Thursday, August 6, 2015

Looking Back to Augusts Past

Summer begins to fade into autumn, like it does every year. Living in San Diego buffers me from this reality, somewhat. It is easy to let the sunny days slide away, one after another, sure that they will continue in an unabated stream. And yet, the days do grow shorter, and time is, in fact, passing.

Such are the thoughts I have, teetering on the edge of another August. August for me marks a turning point in the year. Suddenly my mind is racing to catch up with the reality that, yes, another year is passing without anything I can do to stop it (or speed it up, as the case may be). Summer days seems unbearably precious, knowing that the 5 PM darkness is coming up. And it’s far, far too easy to look back at previous Augusts and despair over how little progress I’ve made since then.

Let’s consider. Last August, I was searching for a job to replace my forfeited Navy career. I had abundant free time, and was using that to the best of my ability. I was coming out of a July with record-high wordcounts, churning out words faster than I ever had before. I was excited by my new project (novel 7) and full of hopes for #PitchWars. And then, by the end of the month, I had found that new day job, my wordcounts had plunged, and I had to admit that novel 7 was a slight creature that might never be marketable for traditional publishing. Still, I felt close. I felt more like a real writer than ever. Would I have believed that, a year later, I would be staring down 100 rejections for novel 7, pushing myself to finish novel 8’s first draft, contemplating another #PitchWars submission for novel 6, and honestly no closer to “making it” than before?

Two years ago, it was August 2013, and I was mired in a low period. I didn’t update my blog for months, I wrote almost nothing, and after setting a goal to finish novel 6’s first draft in July, I was still months away from achieving that. I was caught up in the real life of the Navy and moving in with my boyfriend and struggling to believe in myself. Imagine how much worse would my low period have been if I could have seen that, 2 years in the future, I would still be fighting with novel 6, without even a sure answer about what needs to be fixed after several drafts and beta reads and about 50 rejections.

Even further back, I find this post in August 2012 reaffirming—trying to convince myself—that I will continue, despite the challenges. I reference this post about what might happen if I never get anywhere with my work. It includes the closing thought “I still have a few years yet before I abandon this dream, but lord how I hope I don’t have to!” Reading that now, when it has been a few years and I still am plagued by the doubts and fears about wasting my time, well, it’s painful, honestly. Knowing that since then I have written THREE new manuscripts and yet still don’t seem to have the keys to writing one that works. Not yet.

In the waning summer of 2011, I was writing about writer’s block and my embarrassment at my lack of writerly accomplishments. I vowed to be better, to do better. And yet, four years later, I still haven’t mastered the art of writing consistently (although there has been a vast improvement). The improvements I have made have not translated into any tangible benefits except an ever-growing pile of words without readers.

Even back in 2010, when this blog was barely started, August was a time of posts about writer's block. That was the month I finished the first draft of novel 1, and yet still, only a few weeks later, I could not manage to write a thing!

Reading through these old August musings, I am struck by one thought above all. No matter how often I get down, no matter how frustrating it is or how little the words flow, I have not given up. And I won't give up. Writing is a part of me, for better or for worse. And while it is easy to despair over the lack of progress I have made, that would be a shame, because I have accomplished a lot. I've written hundreds of blog posts. I've met and friended other writers. I've written hundreds of thousands of words, sent hundred of queries, applied to contests, published on Wattpad, created a video series, I have written books! It's not nothing.

A few weeks ago, I was musing about the future to my boyfriend, and I posited that five years from now I could not really predict anything about my life. Even whether I would still be writing, given that another five years of rejection sounds almost impossible to overcome. I asked him, "Do you think I'll ever stop writing?" He did not hesitate a second. "No." He knows me better than anyone, and I think he has the right of it. Writing is in me, it has been for literally as long as I can remember, and while it may ebb and flow, I doubt it will ever leave me.

So take that, August doldrums! I am not defeated yet!

Friday, July 17, 2015

#FlashFridayFootage: "The Walls Will Fall"

Happy Friday!! Thanks to the magic of modern technology, I am not actually sitting on my bedroom floor at this exact moment (I should be getting my makeup done and hanging around getting ready for one of my bestie's wedding!), but I am still celebrating the #FlashFridayFootage vibe with all of you lovely folks.

Cheers to the freakin' weekend!

Friday, July 10, 2015

#FlashFridayFootage: "Virgin Magic"

Hello! After a little break last weekend for the U.S. holiday (fireworks galore!), #FlashFridayFootage is back this week with one of the tougher flash stories I've written. Most of the stories on #FlashFridayFootage are written expressly for this purpose, but this story was one I wrote a long time ago before I started #FlashFridayFootage, and I shopped it around a bit before deciding its best home was right here with my other flash stories.

Happy Friday!

Tweet: A new #FlashFridayFootage from @nora_anne:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Four “Comforting” Things People Say to Pre-Published Writers (That are NOT)

4. You finished a book! Most people will never manage that!

Yeah, okay. I finished a book. Yay me! It is a big accomplishment, but it’s also one that I hit for the first time when I was 13. I’ve written almost SIX books now. It is hard to see writing additional books as anything but a failure—as in, I’ve written six fucking books that I can’t sell. I’m just piling up rubbish manuscripts, and that doesn’t feel like an accomplishment at all.

3. But writing is its own reward! Don’t think about getting published!

Writing is hard goddamn work. Which doesn’t mean that it can’t be its own reward, but it isn’t something that fills my life with rainbows and sunshine. I do derive great pleasure from perfecting a turn of phrase or making a plot come together just so. Obviously I must enjoy it for its own sake on some level or I wouldn’t still be doing it. And for some people, just writing is their goal. That’s great! But for me, I want to share my writing. And while I do that in various forms already, the biggest way that writers share their work is by publishing. That is my goal.

2. Well, I’ve read your stuff, and it’s so good!

I know, complaining about praise seems churlish. And I do love getting feedback of all kinds on my writing (seriously, I crave it, harsh or kind), and positive feedback can make me feel like a thousand bucks. But in the context of publishing, it’s disheartening. Because if I’m so good, then I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, which means I can’t fix it. And I’ll spend another 14 years doing whatever I’m doing and not getting anywhere with it. And even if I really am good (doubtful), then it just makes it feel unfair (ha, I know, that word) that I haven’t had any luck at all wading through the slush.

1. Yes, agents get tons of queries, but 90% of them are pure crap—can’t follow guidelines, can’t string together a sentence, can’t even spell check! The odds aren’t actually that bad for the good ones.

On first blush, this should be a good thing. I do research agents and their guidelines and requests extensively, and I do spend a lot of time and effort perfecting my query letter. I proofread and edit and still have not ever accidentally sent out one with the wrong name. So I should be ahead of the game! Except I’m not. Which means—oh gods, I must be the 90%. I must not be good at all. Worse, I am one of those delusional people who thinks she is doing okay. But I can’t even beat out the half-trained monkeys sending “To Whom It May Concern” queries about their sparkly teenage vampires. Fuck.

Anyway, I know this is all very complainypants, but I’m in a complainypants space right now. I may or may not have cried myself to sleep last night, as my queries for novel 7 draw to a close and novel 8 continues to refuse to come together. I’m feeling discouraged, and I want to feel uplifted, but it seems that every “inspiring” quote or post is just making me feel worse. I think maybe I need to disconnect from the writing community for a little while, do what I can for this first draft of novel 8, and remember that I do love writing for what it is—and right now, it definitely not is getting read.

Friday, June 26, 2015

#FlashFridayFootage: "Day in the Dog Park"

Congratulations on making it through another week! Or not, depending on how alive you are while reading this. Or whether it's your weekend. But for many of us—huzzah, we survived! Let's celebrate by watching videos on our breaks and fantasizing about all the ice cream we're going to eat. The pinnacle of a good weekend's plans, IMO.

In any case, enjoy this installment of #FlashFridayFootage!

Tweet: Check out this week's #FlashFridayFootage,

Friday, June 19, 2015

#FlashFridayFootage: "Buttons"

Huzzah, Friday again! An extra special Friday for me, since I am taking a half day from the day job and heading out to Denver for a friend's bachelorette party. It should be a Very Good Time and I am quite excited. But first--how could I kick off a good weekend without a little #FlashFridayFootage?

Yep, it feels so good to have this going again, and I hope you enjoy this week's story. Congratulations on surviving another week, and I'll see you next Friday!

(And if videos aren't your thing, you can always catch my flash fiction in print version over at Wattpad.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

#FlashFridayFootage: "The Light at Night"

Yes, you read that title right. After a tiny hiatus, #FlashFridayFootage is making its victorious 2015 comeback! Every Friday, except for the last of the month, will feature a brand new video with a brand new reading of a brand new story. Exciting stuff!

To be honest, one of the delays in bringing back #FlashFridayFootage was that I don't think anyone cares about it. It is a fair bit of work (not even including writing the stories), and I don't get very many views. But I thought about it a lot and decided that I have fun making the videos, so I'll keep doing it for me. And if someone else out there gets a couple minutes of pleasure from them too, that's just icing on the cake!

So feel free to scroll on by if it's not your thing, but if you want to check it out, here is the first 2015 #FlashFridayFootage video!