Friday, August 29, 2014

The end of the summer holidays

Sunset by the pond

It’s a sad, but true statement – the summer holidays are almost over.

I really enjoyed this month off because I did get my last book done and my CP helped me edit, so that right there means I had a productive break.

So now I’ll be heading back to school on Tuesday (Monday is a teacher day, so there’s nothing for non-teachers to do.) I’ll be back in my same classroom, with a different teacher and a different set of kids. At least I get to be there on the first day to see how another teacher handles it. These are things I was never taught during my Florida teacher training.

I’ve decided not to take the Maths and English courses that I signed up to do this term. Since the tutoring didn’t do much, I’m going to get my own study books, teach myself the test, then sign up for the appointment-based tutoring sessions again. I still don’t understand why England is so against people making their own decisions about things: I can’t just sign up to take the Level 2 tests when I want to. I have to have a tutor pre-assess me first, evaluate my scores, then decide if I’m ready to take the real test.

These are the kinds of things I dearly miss about the US – the freedom to do what you want, when you want. There’s no middle man to go through.

But, anyway, I’ll be writing as usual during this school term, but I’m thinking I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo this November. (Though, I’ll probably end up starting it because it helps me get going.) Since I finished my last manuscript, I’ve not known exactly where I want to go next. I usually finish a book, then want to move on to something else immediately and forget about the old project. I’m impatient like that.

So that’s my small update on what I did over my summer break. (Finished a book, went to London, and read a lot – I dearly love being left to my own devices.) Hope you all have a wonderful autumn.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The #AmWriting Birthday Party

Notebook

What is #amwriting. I always figured it was short for “I am writing.” But our leader of the community, Johanna, writes in the early morning. I was afraid for a while that my afternoon and morning tweets were null and void.

Luckily, the #amwriting community for all of us who are writing – in the morning, noon, evening, or too late or too early to really know.

I started using the hashtag a while ago when I was first embracing the self-publishing world. I was surprised how many indie (and traditionally published) authors there were on Twitter. It was intimidating and frustrating at first, but then I realized that with the #amwriting hashtag I can easily tag any random questions, word count updates, or worries about editing. It works so much better than having my updates (or, random whining, if you will) getting lost in the sea of Twitter updates on my followers’ timelines.

So, thank you, #amwriting community, for giving me a community of like-minded writers who are just a hashtag away.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When you’re the only one who likes your story idea

Yachts from Holland at the Quayside.

“I don’t think it’s good for your head – if you spend a lot of time writing about a book, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it, you should be doing it.” Cormac McCarthy

Last night on the phone my mother asked me what my current WIP was. When I told her, she said, “Why would you want to write about that?”

This has been one of the most frustrating things in my writer-hood. The ideas I love, people don’t get when I tell them, and the ones I think are kind of dumb, people think are great.

Has anyone else noticed that the stories that they find the least compelling, are the ones you’re most encouraged to write about?

When I attended the online writing workshop a year or so ago, I proposed two story ideas: on YA and one MG. The one I felt the strongest about wasn’t as well received as the one idea I had that seemed rather thin and flimsy.

I proposed my stronger idea, the Middle Grade novel, to another group at the library workshop later. I didn’t give them another option, and they seemed to understand where I was coming from and how I could make it interesting.

I’ve written a little of both, but I’ve written way more on the MG novel than the YA book idea that the first writing workshop teacher and students seemed more interested in. Sure, it may be a good idea, but I really just didn’t know how to get about doing it. I tried at least three times to just start the story right, and even had a CP look at the first chapter – she was just as confused as I was about what I was trying to do as I was. In fact, I tried to make the YA book my NaNo project for the fall last year and I choked. I didn’t like that I was trying to write something I wasn’t sure about, and I wasn’t happy about trying to fit it all in with the hero’s quest as the workshop had told me.

So, what do you do?

Agents and publishers don’t want the same old thing (supposedly), but readers are still reading vampire books even though we’re told that we shouldn’t bother with them anymore. We shouldn’t have The Chosen One, or pirates, or treasure hunters, or werewolves, or set anything in a dystopian setting either. But, look at the top 100 Kindle sales. People are still reading books like this, and writers still enjoy writing them.

Frankly, I can’t, like just physically can’t get the words out if I don’t have a clear idea of what I want to have happen. That has to be my own decision and something I really see clearly. The writing is the main thing, so I’m just going to stick with what I like doing.

Besides, didn’t King say something about if you write for the market and get published from it, you’re not going to be able to keep it up?

Time and time again we’ve heard that the writer has to be involved with their work so the reader can sense it. I guess it’s better to keep it to ourselves and get the job done.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Confessions of an impatient writer

Pink rose

I hate waiting. I really do. When I want something, I want it to happen, and now, so I can go on to the next thing I want to happen.

Maybe it’s because I’m American. We’re use to having everything we want straight away, and if we don’t get it, we complain. We don’t like waiting in line and, in fact, we’ll put our purchases down and leave the store if the line at the register is too long.

Maybe it’s because I’m an only child. If I complained and pouted enough, I eventually got the toy I wanted.

With writing, though, this just doesn’t work the same way.

I have a handful of projects that I want to work on. A couple of them are books half finished. I’ve had my CP look at one of them, and the last finished project. This whole process takes too long. I have to edit and refine before I think about self publishing.

Also, I started looking into hiring an editor. That will take time to have that looked over, plus I have to get a cover sorted.

When I come up with a new project idea, I start thinking about covers immediately – see, no patience.

I know I have to concentrate on the writing first, the editing, and the perfecting before I can have a book birthday. I just read that most writers aim to get all this done in a year. I finished the first draft of my last novella last September. Of course, I got tired of the book, hated it, and neglected it for months before deciding to have the CP look at it.

I don’t know how to combat this, other than to tell myself to stop worrying about Point D, when I’m only at Point A, half way to Point B.

I just really, really, like things done, fast.

It’s the way we do with kids at school too. We tell them to get on with their work, and stop dilly-dallying, then we complain when they rush through to get their work done. Mixed messages that I’m sure we all learned as kids.

Anyway, so I’m going to have to stop wanting the book to be done, I guess. I have to keep thinking I want the book to be good. Big difference.

Friday, July 25, 2014

My thoughts on my high school reunion and why I write what I write.

This year marks 20 years after my high school class graduated. There’s a whole reunion and everything. And, no, I’m not going.

Aside from the fact that I’m all the way across the pond, I’m really not interested. Granted, I have some nice people who I wouldn’t mind saying “Hello” to if I saw them, but spending all day at the beach, or the park, and an evening of drinking (and putting Steve through the whole thing) isn’t something I’m into.

You see, I was not typical in school, I guess. I hated it. I don’t mean, resented going, I mean from Second Grade on, I detested school. I hated that I was locked in a prison every day, doing what someone else thought I should be doing.

The whole cast system annoyed the crap out of me. Preppies, and goths, and in-betweens (me) and band/choir girls and, ugh. My whole mission during my high school days was to be left the heck alone. I skipped school constantly, I hid out in the library and read Seventeen and YM magazines, writing to the editor on recycled notebook paper about how grunge was not a trendy fashion choice.

I distinctly remember members of the SGA in the library one day talking about anyone who wasn’t in upper level classes not counting at the school. (Hello, Breakfast Club much?) I was in upper level classes (except math) and I couldn’t care less about Student Government, or who was Prom Queen.

I didn’t go to prom. I never had a boyfriend and everyone of my gal friends did, so I didn’t even consider going anywhere stag with no one to talk to. I did the freshman and sophomore dance thing with all my freaky friends (bless them) but my wearing Doc Martins with a lacy party dress was a discussion the next week at school. (And, oh, how I loved to make the normal people wonder.)

Anyway, so all this week, my friends on Facebook have been posting graduation and school trip pictures and going “Oh, wow, I feel old. It’s been 20 years?”

I left school, got my diploma at night school and went straight into community college that was included in the university’s four year degree program. For the last part of my high school year I was just gone. I would still see my friends, but I was in no way going to attempt the whole “Oh, let’s get your college applications ready.” I had bad grades. I had no idea what I was going to do in the future. I could read books and write on my own (though I loved my English and Creative Writing classes, obviously.) I didn’t miss school and once I left, I never wished I’d been involved with all of that.

Later, in college and after we all started teaching (pretty much), my friends from other schools would go on about the overnight slumber party at the school and the overnight Disney trips. I never did any of that and I’m sure if they’d have invited me to partake in any of it, I wouldn’t have bothered. Any of my friends, a lot of them a year or so younger, wouldn’t have been there either, so, yeah, not interested.

This is why I became a teacher. I understand how much it sucks. I was never good at being a high school teacher because I saw through the busy work and arbitrary rules set for students because it was “in their best interest.” Even when I’m at the elementary schools now, I feel bad for the kids who are always told to stay on task, do their work, and not do all the fun things I use to do like look out the window and write stories during a math lesson.

I’m so glad to be out of school, I can’t even tell you. And that’s why I write the kinds of characters that I write. The preppy, happy, always involved in things kind of girls is not who I knew and not what I was a part of. The ones who hated authority, who wanted to do their own thing – that’s my kind of high school student.

This is also why I stick with Facebook. I like that all that old school crap is over and I can talk to people from my old high school as adults. I can share travel and cat pictures and know how everyone is doing back home. It could be 20 years or 200 and I’d still not look back to reminiscence.