Wednesday, June 27, 2012



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Singular Focus

Blank pages used to give me such a rush. My mind was boggled at the sheer amount of possibilities that the creamy sheet created. Would I fill it with the words of a science fiction novel? Would I write out five tidy paragraphs to make up a school paper on the novel Maisie Dobbs? Would I type up a lengthy email to send to my good friend in the Philippines?

In the past few weeks, however, blank pages have filled me with a sense of dread. How on earth am I going to write something new and original? Shouldn’t I be editing an earlier novel? I really should be doing my biology homework…

The pure joy of writing has vanished, replaced by the unrelenting guilt of all the other things I could be doing with my time. It’s not always homework that hounds me. A surprising amount of the time, I have my homework done and my textbooks stashed away before the sun’s gone down (today is not one of those times, I admit).

But there’s always something I think I should be doing. My nephew wants to play with me, or my siblings are watching a movie and want me to join them. Unedited novels sit around my room giving me the evil eye, and I wonder if I shouldn’t use this opportunity to get ahead in reading my Cultural Anthropology book. Unread library books add their two sense to the cacophony, leaving me wanting to jump into my bed and retreat from the world entirely.

Bear with me while I digress. A week ago yesterday, I rolled out of bed at five thirty in the morning. It was still dark out while I put on my jeans, hoodie, and stable boots, and ate a banana in the deadly silent kitchen. Then I drove half an hour to the stable with only the sunrise in my rearview mirror for company. I was the first one at the barn, so I sat on my car hood and watched the sun coming up, the horses in the pasture, and the birds on the fence.

I wasn’t doing anything just yet, but I felt perfectly happy. It was quiet and cool, the sunrise was beautiful, and the sight of horses alone was enough to make me ecstatic.

Normally, you couldn’t pay me to get out of bed at five thirty in the morning. But I had a job to do (feed the horses), people were counting on me, and I was looking forward to spending some quality time with the horses. At six in the morning, there was nothing else in the world to take my attention away from that job.

Fast forward to my current situation. My attention is being pulled in fifty directions all at once. School, writing, family, piano practice, reading – they’re all clamoring for all of my time and energy. I get frustrated easily; if I get frustrated enough, I’ll literally sit down and cry.

This brings me to my point:

Singular Focus.

When I’m sitting down to do my biology homework, that’s all I need on my mind: biology homework. When I sit down at my piano to practice, the notes on the pages before me is all I need to think about. And when I set up Tasha to write or pull out a novel hard copy, that is all I need to think about.

When I decide to do something, I should give it all my attention (within reason, naturally), or I’d be better off not doing it at all. Constantly thinking ahead, or sideways or backwards, only distracts me from what I need to be doing in that very moment.

And so, I’m going to take this moment and apply it to Summer Rush, because I’m falling behind in editing! Eeek!

Adios, peeps!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Work Outs

What with finals and everything, I’ve been studying hard in class, between classes, and at home. It’s kind of exhausting. And it sucks, because I’ve always been an insomniac, and stress keeps me awake even longer at night.

So, time constraint be darned, I’ve been working out. And it’s been awesome. When I have to study a lot, I want a break even more. My usual break is lying on my back, staring at the TV. But, lately, I’ve discovered that a physical workout is the best mental break that I can give myself.

Compared to school, it’s so relaxing! I don’t have to think hard, but I’m still working. Running on a treadmill (as long as I warm up long enough; my knees are really finicky) has turned out to be the most relaxing so far, with pilates a close second.

The best part about working out more often is that I sleep like a rock. I’ve always slept like a log – now I sleep like a rock. Long, peaceful hours of unadulterated, blissful, sublime sleep. I love it.

Today I got a bunch of good grades on papers, which was a great morale booster. I can’t believe the semester is so close to ending! I’m kind of scared to get my final grades and GPA score. But I’m definitely excited to get back to writing!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


When I started writing my novel Summer Rush, I had a vision. In fact, I was so caught up in that I went around visioning all day. And now? I’m re-visioning.

Ghosts of the old vision are still there. But there’s also a newer, stronger, more structurally sound vision that includes description, 3D characters, and a climax and ending that are worthy of those new and improved aspects.

Yes. I have had an epiphany.

I have them quite often.

I’m a bad rewriter. I’m just going to admit that right now. But my bad writing skills were exemplified when I started “rewriting” Summer Rush. Why, you ask? I was afraid to change a thing. With every little sentence that was restructured or comma I removed I was continuously, nearly in a panic, asking myself, is this changing things? Am I staying true to the story?

The thing is, I lost sight of what Summer Rush really is: just a first draft. No character, scene, or theme is set in stone. This draft was simply an on-ramp for me to get to the real story – the rewritten story.

I’m not saying everything was crap and should be destroyed. But writing is rewriting. Haven’t we all heard that one a million times?

This epiphany has been a long time coming (okay, like 2 or 3 weeks). It all started with a potential plot twist that popped into my head. At the time, I didn’t want to use it. It wasn’t “true to the story.”

But I’m letting the world and myself know right now – after careful consideration, I am taking that plot twist and going for it.

Sure, Summer Rush 2.0 will be a very different story. But the theme and the people and the real story stays the same. The story is always the same; I’m just cutting out the bad writing and telling it better.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My 5 Ways to Combat Writer's Block

Cross-posted from my other blog.

When I lack inspiration, I have a few fall-back options that will usually get the creative side of my brain back in gear. Right now, I need inspiration for this blog post. The inspiration that came to me was to write about things I do when I lack inspiration. Have I said inspiration too many times yet?

5) Read novels not in my genre. It need not be said that I love to read. When searching for that oomph to get me back into a writerly frame of mind, I like to read my favorite books with awesome characters and setting. It makes me want to write fiction that well, too.

4) Go for a walk with my dog. Matthew is a stubborn dog who likes to pull on his leash and scare cats, so walking him effectively takes my mind off everything, and gives me a much-needed break.

I come back from the walk not so much refreshed, but desperate to do anything other than fight with my dog. Working at my desk is like heaven in comparison.

3) Make book covers. I like to have an idea of what would go on the cover of my novel, mostly because it helps me envision the book actually being done. It’s still in an artistic medium, it still has everything to do with my novel, but it’s not writing.

When I made the cover for Angel from Hell, I really just wanted a picture of a girl with a sword. But the whole suit of armor and tattoo thing ended up sparking new ideas. I ditched the cover-making in a matter of minutes and went back to writing.

2) Brainstorm with my sister. I’m lucky in this regard; I have two sisters who love fiction writing just as much as I do. One of them has a desk perpendicular to mine, so all I have to do for a brainstorm partner is look up from my computer.

Talking/thinking aloud helps me get things straightened out in my head, which in turn helps me get things straightened out on paper. I had an epiphany while thinking aloud just the other day. I can’t put it to use yet, but when May 5 gets here, look out! ^^

1) Complain. Yep, I said it. My number one way to combat writer’s block is to whine and complain. It’s like therapy for me. I lie on my bed and complain to all who dare to venture within earshot. At first, it feels nice to blame everything under the sun for my problems.

A few minutes – okay, maybe ten or twenty minutes – and then I start to feel like the laziest writer in the world. Feeling guilty overcomes my feeling abused. I rolled out of bed, park my bottom in my desk chair, scoot into my desk, and next thing you know, I’m typing out a few words.

Those few words lead to another few words, and voila! I’m off.

I’m not even going to pretend my methods would be helpful to anyone, so I’m curious. How do you get rid of your writer’s block?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Polka-Dot Fingernails and the Public Library

I am, once more, sequestered in the corner of the library, head capped with massive Sony headphones, library books and textbooks spread across the table to my right, and a shiny, stainless steel lamp to my left. There are big windows on my left, too, and through them I can see quickly-moving, Thursday afternoon traffic and faint rays of sunshine.

The library is quiet. There are people on computers, and rows and rows of shelves crammed full of awesome books dominate the center of the entire building. I can hear the air conditioning going in spite of my headphones. The carpet is gray with patterns of circles in a darker shade of gray.

The lady sitting across from me at a table is about twenty-something. She has on a white baseball cap that looks like it was originally intended for a guy. Her arms are crossed, and she has on headphones. Her gaze is riveted on the computer screen of her slightly beaten up, white Mac computer. Her expression is slightly grim, which makes me wonder if she’s even enjoying what she’s doing.

Have I bored you to death yet? I’m practicing. Not to bore people to death, of course. I’m practicing recording the things I see in order to make my descriptions better in my writing. Obviously I wouldn’t put all that info in if my MC happened to be sitting at a library, supposedly to do her homework, but writing a blog post instead ^_^

Lack of description is way high up there in my list of writing faults, and I have decided it’s high time I attempt to fix it. So, for the past week or so, I’ve been trying to be more alert to my surroundings. You know what I’ve learned? I am sadly oblivious. I breeze through a room without even noticing there are people sitting there. I can stare at my sister all day but not remember what color t-shirt she was wearing. Sad, I know.

But practice makes perfect (perfect practice makes perfect, as my Dad says) so I can fix this, even if I have to walk around recording everything I see with notebook and pen until I can teach myself to see everything but just pick out the important things.

For instance: a non-important thing, at least at the moment, is the fact that my nails are bright green with peach-colored polka dots. My youngest sister, Jasmine, painted them for me last night. But I’ve been oddly obsessed with staring at the color for this entire day.

So, that is what I’m working on – descriptions and setting. I have everything in my head, I just need to learn to get it on paper!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Writing

Stream of consciousness writing is absolutely fascinating. You put pencil to paper and just write every word that comes to mind, paying no attention to grammar, spelling, or even coherence. It's a near seamless transition from brain to paper; true mind to hand writing.

I've done this a couple of times, although I find it a fight to not think about grammar and such. The editing book I'm currently reading, Revision and Self-Editing from the Write Great Fiction series, suggests a similar technique to get into your characters' heads; it's sort of like the Write or Die tactic that I first learned of during NaNoWriMo (I learned a LOT during NaNo; it was like a crash course in the butt-in-chair-hands-on-keyboard technique and everything even remotely related).

While I was waiting for my sister to get out of class today, I sat in my car and started brainstorming. I've currently sworn off writing fiction until school lets out, but I'm allowed to brainstorm. The reason my brain was suddenly overflowing with ideas? In history, whilst discussing the 50s, my teacher mentioned an author. I can't remember his name now, or the name of his book, but he wrote a book entirely using the stream of consciousness method. Wow.

My teacher had us listen to an audio of the author reading it, and I was mesmerized. It was an endless stream of babble, and I was scrabbling to try to find meaning in it as the guy threw out phrases like "God is Pooh Bear" and "the utter darkness that is death."

But, for some reason I can't fathom, it got my mind working. All through the rest of history class my brain was frozen on a phrase I'd heard. But in my mind, it had stopped being a phrase by the author and had become the title of a nameless project I'd been working on for months. Sitting there, the project took off in a dozen different directions at once, all under the heading of this new title.

This is one more thing to add to my to-do list for summer - practice stream of consciousness writing!