Sunday, November 27, 2011

Words of Wisdom: Storyteller

Today's words of wisdom: 
"Keep working. Keep trying. Keep believing. You still might not make it, but at least you gave it your best shot. If you don't have calluses on your soul, this isn't for you. Take up knitting instead."--Author David Eddings

I'm subscribed to Writer's Digest. If you're a beginning novelist/writer, you should be too. It's an amazing motivational tool; a great opportunity to escape from your current work and soak up some quick lessons, and learn more about the publishing industry. 

I keep reading over and over again about the hard journey of many authors to publication. My dream began in the winter of 2008, when I wrote my first fiction novel in the small quarters of my bedroom, on nothing but a tray table and an unquenchable desire to put into paper the world I'd been dreaming of. One and a half months later, a final chapter set of completing the manuscript, I was staring at a word count of over 100,000. I couldn't believe it. Except it was never finished. I didn't know how to finish it without fearing that it would suck. But the seed had been planted. 

I spent the following year writing on another work of fiction--even did something crazy, like quit my job and traveled across the world--totally alone. But I'd done it. This time I finished the story. I queried agents, waited, queried some more, waited. Nothing. I wasn't ready for publication. The work wasn't at its best. I hadn't reached my best. I needed more practice. 

It was back to the drawing board. I got even more serious. Soaked up every writing tip I could, joined a Writer's Group, bought books like "The Idiot's Guide to Writing a Novel", and "Thanks But This Isn't For Us" all to make sure that this time I'd be ready to write my best. I knew I had the perseverance to write novel length works, but I had to hone my skills in the art of storytelling. To someone who was always told, "You write so well," and "That was good, real good work," it was hard for me to swallow the reality that I was good, but not good enough. But I'm still here, still trying. And at the end of the day, that's half the battle. 

VIOLET STORM is my third completed novel. I'm working on my fourth as I wait for it to be professional edited. In my heart of hearts, I know all of the hard work will pay off. Regardless of how long this journey might take, I hold onto the hope that I'll see my works published someday. If not the traditional route, then via self-publishing. 

The quote above is from the January 2012 WD issue and it put me into a fit of laughter until I was tearing up, stupidly sad and yet relieved at the same time. I don't know how many hundreds of hours I've poured into my writing "hobby". I'm  not used to working so hard at something and not seeing any "payoff". But I was wrong to think that way. Although, the stories I've created may not be the next ground-breaking American novel, they were incredible to watch rise out of nothing. My own world, envisioned and bound only by the limits of my creativity.

Today's another day to keep hoping, to keep working until I reach my goal. To quote The Ultimate Warrior, "Wake up sleeping beauties...Today is the day to take on any challenge that lies in this day...Today is the day you build your own wall of bodies..."

Well said, sir. Well said. It's easy to throw in the towel. It's much harder to keep going--to keep doing something that may take years to see come to fruition. Every day is a challenge to keep on working to make this dream come true, but every day is also a new day to work on making it come true.

I'm sure you can guess that I didn't find this motivational video by the Ultimate Warrior on my own. That's all Chris. The motivational stuff starts 0:47 seconds in. Check it out here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When Life Requires You Keep A Bottle Opener in Your Purse

Okay, longest blog title in the world, I know. Things have been so crazy as of late. Mostly, it's work. I have a new role and it's taking some adjusting to. I know I will succeed in anything I put my mind to, it's just a matter of getting comfortable and managing the stress...

Here's my saving grace:

Above: At work we have a voodoo doll that gets passed around between myself and my colleague. This is what it looked it like when she gave it to me. 

Here's what it looked like after I got through with it. Don't get me wrong--I love my job. But some days (making hands-wrapped-around-my-neck gesture)....yeah, I'm sure you can relate.

We are in the thick of NaNoWriMo, people. And I am only 9000 words in. Clearly, I'm behind. With 41,000  words left to win it....Clearly, got a lot of work left to do. Hence the glass of wine and the probably nonsensical blog. 

I was hunting everywhere for my wine bottle opener when I realized that I had it in my purse. We have a weekly Beer Bash at work, and I wanted to have my own OK, anyway, my wine bottle opener was in my purse and you can thank Costco for my latest pink wine obsession. It all started with Peju--not a guy--the winery. And the discovery of my new love for blush colored wine. YUM. 

Anyway, I had a reason for my post tonight (as I'm laughing). I was driving to work this morning when I  realized a big piece I was missing for my story. Luckily I had remembered to bring my writer's pad with me and as I sat there waiting for the light, I jotted down my thoughts with a frenzy. I realized then, how valuable it was to have my journal with me at all times. This doesn't have to apply to writer's only. I'm sure everyone's been struck with a thought, thinking, I'll remember and get right on that at my earliest convenience. Except when that time comes, all we can remember is that there was something we were supposed to remember that was brilliant and was too lazy to write down. It's happened a few times to me and since then I've made a habit to keep pads and pens nearby for whenever such a thought strikes. 

There's definitely a value in not passing up on the opportunity to write down your thoughts! It could spark other brilliant ideas as you sit there jotting down that piece of information. 

OK. That's about as deep as I can get with this blog. Wish me luck on catching up with my fellow NaNoWriMo competitors. :(

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Writer's Toolkit: Warming Up

I haven't been able to focus on my writing as much as I want to. But I'm now convinced it's my own mental block that's stopping me--aside from genuine fatigue, of course. I DO have a full time job that actually pays. So my priorities are obvious (smiles).

I realized something this morning about the proper way to warm up. I think after 2+ years, I finally have a system. Hey, better late than never, right? Hopefully, it can help my other fellow writers out there who suffer from a lack of consistency as I do.

Having a true, morning ritual is the first step to progressive and successful writing. I make coffee, turn on Pandora (internet radio) and listen to music that defines the mood of my story; eat something small, grab a book and read out loud for ten minutes. I get on the laptop, open a fresh, new word doc and think about my latest fantasy (nothing gross, guys), literally the last thing I caught myself daydreaming. Why? Because it's fun to write about it. I don't think yet on the actual story I'm dedicated to, because after all, this is just a warm up. Something to get the juices flowing before thinking about how to begin the next chapter, or finish where I left off in the last scene--because we all know how daunting it is to get yourself to write something you've put a lot pressure on yourself to complete. So, I write out my daydream/fantasy like I would a new story (absolutely, no pressure, it's fun, remember?). I write a few paragraphs and then suddenly, I'm warm. I'm really warm. I get this, "you kick ass" feeling and now I'm ready.

I hope this helps other writers out there, something to put in your Writer's Toolbox.  Every writer's got to have somewhere to start. Creating consistency is the key. I'm happy to say, that it's working for me. So now, I've got a solid ritual. Hallelujah!

Here's some photos I took yesterday and a handful taken from Seattle.

The first Starbucks! Location: across from Pike's Market, Seattle. 
Damn, I'd love another cup right about  now.

 I have a thing for sea otters. Location: Seattle Aquarium

Waking along the street, headed back home from the local coffee shop around the corner, La Crema - San Jose. 

I love how perfectly suited my house is for Autumn. Hard to take a single photo to capture all three stories. 

We have a budding maple tree in the front. It doesn't have the range of fall foliage colors I'd like, but at least I got to see some yellow. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fantasy is My Therapy

Something occurred to me a few days ago that when I fully grasped, hit me like a drug induced high. I got giddy, tense, and elated the way only real happiness can bring. What I realized was the awesome power I wielded as a storyteller—being my own storyteller. That no matter the happenings of the world around me, I could sink myself into a story, a fantasy, that would take me away for even a short reprieve. The most profound thing of it all was that the fantasy was just a daydream or a writing session away--and I can do with it anything that I wanted. I can always have my happy ending. I can always defeat the bad guys, rescue the prince (yes, you read that right) and eat a tub of ice cream, guilt-free.

Movie-goers, anime-lovers, and readers of all kinds feel this same sense of escape. Afterall, it’s why we do it/love it.

So here I am, currently obsessed in the new world of my making. Super-stoked. The last couple of days feel like a blur from the madness of my creative energy. My next work is titled From the Ashes (YA, Fantasy). It’s going to be one helluva ride. After my Writer’s Group reviews the preface and first chapter, I’ll post here for your reading pleasure.

Anyway, happy fantasizing guys…

BTW, it’s officially NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)!! Hooray! Are you game to write your novel in a month? I’m stocking up on my coffee.

Here's me and a few of my coworkers dressed up for Halloween in the office. Yes...I was a vampire...No glitter necessary. But fangs, hell yes.