Tag Archives: Creativity

Publisher Shopping

With my first manuscript finished, it’s time for me to start shopping around for ways to get my novel published. Originally, I wanted to go the way of an agent. I thought it’d bImage result for shoppinge so cool to actually have an agent to want to represent me. I still think so. However, I’ve slowly realized, even before published authors told me, that the publishing world changed drastically from ten, or even five, years ago.

The worse part of it all is that it always depend first on who you know, then it depends on whether you’ve published anything already. It’s a disheartening process. I’ve thought many times that I need to figure out a new direction for my life. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the only problem with that is I’m 33 years old, and the only thing I feel I know to do is write. Maybe I have other talents that others see and I don’t. But the fact is, becoming a published author is my dream. I want it so bad, I can almost taste it.

Luckily, I’m not starting completely empty. Even I know that to succeed, it takes time. Stephen King or Nora Roberts had to work on getting names for themselves. Look at J.K. Rowling. She was rejected by agents countless of times until finally, one gave her first manuscript a chance. She didn’t give up, so why should I?

After nearly ten years (it really hasn’t been that long, but close enough to round up), I finally finished. I spent weeks trying to decide if I want to self-publish or find an agent. Whatever I did, I wanted to do it right. I decided that it’s hard to make money as a writer when you’re first starting out, so I’m not completely in It for the money. Although making money would be great! No, I just want the world I created to be published one way or another. I want people to read what I’ve done. I also want to learn how to become a better writer.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world in the publishing industry. It’s brutal. Agents get thousands of queries each week. New writers get rejection after rejection on their story for many reasons. Maybe the genre is difficult to break into (J.K. Rowling and her fantasy Harry Potter books) or your passion is in a genre where male readers prefer the book to be written by a male (again I will mention Rowling, hence the use of her sons’ initials). As a female mystery writer, I write in a very popular genre. People love a good mystery. The only thing I have against me is that I’m female. BUT I think that we’re moving into the time where people don’t care anymore whether you’re male or female.

Because I haven’t completely found my footing in the publishing industry, I decided that I should find an independent publisher. Right now, I feel it’d be less stress, quicker, and I’d be able to show published work for when (and if) I searched for an agent. I could publish myself and save a little, however, working with an independent publishing company helps save a lot of grunt work.

A writer recently told me that although several publishers wanted him, he chose to remain independent and that he sold about 50,000 of his books within a year.  After reading his debut novel, I can see why. I would love it if one day that’s me. It can be a grueling process, but one I’m eager to put myself through.

A girl from church recently published her book through an indie publisher, and I kept the company in the back of my mind since they appear trustworthy, and she has had success. However, it’s important (if you want a chance to succeed that is) to not settle. Image result for self publishSo I asked other writer friends if they could offer suggestions. I was given a few choices, and I’m thinking that I may have possibly found who I want to go with. I’ve felt comfortable speaking with him via email. It’ll cost me a pretty penny, but I already knew that. The girl from church raised her money, so I’m thinking I can try doing the same thing.

The whole experience is nerve-wracking, kind of scary, but at the same time, exciting. Sometimes the best things in life come when you work for it. I don’t think God brought me this far with my writing talents to let me just set my hard worked manuscript on my desk as a dust collector. I’m a believer in meeting God halfway. If you do the work, He’ll bless you in some way.

Now that the hard work is over with, it’s time to extend my knowledge and move forward…while working on my sequel, that is!

The Right Way to Write

One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned as an aspiring writer is that it’s a major headache. Sometimes, I feel like finding a new hobby. I don’t know about other genres, but mysteries (my preferred field) can be such a pain. You have to hide evidence in plain sight and weave the story together in this perfect little web so that in the end it makes sense. And the catch is you don’t want your readers to say “yeah, duh. Saw that coming.” You want them to say “wow! I should have seen that coming!”

Because I try to come up with that twist to shock my readers, I hit many roadblocks. When I write, my mind tends to go one way, and then I’m like “well, that’s stupid. It doesn’t make a bit of sense.” I also try to be original. In this day and age, with all the unoriginal ideas, I think people would enjoy something fresh. Sometimes my attempts at originality turn dull, or plain dumb.

A headache. Actually, a migraine now that I think about it.

In the current manuscript I’m working on, I’ve written a hundred pages already, almost 40,000 words of my 80,000-word count goal. Since I had no clue as to where I really wanted to go, I hit a major roadblock. It’s like my characters are all running amuck doing completely different things than they should.

Then I began to stress. I’m a stresser, so it comes on naturally, especially when I want to do well in something I love. After trial and error, I found a few tips to help me iron it out a little bit: I’ve listened to the computer read the pages each morning, which not only helped me to add a few more scenes, but I’ve come to realize that the ending I had in mind wasn’t going to work for where the story was actually heading. In a book I started reading, if I remember correctly, I believe it was Stephen King’s On Writing, he said that he once read  Ernest Hemingway would read his work every morning from beginning to end before he wrote another word. I thought that was a great idea. So I started doing just that. I’ve found that it helped me a great deal. I was able to untangle some of the messes I created by not paying attention, or details I forgot. It takes me longer to finish my writing, but I’ve come to appreciate that in order to do it just right, you have to take your time. Especially if you’re an “organic writer,” like I am.

During a brief stressing out period, I was recently reminded by a fellow writer friend that this is the “fun” time. It’s the time when I’m building new worlds, creating new characters. I was struck by the realization that I’ve forgotten this was supposed to be a hobby. I was stressing myself out by trying to have my sequel (and other manuscripts-to-be) written in a certain time period (30 days).

Stressing causes me to have writer’s block, which in turn, causes depression, which results in my having a hard time getting my writing mojo back on. It is supposed to be fun. Starting a new story is always enjoyable, but I’ve realized setting unreachable goals, such as 30 days for an 80,000-word manuscript, fun will be replaced by a hair-pulling me. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to reach 80,000 words in 30 days. I’m sure plenty of authors are capable, and I’m sure even I will manage it…some day. But to me, writing can be like losing weight. If you set unrealistic goals, you may fail. It’s better to have a long-term goal, giving you a little leeway. At least when you’re starting out.

Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins. ~Neil Gaiman

So instead of moving forward, I began to re-read my story to clean it up. Now that I’ve been able to take a deep breath and stop hyperventilating, I was able to see where it was supposed to go. Sadly I’ve removed a lot of scenes that I’ve spent time writing. It just doesn’t fit…for this particular story, anyway. I have a lot floating around in my head right now. I just might be able to find a home for those scenes somewhere. However, even if I don’t, I don’t feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy writing those scenes. I was able to replace those scenes with an equal amount of wording because somehow it gave me the inspiration.

And because I have a friend that is a writer, I’ve been able to brainstorm new ideas for this story. Whether I use it or not, it helps me overcome those pesky blocks. I suppose that there is no right way to write. I suppose it’s all up to you, as an author, to find out what works for you. For me, it’s a lot of trial and error. I tend to be clumsy and stumble around, but I’m slowly finding my footing in this world. What are some ways that help you to move forward?

There are three rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ~W. Somerset Maugham

by: Angela Kay

It’s a Long Road

To me, it’s exciting to know you have a talent for the arts. A lot of people don’t. Some lie in mathematics. Some in science. While I wish I had the talent in science, I don’t in either subject. My forte is writing. I have a passion for creating a whole new world. Honestly, it could be a made-up world that takes place in a Star Trek-type universe, or it’s right in my hometown with my lead investigator solving a grisly murder.

In 2009, I was taking a Creative Writing course in my final semester of college. In that course, I wrote a two-chapter excerpt from a book I had in mind to write. My professor and my classmates loved the first two chapters when they critiqued it. It’s pretty ironic because when I finished those chapters, the person I had “killed” was someone everyone in the story knew and hated—even the three children that found the body! But for whatever reason, my class enjoyed it.

After I finished that class, I continued working on my first draft, including a few more characters that were hateful. Yes, it’s safe to say that there was a lot of hate going on in my first draft. Curious, I must say! My mom read the entire book, said it was great. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. She’s not one to say she liked it if she didn’t, although I wasn’t too pleased. However, I think it’s safe to say she liked the style of writing rather than the story itself.

When I re-read the story in order to change the spelling, punctuation, blah blah blah, I started in on major changes. The thought I had in mind was this: the dead guy was someone everybody hated. Um, yay, he’s dead? I didn’t care that he was dead. So, if I didn’t care, then why should potential readers? I wanted this thing to get published! If I didn’t care that the dead guy was dead, and I knew readers wouldn’t care, then why should publishers? They’d probably give me a phone call just to laugh at me even thinking I had a chance in the hard-to-get-an-agent world. But, you know…I was learning. When you’re starting out, even when you’ve been in the business for a while, there’s a lot to learn in this trade.

So, I completely rewrote the first few chapters. I made my dead guy loved by those who knew him. Boom! I wanted to find this killer that killed this wonderful man whose only crime was making a few mistakes in his life! Another character I created was someone who was also hateful, gruff, borderline abusive. I changed him into a nice guy, but stubborn and not always telling the whole truth. I felt much better with those characters. They were more believable.

As I went through the rewrite of my second draft, I found myself in the midst of a major, major mess.  It was a messy story that I wrote on a whim. It took me a year to write the first draft. Starting out, I think a year’s not bad. But it was the rewrite that set me back. I rewrote my manuscript, finished it, my mom read it, liked it. I still didn’t like it.

So comes the third rewrite. I wanted to strangle whoever said, “writing is all about rewriting.” My mom, and eventually when my stepfather

entered the picture, loves to tell me that I need to stop the rewriting. I always stuck to my guns, though. My response was always this: “the story is not over until there’s no more work to be done.” And, yes. My manuscript-in-progress had a LOT of work to be done.

Because it was such a mess, I felt it kind of held me back from writing. I spent years off and on going back to my manuscript. Every time I hit a wall, I’d get depressed and stop writing. I’d also begin two or three other stories on the side, but I would feel guilty that I haven’t finished my first “baby.”

Well, God kept me consistent. I may have been consistently writing off and on, but quite often, I’d hear the last name of one of my characters, which isn’t even a very common name. I would also hear my preacher in church often talk about “if you were meant to be a writer.” Or, I’d turn on Hallmark and a movie about a struggling writer would pop on. Maybe you think I’m crazy. But I think it’s God’s way of saying “get up, child! Finish the book!” Well, as of March 10, 2016, I finished my third, and yes, final draft of my story. The best part of it was that when I finished, I found myself an editor almost immediately. He’s editing as we speak. After re-reading the first seven chapters of my newly edited manuscript, I was like, “wow!” Honestly, after re-reading and rewriting so many times, I wanted to have it edited and not ever read it again. Now, I can’t wait for more!

Oh, and since I’ve finished my manuscript, I haven’t heard the preacher talk about writing, nor have I seen a movie about writing pop on unexpectedly, and I haven’t heard the name of that particular character. Amazing, huh? Well, to me it is…maybe you have to be there!

I’m thrilled that it’s in the hands of my editor. It’s one step closer to being published. And I’m also in the process of the sequel, as well as another manuscript. My fear is that I’ll stumble onto my old roadblocks. I really hope I don’t. However, if finishing this first book taught me anything, it’s this: no matter what happens, whether I’m published, or if it sits on my desktop collecting dust, I can rest assured knowing that it has been completed. It’s been a long road. But I’m taking the wheel, and am pretty satisfied.


Angela Kay, Author imageBy

Angela Kay

@AngelaKaysBooks

 

Living NaNoWriMo and the writer’s life

Surviving Living NaNoWriMo

 

Writing

 

I am thrilled and excited, vicariously, that is, by NaNoWriMo. Time does not permit my participation and thus prompted my thinking of time and what the participants of NaNoRiMo will be going through, which led to this post.

This is what I figure, this is a month of creating, not just the novel you are writing, but habits which will inform your writing life. So why not start as if you intend to continue.

 1        Fuel up

Let’s begin with an obvious and necessary element. Remember to eat and eat healthy. I know from personal experience, the excitement of jumping into a project first thing in the morning and before I know it, it’s way past lunch time, starving, grumpy (yep, that’s me) and less than productive.

So, take time to eat – it provides fuel to the creative mind of yours.

 

2          Rest

Have enough sleep. Not catnap (though if you need to, go for it) but solid sleep by which I mean sleep when your body requires it in uninterrupted blocks of at least 4 hours.

Optimal sleep patterns improves consolidation and organization of information. When we sleep, our amazing brain works to ‘cement’ the links and correlation of bits of information, which means for us writers, after a good night’s sleep, the way ahead becomes clearer, and it increases our capacity to re-interpret information to reach novel, non-obvious conclusions. And that my friends, is creativity.

Sleep helps us to handle stress better. Seems most appropriate for NaNoWriMo, does it not ?  🙂

 

3          Breathe

When you hit the metaphoric brick wall, or even when ideas and/or sentences are not forming as you please/wish, when you feel that frustration forming…stop. You probably know being agitated is not conducive to writing. Hitting your head against the wall can only give you a sore head… so do something else to get around that brick wall.

Stop and breathe.

I practice mindfulness. It is not so much meditation but rather a habit. It is a simple exercise but to master it requires practice.

Begin with this:- stay where you are, notice you are breathing, and focus your attention to it. Lengthen each breath … and feel the breath as you inhale and exhale.  Yes, the plot is still bugging you, the characters don’t seem right… well, let those thoughts go by and pay no attention to them, but instead on your breath for 5-10 minutes. Once you feel calm and centred, you are ready to resume.

 

4           Move

When you feel you are running out of steam, and you will no doubt during this period, move. Get up and stretch your legs. And while you are at it, don’t be a ‘walking worry’ or ‘stomping stress’. Alright, I stomp around when I am stressed, so I catch myself and re-set my system, often. Anyway, when away from the writing, go admire the flowers in your garden, frolic with the cats, cook a delicious meal savouring the aromas…do them mindfully that is, with attention. Don’t be distracted by the writing you’ve put aside intentionally.

I do mindful espresso making and drinking…there is something meditative about it. Perhaps I should clarify, I use a manual espresso machine and I love the manual process… it engages my 5 senses. Bliss! Not sure about the movement part except I do walk around my home with the cup of espresso, surveying my domain :-).

Any movement, large or small, re-energises.

 

5          Socialise

For this month while it may seem counter-intuitive given you have to write 50,000 words, it is probably more important that you take time to engage with your community.

Connect with your fellow writers, within or away from NaNoWriMo. By all means talk about what you are doing, discuss your frustration or your ideas… Writers have always had communities. When we hang around each other, we get inspired, we feel a sense of solidarity and identity…it is in communities that ideas are generated and shaped.

Creativity takes shape in a social context, focused socialisation sparks creativity.

So, remember to spend time with your writing friends.

 

LIVE this month of NaNoWriMo as a writer would, don’t just survive :-).

Enjoy, revel and flourish!

 

Wishing you well
– Florence

 

© 2014 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Get INSPIRED by Authors who Know.

 

Stuck for ideas? Words not flowing? Need a break? Or some good old inspiration?

What better inspiration than a series of talks about the process of writing and what it means to write.

Here is the link to a TED playlist of 10 talks from authors like Isabel Allende and Melissa Gilbert, speaking about

  • creativity, passion, and the process of writing,
  • the power of language and narrative in writing,
  • the importance of contemplation and reflection to a writer’s life,
  • the bane of every writer’s life (at one point or another) – fear and doubt, and how to channel them,
  • the inextricable link between art and living, and the creative life.

Hope you find them inspirational, or at the least, entertaining.

Enjoy!

– Florence

 

 

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