When you decide to become a writer, there’s one truth that you must confront at some point: what you write will probably not be as good on paper as it was in your head.
I’ve come to realize this after multiple drafts and constant rewrites of fiction, nonfiction, blog posts and etc. I know it’s not just me who feels this way. Writers and artists like Philip Pullman and Leonardo da Vinci complain that their work is not a perfect reflection of their intentions either.
It was Leonardo D that once said “art is never finished, only abandoned.”
So how do you know when to abandon your work?
That’s what makes rewrites so exciting!
You never know if what you’re doing is improving your work or if it is becoming exponentially worse due to your constant attempts at redressing problems that may or may not exist, and therefore you chip away at your metaphorical sculpture until little remains but rubble and a caffeine high you obtained from drinking six cups of coffee in a row so that you could finish this one draft before you begin your shift in the morning at your dead-end job that you applied for to pay for your college loans and keep yourself a float until you get published which at this rate may be quite a long time as you’ve read from multiple sources that the likelihood of you getting your work seen by another human being, even if you chose to self-publish, is ridiculously low because so many people are more interested in making their own voices heard that they choose to ignore the other three million people who want the same thing so now you are all just screaming into the abyss, being heard by no one and eventually you become so spiritually malnourished that you start taking whiskey shots in your coffee every morning just to keep the edge off—
But I would suggest getting a second opinion from someone you trust. Someone who reads as much as you do. They’ll tell you if you need to continue or not. And if they think it’s done, consider that it might very well be.
You do eventually want to finish this thing. Then it’s on to the next project. Aaaand it’s likely the same thing will happen all over again.
…….If anyone wants to start a support group, I’m on board.
Life has been sucking recently so my writing has been put on the back burner….well, my writing is usually placed on the back burner, but now that life is not going that great, I at least have an alibi now.
I haven’t updated my blog in two weeks. From a professional standpoint there’s no excuse. Tolstoy wrote War and Peace and he had 13 kids. It’s not for nothing, I have been busy. I started a new semester and am currently working with my college’s newscast and this was my first week working at a new place, but I should be better at balancing out my life.
I also had a major life-changing event occur that totally ruins everything.
But, you know, I’m cool.
Everything is totally alright.
I would make a promise that I’m going to try to update more frequently as I resolved to do, however, I’m not sure if that is going to happen. I just figured I owe it to people who read this blog to let them know where I am.
I’m not giving up on blogging, it’s just that the length between posts will likely increase.
I have a few ideas for posts, but I’m not sure how they will pan out.
Until then, remember me as I was: a slightly less embittered individual with a propensity to procrastinate to the point of self-paralysis.
Does anyone else get their ideas when it’s most inconvenient?
I think I am at my most creative during the height of the school semester where everything is due and my entire future hangs in the balance..
I’ll be mentally calculating how much time I should commit to studying and she’ll show up, donut in hand, asking “hey, what would it be like if the human race was forced to live under the sea?”
“Now is not a good time,” I’ll say, reading about Metella and how she likes to sit in the atrium.
“What if they were down there for so long that they forgot what life on land was like?”
I’ll pause. “That sounds kind of cool.”
“Yeah. You should totally spend the next five hours thinking about it.”
“I have a test tomorrow in a foreign language.”
“If you don’t write down everything now you will forget about it and you’ll never be published. You will spend the rest of your life working a 9-5 grind. Your soul will become drier and drier until you are simply a husk of inadequacy.”
“Crap. You’re right.”
When I actually have some downtime, however, my muse can’t be bothered. She’ll be out partying with her other muse friends, only to turn up around 12 a.m. to tell me about how she worked out a way to fill that plothole in my last project. Which, of course, I’ll be too tired to do anything about.
Writers aren’t supposed to wait for their muses to show up. They’re meant to start writing and slowly their muses will materialize.
But it’s so much more difficult writing without her. She makes it more exciting. Sure, she doesn’t always have the best ideas, but at least she makes it fun.
“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma
The rules for this prestigious award (courtesy of Okoto Enigma, the almighty creator) are as follows:
1) Display the award logo on your blog. 2) Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog. 3) Mention the creator of the award and provide a link. 4) Tell your readers 3 things about yourself. 5) Answer 5 questions from the nominee. 6) Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers. 7) Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog. 8) Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question. 9) Share the link to your best post.
Three things about myself:
1. I love dogs of every sort.
I know the stereotype that most writers prefer cats, but 1) I’m allergic to cats and 2) I like the temperament of dogs more than cats. Dogs are loyal and love you no matter what and look adorable doing so. What could be better than that?
2. I’m pretty sure I know more about British history than I do American history.
I didn’t realize just how lacking my knowledge of American history was until we learned about Pearl Harbor in one of my history classes and I had to google who the president was at that time. Yet I could write a 10 paper over what World War II was like for the British without needing any secondary resources.
Nothing against the good ‘ol US of A, but I just find British history (particularly English history) to be more interesting. I mean, come on, they’ve got royalty. What do we have? A bunch of peasants throwing tea in a harbor. Okay, I’m being too harsh. Still, Europe is so much older than the United States so their story has more depth and intrigue. Plus, they have castles. Frigging castles.
3. I think Math is the most awful thing ever invented.
No one has ever rejoiced more than I did when I passed my final math class of my school career. Learning math, for me, was like taking a class taught entirely in Russian. Sine, Cosine, Pythagorean theorem-
I have had countless help from countless tutors, spent hours on single problems, and have dedicated years to trying to get this crap, but it’s never sunk in. One thing I can console myself with is I knowing that I have the ability to make change if necessary and that geniuses created tiny rectangular devices that allow us to calculate sums without using our fingers and toes.
Nominee Questions Answered:
1. If you could be considered an expert at something after 15 years of diligent study/work what would you want to be?
I guess the obvious answer is become an expert at writing (I consider myself an ambitious amateur at the moment) but if I had to chose something besides this I would want to become an expert at guitar or piano. It would be nice to sit down and create my own music, but I didn’t learn how because I gave up on piano too easily
2. What is the first thing you would do if you suddenly woke up 100 years in the past?
Probably cry because there is no internet. However, I would pick myself up eventually, and then heavily invest in the automotive industry. Or become a bootlegger. What? Worked for the Kennedys, old sport.
3. What is your “pointless” superpower?
I am good at doing impressions and making animal noises. Especially squirrel sounds. The reactions to this gift are usually shock and awe.
4. If you won a free trip to a destination of your choice, where would you go?
I think I would want to go back to Edinburgh, Scotland. I spent a few days there last summer, but there was so much I wanted to do that we didn’t have time for. I would like to go on another haunted tour since I had so much fun on the last one.
5. Where is your favorite reading spot?
My bed. I have a million pillows to lay on so it’s nice and comfy.
It’s pretty obvious that one of the central components to a story is the conflict.
It doesn’t matter what the conflict is: fighting the Dark Lord, winning the beef cake, or keeping the world from losing its Twinkies.
There just has to be a problem for the protagonist to solve.
I am good at coming up with conflict.
My characters suffer horribly at my hands.
The problem with getting your characters into terrible situations, however, is that, eventually, you have to get them out.
Sure, it’s easy to say the character needs to overthrow a corrupt government and ward off an alien incursion, but how would they go about doing that? Where would they even begin? Especially when these people have no military training or exemplary fighting skills?
I expect them to have a clue what to do when even I wouldn’t know how to act in these situations.
There they are, strapped to a chair with a bomb that’s set to go off at any moment. They rock their chair from side to side desperately before turning to me in a last-ditch effort to save themselves.
“Writer!” they scream, “what do I do?!”
Eh, I’ll get back to you when the answer comes to me during a 6 a.m. shower. You can wait that long, can’t you?
On the bright side, maybe if the solution is a surprise to me it’ll be a surprise to the reader as well. Or perhaps I’m just playing one long game of mental hide-and-seek with myself. Only time will tell.
I suspected this day would come. I had just hoped I would be more ready for it.
I realized upon rereading the most recent draft of my latest project that I would not be able to do my characters justice in such a short amount of time.
If I want to tell the story and give it the emotional gut-punch it needs, I will have to increase the length and expand it into a full-length piece.
My original plan was to go big and then just chip away at it piece by piece until it was the right length. However, the longer I write the less likely that seems. The story keeps getting bigger and bigger, the characters have more and more to say. A measly 65 pages won’t suffice.
It has to be a novel.
But Rachael, you say, what’s wrong with a novel? After all, novels are what really make money.
Yes. But I am a painfully slow writer. It takes me, on average, two to three hours to write two pages and that’s if I know what I’m doing.
I expected to knock this bad boy out in a month or two. Now it will likely take me over a year.
You don’t understand how many projects I have planned already. Now they will be backlogged forever. Or at least until someone else comes up with the same idea I had and publishes it first.
I love writing this story, but….
I have another time travel story, a crazy writer story, and a fantasy story all waiting for me to return to them and here I am hacking away at this monster of a project.
Well, there’s nothing for it.
I need to get back to work on this thing, or who knows how long it will take for me to complete it.
For everyone else is NaNoWriMo. For me it’s OhMyGoHoAmIStOnThChMo– Oh My God How Am I Still On This Chapter Month.
Good luck on your projects, good reader. I will need it with my current endeavor.
I experience a mixed bag of emotions when I’m rewriting a piece.
One emotion is excitement because I’m fixing things I had problems with in the original draft. Another is trepidation because I’m worried that the things I actually did enjoy about my original draft will have to be cut out.
Each thing you change in a story has a domino effect. One little paragraph can completely change the tone.
You have to choose what you change very carefully.
There’s also the humiliation of realizing you actually let another human being read this when it doesn’t remotely resemble what you hoped it would be.
I’m going to attempt to do something I’ve never done before.
I am going to literally take it page by page and rework as much as I can in my favor. Every word I don’t like, every clumsy sentence, every image that isn’t just right is going to get the hedge clippers.
Just the thought makes me want to drink an entire bottle of whisky straight out of the bottle, but it seems as though this is the only method that will make this venture worth while.
How else will I justify spending months on this thing?
Hello, reader. I am a writer person like you. Definitely not someone strapped to a chair against their will.
Do you want to learn how to write like a super-awesome writer guy?
Becoming one of the giants of literature is easy with these simple steps.
Take something you’ve written. Just anything. It could be a poem, a play, a short story, just whatever. You got it? Okay, now set it on fire. Now take a picture of your literally flaming passion and upload it to Instagram. This is guaranteed to catch people’s attention.
Take your college degree off the wall and caress it lovingly. Are you caressing it? Good. Now weep. Go ahead, I’ll wait. That’s it. Let it all out. Let the debt and unemployment flow through you like a river. It’s okay. Your parents were never proud of you to begin with.
Keep a physical diary of all your failures. If you have been failing that means you’ve been trying. And, boy, have you been trying a lot. It’s alright if your tears smudge the ink. This is just your own personal record. No one else will read this. Just like no one else will read those books you self-published or blog entries you posted on WordPress.
Drink heavily while you write. This will inspire you to write more and will totally not convince you to phone your ex-lover. All the best writers drank. And they all lived happy, productive lives. Well, aside from the ones that committed suicide or died under suspicious circumstances. But that’s beside the point.
Tweet every single thought that passes through your mind. Don’t even think about it. Just Tweet it. There is no way this could possibly go wrong. Tweet your politics. Tweet your religion. Tweet about people you don’t know but have heard through third-party sources that they did something terrible and so you must condemn them for actions you don’t know they committed for sure. Why? Because certainty is for plebs.
Tell everyone you are a writer. EVERYONE!! Hand out business cards at the grocery store. Give one to that chick at McDonalds who looks like the grease fumes have liquified her brain, give it to those Mormons who will show up at your door any second now. Have you done that? Okay, don’t write now. Don’t write a single word. Go to Youtube. Your work is done. Everyone knows your brilliance.
Follow these steps and I promise you that…something will probably happen.
A friend of mine recently introduced me to British comedy, Black Books, which stars Irish comedian Dylan Moran. It’s a show about a combative and anti-social bookstore owner in England and the strange adventures he gets into with his posse of misfits.
As a fan of English comedy, I fell head over heels in love with Black Books. How could I not? After all, it had the key ingredient that makes every comedy worthwhile: ridiculousness.
In one of my favorite episodes, “Travel Writer,” Bernard discovers his landlord has died and bequeathed her ownership of the building to her cat (Mr. Benson). Bernard then hires an exterminator to turn hitman so he can put an end to the kitty’s rein of tyranny.
I wish more comedies could be like this. Don’t get me wrong, comedy is stupid nowadays, but it’s not that special kind of stupid.
I miss the shows like Monty Python and Seinfeld. They embraced absurdity in their great hairy arms and didn’t give a crap what the critics thought.
Now it seems like comedy resides in one of three camps:
In one camp, you have the Dude-Bro-Comedy wherein the only jokes that are told apply to the lowest common denominator. These comedies include jokes about boobs, sex, weed or other drugs, and gratuitous amounts of body humor.
In another camp, you have the Safe-Comedy wherein you simply tell jokes and plots that have been done so many times before it’s like trying to wear a pair of 30 year-old underpants and pass them off as new.
Finally, you have Societal-Outrage-Comedy, where every joke you tell has to be a way to stick it to The Man (a.k.a old, white, conservative men) or some other sort of issue that people believe needs addressing. The problem with these sorts of comedies is the shelf-life on them is awful. In a mere three years, most of them will be become dated and forgotten.
What happened to comedy for comedy’s sake?
You know, you can be funny without being wildly offensive or resorting to 5th grade humor. It is possible. We have the technology.
You can laugh at something that has nothing to do with politics or the current state of society. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be relatable. It could be wildly ridiculous like a man paying to have an argument with someone:
While many of the jokes used in these shows and movies are ridiculous, they’re also extremely clever in their own right. Unlike some comedies which think their audience is largely comprised of lobotomized baby seals.
Am I an outlier here? Am I the only one that thinks the viewing public deserves something better? Should I just shut up and drink my diet soda?
All I can say is if Netflix removes this British gem, I may lose my mind. Dammit, Netflix, You can take Airplane! by don’t you dare touch my Black Books.