Lilies - fireflys_locket

Reclaiming Hope

I've always written for myself. Because I need it. Because it's the closest to living I really get. But editing is more about an audience. By the time I'm in edits, the story has given me what I needed. And I'm ready to move on.

Especially with Magic Inc. Because each novel in this series is moving me through my childhood. I'm re-experiencing my own story. My struggles. My growth. My dreams. My stumbles. And I want to keep moving forward.

That's what's so hard about where I am right now. I've gone back to the beginning. Left my progress behind (for now) to start anew. And I know it was the right choice. I've learned so much since 2015. I have a (slightly) bigger audience. I needed to give my first story a second chance. Because it is the first thing any new reader will experience from Magic Inc.

I once read an article discouraging indie authors from writing a series because you will grow as a writer, but you'll always be selling that first book. I remember it made me angry at the time. I think limiting your storytelling in order fit some formula for sales is a mistake. But there was a tiny speck of truth. You *will* always be selling that first book. And while I put five years into Book One the first time around, my editing skills were not as polished as I would've liked.

I've been re-editing Book One with that in mind for almost a year. And I'm close to being done. But I've felt so stuck through most of this process. Seeing editing as something I'm doing for someone else - readers that may not exist - and having to go back through a story that is five years old has been so unfulfilling. This has been not as much a labor of love as a labor of hope. Hoping that someone will care about this story and these characters anywhere near as much as I do. And if you've been following my posts lately, you'll know I've been struggling to hold onto that hope.

So, I'm trying to figure out how to make editing mine, not anyone else's. And also trying to figure out how to hope again. To believe my story deserves to be out there as much as anyone else's.
Namine Sad - warplanes

Editing Woes

Editing is difficult. And I am far from perfect.

You would think Magic Inc. getting better and better would be a confidence boost. I love the way this new edit has been turning out. And it hasn't yet sacrificed anything I held dear about the story or characters. (Because I do believe you can over edit and lose some of the raw emotion that was there in the beginning, which is my favorite part.) But being so critical of a story that is such a vulnerable part of me has awakened some demons. Echoes of voices from the past telling me I'll never be good enough.

I used to believe I was meant to write. It was the only part of me I had confidence in. At some point during the writing of Book Two, outside voices (that weren't even directed at me) triggered my self-hating inner voice. I was reliving bullying, except I was bullying myself. And I lost confidence in the one thing I had always believed I was meant to do. I was, for a little while, able to calm these voices. But being in edits for almost a year now has brought them back.

I've learned a lot over the last few years. Many of those lessons were hard. They hurt. But I do think they've made me a better writer and human. Still, I can't get over this feeling that it's not enough. That it - that I - will never be enough. I don't feel smart enough, strong enough, experienced enough, or even kind enough to really write something to help people. To make a positive impact.

All I can offer is *my* story. The story I built out of all my broken, vulnerable parts. A story I know is imperfect in many ways. And no amount of editing can truly fix it, while still remaining my truth.

I saved this comment I made from a few weeks ago. "Very, very few things make me feel powerful in the slightest. It's a big world, and I spend my life in one room, hiding from it. But writing, when I do it for the love of it and not the pressure of making myself have worth, makes me feel free. Not only can I give myself the power I wished I had in real life through Magic Inc., but I can build myself a support system. I can, eventually, give myself the love I wish I had. It's not everything. And it's not, strictly speaking, real. But my true power is telling the stories of my heart with vulnerability and compassion and love."

But is that enough? I'm not sure.

(Original, more depressing version of this post is under a friends' lock - or on my Tumblr, if you really want to read it. It's been a rough week.)
Black Mage Yuna - shuijingling

Balance

It's a new year. But much like the beginning of last year, I don't feel ready to rush into my goals. I'm tired. I know I need to pace myself. Lots of people rush into goals at the beginning of the year and burn out by February or March.

I think my word of the year is Balance. I have a lot of things I'd like to accomplish this year, but I cannot get sucked into the same 2019 mindset of striving to keep up with the pace of others. I need to take my time. I need to follow my own path. And I've always been that way. Now, I'm just accepting it.

But that doesn't make it easy. Comparison is difficult to avoid entirely. When others talk about their grand goals for the year, I feel pressure. My chest tightens. My stomach feels sick. I want to cheer them on, and I genuinely try to, but I'm mostly stuck in my own head, thinking about how I'll never measure up.

Balance is something I struggle with. But it's also something I crave. There are some things, like creativity, that I feel need to run on passion, but that passion can burn out if we aren't careful. If we're not not filling up our own well. Lighting our own creative fire.

This year, I want to break free of the comparison chains. I want to be my own person. I want to be my own writer. Because "fitting in" has never worked for me anyhow.
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Hachi Paper Smile - moriiz

December 2019 Favorites

The year is ending, and I have no grand accomplishments to reflect on. But it's been a while since my last monthly favorites post, so I hope you enjoy.

Princess Tutu: I watched Princess Tutu about 10 years ago and was incredibly impressed with it. A few years later, I went through it again in about 2 days. So, I knew I loved it. But it had been long enough since for me to wonder if it would still be as great as I remembered. And it was. It's hard to go into why I love it so much without spoiling, but Princess Tutu touches on fate and sacrifice and fighting for the chance for you and your loved ones to live your own life. It's cute, but dark (at times). And there's ballet.

Say I Love You: This was my first time watching this anime, and the first couple of episodes didn't totally convince me. I found the male lead to be a bit forceful with the way he pursued the main character, and I didn't love that trait being so romanticized. However, by a few episodes in, he is asking permission to kiss her and opening up about his emotions and past. And from there on, the show gets so good. It follows a lot of characters' insecurities and the dark places they can lead you. But also the characters that seem like they might fit the antagonist role, like the pretty girls who want to "steal" the love interest, are shown to be very human. And unexpected friendships are built. It's great. And I'm hoping the manga will grow on me, as well.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (Audio): I'd already read this book in preparation for the movie in 2018, but I wanted to revisit it before reading the second book. This is such a cute story. And I really like the audiobook for this one. I'm tempted to just continue the whole series this way.

The Sims 2 (Houses): I've played a lot of The Sims 2 the last few months. Which, nothing new there. I'm perpetually stuck in 2005. I've always enjoyed playing sims as characters. And also making characters as sims. But I never enjoyed making houses. Until recently. Okay, I still don't build many houses from scratch. But I've learned a lot about expanding and/or making houses more usable. Thank you, Property Brothers!

Rest: It's been a long, rough year. And I've needed it.
Glasses Girl - Collapsingnight

New Year's Wish

Next year, I hope to create only from love and not from pressure. I hope to fill my creative well often and take lots of guilt-free breaks. I hope to find solace in my writing again.

I also hope to take better care of myself, both physically and mentally. And I hope to eventually find love and understanding in others, both through publishing and personal relationships. My wish is for peace, love, and (self-)acceptance.
Hagu Opens Box - fireflys_locket

Progress Over Perfection

Back to it for the first time in over two weeks. I thought I was ready for it. In some ways, I was. Yesterday's work went well, but it's so hard not to get overly critical of yourself while editing. And I already find it too easy to be harsh with myself.

I keep thinking no one is ever going to care about this story but me. I've always written mostly for myself. But I edit and publish for an audience that I'm just hoping exists somewhere. I want this work to be worth it somehow.

When I started out this year I thought *for sure* I would finally be releasing my second book. Instead, I ended up going back to give my first book a new edit. Which is another project I've yet to finish. The long, painful process of getting my first book ready for rerelease has taught me that I have to accept my pace and process. I cannot handle the stress of trying to meet deadlines.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday, and if you still have some time off, please let yourself rest. You are not lazy for needing rest. It's okay if you didn't totally meet your goals for the year. Try, if you can, to focus on progress over perfection.
Pretty Hachi - girlgamer

Just Be

After a week of feeling totally burned out and not touching Magic Inc., I returned to it because I actually wanted to. Not because I made myself. I just let myself feel and be. And do "silly" things, like watching a bunch of old Backstreet Boys music videos, which is what inspired me to finish Chapter 25 today.

I have less than ten chapters left. I don't know how long they will take, partly because I'm also feeling pulled to return to Doubts for a while.

My goal for the last month of this decade is to just let things happen in their own time. No pushing. No forcing. Including, and especially, feelings. I need time to just reflect. To just be. If "work" gets done during this time, great. But it's going to be because I love it and I need it. Not because I have something to prove.

Happy Holidays.
Namine Sad - warplanes

Celebration

I'm going to be honest with you here. You could say that I'm not great at celebrating things, but this doesn't feel like a bold enough statement. I'm terrible at celebrating things.

Most holidays lost their luster around twelve years old and have now turned into nothing but stress and sadness. Birthdays lasted a little longer, including my best one - and what I often call the best day of my life - when I went to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with friends from school, but almost ever since have been the trigger for severe anxiety episodes. There were a few I was lucky to survive.

And in terms of celebrating my accomplishments? Well, there haven't been many. I dropped out of high school, and my graduation from middle school was very possibly the worst day of my life. (Or at least the events around it.) I've never had a job or relationship to celebrate. And the one thing I've done, the one thing I actually felt proud of - the original publication of Magic Inc. - got shadowed by another massive trigger less than two days after.

I don't want to continue this pattern. No, I will never be an upbeat, energetic sort of person. That's not my personality. And I'm not into faking any emotion. Loud celebrations don't suit my extreme introversion, either. But I want to at least have things to be proud of. And I want to be appreciative of those things. To be able to recognize them when they do happen. And to be able to feel a deep (if quiet) gratitude for them.

I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to appreciate the flow of time instead of being scared of it. I don't know how to feel like anything I've done is worth celebrating. And I don't know how to invite in the good things without feeling like they're just going to disappear. But I'm putting this out there, as I have with other things before, in hopes that maybe someday I'll figure it out. Or it will just happen. Someday, maybe I'll find happiness and peace.

I wish you the best for the holidays.
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Water Shine (Kikyo) - fireflys_locket

Wave of Inspiration

I've been under the weather. Things were actually going well for a while. I was making great progress with editing, and I was loving posting my answers to the NaNo or Not tag on my Instagram. But my mood started to drop, and my progress slowed with it.

I could feel myself leaning into the pressure, wanting to keep up the pace. But I know that's not good for me. So, I've been slowing down with some reading and a lot of gaming the past few days.

In the end, taking care of yourself has to come first. It was exciting to be on that wave of inspiration, and I'm thankful for it. But I know that energy never lasts for long. I'll keep making progress at my own pace, whatever that naturally is.