Midnight Musings – Taking inspiration from dreams and nightmares

This morning I woke up shaking. My heart raced in my chest and a cold sweat seeped through my blankets. I lay beneath the covers, only my eyes visible to the room, terrified, both of what I’d just seen and the strange noises that occur in ones home that are never a problem until you’re alone in the dark.

Minutes passed and still I couldn’t shake the fear that lodged itself in my stomach. I wanted to sleep again, my eyes heavy, but with just the barest of blinks I could see the terrors, and the hear the screaming.

There was no way I could go back to sleep.

So I did the next best, most logical thing. I pulled my laptop onto my bed and wrote about it.

No matter who  you are or where you come from, everyone dreams and whether good or bad, dreams can provide some great inspiration for creative individuals everywhere. Certainly artists and writers tend to benefit the most from dreams and nightmares, though I would wager that while artists can capture one individual scene particularly well, it’s harder for them to capture a story through one image. Writers on the other hand can transcribe large chunks of a dream and then use our super powers of deduction to come up with a reasonable plot and some wayward characters to follow.

This method of taking stories based on dreams and nightmares is certainly not a new one, what with some of the great writers having done just that. Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Stephenie Meyer (just kidding, I’m pretty sure, when she said Twilight was a dream that she had, she meant a wet one). In any case it’s clear that this resource can spawn some really interesting creations.

I’ve currently got a handful of terrifying pages whose plot is quickly solidifying in my mind, but it led me to wonder about the rest of you.

How often do you find inspiration in your sleep?

Any full books come out of those midnight ramblings?

Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Scribbles.

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The best laid plans – When life gets in the way of writing.

We’ve all been there. The day you woke up ready to write and your kid is sick, or your computer breaks down. Maybe you had errands to run that took way longer than expected, or your pipes freeze and suddenly everything else is more important or more pressing than writing. It happens. You can’t beat yourself up for it. Expect the unexpected and all that.

So today I’d like to share my unexpected. Being of the mid twenties age, I’m at the lovely time in my life when my wisdom teeth have reared their ugly heads. Or actually they haven’t. They’re still festering away in my gums making snide remarks at inappropriate times, and just like any other rude house guest, they have overstayed their welcome in my face.

I’ve known that they would have to come out for quite some time now. What I didn’t expect was going into  my consultation this afternoon and having it end with, “Come back tomorrow morning and we’ll take care of them then.”

 

… Sigh.

 

I had hoped that when the time came to get them removed, I’d have a little bit of time to write more in the days before hand. Time to get ahead on my goals so that I wouldn’t be completely behind when I regained feeling in my face and could think without the Vicodin making me feel like a five year old on meth. Rest assured this is not an exaggeration. The last time I had to take Vicodin for a kidney infection, I spent a week watching the first two seasons of My Little Pony on repeat. Sometimes I would even be surprised by the endings, regardless of whether or not I had just watched the episode an hour earlier.

Clearly this doesn’t speak well to my ability for the next day or two in terms of my writing, and unfortunately that means I’m gonna be behind at least for a little while.

And basically I’m here to tell you that it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes we can’t or don’t write for reasons that we could have controlled. And then there are times like this where you cut your losses and say, “I’ll get back on track in a day or two. Until then, I’m gonna go back to Ponyville.”

 

Happy scribbling.

Dealing with rejections – Projected failure in the quest to be published

At some point in every writer’s career, rejection rears it’s ugly head. It’s nearly impossible to sell or publish something without sending it out more than a handful of times. That’s just how it goes. But realizing the reality of modern publishing and being able to cope with having someone dismiss your work and the time you spend perfecting it, can be hard.

I recently had a rejection of sorts put in my path. I had entered one of my novels in the Amazon-Break through novel of the Year contest and unfortunately my novel didn’t make it to the second round. A few other writers that I chat with are  also in a similar boat, either with the Amazon contest, or a number of other smaller contests. So the other night we had a chat about rejection and how we handle it. Of course everyone had different responses as is to be expected. But it led me to wonder what you, my followers, do in the face of rejection.

Do you cry? Mope around? Get back to work? Burn your manuscript?

I hope no one seriously contemplates the last one…

In any case I’m curious, so please feel free to leave a comment below about how you deal with being turned down. I’d love to hear from you.

I try to look at rejection like a test of sorts. My favorite author J.K. Rowling, was rejected 12 times for the first book in the Harry Potter series. Now, being fully aware that I am not J.K. Rowling, nor are any of my books at that level of awesome which the Harry Potter books achieved, it would be silly of me to feel like I failed as a writer just because my book got rejected. I’ve got to send that thing out and fail at least 12 times before it gets anywhere. More over, as I said, my book isn’t as great as HP1, so maybe I have to have 24 rejections before someone will decide to pick it up? Who knows.

While I may reevalute this line of reasoning when I’ve had 30+ rejections, for now, in the beginning of sending my work out, this method does me some good. It sets a standard by which I can fail. Eventually if I just keep sending it places, it’ll get published one way or another.

Now, I used J.K. Rowling as my example because the Harry Potter series is my favorite set of books of all time, however the same could be true for any author you idolize. Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 20 times. (So my standard, if I were a writer of horror would be 20-40). The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected 16 times. (16-32)

What this system of projected rejection really allows me to do is to put aside those feelings of failure and slog my way through that first batch or two of rejections. Just like when you write your first book, it’s incredibly difficult yet your second or third or fourth are each easier than the last to complete. I expect the same idea holds for sending out queries. Each time you draft one of those letters, each time you have to give a synopsis for your book, you become more precise, more apt at explaining yourself and thereby you improve. As you improve, at some point, someone is bound to notice you.

Basically what I’m telling you to do is to A) tell me how you accept rejection below and B) if you like my method of reasoning with failure, pick your favorite author, find out how may times they had to query their first book before it was accepted somewhere.

As with all things, if you persist, you will improve, and if you persistently send out your improving work, you’ll make it one day or another.

Happy Scribbling.

Ask and ye shall receive… Not buying into writer stereotypes

Some of you might remember a few months back I had a post about like minded writers and finding individuals to share in the crazed, caffeine fueled awesome that is novel writing. Essentially I wanted writing buddies who could be counted upon to give honest opinions and to spur me on when my inspiration was lowest. And in my moment of lonely grumblings, I put an ad of sorts on the National Novel Writing Month forums and lo and behold, I’ve now established a small writing group of about 20 young women, all with similar interests, ages and favorite genres. 

Ask and ye shall receive…

When I’d written that post, I believed that I was alone in wishing for others who didn’t buy into the lonely writer mentality. But I was wrong. And apparently so are all of those people who contend that a writers work is intensely private and therefore it should be kept quiet and hidden until perfect. If you want to work alone and never tell anyone about your projects until they’re complete go for it. Who am I to stop you?

I just want you let you know that if you truly feel alone and are bothered by the the absence of other creative individuals in your life or people to bounce your work off of, you aren’t alone. Somewhere out there, made closer by the joy of the internet, someone is wishing for the same thing you are. 

In short, I’m here to tell you that no matter what it is your doing, and no matter what you’ve been told, who you are as a writer (or artist, or musician etc.) isn’t defined by what others tell you it means to be a writer. You are defined by your actions and the people with whom you share them. 

Happy Scribbling. 

Finishing books and finding new stories.

For the past several months I’ve been working hard at completing the first book in a series I’m currently writing and I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times that I wanted to just take a break and working on something else.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know where the stories was going, or that it wasn’t any good, I was simply drained from having done so much work on it for so long. I’d been working within the series and specifically on that book for seven straight months without a break and it’s been back and forth across my desk for a year and a half now.Though I didn’t work on it consistently throughout that time of course. I wrote 1 complete novel and got about half way through 5 others in that time. But with my college schedule and life at hand, it took nearly 2 years for that book to reach it’s completion. Just in time for me to submit it to the Break though novel of the year Award hosted by Amazon, actually. 

Now, everyone varies I suppose, on how long it takes them to get an idea, to the point where they are ready to submit it to agents, or contests or publishing houses, so I don’t feel bad about this novel’s shelf life, however, I’d like to address something that will probably bother each of us writers and some point in our careers. 

Knowing when your book is done. Not just written, but edited and revised and pieced together as well as you could manage. I say this because, while I submitted my book to the Amazon contest, and while I think it will stand up fairly well on it’s own, I can still think of things I’d like to improve. I could spent another seven months, taking things out, adding them back in again, and still wind up with the same story I have right now. 

It’s hard to let your stories stand on their own two feet when you’ve held them in your hand for months, even years at a time. But if you don’t let go, your first book might be your last. You might forgo all the great novel ideas you’ve ever had, just because this one, could be a little bit better. 

Well fuck that. 

That’s what I’m here to say today. Don’t let your book consume you. If you find yourself changing the verbs of the same sentence ten times in a week, let go of it. Get out something new and just write. Yes, you want your books to be successful and for others to enjoy reading them, but there comes a point when editing and revising just become counter productive. So let your work out into the world and start on something new. 

It took me exactly 20 months to get from start to finish with this novel but, to put that in perspective, I spent 3 months writing the first draft, 5 months ignoring it, 1 month rereading revising,3 months ignoring, 1 month revising, and then 7 months fixing flaws in the series as a whole (9 planned books) editing, rewriting the entire book once, and editing twice more over. Over all the book saw 12 months of work, and 7 revision of both parts or the document as a whole. The first draft was 124k, the final was 54k. (This was the first book I ever wrote.)

To put that in an even better perspective. The book I’m currently working on was one of those that I got about half way through in the past year and a half. It has seen two weeks of work. One writing (where I wrote 32k, 12 of which was in the first day), and one week of plotting out the second half of the novel. I’ve got about 50k left to go according to my outline and I think It will be completely written before the month is up and edited before March is over. (This is the fifth I’ve started.)

This should serve as proof to those of you who are your first book that no, not all books are created equal. And now that I’ve gone through the whole process with one book, I’ve got a much better idea of my voice, and my own abilities. Make it through your first book ladies and gents and your well on your way to getting the hang of it. 

 

Happy Scribbling to you all and a lovely 1am too.