Saturday, May 14, 2011

Laura's Writing Meme

For shits and giggles, let's all do this, okay? Comment back or link us back to your own blog if you do it!

What’s the last thing you wrote?
I wrote about 600 words yesterday of PERFECT 10. Not exactly a record, but time was fleeting.
Was it any good?
I kind of love it. It’s probably one of those darlings I need to kill, but it’s a good discussion between Sam and his English teacher about his drive to write. Really hits home for me.
What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
In a notebook somewhere in my parents’ house is a story about animals that I wrote probably in 4th grade. It was totally a rip off of James Howe’s Bunnicula series, but I was really proud of it then. I still have poetry and short stories from high school as well.
Write poetry?
I’ve written one poem in the last 10 years. Seriously.
Angsty poetry?
I guess my one wasn’t very angsty, so no.
Favorite genre of writing?
Young adult. I feel it’s my home. To be more specific, romance and issue-driven YA.
Most fun character you ever wrote?
Probably Brad King from REFUGE. He had a wit, sass, and intelligence that were just the perfect storm. Travis from PERFRECT 10 ranks up there too. (And if we’re going to go with fanfiction answers, Brad from any of my Adam Lambert fics, Draco Malfoy, and a rocker named Noah Groban. *smiles*)
Most annoying character you ever wrote?
Annoying? Hmmn. Josh Turner, the bully from REFUGE, was a whole lot more than annoying, so he doesn’t count. I would almost say any of the women from my Compass Rose fantasy trilogy, save for Bilhah. As much as I love Veronica, she can be a real brat.
Best plot you’ve ever created?
My Compass Rose trilogy, definitely. I loved being able to build that universe and exorcise all my religious angst while weaving one of the most complicated plots I’ve ever dreamed up. (Call the Darkness Light wins for fanfic).
Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
Well, I can’t tell you, that’d be cheating. But the end of the CR Trilogy ranks. I don’t particularly think I’m good at plot twists because I feel like everything I write can only end one way.
How often do you get writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I get stuck, not blocked, meaning that it's not that I CAN'T write, it's that I don't know what to write. But I can always write SOMETHING.
How do you fix it?
I spend time with the characters in my head and really listen. Sometimes, if it’s just an issue of not knowing what to write next, I plan and try to untangle my plot.
Write fan fiction?
Yup. See above.
Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Yep. I think it’s my bread and butter.
Do you type or write by hand?
Type. I plan by writing by hand, though.
Do you save everything you write?
Fiction yes, blogs no.
Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
Yes, but not often. It’s much more likely that I reuse an idea that didn’t quite fit something else. Or something I just thought was so great it would work again. (For example, Travis’ band in PERFECT 10 shares a name with Noah Groban’s band in a fanfic. It was just a cool name!)  
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written?
The scene in FROM EAST TO WEST where Vincent is killed. The image of all of the magicians locked in the temple while the cardinal unleashes mustard gas on them is horrifying, and Vincent’s goodbye to Cain kills me, even now. When I finished writing it I just knew it would be something that would stick with the reader long after they read it.
What’s everyone else’s favorite thing that you’ve written?
Those that have read them would say my fanfics, That Good Night and Call the Darkness Light. (Or even Through the Night, from the old Grobanite fandom). But those who have read my original works would agree with my answer above, or say the dinner scene in REFUGE.
What’s your favorite setting for your characters?
Depends on the characters. My modern boys seem to love Athens, Ohio, a fun little college town. My fantasy characters tend to go for manors and sprawling estates. Some even prefer Heaven. *winks*
What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Horror. I don’t think anything I’m capable of could terrify or scare.
How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Just one. I abandoned pretty much everything to work on PERFECT 10. Sam’s too loud in my head anyways. He won’t let me write anything else.
Do you want to write for a living?
Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?
Not since I was a child.
Have you ever won an award for your writing?
LOL, not unless you count Mrs. Cryder giving me the best story award in second grade!
Ever written something in script or play format?
No. I don’t think like that, and I can’t make myself.
What are your five favorite words?
Serendipitous. Sanguine. Languid. Possibility. Cacophony.
What character that you’ve written most resembles yourself?
Bilhah in FROM EAST TO WEST. I’d like to resemble Meg Oliver in PERFECT 10 more, but I can only admire from an envious distance.
Where do you get ideas for your other characters?
Real people, or people I’d like to meet.
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Yeah. I wrote about a glittery vampire in a flower-filled meadow and… Oh, wait. No. That wasn’t me.
My dreams are not the best for writing, but right before I fall asleep is when I “write” the best.
Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
None of the above. I prefer satisfying endings, even if that means a sad one.
Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
I’m more concerned with just trying to keep up with my characters. But spelling and grammar know-how kicks in while I run after them.
Does music help you write?
I don’t use music with words much when I write. I write a lot to silence or to white noise from an iPhone app I have. That said, all of the Compass Rose Trilogy and REFUGE were written to Henryk Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony, the Dawn Upshaw recording.
Quote something you’ve written. The first thing to pop into your mind.
This is one of my favorite lines in PERFECT 10, and my main reason for including it here besides loving it is just that the scene will not survive the first round of edits:
My parents were scholars, both professors at the university in the center of town. Liberal in politics and atheist in belief. I, therefore, was liberal and atheist. But I’d heard about sin from a few of my Christian friends at school and my brain had quickly filed it away with other religious words like “karma” and “salvation” and “inner peace”, right under the broader category of “bullshit.”

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hey, Slow It Down...

We agreed to be honest with each other, didn't we, readers? No? Well, maybe not out loud or in some binding, written contract, but this whole blog is about overcoming all the negative that comes with writing and focusing on the positive, and to that end, I want to be honest with you.

The past couple of weeks I have been STRESSED. I am talking major anxiety. I actually told Erin last night that I feel like negativity is just following me around, like I'm Eeyore and I've got my own little personal storm cloud hovering above my head, everywhere I go. Which is both melodramatic and kind of psycho sounding, but it's really how I feel. I'm kind of a mess, a big ball of frantic worry and paranoia and frustration.

Why? A bunch of things. On the real life side, the choir and band I direct have a few end-of-the-year performances coming up. I have a lot to pay for on the horizon and I'm feeling the money crunch. My teaching schedule has doubled again and not only is it stressful planning more lessons, I'm with large groups of small children a lot more than normal, which is stressful in itself. My masters courses are about to start up again and I feel the work looming over me. 

On the writing side of life, I'm really struggling. I am writing a young adult novel that I personally think is my best work ever, but as much as I believe in it, it's hard to feel justified feeling that way. I'm going to say this honestly and hope I don't sound too whiny with it: It's really hard to feel enthusiastic about your work when you feel like you're the only one who IS enthusiastic about it. 

Don't get me wrong. I know everything I get back from my readers can't be glowing. I know they can't possibly reach my level of enthusiasm, even at their most glowing, because they didn't bring these characters to life. And I also know that most of the lack of enthusiasm isn't on purpose. A lot of the people I usually bounce ideas off of or read my work are really busy right now. It's not that they don't want to read it and spend time telling me that it's awesome, it's that they can't. I am a bona fide feedback whore, and a little encouragement goes a long way into keeping my momentum (and my morale) up, and without that crutch it's hard for me to push myself. (This subject is worth a whole slew of blogs by itself, and I'll do that, I promise.)

So... in essence, writing feels very lonely right now. Combine that with not having the time to write most days, and it's a recipe for a crap ton of stress.

So what can I do to alleviate some of this stress? Well, here are some things that have worked for me, and hopefully they might work for you too. 

  1. Do something peaceful to calm yourself down and get some clarity. Take a walk in the woods. Sit still and watch a candle burn. Do a religious ritual. Take a bubble bath while listening to Enya. Do something only for yourself, even if you have other important things to do. Forget them for a half an hour and read indulge.
  2. Make a list. To Do lists put things into perspective for me. If To Do lists stress you out even more, then make a list of things that you can do, and things that are out of control. Tear up or burn the list of things that are out of your control because THEY ARE OUT OF YOUR CONTROL. 
  3. Get Busy. Nothing will relieve stress like putting some hard work in, and although any type of work will do you some good, if you work on those items on your list from #2, you'll kill two birds. Conquer the small things first, and use that positive energy to propel you into the harder stuff.
  4. Let it go. All those things you can't change? Let them go. I know it's hard, but dwelling on it is a waste of time. My orchestra director used to say, "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." This is so true. Like I said up there, burn a list of these things, or write them down and then put the list away, symbolically putting all of them aside. Or call a friend and bitch about them until you can bitch no more, and then stop thinking about them. If these things don't work, meditate on them, visualize these problems becoming smaller and smaller until they're barely grains of sand in your consciousness.
  5. Be your own counselor. Still stressed? Write yourself an encouraging note about something you've done. Leave helpful quotes on mirrors, refrigerator doors, and other places where you'll see them. Reward yourself for an accomplishment, no matter how small. Print out an example of your best writing to pull out and read every time you need to know you've done a good job.
  6. Drop it like it's hot. If you're doing something you don't have to do, don't do it. Delegate. Say no when asked to take on other projects. Put off things that can be put off in lieu of more important, more time-sensitive things. And related closely to that...
  7. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. Twitter teaches some great life lessons. The best one is that if there's someone on your feed that pisses you off, raises your blood pressure with their opposing viewpoint, or likes to start drama, YOU CAN UNFOLLOW THEM. Unless they're a real life friend, there's no point in keeping them around. And this goes for anything in the world. Unfollow those things that don't matter, yet keep you on edge. That TV show you have to see, so you rush to get everything done before 8pm? It's a source of stress, no matter how much you enjoy it. Stop watching it or Tivo that shit so you can see it when you have time. That blog you just HAVE to read every day? No you don't. It's just a blog. (Oops, did I just lose readers?) Don't read it. The post will still be there in a month, when you have time for it. The scrapbooking/jewelry making/latest novel for your book club that you ABSOLUTELY NEED TO DO RIGHT NOW? No you don't. You're a big girl now. The only person making you do these things is yourself. Don't make yourself do them anymore. 
The best part about all of this is that even if you're not enthusiastic now, fake it. Do some of these things and after a while you won't be faking. If nothing else, they totally get the ball rolling.

Phew. Well, I'm feeling better. How about you?