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Just an Update

It feels like about two weeks since I wrote my last blog post and said that I’d try to update this at least once per month.

Welp… That was February.

I think most of us have had our worlds altered in some way or another since then. There have definitely been some difficult moments over the past few months, but I feel so lucky to have been able to use writing as an escape.

The last time I wrote, I had just finished my first romance novel (way back then, it was titled The Lady of Blackmere… more on that in coming months) and had just begun the second book.

As of today, I’ve finished the second book, am about a third of the way into the third book, and have written a novella. Turns out, existential dread and a fear of the outside world does wonders for my creativity.

In all seriousness, things have been hard, and while my coping mechanism has been to keep working, it’s completely normal to freeze up in these situations. If you haven’t felt inspired or motivated lately, you’re not alone. I see tons of writers on twitter, talking about how their muse has left them, or how they just can’t find the energy to tell stories. It’s normal, and I assure you it’s temporary. When the time is right, and you have the mental energy to spare, your creativity will come back to you.

I don’t have a whole lot else I can report just yet, but hopefully in the next few months, I can share some exciting news.

Hang in there, people.

Writing

Telling my own story.

Most authors will agree that writing can truly be therapeutic. Sometimes we can work out our deep-seated issues with our characters. We can create the people we wish we were, and make the people we hate get their comeuppance. It’s a chance to explore a life that never will be, to embody a great hero, and to explore beautiful, diverse worlds. It’s a chance to tell our story. Which is why I chose to write about a woman who falls in love with another woman.

When I was around 11 years old I watched Titanic at the cinema, and realised that I liked watching Kate as much as I liked watching Leo. Of course, I was 11, and so were most of the other people I knew. “Lesbian” was used as an insult. So I kept quiet.

At 16 years old, a friend’s parent started a rumor in my school that I was lesbian. Kids threw stones at me.

Seven years later I went away to university, and people were way more understanding and diverse, and so I came out as bisexual to my uni friends. It wasn’t an issue, and I finally felt like I could be myself. Back at home, however, it took months of summoning the courage to tell my friends and family, and the resounding response I had, after all that soul searching and courage summoning was, “No you’re not,” and “It’s just a phase.”

I never discussed it with them again.

I’m now very happily married to a man. He knows about my sexuality and is supportive and amazing about it.

But, the reason I chose to write about a bisexual woman, is because I feel as though I never got the chance to be fully open and comfortable with my sexuality. I was scared of abandonment and rejection. Writing this down genuinely terrifies me. It shouldn’t, but my heart is pounding and my fingers are shaking.

I wrote my book for myself, for people like me, and people who see that all love between consenting adults is beautiful.

If I’m going to face criticism, then I need to accept myself the way I am, and the way I would anyone else who came out to me. I don’t feel as though I’m a good role-model, because I hide. I’m in awe of the people who are out and proud at any age.  I’m almost 32 years old, and I can’t keep being that 11 year old girl, terrified of her classmates. I’m a fully grown, bisexual woman, who wrote a story about another bisexual woman, a dragon, and a herd of murderous centaurs.

Thank you for reading, if you made it this far. It helped to write this down, hence the therapeutic nature of writing.

 

Writing, Writing Advice, writing challenges

2019 Writer Challenges.

New Year’s is right around the corner, and with it comes the drive to push ourselves further. This year has been a tumultuous one for me. My dog and I moved from the North West of England to the middle of the east coast of the USA. To say it has been bonkers is an understatement.

But, I’m settled in now and ready to start next year full of gusto, aplomb, and vim and vigor and really challenge myself to grow as a writer. In this blog I will list a few you can attempt if you fancy it.

  1.  365 Prompts: I’ll be posting a new writing prompt on my instagram page every day next year. It’s entirely up to you how much or how little you want to write, but my hope is that by the end of next year, I’ll have 365 pieces of writing that I can build ideas from.  If nothing else, getting into the habit of writing every day helps vocabulary, voice, flow etc.
  2. 1 Million Words: My awesome writer friend Kristy Westaway is aiming to write 1 million words by the end of next year. Sounds impossible, right? Well it’s certainly not for the fainthearted, but it is possible if you write 2740 words per day. Even at 1370 words per day you would have half a million words down by the end of the year. It’s a tough challenge and sounds really impressive!
  3. The Genre Explorer: step out of your genre comfort zone, both in terms of reading and writing. I for one tend to stick to fantasy for both, and I would love to expand my literary palate. I plan to make a list of books in different genres that I want to read, and then dip my (writing?) toe into each of them. You never know unless you try it!
  4. The Finish That Damn Book Challenge This is a simple one. If you’ve been sitting on a half finished manuscript, or have an idea for a story that just won’t go away, then do yourself a favor and just finish it. Make 2019 your year. Make it MyNoWriYe (Not quite as catchy as NaNoWriMo, but the sentiment is there and I tried really hard.) Whatever, just finish your book.
  5. 12 Short Stories: Write a 5000-10,000 word short story every month. By the end of the year you’ll have your very own short story anthology. A wise woman (Kristy Westaway again) once said, “That’s a very good way of documenting your writing journey, even if you don’t publish it.”

 

I hope some of these will be useful and fun. The most important thing with writing is that you enjoy it. Good luck to all of you with whatever you decide to challenge yourself with next year!

Thank you for reading.

Writing, Writing Advice

Start Taking Yourself Seriously as a Writer.

Writers, like all creatives, often suffer from low self esteem. But there are also times when we feel unstoppable.

John Lennon put it best when he said “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.

This quote probably feels as personal to most writers as it does to me. Sometimes we’re on top of the world, and we imagine ourselves watching the trailer for the movie adaptation of our book. We’re proud of ourselves for the stories we’ve created, the characters we’ve given life to, the thousands of words we’ve written, deleted and re-written until the point of madness. We dedicate a huge portion of our days to work hard on something which might never amount to anything for anyone else. But we did it for ourselves. Because we have to write.

And then there are the days when we question everything. There are days where figuring out how to describe a scene feels like trying to see through pea soup. Sometimes we feel crushed by the fruitlessness of our passion, and how it seems like everyone around us is progressing through life, reaping rewards, while we’re still stuck on the tutorial. What successes we do have feel like mistakes. We convince ourselves we just got lucky that one time, and we shouldn’t get our hopes up. That soon someone will realise that they praised the wrong person, and you’ll have to return that moment of fulfillment. Almost everyone feels like this at some point.

And for writers, the best way to combat this is to read.

It sounds so silly, but I promise you it works. Reading will do two things:

a) Teach you how to be a better writer

b) Prove to you that you are not the worst writer

Good readers make good writers.

I would go so far as to say that there’s nothing a writing class can teach you which you can’t also teach yourself simply by reading. This only works if you pay attention and analyze, but it is entirely possible. Look at the way other writers structure sentences, evoke emotion, set the scene, describe characters etc. And look at what you could have done better. If you find a scene which you can visualise clearly and you feel as though you’re being swept along by the story, try to figure out how the author is achieving that crazy brain magic. If you’re re-reading sentences, trying to understand what’s happening, or you’re bored out of your mind, try to figure out why the language isn’t inspiring you.

Your grammar and vocabulary will thank you. Your self esteem will grow, even if just by fractions. It’s a long and difficult journey, but even tiny steps forward edge you towards your goal.

And remember, no author, and no book has ever been unanimously loved. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone has over 5 million ratings on Goodreads, and 1% of them are 1 star. That’s a tiny portion, but that’s also over 50,000 people who found it completely unreadable (And that’s just the Goodreads users).

That quote by John Lennon is great because many people would argue that he is a loser, or that he is God Almighty. So many of the most recognisable figureheads  in our culture, the people we aspire to be as influential as, are polarising.

All art is subjective, but as reading is the most time consuming for audiences, disgruntled readers can be brutal with their negative reviews. The easiest way to avoid getting hurt by reviews is to not read them. Reviews aren’t for authors to torture themselves with, they’re for readers so they can figure out if they want to invest time and money in your book. Besides, once they’re on there you can’t remove them, and you can’t change the reader’s mind. Just don’t look. Get on with reading and writing and taking care of yourself.

It’s important to find balance. Low self esteem is harmful, but over-confidence can be just as bad. We should never think of ourselves as infallible. Mistakes, and recognition of mistakes, is crucial for our development as writers and as human beings.

Focus on growth, and accept that you will never know everything. Try not to think of your success as a pedestal, but rather an ancient tree with tangled, knotted branches. You can always climb higher and in different directions. The tree will never stop growing. There is always something new to learn and accomplish.

Whether you’re just starting out as a writer, or you’re writing your 20th book, you should be proud of yourself, and if telling stories makes you happy then keep doing it.

Thank you for reading.