Progress and writing advice

As I’m getting closer to being done with my first personal edits on my project, I’m noticing a great change in my writing, as well as the quality. It just goes to show how important criticism is as well as another eye, and I’m very thankful for my editor for being that experienced and fantastic eye. There are just certain things you can’t possibly pick out or see in your own work.

I feel very good about this rewrite. It’s got me thinking about the other books I’ve written and how I can greatly improve them. The biggest thing was taking the writing advice to ‘only write what’s important to the story and be careful of getting too wordy’ and running with it. I was afraid to write TOO much, and my stories were lacking from that. Backstories need to be told, and the reader must have a reason to fall in love with, or hate, your characters in your book. Don’t shy away from showing who they are, either. (I’ll not get into the ‘show versus tell’ argument.)

To summarize what I’ve learned that has helped me grow as a writer:

  • Don’t be afraid to delve into your characters’ backstories.
  • Begin your book in a way that leaves the reader needing to read more. Leave them shocked, excited, or on the edge of an action.
  • To follow up on the above especially, don’t info dump! (Giving the reader a ton of information all at once.) Scatter information, backstories, and world-building throughout your book to pull your reader back into the world.
  • Learn to take criticism. Constructive, preferably. Another set of eyes is so important, and it has to be from a stranger or a friend who will be completely and unabashedly honest with you. They’ll see glaring errors and mistakes, as well as problems with pace, where you won’t.
  • Your first draft is just getting the idea down. It is far from being complete or ready for other eyes. You have to review your own work first, and then send it off to a trusted beta reader(s) or editor or both. You might rewrite the thing once, twice, or however many times it takes to get it perfect, but as perfect as you can get it is the ultimate goal and your future readers will be happier for it.
  • The #WritingCommunity on Twitter is amazing.

There are other things I’ve learned as well, but these are the main things that have helped my stories improve. They might seem obvious at first glance, but when you actually sit down to write, along with keeping your story together in your head, a lot of this stuff tends to be missed by mistake. That’s what editing, numerous drafts, and rewrites are for.

I feel good about my writing today. I’ll probably make even more improvements once my editor gets back to me about my rewrite. The most important thing is that this writing thing is a constant learning process, and writers are always evolving. It’s really an exciting process for me and I love all of it, which a lot of writers will probably call me crazy for. I never really did understand the martyrdom and the love/hate relationship some writers have with their writing.

No matter your feelings on it or your process, the key is to never give up. Keeping on and being persistent gets the cake.

My debut novel, a summary

I’m still learning to write eye-catching summaries of my books, which I’m sure is one of the biggest challenges of any writer. I’m continuously learning how to navigate this world that I’d only ever dreamed of dabbling in before. I’m also finding that this whole thing is ten times harder than I’d ever expected it to be, and I still have a long way to go in becoming a seasoned ‘know-it-kinda’ on the subject when it comes to writing well and publishing.

Luckily for me, I managed to get in contact with a great editor. This has brought both feelings of elation and horror, and you probably can guess why. It’s certainly kept me busy and on my toes, and I’m judging myself much harder than I ever have. This has hurt me in some ways since my writing has slowed to a crawl due to that inner critic, but it has also allowed me to take this as a serious business. I’m not just writing stories in my bedroom as a teen anymore to make myself laugh and to cope with life.

I’m writing stories as an independent adult in his living room to make myself laugh, cry, scream, and cope with life.

In that sense, I decided to jump on board again with Camp NaNoWriMo to help me finish my beast of a book. At first, I was working on something mostly for fun. Then my current project fell back into my lap, and I was ready to throw in the towel with Camp NaNo. I had to do some digging and realized what my biggest issues were in my personal life, what really has been eating away at me to make me so angry and itching to scream about something, and I’ve dealt with some of the biggest triggers and worst symptoms I’ve had in a while with my broken brain.

And all for the sake of this beast of a story I just have to tell. A story I’d been telling wrong from the beginning. I’d been focusing on the wrong traumas — the wrong triggers to my upset. What I really needed to write about to make this book shine (for lack of a better word), was the one thing I often tried to bury. The horrible thing that I thought I knew inside and out and I’d moved on from. And so, my original novella is turning into a much more important work lived vicariously through two of my muses, or rather, two of my alters who have given me permission to slay this beast that they also understand too well. One of them was protecting me from it for so many years, anyway.

It’s finally time to write the darkest and most honest book I’ve ventured to write. There are two intersecting stories in it that constantly weave together in some way, but only one is based on the actual experience I had in a relationship. The other, while my alter’s story entirely, is one I can sympathize with in terms of how I think about myself and how I cope, rather it’s unhealthy or not.

So I changed my project on Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m behind by about 6,000 words, but if I bust my ass I can make up for lost time. To be fair, I’ve had to push through the depression, the PTSD episodes, and the dissociation I’ve been dealing with to come to terms with the subject of the book, and by proxy, part of my story. Maybe it wasn’t good to go digging for memories that were locked away and kept from me for good reason, but if my spirit guide, Daro, allowed me to get as far as we did with it, then I trust that I’m ready to do this. I’m 30 anyway, and I’m not about to spend the rest of my life wondering what’s got me so… bleh (and that’s putting it very lightly).

In an attempt to finally purge the rest of the gunk sitting in my subconscious, and maybe raise some awareness and find catharsis for myself in doing so, here is the summary I jotted down on the Camp NaNo site for this book (title to be determined):

Shame is a ghost in your peripheral in a dark room. It is the tarnish on a soul of silver that we keep hidden in hopes no one else will see it. We hope our neglect of it will never have to come to light and it can remain as it is — imperfect but intact, and intact is the most important thing.

Or so it’s thought.

Lestan has been alive for over three hundred years. Tetsu, merely thirty-three. Yet, they both have something in common that neither delves into.

Lestan is always playful, upbeat, and loves wholly and honestly. To see him sitting in a cafe’ on a hazy night, his eyes dark and his skin translucent from not feeding for days, is something that would be enough to raise concern.

Thankfully, Tetsu is there to bring him out of his misery and the vampire starts to feel more like his old self. That is until a specter, or hallucination, leads them both off into the woods. Neither can see what the other is after, but they both know they can’t ignore the force coaxing them further away from safety.

After disappearing from reality entirely, or so it seems, they are met with the tarnished fragments of their souls wandering through an ever-changing maze, and a mysterious blind figure seems to be guiding them through it all. And it is neither here nor there, but one thing is certain.

We can’t run from things forever. We have to seek out the worst of our pains and confront them head-on and be beaten down by them — become masochists until we finally see the truth we’ve buried for so long. And the truth can sometimes reveal what monsters we truly are.

So there it is. A basic bare-bones summary that can’t possibly do the Hell that this story is justice. And it is very much a Hell that I have to keep revisiting, but in the end, when everything is out, it will be for the better. Maybe someone can relate to it someday and find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone. Or maybe I’ll just be revealing a part of my life and myself that I really don’t like.