Tag Archives: writing

#MondayBlogs: Inner Dragons

26 Jan

Intro:

Mondays are easily becoming one of my favorite days of the week – all because of the guest bloggers right here during #MondayBlogs! Today’s post is brought to you by one of my top commenters last year – Deby Fredericks – and she is writing about writers and their inner demons…or dragons. Check out her website and her books!

Inner Dragons

We writers often do battle against doubts, fears, writing blocks, etc. Call them inner dragons. If we aren’t careful, we can sabotage ourselves with negative self-talk.

One common inner dragon is the fiendish beast Comparison, which makes us treat writing like a competitive sport. Say you struggled for an hour to finish a single page, 250 measly words. Then on Facebook an author friend brags about their wonderful 2,500-word day. It’s too easy to compare word counts and decide you’re a slacker because you didn’t get as much done.

Or when your publisher is a small press and only pays royalties, you might hear publicity of another author’s six-figure deal. That can make you feel like a failure because your deal isn’t as rich.

Comparison depends on a backward definition of success. It wants you to focus on the end of the process while you’re still at the beginning. Every page you write is a battle. Life is so hectic, anything you complete is a victory. A single page, a stanza of a poem, a chapter of a novel — they all build to something larger.

One of my favorite writing quotes is from the late SF author, Jay Lake. “If you write one page every day, you will have completed a novel in a year.” Believe this, and go slay that dragon!

Air&FireAnother inner dragon we writers often battle is the dire monster, Futility. This dragon wants us to become obsessed with things we can’t control. This might mean editorial rejections, sales figures, negative reviews, or the length of time it takes an agent to answer your query.

Even worse, writers sometimes make New Year Resolutions based on things we can’t control. “Sell five short stories this year” is a perfect example. All of these are things we can’t control, but I have several friends who consistently work themselves into a tizzy, swear to quit writing, then apologize to everyone who got worried about them.

Let’s just be logical. We have no way of knowing, when we query or submit a story, how many other queries and submissions will arrive on the same day. We don’t know what else is going on in the editor’s or agent’s life. We have no way to know what past experiences readers bring that affect how our work appears to them.

A more productive approach is to focus on things that we can control. We can’t make purchasing decisions — but we can set a goal to write five stories and submit them. We can’t make readers buy our books — but if we self-publish, we can choose enticing covers and work our social networks to increase sales. We can’t make agents represent us — but we can gather data and present it in a way the agent may look upon favorably. To attract friendly reviews, we might give a few reviews ourselves.

To quote that one song, we just have to “let it go” on things that aren’t ours to decide, and do the rest just as well as we can.

Do you ever tell people about your writing? I hope so. You’ll have a hard time building an audience if you don’t. Even more important, do you tell people about your work in a way that slights or insults yourself? “Oh, it’s just a hobby of mine.” “I’m not very good at it.” “It’s a little poem/song/story I write. Really bad, isn’t it?”

If any of these phrases sound familiar, you’re a victim of the evil dragon Self-Minimization.

I often hear writers minimize themselves. Sometimes men, but more often women. Our culture has this thing where we teach men to stand up and speak for themselves while women are taught to sit down and be quiet. But, as writers, we simply can’t afford to sit quietly.

Naturally, everyone has moments of doubt. The competition is intense and rejection hurts. Minimizing ourselves can be a way to deflect pain. It can also be a chain that holds us back. If your spouse said to you, “Why are you wasting your time with this?” you’d be pretty upset. You’d defend yourself. But when it’s your own voice saying, “You’ll never sell anything,” self-defense is that much harder.

Deby Fredericks

Deby Fredericks

It’s because the competition is so intense that we must slay this dragon. No one ever sold a story without submitting it first. Self-Minimizing can be as much a habit as a reaction to stress. Begin to train your brain for the battle. “Yes, I’ve been writing for ten years.” “I’m getting pretty good at this.” “It’s a poem/song/story I wrote. Isn’t it great?”

Funny thing is, most people will take you at your word. If you say you’re a poet or author, they’ll believe you. Once you fight off that self-minimizing dragon, you’ll see how high you can fly!

Bio: Deby Fredericks is a small press author of fantasy and children’s novels. The latest is a book for middle-grades, Masters of Air & Fire, due in February 2015. Her blog, Wyrmflight, is all about dragons, and her home on the web is http://www.debyfredericks.com.

Want to be a guest blogger? Wonderful! I am accepting guest posts that focus on reading and writing. You are allowed a book link in the post as well as in your bio. A picture and a bio are encouraged. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

~SAT

#SATurday: Writing in Shackles

24 Jan

#SATurday: Writing in Shackles

I recently found out I have early-onset carpal tunnel syndrome. I wasn’t even sure if that was a rare disorder for a female 23-year-old. Apparently, it is. I honestly don’t know much about it at all, but I am definitely learning. Being told I have to wear wrist splints for 6 weeks was my first lesson. As I’m writing this, I have successfully failed my first attempted night with my sleep shackles. Sort of. One is off so I can write. Across my desk, the other waits with open arms – or fasteners.

I have to confess that up until recently I always thought writing was the exception to the once-you-get-old-you-can’t-do-that-anymore rule. Unlike sports.

When I was 19, I worked in a small Mexican joint called Los Cabos, which I guess means I worked in the Midwest “capes”. I actually find that quite suiting since the air conditioning broke that summer, causing two hostesses to faint from the heat. But there was one coworker I remember quite vividly. He was a year older than me, working as a waiter until he could “figure things out”. I wasn’t sure what he meant until our boss allowed us to wear shorts (due to that pesky AC), and I saw his secret. It was impossible not to. I asked him about his overly intense knee brace.

As it turned out, the guy had a full ride scholarship to play football at one of those fancy universities I won’t bother naming. On the first day of practice – during the very first day he was living his dream – everything changed. He blew his knee out, and the scholarship was revoked. No more school. No more football. No more knee. But he could be a waiter.

I’m not judging waiters. I’m not. I worked in a restaurant for four years, after all. But the idea of dedicating 20+ years to your passion – in this case, football – and losing it from one injury has always (and deeply) disturbed me.

That was why I found extra comfort in my passion for writing. It was injury-free, practically safe. Potential insanity was my only concern. Not physical pain.

shackles

In my naïve head, I truly believed the only way I would lose writing was if something bizarre (and probably horrible and tragic) happened to my hands – a car wreck severed my fingers, a cancer consumed my veins, a disease peeled off my skin, etc. You get the picture.

I’m not sure why I thought this. Correction: I’m not sure why I let myself believe this. My late mother had rheumatoid arthritis, nerve damage, and Reynard’s Disease – all of which affected her daily hand functions – but she always had perfect nails. They always looked nice. Maybe that’s why some of her health problems never truly sank in. She appeared physically able – most of the time – to 11-year-old me anyway. But now – in this moment – I wonder what it would be like if she were still alive. I wonder if she would say anything to me about carpal tunnel. Maybe she could deliver some comfort by explaining how she overcame her daily pain, but I suppose she eventually succumbed to her pain instead of overcoming it, and I believe that’s why I might be entirely too disturbed by something – apparently – so regular. In argument, blowing out your knee is common, too, and so is losing your dream.

I don’t think I have lost my dream, but I feel for those who have.

If writing were a crime, wrist splints would be shackles and carpal tunnel would be the punishment of jail. Six weeks is my current sentence – but at least it’s only a lifestyle change, an adjustment, per se. And even I know my dramatics will subside if they haven’t already. Writing calms me. The pen allows me to breathe free air. And when I’m done writing this out, I will put my wrist splints back on as splints – not shackles – and I’ll take them off in the morning so I can write again. But until then, I feel for that waiter with the blown out knee and that girl who wasn’t tall enough to be a stewardess and that colorblind kid who only wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force.

I hope you found another dream to live,

~SAT on #SATurday

#MondayBlogs: Goodreads asks: How do you deal with writer’s block?

19 Jan

Intro:

Today’s guest post on #MondayBlogs is brought to you by author, Jeffrey Allen Mays. I had the honor of getting to know him after AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. signed his debut novel, The Former Hero, and I encourage everyone to check out his website as well! After all, this energizing post was originally shared on there, and his insightful encouragement revolves around a topic all authors shudder at – writer’s block. Hopefully, after this post, writer’s block will become a thing of the past.

Goodreads asks: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Goodreads recently asked me to write a response to this question: How do you deal with Writer’s Block? Here’s what I said.WritersBlock21

We need to ask, What is ‘writer’s block?’ And we should be clear, it is not a clinical condition the way it sounds.

Swimmer’s Ear. Tennis Elbow. Tourette Syndrome. Erectile Dysfunction. Writer’s Block.

So-called ‘Writer’s Block’ is a state of mind in which a writer’s brain is not being particularly imaginative. For mere mortals, I think it is fairly common. Quotes you see on Facebook (at least, I have seen) to the effect that for ‘real’ writers there’s no such thing  as Writer’s Block are certainly annoying, but more to the point, they are just an expression of arrogance coming from one who apparently has a lot of natural activity in the creative part of the brain. Good for them. But even Hemingway lost it toward the end of this career after having the ability to write great stuff seemingly effortlessly, and then wax philosophic about it.

So I say, let’s take Writer’s Block down a few notches. Don’t resort to pharmaceuticals, and don’t define yourself by it.

When I can’t seem to get the motor running, I use a combination of going somewhere outside of the house, reading literature that I find the most brilliant and stimulating, and then, and this is the main thing, I muscle my way through (I did this yesterday). I sit in front of the blank page/screen for a long time doing nothing but thinking. Then usually after 2 or 3 hours (interrupted by coffee refills, ordering lunch, checking email, going to the bathroom etc.) I give up and just write something stupid:

“Dave was walking down the sidewalk.”

And from there I ask myself, What did Dave see? What interesting thing happened to Dave? And then I come up with, “Dave found something meaningful on the sidewalk” or “Dave had just emerged from donating blood, so he was woozy” or “Dave saw a homeless man lying still and feared that he might be dead…” And away I go.

No joke, it took me 3+ hours to get started because it’s been three weeks since I fed the monkey. I struggled with rereading everything I’d already written (it was a short story), but I knew that would take 20 minutes, and I would feel the need to start editing.

But I couldn’t think of something new and interesting to happen to my character. So I started with something stupid.

This may just be my new Writer’s Mantra. Start with something stupid.

Afterward, you can delete the stupid stuff. No one has to see it. The trick is letting yourself write something stupid. That may be the hardest part of all. Good luck!

candh.noodle.incident

#WW: The Lonely Writer

14 Jan

#WW: The Lonely Writer

Writing can be lonely. The career often demands hours of solitude – aside from our characters – and while our characters can be very real to us, there are still those days where a living, breathing human being might be nice to talk to. Most of the time, this urge only comes to me when I can’t find the strength to face my characters, and one of those times is right now.

I won’t call it writer’s block. I don’t believe in it. Writer’s block is almost a hysteria to me. But I can admit that I currently have writer’s depression – well, in reality, I think it’s safe to say I am depressed – but calling it writer’s depression allows me to focus on how my sadness affects my writing life.

quote-writing-at-its-best-is-a-lonely-life-organizations-for-writers-palliate-the-writer-s-loneliness-ernest-hemingway-344093

Ever since losing my publisher, it has been difficult. It has been hard to face my characters, and for more reasons than one. The main one is the idea of admitting to them that their stories might never be told. After all the work we’ve done together, it’s hard to admit this, even if it’s not entirely for certain. Other issues arise when I think about how I’m truly just talking to myself, even though talking to my characters does not feel that way at all. The strangeness bubbles up when I can admit that I’m okay with sounding crazy, but I’m not quite sure how to tell my characters about all of the changes that have taken place in my life…so, I’ve been avoiding them. It sounds silly, I know, but it feels a lot like not having the energy to visit with friends after you’ve had a rough week. You’re too tired – a bit too sensitive – and you don’t want to take out your emotions on your friends, so you stay home to avoid hurting your friendships.

I don’t want to destroy my characters.

You see, when I go through a rough time, I generally write a lot, but I write new things: a poem, a shiny new plotline, a card, this blog post. I don’t like writing in whatever I was writing in beforehand because my mindset has been altered for the time being, and during this time, I don’t want to accidentally disrupt the flow of a previous manuscript or scene or character. (Because this has happened before.)

It’s entirely insensible, but I understand that this is how my writing style works. On the contrary – if a character gets too demanding (like a best friend who shows up spontaneously to forcibly drag you out of your dungeon of Cheez-Its and blankets and kittens) then, I make a hesitant exception, and I try to listen to them, and this is generally when I realize little details have been missing from the manuscript before. So, I add them, and I slowly crawl out of my writer’s hole, and I pick up a pen, and I try again, and eventually, I know my characters – and my readers – still love me in the same way I still love them, in the undying way I love writing no matter how lonely it gets.

It is simply nice to talk about it with someone sometime.

Thank you for listening,

~SAT

P.S. Because I’m not writing right now, I do have a lot of free time for additional services! I connect authors with book reviewers and interviewers. I edit stories. I even create photos and give advice on social media. (And I like to believe my prices are far beyond fair. Seriously. I buy a Jimmy John’s sandwich for lunch.) Check out the full list of Services right here or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

#MondayBlogs: Why Writing is Better Than Sex

12 Jan

Intro:

Today is Monday, which brings us #MondayBlogs – a.k.a. guest writer day! Every Monday, a fellow blogger will be covering a topic revolving around reading and writing, and today’s topic is obviously rather humorous, but it’s also an infograph. If you want to be a guest blogger, check out the information below the infograph. Before that though, read this spicy piece, brought to you by Global English Editing.

Why Writing is Better Than Sex

rsz-writing-v-sex

Want to be a guest blogger? I sure want you to be one! I am accepting guest posts that focus on reading and writing. No blatant advertisements. You are allowed to mention your publications with book links as long as it’s relevant to the post. Including a bio and a picture is encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

~SAT

#SATurday: Scrabble without Friends

27 Dec

#SATurday: Scrabble without Friends

Writing has both benefited me and disrupted me. It has allowed me to live in the moment – to pay attention to every detail, to feel every breath, to notarize every scene – and it is because of this phenomenon* that I often stretch living in the moment by crumbling it into observing the moment. Like a journalist standing at a scene of a crime, I am note-taking while waiting for the opportune time to shine, but it often never comes.

I still wonder if it will.

Perhaps my lack of connection is a purposely-practiced motion – something I prefer. I believe psychologists claim, “Introvert!” when hearing such a thing, but I’m not one for labels. I find life much too complicated in density to sustain a label, even the complex ones, even the simple ones.

As I write this, I – ironically (and undeniably inaccurately) – have labeled this room my office. Perhaps it was designed to be an office. There’s a desk, a computer, a round meeting table, not one but two bookcases, and a plush couch that seems to have never been sat on. I’m not even sure if this place has been dusted. The lights are dim so it’s impossible to say, but since it’s supposedly an area for the community, I’m assuming it has been taken care of. I probably even have a camera on me, but I don’t care enough to check. I might come Tuesday. (Big Brother can wait.)

In all honesty, I have ended up in this plum-painted room by default. Someone else is in the 4×4 gym I use to prevent condensing into complete insanity, and I didn’t want to leave the building out of the sheer guilt I created by thinking he would believe I was avoiding the place because of his existence – which I am (sort of).

I don’t mind people. I generally enjoy company. But I come to this place for silence – and by “silence” I mean music blaring against my eardrums as I use the elliptical for two hours (or until I am contemplating whether or not I’m actually breathing anymore). But – apparently – this new neighbor of mine has the same idea. Little does he know that his exercise is on my blog now. But in this little world, I half-expect I might be on his. In fact, while peeking into the gym’s glass door, I saw he, too, is on his laptop. Even though he got back on the elliptical before I could finish writing that sentence, I’m sure he was note-taking. I should know. I can recognize these things in others. I’m insane, too. Sure, insane might be a strong word, but I’m a writer. Exaggeration is in my bones. And only insane people are up at the witching hour, jogging to the new Boys II Men album. Only people like us could be found in this dinky room wondering why I cannot overcome my social anxiety to go run next to a stranger who couldn’t care less. Only I refer to total strangers as “us.” Living on the road does that to a person. And that is why I sit in a room by myself, staring at the bookshelf until I see “Scrabble” on top of a pile of unwanted books. The conclusion comes faster to me than all of the other ones before it.

Yes. I can play alone.

It might even be fun.

~SAT on #SATurday

*Not in reference to the John Travolta movie. Maybe. I haven’t decided yet.

scrabble

P.S. I’ve updated my Services and my Donations page – please check them out and share them if you can. 

P.S.S. ARCS of Death Before Daylight are now available, but I will only have a PDF file. Please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you want one. 

aecarcs

#SATurday: Expression

20 Dec

Quick Introduction: 

A short explanation before today’s post is read: This is my first #SATurday post. In these posts, I hope to share more of my personality and life with you all as well as engage in topics ranging from psychology to experiences to thoughts on life in general. Since writing and reading is such a large part of my life, it is most likely they will be brought up often – as you’re about to see below – but my intent is, honestly, your intent. Take these posts however you will and respond about any part. Unlike my previous posts, there isn’t necessarily going to be one message. Think of these posts as streams of consciousness. Hopefully, they’ll open the curtain to a more personal side of my life and your life. Most of all, let’s have fun with it! …

#SATurday: Expression

I don’t necessarily want this to be my first post. In fact, I’ve already begun the one I originally intended to share. It was more positive, less greedy, but also leaning on the creepy side. That’s all I’ll say about it for now. This one is much more punctual (and appropriate) but punctual suits it better since it is much easier to write. The words – in other words – are right on time.

Time is a tricky substance of writing. A novel that required one week to read demanded one year to write, and the story itself spanned over years. Words, in that sense, create time (or, at least, outline the foundation of time.) Without writing – whether it sketches out pictures or letters – we would have less history. Of course there is always oral history, but if you’ve ever played telephone, we all know how that turns out. “I like my cat” turns into “I’ll lick Michael.” And poor Michael gets picked on by the class for the rest of the week. If the class had been playing pass the note instead, the outcome would’ve been very different. Hopefully.

Writing has allowed us to solidify the story, the legend, the fable, perhaps even the greatest truths and lies we’ll never surely know. Maybe overanalyzing it is where the art of mystery is born – and overtime, the genre. So many genres. Uncountable amounts. And we’re still adding. For instance, I tried to explain what NA, a.k.a. “New Adult”, was to a friend of mine. Despite being a reader of that exact genre, she didn’t really understand – probably at a fault of my own. I can be rather wordy, a bit overzealous, a little too passionate, but mostly disorganized in my thought process. This disorganization is one of the reasons I write. Slowing down allows me to collect the chaotic conspiracies and theories and misspellings before I explain them in a relatable way. (Or not relatable. That happens, too.) Sometimes, it feels nice to be misunderstood.

Expression is a tricky thing. Being in a comic book helps.

Expression is a tricky thing. Being in a comic book helps.

When I think of my friend’s confusion, I find comfort in it. Her focus wasn’t on the genre. It was on the story. She could not have cared less if it were YA, NA, or Adult. She only loved the words – not the marketing plays my author life succumbed to along the way – and the reminder was a gentle one. Her confusion reminded me of my own story – a history where a love for stories existed before a love for genres before a love for writing – and her silence brought me back to that moment. It was in that instance that I realized we have more than a few ways to tell stories. It isn’t only found in pictures or words or textbooks. Stories are found all around us – threaded into our expressions, mashed by our stances, and even placed in a place not searched in often – in our silence. Maybe that’s why authors always litter stories with words like smiled, nodded, shrugged, and sighed. Emotions have paved the way to expression even before we could understand words at all.

~SAT on #SATurday

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