Honesty about the grit of it

Hello, everyone. There has been a lot going on in my part of the atmosphere over the past few months, like weddings to go to and being a part of, family members getting diagnosed with non-fatal types of cancer, and going after and getting rejected by another job opportunity. While all of that’s been going on, I’ve been writing. More specifically, I’ve been working on book number two.

As you may recall, I finished the second draft of my first novel back at the end of May. I took some time off then began a new work. It’s been an interesting experience, to say the least, and I’m already heading toward the first draft finish line (at least I think I am.) All throughout writing this second book, I’ve been scared and nervous but also have felt free and incredibly excited. It also occurred to me that not too many writers discuss what it’s like to write a second book, at least not that I’ve heard of. So that’s what we’re going to do today.

It doesn’t get easier; it gets different.

It’s an easy assumption to make, but it’s a dangerous one. The thing about starting a new project is that is is new. You head into uncharted territory, even if you have built your world and know your characters. Your story grows at a different pace and different aspects of you and your story are at work as opposed to your other book(s).

I didn’t understand this at first and it was incredibly frustrating. I kept sitting down and expecting to make as much progress with book two as I did with book one. I kept expecting my new story to conform to the standards I set myself and, to an extent, my old story set on me. That wasn’t getting me anywhere. It wasn’t until I shifted my mentality, let go of my own expectations, and let myself get into the rhythm of this story that I was able to make any sort of progress with it. As I read over this paragraph, I realize it sounds really abstract, so I’ll give you an example. With book one, I was able to sit down and write two to four fairly clean (that is, polished) pages a day. With book two, I’ve been able to write between six to eight somewhat polished pages two or three times a week. While this means the manuscript is less polished, I’ve been able to write faster. And the sooner I finish, the sooner I can revise. As I said earlier, it doesn’t get easier, it becomes different. And it’s important to work with those differences instead of against them.

Don’t be afraid to try new things since things are new anyway.

This goes off my first point, but with a focus more on you, the writer, instead of your story. Starting another book can be a time for experimentation as well as embarking on a new adventure. You can try plotting your whole book out before ever putting a word down (which is what I did and though it was painful, it’s been incredibly helpful.) Or you could do the opposite. Just start wherever and see what happens and where it takes you. You can try writing with music or with silence, depending on what you normally do. You can try using a new writing implement, such as using a pen and paper if you normally write on a computer or vice versa if you normally don’t. Instead of using a pencil with this project, I’ve been writing with green pens. There’s really no significance behind the color choice since that’s what I had around. I didn’t think it would make that much a difference, but it does. Ink flows much better against paper than pencil lead and it’s also much easier on your hands. Am I going to draft all my future projects in pen in the future? Who knows. Ask me when I post about book three (which might happen sooner than you imagine.)

While everything else can be different, the essentials are the same.

What, why, what with, where, and when you write can all change between one book and another. What doesn’t change is the how of writing a book. You put down one word down at a time. And that’s the most comforting thing.

I hope this helps all my fellow writers. You can do it! That’s all for now. Bye.

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Church under renovation: a poem

The black tarp wall

set up that hides

where the tabernacle still is

puckers in and out

as if it’s breathing.

The veil once again

shields the holy of holies

and suddenly I understand

the struggles of the Israelites

so much more.

One day nothing will separate us.

 

 

My parish is actually under renovation and these were some thoughts I had while at mass this morning. I hope you all have a great week.

 

30 day song challenge, part 2

And now for questions 16-30!
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16.A song you used to love but now hate
I think I have to pass on this one, too. Nothing is coming to mind.

17.A song that you hear often on the radio
“Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran. I don’t listen to my local radio stations that much, but when I do, this song almost always comes on at some point.

18.A song you wish you heard on the radio
“Burning Cold” by Eurielle. A friend posted this song a few months ago and it automatically reminded me of one of my characters, so I stole it for my writing playlist. This song is so awesome, especially the chorus!

19.A song from your favorite album
“Down once more” from the 25th Anniversary recording of Phantom of the Opera. This might be cheating since it’s long enough to be four or five songs, but I love this recording of the Phantom. The cast does so well and the orchestra is phenomenal.

20.A song you listen to when you’re angry
“Headstrong” by Trapt. This was the song I turned to the most when I first started garnering rejections from websites I’d send short stories to. It’s especially fun to belt.

21.A song you listen to when you’re happy
“Time and Confusion” by Anberlin. This song has a lot of good memories with friends attached to it and it always makes me even happier when I listen to it.

22.A song you listen to when you’re sad
“No More” from Into the Woods. I try not to listen to sad songs when I’m already sad, but this is an exception.

23.A song you want played at your wedding
“May I” by Trading Yesterday. This is hands down my favorite love song and if I have it my way, this will be our first dance song.

24.A song you want played at your funeral
“Always on my mind” from Kingdom Hearts. These video games have gorgeous soundtracks and this is one of my favorite pieces from the first one.

25.A song that makes you laugh
“Love me”by Arsenium. This song makes me laugh because of its video and just how over the top it is.

26.A song that you can play on an instrument
“Candle on the water” from Pete’s Dragon. I can play a very basic version of this on the piano. It’s a pretty song.

27.A song you wish you could play
“Judy Blume” by Amanda Palmer. I love how she honors one of her favorite authors in this song and I’d love to learn to play this.

28.A song that makes you feel guilty
“God help the outcasts” from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sometimes it feels like my prayers stray dangerously close to being as selfish as those praying in the church in this scene.

29.A song from your childhood
“Oops I did it again” by Britney Spears. I remember hearing this song a lot when I was little.

30.Your favorite song at this time last year
“Children of the Sun” by Poets of the Fall. I don’t remember what music I was listening to at this point last year, but I know this song has been a consistent favorite since their album Clearview came out in 2016 (I’m so excited for Ultraviolet that’s coming out in October!)

 

Let me know what you think of this list and what some of your favorite songs are! Bye for now!

30 day song challenge, part 1

Hey, everyone! I’ve decided to do something a little different today. We’re going to talk about music! I spotted this challenge on someone else’s blog recently and I thought it’d be fun to do since, to my knowledge, I’ve never posted about music on this blog. I’m doing the first fifteen questions in this post, the latter questions in another that will be up soon. Let’s do this.

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1.Your favorite song
“Pierre and Natasha” from Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. This was such a hard question to start out with! I could write a number of posts about why I love this musical and this is my favorite song from it (closely followed by “Letters” and “Sonya Alone” if you’re curious.) I love how soft it is but everything in this song lends itself to the emotions Natasha and Pierre are feeling at this point in the story.

2.Your least favorite song
“This is why I’m hot” by MIMS. I think the only reason I call this my least favorite song is that it was stuck in my head for a long time after I first heard it.

3.A song that makes you happy
“Something about her” by Alistair Griffith. I discovered this one by surfing period drama videos years ago and to this day it still makes me stupidly happy.

4.A song that makes you sad
“Sweetheart I’ll wait for you” by Joe Nichols. I remember hearing this on the bus during high school and nearly crying. It’s a lovely song but it gets me in the feels.

5.A song that reminds you of someone
Oh, there were so many that came to mind for this one. But the one that dominated was “They’re coming to take me away”. My mom introduced my brother and I to this song when we were little and for a long time afterward we’d sing it together.

6.A song that reminds you of somewhere
I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’m from West Virginia, but I am. And for any West Virginian, there is one song that reminds us all of somewhere: “Country Roads” by John Denver.

7.A song that reminds you of an event
“I dreamed a dream” from Les Miserables. I graduated from high school the year the film rendition of the musical came out and the little clip they had of Anne Hathaway singing this song was going through my head all through my graduation ceremony.

8.A song you know all the words to
“Let me be your wings” from Thumbelina. This was one of my favorite movies as a kid and it’s still one of my favorite songs.

9.A song you can dance to
“Hips don’t lie” by Shakira. I know this might be a cliched answer, but I don’t care. That beat is just too infectious.

10.A song that makes you fall asleep
“Sleep” by Poets of the Fall. This is one of my favorite bands and for a while, when my anxiety was bothering me at night, this was my lullaby.

11.A song from your favorite band
“While your lips are still red” by Nightwish. This is one of my favorites of theirs because it embodies all the things I love about their music: gorgeous instrumentals, wonderful vocals, and haunting, thought-provoking lyrics.

12.A song from a band you hate
I don’t really have any bands that I hate, that I know of, so I’m gonna pass on this one.

13.A song that is a guilty pleasure
“Want U back” by Cher Lloyd. I’m not a fan of spiteful break-up songs, but I like this one and listen to it more than I care to admit.

14.A song no one would expect you to love
“Bring them to light” by Apocalyptica. This is a great song to listen to when you’re angry.

15.A song that describes you
“Elizabeth” by Trading Yesterday. This might be a little bit of smart-alecky answer, but ever since I first heard this song, I wanted it to be written about me, though I wish it weren’t a break-up song.

 

That’s it for now. This was so fun! Stay tuned for part two!

On endings, purchases, and decisions/Check-in #4-end of May and early June edition

It’s hard to know where to begin this post since so much has been happening, and most of it within the past four weeks.

  • I guess the first thing to talk about is that I bought my first car! It’s a white 2017 Kia Forte. I bought it used and it’s been wonderful to have my own set of wheels. I’ve already been planning lots of different trips, both local and long distance, for the future, the first of which is happening this weekend for a friend’s wedding. It’s also been kind of interesting at what an insight into the relationship between adulthood and money this has been. When I parked it on the lot at work, my coworkers kept congratulating me and telling me that they were proud of me. A few of them commented on how responsible I had been and how this was a step further into adulthood for me. And yes, while I did work hard to save up, I felt odd accepting their praise. All I did was spend a bunch of money, money that could have been spent in so many other ways. It seems that spending certain sums of money makes you appear to be “more of an adult” or more “responsible”. Yes, having the car means I have another loan and an insurance policy to pay into now, but I’m not sure it makes me more grown up or responsible, especially since as I was driving to work that first day, I accidentally drove onto the curb of a street while unintentionally running a red light. I’d like to think that I possessed those qualities before I made this purchase; spending money should only grant you the physical things you’re paying for, not status or approval or maturity in the eyes of others. Reading over this, it makes me sound like I’m upset with my coworkers’ reactions, but I’m not. I’m lucky to have and am grateful for their support, but all of that attention, while nice, made me feel quite strange. Sorry for the tangent.
  • A week after I got the car, I finished the second draft of my book! IT IS FINALLY DONE! Yay! I feel like I should have told you about that sooner, given that I posted about my struggles with heading toward the finishing line. But I finished it on Memorial Day, which I had off of work, and wrote with a single-minded determination that I have never really displayed before but would have been nice to have had during finals time in college.
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    This is the rather flattering photo I sent my friend after writing the words “The End”. It was 11:17 pm.

    I wrote nearly 18 pages in one day, about thirteen of those in the span of two or three hours. I write longhand and by the time I was done, I was totally brain dead, unable to do more than be glad and text my friend about it, who has cheered me on through so much of this process. I also damaged my thumb from all that writing, which has not been fun and is only now, a little over two weeks later, just feeling better. The second draft totals at 343 pages, bringing the combined total of both the first and second draft to 619 and a fourth of a page. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m not working on that story right now. I miss it. I’m not ready to try draft three, but I do miss it.
  • I’ve decided that I’m going to try to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I made this decision a few months ago, but I’ve been loath to talk about it even, to my family.  Those programs are incredibly selective and I don’t want someone coming up to me and saying “Well why aren’t you in graduate school?” after I applied to and was rejected by different schools. I know there’s a whole debate about whether an MFA is necessary in the writing world, especially since those types of degrees are held by fiction writers who produce literary, oftentimes contemporary, fiction. I’m not brave enough to try for an MFA in poetry, but we’ll see how it goes with fiction. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why I want to do this thing, but the plain and short of it is that it feels right for me and I think it will help my career in the long run. We’ll see how it all goes. I’m going to spend most of my summer writing different short stories for my samples. And if I don’t get accepted into any of the schools I’m going apply to, at least I’ll have those stories to submit to publishers. Any thoughts or advice about applying to an MFA would be appreciated.
  • My first poem got published! I’m now officially a poet! You can read it here. As always, this will be linked under the writing tab. Also, for you fellow writers out there, if you’re looking for a place to submit to, the editor for this website, Nate, is incredibly nice.
  • I’ve become obsessed with PBS’s new adaptation of Little Women, this scene in particular. I could do a whole post about what I think about this adaptation. Is that something you’d like to read?

I think that’s everything. Like I said, it’s been a busy few weeks. I think that’s all I have to update you on for now. I’ll write again soon. Thanks, as always, reading.  Take care!

Four sentence book reviews #3

Hello, everyone, and happy Star Wars Day! I’ve been reading quite a bit lately and I want to discuss some of the books I’ve read. It’s been nearly a year since my last one of these, so let’s do it!

Ink, Iron, & Glass by Gwendolyn Clare
Elsa’s mother, a renown scriptologist who can literally edit and write worlds into existence, has been kidnapped. Elsa, a budding scriptologist herself, sets off to find her with the help of an old family friend and a gang of other magically gifted teenagers who are beginning to realize just how much of their world is a lie. This book is truly excellent in terms of its characters, setting, magic system, and world building. It balances all of these elements well to create a believable, multi-layered universe and with lovable characters, and incredible tension.

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Photo attributed to Goodreads.

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Tess, who has a painful past, has never had much support from her family, except from her sister, who is about to get married. Even though Tess helped bring the match about for the advantage of their family, she is not happy about it. An accident prompts her to flee her family and set off on her own road, to find her own adventures. Set in the same world as her previous books, Seraphina and Shadow Scale, Hartman makes a remarkable, poignant, and timely return to her world of dragons, people, and how the two get along.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Jude and her two sisters were taken away from the human world when they were little to live in the High Court of Faerie, where their humanity is something they constantly struggle with, especially since everyone holds it against them, from the faeries they live with to the prince himself. This was my first experience with Holly Black’s writing and I can’t say it was quite a favorable one. I was frustrated with the characters due to their lackluster personalities and since they all wanted to change things but they didn’t really get around to doing so until the last fifty or so pages. I doubt I’ll continue with this series in the future.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
Artemisia lost her mother when she was twelve and she has grown up fulfilling her father’s artistic contracts. When a man who has been helping her with her art rapes her, it is up to her to find her voice, both tell the truth to her father, to herself, and to the Italian society that disbelieves her. I truly appreciated the timeliness of this story and the fact that it was told in verse, but I found the characters and setting lacking. I wish McCullough would have invested more in them, made them more complex and wide-ranging, since that would have made the story richer.

 

That’s all for now, everyone. I’ll definitely be writing more of these over the coming months, especially since there are some books coming out and on my to-be-read list that I’m excited about. On the writing front, I have six chapters to go and I’m already planning to start on my next book project after I’m finished with this draft.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Soon…soon

The title of this post pretty much is my mantra in regard to my second draft right now. I’m nearing the finishing line with it and while I’m excited, I’m also getting doubtful and tired. People always compare pursuing any creative work to giving birth, so in terms of that analogy, I guess I’m at the part where you’re exhausted and breathless but you’ve got to keep pushing because there is no stopping now. Never having given birth, I don’t know how accurate this analogy is, but it does seem apt.

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The picture is of my current page count. Subtract 275 from that number and you’ll get how long this new draft is. I didn’t mean to hand write the whole thing, but that’s just how it turned out.

Like I mentioned before, the doubts are starting to speak louder than they have at any other point during this process. They keep telling me that no one will want to read or publish this and that these characters are too broken and unlovable for people to root for. The important thing is that I loved and believed in this story first and if I do my job right, then others will care and want to read it. I’m not there yet, but this draft is so much more book-shaped than my first one and I already have so many ideas for how to move forward. I’ll get there and if you’re struggling with your own things, know that you’ll get there, too. Soon…soon.

 

 

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