Ch-ch-changes

Hello and welcome to another rambling, existential, content-packed edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Today I’m going to unveil the NEW CONTENT that you can expect to see on the blog going forward, but before I get into that I first want to talk a little bit about what I hope to achieve with these additions and why I’m making the change in the first place.

When I started this blog – yikes, almost two years ago – I had two goals: the first was to establish a place where I could scream into the void about all the parts about writing a novel that weren’t sunshine and rainbows (okay, so like 90% of it). I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on that, even if the screaming has been sporadic. The second goal was to, maybe, possibly, hopefully, form friendships or a community of fellow writers who were like me: near to the very beginning of their author journeys, and having to fight tooth and nail for every tiny success.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at making connections. I’m shy, riddled with anxiety, and possessed of fluctuating mental health that often times means I’m a bit of a flake. So, that’s on me. With that said, I’m ready to make a change, not just to my own internal mindset and habits, but my exterior activities as well. So, while these additions to the blog were first conceived of with the goal of getting myself engaged in the writing community even when I’m between projects, the more I thought about it the more I realized that it can use this newfound desire for growth to forward along that original ambition, the one where I’m no longer just another struggling writer, but Just Another Struggling Writer.

Ultimately, I hope that one day this blog will stop being “the lamentations of yet another person struggling to write a novel” and start being a rallying point, a safe haven, a creative sounding board for those of us who just can’t do this thing alone. More than anything, I hope you join me on that journey.

So, without further ado, behold the new content schedule for Just Another Struggling Writer.


tuesday
Tuesday

Tuesdays:
Your Mileage May Vary 
or Reasons I DNF This Book.

Guilty confession #1: I am not a great reader. I am slow, easily distracted, and tend to put off reading for other leisure activities, a bad habit I am desperately trying to correct.

Guilty confession #2: I am also really discerning when I read. Actually, that’s too charitable a word. I am fucking picky. I don’t even know why. All I know is most books tend to turn me off by the second act, and even the ones I end up binge-reading to the end don’t really stay with me. Doesn’t mean they’re not good, of course. Just that… well, I’m evidently really hard to please. Sorry.

So, in an effort to broaden my library (and maybe figure out whatever the hell my taste in books is), on alternating Tuesdays I will post book reviews of different persuasions.

The first, Your Mileage May Vary, will cover books that I read to the end, loved or hated. Take these reviews with a grain of salt; because I’m thinly read I honestly haven’t the faintest clue how to write a “proper” book review. Most of the time, I imagine, I’ll probably just be word vomiting my thoughts and feelings without direction or structure. Please look forward to it.

In Reasons I DNF This Book I will dive into specific moments that turned me off of a novel. Whether it’s due to my inner editor not shutting up and letting me enjoy something, or a protagonist I just don’t get along with, or a cringey awkward moment that forces me to put it aside until the second hand embarrassment subsides, these posts will explore what makes a picky reader (me) so damn picky.


thursday
Thursday

Thursdays:
Your Regular Weekly Blog Post

Thursdays you can expect to remain pretty much the same, with random topics and thoughts on the struggle that is being a writer. In the past I talked about the progress of my manuscript, and revelations I was having along the way, but now that I am (at least for the moment) project-free, the discussion might trend more toward current issues in the book world. This is the least “content” like of my three planned weekly posts, and mostly will just be a continuing chronicle of my experience in the writing community. One thing I do plan to do every week is include a one-sentence writing prompt for….


sunday
Sunday, Sunday Sunday

Sundays:
Short But Sweet Sunday, flash fiction or vignettes

Well, I couldn’t go this whole time without doing a little bit of fiction writing. Can’t let these razor sharp skills get rusty, can I? Now where did I put that sarcasm font? Anyway, at the end of my weekly Thursday posts I will include a one-sentence prompt, and on Sunday I will post my answer to that prompt. All pieces will be less than 1000 words and I intend to limit them all to the same setting and group of characters, which I am tentatively calling the Pillar-verse. The Pillar-verse was once an old fantasy novel idea of mine that was undoubtedly destined for the trunk, and though I still think it is too unfocused a concept to be drafted and revised, I would still like to share it in some way. (Hell, maybe if I dabble in it often enough I’ll get that spark I need to actually write the damn thing.) But going beyond that, I hope that others might eventually partake in Short But Sweet with their own takes on the prompt.


In addition to the extra content, I also will be doing a bit of site maintenance, including adding a page for writerly resources. Most of these will trend toward fantasy writing, since… that’s what I do and all, but hopefully writers of any persuasion will find them useful. Be on the lookout for those updates in the next day or two.


One last thing before I go. That’s right, OUR VERY FIRST SHORT BUT SWEET PROMPT. A reminder: the goal is to write some flash fiction or a vignette, less than 1000 words, and post it Sunday for all to enjoy. It can take place in a world you already created, or it can be something entirely new. If you decide to participate, please feel free to tag #shortbutsweetsunday on Twitter, or even just drop the link to your own post in a comment here. However you get it out there, the goal is just to boost your creativity with some extracurricular words. Hope to see lots of great pieces on Sunday!

This week’s prompt: It was fall, the season of knowledge, but nobody knew that.


Well, I honestly think I’ve yakked enough for one post. I’ll be back on Sunday with my answer to this week’s Short But Sweet prompt, and again on Tuesday for the first Your Mileage May Vary review, where I plan to discuss City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Until then, as always, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few. 

Kerry Share

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New Year’s Resolutions

2019 was a hell of a year. I have mixed emotions about it, really, because while there are a lot of reasons why the last 365 sucked ass, as it turns out, I actually accomplished a lot of my writing related goals.

I finished the first draft of Border Towns. I attended my first ever writing conference, where I got to call myself a writer without other people rolling their eyes. I started a second draft. I discovered the sheer joy that is editing and revising. I won NaNoWriMo second year running.

I fell down a lot, though, too. I wanted to read 25 books. I didn’t even crack double digits. I wanted to blog every week. Ha! Good one! I wanted to make new friends. I tried, but the mental health struggles were too real.

But, as I said in last year’s New Year’s post, I’m obsessed with new beginnings. Its one of the few things I’m hopelessly optimistic about. No matter how many times I fail, I know as long as I wake up the next day, I have another chance to succeed.

Well, I’m still here, I’m still trying.

So, without further ado, here are my 2020 Writing Goals:

  • Finish draft 2 of Border Towns
  • Start the Trunk Novel
  • Blog once a week
  • Start an instagram account
  • Dabble in podcasting
  • Read one new book a month
  • Regularly attend metro area critique group
  • Head back to DFWCon

I’m sweating just looking at that list, honestly. But, I figure, if I can achieve even three of them, even one of them, then I’ve moved myself forward. And I’ll never regret forward progress.

However, if I want to accomplish any of them, I know for a fact that I’m going to need to make one major habit change.

I need to learn how to write (and edit, and blog, and read etc.) at home.

I’ve gotten it so ingrained that my desk at work is where I Get Stuff Done that when I get home, I can physically feel my muse take off her bra and flip on Netflix. But the creases of time I find at work are no longer enough to meet my productivity goals (to say nothing of the fact that I can’t even blog from work anymore at all thanks to wordpress getting caught in the firewall). If I’m going to continue to grow and get better as a writer, I’ve got to stop being so precious about my home being the Leisure Space. I have got to stop making excuses to not put the work in. I’ve got to do better.

So, here I am, in bed with my laptop up past my bedtime with Mythbusters reruns cheering me on as I type. I’m tired. But it feels like a victory.

Here’s to 364 more victories this year.


That’s all from me in this very first blog post of 2020, the first of 52 I hope to write this year. Until next time, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Editing As You Go

Happy Thursday, fellow Struggling Writers. I took last week off thanks to the Very American Holiday™ but I am back now, with my ever evolving thoughts on writing! And away we go!

Manuscript News

July is here and, with it, Camp NaNoWriMo. I sadly missed April’s camp, so I was determined to participate this time around. It also happens to fit neatly into my Border Towns second draft schedule, so it seemed perfect. My goal for July? 40,000 new words. Since I have been struggling of late to write consistently at home, I told myself 2000 words a every work day will get me over the finish line.

Despite some early setbacks, it’s actually been going pretty great. I was just thinking yesterday how much better I feel about this new draft than I ever did the first one. I said on Twitter that I’m actually excited to do my daily pages every morning. Whenever I finish a scene and check my outline, I say, “oh, yeah, that’s a really good one!” And I haven’t even got to the exciting parts yet!

I don’t expect this feeling to last. I’m only 14000ish deep out of an estimated 120k. Perhaps by the end of it I’ll be throwing my notebooks across the room like I did when I finished draft one. But until that happens, I’ll be riding this wave.


The Weekly Struggle

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So, as I mentioned, getting this new and fun draft off the ground was not without it’s share of hiccups. Writing the hook felt not unlike I was using that torture quill from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. You know the one. I become downright hysterical at one point, ripping out the first five pages of my new notebook as each new attempt of an opening scene failed to live up to my wildest expectations.

“This is revision!” I told myself. “I can’t just write whatever and promise to come back to it later. Now is later!”

…Yeah, it was ugly. I ended up spending the majority of my first day back to the page on what ended up being a 650 word scene. I finally convinced myself to move on, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that it was just… wrong.

The next day, I was still feeling distracted. I found it hard to pick up writing new words because all I could think about was returning to that first scene and perfecting it. I had transcribed and emailed myself the previous day’s work the night before, so I printed out the hook, picked up a sparkly blue gel pen, and… I edited it.

edits
There’s something so satisfying about this image, to me.

Let me tell yall, it. felt. incredible.

I never would have imagined myself as loving the editing process, mostly because I was dreading it so much. I honestly didn’t know how to improve something that was already written. Not because I thought that my writing was perfect to start, far from it, but rather because… since this is the best my brain could come up with the first time, why should I believe it’s going to think of anything better the second go around. Wow, did I have another thing coming.

My favorite part was when I just straight crossed something out, when I cut something without the intention to rephrase or move it somewhere else. Just boom, gone. It made me feel powerful, in a weird way. I also liked taking a clunky sentence and transforming it, via improved syntax or vocabulary or what have you, until it was functional yet beautiful.

I spent four hours on the edits of this one scene, probably more than I should have (though I justified the time expense by saying, it’s the hook! it’s the most important part! it has to be perfect!), and when it was all said and done I actually felt happy with it, an emotion I rarely feel about my own words on the page.

It worked so well for that first scene that I decided I was going to incorporate editing one previously written scene a day into my process. It hasn’t all been picture perfect, but it has helped me move ahead with a draft that is radically different from it’s predecessor while also scratching the revision itch.

Don’t get me wrong, though, this is not a technique that I could see myself adopting for a first draft. When it came to the first draft, all I could think about was getting from Point A to Point B to Point C, all the way until it was done. If I had gotten stuck in the weeds of editing as I went along then, I probably never would have finished.

The only tricky thing I’ve run into so far is, as it stands, I find myself inflating my word counts while I’m editing. I’m terrible at including description and have to remind myself that the readers can’t see what’s in my head, so I typically end up adding instead of cutting. I know that’s going to have to change when I do a proper edit.

And, rest assured, I’ll be here to flail and panic at you all when that time comes.


That’s all from me this week! I’m going to try super hard to get a blog post to you next week, but this month is rife with work obligations (pesky day job, paying the bills and cutting into my writing time) so I make no promises. Until then, however, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!

Kerry Share

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Crossing the Finish Line

Manuscript News

Wow, it’s been another long, unintended hiatus. I’m really, really sorry about that. However, my time away from this blog hasn’t been a complete waste. In fact, the reason I haven’t had much energy to write new posts here is because I’ve been spending pretty much every creative iota in my body on my manuscript. I finally hit the downhill slope going into the third act and my every waking thought was bent on getting it done.

I’m pleased to say the focus paid off. On June 1st I was able to write “The End.” I then promptly crossed it out and wrote “To Be Continued” because it is the first of a trilogy, but I also wanted to say that I wrote those two words to cap off a year long journey.

It’s still kind of crazy to me that it was only a short 365 (+change) days ago that I made the decision to really forge ahead with writing. Part of me thought I was going to flame out again, especially after I got sick and had to take a very sudden break, so soon after that choice. When NaNo rolled around, all I could think about was all the years before I had tried and failed before I’d even crested 10k.

But I made it. I won. For the first time in my life I won NaNoWriMo. And yet, still I doubted myself. After all, 50,000 words only put me at halfway. There was still so much work to be done, and with my mental health struggles rearing their ugly head, part of me was resigned to chalk this whole effort up to another failed experiment.

Even at the end, after I had reconnected to my story idea and the words were coming so easily, when my daily word count surpassed even my NaNo pace, it was still really hard. The last week or two I found myself close to tears when I sat down to write, simply because I was just so damn tired. I wasn’t creatively blocked, because, again, I knew exactly where I was going and how to get there, and the words were coming, but the labor of putting it all on the page took so much more out of me than I ever expected it would.

Writing is work, yall. Hard work. It’s draining emotionally, mentally, even physically (oh my god I don’t even want to talk about my hand and wrist). And I say all this knowing that this really is just the first step in a never ending cycle. I know that there is still so much to do if this manuscript ever has a chance of seeing the light of day.

So, in the end, is it worth it? Is it worth all the angst, the pain, the exhaustion? Is it worth the constant distraction from every day life? Is it worth pouring so much of yourself into something with every possibility of accomplishing so little?

My answer? Hell yes.


The Weekly Struggle

So, now what?

Well, that’s what I’ve been asking myself since Saturday. The obvious answer is revision, of course, but all signs point it being a very bad idea to start right away. Knowing how much drafting took out of me the last month or so, I figured I should probably give myself a break before diving straight into draft two. After asking and reading around, I decided one month should be sufficient time and space.

And yet, every day since I finished I have literally forgotten that there’s no writing to be done. I get my notebook and my pens out and… do nothing. Even knowing that some time off can only be a good thing for both me and the project, it still feels just plain wrong to allow myself to be idle. Couple that with some deep seated fears I have about the revision process, and… yeah. I’m extremely restless.

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Live footage of me all month.

 

I’m trying to combat all this nervous energy by doing some light MS-related work. I’ve sought out character and world building worksheets to play with. I’ve continued with transcribing my back log of words (seriously, I’m about 30k behind, it’s pathetic). I plan to create some new outlines based on the first draft and what I hope to get out of the second. All told, I hope I’m ready when July rolls around to really dive into revision.

Because, and this is important, I’ve decided that this year I’m going to continue to push myself in my writing. I have heard before and can accept the fact that my first manuscript is not likely to be very good (and it’s true, at least for now; this first draft is point blank terrible). I probably won’t attract agents or offers with it. I’m fine with that. I’ve heard before and can accept the fact that I need to write a whole hell of a lot more if I ever want to be good enough to be published, which means I can’t spend an entire year on every single MS I hope to write. I have heard before and can accept the fact that this is not going to get easier just because I now can say I have one completed draft under my belt.

Last year was all about accomplishing a ten year old goal. I have proved to myself that I can do it. So, this year will be about hitting new milestones and exploring the parts of writing that I’ve never been to before, like revision and juggling multiple projects at once.

I’ve drawn up a very ambitious schedule for myself. The gist of it is, by this time next year, I want to have both the second and third drafts of this current MS done. I won’t commit to being query ready by then, because I know there’s a lot more to revision and editing than just drafting and redrafting, but I would like to be at least ready to send out to betas.

I’m also going to dive into a new project for NaNo, which I’ll talk more about another time, but it will mark the first time I’ll have to divide my creative energy between two ideas. I’m somewhat nervous, but I’ve been nervous every step of this process, so really, what’s the difference?

And that’s the update. Thanks to everyone who’s followed along this far. Looking forward to another incredible year.


What I’m Reading This Week

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

What I look for in a book these days are things that inspire me to improve my own craft. Just a few chapters deep into The Priory of the Orange Tree and I knew I had miles to go in my world building. The history is so lush and rich in this story, I actually felt called out for not giving my own project that level of attention to detail. Every night I read a chapter so that I can get up in the morning freshly inspired to tackly my own lore’s shortcomings. Awesome, really awesome.


That’s all from me this week. Next week I’ll be back (I promise) with a new post discussing my ideas for my next project and what it means to write for yourself. Until then my lovelies, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share


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New Year, New Name, New Goals

Happy New Year everyone, and, for me, personally, it is not a moment too soon. To get personal for just a moment, 2018 — again, for me — sucked ass. And that’s all the looking backwards I will do.

Suffice it to say, spoons were in short supply this holiday season and so I made the judgment call to lay writing (including Twitter and this blog) aside for a few weeks to recharge and reprioritize.

I’m a sucker for new beginnings. I even have a phoenix tattooed on my back. I thrive at the New Year, but, like many (even most) people I tend to drop off after the initial fervor. So, this year, I’m going to take the lessons I learned from NaNo and apply them to all my goals for 2019.

Most pertinent of which: accountability. The idea of admitting that I hadn’t successfully completed NaNoWriMo was a huge motivation for me in the waning days of November, if I’m being honest. I wanted to give up so badly, watching my daily word count creep higher and higher, well past the point I thought I was capable of achieving, but the idea of letting down my writing friends, and certain family members who had been egging me on… that, to me, was unforgivable.

It’s funny how the human mind works, isn’t it? I set a personal goal that didn’t cost me anything (other than sanity), certainly didn’t cost anyone else anything. It was a commitment of time and effort, sure, but in turn I wasn’t sacrificing anything unreasonable. But I didn’t want anyone to think that I couldn’t do it. I’m still not sure if it was personal pride or anxiety. In any case, it worked.

Honestly, I know I’m just another struggling writer in a sea of struggling writers. But if one person cares enough to check in on me (and there have been more than a few since I’ve started this journey) then I know my own mind well enough to believe that’s enough to push me forward.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of GOALS for 2019. Help me slay ’em, yall.

  1. Finish Bordertowns, my novel.
  2. Revise.
  3. Revise again.
  4. Repeat as necessary.
  5. Start querying process.
  6. Blog once a week.
  7. Buy domain for said blog.
  8. Make more of an effort to establish relationships via social media.
  9. Read 25 new books.
  10. Say the words “I’m a writer” out loud to another human being.

Bonus: attend the SFWA Nebula Conference, finances permitting.


One last note: I wrote a few weeks ago about my struggle with deciding on a professional name. I realized after posting that I was probably overthinking it. So, I decided that when I came back from my little hiatus I would just bite the bullet and make the change.

So, sort of contrary to what I said just up there, I’m no longer Just Another Struggling Writer.

I’m Kerry Share.


Next week I plan to start playing with the format of this blog while I continue working to find my formula. Thanks to everyone who has followed me thus far and who sticks with me going forward. It really, truly means a lot.