most of you probably don't know, but I love singing. A lot. I write my own songs, and the inspiration for those songs? Sometimes it comes from just a single word. My sister could sister could dramatically yell: DON'T LET GO!

And I could suddenly start singing:

Don't let me go, until the war is over and we're heading home. Don't let me go, be by my side, hold me tightly help me get through the night. Don't let me go. 

And voila! The makings of a song is written. So maybe music and writing are more closely intertwined then most of us think, because that? That is pretty cool. 

Oh yeah, and that quote? "For a scholar has no use of a book he cannot write in, and darkness has no use of a light in which it cannot cast its shadow."

I think one could easily say that the following applies as well: "A writer has no use of a book he cannot read, and a story has no use for a writer who does not love that which he has written."

So treat your passions kindly my friends, and if you're struggling with writing, ask yourself: Do I really love the story I have to tell?
And if so: Do I love it enough the make sure others get the chance to love it too? 

I hope this post has helped you realize that you don't have to be a perfect writer to be a good one. You just have to love what you're writing. I hope to see you here again. Until then, may your ink wells never run dry, and as they say in my book:

Until the Dimming of the Stars, my dear readers.