Challenging Ourselves: Why Writing Needs to Be Difficult

Here’s something that should be said more often: Writing is really, really difficult. From the outside, it looks deceivingly simple. You open up a Microsoft Word document, bang out somewhere around 40,000 words, and suddenly you have a novel. What could be easier? Why are those authors over there whining about the pitfalls of editing and the horror that is first drafts? What do they have to complain about? Writing is easy!

I used to think like that. I used to think that if it wasn’t easy for me, than I must be doing something wrong. I must not be a good enough writer. I’m procrastinating too much. My sentences are incoherent. Most the time, I fail to have an actual plot until I’m about half way through the first draft. I must not have had enough practice. I am not worthy to call myself ‘author’ unless I can write a new book every three months and have it be completely fabulous the first time around.

Here’s the thing, though: none of that is true. Writing is not easy. We don’t write because it’s easy. We don’t write so that, someday, it can be easy. We write because we have to, because it challenges us, because we are called to write. We write for the same reason that musicians make music and painters paint.

This might not sound super relevant, but stick with me for a moment: I work at a gym, a jungle gym, where kids come to learn parkour and gymnastics. Before I got a job there, I took classes. My teacher, now my boss, had a few things to say to us students about challenging ourselves. I am greatly paraphrasing, but, “If you’re doing something and it’s easy, then you’re not learning anything,” he told us, “Pick something difficult, something that you can’t do, and do that until it’s easy. Then pick the next difficult thing.”

So when we write, and it seems impossible to get it just right even on the third or fourth of fifth draft, let’s not complain (not too much, anyway). In that moment, you are learning something entirely new. You are learning the ten thousand ways that don’t work in order to find the way that does. You are mastering something difficult. You are improving your writing, even if in the moment it looks like absolute rubbish. Writing is not easy. It’s not supposed to be. If we wanted to do something easy, we would be shuffling papers in an office somewhere. Writing has to be difficult so that we can learn to write better.


Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. What do you think? What are some things you find difficult, or some difficult things you’ve mastered or learned from in the past? Let me know in the comments.

🙂


Challenging Ourselves

Wednesday with Words: Mere Connection

In addition to being on summer break, I’ve been rather sick for the last week or so, giving me plenty of time to read a few books. One of them was Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle, which we had on our shelf downstairs and which I’ve been meaning to read for a while. This book is all about conversation —deep, open-ended talks with other people that do more than just exchange information— versus today’s culture of mere connection, where we’re always on our phones and only half listening to the people around us. I found it to be very humbling and eye opening, and it has inspired me to put down my phone more often and actually do something with my time instead. I found several good quotes in the book, so I thought I’d share one with you today:

Conversation


As always, Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.

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Beautiful People #27 ~ August Edition

Hey, everyone! Guess what? It’s time for another Beautiful People post! This awesome meme is hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. These are some of my favorite posts to do on the blog, so I hope you enjoy today’s. 🙂


What is the Beautiful People meme?

From the Beautiful People FAQ on Paper Fury:

Beautiful People is for writers. Every month, we post a list of 10 questions for you to answer about your characters. It’s designed to help you get to know your characters – their quirks, their personality, their flaws, and who they are.


DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee that everything here is or will be canon in the future. I have spent a fair amount of time developing these characters, but some stuff is still unclear in my own mind, so I will try to answer the questions as best I can.

Also, the character I’ll be using for today’s post is from a super-secret project that I have yet to officially announce, so some details about the characters and plot will have to remain secret, for now…

Enjoy the post!


The Character

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Mae Ki-Nari from my super secret sci-fi project. Photo by 胡 卓亨 on Unsplash

The Question

1.What are they addicted to/can’t live without?

Mae loves listening to music. It helps her focus and drown out the crazy world around her. She also likes to have a piece of technology by her side at all times. She’d be lost without her laptop or phone!

2. Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

Positive: She’s smart, straightforward, and very persistent. She likes to see things through to the end.

Negative: She is very snarky and sarcastic, she doesn’t relate well to people, and she tends to completely overthink everything.

3. Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?

She’s definitely holding on to her resentment (and also her idealism) of her past life and her fear of the future.

4. If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?

I think Mae would probably fall somewhere in the middle, maybe somewhere around 5 or 6. She doesn’t actually try to be super organized, but she owns so little that her living space is rarely ever messy. Most of her life is online, so that’s where she spends the bulk of her time. There’s not a lot in the real world for her to mess up or disorganize.

5. What most frustrates them about the world they live in?

Mae hates surveillance. She’s lived for most of her life in a place where you can never be sure if you’re being watched or not. She wants online information to be free and uncensored, and she wants to be free herself from always looking over her shoulder to make sure no one’s watching.

6. How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?

For a night out, Mae would probably dress up as little as possible. She doesn’t like going out anyway. Maybe she would put on a dress (if she owned one) and brush her hair a bit, but that would probably be all. Unless she was going out with that special somebody, and then she would be looking up makeup tutorials online and she might actually care about if her shoes match her outfit, and get really stressed out about how she looks.

For a night in, it would be just whatever she was wearing; probably old jean shorts and a t-shirt from the secondhand store. She literally does not care about anything most of the time. 😂

7. How many shoes do they own, and what kind?

I would hazard a guess that she owns like one pair of sneakers, and that’s it. Maybe some boots too, but even that is probably stretching it.

8. Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?

Mae has never owned a pet in her life, and she probably never will. If she had to own a pet, though, she’d probably get a cat.

9. Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?

Mae resents a lot of people. It’s hard to really explain why and what happened without spoiling some of the story, but she definitely does resent both her parents. She never really had a good childhood.

10. What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?

Soda, energy drinks, synthetic food that provides all her daily vitamin and protein needs. She’s not a fan of ‘real’ (non-processed) food.


Thanks so much for reading this month’s Beautiful People post! I hope you enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to share more of this story with you as soon as possible. Right now, I’m in the middle of rewriting a bunch of it (I just got an amazing new idea today!) but hopefully I’ll be publishing the first book sometime next year.

Be sure to check out Cait’s original post, where you’ll find links to other writers who have done this meme, as well as the list of questions and a place to link up your own Beautiful People post.

Once again, Beautiful People is hosted by the amazing Cait and Sky.

Beautiful People

Wednesday With Words: A Boiling Imagination

Today, I wanted to share this lovely quote from Francis Shaeffer’s He Is There And He Is Not Silent, a book which tackles the distortion of truth and goodness in our current culture, and shows how Christianity is the only viable option that can explain our world. This particular quote is extremely encouraging to me as an author and creative person, because, sometimes, Christians get caught up in this idea that we shouldn’t be creative, because it must be wrong somehow.

Creativity


On my reading list this week:

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery: Another lesser-known novel by the author of Green Gables. It was on our shelf, and I am very good at not reading the things I probably should be reading (*cough, cough* The Mysterious Benedict Society *cough, cough*) so I thought I’d try it out. I’m only a chapter in, but it already promises to be very interesting.


As always, Wednesdays With Words is hosted by ladydusk.

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Beautiful People #26 ~ Author Writing Process

Hey everyone! Today I’ll be doing another Beautiful People post. This awesome meme is hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. I’ve had so much fun doing these posts over the last two months, and this month’s theme is pretty awesome, so I thought I’d continue…


WHAT IS THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE MEME?

From the Beautiful People FAQ on Paper Fury:

Beautiful People is for writers. Every month, we post a list of 10 questions for you to answer about your characters. It’s designed to help you get to know your characters – their quirks, their personality, their flaws, and who they are.

This month, the theme is a little bit different. It’s Camp NaNoWriMo Month, and although I’m not directly participating in the camp, I really wanted to join in this month’s meme. It’s all about an author’s writing process, which I haven’t really talked about much on this blog, so… here we go!


The Questions:

1. How do you decide which project to work on?

Hm… I don’t know. It kind of just happens. For a while, I would have about ten million projects happening at basically the same time, but then I discovered that if I just choose one and stick to it, the likelihood of me actually finishing anything increases by somewhere around 100%. So, I kind of just pick the thing I’d like to finish up first, and then chip away at it.

2.How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

It varies, like, a lot. For example, I wrote the first draft of my first book in less than two months, and then spent an excruciatingly long time editing it (about nine months, or more). I wrote the first draft of my second book in somewhere around three months. My latest project took me six months to complete the first draft, and that was only because I squeezed the last 30,000 words of work into just under one month. There will probably also be tons of editing for that project as well, so, yeah… *stress intensifies*

3.Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

It depends. Some days, I listen to music. Sometimes I just want to write in silence. It really just depends on the day. Sometimes I listen to whole albums straight through while I write, and sometimes it’s just one song on repeat.

4.What time of day do you write best?

At night. Right before I’m supposed to go to bed. No, seriously. This is a legitimate problem that I have. I always get tons of inspiration (and time) to write at around nine in the evening, which is bad because if I don’t turn off all my screens at least a half-hour before I sleep, I don’t sleep very well at all (and I don’t sleep well anyway), and I write on a computer, so yeah.

#authorfail

Also, completely random bursts of inspiration in the middle of the night are really, really annoying. 😅

5.Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

A person (my dad) has actually compared my style to “something like a cross between Terry Pratchett and N. D. Wilson”. I think for some things, I would probably have to agree to this comparison (like description and sometimes dialogue) but for other things… I don’t know.

6.Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I started writing because I had stories to tell (mostly Super Mario Bros. fanfiction, at least at first). I keep writing because it’s just what I do. I can’t imagine not writing.

7.What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

hate writing romance. But I like shipping characters, both my own and other peoples’ (The Doctor and River Song! I will go down with this ship!!!!). And my characters apparently like being shipped with each other, so… yeah. It makes it pretty hard for me sometimes. Unrelated, but I also had a very tough time with the climax chapter of Behind Her Mask was Death. I had to totally rewrite it from scratch so that it wasn’t awful.

8.Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

Lots. There are lots of projects like this. One that comes to mind is my Middle Grade urban fantasy trilogy, with a magical house and maybe some time-travel and wizards and stuff. I also have an idea for a stand-alone contemporary graphic novel, a nonfiction book about videogames (what even), and a paranormal novel about a haunted library. And a lot of other things. I will never, ever run out of projects to not work on.

9.What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I’m currently working on a sci-fi duology. I’ve finished the first draft of the first book, and I’m working on the second book now. I want to have the first book ready for publication by mid-2018, and the second book done for 2019. So, very long-term goals. But they’re going okay. I actually finished the first draft! You have no idea how rare that is for me.

10.Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

Write, procrastinate, repeat.

Or, to use a GIF:

smash the keyboard

*authorish flailing intensifies*

(Small note: That is the first ever GIF I’ve used on this blog. What??? The internet must be getting to me…)


Thanks so much for reading this post! I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check out Cait’s original post, where you’ll find links to other writers who have done this meme, as well as the list of questions and a place to link up your own Beautiful People post.

Once again, Beautiful People is hosted by the amazing Cait and Sky.

Beautiful People

Wednesday With Words: Tragedy and Comedy

Hey, everyone! I know it’s been a while since I did a Wednesday with Words post (I really need to be better about doing them more often…), but today I do have a quote for you. This quote is by Horace Walpole, a writer in the 1700s, who was a great friend of poet and abolitionist Hannah More. I’ve been reading a biography about Hannah More, called Fierce Convictionsand these lines by Walpole were quoted in it:

Horace Walpole


On my reading list this week:

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick: I saw this at the library and thought it looked interesting, so I grabbed it (the story of how I have way too many books on my To-Read list…) It’s a thriller about a blind girl who’s searching for her missing father, and I’m really enjoying it.

Unsanctioned Eyes by Brianna Merritt: Another thriller, by an author friend of mine on Twitter. Lots of assassins, danger, secrets, and action! I’m about a quarter of the way through, and so far it does not disappoint. (Pop by Brianna’s Twitter page here, and her website here.)


As always, Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.

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Thanks for reading. See you again soon!

🙂

Wednesday with Words: Baby Steps

Yes, Wednesday with Words is (finally) back! I really wanted to do it last week, but I had to help with VBS at my church was was super tired, so it didn’t really work out. Anyway, today’s quote is from the amazing middle grade novel Some Kind of Happiness, which I just finished reading. My author/blogger friend Jeneca recommended this book on Goodreads, and I’m so glad I picked it up, because it is wonderful! You can read my review here.

Some Kind of Happiness


On my reading list this week:

Zero Day by Jan Gangsei: I recently finished my local library’s summer reading challenge (yes I know, it’s not even summer yet, but I read way too much, okay? :P) This book was available as one of the completion prizes, and I thought it looked interesting, so I picked it up. I’ve only just started, so I’m not sure what to think about it yet, but hopefully it’ll be good!

And… that’s pretty much it, except for school reading. I got out a bunch of books last week, but I’m already finished all of them. #bookwormproblems

Thanks for reading. See you again soon! 🙂


Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.

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Beautiful People #25 ~ June Edition

Hey everyone! Today I’ll be doing another Beautiful People post. This awesome meme is hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. I had so much fun doing one of these posts last month, so I thought I’d give it another go. Enjoy!


What is the Beautiful People Meme?

From the Beautiful People FAQ on Paper Fury:

Beautiful People is for writers. Every month, we post a list of 10 questions for you to answer about your characters. It’s designed to help you get to know your characters – their quirks, their personality, their flaws, and who they are.

Last month, the meme was themed around parents, because it was Mother’s Day in May, but there’s no real theme this month. (If you want to check out my May Beautiful People post, you can find it here.)


DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee that everything here is or will be canon in the future. I have spent a fair amount of time developing these characters, but some stuff is still unclear in my own mind, so I will try to answer the questions as best I can. Enjoy the post.


The Character

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Princess Esmeralda from Behind Her Mask was Death. Gorgeous artwork by S. Meghan Fedor.

The Questions

1.What’s their favorite place they’ve ever visited?

Esmeralda has never been outside of her country of Plutch, and has hardly ever left the capital city, but when she was younger she traveled to the coastal city of Foundry in order to meet the royal family of Skring, who were arriving by ship there. She loved this city, as she’d never seen the sea before, but she didn’t get to explore nearly as much as she wanted, as there were formalities to attend to.

2. What’s one mistake they made that they learned from?

Esmeralda often shuts people out, thinking or pretending to herself that she doesn’t need anybody. She keeps on making this mistake over and over again, and it is a vicious cycle, but she always comes to the realization that she really does need friendships with other people in order to be at all happy with her life.

3.What was their favorite subject in school? Or favorite thing to learn about?

Esmeralda despised school. She was taught at home by a governess or tutor, and learned mostly about etiquette and manners and diplomacy and how to embroider and sketch (she sketches very badly) and play piano (she doesn’t play very well either). What she does like to do is to study other people; how they speak and act and think. She is a very good judge of character.

4.What’s their favorite flower/growing thing?

Esmeralda doesn’t make it a point to notice flowers and things like that very much, but I think she would like lavender, because it would make her think of Devon.

5.Have they ever made someone cry? What happened?

Esmeralda has never really made anyone cry. She has had a lot of good cries over other people, but always alone in her room or one of her secret corners in the city, where nobody can see or hear her.

6.Would you consider them a reliable or unreliable narrator?

Esmeralda is fairly reliable, although she might be prone to twisting the facts a little to justify some of her more impulsive actions.

7.What do they dream about at night?

Esmeralda doesn’t always get a lot of sleep, and when she does she’s often so tired that her sleep is deep and dreamless. But if she does dream, it would most likely be bad dreams about things she fears, or old memories brought up from the very back of her mind; things she’s tried to forget but that will never really go away.

8.They’ve gone out for a “special meal.” What would they eat?

Probably cake or sweets of some kind. If Esmeralda was going somewhere by herself for a ‘special meal’, she would almost certainly get something as tasty and sugary as possible.

9.What’s at least one thing they want to do before they die?

Go sailing or swimming in the ocean. Visit the great city-state of New Calvin. Go anywhere in the world that wasn’t her homeland. Esmeralda loves to explore and go adventuring. She could never run out of things to do and places to go.

10.Do they have any distinguishing or unique talents?

Does getting in trouble count??? 😉 Besides her penchant for judging others’ characters and personalities, her greatest talent is doing the exact opposite of what she’s told to do; bending or breaking the rules, making crazy decisions or doing crazy things on a whim.


Thanks so much for reading this post! I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check out Cait’s original post, where you’ll find links to other writers who have done this meme, as well as the list of questions and a place to link up your own Beautiful People post.

Once again, Beautiful People is hosted by the amazing Cait and Sky.

Beautiful People

7 Reader Facts About Me (For All the Bookworms)

Hey, everyone! Big surprise, but I’ve stolen another tag from Cait over at Paper Fury for today’s blog post. (Well, I didn’t actually steal the last one. It was for authors to use on their blogs, but anyway…)

This tag is called 7 Reader Facts, and it is actually a #bookstagram tag that Cait borrowed for her lovely blog post today, and which I am borrowing as well. You can find the original tag here. Feel free to use this tag for your blog as well! Just link back to the original bookstagram tag with the link above. 🙂


The Questions

1. What books are you too lazy to read?

Cyndere's Midnight CoverAnd the prize goes to… Cyndere’s Midnightand the rest of the Auralia Thread. I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and I own them all and they have absolutely beautiful covers (if I was not currently on vacation about 500 miles from my house, I would go take a few photos like right now), and I don’t really have a good reason except that there are so many other books to read and I haven’t read them yet and my TBR is killing me cause now that I’m following so many other amazing book bloggers and bookstagrammers and stuff I just keep finding things to add to my poor to-read list. So, yeah. And I’m lazy. That is also true. I am also writing and working and doing school, so there’s that.

2. What book made you swoon?

Heartless

I usually really hate romance in books, but it is hard to hate Marissa Meyer’s adorable fairy-tale couples in both The Lunar Chronicles and HeartlessI know Heartless does NOT have a happy ending, but I just loved Cath and Jest so much and they were the best and that ending was brutal, so, yeah. You’re making me cry, book. Stop it.

3. What book gave you a hangover?

Still Life

Ooh, this is difficult. I’ll have to think back a little bit… There are many books that have left me feeling lost or wanting more. Still Life by Jaqueline West, the last book in her amazing Books of Elsewhere series, left me with that sort of bittersweet book-hangover-y feeling.

.


The End

The End of the Series of Unfortunate Events did as well, although that was more a hangover of disappointment because up until then the series had been so good, and then absolutely zero of our questions were answered and it was all ambiguous and blah and I was very upset, so yeah. That happened.

.


Chestnut King

Basically all the final books of all the N. D. Wilson series’ have made me sad inside, especially the end of The Chestnut King and Empire of Bones, although Empire of Bones is apparently not the end and we have been lied to, which of course I am very glad about. Obviously. Also The Song of Glory and Ghost, although that isn’t the end either (I am very releived). So, yeah. All N. D. Wilson books ever.

Oh. And Anne of Ingleside. And A Girl of the Limberlost. And Heartless. And about eight million other ones I’m not thinking of. Basically, I am very prone to book hangovers, and I haven’t actually realized that till just now, so…

4. What book will you always recommend?

Evenmere 1I will never not recommend The Evenmere Chronicles by James Stoddard, which are in know way as well known and loved as they should be. A magical Victorian house with mysterious denizens and evil anarchists and battles and trickery and a sort of steampunk/fairy-tale/Narnia-style aesthetic? Count me in for sure!

I also found myself heartily recommending The Ashtown Burials by N. D. Wilson to a Twitter friend the other day, and I would definetly recommend all N. D. Wilson books to everyone ever in a heartbeat. They are amazing! (I’m still waiting on Ashtown book 4, though…)

5. What book will you always reread?

God's Smuggler

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew is my absolutely favorite book ever. I’ve reread it many times, and I hope to reread it again when I get the chance. It’s just such a powerful true story, and another book I would heartily recommend to everyone.

The School Story by Andrew Clements is also another book I try to reread every so often. It’s one of the books that really made me want to be an author when I was younger.

6. What are your favorite male authors?

Do I even need to say? You can probably guess the first two at this point. 😛 The rest are in no particular order of favoritism.

  1. N. D. Wilson, obviously
  2. James Stoddard
  3. Anthony Esolen (although I really didn’t enjoy his latest book very much)
  4. Terry Pratchett
  5. Andrew Peterson
  6. C. S. Lewis (throwing him in because I love That Hideous Strength like a lot)
  7. Charles Dickens

7. What are your favorite female authors?

This is actually slightly easier, cause to be honest there are a way less authors in this list, but, here goes:

  1. Marissa Meyer
  2. Jeanne DuPrau (The City of Ember ❤ ❤ ❤)
  3. L. M. Montgomery

And… that’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you want to check out another post like this (with many more beautiful colorful original pictures that I really just want to eat), go check out Cait’s post! And her whole blog! I cannot say this enough times, but in the short time I’ve been reading it, Cait’s blog Paper Fury has become my absolute favorite blog ever. Just go read it. It’s lovely. 🙂


7 Reader Facts

Chapter 8 of The Tangle is Live!

the-tangle

Hey everyone! Just a super quick post to let you guys know that ‘Black and Blue, Chapter 8 of The Tangle is live on Channillo.com today! You can check it out here.


Is anyone here following me on Twitter? I’m participating in #WIPTruthOrDare this month, so every day I answer a new question about my current WIP or take a dare to add something to the story! You can check out my tweets here.