Summer Grays

Namine Sad - warplanes
I've fallen into another summer depressive state. Usually, this happens near the beginning around my birthday because that prompts the examining of the past and thinking about the future. This time, it was a different catalyst, but the results were the same. I feel totally cut off and unimportant to the world. That, although some things have changed, I'm still basically in the same situation as nine years ago when I first left school. The way I normally feel has certainly improved some from those first few years. But I'm still never happy. I'm still really alone. I haven't had anything good enough happen in my life to even begin to balance all of the pain I've been through. And I know there are people who have been through way worse. Things I wouldn't have survived. But knowing that did nothing to prevent the pain and the panic and the isolation I felt. That I still feel, even if I now try to push it aside as much as I can.

Besides my Mom and Jill (my therapist), I don't have any support most of the time. My friends have all moved on with their lives. They have other friendships and relationships and jobs, even kids. I not only miss them; I feel jealous. They have a place in the world. And I don't. I feel totally useless. Even with writing, I'm still so far from anything being ready to be published and put out there. And there's no guarantee that anyone will connect to my stories or even read them. I've been trying so hard to focus on getting writing done and even taking somewhat better care of myself, but if I can still fall into feeling this bad... is there really a point to trying?

Sorry if this is a depressing read. But what good is a journal if you only write about the good stuff? I'm all about honesty, especially when it comes to expressing how you really feel. So, here it is. This is where I'm at.

Hopefully, it won't be for long...

Goals Aren't Everything

Pretty Penelo - ryfee
I've been so missing from here lately. You can't really blame me. I've been hard at work on other things. But the halfway point of the year is quickly approaching, and I find myself thinking about a lot of things. Seemed like the right time to make a little update.

My birthday wasn't the colossal disaster it often has been. And just before that, I managed to finish my big cleaning project that I'd been slowly working on for over a year and really focusing on for months. I'm still getting used to it being finished. Sometimes, when I'm sitting around watching stuff on YouTube, I sill get this twitch of guilt that says, "You should be cleaning!" I'm not sure how long it will take until that goes away.

Meanwhile, don't think that means I've just been watching YouTube all the time since I've been done. Well, I've certainly done a lot of that, but I've also been writing quite a bit. While I was focusing on cleaning, it was really hard to switch that focus over to writing. I'd started to think cleaning had become my life, and I no longer felt like a writer. But since I've been finished, everything is flowing nicely again. And it took hardly any time at all to go back to normal. That was such a relief. I always worry when I don't write for a while that it will never come back. That seems crazy, because I can't really survive without creating; it's that much a part of me. But for an anxious person, that's all the more reason to be scared.

But writing's been fine. Maybe better than fine. I reached a milestone last week. I've revised 20 chapters of Magic Inc. so far. Those chapters will still have an editing phase to go through once I've completed the second draft, but I really think most of the chapters I've revised are 90% done. The revision flows so perfectly most of the time, and writing Magic Inc. is now one of my favorite things to do. It just feels right. And there's really only one one bad thing about that...

Dreaming in Shadow. The revision process is so night and day between my two main projects. For now, it stands at 20 revised chapters of Magic Inc. and (almost) 5 of Dreaming in Shadow. Dreaming in Shadow for a long time was the project I could always turn to. The one that felt right. The story destined to be my first novel. And I still want it to be my first release. But working on the second draft is painful. The structure of the early parts is ten years old now, and there's so much to fix. It's exhausting and emotionally draining. I actually do think the revision is turning out nicely so far. Possibly even more polished than Magic Inc. But it's dragging on and on, because it's painful, and I don't have the strength for it most of the time.

I'm holding on to hope that it won't continue to be this bad. That once I've moved onto the more recent writing, it will become less stressful and draining. The oldest writing in Magic Inc. is only four years old versus ten years for Dreaming in Shadow. That's a pretty big difference. Not to mention that I planned out Book One of Magic Inc. a lot longer before I started it. And I've learned that tends to work better for me.

I started to think about goals last week. How far things have come since the beginning of the year, and where things should go next. I actually finished cleaning, which part of me still doesn't believe. And I'm one book away from my little reading goal, which means I've read as many books as I did last year in half the time. (I finished Allegiant today, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet...) Writing is going really well again. So, I started daydreaming. What was a goal I could I reasonably accomplish by the end of the year?

I think could could finish revising Magic Inc. Book One. There are 14 chapters left and about double the weeks left in the year. If I only worked on that story, I could probably finish, and depending on how editing goes, have the story completely done by the end of the year. I could release it early in 2015, and finally, be a published novelist. I honestly think that is a reasonable goal based on what I think I could actually accomplish.

But I'm not going to do that. Why? Because I would hate it. I would hate being confined to one story, even the one I'm enjoying the most. Making a goal like that would drain the life out of me. I like freedom. I like being able to follow my inspiration wherever it wants to take me. That, to me, is what following your passion is about. Not making grand goals and pushing yourself to reach them. But following your heart and soul as they guide you through your bliss. You may disagree, and that's okay. How you follow your passion is up to you. But as I've said before, I am so done with trying to force writing out of me. And yet, it keeps flowing. Just the way it wants to.

Didn't want to be your ghost...

Yuna Breathless - badlydrawnicons
I haven't been writing. That happens. This time, it's because I've been devoting so much time to cleaning and organizing, which has been both physically and emotionally exhausting. I've found old notebooks, old journals, old pictures. I've felt myself falling back in time 10-11 years in seconds. I've also bee playing Final Fantasy X HD, when I was playing the original game for the first time exactly 10 years ago. Sometimes, I find myself so deeply involved with the game that I start forgetting where I am. All of this is very bittersweet. It hurts. But it hurts so good. My heart is all over the place, and my head's thoroughly confused. I'm going back to old thought patterns, scolding myself like I used to.

Then, I breathe and remember it's 2014. That stuff's all behind me. (For better or worse.) And I like my life now. I love myself now. Yes, I'm still very lonely. But other than that, I'm doing exactly what I love to do. What I'm meant to do. If I keep to the path I'm travelling, I just need someone to share it with for everything to eventually be perfect. Still, I'm almost 25. And I don't feel like it. I feel younger than I did when I was a teenager. I am myself than ever, but am I really an adult? I'm dreading May, like every year. I'm trying to tell myself it can't be worse than turning  21 was. When I'm really not sure.

Ah, I can't wait until this cleaning is done. I want that mess far, far behind me. But there will still be lots to look through. This whole year might be dedicated more to revisiting the past than shaping the future. I don't know if that's good. But it has to be done. I just wish I could drop out of time completely for a while, to recover. But I feel like I'm haunting my own memories as much as they're haunting me.

My Writing Process

Purple Flower Book - colorvary










I was tagged by my friend, LK Hunsaker, to join this writing process chain. I love answering questions and talking about writing, so I happily joined in! Just be forewarned; this may get long.

LK Hunsaker is the author of many books, including The gallery, which was released last year. I actually reviewed The gallery here earlier this year. You can also read about her writing process here. LK has been a big inspiration for me ever since I met her in 2011. She's given me hope that I actually can finish and release my own books.

Onto the questions!




~

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm mainly working on the second drafts of two books, Dreaming in Shadow & Magic Inc. Book One. I've written a lot about Dreaming in Shadow here, but since then, I've finished the first draft. The second draft is coming along well, but it has been a lot of work! On the other hand, Magic Inc.'s second draft has flowed easily most of way through. I've still put a ton of time and effort into it, and I'm currently much further along with it than Dreaming in Shadow, even though I'm planning to release DiS first. These stories are both incredibly close to my heart, and they've gotten me through really hard times. There's a part of me still scared to reach the point where I send these extremely personal stories out into the world, but I'm trying to focus on the excitement of writing and sharing the gift of these stories with other people.

On the side, I'm also working on finishing the very end of the first draft of Miss Masquerade, and the beginning of my newest story, The Town of Raindrops. And then, there are literally a hundred other stories in my head, all in this same same universe. No, seriously, you should see my story list. And those are just the ones with titles. Sometimes, I feel like I have a curse of abundance, because I'll never be able to write all these stories in my lifetime.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?
That's an interesting question. There's a lot of YA Fantasy/Romance out there. And I certainly find they tend to focus more on the characters, much like I do, than Adult Fantasy. So, I feel like I'll fit pretty well into that genre. But I do think my plans to include a lot of real teen and young adult issues are something different. A lot of my books will deal with bullying, anxiety, depression, and sexuality, among other issues. I hope to eventually show a variety of characters, and cover some things that professional publishing seems to shy away from. I want to give a voice to those who struggle with feeling different and misunderstood. These are some lofty goals, and to be honest, I'm quite nervous I won't ever reach them. But I believe I was given these stories for a reason, so I will do my absolute best to give them life.

Why do you write what you do?
I've always focused on fantasy, because that's where my soul dreams. I see (and write) magic as a manifestation of strong emotions. My emotions have always been extreme and passionate. Writing characters with the ability to effect the world with their thoughts and energy is an amazing release for me. When it comes to the relationships, I'm just a hopeless romantic. I write about soulmates because I really believe they exist. That doesn't mean everything will be perfect all the time or that those relationships don't take work. And well, there has to be a story to tell, right? Throw magic in with that, and things can get extremely complicated. Still, I believe everyone has person made for them out there, so that's what I write.

How does your writing process work?
I touched on this a bit in my previous entry, but I'll go more in depth here. Way more.

Usually, a new story idea comes to me through a dream or listening to some new music. Occasionally, I get an idea from watching or reading other stories. Recently, I've expanded into finding myself getting attached to sims I've made up personal stories for during the playing of The Sims 2 and turning them into real characters. Whichever way it comes to me, I'm often totally obsessed with a new idea when it comes to me. Well, first, I think, 'Another story idea? How on Earth am I going to be able to get to another new story?' Then, I obsess over how much I love it, and how much I absolutely need to write it. And I struggle with the desire to drop everything else and start the story right away. But I don't, because I've learned that rarely works out for me. So, I just obsess quietly about this new idea, and watch as it blossoms almost by itself. I feel very guided during this time and the rest of the planning stages. It's like the story and characters know themselves completely, and I'm just getting to know them along the way.

Once the obsessive stage is over, that idea joins the rest in waiting. By this time, I usually have a title and main character names. The next stage might sound odd, but it's collecting a soundtrack. Music is intrinsically tied to my writing process. As I gather, sort, and listen to music on my computer, I create a very light outline of the book by linking songs with scenes of the book. This process takes years. The book grows with random progress as new scenes comes to me, mostly through the music. Once I have a large selection of music on the soundtrack, and the book has had plenty of time to grow, I start to think about the next stage.

For a lot the books that I'm currently writing, I went straight from the light music soundtrack outline to the writing stage. I hated the idea of forcing myself to outline my stories, when I already knew them so well. However, last year, I finally got over my resentment and started making more full outlines. This came from anxiety that I'd never have enough drive to write another full book after I'd finished the three I was working on. I did a full outline for The Town of Raindrops, which convinced me that the story really was ready for its first draft, and I really could make it happen. I also have a nearly finished outline for Magic Inc. Book Two, and I've started a few for other stories.

My first draft stage is an incredibly important part of the process. This is how most of the story comes to be. I've heard other writers say that their first draft often varies greatly from the finished book. This has not been my experience in the slightest. The first draft is the core of my story. All the important parts of the plot have already been figured out in the soundtrack and/or outline stage, so all I have to do is write! HeH. I said that like it was easy. Not really the case. The first draft takes years for me to write, because it takes a lot out of me. Now's the time to bring the characters to life, to make sure I hit all the important parts of the plot in the right places, and to make sure I'm instilling emotion into the text. The writing, itself, might be messy and raw, but it has the heart of the story beating within it.

Then, comes the second draft. Phew. By the time I get here with a story, I'm exhausted. I finished three first drafts last year, and it was so hard. In some ways, finishing a first draft is kind of a bittersweet goodbye. Saying goodbye to the story that was yours and yours alone. My stories don't change their core in the second draft, but they do become something I'm writing with the intention to share. I always write for myself every step of the way, but I am starting to make sure what I want to say and show is actually what's coming across to readers. The second draft is a polished version of the story. The wording usually improves greatly over the first draft. I also take this time to expand sections that go by too fast, add details where they are lacking, and try to make explanations clearer. I don't often cut sections out as much as give them a overhaul, if needed. But really, the plot changes very little. It's the same story it always was, just with a new coat of paint.

I've yet to go beyond a second draft, but I expect the rest of the process to be going over the text at least a few times for mistakes and typos. Right now, I'm finishing the revision of each chapter without going back over it at all, so I know I'll have some editing to do when the second draft is finished. Then, it will be tweaking any parts that need it, and hopefully, gathering more friends and acquaintances to read and give opinions. After that, I'll need to get my dear friend, Mallory, to help me put together a cover. And the rest... we'll see when we get there!

~

If anyone wants to join this chain, let me know! I'll post your info down here.

Purple Flower Book - colorvary
Writing has been all over the place lately. Winter is usually a time where I'm more focused on planning out future stories than writing the ones I'm currently working on. Not sure why that is, but it usually works out, so I've been letting myself focus more on planning without stressing so much that I'm "not getting anything done". It's hard to measure success in the planning stages, which can leave me stressed. But this is still a vital part of writing. Not properly planning stories before I start them has usually led to bad results.

Speaking of that, between 8th grade and when I left school in 10th grade, I started maybe 5 or 6 original stories. Only 2 of those were successful. The rest got a few chapters in, then left me lost. Because although I usually had an ending and some major points figured out, I didn't know how to get from point to point. All of these stories had their connections to other stories, and I've always wanted to go back to them. I've since learned to let new ideas grow, usually for at least a few years, before I start writing them. This really works for me. Ideas just come to me over time. I let The Town of Raindrops grow, then I worked on an outline, and finally started writing it last year. I thought if I let these older stories sit, they'd start to grow, too. But they seem to be strangely stunted by being started too early, and they just aren't working the way newer stories do.

But I refused to just give up. And last year, I finally had a realization about one of those stunted stories that really brought it together. I thought that meant it was ready to go, so I recently started an outline for it. The outline for The Town of Raindrops came together in only two sessions. I had all the important things figured out, so I just had to fill them into chapter paragraphs to see if I had enough to write the story. And I did. However, this other story hasn't worked that way at all. I've spent 10 minutes or so here and there mostly staring at the Word file, only occasionally typing something. It's been very disheartening.

I mentioned my issue to a writer friend, and she suggested trying to write out a few bits of scenes to see if that triggered something. So, I did write out a scene not really knowing exactly how it was going to go, and I felt really good about it when it was done. That one scene didn't fix my outline problem, but it at least made me feel like I'd made some progress. We talked again about this story, and I started to wonder if the usual collect ideas, write an outline, and write the story from beginning to end plan is going to work this time. I've heard of writing out scenes as they come to you, which I've done in a few cases when I didn't want to forget the exact wording as it came to me, but it's not something I've really tried as a method for writing a whole story. The thought of writing out of order has my OCD kind of nervous. But LK said she's done it before and enjoyed it. And writing that one scene did feel good. Maybe that really is the approach to take with this outline resistant story. Maybe trying a different approach will be worth it for this one. Since the other way doesn't seem to be working, it's got to be worth a try, right?

This will probably just be another side project, so I don't know if I'll have much to say on it again soon, but wish me luck!

What's Behind Us and What Lies Ahead

Valerie's Happiness - fireflys_locket
It's a new year, and I'm actually pretty excited about that. It's freeing to put away the complications of a long year and start fresh again. I felt pretty good at the beginning of last year, too. But this year might feel even better. Maybe there was just more I wanted to let go of. Truthfully, you can start fresh at any time, but this is a really powerful time to try.

I wrote out a post about what I wanted for 2013, and I decided to look back at it now and think about how the year went.

I've said this before, but I think 2013 was by far my best year when it comes to writing. I finished two first drafts in the first three months of the year. It was an emotional, bittersweet experience. For a while it was mostly painful, but I can look back with pride. (I put everything I have into writing first drafts, so it's definitely worth something at the end.) I spent most of the rest of the year working on the second drafts, resulting in about 15 nearly ideal chapters of fiction. In October, I took a little break from revision to start a new story. I also finished the first draft of my half of Spun of Silver, and got started on its second draft. And got very, very close to finish the first draft of Miss Masquerade.

And almost all of that work was done without putting pressure on myself to constantly be getting stuff done. I didn't make sure I had something to show Jill every week. I chose to follow what I felt most called to work on at that moment... whether that was writing, revising, outlining, building houses, making Sims, sorting music (which sometimes leads to amazing new ideas), or even just relaxing and taking in inspiration. And it led to my most productive year ever.

I also did a lot of organizing in 2013. I didn't completely finish clearing a space for a new bookshelf and DVD cabinet, but I put a slow, consistent effort into sorting through stuff. I get really anxious when it comes to empty spaces in my room and letting go of possessions, so there was really no way to get this done more quickly. And I'm proud of myself for just getting this far. It may not seem like a big deal from the outside, but inside, it's a huge deal, trust me.

There were some things I didn't do so well with, though...

Health-wise, 2013 was a total flop. Well, I didn't get super sick or anything like that, which I'm quite thankful for. But I probably put the least amount of effort into eating healthy and exercising since I first started thinking about that stuff. If I'm honest about it, it's been a continual downward slide since my Grandma died in 2011. I don't know exactly why, but it's something I've noticed. And I don't really feel comfortable talking about weight and exercising, which maybe isn't helping. I do know that - like it or not - I am a very low energy person, and I have to be careful with where I put that energy. Last year, I chose writing. A lot. And I'm not exactly sorry about that. But I would like to put a bit more energy into health matters this year. If I could even just shift out of this downward slide a tiny bit, that would be great.

Another thing that suffered was reading. I only read 11 books in 2013. That's not even one per month. I've always been a slow reader, but this is pretty bad. Still, I actually know exactly what went wrong here. I spent most of the year reading books I felt like I needed to read over what I really wanted to read at the moment. I had books to review, books from writer friends, and books from writer acquaintances. That's not to say I didn't enjoy those books. I definitely did! (Well, except that book I reviewed. That, I could have skipped.) But I constantly had another book next on the list, instead of just following the flow of what was really calling me. Having everything scheduled is very draining to me. I like to have important necessities planned out, but when it comes to the rest of my time, I like randomness paired with intuition. There was a point where I wasn't even enjoying reading anymore, because I had turned reading into work. That's when I finally followed my intuition and took a break from my list to read some books I was really excited to read. I think I would have enjoyed the other books I read last year more if I had spaced them out better from the beginning. Lesson learned, I hope.

So, what do I want to do this year?

Well, I'd love to have another great year with writing. I learned a lot about revising and editing last year. Writing second drafts has really built my confidence as a writer. I'm finally pretty consistently proud of the work I'm doing. A lot of the time, revising has flowed exceptionally well, probably because I spent so very much time building a good base. But certain parts also had their difficulties. More than I expected. In that way, it's been both easier and harder than I expected it would be. That's why I'm hesitant to set any large goals this year. I think there's a good chance I could finish Magic Inc.'s second draft this year. But I'd also like to spend more of my time on Dreaming in Shadow. Then, there's Miss Masquerade. I don't think there's any chance I won't finish the first draft. And I'm excited to get started on the second draft. As for Spun of Silver and The Town of Raindrops, they are more side projects right now. But who knows? I just want to follow the flow of my inspiration wherever it takes me.

I want to get myself on a pretty regular sleeping schedule that lets me have the optimum amount of rest and time to get things done. For me, that's getting up at 8:30AM, getting my early morning stuff done by 10:30AM, leaving the rest of the day open, until 9:00PM when I relax in the living room with my Mom, then get to bed by 11:30PM. Yeah, I like to sleep 9 hours. It's what I usually need.

And once I get myself comfortably back on that schedule, I'll start trying to fit in more exercise with that extra time.

I'm definitely planning to get another bookshelf and cabinet in my room this year. I'm going to get the rest of the stuff off of my floor and binned. Hopefully, soon. (But like I said, I can't push it.) And we'll see what happens after that.

I'll try to read at least 12 books this year. Haha.

I'm still looking for more balance when it comes to friendships. I met a few new people. I occasionally connected with old friends. I think there were some improvements over 2012. But there were also times, I felt like giving up on socializing altogether. Ultimately, I'm still looking for my tribe.

As a big part of that, I'll (of course) keep calling in my soulmate. Because finding him will always be my most important goal. Until I do. Then, it will be creating a beautiful life together where we can support each other's dreams.

I want to wish you many blessings in the year to come. I hope you meet your goals and thoroughly enjoy the journey there, too.

Knockturn Alley [Music Survey]

Hachi Paper Smile - moriiz
1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc., on shuffle.

2. For each question, press next to get your answer.

3. You must write the song name down no matter how silly it sounds.

4. Tag 20 people in your post that you want to do this activity.
Do it if you want to. :)

If someone says "are you okay" you say? Round and Round (Erutan)

How would you describe yourself? Fly (Hilary Duff)

What do you like in a guy/girl? Stuck Here Like Mom (Twilight Score) Eh?

How do you feel today? Do You Know [What It Takes]? (Robyn)

What is your life's purpose? Crushcrushcrush (Paramore) Hahaha. <3

What is your motto? Bonds of Sea and Fire (Erutan)

What do your friends think of you? Farewell No. 1 (House of Flying Daggers Score) :(

What do your parents think of you? Find a Way (SafetySuit)

What do you think about often? Euphoria [Firefly] (Delerium)

What is 2+2? Hasee Bounce (Neopets)

What is your life story? Theater (Persona 4 Score)

What do you want to be when you grow up? So Crazy (Namie Amuro) Haha.

What do you think of your best friend? Taking Chances (Céline Dion)

What do you think when you see the person you like? Gargoyle (Sorcerer's Stone Video Game Score) ...it's lucky I don't actually like anyone?

What will you dance to at your wedding? 1000 Times (Sara Bareilles)

What will they play at your funeral? Once Upon a December (Anastasia Soundtrack)

What is your hobby/interest? The Road Home (Final Fantasy XIII)

What is your biggest fear? Roslyn (Bon Iver and St. Vincent)

What is your biggest secret? Pretty (The Cranberries)

What do you think of your friends? Pieces of Seven (Ayumi Hamasaki)

What will your child's first word/words be? So What Does It All Mean? (West, Gould & Fitzgerald) HeH. Smart kid.

What do you say when you look in the mirror? Pictures of People Taking Pictures (Jack Johnson)

What did you say in your sleep last night? Love Me for Me (Ashlee Simpson)

What will you call this post? Knockturn Alley (Draco and the Malfoys)

Tags:

Nothing Feels Special

Stupid Weather (Kagome) - fireflys_locke
It's been a long time since I really enjoyed Christmas. At least as long as I've been out of school. (Eight years, for those counting.) Mostly, holidays just depress me in general. Even my favorite holiday, Halloween, turned depressing the last two years. Pretty much, any day that's supposed to feel special depresses me, because it doesn't feel any different, so there must be something wrong (with me). I know I'm far from the only person who feels this way, especially with Christmas. But holidays feel lonely and disconnected. My Mom and Joe usually go to some busy family holiday party, and I gladly stay behind. But even though I know I'm making the right choice for me, I feel left behind. Alone.

This year was somewhat the same as always. And yet, the build up to Christmas felt very different. I was more angry than sad. Christmas has become so materialistic and over-hyped. And I'm tired of it. I'm tired of feeling lonely, because I can't handle family parties. I didn't want to get presents, and I didn't even feel excited to give them. Besides a few presents for kids (which were more fun to buy), I didn't buy much for people this year. I just wanted to skip over the whole end of the year.

Except that this was the 10th anniversary of the dream that inspired Dreaming in Shadow. And I wanted that to feel special. But it didn't, either. I wrote a little bit to celebrate, but I was really tired from the one day of Christmas shopping I did with my Dad. (In fact, I was exhausted basically all week because of that, but it was nice to finally see him.) This was more disappointing to me than Christmas. Holidays are basically a lost cause for me... but I'm finding it hard for something really important to me to pass without any special feeling. The same thing happened with finishing my three first drafts earlier this year. In that case, it was all so bittersweet. But either way, it's hard for me to recognize any sort of personal achievement, because I don't feel like I deserve it. Yes, writing is going really well, and I'm quite proud of my work these days. But I never feel like I've actually reached a point that's worth celebrating. I only see how much work there is left to go.

I just want things to be back to normal. In all honestly, I've balanced myself better this year than ever before. I had a rough Spring, for sure, but it wasn't as bad (or as long) as most rough Summers. But there's a sense that in order to balance my normal better, there has to be less of a positive tip as well. I've never ever had high highs to balance my low lows. But I think my highs are even lower now. It's probably worth it; living in panicked low times is beyond words. But it would be nice for some things to feel special.

I just don't know how to do that.

Somewhere Between Here and Pefection

Glasses Girl - Collapsingnight
November is over, and as it was ending, I finally got some writing done again. But honestly, I'm tired. It's been a long year. And I can feel the holiday depression starting to creep in. I think it's time to give myself a break. It's been a rough couple of months in terms of writing, with big highs and even bigger lows. And in all of that, I gave myself a lot of grief for not being like other writers who can, apparently, push through rough spots. If you can manage to succeed at NaNo, I am in awe of you. I still am not behind what it stands for, but hey, if it gets you writing, that's great. Everybody's different.

Except... I've yet to meet another writer who writes the way I do, with years of care and attention to that first draft, and having it be the very core of the story, only needing very small changes plot-wise. What I've heard from other writers varies between considering all first drafts to be garbage or thinking of them as only a light road map that will undergo a lot of changes. I also seem to work a lot slower than most writers, needing lots of recovery time if I push too hard. I know NaNo can be a great motivator for some people, but just the idea of it almost makes me sick with anxiety. I have discovered over the years that pressure does not motivate me. It breaks me, utterly and completely.

I don't know why my writing process is so different, but it's just the way I've always written. And it's what works for me. When I try to compare myself to other writers and their processes, it doesn't help motivate me to work harder. At best, I get a lot of work done over a few days but only end up completely drained and sick for weeks afterward. So, I really need to stop that.

Besides, the way I work has its benefits, too. Maybe I "lose time" relying on being rested and inspired to work, but what I end up with might need less polishing overall. All the time that goes into my first drafts has allowed me to be very confident in working on my second drafts. The second draft of Magic Inc. has gone amazing well, and I honestly believe it will only need a few read-throughs and small fixes before it will be ready.

But I have to admit, the second draft of Dreaming in Shadow has been a little more of a struggle. I still think it's going really, really well. But it's been a slower, more troublesome process. Between March and December, I've typed and revised 12 full chapters of Magic Inc. In that same time, I've only finished one full chapter of Dreaming in Shadow. It is a very long chapter, to be fair. Well, in comparison to the length I normally hit. But I think I know why this draft is progressing so differently than Magic Inc.'s.

First off, as of right now, I believe I will be publishing Dreaming in Shadow before Magic Inc., even though Magic Inc. will likely be done a lot sooner. Dreaming in Shadow was the first idea that overtook me, begging to be written. And I decided, nearly 10 years ago when that happened, that it was meant to be my first novel. So, I'm trying extra hard to make this the best draft it can possibly be. And that might be slowing me down a little. There's also a lot of exposition in the first couple of chapters, which has needed extensive pruning and revision. Most of the first quarter of this book was written nearly 10 years ago, and even though I've gone over those early parts several times, it still needs the most work. The earliest parts of Magic Inc. were only three years old when I started the second draft. I've also been trying to get more opinions on Dreaming in Shadow. So far, it's been hard to find people who have enough time and interest. But Jill gave me some feedback on what I had of chapter 2, and a few minor changes made me feel so much better about it.

There's still work to be done on both of these stories, for certain, but I think what I have is actually very good. I don't think I've ever felt as confident about my writing as I do about these second drafts. Will they ever be perfect? No. But nothing really can be objectively perfect, anyhow. I'll make them the best they can be. Meaning, I'll create in the way that produces my best results, which includes making plenty of room for rest and trying very hard to not compare my process to anyone else's.

And, somewhere between here and perfection, I'll be ready to share my novels with the world.

...hopefully. ^_^;

I Like My Attachments

Fireflies (I Keep Them in a Jar) - cru5h
When the clocks changed, so did my mood and motivation. In the last week, I finally finished the first chapter of Dreaming in Shadow, got through half of the second chapter, and wrote a whole chapter Magic Inc. Maybe that sounds great. And most of the way through, it was. But by my fourth day in a row of writing, I was pushing myself too much. See, around this time of the year, a lot of writers are doing NaNoWriMo. And let's just be honest, I hate NaNo. The idea of writing a whole story in a month makes me feel ill. I don't want to force writing out every day. I don't want to care about word counts. But then, other writers I know do NaNo and post about their word counts and such. And I'm jealous.

Yeah, I'll admit to that. I'm glad that I'm sticking to my ideals and the way I work best. But NaNo does produce visible results, and it makes me feel inferior. I'll have been working on Dreaming in Shadow for 10 years come December 24th. I've gone through ups and downs. The earliest chapters have been through 5+ versions. And I know NaNo is not the end of the story for writers who participate. I'm sure lots of great novels have surfaced out of NaNo. But the point of NaNo has been stated as "quantity, not quality". And I just can't agree with that at any point of the way.

Still, my Ego gets jealous at the results. The Ego likes numbers. And even though it was disguised as getting to see how ridiculous getting that much writing done in a month would be for me, I pushed myself on Wednesday to make the 1,667 words in a day that would be a daily amount to reach 50,000 words in a month. With only a couple of 20 minute breaks and one hour-long break, it took me all day. And I was ill by the end of the day.

I was so drained and sick that, the next day, I read an article that triggered me so much I had to crawl in bed sobbing. I will totally claim my part of this. If I hadn't overworked for four days in a row, I probably could have gotten past this with just a minor bad mood. But that's not what happened. And now, I feel like I have to say something.

I like my attachments.

I enjoy reading The Daily Love and other spiritual sites. I honestly do. But occasionally, I'll hit a post that triggers me. (And often, it's not that bad when I go back to it. My own emotional state when I read almost always plays a role.) But I definitely have an issue with the "release attachments" way of thinking. This article makes mention of it in a way of saying that if we're too attached to an outcome we'll never get it. And he used the example of a friend of a friend trying to find "the one". He was apparently too attached to this idea and only found someone when he stopped looking. This triggered me because it was basically telling me to give up my attachment to finding Morgan. And that just sent me into hysterics.

Look, I'm not going to argue over what works for other people. Everyone is different. But I hear this "release attachments" way too often. I hate the idea that - to make ourselves more spiritual - we have to be unattached to things. We may be spiritual beings having a human experience, but we are still human. Yes, occasionally, being too attached can bring you pain. But I don't believe the right way to react to that is to not care. I want to be attached to finding Morgan. I want to be attached to being known as a writer. I don't want to "release my attachment to the outcome" of those things. In fact, trying to release those things would give me the pain of repressing core parts of myself.

I do believe there's something to be said about not being attached to exactly how and when these things will happen. But I do need these things in my future. And I want to need them. They are part of who I am. I will do my best to follow where the Universe guides me and understand that It knows best. But I was not given these dreams for no reason. I was meant to be invested in finding my Soulmate. And I will never give that up. Not for anything.