Tag Archives: should I follow my dreams

Writing is Misery

10 Oct

Announcements:

The last poem of the second voting section has been added to my interactive poetry series on Wattpad. Remember to vote, share, or comment for your chance to be mentioned on my YouTube channel, Coffee and Cats. The poem is titled – To the Anti-American Teacher…We Knew You Were Pro-World – and here are the opening lines:

A clause in your contract slated your signature for patriotism.

You never signed, they never checked, but you took down your flag

after that.

Writing is Misery

Warning: I will curse in the first three sentences of this post. Not including these two or the next one. You have been warned.

Recently, I spoke with a writer I deeply respect, and one of things I said was something along the lines of “I am enjoying every minute of my writing.” To which he replied, “If you’re enjoying every minute, you’re not a writer.”

This has been one of those bitch-slapping moments of my half-assed career. I say half-assed with deep respect. I don’t mean it as a bad thing. Truly. I mean it as a reflection of how the general public sees my writing career, and I promise, there is no ill-will toward anyone who sees it that way.

Even though I don’t agree with the general public, I get it. I do. Oh, trust me. I really do. I am a writer, a lover of words, and although every part of me is tempted to agree with this author (who I respect so much I will take this moment to remind everyone how much I respect him) I – alas – cannot agree, even though I have contemplated the words for weeks. However, I will say this. He is right about one thing. I am miserable. But he is wrong about one, pesky detail. I love my misery.

You see, to me, there is no greater delight than exploring the deepest, darkest corners of life through writing, and when I explore, I often find myself in the hollowed out pit of a character’s soul – one that has been etched out through tragedy and despair and loneliness. So much loneliness. And it is in those struggled souls that I find my love for them, my appreciation for their fight, my determination to set their story free – and I write it out.

"I am going to help you write a new book." (Please. Oh, please, readers. Get this joke.)

“I am going to help you write a new book.” (Please. Oh, please, readers. Get this joke.)

This is the moment I lose myself, where my identity no longer matters, where I become another person. This is when my character takes over my existence, and perhaps, because of this takeover, I find myself saying that I am not miserable at all, because I cannot feel misery if I do not exist. Only my characters can.

Because of this peculiar way my brain works, only my character explores this thing called misery. In The Timely Death Trilogy, Eric has to face his fate, his ex-girlfriend’s murder, and his mother’s suicide – not to mention all of the other drama that happens in just the first book alone – but Jessica has to find herself in a world that didn’t allow her to have an identity, and that is really, really difficult for her. In Take Me Tomorrow – oh, Take Me Tomorrow – Sophia has to face the truth about all of her loved ones, but she also has to learn the truth about herself, and I can relate way too well to this instance because I, too, have to learn the truth about myself, and I do that through – you guessed it – writing as my characters.

It is in my characters’ misery that I find my own fight.

Sophia reminds me of how I had to see the truth about my own mother and the addiction that killed her. Jessica showed me how I can find myself no matter how many times I move or lose someone, even if it takes a very long time. Eric proved that tragedy is not an excuse, but that it can still hurt a lot and often and that is okay. And all of my other characters add to those lessons every day, and for that reason alone, I could never be alone.

I never could be miserable.

Yes, life is hard. Following a dream is even harder. But – I believe – even if I fail, I have already succeeded. I have found what I love, and there is no failure in that. Misery does not exist in the hollow depths of passion, because passion is not hollow. It is full of excitement, and love, and perseverance, and cheesy paragraphs just like this one that simply exist in hopes of encouraging someone else to continue on with their miserable head held high…showing off a big grin to prove it.

~SAT

My Week as an Author: the Many Ups and Downs

18 Jun

If you follow my Facebook page, then you’ve seen the events that I am about to talk about, and you saw them happen to me in real-time. (What can I say? Facebook is my go-to place to speak to you all live.) But if you don’t follow my Facebook page:

1. You missed out on all of the crazy events that happened this week.

2. You should be following my Facebook page. (I post entertaining stories, things that make you laugh, and the occasional interview. I even give away prizes, like guest blog post opportunities. I promise.)

So today I am sharing all of the crazy events that happened to me this week and how they affected me. Some were fantastic and others took my little ego down a notch. Why am I sharing this? Because readers are often sending me questions about what it is like to be an author. In fact, ever since I posted The Pros and Cons of Being An Author, one of the main questions I get asked is what my life is like and how I’ve dealt with ups and downs. And this week is a perfect example of how hectic, crazy, lovely, and insanely exciting it can be to be an author. (Did I mention soul-crushing and absolutely uplifting as well?)

Hopefully, these ups and downs that I went through will give insight to those who are curious about my author life and authors in general, but remember: no matter what, you must stay positive and believe in yourself. You’re following your dream after all.

The events are listed in the order that they happened:

I received a rejection for my poetry collection:

That’s right. I get rejected, too. Just because you’ve been published before, even in the same genre, does not mean you’ll be accepted everywhere you go. In fact, I’ve been rejected dozens of times, especially before I got November Snow published in 2007. A few months ago one of my favorite literary magazines – The Normal School – opened up their submissions for their fifth annual poetry competition. My collection didn’t make it. If I had to be completely honest, this is the second time I’ve been rejected by them. (The first time was a nonfiction piece.) But I am definitely going to keep trying! Even though every rejection hurts a little, you have to find the strength to fight back. One of my goals is to beat my fear of publishing nonfiction, so I’m working on getting at least one essay published within the next two years. Having a goal helps me accept rejection as the next step toward acceptance. That might seem backwards, but – to me – having a goal reminds me that I haven’t given up and how I won’t give up. It keeps me focused, and it prevents me from dwelling. When one door closes, it helps you move onto trying to open the next door in the hallway of life. In fact, on this exact same day, a door opened to me:

I received an acceptance letter for my short story:

On the same day I received a rejection, I received an acceptance. A few hours passed between the two, but I was glad I remained positive because I was able to be fully excited about this moment instead of allowing the rejection to taint my positive moment. The short story is slated for release in August of this year, but that’s all I can say for now.

I hit 20,000 words in Death Before Daylight

I mention this for many reasons, but here’s the main reason. It wasn’t a letter I received. It was a result of my hard work. If I allow myself to get distracted by the rejection, I might not have met this goal. It might have set me back a few days. Is that really worth it? I don’t think so. Staying focused on achieving the next step of my future publication is vital to enjoying my writing career. I’m not saying that a writer can’t take a day or two off to feel sad, but writers have to get back up again. For me, I don’t enjoy taking days off. It makes me feel like I’m letting disappointment control me, and I don’t want disappointment to control me. I want my dream to guide me. So I dove right back into Death Before Daylight the second I had some time off of work, and I met a goal I’ve been dying to meet. Plus, I thought fans of The Timely Death Trilogy would enjoy some news. If you’re on my Facebook, you also saw this little teaser:

booknews

I received my final edits for Take Me Tomorrow:

If you haven’t realized this, we are SUPER behind in meeting the publication deadline, so I’ve been biting my nails off. I practically don’t have any right now, but receiving the edits releaved all of that stress – which means that I had a moment feeling a little ridiculous for being so nervous about the edits in the first place. They were going to come no matter what. Worse case scenario, the publication date gets pushed back a little bit, and that’s not a tragedy at all. It’s still coming out after all. I wanted to share this because it shows how a negative focus can disrupt the overall positive experience of getting a novel published. Don’t be like me. Enjoy these moments fully because – when it’s all over and done with – you’re going to have your novel in your hands, and you’re going to want to look back and forward with a smile on your face. You’re working hard! Enjoy that work.

Amtrak Residency program sent me a rejection notice

I’m sure you’re probably starting to realize how often I apply to different events as a writer. Sure, I’m focused on my novels, but I’m also focused on gaining more from different experiences. I applied for this a few months ago. Basically, Amtrak allowed writers to apply to travel on their trains for free as they blogged about their travels. I love traveling. I love writing. It was perfect for me. But – alas – I am not perfect for Amtrak, and that’s okay. Applying isn’t about being a perfect writer for everyone. Being a writer isn’t about being perfect at all. It’s about loving all the adventures that open up to you. I can always apply next year, apply to other programs, and travel on my own. A rejection doesn’t stop me. Only I stop myself. It’s safe to say that I’m not stopping anytime soon. Or ever. (Probably never. Scratch that. I’m never going to give up. Ever.)

A radio show contacted me for an interview in July

Literally – two hours passed from receiving my Amtrak rejection to receiving the most delightful call of my week. A popular author radio show contacted me, and they want to interview me. Can you say, “EEEEEEEE!”? I know. I actually had to hold back from screaming out in delight over the phone. We’re already working out the details, and they’re recording the show in July, but that’s all I can say for now. (More news to come soon!) But this is another instance of how important it is to remain positive. After all, you can’t be crying to your cat about your rejection when a radio host calls you with an offer. That would be awkward.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

In the end:

As you can see – negative things can happen, but positive ones can follow them within minutes, and it’s important to stay positive so you can receive that positive energy. (Did that sound hippy enough for you? If not, picture me throwing up a peace sign. I also have a flower in my hair. It is pink.)

It may have been a strangely bizarre and eventful week. I practically got whiplash. But it was an important week, and it was a great week, and I am going to continue to have great weeks as long as I focus on the positive directions that open up to me.

To all authors and aspiring authors, enjoy this ride. It’s sure to be a wild one full of adventures you might never see coming.

~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

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