Wednesday, February 29, 2012

House Hunting

My best friend and I found a gorgeous house to move into. It looks like something out of the 1920s, with huge, high ceilings and wood panel doors. It's absolutely beautiful and yet still in my price range.

I'm just worried that we might have lost it.

She makes fun of me, because I'm very Southern, but one of the advantages of my upbringing is my belief in the importance of manners. But because she wanted the bigger room, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of trying to renegotiate living spaces when the best had already been taken.

I've been upset about it all night and this morning. I'm not a pushy person. I was raised to be respectful and never to impose. I know part of house hunting is the negotiation, but I think I stepped out of line, and now I feel like I've betrayed the way I was raised.

I've called the landlady and apologized profusely and offered to forget the whole thing and just take the tiny side bedroom, but we're still waiting to hear back. I just don't know.

Maybe it's just because I'm so very Southern. It's been pointed out to me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to Also Be a College Student

So, there is this thing called homework.

Yes, I know. It's such a foreign term, and why on earth would I be stuck doing it? Sad, huh? Ever since I got published, I've been even less motivated to do anything in school because I keep thinking, "Well, I already know what I'm going to do when I grow up, and I'm already doing that, so why am I here again?"

But that doesn't really matter because I'm still in school and I still have to do homework no matter how pointless I think it is. But like I said, I have no motivation whatsoever.

And even worse, I tend to get into writing moods at about the same time I've got tests, projects, and essays due.

I have a solution! So listen up, all you writers who still have homework!

I have imposed a restriction on myself. I can edit/rewrite/write a grand total of five chapters (per book)for every week's to-do list. The counter restarts every Sunday, but it also restarts when I get through a week's worth of homework.

Ever since I imposed this rule, I have been ridiculously productive. I'm getting things done like you wouldn't believe! (Mostly because I'm on a roll and I want to get back to writing!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend o' Writing

I think I've said before that I write when the fancy takes me, so I tend to write in fits and spurts. Well, this weekend was definitely a fit. On Friday night, I felt the urge to sit down and do some rewriting and polishing. (This is a rare urge. I hate editing my own stuff because I get so attached to the things I write! And because it is so rare, I knew I had to act on this urge before the moment passed.) So, I sat down at my desk, and five hours later, I had finished editing and polishing four chapters. (This is just the first round of editing. The really tedious, must-catch-everything round comes after the first round of "I want everything to flow and make sense and these are the words I'm keeping to help me do that.")

Anyway, Saturday was really busy. I left my house at six in the morning and didn't get back home until almost eight that night. So I only got through one chapter (and that was a feat in and of itself because I was exhausted!) But then yesterday, Sunday, I was on a roll! Three and a half chapters got done, not to mention some serious studying for a test I have this week.

That's another thing: Why is it that I only get these urges on weekends that I have huge tests and projects?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reviews

I got a call from my sister yesterday telling me that my old high school newspaper had just run a story about me being published, and the author of that story had written a review of my book. In that review (which I don't have right now but will put it up once I do) I was praised for my action and absolutely shot down on the romance front.

My sister assured me that the reviewer hates all romance whatsoever, but I'd be okay with it even if she was a romantic and still hated it.

So far, all I've got back from my book is the generic statement of love, though I did have one friend who (bless her) went through and told me the things I did right and the nitpicky things I got wrong, but she liked the plot and the ending, so I hadn't heard anything about romance.

I've always been good at writing action scenes. Anyone who knows any of my writing knows that dialogue and action are my key points, but the emotion is where I really struggle. That's why I write adventure novels and spy novels; it's more about the story and action than the emotion. And it's not that I'm bad at writing characters, either, because these are real people in my head and they are very complex characters. But I'm a young, single adult who, at the time I wrote Lady Thief, had never even been kissed. So I'm going to struggle on the romance front no matter what.

And you know what? I appreciate the criticism. It's something I can use going forward to improve myself.

When a man publishes a book, there are so many stupid things said that he declares he'll never do it again. The praise is almost always worse than the criticism.
- Sherwood Anderson

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beauty

Beauty is relative.
It's the sun peeking out of the clouds after a long, hard rain.
It's the smell of honeysuckle on an elementary school playground.
It's the taste of freshly picked peaches -- sun-dried and warm.
It's running barefoot through the backyard.
It's the sound of an unabashed opinion.
Beauty is warmth.
It's the melodic note of an accent.
It's the gentle breeze of April and the stale warmth of August.
It's watching heat lightning for the first time, drenched in your own sweat.
It's the feeling that the people around you are genuine.
It's the strum of an old guitar and the creak of a rocking chair.
Beauty is familial.
It's the winning move in an outdoor checkers game.
It's the smell of homecooked meals -- mom's specialty
It's the taste of fresh lemonade when you come inside.
It's knowing you are always welcome.
It's the respect you give others out of sheer habit, nothing forced.
Beauty is peaceful.
It's the night sky with no city lights to drown it out.
It's the warmth of a springtime sunrise.
It's the cold rain of winter -- the kind that never freezes.
It's the fresh yellow pollen that descends every year.
It's laughing at your newly yellow car.
Beauty is painful.
It's standing your ground when others don't.
It's the courage to flaunt your independence freely.
It's the strength to be who you are without doubts and shame.
It's the hope that the closed-minded will be enlightened.
It's the solidarity of those who remember what honor is.
Beauty is simple.
It's the exuberance of finally climbing to the top of the tree.
It's the feeling of a mother's hand stroking your hair.
It's the warmth of a January fire and the smell of marshmellows.
It's the sound of laughter reaching every corner of the house.
It's knowing life can't get any better than this.
Beauty is home.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Would You Rather

So, the college I go to is a private religious university, and every Monday night, we do this thing called Family Home Evening. A group of apartments (guys and girls) get together and do things for about an hour with a spiritual thought, some treats, and an activity. Last night, we played this game called "Would You Rather."

The premise of the game is simple. You pick a card and pick a "would you rather" statement on the card, and the other people in the group have to guess which of the options you would rather do. It was fun until it was my turn and i saw one of the options:

If you were a writer, would you rather your computer crashed and you lose you life's work or someone stole your work and made a fortune?

It's a mark of how little this group understood my passion for writing that not a single person though I picked the second option.

It's not that I don't want to make a career out of writing. In fact, it's really the only thing I want to do with my life. So, yeah, I would be frustrated if someone stole my ideas and made a fortune. But at least those ideas would be out there! Trust me, I've had mild panic attacks when I had computer programs and almost lost all my writing. That's my life's work! I don't want to lose it to anything, and I don't really care who reads it or who doesn't. It's my passion, and I don't want to lose any of it, awful rough drafts included.

So I gained some insight about myself yesterday. I learned that I'm a very selfish writer and I want to keep all my books and ideas alive.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Problem With Writing on Instinct

When I feel like writing, I do. If I don't feel like it, I don't. It's a good system, and it keeps me from forcing myself into writing something I don't actually like.

There is one tiny flaw in my system, though. Sometimes, when I'm in one of those writing moods, something will interrupt that mood and throw me completely off my game.

It's not usually something small like a conversation, because as my family can attest to, what usually happens when people try to talk to me while I'm writing is that I speak in monosyllables for a few minutes and then excuse myself from the conversation as politely as I can. The distractions are usually bigger. For example, I'm in college. This is the time of my life where I'm making big life decisions. So if, say, I find a place to live over the spring and summer semesters that I really like, that's going to take priority because shelter is one of those basic necessities of life.

Or if a new development comes up in possible job opportunities.

Or a date. Those are distracting.

Point is, I'm starting to see a problem with writing when I'm "in the mood." At this rate, and with the decade of my twenties and all the life decisions associated with it weighing down on me, it's going to be hard to keep my commitment to writing. And that's something that should never happen.

I'm seriously thinking about restrategizing (I don't think that's a word) my writing process....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writing is Bliss

I sat down at my desk. I had a plan. Now that I was finally caught up on homework that was due while I had been sick for a few weeks, I was going to do the stuff that was due on Monday so that I would be plenty caught up, even if it was only Wednesday.

Instead, I looked at my Word program, smiled, and opened my book.

When I write, I close my eyes so that I'm not paying attention to the spelling or the typos, only to the way the words flow in my head. (I go back and edit later, of course.) But I sat there for two hours, leaning my head back and just enjoying myself as I wrote two chapters of a book that has quickly become everything I love about my choice of career.

When I finished, I wanted to keep going, but it was nearly midnight, and I had to be up in just over five hours so I could work the awful morning shift at the job I got to get me through college. It was the hardest thing to close the laptop and put it aside, and when I went to work this morning, all I could think about was how I was going to write as soon as I got home (and after my usually Thursday exercise session; I've got to be consistent or I'll never stay in shape).

Sometimes, I forget just how much I love writing. But when I take the time to write again, not just in 200-word fits and spurts but in sessions where I just sit down and write until I'm exhausted, I remember just how much I love it. This is beautiful, and even if I never get published again, I'm never going to stop. Nothing else can beat this feeling.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why I Write

(Note: In my defense this time, I had a really, really bad case of the flu. So forgive my absence. Again.)

One of the first things people usually ask me when I tell them my profession of choice is how I decided I was going to be a writer. The first thing I tell them in return is that I didn't ever "decide" to be a writer; it's really the only thing I could possibly have been.

I have lots of stories running around in my head. I also have lots of people running around up there. When I watch a show, read a book, or just generally experience something cool, I like to ask "what if?" questions and to go from there. I guess I'm just hardwired that way.

Sometimes, I feel like there are too many things going on in my head, like if I don't find a release for all the ideas and people running around up there, I'm going to go insane. Or maybe I'm already insane; it's entirely possible. But when I write, it provides that release; it lets the people run and play somewhere other than the inside of my head.

A lot of writers talk about the fact that they write because they "have" to, and we laugh at them. But it's true. There is, within authors who genuinely like what they do, an impulse to write that must be obeyed even if it is three o'clock in the morning.

For me, nothing is more natural than writing. It's all I've ever wanted to do with my life, and I go to college for a secondary career because writing books isn't exactly going to put food on the table. It's never been a question of why I write, it's a question of why I wouldn't let all this writing energy out of my head and onto the paper.