Tag Archives: passion

#WW Being A Writer Isn’t Everything

2 Mar

The other night, I was wallowing on the couch. I do this a lot. I can admit it shamelessly. But that’s probably because it’s a fake wallow. I enjoy the dramatics of it…and I do it all alone…with my three cats watching me. (Call it a guilty pleasure.) There’s something about hearing myself pointlessly complain that kicks my ass into “Oh, get over yourself and get back to work” gear.

Still, sometimes it takes something else to get me out of a slump, and two weeks ago, this TED talk was it.

 

Now, I’m going to write the rest of the article like my link is broken, but I highly suggest watching it, even if you’re not a writer. From the title, you might think it’s just a reenactment of Yes Man, but I promise you, this speech is about a writer’s passion overtaking everything—to the point of workaholic destruction—and that same writer both overcoming it and coming to terms that being a workaholic writer is who she is.

Despite not having any children, I can relate to her speech a lot.

She discusses the “hum”—that place where you disappear while you write—and how without the hum, you can feel nonexistent.

“I love that hum. I need that hum. I am that hum. Am I nothing but that hum?”

I am passionate. I have been here before. “Writer” is only one part of my identity, but sometimes it feels like my only identity. In those moments, writing was all I did, all I thought about it, all I planned to do, and everything I wanted. I still struggle with this every now and then. (Hence the wallowing sessions on my couch.) Sometimes, it even takes someone close to me to remind me to step away from my computer. Writing will be there tomorrow. Writing will be there a month from now. Writing will always be there. It’s okay if you have to take care of you first. It’s okay to just be you. For me, this means going out for a coffee…without my laptop. For me, this means sitting outside…without a notebook. For me, this means going to bed at night…without trying to dream up the next novel. For me, this means having a conversation with a loved one…minus books, publishing news, and movie adaptations.

Don’t get me wrong. I still go to coffee shops and write, and I still go to bed with future books on the brain, but I consciously need to remind myself to keep living outside my pen and paper. Living life inspires writing anyway, right? Well, yes, but again, it’s important to live life without pre-planning to use it in one of your books.

It’s okay to step away. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by your dream job. It’s okay to just be you.

This was my reminder.

~SAT

#AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 9 starts on Thursday at 7 pm (CDT) via Twitter’s @AuthorSAT! What is Author in a Coffee Shop? Exactly how it sounds! I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while hanging out with you.

Have you checked out this amazing gift basket Clean Teen Publishing is giving away this month? It has over $130 worth of goodies including a Kindle Fire, several print novels, sweets, swag, and more! Enter to win hereThen, read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, on your Kindle Fire for FREE: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads 

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#MondayBlogs All You Need (as a writer)

14 Dec

Intro:

Being a writer isn’t a decision for many. You just are. Still, it takes a lot to decide to be true to you and your work. Today’s guest blogger knows this lesson all too well. Ken Hughes, an urban fantasy author, discusses the truth behind what it takes to be an author—and how to stick with it.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

All You Need (as a writer) by Ken Hughes

ken.jpegWhen I wake up, I step outside and leap hundreds of feet up to float above the city.

–Alright, it’s my character who does that. But I’m the one who gets to capture the sensation of Mark kicking away from gravity, hanging in the night sky, and staring around for a certain suspicious owl that might glide out of the moonlight above.

And it can be frightening… just how much I love that storytelling. But I think I’m starting to understand, how that passion is the best key there is to living as a writer.

As a career, writing is its own special kind of hard. Half the people you meet they’re working on a book, but nobody can help you in the trenches. It means

  • discipline – to keep at it for years and years in the hope that something gets better
  • choices – every scene, in fact every word, is your responsibility
  • doubt – never being sure you’ve gotten the tale to the level you want
  • and the twist: after all that time locking yourself in the basement, you have to come outside and SELL total strangers on your work. Seriously?

But what I think is, it all needs to come from the joy of the right story.

Because of one key:

“I only write what I can love.”

Prison or Prize?

Let’s accept one thing: writing is not an easy way to make your fortune, or even your fame.

Sure, there are plenty of comfortably-paid writers in the world, especially in the digital age. But If your goal is really to combine “cool stuff about what I read” with leaving your day job or having a boatload of eager fans, the time it takes to write one novel (long before you know what you’re doing) can get you on your way to making a world-class blog, a dozen clever apps, or an FX apprenticeship where you can get your fingertips onto making the magic happen. If that’s what you want, for cat’s sake follow that dream!

Writing is the way to chase those thrills where you have to reinvent everything, word for word, in many ways from scratch. (Not in all ways, luckily.) So if you write, it should be because you don’t just love spy stories, you love deciding how your spy scouts an area and the exact moment her lips quirk into a smile.

And… there is no secret, no plan or key that can change how a writer needs to spend hundreds of hours simply writing. All with no help, no shortcuts, doing nothing except putting the next word down. To many people, that sounds like a prison sentence, and it’s meaningless if it isn’t lifelong.

But that works both ways:

If you know your story is the exact kind of “leap to the sky” that you want to be writing, those hours become something very different. They mean that for the rest of your life, any time that isn’t locked down paying bills or doing laundry can go right back to writing in your own world—and nothing can take that away. All you need is a notepad and five minutes (thirty seconds if it’s jotting down a sudden idea) to get back to your happy place. It’s an exhilarating discovery.

And, it’s the best way to make the story better.

At least, it is if you’ve made that place your own.

Defining Your Bliss

We all come into writing through other writers and other stories. Since that’s what first inspires us, it makes a certain sense that it might also be the source of a few of our problems. That is, if we to learn too much of the wrong lesson from one of our heroes.

I can’t get enough of Brandon Sanderson’s sprawling worlds or Joss Whedon’s talent for maintaining a whole roster of Avengers… but I don’t want to write that crowded a story. I’d kill to produce one page as poetic as Patrick Rothfuss’s, but it’s not what my tales are about.

If you love witty dialog—write that. Learn what makes it sparkle, how to pick and choose so you aren’t just copying one writer’s style, and keep writing that. Learn to get all that annoying description out of the way with just enough to do the job, or maybe the right touches to make your banter even better. And then you know that every day, what you have waiting for you is a chance to write more wit.

If you want the ultimate romantic lead, go for it. Work out what makes him/her perfect for your protagonist… and just what kind of stylized or silly or traumatic conflict to play off of that to turn it into a STORY worth sweating over. All the rest of the tale is only a basic foundation for that.

Myself, the more I understand how much I savor the sheer suspense of pushing Mark and Angie to the brink in a fight or a round of cat and mouse, the more I look forward to the next chance I get to write. And the better my scenes get.

Discipline? The next struggle in the book calls to me to get in there and write it. In fact, each time I sit down and discover that, yes, what I’ve got waiting is another glorious twist on how my poor heroes have to master their magic, the easier it is to trust that the next session will be playing to my strengths too. (Which is what “discipline” really means: not pushing through resistance but training yourself until the right action becomes the natural one.)

Choices? Because I can put my finger on what I want to write, I can test and study what makes good suspense and how many other pieces a story needs to make that work. Plus it means I can track one of Sanderson’s brilliant battles or the terror in The Blair Witch Project and call it “research.”

Doubt? There’s always further I can go, but at least I know what I’m trying to do, and how good I’ve already gotten at it. And, bouncing my work off of writers and readers means I’m hearing from people who have the same love of a good magical thrill.

Even the writer’s great Introversion/Promotion Paradox turns out to be not so different from the rest of the process: it’s still learning to zero in on what sets me on fire. After all my years locked in with my books I never thought “marketing” and “networking” could be words I’d want to be in the same room with, but it’s true. All I need is to pick which piece of adventurous awesomeness to mention first, and let my excitement show. (And like every other aspect of writing, learn a few other basics to support them—but really only a few.)

In fact, the two top pieces of advice I’ve found about a writing career are, “write better” and “write more.” Tapping into my own excitement is the best—almost the only—way to put more time into writing, and that time plus my clearer focus and related studies are just the thing to raise my game. (Bonus: there’s a word for a writer’s sense of just which kind of fun we write and share: that much-sought-after thing called a “brand.” Sometimes everything falls into place.)

Writing isn’t for everyone. But if it is for you, and you find the kind of writing you can commit to, those hours and years of work can become kind of experience you need them to be. There’s a good chance some day you’ll have people lining up to share your own kind of excitement. And yes, you might enjoy it as much as the scribbling.

But, your fans will still understand when you have to step away again. Just tell them you have to get back to sending your hero onto his next leap to the sky.

–Ken Hughes

ken2Author Bio:

Ken Hughes is a writer on a mission to hone the sharpest suspense, most gripping adventure, and most desperately human heroes in urban fantasy. For a peek at what he’s doing and why, take a look at www.KenHughesAuthor.com.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

Marking Mother’s Day with Bookmarks

11 May

Special thanks goes out to Tony Jaa, actor and martial artist, for quoting my latest novel, Seconds Before Sunrise, on his official Twitter page. Known for Ong-BakFast and Furious 7, and his stunt work in the Mortal Kombat Annihilation, visit Tony Jaa on Twitter and Facebook.

tonyjaa

Check out my latest interview with Confessions of a Book Geek! I explained the specifics of my book covers, and I also invited five of my characters to lunch. It was a great time, so read it by clicking here.

Today is Mother’s Day – and as many of you know, my mother passed away very  suddenly when I was eleven years old. It’s not difficult for me to write about it necessarily, but there is this peculiar heaviness that happens on days like these. I say “peculiar” because it shifts every year. Sometimes, it is crushing, and other times, it is a wave, but it’s always sad. So I find myself doing what I do every year – and that is to find a way to celebrate her life and her love. And I did.

Bookmarks. 

She was the definition of an avid reader. In fact, when she passed, we donated most of her novels to a half-price bookstore, and they joked that an entire library – not a family – was donating. My mother was a library. We had these beautiful, tall oak bookshelves, and she layered the shelves with enormous collections of trinkets. (Hence why I always talk about trinkets.) But she also kept bookmarks, and I reflected on that today – thinking of what bookmarks have meant to me.

A Bookmark is a Memory:

asleep“This is where i fell asleep” is my oldest bookmark. It was my favorite when I was a kid. I believe I read all of the Dear America books and the Magic Tree House series with this bookmark slid in the pages. I even remember getting it at a book fair. (I think they were cheaper because of the grammatical error, but I’m not sure? I think the i” was definitely on purpose and probably didn’t go over well with parents.) ANYWAY – I loved animals, so this was perfect for me. It used to even have a little puppy attached to the top, but that didn’t last for very long [obviously]. I don’t use it anymore, but it sits on my shelf of accomplishments. (Yes, I have something as egotistical as a shelf of accomplishments ::sigh:: It’s how I stay motivated.) But this bookmark reminds me of childhood and how I lost myself and found myself in novels, whether it was my first You Choose the Story Scooby Doo books, Goosebumps, or The Journal of Scott Pendalton Collins: A World War 2 Soldier. (My favorite Dear America book.) This bookmark is a memory because this bookmark represents my childhood love for novels that continued into my adult life.

A Bookmark is a Friend

badass“i may appear harmless…but inside i’m completely badass” This is my current bookmark, and I love it so much. (And I also just realized the I have a thing for “i” being lowercased.) This bookmark was a gift I received from a wonderfully talented painter, and it brings a smile to my face anytime I open a book and read the words. Just as a friend does, it makes me laugh, smile, and enjoy the time ahead (in this case, a novel.) Also, who couldn’t love the phrase? If you still need coaxing, it’s a magnetic bookmark – so it never falls out. This is good for clumsy readers such as myself. And – once again – like a friend, it is prepared more than I am. It knows I’m clumsy, even before I remember I am. The fact that it is also a gift reminds me of how much a gift can warm a heart up, no matter how small it is. This bookmark is a friend because this bookmark reminds me of laughter and staying true to myself.

A Bookmark is a Lifetime

mom“A hundred years from now, the world may be different because I was important in the life of my child” This bookmark is the most important bookmark that I own. It was my mother’s, and she was actually using it when she died. I keep it in a memory box to keep it safe, but this bookmark reminds me of how much she loved her family and how much she believed in all of our futures. On the most difficult days – like Mother’s  Day – it shows me how she would still be encouraging me if she were still alive, and in a way, she does encourage me by leaving behind a bookmark like this one. I may not be able to live up to the bookmark. I may not be able to change the world in 100 years. But I can at least try to change the world around me by encouraging and helping others to follow their dreams just as my mother encouraged me to follow my dreams.

Bookmarks don’t only mark a stopping place in a novel. They can symbolize parts of life and remind us of all the strength and passion we have to live for.  For me, they mark places in my heart , but they also remind me of where I left off so I can begin again.

~SAT

Guest Post: The Passion – she is contagious

12 Mar

Shannon, here, for an introduction:

As many of you know, I don’t normally accept volunteers for guest posts. Instead, I go out and find writers that I ask to post on my blog. I also sometimes ask those who participate on my author Facebook page or on here to contribute to a guest post as a way to thank those readers and writers for contributing to my websites. That’s what today is: a big thank you to author Sorin Suciu for writing the lovely post you are about to read below. (Fun fact: I asked him to be a guest blogger after he solved a riddle I posted.)

Passion can be a journey that develops and grows overtime, often blurring the edges in between interests. This is a story of a writer who fell for music.

I grew up with a black and white TV set that only received two channels. On the one hand, there was the Romanian television – a government controlled enterprise that broadcasted for a few hours a day, and which was largely a communist propaganda machine. On the other hand, there was the Bulgarian television – which had better movies and cartoons, and a more forgiving schedule. By the time I was eight years old, I could get by in Bulgarian, mostly thanks to said cartoons.

But I digress. For all their faults, every once in a while, the Romanian television would allow a true gem to get past the merciless eyes of censorship. Amongst them, some of Sergiu Celibidache’s performances.

As a child, I remember regarding this brilliant conductor (whose last name is a tongue twister even by Romanian standards) as a sort of clown who monkeyed around while the orchestra played beautiful music. It might sound frivolous, but to my young self an adult acting like a child was the best thing that the world had to offer. I was absolutely enthralled by his performances, and I would often try to mimic them, much to the delight of my parents.

It would put me in a good light to claim that I was responding to the beautiful mathematics of classical music. In hindsight, however, I guess what I was really reacting to was the passion. A passion so pure and intense that it caused transcendence. The music was there, of course, but passion was without a doubt the main vehicle. Without this vehicle, I doubt my love affair with music would have been anything more than superficial.

Let’s watch together Celibidache’s rendition of Ravel’s Bolero. This is a rare video, where the entire footage is dedicated to the conductor, and with very good cause too, as you will see. Watch him as he undergoes the transformation from stolid Professor Severus Snape, to exuberant Liberace.

Join him in this journey and, once we meet on the other side, tell me how you like classical music now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy5Ve3338-E

In the end, here is a tip for readers and writers alike.

Next time you read a book by your favourite author, try to change your focus from the action to the one who is doing the writing. Imagine the author conducting the performance, going through mood swings, getting a glint in the eye as something unexpected is about to happen, smiling as a subtle joke is being crafted, and lying back on the chair as another great chapter is finished.

Writing, I learn more and more every day, is about delivery just as much as it is about creativity. And what better delivery mechanism than passion? Nurture your passion as much as you nurture your creativity.

And don’t forget, passion is contagious. It’s the reason you became an artist in the first place, is it not?

Sorin Suciu is the author of The Scriptlings. Click the image below for more information. After that, share your passions below. Do you have more than one? Do they often grow from one another? Cover_+_Label~SAT

Interview with Andrew Vogel, actor on Under the Dome, and director

5 Dec

Special thanks to Mrs N of Princess of the Light: Shining the Light for All for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for Blog of the Year: 2013 and the Dragon’s Loyalty Award.

Another special thanks goes to Jennifer K Marsh, author of ILIMOSKUS, for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the WordPress Family award.

Today, I am delighted to announce that I was able to interview Andrew Vogel, the actor who played Carter Thibodeau in Under The Dome On CBS. You might have seen a photo of him holding Minutes Before Sunset in my last post. Afterward, he was nice enough to agree to an interview, and you can read it below.

Shannon: Hi, Andrew. Thank you for talking with me today.

Andrew: My pleasure.

Shannon: When do you remember deciding to become an actor, what inspired you, and how did you go about it?

Andrew: Well,  I think I was always somewhat of a performer.  I had done plays throughout grammar school and high school. It was always fun for me to be in front of people.  Although it was always nerve-wracking and still is. But I never saw acting as a career option and ended up studying psychology in college.  But even then I was always working on different creative projects.  I even had a comedic rap group going at one point.

At the same time I enrolled in grad school for business of all things, I enrolled in a local acting class. Almost immediately I dis-enrolled from grad school and decided I wanted to give film acting a run. The class had certainly awoken my passion for the art. I had taken a year off after undergrad to work retail and I was flat out miserable.  It was one of those things where I just knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I don’t know if that year inspired me, but it certainly made me realize that I would never be content if creativity wasn’t a significant part of my work.

Anyway, I began training for film acting and also working retail part time. Which still wasn’t satisfying enough.  Did I mention I don’t like working retail? But soon enough, through some good contacts and well placed volunteer efforts, I landed a job as the Editor of Louisiana Film and Video Magazine which allows me to work from home and virtually pursue my creative endeavors full time.

Andrew Vogel as Carter on the set of Under the Dome

Andrew Vogel as Carter on the set of Under the Dome

Shannon: I also hear that you have a passion for directing. What do you like most about directing and do you have any upcoming plans with it?

Andrew: I directed one short film for a 48 hour film contest. It was one of the most rewarding creative experiences I’ve ever had. I had my hand on every detail of the film from the overall vision down to props and costumes. I think what I loved the most was the chaos of it all.  There was so much creative freedom within that chaos. Ideas were flowing off the cuff for myself and the entire team. My wheels were turning as fast as ever, and yet I was forced to be in the moment and keep things moving. There was no time for creative blocks.  We made decisions, improvised and adapted. It’s amazing what ended up remaining of the original vision by the time it was all said and done.  We had added so much richness by the end of the project that wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for the driving force of chaos. Never have I felt more focused and alive, ha.

The feedback we got on the film after the contest was as good as we could have hoped for. Unfortunately, we turned it in a bit late and were not eligible for awards.  On the upside, we did another version of the film with more footage and better quality sound that we are sending out to festivals.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but myself and the original crew of the 48 hour project are always cooking up new ideas.  I certainly plan on directing again in the near future.

Shannon: What has been your most interesting experience as an actor?

Andrew Vogel with Minutes Before Sunset.

Andrew Vogel with Minutes Before Sunset.

Andrew: Being on set as an actor is always interesting.  You kind of fall into a bubble where the outside world doesn’t seem to exist. And you tend to quickly get to know the people you work.  Often times there is little sleep and a lot of waiting. That combination leads to interesting conversation.

For me, my favorite moment as an actor was my first day on Under the Dome.  Keep in mind I had never worked on a project near this size before so I was excited to say the least.  I felt like I was living the dream.  I mean, I was getting paid to do what I love in a city I’ve never been.  I had a king suite at the hotel, a personal trailer on set, and food on demand.  Not a bad setup for a layman. So after being delivered a breakfast burrito to my trailer, I was taken to set with some other actors. They all seemed cooler than me. And probably were.  Once I was on set, I was introduced to the director who responded, “I know who he is. I hired him,” and followed by telling me, “Do exactly what you did in the audition.”  I was nervous at first.  The scenes I was in seemed to revolve around my character, Carter, who is an older bully crashing a high school party with a sixer of beer and a bravado worthy of Steve Stifler.  After my first take which to me felt shaky, the director said to me, “That was bleepin perfect,” and proceeded to give me minor technical notes.  That in combination with a seemingly endless amount of takes had me feeling confident.  By the end of the day I was teaching extras how to spin beer bottles in their hand and seeing how many winks I could fit in before they yelled “cut”. Slight exaggeration.

Shannon: Is your favorite genre of film to work with different from your favorite genre of film to watch?

Andrew: I don’t think I have a favorite genre to work with yet.  I’m certainly still discovering my strengths and weaknesses.  As a dream role I would like to play a villain in one of those comic book movies.

It’s hard to put a label on my favorite movie genre to watch, but I like films that have psychological or philosophical depth. Preferably with surreal or fantastical elements. In my opinion, a good film, like a good book, leaves me thinking afterwards.

Shannon: Has any one specifically encouraged you to become an actor? Has any one discouraged it? What are the best and worst parts about these careers?

Andrew: Since my decision to pursue a career as an actor, most everyone has been supportive. My parents have always encouraged me to perform I think from a young age. Because they knew I enjoyed it. More people are supportive since Under the Dome. Go figure.

I’ve always been a high-risk achiever.  Meaning I try to accomplish the unlikely. And there’s always been people who have told me that I couldn’t do something, and then when I do it, they look for some sort of corruption. That’s okay though. I think the people closest to me have learned to expect the unexpected.

The best part about my career is the fact that I do what I love as a profession.  The worst part is being rejected over and over. But even that isn’t so bad.  I’m at the point where, unless it’s a major audition, I forget about auditions as soon as they are over with.

If you care about having a lot of money, it’s a much tougher road.

Shannon: Finally, do you have any inspirational quotes or thoughts to share with those aspiring to become an actor or director?

Andrew: My philosophy in life is simply to pursue passion and never stop exploring. If you aren’t sure what you are passionate about, then explore life with an open mind until you do. Finding passion will guide you to truth and happiness.

That being said, first make sure you want to act or direct for the right reasons, then jump in head first and don’t look back. Be bold. Take chances. And no matter how much talent you think you might have, be prepared to start from nothing and learn from the best. Without humility and flexibility, you won’t grow as an artist.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ― Christopher Reeve

Shannon: Thank you again for speaking with me today.

Be sure to visit Andrew Vogel at IMDB.

~SAT 

One of my “Lows” as an Author

12 Oct

Today I wanted to talk about something many artists–no matter what kind of art they practice–struggle with: lows.

We have them sometimes as often as we have “highs.” When I say “highs” I am talking about those moments where you feel on top of the world, like you’ve accomplished everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and when I talk about “lows” I am talking about those moments that often follow our “highs.”

For me, the lows that follow highs are the hardest, not because they are emotional but because they are difficult to understand. The day before, filled with a high, you feel confident and beyond excited. It’s almost paralyzing when a low hits you the next morning. I wanted to talk about the one that I struggle with the most in the hopes of helping other writers (or artists) understand they aren’t alone or strange to be confused about these highs and lows as I have felt before.

My hardest lows happen when I finish a book.

As many of you know, I finished Seconds Before Sunrise recently. Granted, I “finished” writing it in high school, but the finalized version is MUCH different than the original, not because my publisher has asked me to change it, but because I decided to change a lot. I’ve grown up a lot since I first wrote it, I’ve learned a lot about writing, so I practically rewrote the entire trilogy when it was signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. Therefore, I’m still experiencing the “high” of finishing it, followed by the “low” the day after.

The low comes from the realization that the novel is over. The creating is done. The adventure has settled, and it’s ready to be shared, but I’m no longer traveling within words, and it takes me a while to get into another novel afterwards, because it’s hard for me to let go of my previous work.

So what do I do to cope with it?

Previously, I’ve talked about going back, reflecting on my childhood or another time where my love for writing was a little more pure, naive to the changes that must be made when an artist grows into another stage of being an artist. And it helps. This is why I decided I wanted to share the piece of me that got me out of my recent “low.”

14 years old and reading as usual

14 years old and reading as usual

I was 14 when this photo was taken, which, roughly speaking, is when I started writing Seconds Before Sunrise. (Remember, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise before Minutes Before Sunset.) I had yet to publish November Snow, and I was still dreaming of the day I could hold my published works in my hands. Perhaps this is why I held onto a “Personal Profile” my freshman English teacher had us fill out on my first day of high school so she could get to know us better. Below are the two answers that brought my author love out of that low: (excuse my handwriting; it hasn’t been right since I broke my left hand and had to switch to my right hand)

20131010_193544 20131010_193555

When I read further, I was asked what my greatest goal was, and I said “to publish a book.” The perfect gift for me would be “a Barnes & Noble gift card” and when I get older, I wanted to be “an author.” I also said my favorite quote was “An ambition is a dream with a V8 engine” said by my favorite singer, Elvis Presley. I realized my dream was my focus in this questionnaire that I’m sure no one expected me to keep as one of the most important documents I have today.

I talked about my dreams, and, at the time, I kept it to remind myself of my goals. Since this was August 18, 2005, I was completely oblivious that November Snow would be published two years later or that Minutes Before Sunset would be published in 2013.

Today, this paper still reminds me of my goals, which I think is beautiful thing. In a sense, my 14-year-old self can still cheer me on. Even more important, I am reminded that I can cheer myself on by believing in everything I’ve done throughout the years. I may have been scribbling down answers as fast as I could (because who likes to spend hours on homework) but I still knew what I desired most: to live my life pursuing what I love most–writing–and I did.

As I continue to follow this dream, I have added more goals to my writer’s dream. Back then, all I wanted was my published book in my hands. Today, I want to help other aspiring writers achieve the same dream, and I also want to encourage other people to follow their dreams, no matter what it is. I want to challenge archetypes and stereotypes in literature. I want to depicts characters young adults today can relate to, learn from, and grow with. And I’m doing this by having the goal of challenging myself. In order to do this, I have to believe in myself, even in my lows, and I do, which is something much easier to write than to actually do. But, nevertheless, I know I’m not alone in this and no artist is alone in this.

We’re going to have days we’re on top of the world, and we’re going to have nights where we’re not sure if we should continue pursuing our dreams the next morning. But we get up anyway, because we know we can’t stop, because we can’t stop passion. We can’t stop a dream.

The point of this post has became less about my “lows” as an author and more about how we can stay in that “high” by reminding ourselves of what matters: happiness. And I hope this helps others find a place where happiness already resides: in our dreaming hearts.

~SAT

To My Mother

15 Mar

“Writers seek to create order out of the chaos of everyday life, and to extract meaning from both the tragic and the mundane.” ~Hope Edelman

This quote has always struck a deep chord within me, not only because I am a writer, but because this was my mother’s philosophy. On top of that, Hope Edelman is the author of Motherless Daughters: A Legacy of Loss, and her collection truly guided my understanding of loss when my mother suddenly passed away in 2003.

This is almost every picture I have of my mother. She was always reading. And she didn't like to get her picture taken, so we had to sneak them when she wasn't looking.

This is almost every picture I have of my mother. She was always reading. And she didn’t like to get her picture taken, so we had to sneak them when she wasn’t looking.

My mother’s love is exactly what I wanted to post about today–and only this.

March 16 (tomorrow) will be the 10-year-anniversary of her death, and I have to admit hitting such a mark is very surreal along with emotionally challenging. At such a time in my life, I have moments where I begin fighting my dream, because I wish I had her to share it with (as I did when I was a child.) However, on other days, this emotion possesses me to strive forward, and I remember how that’s exactly what she’d want me to do. Being an avid reader, writer, and lover of stories, she worked hard everyday, and I work every day to cherish her memory.

I remember, specifically, one time in Barnes & Noble. I was in fourth grade, and I was obsessed with the Dear America series. She let me pick four or five out every time we were there. This added up to a lot of money, considering that the series was all hardcover at the time, and I asked her why she let me get all of them.

“Because,” she said. “if a parent should spend extra money on anything for their kids, it should be books.” She later added anything that encouraged the passion of a child. For instance, my older brother was an artist, and they got him drawing supplies.

And, of course, there are pictures of me doing the exact same thing (in the same room too!)

And, of course, there are pictures of me doing the exact same thing (in the same room too!)

To this day, my memories of the bookstore are some of my favorites, and I have numerous reasons for this:

1. I was doing something I loved.

2. I was doing something I loved with someone I loved.

3. I was doing something I loved with someone I loved, and those moments are the most important moments to love.

So do something nice today with someone you love, whether it be a spouse, child, friend, or lover. Support each others’ dreams and truly dedicate time to say, “I love you.”

My mom reading with my older brother on her back. She loved her family and her books.

My mom reading with my older brother on her back. She loved her family and her books.

~SAT

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