Self-Ageism (stop it)

One of the hardest parts about growing up is coping with the number of years you’ve been alive. Ha! Okay, that sounds off, so let me explain better…

Take two: The most difficult part about growing older is dealing with and accepting the number limit we have (subconsciously of course) put on our lives. It’s the old, “By the time I’m 35 I’ll have 4 kids, a house in Hawaii, and have a billion dollars in the bank,” road block.

We set it firmly, then we watch the number approach and pass us. Then we pull out the jar of nutella and have a pity party. Because life may be a lot of things, mostly a hot mess, but it’s never predictable.

Best laid plans and all that… Let’s take me for example:

  • I’ve plotted out book I’ve never finished.
  • Written books I’ve never plotted.
  • Written full books and never edited them.
  • Edited books that should have been set on fire.
  • Written stupid things to agents in desperate moments.
  • Cried in my cereal whilst grasping my flash drive, begging it to explain why it’s contents is never ever ‘good enough’.
  • I’ve had my tarot cards read to show me exactly HOW I’d finally obtain the title of ‘author’ I so desperately want.
  • I’ve joined writing groups
  • I’ve quite writing groups
  • Made writing friend
  • Taken writing classes
  • Danced in the shadows of a solar eclipse while chanting, “Book Gods!! Hear my pleas!!”
  • Thrown handfuls of salt on my WIPs at dawn to keep all my characters on their path.
  • Left silver coins in the moonlight to collect the lunar wisdom before clutching them tights as I wrote a new scene
  • Used the same coin to do laundry, because clean socks are nice when you’re writing.
  • And I’ve even made up a list filled with utter lies about the extent I’m willing to go, in order to entice the books gods into finally giving me that “hells yes” response to a query letter–all before [insert age here,] and you know what?

My birthday still came an went. Know what else? I’M STILL HERE!

So, it’s easier to say, “Age is just a number” than it is to feel the damn sentence is true. But guess what? AGE IS JUST A NUMBER. Want to know what age you should stop trying at? Well I can’t tell you because I have no idea how old you’ll be when you die.

If you find something that makes your heart soar when you do it (for me writing, and well, eating) and you give it up because you’re [insert age here] years old…

power rangers dissapointed GIF

Yeah. The Power Rangers are flummoxed by this response. Don’t flummox the Power Ranges. They have enough on their plate.

And better yet… GO WRITE SOMETHINGS.

 

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Zen in the Art of Writing

513bmaahpkl-_ac_ul320_sr210320_Can’t say I go out of my way to look for books on writing, these days at least, but this one sort of fell into my lap.

The other night, after finishing Jeff Smith’s, BONE, which I was reading for a elementary school Graphic Novel Book Club I’m leading, I began to swipe through the catalog available on Hoopla. (LA County Library grants access to Hoopla with your library card. Bonus books!)

It was late, and I needed to sleep–but wasn’t tired enough to go to bed. Actually, it was one of those night when I didn’t want to sleep, because I didn’t want it to be tomorrow. Has that ever happened to you? Anyway, I laying on the sofa, swiping through Hoopla’s ebook selection, and find… “Zen in the Art of Writing,” by the late, great Ray Bradbury.

At this moment, I’m about 1/2 way through. Yes, I should wait until I’m completely done to form a full opinion–but there was this one scene in there… this one moment that has stuck with me.

Bradbury is discussing how he enjoying keeping lists of nouns. These list have lead to titles like, “Something Wicked this way Comes,” or his short story, “The Dwarf.” He was remembering years ago, living in his parents house in Illinois, where the bathroom was on the second floor. Every night he would wake up from the need to use the bathroom, but to get there–he would have to climb the dark stairs up a level  in order to turn on the light to get to the bathroom in the first place.

Ray Bradbury hated it. On his list he added “The Thing,” because to him, something wicked lived at the top of those stairs and it was going to kill him.

Each night he’s lay in bed contemplating how long he could hold it. The he’d pull himself out of bed, climbs the stairs, only to fall back down–waking his parents in the process. His father would ignore him, and his mother would help him up, turn on the light, and kiss him on the head every night.

This only brought him more inspiration.

Sometimes it’s hard to see where ideas come from. Maybe you find them in a book you’re reading, or a show you’ve seen. Maybe it’s from a list, like Bradbury, or something you read in an old journal–something you forgotten.

As I said above, I never intended to read another book on writing–not right now. A ‘how-to’ to get my juices flowing–yet here I am. Pretty much the same way I found out where Ray Bradbury is buried–I didn’t go in search of him. His name wasn’t even mentioned when I was asked to take visiting family to see “where Marilyn’s grave is,” but there I was–standing over a plot so fresh there wasn’t a tombstone and the sod was still waiting to take hold.

“That’s Ray Bradbury’s grave,” a random person said, leaving me to stare at the earth.

It makes me wonder, maybe Ray Bradbury is my spirit writing guide? Or maybe I’ve been lucky enough to have not one, but two serendipitous moments that forced me to question his art.

I suppose that is the beauty of art, how non-conformed or predictable it is. Inspiration lies in myriad places, waiting for you to swipe to find them, fall down the stairs into their arms, or walk directly into their arms.

And as I struggle forward, at least I am still moving forward. And while I didn’t set out to find a book on writing, at least one that resonates with me dropped in my path. Signs are funny things–they’re pretty much whatever you decided them to be. So, maybe it is serendipitous. Why? Because I need it to be.

 

#5amWritersClub

I would be lying if I said that last year wasn’t difficult when it came to dealing with rejection with my writing world. After years of being “gung-ho” where I chant things like, “I’m learning!” and “This will make me a stronger writer!” the last string of rejections knocked the wind out of me.

I watched my writing partner flourish and grow.

I watched other writing friends move forward.

All while I sat around, silently pining. There is no worse critic than yourself, and I embraced this idea with both hands, my legs wrapped around its core, as I pressed my cheek into its damaging side.

But I also kept working, even at a snails pace. A short story here. A reworked idea there. Then… I found the #5amWritersClub.

Writing a novel is a thing of solitude. There is a reason Walden had a lake. There are many reasons artists of all walks–vanish. But it’s also good to find a place to be around people as well. I mean, how else will you have content? New characters to develop?

Even thought I don’t know these people personally (outside of my critique partner), one little ‘like’ propels me forward. One shiny red heart makes me try harder. It makes the solitude in writing a first draft so much easier.

This post is dedicated to them. Every single #5amWritersClub writer, I thank you. It is also dedicated to every single person who had a long string of rejections. Before you give up, ask yourself this: Do I really want to quit? Do I?

If you’re answer is no, then keep going.

 

Number 53

A common theme in blogs posts on my site is rejection. Like choosing a character’s name and plotting a general outline, rejection is another part of the path to becoming an author. It is also one of those bullet points that we, as writers, don’t really concentrate on–especially when you have just begun walking the writing path.

In the beginning, rejection letters are one of those things that happen to other people. You are not ‘other people,’ and know–for a fact–you’ll walk the path of JK Rowling and Dr. Seuss. After a small number of rejections (you know, from literary agents who didn’t know any better) you will find your agent. Then, of course, you will find your fame. (Or whatever it is you’re looking or at the end of that writing tunnel.)

Maybe fame isn’t your ultimate goal, but the one thing we all have in common is feeling we’re worthy of literary representation.

But then life happens. You pass the 12 rejections. You passed 27 of Dr. Seuss. And then what?

My last novel, and I’m not sure I should even call it that seeing it remains unpublished, is at 53 rejections. 53.

I read an article once claiming  you shouldn’t quit sending queries until 80, but let me tell you 53 stings in ways I never imagined. The longer I do this, write new stories and send them out to get rejected, the harder it becomes.

The small voice in the back of my head tells me to keep going, but heart isn’t so sure it’s worth the beating any more. I’d like to say, “you get used to it,” but I’m not sure that’s ever true. How can you ever get used to subtly being told you’re not good enough?

Maybe it’s time for a little break. I’m not sure… the only thing I can say is, if you’re a writer, thicken up your skin, and I really do hope you get the fastest acceptance ever.

happy writing–xxoo-a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Internet–a rant about out society

The internet. Oh, the internet… how it has changed things. It’s changed EVERYTHING, even if we want to turn a blind eye and pretend it hasn’t.

A decade ago, when I first half-heartily considered walking the path of a writer, the world was a different place. That really wasn’t that long ago… but here we are. Turned on our heads.

The saying used to be, “Everyone is a critic,” but now it should be, “Everyone thinks they’re an expert.”

This LOOK AT ME mentality isn’t helping anyone.

Yes, I want people to read my blog. Yes, I want an agent/publisher to be interested in my books–but I want them to be interested in my work. Insta-fame is overrate.

And this constant need for *instant* notoriety and gratification is deflating.

I loath the down side to the accessibility of information and communication. I despise how many people tag themselves an expert on one topic or another. If they are an actually–certified–expert, great job! But it’s the wannabes that make my blood boils.

Once, I followed a blog that claimed themselves a grammar king–and received numerous newsletter with grammatical errors. But said site has THOUSANDS of followers. Moo-train! Moo!!

~sigh~ Obviously this tangent isn’t solving any issues, but it sure feels great to vent.

Yes, there are people out there who are knowledgeable and are willing to lend a hand. But any more, I feel there are more people selling snake oil than actual information.

Everyone wants to be famous.

My son told me he wants to be famous. He said it with a glint in his eyes.

I told him to aim higher.

Oh, the damn internet. It is such a double edge sword. One hand you have actual information and facts, and the other–“Look at me! Look at me!”

More people should look at themselves. Maybe then we’d have quality–rather than pile upon piles of know-it-all’s with limited to know knowledge of anything.

The Lonely Writer (excuses)

My name is Aryn, and I’m a writer. (even though I may not have a book deal–I AM a writer.) And this is my Friday rant:

The Lonely Writer:

Talk to any writer and they’ll tell you how lonely it is. This is a fact, not a lie. Writing is a desert island. Sometimes it has to do with your muse. The only way to isolate the perfect ideas is to to sequester yourself from outside influences. (And I don’t mean you stop reading other books, or participating in general every day life. That’s crazy.)

Then there is the actual work. You don’t need (or want) a buddy pushing the keyboard buttons for you. Thus, again, alone. Fingers tapping on keys. Tap-a-tap-a-tap. In solitude.

Then editing… (editing is like literary plastic surgery. It puts you elbow deep in syntax and metaphors. E’s everywhere! Cover your eyes…)

But let’s not forget the other factor. After a while, non-writers really get tired of hearing your ramblings about your next “big idea.” I don’t know why… I mean, seriously, it’s genius! My ideas are brilliant!

Ah! funny….

Anyway, I have been “on a break” this past week. Trust me when I say, it’s me–not my writing. My writing is beautiful and kind–but I’ve drifted from it’s side. Now I feel more like my writings friend than a lover, which is a BIG issue. Not insurmountable, but that feeling is what led to this weeks hiatus.

Luckily, it’s not the total white noise of writers block. There are still some plot lines trickling it, but they’re all unrelated to my current WiP.

This is the curse of being a writer–besides feeling alone there are all the fake people in your head demanding you tell their story–NOW!

And suddenly I realize that I’m writing this blog post to justify my week off. HA! I may be alone in this, or maybe you feel the same–but I don’t regret the break. I needed my brain clear. I needed to be able to see the trees from the forest. And I needed to clean my house. It’s kinda gross… I mean, if I HAD friends and they stopped over, I’d be super duper embarrassed..

In the end:

Life is what you make of it–so is writing. And that means some times you need to stop what you’re doing to regroup, allowing you to move forward with all those plans. (and stories)

I hope you’re all well and enjoying a fantastic day, where ever you are. But most of all, I hope you’re listening to good music, embracing the life you have. Even if today is the day you look to excuses, let tomorrow lead to your truth.

Happy writing! xxoo-a

Plotting and planning

Welcome to another week in the life of, well, me… Yup! I’m sitting here doing what I do weekly, blogging while I think about what I need to get done.

This is a long list.

I’ve spent the last few weeks distracted and consumed by many other things, thus sucking up my writing time. Before the turn of the calendar, I had a plan. I had time mapped out. And I stuck to it.

There there is the secret of writing, my friends. Make a plan, and stick to it. Make time to plot your book, outline your book, write your first draft, and then make the most time for the edits you’ll be doing.

Because you’ll be doing freaking edits. I bring this up a lot. I’ll keep bringing it up a ton. Why? Because no book is written in one sitting. Maybe on a rare occasion–but for the most part it’s a succession of repetitive writing and editing.

This the week I get back to this routine I worked out months ago.

Also last week, but in my writing world, I mad two major (massive) changes to my WiP–this will create a time delay. But they changes are important. They elevate my idea, raising it to a level that it deserves to be in.

My hope is that this spot–this Monday post–will transform into my actually showing you portions of said WiP within the next month or so. Feedback is welcome. Feed back is–always–welcome. 🙂

So, to all you writers out there who stumbled upon this post–lets get to work. The world needs some words to read. And not just mine. You’re too.

Happy writing!! xxoo-A

Friday in Review: The Words We Live By

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THE WORDS WE LIVE BY is an annotated guide to our constitution, written by Linda R. Monk. More fondly known as “The Constitution Lady” Ms. Monk took it upon herself to write this book to help those unfamiliar with the little intricacies that make up one of our governments most notable documents figure it out.

I recommend purchasing your own copy. That why you’ll be able to write in the margins and have it to reflect on over the years. You can click on the image, or right here, and a link will whisk you off to Amazon. (Feel free to order from a local bookstore.)

I didn’t think I’d enjoy it so much, but I am! And I hope you enjoy it too!

Happy reading!

xxoo-A

 

 

Writing Prompt! The Knight and the dragon.

This weeks writing prompt comes to you in the guise of Fantasy. Now, I don’t normally write fantasy. I haven’t in years. But while I’ve moved on to other topic, the fan girl in me still likes to read/check out a good dragon tale from time to time.

I’m going straight up old school on this one. I give you knight and dragon. What happens next:

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Some thought he was a sensible dragon. If we allowed him to live on the King’s land, but alas, we were mistaken. For one moment he ate the rats and then he came after us.

 

Happy writing!

xxoo-A

Writers gotta write

I don’t normally post on Tuesdays, but I’m making an exception this week.

Since this blog has my name on it, I feel it should contain posts that represent the true me. Most days, I stick with writing. But like the rest of you, there is more to me than on single facet. I am a mother, wife, artist, friend, sister, and even an Aunt. I love this world.

Most days I love this world.

Lately I’m not sure how I feel about this world.

It’s like there is this spinning Doctor Who-esk vortex churning up the sky–and our lives. But instead of sucking Daleks out of London, it’s spewing anger and hate into our universe.

As writers, we are meant to observe. Even if we’re sitting down to write fantasy, science fiction, or whatever your favorite genre based fiction is. We MUST observe.

The world around us is an endless source of story ideas, characters, setting, plot lines, and the very fabric we use to color our stories. It is the endless well that nourished our spirit. And now, our world is filled with so much “inspiration” it’s hard to look at or think of anything else.

But we must.

No, I’m not suggesting we turn away. We are the writers, the note-keepers, the narrators. It is our job to document life–even if it’s cleverly placed on a planet in another galaxy all together.

What I am saying is we need to absorb, process, and work. We need to write new blog posts, poems, short stories, novels–whatever we can that will help, encourage, fill in the many voids out there.

I want to write this special Tuesday Post to say, “Good Job!” and “Keep it up!” to every writer I know. To every writer who reads this.

To every artist who will be using their medium to show the world what it needs to see/hear/read.

Life is beauty. Beauty is art. Therefore, art is life and it’s beautiful. Sadly, we’ll be needing to dust off the beauty so we can all see it.

Have a beautiful Tuesday, readers. And go out and share your words, art, happiness with the world. It can use a lot of happy.

xxoo-A