Things I’ve learned from revising so far

Hi, everyone! I’m almost a month into revisions of my novel and while I’m not as far along as I hoped I would be, I have learned a thing or two so far in this process. So here are those things.

  1. Don’t be afraid.
    Revising anything, from a novel to an email, is difficult and slightly scary. There’s always the fear of being misinterpreted or misunderstood. It seems like there are a hundred little decisions for each sentence and that if you get one of those wrong, you’ll mess everything up and it’ll be ruined and no one will ever want to read it. But that’s just not true. Libba Bray once made the joke that writing isn’t like brain surgery, if you get something wrong, you can just fix it. This is so important to remember. It might take a long, long time but you will get there and your story will be what you want it to be.
  2. Don’t start the Beta-reading process right away.
    I called for Beta readers before I even started revising. While I’ve been very lucky in getting quite a few friends to read my story, I made the mistake of thinking that I could just revise the chapters and immediately send them out for review. After just two chapters, I’ve found out just how silly I was to think that way. So make sure you have a good bit, if not all, of your manuscript revised before you send it out to your beta readers. You can send it to them chapter by chapter or send them the whole thing. However you want to parcel it out, make sure the manuscript is as good as you can make it.
  3. Keep going and give yourself time.
    As mentioned before, revising is scary and difficult. But it is important not to give up and to keep going. While persistence is important, it’s just as vital to give yourself time to step away from the story to let your brain recover and to think of new ideas. Always remember: give yourself time because no one else will.

I don’t normally offer writing advice, but I just wanted to share these three insights in case any of you are in this perilous revision boat with me. If you are and you need someone to commiserate with, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here for you guys <3.

P.S. If you want to read a little story of mine, you can read it here.

The inevitable anniversary blog

It’s been a year. Since I graduated from college, that is. That fact is so hard to believe.

marci, catherine and me

From the right, my friend Marci, my roommate, Catherine, and me. We met at our pre-orientation and ended up being in a lot of classes together since we were all English students. This was taken before the big ceremony. No one looks good in academic livery, but we didn’t do too bad. 

In many ways, it still feels like I’ve been on an extended break, that I’m still waiting for the call from my university, wondering why I haven’t come back to finish up my studies. But I did finish and I do have the diploma, and now I have a year’s worth of work, interview, and writing experience I couldn’t have seen coming. And through all of that, I’ve learned a lot. The following list is not a list of things I’ve learned and then moved on, it’s more of a summing up of bits and pieces that have been reinforced to me over and over during this first year in the “real world”.

  1. There will be twists and turns you won’t expect. And things will not go your way.  Learn to be okay with that.
    I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that the dreams I had of getting the perfect job and moving away from home right after I returned from school did not happen. There have been so many days that I’ve beaten myself up because I feel like it’s my fault that I am not where I want to be in life right now. While I know that sounds stupid (and it kinda is), it’s also an understandable reaction. People’s dreams sometimes take a long time to come true, if they ever come true at all. And while that’s discouraging, being upset about it doesn’t help anything. So if you ever feel sad because you don’t feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be in life, it’s okay to be sad, but don’t let that sadness weigh you down. Use that sadness as fuel to keep going. You can do it, even if you don’t think you can.
  2. Celebrate your successes, even the little ones.
    It can be easy, especially when you’re just starting out, to ignore the successes you do have because they are not the kinds of successes you’re aiming for. Success involves a lot of plodding along on a path that will eventually take you where you want to go. It’s so dumb and demoralizing that (at least in the U.S.) we have this idea that success occurs in a shoot-to-the-moon kind of fashion and that once you are deemed “a success”, you better do all you can to hold on to that title and that validation. While those stories make for interesting fodder for Hollywood, I’d safely wager that if you ask any successful person, they’d tell you just how long and how difficult a journey it was. So celebrate your little successes, because that means you’re one step closer.
  3. The key to being thankful is being observant.
    Noticing the little things and taking the time to be thankful for them is almost, maybe even more important thank being grateful for the big things.
  4. Getting an interview doesn’t mean you have to take the job, if they even offer it to you.
    Since I started my job search late last May, I’ve had several in-person and phone interviews for different jobs. The one thing that has been consistent with all of those interviews was the fact that I got incredibly anxious about moving and how I would handle the job before the interview even happened. While it’s important to be well-informed about the job, what you’ll be doing, and where you will potentially be living, it’s also important to keep yourself calm and not to get ahead of yourself. While getting an interview is a good sign, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the job or that you’re going to have to figure everything out at the drop of a hat. Take everything as it comes and don’t try to climb the mountain before you’ve even arrived at its base.
  5. There are some things school hasn’t and couldn’t prepare you for.
    School, like everything in life, is a mix of the mundane and the magnanimous. It’s only now that I’ve been out of school that I realize just how much of school I found boring, even though I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to attend school at all. I’ve also realized that, though school feels like it finishes your education, it really is only the beginning. I remember my Victorian lit professor telling us that when we were discussing the influence of England’s universities on the writers of that period. He said something like, “The end of our formal education is only the beginning, which is why they call graduation commencement.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little reflection of my time out of the education system. If you have any school/life stories you’d like to share, please do! Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, stepmothers, godmothers, and mothers-to-be!

 

Waiting

Hey there. I want to talk about waiting for a few minutes today. Because I’ve been doing a lot of it lately. Waiting for interviews, waiting for people to get back to me about said interviews, waiting for people to decide whether or not they want to publish my writing.

But the thing about waiting is that it eventually ends. Most likely not in the ways you’d expect. To anyone who feels like they’re in the waiting room of life, you’re not alone and eventually your number will be called and you’ll get ushered into whatever’s next for you. Hang in there. This is what I’ve been telling myself for the past few weeks and I hope it helps. You can do this. Even if I have trouble believing in myself, I believe in you.

A couple of things

Hi, there. So I didn’t mean to take an almost month-long break from blogging. The long and the short of it is that I’ve started to write for a couple of different websites (I’ll link to my pieces under my “Writing” tab) and it’s resulted in me neglecting my own blog. But I’ll try to be better about this in the future, I promise. In the time since I last wrote, I’ve made a couple of changes to my life that I’d like to share with you. They’re not big changes, but they’ve made a big difference and I hope, if you decide to try them, they’ll help you, too.

  1. Praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every morning.
    I started doing this in addition to reading the book 33 Days to Divine Mercy (which you should totally read) and it’s been a beautiful way to start the day. Even though it’s hard praying right after you wake up, the practice of doing it in the morning ensures that I’ve prayed a least a little every day and helps me to dedicate the day to God and his mercy. It’s also nice to have some quiet time to fully wake up and take a few deep breaths before plunging ahead into whatever the day brings. You don’t need to be Catholic to pray this prayer and if you’d like to learn how, here’s a great website to learn how to do it.
  2. Getting off the internet by 11 p.m.
    So I’m kind of breaking this resolution by writing this right now, but I promise I’m getting off as soon as this is up. I had this incredibly bad habit of working late into the night and then staying on the computer for sometimes up to an hour afterwards just goofing off on the internet in order to de-stress. Unfortunately, I carried on this tradition into post-grad life. I’d get on the computer to check my email and answer some messages and would soon fall down the time wasting hole that is Youtube only to emerge an hour later, frustrated with myself. I finally decided that enough was enough. Late night internet usage was a fine way to de-stress when I was in the pressure cooker of college, but not any more, especially since I need to develop some kind of routine. And it’s been really great. For one thing, it’s helped my eyes (my eyes hurt if I stare at something too long, as I tend to do when looking at a computer) and it’s also helped me get to sleep. My mom once told me that she can’t browse the internet or listen to music at least an hour before bedtime. I didn’t understand that because, though at that time I didn’t use the internet too much, I definitely listened to music before going to sleep. But now I understand what she said. Electronics stimulate your senses in ways other things don’t  causing your brain to work differently than it would. Unplugging before bed has given me the chance to slow down, be silent, and give my brain a break.

So these are just a couple of little things that I’ve started doing that have been helping me live a better, more peaceful life. I know everyone saves these kinds of life-hack, advice posts for around New Year’s, but you don’t need a new year to start making yourself new. Do let me know if you decide to try one of these and I hope they help! Good night, dear readers.