fireflys_locket: (Ron/Hermione Book Kiss - aivlis88)
I haven't written an entry in a while. I've been kind of busy. Probably not in comparison to anyone reading this, but enough to tire me out. I'm just about finished with what very limited Christmas shopping I was able to do this year, and I'm seriously ready to go into some kind of introvert hibernation. Just me and my books and games and writing. Oh, and music, because my quest in actually owning the music I listen to was aided greatly by online Black Friday sales. (Also there have been incredible sales for anime and manga here, if that's something that interests you.) But back to what I was saying, I've been wearing myself out, and I need a break. I'm behind on so very many things, partially due to my September/October breakdown, and I just want to stay home and do more of those things and less going out, which often exhausts me for days afterward.

But the one thing that has picked up during this tiring time is reading. I think I've read more books this year than I've ever read in a year before (even if you disregard the couple of manga I threw in there). It decimates the past two years that I've been keeping track of. in fact, I've read more this year than those two years combined. I know 25 books isn't much compared to some people, but I feel pretty proud of myself anyhow. And I've mostly read books I really enjoyed, too. I've rated all but two books as four or five stars. I actually can't believe how lucky I've been to find so many amazing books. And the two books competing for my attention now seem likely to hit four or five stars, too. I've also been really wanting to reread some of my favorite series soon, but I'm hoping GoodReads adds an option to count rereads for challenges and such first.

And I have been making some progress with things like writing. I've now revised 26 of 34 chapters of Magic Inc. - versus 7 of (probably) 37 of Dreaming in Shadow. And it's making me really consider going back on my plans to release Dreaming in Shadow first. But I keep wondering why that is. Is it because I really think Magic Inc. should be my first published novel now, or am I just desperate to release something so that I don't feel like such a fake? So that I don't get so sick with jealousy every time I see a writer announce a new book or "brag" about their NaNo success? There's a part of me that knows I have to go at my own pace, but there's another part that says I should have finished something by now. That I'm not a "real" writer until I do. Which is crazy, because there are plenty of talented writers who never publish. And I probably would have published Dreaming in Shadow by now if I weren't working on four other stories and endless outlines at the same time, but I have absolutely no desire to give my multi-story workstyle up. It keeps me always excited about something, instead of dragging through one thing at a time.

So, maybe I will end up publishing Magic Inc. Book One first. But if I do, it has to be for the right reasons. Otherwise, I'm not really staying true to my vision. And that's one of those things I never want to betray. I have to do things my way, at my pace, and with all my heart and soul. Even if that means I have to wait another year or two to release my first novel.
fireflys_locket: (Release Me - soporifical)
I've been missing again. Turns out, the depressive state from last entry turned into an extreme anxiety crash after a relative's long visit. I don't feel much like going into the exact triggers because talking about that stuff is what worked me up in the first place. I tried to hold it in. I tried to just move past it. It would have been nice to have a calender year without an anxiety crash or tragedy. But I couldn't do it. It had to come out. And maybe if I hadn't tried so hard to hold it in, it wouldn't have been as bad. But I'm always scared now that if let my emotions free I'll crash like this everytime. And I couldn't handle that.

As it often happens, my held-in emotions found a temporary outlet in an obsession. This time it was book. A beautiful, lovely, tragic book. It was one that stood out to me instantly when I first ran across it online. It called out to me, begging for me to buy it. So, I did. Then it settled into a spot in the stacks with my other books to be read. And stayed quiet for a couple of years. I knew I'd love it. I also knew it would hurt me. As with many things, I waited for the exact right moment. Or the exact wrong moment. But no, I can't regret any of this.

I noticed a friend was reading the book on Goodreads; that was the reminder. Then she rated it five stars. I liked the update, and added it to my To-Read list. Then we started talking about it. I finished the book I was currently reading (Harry, A History - finally!) and started Forbidden. Our company was still around at the time. I hid in my room and read. And obsessed. Every word hit against my heart, shaking the held-in emotions. It was painful and blissful at the same time. It hurt so good.

Then the company left, and I hesitated to read the last hundred or so pages. I'd known from the start that this book would be one of those beautifully sad ones. The ones I call Lovely Despair. But after the company was gone, I could feel my guard slipping down. My exhaustion was leaking through. All of the depression I'd felt through August had been amplified by incidents during the company's visit, but I had to stay stable. I had to survive. Once they were gone, I was crumbling. I finally read through to the end. And I was broken open with grief.

I sobbed. And sobbed. And all the things that had built up inside me came rushing out. I couldn't control it. I listened to a fanmix, my obsession still strong. Looked up stuff on Tumblr. Tried to make it only about the book. But it wasn't. The obsession had protected me for a while, but as it always goes, that obsession broke me open in the end. And I couldn't avoid the pain and the panic anymore.

My Mom stayed home from work. I had flashbacks of my breakdown in 2010. I felt like those times had never actually ended. That they had stretched all through these years, and I had just been living in an illusion. Panic attacks are almost the worst thing in the world because they convince you they are the worst thing in the world. That the world is ending. That you can't breathe. That you're bleeding to death. Even when you aren't.

The panic came in waves. When I started to go under, my thoughts automatically started back on the book and that grief. I guess that pain at least seemed safer than my real fears, though I always ended up back in my own pain. As part of my recovery, Jill suggested writing a piece of fanfiction for the book. I did. It helped some. I also wrote a book review. I even started a fanmix of my own.

I'm starting to feel somewhat better now, but I'm still really shaky. I'm scared something will happen, and I'll crash back down again. Panic Disorder is such that you find yourself panicking at the thought of panicking. And I have a psychiatrist appointment coming up to worry over. He sometimes makes me feel worse. Often, really.

It took weeks to recover. But here I am, trying to get back to normal. But it's hard. I find myself still obsessing over my beloved Forbidden, which has earned a place in my heart forever. But I have to be careful how long I let myself stay there. Because it's still painful. Because I'm still struggling.

An obsession can help you or it can hurt you. Or it can hurt you to help you. That's what I think this one did. This book would have made me love it and feel pain from it whenever I decided to read it. But I read it now. Why? Because I needed to be broken open. Maybe. It's hard to say that when you're still struggling, still recovering. But I think that's why. It was also helpful to have someone to talk to who had read it and loved it quite recently. Funny how I started out thinking I was reading it now to support her. It ended up being the other way around.
fireflys_locket: (Namine Sad - warplanes)
I've fallen into another summer depressive state. Usually, this happens near the beginning around my birthday because that prompts the examining of the past and thinking about the future. This time, it was a different catalyst, but the results were the same. I feel totally cut off and unimportant to the world. That, although some things have changed, I'm still basically in the same situation as nine years ago when I first left school. The way I normally feel has certainly improved some from those first few years. But I'm still never happy. I'm still really alone. I haven't had anything good enough happen in my life to even begin to balance all of the pain I've been through. And I know there are people who have been through way worse. Things I wouldn't have survived. But knowing that did nothing to prevent the pain and the panic and the isolation I felt. That I still feel, even if I now try to push it aside as much as I can.

Besides my Mom and Jill (my therapist), I don't have any support most of the time. My friends have all moved on with their lives. They have other friendships and relationships and jobs, even kids. I not only miss them; I feel jealous. They have a place in the world. And I don't. I feel totally useless. Even with writing, I'm still so far from anything being ready to be published and put out there. And there's no guarantee that anyone will connect to my stories or even read them. I've been trying so hard to focus on getting writing done and even taking somewhat better care of myself, but if I can still fall into feeling this bad... is there really a point to trying?

Sorry if this is a depressing read. But what good is a journal if you only write about the good stuff? I'm all about honesty, especially when it comes to expressing how you really feel. So, here it is. This is where I'm at.

Hopefully, it won't be for long...
fireflys_locket: (Pretty Penelo - ryfee)
I've been so missing from here lately. You can't really blame me. I've been hard at work on other things. But the halfway point of the year is quickly approaching, and I find myself thinking about a lot of things. Seemed like the right time to make a little update.

My birthday wasn't the colossal disaster it often has been. And just before that, I managed to finish my big cleaning project that I'd been slowly working on for over a year and really focusing on for months. I'm still getting used to it being finished. Sometimes, when I'm sitting around watching stuff on YouTube, I sill get this twitch of guilt that says, "You should be cleaning!" I'm not sure how long it will take until that goes away.

Meanwhile, don't think that means I've just been watching YouTube all the time since I've been done. Well, I've certainly done a lot of that, but I've also been writing quite a bit. While I was focusing on cleaning, it was really hard to switch that focus over to writing. I'd started to think cleaning had become my life, and I no longer felt like a writer. But since I've been finished, everything is flowing nicely again. And it took hardly any time at all to go back to normal. That was such a relief. I always worry when I don't write for a while that it will never come back. That seems crazy, because I can't really survive without creating; it's that much a part of me. But for an anxious person, that's all the more reason to be scared.

But writing's been fine. Maybe better than fine. I reached a milestone last week. I've revised 20 chapters of Magic Inc. so far. Those chapters will still have an editing phase to go through once I've completed the second draft, but I really think most of the chapters I've revised are 90% done. The revision flows so perfectly most of the time, and writing Magic Inc. is now one of my favorite things to do. It just feels right. And there's really only one one bad thing about that...

Dreaming in Shadow. The revision process is so night and day between my two main projects. For now, it stands at 20 revised chapters of Magic Inc. and (almost) 5 of Dreaming in Shadow. Dreaming in Shadow for a long time was the project I could always turn to. The one that felt right. The story destined to be my first novel. And I still want it to be my first release. But working on the second draft is painful. The structure of the early parts is ten years old now, and there's so much to fix. It's exhausting and emotionally draining. I actually do think the revision is turning out nicely so far. Possibly even more polished than Magic Inc. But it's dragging on and on, because it's painful, and I don't have the strength for it most of the time.

I'm holding on to hope that it won't continue to be this bad. That once I've moved onto the more recent writing, it will become less stressful and draining. The oldest writing in Magic Inc. is only four years old versus ten years for Dreaming in Shadow. That's a pretty big difference. Not to mention that I planned out Book One of Magic Inc. a lot longer before I started it. And I've learned that tends to work better for me.

I started to think about goals last week. How far things have come since the beginning of the year, and where things should go next. I actually finished cleaning, which part of me still doesn't believe. And I'm one book away from my little reading goal, which means I've read as many books as I did last year in half the time. (I finished Allegiant today, but I'm not ready to talk about it yet...) Writing is going really well again. So, I started daydreaming. What was a goal I could I reasonably accomplish by the end of the year?

I think could could finish revising Magic Inc. Book One. There are 14 chapters left and about double the weeks left in the year. If I only worked on that story, I could probably finish, and depending on how editing goes, have the story completely done by the end of the year. I could release it early in 2015, and finally, be a published novelist. I honestly think that is a reasonable goal based on what I think I could actually accomplish.

But I'm not going to do that. Why? Because I would hate it. I would hate being confined to one story, even the one I'm enjoying the most. Making a goal like that would drain the life out of me. I like freedom. I like being able to follow my inspiration wherever it wants to take me. That, to me, is what following your passion is about. Not making grand goals and pushing yourself to reach them. But following your heart and soul as they guide you through your bliss. You may disagree, and that's okay. How you follow your passion is up to you. But as I've said before, I am so done with trying to force writing out of me. And yet, it keeps flowing. Just the way it wants to.
fireflys_locket: (Purple Flower Book - colorvary)










I was tagged by my friend, LK Hunsaker, to join this writing process chain. I love answering questions and talking about writing, so I happily joined in! Just be forewarned; this may get long.

LK Hunsaker is the author of many books, including The gallery, which was released last year. I actually reviewed The gallery here earlier this year. You can also read about her writing process here. LK has been a big inspiration for me ever since I met her in 2011. She's given me hope that I actually can finish and release my own books.

Onto the questions!




~

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm mainly working on the second drafts of two books, Dreaming in Shadow & Magic Inc. Book One. I've written a lot about Dreaming in Shadow here, but since then, I've finished the first draft. The second draft is coming along well, but it has been a lot of work! On the other hand, Magic Inc.'s second draft has flowed easily most of way through. I've still put a ton of time and effort into it, and I'm currently much further along with it than Dreaming in Shadow, even though I'm planning to release DiS first. These stories are both incredibly close to my heart, and they've gotten me through really hard times. There's a part of me still scared to reach the point where I send these extremely personal stories out into the world, but I'm trying to focus on the excitement of writing and sharing the gift of these stories with other people.

On the side, I'm also working on finishing the very end of the first draft of Miss Masquerade, and the beginning of my newest story, The Town of Raindrops. And then, there are literally a hundred other stories in my head, all in this same same universe. No, seriously, you should see my story list. And those are just the ones with titles. Sometimes, I feel like I have a curse of abundance, because I'll never be able to write all these stories in my lifetime.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?
That's an interesting question. There's a lot of YA Fantasy/Romance out there. And I certainly find they tend to focus more on the characters, much like I do, than Adult Fantasy. So, I feel like I'll fit pretty well into that genre. But I do think my plans to include a lot of real teen and young adult issues are something different. A lot of my books will deal with bullying, anxiety, depression, and sexuality, among other issues. I hope to eventually show a variety of characters, and cover some things that professional publishing seems to shy away from. I want to give a voice to those who struggle with feeling different and misunderstood. These are some lofty goals, and to be honest, I'm quite nervous I won't ever reach them. But I believe I was given these stories for a reason, so I will do my absolute best to give them life.

Why do you write what you do?
I've always focused on fantasy, because that's where my soul dreams. I see (and write) magic as a manifestation of strong emotions. My emotions have always been extreme and passionate. Writing characters with the ability to effect the world with their thoughts and energy is an amazing release for me. When it comes to the relationships, I'm just a hopeless romantic. I write about soulmates because I really believe they exist. That doesn't mean everything will be perfect all the time or that those relationships don't take work. And well, there has to be a story to tell, right? Throw magic in with that, and things can get extremely complicated. Still, I believe everyone has person made for them out there, so that's what I write.

How does your writing process work?
I touched on this a bit in my previous entry, but I'll go more in depth here. Way more.

Usually, a new story idea comes to me through a dream or listening to some new music. Occasionally, I get an idea from watching or reading other stories. Recently, I've expanded into finding myself getting attached to sims I've made up personal stories for during the playing of The Sims 2 and turning them into real characters. Whichever way it comes to me, I'm often totally obsessed with a new idea when it comes to me. Well, first, I think, 'Another story idea? How on Earth am I going to be able to get to another new story?' Then, I obsess over how much I love it, and how much I absolutely need to write it. And I struggle with the desire to drop everything else and start the story right away. But I don't, because I've learned that rarely works out for me. So, I just obsess quietly about this new idea, and watch as it blossoms almost by itself. I feel very guided during this time and the rest of the planning stages. It's like the story and characters know themselves completely, and I'm just getting to know them along the way.

Once the obsessive stage is over, that idea joins the rest in waiting. By this time, I usually have a title and main character names. The next stage might sound odd, but it's collecting a soundtrack. Music is intrinsically tied to my writing process. As I gather, sort, and listen to music on my computer, I create a very light outline of the book by linking songs with scenes of the book. This process takes years. The book grows with random progress as new scenes comes to me, mostly through the music. Once I have a large selection of music on the soundtrack, and the book has had plenty of time to grow, I start to think about the next stage.

For a lot the books that I'm currently writing, I went straight from the light music soundtrack outline to the writing stage. I hated the idea of forcing myself to outline my stories, when I already knew them so well. However, last year, I finally got over my resentment and started making more full outlines. This came from anxiety that I'd never have enough drive to write another full book after I'd finished the three I was working on. I did a full outline for The Town of Raindrops, which convinced me that the story really was ready for its first draft, and I really could make it happen. I also have a nearly finished outline for Magic Inc. Book Two, and I've started a few for other stories.

My first draft stage is an incredibly important part of the process. This is how most of the story comes to be. I've heard other writers say that their first draft often varies greatly from the finished book. This has not been my experience in the slightest. The first draft is the core of my story. All the important parts of the plot have already been figured out in the soundtrack and/or outline stage, so all I have to do is write! HeH. I said that like it was easy. Not really the case. The first draft takes years for me to write, because it takes a lot out of me. Now's the time to bring the characters to life, to make sure I hit all the important parts of the plot in the right places, and to make sure I'm instilling emotion into the text. The writing, itself, might be messy and raw, but it has the heart of the story beating within it.

Then, comes the second draft. Phew. By the time I get here with a story, I'm exhausted. I finished three first drafts last year, and it was so hard. In some ways, finishing a first draft is kind of a bittersweet goodbye. Saying goodbye to the story that was yours and yours alone. My stories don't change their core in the second draft, but they do become something I'm writing with the intention to share. I always write for myself every step of the way, but I am starting to make sure what I want to say and show is actually what's coming across to readers. The second draft is a polished version of the story. The wording usually improves greatly over the first draft. I also take this time to expand sections that go by too fast, add details where they are lacking, and try to make explanations clearer. I don't often cut sections out as much as give them a overhaul, if needed. But really, the plot changes very little. It's the same story it always was, just with a new coat of paint.

I've yet to go beyond a second draft, but I expect the rest of the process to be going over the text at least a few times for mistakes and typos. Right now, I'm finishing the revision of each chapter without going back over it at all, so I know I'll have some editing to do when the second draft is finished. Then, it will be tweaking any parts that need it, and hopefully, gathering more friends and acquaintances to read and give opinions. After that, I'll need to get my dear friend, Mallory, to help me put together a cover. And the rest... we'll see when we get there!

~

If anyone wants to join this chain, let me know! I'll post your info down here.

fireflys_locket: (Purple Flower Book - colorvary)
Writing has been all over the place lately. Winter is usually a time where I'm more focused on planning out future stories than writing the ones I'm currently working on. Not sure why that is, but it usually works out, so I've been letting myself focus more on planning without stressing so much that I'm "not getting anything done". It's hard to measure success in the planning stages, which can leave me stressed. But this is still a vital part of writing. Not properly planning stories before I start them has usually led to bad results.

Speaking of that, between 8th grade and when I left school in 10th grade, I started maybe 5 or 6 original stories. Only 2 of those were successful. The rest got a few chapters in, then left me lost. Because although I usually had an ending and some major points figured out, I didn't know how to get from point to point. All of these stories had their connections to other stories, and I've always wanted to go back to them. I've since learned to let new ideas grow, usually for at least a few years, before I start writing them. This really works for me. Ideas just come to me over time. I let The Town of Raindrops grow, then I worked on an outline, and finally started writing it last year. I thought if I let these older stories sit, they'd start to grow, too. But they seem to be strangely stunted by being started too early, and they just aren't working the way newer stories do.

But I refused to just give up. And last year, I finally had a realization about one of those stunted stories that really brought it together. I thought that meant it was ready to go, so I recently started an outline for it. The outline for The Town of Raindrops came together in only two sessions. I had all the important things figured out, so I just had to fill them into chapter paragraphs to see if I had enough to write the story. And I did. However, this other story hasn't worked that way at all. I've spent 10 minutes or so here and there mostly staring at the Word file, only occasionally typing something. It's been very disheartening.

I mentioned my issue to a writer friend, and she suggested trying to write out a few bits of scenes to see if that triggered something. So, I did write out a scene not really knowing exactly how it was going to go, and I felt really good about it when it was done. That one scene didn't fix my outline problem, but it at least made me feel like I'd made some progress. We talked again about this story, and I started to wonder if the usual collect ideas, write an outline, and write the story from beginning to end plan is going to work this time. I've heard of writing out scenes as they come to you, which I've done in a few cases when I didn't want to forget the exact wording as it came to me, but it's not something I've really tried as a method for writing a whole story. The thought of writing out of order has my OCD kind of nervous. But LK said she's done it before and enjoyed it. And writing that one scene did feel good. Maybe that really is the approach to take with this outline resistant story. Maybe trying a different approach will be worth it for this one. Since the other way doesn't seem to be working, it's got to be worth a try, right?

This will probably just be another side project, so I don't know if I'll have much to say on it again soon, but wish me luck!
fireflys_locket: (Valerie's Happiness - fireflys_locket)
It's a new year, and I'm actually pretty excited about that. It's freeing to put away the complications of a long year and start fresh again. I felt pretty good at the beginning of last year, too. But this year might feel even better. Maybe there was just more I wanted to let go of. Truthfully, you can start fresh at any time, but this is a really powerful time to try.

I wrote out a post about what I wanted for 2013, and I decided to look back at it now and think about how the year went.

I've said this before, but I think 2013 was by far my best year when it comes to writing. I finished two first drafts in the first three months of the year. It was an emotional, bittersweet experience. For a while it was mostly painful, but I can look back with pride. (I put everything I have into writing first drafts, so it's definitely worth something at the end.) I spent most of the rest of the year working on the second drafts, resulting in about 15 nearly ideal chapters of fiction. In October, I took a little break from revision to start a new story. I also finished the first draft of my half of Spun of Silver, and got started on its second draft. And got very, very close to finishing the first draft of Miss Masquerade.

And almost all of that work was done without putting pressure on myself to constantly be getting stuff done. I didn't make sure I had something to show Jill every week. I chose to follow what I felt most called to work on at that moment... whether that was writing, revising, outlining, building houses, making Sims, sorting music (which sometimes leads to amazing new ideas), or even just relaxing and taking in inspiration. And it led to my most productive year ever.

I also did a lot of organizing in 2013. I didn't completely finish clearing a space for a new bookshelf and DVD cabinet, but I put a slow, consistent effort into sorting through stuff. I get really anxious when it comes to empty spaces in my room and letting go of possessions, so there was really no way to get this done more quickly. And I'm proud of myself for just getting this far. It may not seem like a big deal from the outside, but inside, it's a huge deal, trust me.

There were some things I didn't do so well with, though...

Health-wise, 2013 was a total flop. Well, I didn't get super sick or anything like that, which I'm quite thankful for. But I probably put the least amount of effort into eating healthy and exercising since I first started thinking about that stuff. If I'm honest about it, it's been a continual downward slide since my Grandma died in 2011. I don't know exactly why, but it's something I've noticed. And I don't really feel comfortable talking about weight and exercising, which maybe isn't helping. I do know that - like it or not - I am a very low energy person, and I have to be careful with where I put that energy. Last year, I chose writing. A lot. And I'm not exactly sorry about that. But I would like to put a bit more energy into health matters this year. If I could even just shift out of this downward slide a tiny bit, that would be great.

Another thing that suffered was reading. I only read 11 books in 2013. That's not even one per month. I've always been a slow reader, but this is pretty bad. Still, I actually know exactly what went wrong here. I spent most of the year reading books I felt like I needed to read over what I really wanted to read at the moment. I had books to review, books from writer friends, and books from writer acquaintances. That's not to say I didn't enjoy those books. I definitely did! (Well, except that book I reviewed. That, I could have skipped.) But I constantly had another book next on the list, instead of just following the flow of what was really calling me. Having everything scheduled is very draining to me. I like to have important necessities planned out, but when it comes to the rest of my time, I like randomness paired with intuition. There was a point where I wasn't even enjoying reading anymore, because I had turned reading into work. That's when I finally followed my intuition and took a break from my list to read some books I was really excited to read. I think I would have enjoyed the other books I read last year more if I had spaced them out better from the beginning. Lesson learned, I hope.

So, what do I want to do this year?

Well, I'd love to have another great year with writing. I learned a lot about revising and editing last year. Writing second drafts has really built my confidence as a writer. I'm finally pretty consistently proud of the work I'm doing. A lot of the time, revising has flowed exceptionally well, probably because I spent so very much time building a good base. But certain parts also had their difficulties. More than I expected. In that way, it's been both easier and harder than I expected it would be. That's why I'm hesitant to set any large goals this year. I think there's a good chance I could finish Magic Inc.'s second draft this year. But I'd also like to spend more of my time on Dreaming in Shadow. Then, there's Miss Masquerade. I don't think there's any chance I won't finish the first draft. And I'm excited to get started on the second draft. As for Spun of Silver and The Town of Raindrops, they are more side projects right now. But who knows? I just want to follow the flow of my inspiration wherever it takes me.

I want to get myself on a pretty regular sleeping schedule that lets me have the optimum amount of rest and time to get things done. For me, that's getting up at 8:30AM, getting my early morning stuff done by 10:30AM, leaving the rest of the day open, until 9:00PM when I relax in the living room with my Mom, then get to bed by 11:30PM. Yeah, I like to sleep 9 hours. It's what I usually need.

And once I get myself comfortably back on that schedule, I'll start trying to fit in more exercise with that extra time.

I'm definitely planning to get another bookshelf and cabinet in my room this year. I'm going to get the rest of the stuff off of my floor and binned. Hopefully, soon. (But like I said, I can't push it.) And we'll see what happens after that.

I'll try to read at least 12 books this year. Haha.

I'm still looking for more balance when it comes to friendships. I met a few new people. I occasionally connected with old friends. I think there were some improvements over 2012. But there were also times, I felt like giving up on socializing altogether. Ultimately, I'm still looking for my tribe.

As a big part of that, I'll (of course) keep calling in my soulmate. Because finding him will always be my most important goal. Until I do. Then, it will be creating a beautiful life together where we can support each other's dreams.

I want to wish you many blessings in the year to come. I hope you meet your goals and thoroughly enjoy the journey there, too.
fireflys_locket: (Stupid Weather (Kagome) - fireflys_locke)
It's been a long time since I really enjoyed Christmas. At least as long as I've been out of school. (Eight years, for those counting.) Mostly, holidays just depress me in general. Even my favorite holiday, Halloween, turned depressing the last two years. Pretty much, any day that's supposed to feel special depresses me, because it doesn't feel any different, so there must be something wrong (with me). I know I'm far from the only person who feels this way, especially with Christmas. But holidays feel lonely and disconnected. My Mom and Joe usually go to some busy family holiday party, and I gladly stay behind. But even though I know I'm making the right choice for me, I feel left behind. Alone.

This year was somewhat the same as always. And yet, the build up to Christmas felt very different. I was more angry than sad. Christmas has become so materialistic and over-hyped. And I'm tired of it. I'm tired of feeling lonely, because I can't handle family parties. I didn't want to get presents, and I didn't even feel excited to give them. Besides a few presents for kids (which were more fun to buy), I didn't buy much for people this year. I just wanted to skip over the whole end of the year.

Except that this was the 10th anniversary of the dream that inspired Dreaming in Shadow. And I wanted that to feel special. But it didn't, either. I wrote a little bit to celebrate, but I was really tired from the one day of Christmas shopping I did with my Dad. (In fact, I was exhausted basically all week because of that, but it was nice to finally see him.) This was more disappointing to me than Christmas. Holidays are basically a lost cause for me... but I'm finding it hard for something really important to me to pass without any special feeling. The same thing happened with finishing my three first drafts earlier this year. In that case, it was all so bittersweet. But either way, it's hard for me to recognize any sort of personal achievement, because I don't feel like I deserve it. Yes, writing is going really well, and I'm quite proud of my work these days. But I never feel like I've actually reached a point that's worth celebrating. I only see how much work there is left to go.

I just want things to be back to normal. In all honestly, I've balanced myself better this year than ever before. I had a rough Spring, for sure, but it wasn't as bad (or as long) as most rough Summers. But there's a sense that in order to balance my normal better, there has to be less of a positive tip as well. I've never ever had high highs to balance my low lows. But I think my highs are even lower now. It's probably worth it; living in panicked low times is beyond words. But it would be nice for some things to feel special.

I just don't know how to do that.
fireflys_locket: (Glasses Girl - Collapsingnight)
November is over, and as it was ending, I finally got some writing done again. But honestly, I'm tired. It's been a long year. And I can feel the holiday depression starting to creep in. I think it's time to give myself a break. It's been a rough couple of months in terms of writing, with big highs and even bigger lows. And in all of that, I gave myself a lot of grief for not being like other writers who can, apparently, push through rough spots. If you can manage to succeed at NaNo, I am in awe of you. I still am not behind what it stands for, but hey, if it gets you writing, that's great. Everybody's different.

Except... I've yet to meet another writer who writes the way I do, with years of care and attention to that first draft, and having it be the very core of the story, only needing very small changes plot-wise. What I've heard from other writers varies between considering all first drafts to be garbage or thinking of them as only a light road map that will undergo a lot of changes. I also seem to work a lot slower than most writers, needing lots of recovery time if I push too hard. I know NaNo can be a great motivator for some people, but just the idea of it almost makes me sick with anxiety. I have discovered over the years that pressure does not motivate me. It breaks me, utterly and completely.

I don't know why my writing process is so different, but it's just the way I've always written. And it's what works for me. When I try to compare myself to other writers and their processes, it doesn't help motivate me to work harder. At best, I get a lot of work done over a few days but only end up completely drained and sick for weeks afterward. So, I really need to stop that.

Besides, the way I work has its benefits, too. Maybe I "lose time" relying on being rested and inspired to work, but what I end up with might need less polishing overall. All the time that goes into my first drafts has allowed me to be very confident in working on my second drafts. The second draft of Magic Inc. has gone amazing well, and I honestly believe it will only need a few read-throughs and small fixes before it will be ready.

But I have to admit, the second draft of Dreaming in Shadow has been a little more of a struggle. I still think it's going really, really well. But it's been a slower, more troublesome process. Between March and December, I've typed and revised 12 full chapters of Magic Inc. In that same time, I've only finished one full chapter of Dreaming in Shadow. It is a very long chapter, to be fair. Well, in comparison to the length I normally hit. But I think I know why this draft is progressing so differently than Magic Inc.'s.

First off, as of right now, I believe I will be publishing Dreaming in Shadow before Magic Inc., even though Magic Inc. will likely be done a lot sooner. Dreaming in Shadow was the first idea that overtook me, begging to be written. And I decided, nearly 10 years ago when that happened, that it was meant to be my first novel. So, I'm trying extra hard to make this the best draft it can possibly be. And that might be slowing me down a little. There's also a lot of exposition in the first couple of chapters, which has needed extensive pruning and revision. Most of the first quarter of this book was written nearly 10 years ago, and even though I've gone over those early parts several times, it still needs the most work. The earliest parts of Magic Inc. were only three years old when I started the second draft. I've also been trying to get more opinions on Dreaming in Shadow. So far, it's been hard to find people who have enough time and interest. But Jill gave me some feedback on what I had of chapter 2, and a few minor changes made me feel so much better about it.

There's still work to be done on both of these stories, for certain, but I think what I have is actually very good. I don't think I've ever felt as confident about my writing as I do about these second drafts. Will they ever be perfect? No. But nothing really can be objectively perfect, anyhow. I'll make them the best they can be. Meaning, I'll create in the way that produces my best results, which includes making plenty of room for rest and trying very hard to not compare my process to anyone else's.

And, somewhere between here and perfection, I'll be ready to share my novels with the world.

...hopefully. ^_^;
fireflys_locket: (Fireflies (I Keep Them in a Jar) - cru5h)
When the clocks changed, so did my mood and motivation. In the last week, I finally finished the first chapter of Dreaming in Shadow, got through half of the second chapter, and wrote a whole chapter Magic Inc. Maybe that sounds great. And most of the way through, it was. But by my fourth day in a row of writing, I was pushing myself too much. See, around this time of the year, a lot of writers are doing NaNoWriMo. And let's just be honest, I hate NaNo. The idea of writing a whole story in a month makes me feel ill. I don't want to force writing out every day. I don't want to care about word counts. But then, other writers I know do NaNo and post about their word counts and such. And I'm jealous.

Yeah, I'll admit to that. I'm glad that I'm sticking to my ideals and the way I work best. But NaNo does produce visible results, and it makes me feel inferior. I'll have been working on Dreaming in Shadow for 10 years come December 24th. I've gone through ups and downs. The earliest chapters have been through 5+ versions. And I know NaNo is not the end of the story for writers who participate. I'm sure lots of great novels have surfaced out of NaNo. But the point of NaNo has been stated as "quantity, not quality". And I just can't agree with that at any point of the way.

Still, my Ego gets jealous at the results. The Ego likes numbers. And even though it was disguised as getting to see how ridiculous getting that much writing done in a month would be for me, I pushed myself on Wednesday to make the 1,667 words in a day that would be a daily amount to reach 50,000 words in a month. With only a couple of 20 minute breaks and one hour-long break, it took me all day. And I was ill by the end of the day.

I was so drained and sick that, the next day, I read an article that triggered me so much I had to crawl in bed sobbing. I will totally claim my part of this. If I hadn't overworked for four days in a row, I probably could have gotten past this with just a minor bad mood. But that's not what happened. And now, I feel like I have to say something.

I like my attachments.

I enjoy reading The Daily Love and other spiritual sites. I honestly do. But occasionally, I'll hit a post that triggers me. (And often, it's not that bad when I go back to it. My own emotional state when I read almost always plays a role.) But I definitely have an issue with the "release attachments" way of thinking. This article makes mention of it in a way of saying that if we're too attached to an outcome we'll never get it. And he used the example of a friend of a friend trying to find "the one". He was apparently too attached to this idea and only found someone when he stopped looking. This triggered me because it was basically telling me to give up my attachment to finding Morgan. And that just sent me into hysterics.

Look, I'm not going to argue over what works for other people. Everyone is different. But I hear this "release attachments" way too often. I hate the idea that - to make ourselves more spiritual - we have to be unattached to things. We may be spiritual beings having a human experience, but we are still human. Yes, occasionally, being too attached can bring you pain. But I don't believe the right way to react to that is to not care. I want to be attached to finding Morgan. I want to be attached to being known as a writer. I don't want to "release my attachment to the outcome" of those things. In fact, trying to release those things would give me the pain of repressing core parts of myself.

I do believe there's something to be said about not being attached to exactly how and when these things will happen. But I do need these things in my future. And I want to need them. They are part of who I am. I will do my best to follow where the Universe guides me and understand that It knows best. But I was not given these dreams for no reason. I was meant to be invested in finding my Soulmate. And I will never give that up. Not for anything.

A Post...

Oct. 25th, 2013 05:08 pm
fireflys_locket: (Fangirl Hachi - fireflys_locket)
In which I talk briefly about dealing with anxiety (and why it's never been a better time to be a nerd) and not so briefly about things that I love.

Hey, look: I'm posting again! And it hasn't been forever. I'm pretty proud of that. I really don't know why it's been so hard to come up with things to talk about this year. I mean, I have theories, but... well, that doesn't really matter. I'm here now. I was talking about social networks with Jill last night, and I was lamenting how LiveJournal really fell out of relevance for most people. But I love this place. Maybe all that's left now is nostalgia, but I don't care. This is where I post my thoughts, still. When I have something more than a tweet's worth of a thought.
I've reluctantly accepted Twitter as a worthwhile way to get small thoughts out. I didn't want to like it, but I do now.

So, this week hasn't been much to talk about. I went to the mall to get a book last Saturday, and there was some kind of mall event going on. I was only there about 15 minutes, but I've been exhausted since then. I seriously almost turned around and left right away when I saw all the people. I was emotionally exhausted all this week. I didn't get any writing done, save for just a paragraph or two last night. That how much that kind of thing affects me. But I know I'm not the only person who goes through that. People with high anxiety have good company, I think. That makes it suck just a teeny, tiny bit less. Occasionally.

I read a good post yesterday about what we think of as flaws not always being inherently bad. Everybody just works differently. If you embrace the things that are part of you and work with them, stuff usually turn out better than if you were fighting your own nature. I find that to be pretty true for me. Some weeks just don't work out writing-wise. Stressing about it just gets me in an even worse space for writing the next week. Knowing that helps, but it can still be hard accepting a "bad" week when everything was going so well. But I try. And when I"m dealing with anxiety or the exhaustion from it, I try my best to enjoy things I can do while recovering. (More on this later...)

There's a craft show this weekend I want to go to, which is always busy. So, I might be emotionally weary all next week, too. It happens. Things will come back together, though. Although I was not happy to see snow yesterday, I am kind of ready to not go out as much (which isn't a lot, as it is, but still). To snuggle up with my writing and reading and video games and Netflix all Winter. It's a really good time to be an introvert, guys. Or a nerd, or whatever you want to call it. There's just so much stuff you can enjoy at home by yourself. Or with people you're close with, if you're lucky enough to have some. Love stuff, by the way. It's fun to love stuff.

So, what kind of stuff am I loving right now? Well, the short answer is LOTS OF STUFF!!! I'm going to give you the long answer...

While I haven't been writing this week, I have been reading. After feeling so overwhelmed most of this year with "needing" to read writing from friends and acquaintances, I switched to reading some books I've been dying to read. I finished Mockingjay a couple of weeks ago. Wednesday, I finally started The Fault in Our Stars. Yes, the third John Green book I've bought, and I'm finally reading one! (I have sooo many books to read, gah.) Why did I wait so long to read this book? I'm already totally in love with it. And I pretty much knew I would be, from all the stuff I've heard about it on Tumblr or VlogBrothers. I even ordered a signed poster, because it was just so pretty. (The story behind the poster is cool, too.) Sometimes, you just know when you're really going enjoy something. And if you're like me... sometimes, you save that thing for when you really need it. Like I did on Wednesday. So, I'm glad I waited, in the end.

While I'm on the topic of VlogBrothers, I've been watching my way through HankGames videos (with and without Hank). I particularly enjoy watching Hank and Katherine play Super Mario Brothers Wii. They are my go-to videos right now. Along with - as always - catching up on Giant Bomb videos. These two sets of videos, more than anything, have been making my weeks more enjoyable lately.

I've been watching other stuff, too. I recently watched through Samurai Champloo on Netflix. I haven't started another show or season yet, but I've thinking either the second season of Dollhouse or the third season of Being Human will be next. Meanwhile, I've been rewatching The Vision of Escaflowne on DVD. (Did I ever tell you how much I love boys with wings? Like, seriously. Sparkly vampires are great and all, but give me ghosts or angels over them any day.) And I'm watching Degrassi and The Legend of Korra on TV. Neither is particularly thrilling me this season, but the way fans have abandoned both shows kind of scares me.

I've also been playing games. I got back into Skyrim this week. Finally started the Dawnguard stuff. And I've been playing lots of The Sims 2. Both games are go-tos for de-stressing. And they work just as well as ever, thank goodness. I've been all over the place with gaming for the last month. I can't even begin to list every game I've played a bit of. But yeah, gaming is fantastic, and I love it.

I don't necessarily love times when I'm not writing as much, but that's how I get to fit some of this other stuff in. I've gotten back to organizing and (with Joe's help) hung some posters. I even made an new icon post for the first time in about two years. So, yeah. I've been enjoying my time just fine by trying to focus on good things instead of the not-so-good. It can be hard, I know. Trust me, I know. But I'm mentioning these things, because I'm really grateful that they exist and I get to enjoy them.

And I want to thank Ben and his video for inspiring me to make this very long post, that no one will read. Hehe. I like looking back at my posts every once in a while, so this is for future me, mostly. This is what I've been up to and thinking. I love you, Gina (future me). I hope you're doing well, too. (And you have Morgan, if we're lucky!)
fireflys_locket: (Stupid Weather (Kagome) - fireflys_locke)
Hello, all! I've actually been faring quite well (for me). The Autumn breeze has entered my life, and the resulting inspiration has kept me super busy. But in a good way. The writing way! I've been working on first drafts, second drafts, and outlines for stories to come. It all feels exciting and amazing. And I could go on and on with the details. But I'm here to share something specific.

I mentioned in my last main post that
I had finished an outline for a new story. And I started that story last week! The Town of Raindrops. I've been planning it since about early 2006. If you didn't know, I usually write my stories out in notebooks first. But I have decided to share the first bit with you here. I actually typed this before I had "officially" started the new story. It will be the first page, but it may also end up on the back cover, too.

~

“My name is Ethan Abbot, and I live in the town where it never stops raining.” That’s how I always introduce myself to people. It’s the only remarkable thing about my life. I’ve got a crappy job and a band that’s going nowhere. No one wants to know about that. Everyone just wants to hear about The Town of Raindrops. That’s what they officially renamed my town about a year ago. That’s what the letters say. Because it’s been raining here for six years, and no one knows why.

Of course, anyone I meet these days knows exactly where I live. That’s why they come here: to see my tiny, insignificant hometown, just because we have rain 365 days a year. So, actually, I introduce myself… “My name is Ethan Abbot, and welcome to The Town of Raindrops. I hope you have a wonderful stay.”

Life sucks.

~

Hopefully, that is a good enough teaser for you! I keep jumping around with my current projects and a few more "coming soons", so who knows when I'll finish anything. But I just keep following my bliss over here. And (for right now), that's feeling pretty good.

Blessings to you all!
fireflys_locket: (Rin Fireflies - fireflys_locket)
I know, I know. I was pretty much missing for a whole season again. I'm sorry. I guess it was harder than I thought to come back and open myself up on a regular basis after what happened in the Spring. It takes a certain amount of shielding to get over a traumatic incident. At least, that's how it works for me.

And so, it's been hard to feel like writing here. But I have been writing! In fact, since I got my yearly breakdown finished with early, this was probably a record Summer for me in terms of writing. I didn't really keep track of everything I got done, but I know that I started Spun of Silver's second draft in June, typing 12 whole pages in one day! It was really crazy. Probably the most I've written in a whole day ever.

Some more updates... Magic Inc. is now 9 chapters into its second draft. Miss Masquerade is only a few exciting chapters from the end of its first draft. I'm still working on typing and editing that first chapter of Dreaming in Shadow. I've been editing down a lot of the unnecessary exposition that was all over that chapter, but I'm finally getting to the point where stuff is actually happening. And it's getting exciting again! I'm listening to the soundtrack right now, because it's really pulling me.

And last week, I finished an outline for a brand new story! Well, brand new, in that I've never mentioned it on here before. I've been planning this story in my head since 2006. And I can't tell you how exciting it is to think about writing something totally new. I'm sure a lot of well-meaning people could tell me I should work on finishing those other stories first if I ever want to be successful. But luckily, I don't listen to those people, and I only follow where my inspiration leads! I will finish those stories at the exact right time, because I trust the Universe to help me make that happen.

Really, I've had an extremely successful writing year in my own terms. If we look back to my resolutions post, I wanted to finish the first drafts of Dreaming in Shadow and Magic Inc. And I totally did that. Months ago! Spun of Silver, too. And I feel really great about my writing these days. The amazing flow of writing second drafts - and then, seeing them on my Kindle looking all professional - has boosted my confidence in my own work so much. I love my writing now! And it's partly to do with the fact that I no longer push myself. Sure, that means that some weeks are "successful" and others aren't. But I'm trying to approach writing like breathing. Sometimes, you breathe in;sometimes, you breathe out. Both are necessary for living.

I do still hope to finish Miss Masquerade's first draft before the end of the year. It will be amazing to have my first round of stories all in second draft! But I'm not going to push it. I'm going to write whatever pulls me, and therefore, love the process every step of the way.

I can only wish you the same on your creative adventure, friends! Even if I'm not around, you can send me messages. In spite of what my (secret) rant may have lead you to believe, I am open to talking to you all!
fireflys_locket: (Pinwheel Summer - fireflys_locket)
So, hey... I'm back. I'm just going to make this a quick one. I posted a longer explanation of why I've been missing, but I put it under a lock for now. It's been hard to write a normal entry after posting that one, so this one might be a little awkward. Things have gone back to normal in general, but I just want to get things back to normal here.

Though I haven't been around to say, writing has been going pretty well. I have 7 chapters of Magic Inc. revised and typed up. That story is flowing so well, so that's what I've been focusing most of my writing time on lately. I also started the second draft of Spun of Silver. I typed out 12 pages that day, which has got to be a record for me. Still working on that first chapter of Dreaming in Shadow. I'm not sure why I'm taking so long with that one. I guess it might be because I invited a lot of friends to read that prologue, and I want the first chapter to look really great before I show it off.

And then, there's Miss Masquerade, which has me dragging myself through the last bit of filler. I didn't so much finish the most recent chapter as give up on it (temporarily). It's been rough comparing how well my second drafts flow with how Miss Masquerade is going. It's really close to the climax, but it's so much harder to write than everything else I'm working on. Still, now that I'm done with filler, I'm hoping I'll at least be more excited to work on MM. That should help.

In some sadder news, a couple of people died recently. MaryAnn's Mom died after being in and out of the hospital a lot. It's been a long time since I've seen her, and I feel a bit bad about that. But mostly, I'm just sending blessings to MaryAnn and her family. And Ryan Davis, from Giant Bomb, also passed away. Though I never met Ryan, he's been pretty constant in my life since the end of 2006. Those Giant Bomb guys have gotten me through a lot of hard times, where the only thing that would get me through the day was constantly watching their videos. I believe both of these people have gone on to a better place, but it's still very heart-breaking to know they're gone from this world.


Blessings and love to all. Try to live the life that makes you happiest and treasure the time you have.
fireflys_locket: (Purple Flower Book - colorvary)
I've talked about this before. But I'm going to talk about it again. If you feel you've heard enough from me on this topic, that's fine.

I stumbled upon a Tumblr post, which listed out many links to articles with writing tips. Now, I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to trash all of these tips. In fact, I saved the link so I could come back and check on it again... once I've calmed down. I think there's probably a lot of good tips in there. However, I found myself clicking on a few (I was particularly drawn to ones with names I found triggering, but that's another topic...) and not being very happy with what was being said.

I also want to mention that pretty much whenever I say something about how I feel, I am not saying that everyone should feel this way. I'm not saying that what works for me has to be the right thing for you. Usually, I'm actually trying to work against the idea, that one way works for everyone. Because it doesn't. What works for me, may not work for you at all. And what works for you, could very well be all wrong for me. Okay, now, that we've covered that...

Something I hear a lot from professional writers is that, to be a true professional, you need to schedule writing time. You need to work even when you aren't feeling inspired. Work hard. Push yourself. Struggle against your boundaries. Get as much done as you possibly can. Well, let me tell you... that doesn't work for me.

Now, I'm not saying you don't have to put hard work into your writing. Most things worth doing take a lot of continued effort. But all I see in those words I italicized is negativity. Do you see it, too? How about looking at words like... Inspiration. Freedom. Creativity. In my experience, creativity cannot be forced. Effort can be forced. Using creativity can be forced. But creativity is something far more natural. And yes, you can do things to encourage the flower to bloom, but it isn't the same as letting it unfold as it will. Creativity needs time and breathing room.

Lissa Rankin has written a series of articles talking about how "masculine" energy is so favored it our culture. She refers to this as pushing yourself as hard as you can to make things happen. And she mentions that this way can definitely work. You can make some things happen (but not all). But in this forcing your way through, you can become completely drained. You can start to feel like nothing you do is ever enough. You can feel like you have to keep working harder and harder to always do better. Pretty much until you die. Or become too sick to continue on in this way. Does that sound like a happy life to you?

The things is, maybe it does. And that's okay. If you are honestly the happiest when you are pushing yourself to the max, great! You need to work in the way that feels best for you. But that is not the only way to make things happen.

Lissa feels people need to get more in touch with their "feminine" energy. It's more about having faith and trusting the Universe (or God or whatever is out there) to help you. It's all about following the dance of inspiration as it strikes and not simply forcing your way through. It's about synchronicity. It's about being open to the idea of everything happening for a reason. It's also about patience. That dream you have may not be happening as quickly as you like. Trust me, I know that it can be hard (if not devastating) to wait for something you are secretly terrified will never happen. But there are some things you flat out cannot force.

People need a balance of both masculine and feminine energy. If you don't put effort into what you want to happen, it probably won't happen all on its own. Prayer and faith are lovely things, but you can't stand back and expect everything to happen just because you wish it. If you want to publish a book, effort must be put into making it happen. Period. But does it have to be this extremely draining, negatively charged experience? No. I don't believe it does.

My body naturally seems to interpret exhaustion as depression. I'm usually at my worst in the couple of hours before I go to bed. Even if I've had a decently good day, I can find myself falling into a depression at night. So, when I let myself get really drained during the day, it can be very painful to get through the evening, and actually, quite hard to get to sleep, even as tired as I am. I also seem to have less energy to work with just in general than the average person. That's just the way I am. So, I have to be smart about how and when I use my energy. And I also have to make sure I'm getting enough time to just relax.

Another concept I'd like to encourage again is that, sometimes, we may be in a cycle of getting a lot done in a short period of time. Other times, not so much. The important part is to use another typically "feminine" energy of intuition to feel whether we're more in a cycle of Expansion or Contraction. And try to be present in whatever cycle it is. Fighting the tides may be necessary occasionally, but following the waves of life is far less stressful. And it doesn't mean we won't get anything done.

Remember how I announced I wasn't going to make myself write for a couple of weeks? Well, I actually got a ton of writing done. I started the second drafts of Dreaming in Shadow and Magic Inc., finished a chapter of Miss Masquerade I'd been struggling with, wrote a full chapter of Spun of Silver, wrote some short scenes from random future stories, and even got about half-way into a new Hate You, Hate Me chapter. All of that in only two weeks. It's almost staggering. But this didn't happen because I was pushing myself. It happened because I let myself be completely free to follow whatever inspiration struck. And also, to let it be okay if it didn't.

Because that's how I work best. And I am done with trying it any other way.

The funny part is, back in 2008, I decided to make a step forward in my effort to write. And it worked. So, I know that sometimes you have to push through even when you aren't very motivated. That is something you may need in order to remain dedicated to your craft. But you don't have to get caught up in the idea that following your path is all about constantly struggling against the tides. Sometimes, it's totally okay to wait for the inspiration to come to you. Other times, you have to search for it. It's all about balance.
fireflys_locket: (Fortune Teller Clare - fireflys_locket)
Hey, guys. I've decided that my emotional exhaustion might mean I need a break from writing for a few weeks. I don't plan on staying away from it completely, but I'm taking the pressure off, because I've been so tired this week. I want to focus more on coming up with new ideas and thinking about which stories I might want to start after my main three are done. But I did want to share this sketch, that my very talented friend, Mallory, created of Jodi from Dreaming in Shadow. I've asked her to do my cover, and I already love what she's made for me.



I really see Jodi in this sketch. Mallory has been there with me through the whole process of Dreaming in Shadow's creation (in fact, you could say she's a big reason why this story exists at all), and even though she still hasn't read a lot of my newest version, I believe she knows these characters better than anyone besides me. I can't wait to see more of what she will create for me, but I've told her not to worry about getting anything major done right now. After all, it will still be quite a while before the book will truly be done.
fireflys_locket: (Purple Flower Book - colorvary)
I've been missing from my journal, and I apologize for that. I've been busy with writing. And not writing. But always thinking about writing. So, my mind has been busy as can be.

Sunday, I finished Dreaming in Shadow's first draft. I cried. And I actually felt accomplished. More so than I did - at least, initially - with Magic Inc. (Maybe Jan was right in saying completing Magic Inc. first would be better.) It was definitely bittersweet, though. I spent a lot of this week doing things, that reminded me of around the time I started writing Dreaming in Shadow: Peter Pan and Final Fantasy X-2, mostly. They both eased the bitter part just a little.

I've been thinking, though... it's funny how nostalgic I can feel about pretty much every period of my life, even though I was miserable through each of them. I don't know if that means my life keeps getting worse or I just need the distance to appreciate things better. Still, if I focus for more than a moment, the bad feelings of that time sweep me up again, and I relive them with excruciating - if temporary - pain. Nostalgia is a dangerous monster for me. A lovely sleeping tiger in a den. Don't get too close.

But I was proud. I was also scared. I've hinted before that Dreaming in Shadow has an ending which people could see in a certain way. A way I wasn't intending. And once I finished, I was worried, so worried. What if even Jill couldn't get what I was really trying to represent? No point in even putting this book out if that was all people would ever see.

But that's not what she saw at all. She saw the real meaning without even a hint of an explanation. She 'got' it. In fact, she loved it. The ending. The story. The connections to the rest of my world. All of it. And suddenly, I was flooded with relief. I'd done it. I'd actually accomplished something really special. I'd expressed a complete feeling. And it was lovely... not just in my eyes.

There is work yet to be done. I think that goes without saying, since most people seem to have a different idea of what a first draft is to them. To me, it is the complete story, just in a raw state. Few things will change. Some things will be added. Nothing important will change. I usually figure out most of the important stuff before I even start writing. Mostly, it will be a lot of slight wording changes and making things clearer. Adding more depth where it is needed. And I am so excited to do this. Truly. Most of the major emotionally hard work is done. Now, I can breathe easier and just focus on making the story the best I can for future readers.
fireflys_locket: (Broken Heart Glasses - fireflys_locket)
Today, I made a decision. I was just finishing proof-reading a friend's book, and I decided. I went in my room, grabbed my notebook, and got to work. It wasn't what I was always expecting to happen, but I finished Magic Inc. Book One. My stomach is sick still, and I still feel like crying, but I finished a novel. Afterwards, I sat in shock for a while. Then, I crawled into bed with some nutella and Once Upon a Time.

I feel pretty bad. I guess I don't really know how to be happy or celebrate stuff, so I just automatically feel really bad instead. But then, I also never liked endings. And though there's so much yet to do, this is an ending. And there will be another coming soon. It feels like things either are or should be changing. If they are, I just hope it's a good change. I don't want to have another breakdown. But there's a part of me, which does want a good change. To feel safe enough to actually be happy.
fireflys_locket: (Kagome Hands - fireflys_locket)
Okay, deep breath. I was triggered really badly this past week. Looking back at the post, that did it, I can see that it was more of a build up of emotion than just a reaction to that one post. (But I think that's how a lot of triggers work.) It didn't help that Jill was out of the office last week. Sunday just left me feeling so miserable that I was scared. I felt like the mostly decent mood I'd kept up for a month was finally failing me, and I was crashing down to the ground. I had a couple of really bad days. Then, I started to realize something. I'd fallen back into this mode of stressing about writing and not letting myself rest without guilting myself about it. I had given myself a lot of pressure to get a lot of writing done while Jill was gone, and I did, but I ended up drained and easily triggered. Of course, I'm always easily triggered, but when your energy is low, it is hard to bounce back.

The other part was the writing I had done (and hadn't done). I decided to avoid writing the big climax of Dreaming in Shadow in favor of writing the hardest chapter of Spun of Silver. It may be the hardest chapter I'll ever have to write, on a personal level. In fact, I almost guarantee it. But I had decided to lay everything bare in this story. To make this version of me, the real me with my real issues. And I didn't want to gloss over things. If you're expecting an typical paranormal romance from my side of Spun of Silver, look somewhere else. I have high anxiety, body issues, and people issues. I've written myself as I am and Morgan as how I imagine him to be. Neither of us are your typical love interests. But there is love, and there is romance. And intensity. And passion. And that's going to have to be enough for you.

Anyhow, writing that chapter was such an emotional challenge for me. And not everyone I turned to understood. But some did, and I made it through. But I was still very drained.

The other thing I wrote over this time period was a very long chapter of Magic Inc., where Jane tells Jenny a fairytale. Parts of this fairytale have been around almost as long as Magic Inc., itself, but I had to strip away the parts, that weren't mine. After all, I had blended in a lot of stories into my secret world back then. At that time, I was creating it just for me, with no intention of ever writing it out. The fairytale flowed very well most of the way through, with some help from Ally recommending that I start watching Once Upon a Time. (She didn't even know I was working on a fairytale; it was just perfect timing.) So, I tried to busy myself with the fairytale to escape the emotions, that Spun of Silver had brought up in me. I won't exactly say I regret this, because I adore the fairytale, and I'm very proud of all the work I put into it. But instead of giving myself a rest after writing that difficult Spun of Silver chapter, I jumped right into the fairytale the very same day.

All of this mostly to escape the fact, that I was terrified to finishing Dreaming in Shadow. What was worse, was that I was ashamed of this feeling in the first place. I felt like I'd come so far from that place of being scared, and now, I was moving backward. But life doesn't always move forward in this straight line. It reminds me of the second episode of The Wonder Years, where Older Kevin says something about life being a series of advances and retreats. This is very much what I believe, but sometimes, we all get caught up in trying to push forward too quickly.

So, for a good week or so, I was really beating myself up about it. When being scared does actually make sense. I'm three chapters away from the end of the story that has stood by my side since before I left school. Three chapters away from ending my first novel. That's scary stuff. Sure, I need to be able to work through that fear and, eventually, come out on the other side with a finished novel, but avoiding acknowledging a fear doesn't make it go away. Avoiding feeling your feelings makes them worse in the long run. So, I'm scared. That's okay; this is important enough to work through. But it's also okay to work through it slowly. I was getting caught up in this idea of possibly finishing those 3 chapters in two weeks, when that is totally not how I work.

So, now, I'm trying to breathe. To rest, to feel. And just be okay with all of that. Today, I finished up the fairytale, which is the second to last chapter of Magic inc. Book One. When I posted that on Facebook, Audry said I was an inspiration. I immediately react to most compliments by brushing them aside. It's hard for me to feel good about myself, ever. But I am living my dream and being myself completely. And you know, those are always good things, even if it's me doing them. Yeah, that's the closest I get to giving myself a compliment. We're all works-in-progress, after all.
fireflys_locket: (Fangirl Hachi - fireflys_locket)
It's been too long since I talked about fandoms on here. I took this survey from this Tumblr post. I'm not sure I have any amazing answers, but I'm going to try my best.

1. What fandom(s) did you fall into this year? Lots, but I'll list some favorites: One Tree Hill, The Hunger Games, Instant Star, Dollhouse, and Dance Academy. I'm looking forward to enjoying more of all of these this year.

2. What new internet slang did you learn? Uh... no idea.

3. What was the best movie you saw? I watched so many great movies in 2012, but I'm not sure which I'd call the best. But if you want a long list of some movies I really loved watching last year: The Last Song, Water Lilies, Foxfire, Keith, The Secret World of Arrietty, Wreck-It Ralph, The Hunger Games, Across the Universe, Sucker Punch, Black Swan, Cruel Intentions, Snow White and the Huntsmen, Beastly, and Red Riding Hood.

4. Favorite character you met this year? Peeta Mellark. <3

5. Favorite meme? I'm not sure about that.

6. What is the most nerdy item you acquired? Maybe the Signed copy of Paper Towns (which I still haven't read yet...)?

7. Favorite new food you tried this year? I don't try a lot of new foods, but this. Thank you, Sam.

8. What was the best book you read? This is so close between Catching Fire and Forbidden, but I'm going to choose Forbidden, because I adored it, and I'm hoping a great new series will follow this great book.

9. Favorite YouTube channel you subscribed to? Michelle Phan. What can I say? Her videos are so relaxing, and I love the music she uses.

10. What is your favorite memory of 2012? Meeting my (almost) step-niece, Brooklyn.

11. What are you looking forward to in 2013? Finishing at least two first drafts, and working on the second drafts of those stories. I am seriously really excited!

12. What is the GIF best expresses 2012 for you? The year in general. Most of my year. The rest of my year.

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