To All Aspiring Authors!

One of the hardest challenges I’ve faced on my way to becoming an author is this:  Of all the people around me, I am the only one who sees what I’m doing as a job.

Most people close to me seem to assume I have loads of free time.  You know… Because what I’m doing isn’t really work…  The 8+ hours that I spend most days agonizing over my manuscript doesn’t count.

I can’t speak for everyone, but this is directed at those who’ve experienced the same thing I have.  All those little things people ask you to do because you’ve “got so much free time,” that stops you in your writing tracks and takes you out of the moment/mood/mentality that you just spend the last HOUR working yourself into.

Sure we can say “no” or “I’m busy,” some of the times.  Yet as time goes on, it wares at us.

And when you seek assistance or an opinion on your work, so many who said it was cool that you were writing in the beginning, don’t really care anymore, if ever.  They feign interest or support for only so long and eventually you just quit asking.  Who wants to pressure someone into reading your work?  And from those who will give you the time of day, they’re usually people whose thoughts come with some kind of bias.

In my case, I’ve got a parent who things what I write is spectacular.  But let’s be real here…  They may love it, but I can’t seem to get anyone else interested in it for very long.

So what do you have then?  A clearly biased opinion (which in many ways is detrimental) as your soul source for support and encouragement?  It eats away at you.

Yet we don’t want to give up and step back into the daily grind for the rest of our lives.  We do little things like schedule writing times where no one is allowed to bother us.  We persevere in our little vacuum.  Every milestone we reach means the world to us and oh so often is our only source of motivation.  One thing I often have to remind myself of is that once I get publish (Not if!), all of my effort, the months of screaming silence as I live mostly within my own head, will all be vindicated.  That first check or agent deal will retroactively turn all that “wasted time” that others seem to see it as into legitimate work and me building my career as a writer.  This is a truth we all share.

So this is a shout out to all my fellow aspiring authors out there!  Don’t lose heart.  Don’t give up. Keep on grasping for your dream.

Introduce yourself to me!   I will follow your progress blog and give words of encouragement.  I will give you an honest opinion.  I will get excited over your intricate schemes and when you update on how many more words you’ve written or how much progress you’ve made.

You don’t have to be alone in your endeavor.

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5/18/2015 Update

Sadly, this update doesn’t come with much news of progress. I’ve found myself in a worrying lull as I reach the limit of my experience. Creativity doesn’t occur in a vacuum and I feel editing works the same. At this point, the previous Beta readers are all too busy with college finals or swamped with their own responsibilities. My own attempts at self editing, while fruitful, have limits.

So I reached out to a fellow author in the family who can give me some guidance. However she has her own projects and responsibilities, which means I will have to wait for the feedback I so very much need.

This brings me to why I’m making this update. I’m not here to mope over the stagnation, but to outline my plans for the interim. As I’ve been told so many times before, I must keep writing! I’m currently working on an outline for a short horror story I intend to submit it to a magazine. If it works out, good for me. If not, I will have gotten some needed practice in the first person perspective. I don’t have a literary degree. I went to college for programming. I’ve never been published before, thus no awards or history to include in my writer’s biography. So, while I wait to learn how I can do better, I intend to make the most of my down time.

My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of the week, but finishing entirely would be quite pleasing.

5/11/15 Update and Milestone!

The announcement is a little belated, but last Thursday (5/7/15) I finished the first round of edits of my story. I still have plenty more to do, but now I can finally say I have a completed first draft; though some chapters are as far as revision 5. Using standard spacing, Times New Roman, and size 12 font, it’s roughly 170 pages and 69,000 words. I’m amazed at how I used to worry about the book not being long enough, but that’s approximately right on genre target. Almost certainly, I’ll have to try and tighten things up to reduce the page and word count, though I’m not certain with my current level of skill I will accomplish much on my own. However I have a skilled Beta reader, a technical writer, and a connection with a published author who can hopefully give me her opinion and insight.

As I wait for feedback, my plans are mostly laid out. Now that I’ve returned to the beginning of the book with fresh eyes, I’m going to rework the first few pages into a proper opening. At the moment, even if it’s acceptable for my POV, it feels like an info dump. I’m going to highlight the essential setting details the reader must know and then figure out how to distribute the rest cleanly. My intent is to get the reader into the story within three paragraphs if possible. I’ll also look into different methods of entry, so likely I’ll be working on this section for the rest of the week if I’m unlucky. From there on, I’ll be going through my notes while tightening each chapter.

I’m excited and terrified by the impending querying process, but that isn’t any of my concern until I’ve made the book as polished as I possibly can. I much continue to work hard no matter how insurmountable the challenge may seem.

5/3/15 Update and Thoughts

So here I am at the beginning of April and only 3 chapters away from finishing my first round of edits. I will sometimes tell myself that I’m only so many chapters away from finishing the book. I say that knowing that what I really mean is that I will finish the first round of editing. I will have successfully created a Revision 1 version of my novel.

A few months ago, I managed to finish writing the first draft. To a seasoned author, this is just another step in the process of writing a book. However, this was the first time I has ever finished a book. Before, I would often write the first chapter and quit because something else more interesting inspired me to focus elsewhere. Or, even more common, was that I wouldn’t ever write anything at all. I’d come up with everything and play out the book in my head. Knowing everything that was going to happen, I lost interest. Why write a story you already know everything about? I’d gotten my fun out of it and that was that. Before my current project, the closest I’d come was four or five chapters into a story two years ago.

Around October of 2014, I began writing an urban fantasy story based on a writing exercise I was going to do with my girlfriend. The exercise never happened, but I was intrigued with the world I’d created enough that I decided to give it a shot. January came about and I’d finished writing half the book. Had to quit my dead end job because I hurt my back… But I had written more than I had ever done in my entire life. And for the first time in my life, I felt proud of the effort I’d put into something.

Then, about two months ago, I wrote the finale. The book ended. I finished the first draft of the first book I’d ever written. No book, no story, will ever hold such an accomplishment for me again. This I share with every author, great and small.

I don’t feel as if it will be smooth sailing from here on out. I don’t even feel like I’ve crest the mountain and that the rest of this marathon is downhill. No… I know that once I finish editing these last few chapters that I’ll just be looping back to the beginning of the story again to continue editing until I have something worthy of people’s attention; of their time.

As a novice, there is only so much I can accomplish on my own. I have Beta readers giving me their thoughts. They have helped me so much in seeing my shortcomings. I don’t have a professional editor, but their sharp eyes see what I cannot. I look forward to finishing my first rounds of edits, because it means I will be that much closer to the day I can start querying agents. I’m aware of that it’s a tough industry to get into, but until that first rejection letter arrives, I don’t think it’ll sink in. Self doubt destroys us and I have it. Yet I’m working through it. I’m not afraid anymore. You could say that I know nothing and it is ignorance that blinds me to the pain I will soon face. I will accept that. However I will still move forward. Happiness is at my fingertips and I intend to grasp it.

4/17/15 Update

Sadly this is a small update compared to the prior.  It took me a whole 15 more days, but I finally finished editing Chapter 7 into something I was willing to show my Beta readers for feedback.  Two days later I finished editing chapter 8.  It will be Monday before I start on chapter 9, thought that leaves only 6 more chapters until I’ve finished.

I anticipate chapter 11 will take some time, however my writing had improved greatly as I approached the end of the story, so I’m optimistic that I’ll finish within a month.

Needless to say, I’m quite excited.

3/29/15 Update!

Two updates in a single month? I’m on a roll. At least I didn’t skip an entire month. So this is sort of another update? Perhaps progress report would be more accurate, however there’s more to it than that. As I “attempt” (quotes because the current chapter is a constant reminder that I’m a newcomer to the writing world. Sure, I’ve written short stories and a random chapter here and there that never went anywhere. Yet until I finish this book and get it published, I don’t consider myself an author.) to finish editing, I’m also considering plans for the future.

At the moment, I’m currently wrestling with chapter 7. I realized by the end of the book that an important character had only two scenes, both simple over the phone conversations. There had been a scene where she and one of the main characters were supposed to have a conversation; however I’d never placed it properly. It would have been two chapters away from the end of the story by the time she got the attention she deserved. After running through the story again, I saw where time was passing, but didn’t really give anything to the story. Subplot time! Chapter 7 isn’t perfectly timed for what I wanted them to talk about, however it does let me flesh out the world a bit more for the reader and properly introduce the character. Sadly a week has passed with only a few hundred words into the revision. I say, hopefully I’ll be able to make progress tomorrow, but that hasn’t been the case. I wouldn’t call this writer’s block. It’s a frustrating combination of a breakdown in discipline, self doubt, and creative drive. I guess you could say that I’m simply in a slump.

Well… It’s time I climb out of it!

While I focus on my first novel, I’m also considering what I’d like to write next. Because of past ideas and an over active imagination, I’ve got a mountain. However there are currently 5 stories that I have any real drive to work on; which leads to the second part of this post! Me rambling vaguely about future projects in an attempt to reinvigorate myself.

The first and most realistic is the sequel to my current urban fantasy novel. There’s pretty much nothing I can say about it however since I’ve given virtually no information about it other than genre and a small tidbit in my previous update post.

The second is about a youth in a mystical setting which merges a bit of Eastern and Nordic architecture and world. A world where there are forest and mountain gods and beasts many times larger than man that roam the land. Humans, who left the forests and the mountains to carve out a home of their own, struggle with the old gods they turned their backs to. Frontier settlements must carefully maintain a tenuous peace with the gods. This is a tale of a youth whose past draws them beyond the edge of human settlements and deep into a world ruled by the forgotten.

The third is actually fairly likely to occur before I’m even finished editing my current project. It’ll be a serial that focuses on a young woman’s life in a sci-fi setting where humanity is housed within massive towers. Each so large they commonly occupied by roughly five hundred million people. I’m not going to give anything else away at this point, as it’s likely that I’ll start on this as a weekend project soon. They will likely be 1-2k word installments. I’m not going to say that this will definitely happen, but simply talking about it now gets me excited.

The forth is much more of a thought experiment which I love. I simply as myself, “How would such-and-such fit into the real world?” Alright, so before I go any further, I have to admit that I’m a huge sci-fi nerd. Not that I know a mountain of facts about random things, though I like to keep up to date with scientific discoveries, but that tales of epic space operas and good science fiction in general excite me. So the fourth and fifth have this is common. I asked myself how something would work in the real world. For the forth I asked, “What would it takes for large humanoid machines to rationally exist in a military setting?” Yes… I skirted around using the word Mecha. As ridiculous as the idea is, I enjoy the process of figuring out how this would be possible immensely enjoyable. Sort of like a critical thinking exercise that doesn’t bore you to death. I have some of the story thought out, but there’s really nothing more to add at this time.

Lastly, I tried to pull a Futurist and create a hard sci-fi futuristic setting where humanity has finally begun to travel the stars. Gone are the flashy and slow lasers of the Star Wars universe. Combat between ships occurs light seconds apart. Since as of yet there’s no physics that support shields or force fields like they love to use in the movies, instead they using super cooled and highly reflective mirrors to deflect photo based weaponry. I considered the struggles humans would deal with during long duration journeys. As to my current knowledge, we haven’t really considered means of harnessing gravitons so gravity generators aren’t a sure thing. There’s deadly radiation beyond the influence of a planet’s magnetosphere. Perhaps a combination of a pill meant to absorb radiation in conjunction with a strong electromagnetic sphere the runs along the surface of the ship? This project will take a lot of research, though I wouldn’t regret any of it.

Hopefully this was at least a little interesting for you to have read and thank you for your time! If you have a future plan for a project and would like to share, I’d love to hear it!

3/11/15 Update!

Hey, so admittedly, it’s been a while since my last update. I’ve mostly been active on Twitter with small status updates. From now on I’d like to be more active on my Tumblr and WordPress accounts, but only time will tell.

Firstly I have an announcement that’s a whole month over due. I have completed the first draft of my novel! It also dawned on me that I’ve spoken very little about what I am writing.

I haven’t written up a synopsis, heck, I haven’t even given the story a title. It’s literally just called “Urban Fantasy Story.” I know, I know, my clever naming prowess can be quite awe-inspiring. I don’t really want to give much away just yet, so I’ll keep things vague for now. Along with what my naming mechanics have already revealed, the story also falls into the Mystery genre. The story takes place in Seattle amidst its large and diverse population of magical practitioners. I’m tempted to just start gushing out details, but I’ve been told to restrain myself for now.

I’m currently in the editing/revision stage and as of writing this post; I am editing the 5th chapter. I believe that puts me about 25% of the way through. To be honest, I’ve been doing a terrible job of editing every day. I’m hoping that this post will spur me on to keep working hard.

In the mean time, I’m already dreaming up what I will write next. It’s a struggle to keep myself focused on the task at hand. I tell myself every day, “I must finish this book.”

Since this is my first novel, I honestly don’t have high expectations. That is, I have high expectations for myself, but not on how well it will be received. There are so many greats out there and I can’t help but compare my amateur attempt with the works of Neil Gaiman, Catherynne Valente, Jim Butcher, and Tanya Huff. However I am new to all of this and understand that I can’t attain perfection without a great deal of experience.

Which brings me to how excited I am over what I’ve learned; this entire endeavor has taught me so much. Nothing more so than about my own writing style. I’ve learned about my strengths and I’ve come to grips with my weaknesses. I intend to take everything I’ve learned and will learn and apply my new found knowledge to my next work. I hope to make every story I write better than the last. And most of all, I want every story I write to be worthy of the reader’s time and attention.