Friday, January 30, 2015

I have a lot to learn...

In fact, I never want to stop learning. And while I believe that the people who are in our lives hold vast amounts of knowledge, I also believe that I don't necessarily need to know it all.

Confused? Let me explain...

Everyone has their own way of interpreting information. Presented with the same exact set of facts, people will interpret those facts in different ways. That's why when there are six eyewitnesses to an accident, six different accounts are given.

I appreciate that everyone has an opinion, especially on a subject which touches their life. I've been known to have an opinion myself, a time or two. Authors are no different. Read an article or a blog written by an author, and you'll be privy to all sorts of information; how to write from a character's POV, whether you should or shouldn't use purple prose, slang usage do's and don'ts. There's a plethora of knowledge within our reach if we're willing to open our minds to it. And herein lies the issue - while I appreciate a person taking their time to pass on what they've learned, I try to keep in mind that their knowledge is just that; theirs. It's the way of writing that works best for them, and their stories.

I remember reading an article once that explained you should never use the phrase "his eyes followed her around the room". The reason being that eyes cannot follow anyone; they are not able to walk around on their own. Their gaze is what can follow a person. For some reason that stuck with me and every time I write about someone's eyes following someone, I am conscious to change it to gaze. Should I? Not necessarily. I think that most readers know what it meant if they read "his eyes followed her around the room". I'm sure they're not envisioning a pair of eyeballs floating unencumbered behind the character.

So did the article I read have any merit? Yes, to the person who wrote it. Is the knowledge useless? No, not at all. The information I gleaned from that article keeps me aware of my word usage every time I write. Waiting for me to get to the point? I guess it's this. Be open to new ideas, to other peoples' ways of doing things. Learn as much as you can about everything. Then, filter out the stuff that YOU can use, and use it! Make your work be the best that it can be. Don't get hung up on whether you're doing it the right way or not, or if you're doing it like someone else.

Learn, filter, then be an original!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My biggest flaw...

Well, not really my biggest but certainly not my only. One topic at a time...

Comparing myself to others. I do it every day. I'm not competitive by nature; at least not with other people. My biggest competitor is myself. And that means, no matter what I do, I will never win.

Regardless of the project that I'm working on, I never think that the finished product is good enough. Others may rave (stop laughing) but I can pick out at least a dozen things that could, not necessarily should, be changed.

It took me a long time to figure out that I want a career as an author. It actually came upon me quite suddenly, truth be told. I always knew there was something missing; I just didn't know what it was. Writing, publishing, signing, yes, even marketing, fill the hole that's been in my soul for 47 years. So what's the problem, you ask?

Comparison. I know authors who write every spare minute that they have. They get by on three hours sleep a night, work 40-50 hours a week at their day job, shuttle their kids to extra-curricular activities, and still manage to log 3,000 words a day. I feel like I'm lacking if I can't match their pace, as they scribble furiously between bites on their lunch hour. I feel like this proves that I don't want it badly enough. How can I want this as a career if I'm not writing EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of my life?

Comparison. I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not them. I'm me. I work at my own pace. It doesn't mean that I'm lazy or want it any less than anyone else. It's means that I'm wired differently; I function differently. I can't force the words to come (believe me, I've tried.) I've sat in front of my computer for three hours at a time, staring at the same paragraph, desperately searching for the right words. You know what? The words do come. In their own time. You know how I know that? I've published five books. Five complete stories that are more than words on a page. They're tears, frustration, struggle, low self-worth. They're me.

I've read a lot of the self-help books that tell you to give up your negative feelings, that you are your own worse enemy (I believe this one), to think positive thoughts and positive things will happen. I know what I should be doing to succeed. If only I could let go of that little voice that tells me that I'm not good enough. That what I create sucks. That it could be better if only I'd change this or that.

Our inner battles with ourselves are worse than anything the outside world can throw at us. So let's stop the war, lay down our weapons of self-degradation and low self-esteem. Exchange them for self-confidence and self-worth. Believe in ourselves. But most of all, burn the flag of comparison. It has no place in any of our lives. We are all individuals. And no one can ever take that away.

Now if only I could take my own advice...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My writing process....

People ask me about my writing process and my answer always sounds kind of obvious. I just write. I don't have any rituals that I go through before starting. No special mug filled with Earl Grey tea brewed at a perfect 180 degrees. No certain chair adjusted to exactly twenty inches. The shades don't have to be drawn halfway, and it doesn't matter if my desk is clean or messy (which is a good thing because it's usually messy!)

I just write. I sit in my cat-hair covered chair, at my messy desk, turn on my computer, open up my Word document, and write (or type, as the case may be.) I don't worry about word count or chapter length or number of chapters. I don't stress out if one paragraph is longer than another. I tell my story, the way that I want to tell it. Want to know why? Because that's what makes it mine. It comes from me, deep down in my authentic self. It's a story that I choose to share with my readers, a story that hopefully they will love as much as I do. But I write it for me.

That's not to say that I don't wonder how a certain scene will be received. Will readers love that I disfigured a main character, killed a puppy, or let the bad guy off the hook? Probably not. (Just to be clear, I've never written any of those things...yet. **evil grin**) But I have to write what I feel; what I think the story needs to move forward.

So my advice to you, whether you are a new author getting ready to type your first word, or a seasoned pro who has already published a gazillion books; just write. Write what you love, what you feel in your soul.

That's what makes a great story!