What’s next? It seems to be the perpetual question. It is our human nature to want to keep on going, do better, achieve, evolve … . It seems that as soon as something is achieved, another goal appears in the mind, as if there was no time to enjoy the prize and celebrate the achievement. Whether you are an overachiever or not, the desire presents itself, sometimes as a burning fire to the next level, or as discontent with the present. We forget about the sweetness of the now, and about enjoying the fruits of our hard labor.
As a writer, I focus on the story at hand; however, other stories are brewing or are waiting to be written. It is tempting to hear the plea and to attempt to start writing them, although I have found that I can only write one story at a time, unlike other authors. Instead, I dismiss it and concentrate on the current story, blocking everything else. If a new idea crosses my mind, I jot it down for later consideration, when the timing is right. I don’t succumb to the urge of developing it further.
To each story I pledge my undivided attention, until it is written, edited, and published. Not until then, do I consider my next story. That is another process, which I will write about on a future post – how to select which story to write next. At the moment my focus is in editing The Five-dollar Miracle, and hopefully publish it by the end of this year.
I would like to hear about your writing process and experience – do you write one story at a time or do you split your effort into several?
It has been said that the new generation of readers prefer to consume stories fast, and many favor stories that are not too long, as an example the novella. As new readers devour stories at a fast pace thanks to e-reading, authors may feel the pressure of writing more, faster, and put out more works. Whether you have a huge readership or not, the thought of catering to readers is a legitimate one. Even if you set out to write a novella, there is no guarantee that you will end up achieving so.
As far as my experience, when I write a story, I don’t know how long it will be. It is a living process, one of the mind, the heart, the soul, and one of spirit. Currently, I am editing my next story – The Five-dollar Miracle – and it took a life of its own, not quite as I had planned, so I let the process be and the story flowed taking me where it wanted. As an author I have control of the story, but its birth and development sometimes challenges preconceived ideas, and for me, letting it unfold by putting aside those ideas works.
As I have said before I don’t outline, other than a few scribbles of a basic idea for a story, in no particular order, and pretty much all over the place. Later on, the story develops and things fall into place adequately. In Moonlit Valley the ending came as a single sentence on my mind. At that moment, I wrote it down and I knew it was the ending, however, I was at the beginning of the story, and didn’t know how I was going to get to that point. I may have an idea for a story (whether it starts with a line, a word, or a paragraph scribbled down when it hits my mind) but its development is a living process that takes me along with it until its completion, in which length is unimaginable. It may turn out to be a short story, a novella, or an epic. I am done when the story has been told.
Please feel free to comment on your writing process. I would love to hear about your experience.
Am I good enough? It is the question that haunts our minds at one point or another, and if you have written for some time, you know what I mean. You might have 4,5,6 … 15 books under your belt, and that moment of weakness can take your breath away, and with it, chisel a bit of confidence. If you let it, it will keep chiseling until it creates a masterpiece of doubt, and at its worst, of fear. It is at that moment of balancing the writer-self with the ego when one wonders (or wanders), and even dares to question if it all makes sense. If you have been there (or are there), it is normal. Artists, whether writers, painters, sculptors … and any human that is passionate about something, passionate enough to doubt that is, will go through this act of balancing. The image of a circus clown crossed my mind.
Am I good enough? The only way to answer this is to keep going and find out. This is not the time to stop and wonder, but to keep pressing the dream, and regain your breath. At each breath of the pen, the air clears out, and with it any hints of fear that might try to creep up in the writer’s soul. After all, we are in a game of souls, and the mind chooses the setting, and the words flow.
Am I good enough? You’ll never know unless you press on.
*Sunrise Souls update – I am in the last revision phase, and almost ready for publication. This one has taken my breath away.
I dream more books that I can write. I am a dreamer in every sense of the word. Today I wrote the last chapter of Sunrise Souls, the end of the trilogy – The Dinorah Chronicles. It took longer than anticipated, moving the December 2014 deadline to March 2015, and going past that deadline to the last week of April, today. This is the first draft, and now the hard work starts – rewriting, editing, and going through several drafts until it is ready for publication. I am very happy, and the last chapters have been written while I am going through excruciating lower back pain, taking breaks here and there, as the chair feels like a torture device, and my bed turned into a nail bed. Hey, it is all good.
The cover has been finalized, and I even ordered promo cards. Originally, I had a deadline of May 2015 for publication, pending for now, of course, due the amount of work that needs to be done. The experience of writing the last book in the trilogy was a bit different. I felt the pressure of the ending, as I became more critical of my writing. In addition, my health was challenged last year, my mood declined, and it added to the anxiety of meeting my expectations. Thinking of every roadblock I encountered, I don’t think that I performed too badly, as far as having the first draft ready today. I am grateful for that.
My next novel is waiting for me, and I think that I’ll put trilogies aside for a while. I have several novels waiting to be written, but I am letting the one that speaks louder to me become my next project. It is a process that I’ve learned to recognize as it filters to mind during my day, and captures my thoughts in the evening, sometimes making its way into my dreams. It demands to be written, thus muting the voice of the other possible novels.
I’ll share my progress here, and for now, here is a lovely picture of the first draft of Sunrise Souls.
First draft – Sunrise Souls. Photo by M.A.D.
Just wrote this poem. Happy Earth Day!
Fragile as glass
The mighty rock
Jasmine of the Universe
Spec of my soul.
If one day, departed my soul
I’d searched the heavens
Looking for home
Diamond in blue, heavenly song.
Thanks to the way technology has developed in the last few years, and the companies that made use of it to broaden the publishing arena, independent publishing is now more effective and affordable. Writers who are serious about their work and are in it for the long run have embraced independent (indie) publishing with excitement and gratefulness. Other people have jumped in looking to make a quick buck, soon to discover that it is not possible or easy, and have left the arena. Many use indie publishing as a way to “be discovered” by the traditional industry in the hopes of obtaining a contract. Some authors who have published via traditional channels have decided to join in and publish independently, while others may consider the movement a heresy. Exciting times for writers, no doubt about it. However, choosing you path to publishing is a very important and personal issue and you must inform yourself, weigh both sides of the industry, and do what is right for you according to your standards – working style, time, work ethics, and future goals; money has little to do with it in the beginning, and a lot later on. The same reason why the traditional industry has not embraced it, and is a bit nervous. Royalties – the forbidden word.
As promising as it sounds, indie publishing is not for the faint of heart; independent authors who have published way before technology reached this capacity know this well. They are the unseen precursors, the ghosts behind the curtain. Many so-called overnight successes have worked at the craft for 15 years or more. Others have been rejected by traditional publishing a lifetime, for not writing what the publishing industry was looking for at the time. These last group found their readers by publishing independently, after many years of rejection and hard work; these too, are called overnight successes.
When is indie publishing wrong for you? It requires a very personal answer, but in general, if you are not willing to work hard, be patient, and grow with the industry as it continues to develop (this is just the beginning) indie publishing might not suit you. In addition, if you are looking for quick money, crave instant recognition, and are not willing to learn, then indie publishing might not be for you. If you feel strongly about pursuing your writing career via the traditional publishing guidelines, independent publishing is not for you. If you are not willing to work long solitary hours at your desk, educate yourself and observe the trends, while working hard to present a decent product to your readers thus honoring their time with the best book you can write, then, indie publishing is definitely not for you.
WWTT? – What would they think?
At one point in our writing we will ask ourselves that question. It comes from the concern that readers will associate what is written with our personality and think that we are it. Some readers will, some will not. That is a chance that the writer will have to weigh, and decide. I think that the work speaks of the writer, however, it does not define him/her.
As writers we decide how far we want to go with our writing, and how true to it we want to be. As an example – If I am writing a murder scene, you bet that I am going to be as descriptive and gross as I can be with the pen to capture the scene and translate it into a visual picture to readers. If I am writing about the killer, I will want to get as deep into his/her psychological persona as I can, to give the character life. Does that make me a psycho or a murderer? I don’t think so. Then, why do we hesitate to write? Out of concern – WWTT? It is the predicament that stops the pen, the mind, the Muse.
Fiction writers have the “peace of mind” (do they?) that readers will take their works as fiction, but sometimes interpretation goes beyond, and the lines become a bit blurred, not so much for the author but for the readers. A latest example of this is the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. A fiction novel that stirred so much controversy and continues to do so with its movie incarnation. I have not read the book but you would have to live under a rock not to know what is going on with it, that is, if you are an active reader or movie lover. J K Rowling had to deal with the witchcraft criticism of her Harry Potter series, and I am sure that you can think of many other examples.
In the end, a writer decides how far to go with the pen, and how important WWTT is to him/her. To be or not to be, that is the question – Shakespeare.
Tame – Changed from natural wilderness to a manageable state. (American Heritage Dictionary)
The above definition will serve the tone of this post. As creatives we have an abundance of inspiration flowing, and many times, this same flow overwhelms our creative spirit. A person who seems to have many talents, or ways in which this flow of inspiration is expressed may find it difficult to focus on one talent, thus making it challenging to grow or develop a talent further. A multi-creative spirit may find itself in creative chaos at a particular moment becoming a bit confused as where to focus the intention to create. A writer may feel the need to pursue painting or photography, or any other artistic interest, pulling himself/herself away from the writing career that he/she is following. Many times, this burst of creative passion leads to doubt as to what path to follow. A person may be talented in many areas, however as human beings we live within the constrictions of a material world ruled by time and space, making it difficult to create as much as we wish to, and leaving us in creative exhaustion, spreading ourselves too thin, and eventually opening a door to frustration. So, what is a multi-creative spirit to do?
Focus seems to be the answer. Whether you are great at writing or painting or many more creative venues is not the issue here, but how to manage your creative state in a way that leaves you feeling outside of creative chaos, more fulfilled, and with a clear vision. It is fine to love all your talents and feel equally passionate about them, however one of them will need to be placed first in your fulfillment scale. Prioritizing next the rest of your passions. You may want to dedicate more time developing and growing as a writer, while enjoying your painting as a hobby or as a secondary source of income or fulfillment and not necessarily tied to your income, to present an example. This will take the pressure of the need to be “great” at every talent or perform 100 percent in all, at all times. It brings to mind the adage, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
As we live, we evolve, and so do our interests and passions. Wanting to excel in all our creative passions/interests might feel natural; however, when we learn to tame our multi-creative spirit it might lead to a better use of our talents, less frustration, and peace of mind, thus a more relaxed state of being that becomes fertile ground for inspiration to flow without the natural constraints that we put on it. In the end, it may work to our advantage and facilitate a state of creativity that leads to mindful fulfillment and nourishing of the creator in us. In this way we respect our gifts, as well as our creative self, and ultimately, the Creator and Giver of it all.
Photo by Maria Diaz
This is probably one of the battles of the heart for many writers. Mostly, because when we write, many ideas come to mind, and many of these cross the limits of the actual work in progress. My belief is that I do not want to chain myself to writing in a specific genre, but I recognize the need to focus on the one that speaks to me the most, at least in the beginning of my writing career. Doing this has its benefits. It will help you concentrate, grow, and polish your skills, as well as develop a name brand.
There is always one genre that attracts our interest in the early days of writing. Later on, we want to spread our wings and soar to other lands. If you are publishing in the traditional way or have a contract, this will present a challenge for obvious reasons. If you have built your brand long enough that a particular genre speaks of it, it also presents a challenge, as readers will tend to associate your brand with the genre, and this is the reason many authors use pen names when writing in other genres. For the independent author, the lines are less defined, as the pen is free to write without the need to follow protocol, except the one owed to readers. If readers expectations demand from you the work that they so much have loved, then a brand has been established, but it does not mean that an author will abandon the desire to explore other genres, and create, possibly at a different pace, works that will please other readers, and maybe, win the interest of faithful readers.
In the long run, write what you love, do it from the heart, and share it in a way that it is presented to readers in the best light, and worthy of their time and respect.
Each one of us has a journey, and as we walk the path, we give of ourselves, inspire others, take what is given to us, celebrate, and we share our talents. We work hard at a craft that we identify as our talent, our calling – that thing that makes the heart flutter with delight and anxiety at the same time, and gives us joy. Whether for you it is writing, or something else, how you treat your craft will determine how far in your journey you will go with that particular talent. It starts by respecting your craft.
Respecting your craft is personal; you decide how hard you work at it, and the priority you assign as well. You decide to block time in your busy schedule, and to respect that time as an appointment with your talent (or Muse). You decide how far you let others interfere, how much to share, and your level or degree of dedication. You deprecate your craft when critics belittle, or you stand up straight, dust off the venom spores, and keep the focus. You crumble in defeat, or you realize that it is just another step in the long journey, and after all, every soul is on a journey, and as you learn to respect your craft, so will you learn to respect another’s journey – understanding and vision come from doing, and living. Respect your craft. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”- Matthew 7:12