Writing Thin

Hey! Fellow white writers! Just a reminder! Diversity is good! Write characters that don’t look like you! It’s healthy! But! Don’t! Write! BIPOC’s! Stories! Just! Don’t!

Also, don’t try to prettify human suffering. Just a thought.

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Seriously tho, can we not?

Anyway, those of you who are still here, welcome to another week in the life of a struggling writer. This struggling writer, anyway. And, lord, has it been a struggle. As it turns out, deciding mid-draft that your WIP needs a major developmental revision is not something that can be taken care of in a week. My mental pendulum keeps swinging from “excited and energized” to “I’m a terrible writer, all my ideas are laughably banal, and I’m just going to give up on this whole writing thing in general, don’t at me.”

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A visul recap of my week.

I’m caught between the idea that my creative well is running dry and I need to take a break and refill it, and the little voice in my head that continually reminds me I took all of December off, I’ve barely done anything creative this month, I keep making excuses not to write. 

I’m gonna figure it out. Eventually. I’m gonna strike a balance, and this will get written. Maybe even in my lifetime.

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My list of revisions.

Anyway, one of the things I’m definitely going to have to figure out if I am going to get this book done is how to stop writing so damned thin.

I imagine many writers might say that writing thin is a good problem to have, and I believe that is true for a lot of people. For me, however, it’s a bane. As I’ve mentioned before, I started writing when I was 11, and though I started in original fiction by 13 I had been roped into the magical world of fanfiction. Now, my path is my path, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I learned more than you’d think about craft, but one thing I left behind in those years was the ability to describe literally anything.

I relied on the fact that any readers would already be familiar with the characters and setting, and almost everything I wrote was entirely based on interactions. Conversations, conflict, sex. It was easy.

Now I’m kicking myself, because I find myself falling into that pattern even now that I know I have to set the stage myself.

I just did a read through of my second draft. One of the things I realized is that a major character has only ever been described (once) as “tall.” That’s it. That’s all you know about her. Another character, equally important, hasn’t been physically described at all. Most of my cast are little more than floating, talking heads.

Don’t get me started on worldbuilding. Again. I hate it. I mean, I love it, but, actually, I hate it. I have a perfect image in my head of what my world is, but when it comes to the text of the novel I don’t feel compelled in any way to describe it. “What purpose would mentioning the scenery of the countryside serve?” I ask myself. “Does my made up historical context really have any bearing on this scene?” or “Why slow down the pace and ruin the tension just to remind the reader there is a fully fleshed out world beyond this conversation?”

Most of that is thanks to a piece of writing advice I took and surgically grafted onto my heart, and that is: good storytelling is often about good secret keeping. Don’t give away what you can hold onto until the moment is right. And that is the philosophy I have carried into my fantasy stories: don’t info dump when you can sprinkle in the details as needed.

And, honestly, I still think that is really sound advice, but, in rereading this second draft, I think I may have lost sight of what is too much to hold back. The draft reads like I’m being greedy with my world, or that I’ve forgotten that the readers don’t know what I know. I rush from plot point to plot point without adding critical context, because I already know the background of X and Y characters’ relationship with each other, or where A and B locations are on the map.

At DFWCon I had the chance to sit down with an agent and kind of talk shop (I wasn’t ready to pitch yet, obviously, but I still wanted to get some insight). We got into a discussion about word counts for debut authors, and after hearing that I had just finished a first draft, he asked my word count. 105k, I told him. That’s really good for a debut fantasy, he said. Right in the butter zone. I wish I could have been pleased about that, but I knew, deep in my bones, that the only reason I kept it that low was because the draft wasn’t really complete. I had left so many details on the floor, details that would be inexcusable to leave out of a polished manuscript.

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Or, writing, as the case may be.

Going into draft 3, I know this is something I’m going to have to be serious about fixing. I need to learn how to take my time and properly build a world that readers will want to crawl into. I need to figure out how the keep the flow going without leaving important information out in the cold. I’ve got to teach myself that it’s okay to do those things, even if it means a 300k word draft.

Because that’s what revision is for.


That’s all from me this week. I hope you enjoyed Captain Kirk coming along for the ride with us. Next week I hope to discuss The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, which I’ve been reading this month. Which means I need to close up and get it finished. Until then, 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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Writing for Yourself

Alright yall let’s get it out of the way first: on July 15th I got whammied with some major financial issues that triggered my depression in a bad way. I won’t go into it too much (you can read my previous post about how my depression affects my creativity here) but I’m back-ish now after a difficult two months. Thanks for understanding!


Manuscript News

The big thing to come out of my hiatus is that I realized I didn’t give my WIP, Border Towns, enough time to rest between drafts one and two. When I started feeling the itch to write come back, it was always directed at other ideas. I felt disconnected from Border Towns, though, to be fair, I had the same sensation the last time I took a big mental health break from it.

But, I’ve given it some thought, and what with November right around the corner and all, I decided that I’m gonna let Border Towns breathe while I work on a new idea for NaNoWriMo.

Which brings us to…


The Weekly Struggle

I’ve had my 2019 NaNo project picked out since last year. I decided early that it would not be the Border Towns sequel, even though I have one planned, instead opting for something completely new. This particular idea has been percolating, like all my stories do, for a few years now, and since it is a standalone, self-contained novel, I won’t feel the pressure I do with Border Towns to continue laboring over it once it’s complete.

As I was doing some pre-outlining work last week, my momentum was arrested by the realization that… well, this thing has TRUNK NOVEL written all over it. I realized that I just didn’t see a point in it, not in the plot itself nor in the actual act of writing it. I couldn’t imagine an agent being grabbed by the premise, I couldn’t fathom selling it, traditionally or self-pub, and all in all it kind of felt like a waste of my time. After all, the whole point of me doing this writing thing was to make a career out of it, right?

I’ve been doing creative writing since before I can remember. When I was 10 I started writing awful self-insert Dragon Ball Z fanfiction (no, seriously) without even knowing what fanfic was. When I was 14 I discovered The Pit (you know the one) and found that the thing I had been doing the last several years actually had an audience if one cared to seek it out. I’ve written millions of words of fanfiction, most of it terrible, some of it good enough to inspire me, when I was in my early twenties, to maybe think about taking a stab at original fiction. It took nearly a decade to finally finish a first draft of something original.

So… something in me chafed at the idea of spending time, precious, precious time, on what would, in my mind, essentially be original fanfiction. Something that no one would read or care about. Something boring or bad (or both) that would only ever serve as practice. At that point why should I care enough to write it?

Well, the simple answer is, because I want to. The idea might be lackluster, the storyline might not be able to carry it’s own weight. It might never go anywhere but into the stack of used notebooks in my closet, to be pulled out in another ten years and cringed at. I’m ashamed to say it took me a few days to get over myself and realize: what in the hell is wrong with that? I know I need space from the WIP I am pinning my hopes on, if I ever want it to be good enough to pin my hopes on. I know I want to stay creative and get some more novels under my belt, because that’s what real writers do isn’t it?

As much as I want to profit off my creativity (I mean, don’t we all?), it’s the not reason I’m creative. I’m allowed to write something just for practice, just to keep my proverbial muscles loose, just for the joy of writing.

After the labor (of love) that the last year of Border Towns has been, I really needed that reminder.

(Compounding all this is the SUDDEN URGENT NEED I had on Monday to write a contemporary romance, when WE ALL KNOW GOOD AND WELL that I am a high fantasy writer. But that’s an entire blog post in and of itself. Maybe next week.)


What I’m Reading This Week

I’m not actually reading anything yet, but on Friday I picked up both Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Border Towns is lightly influenced by the Middle East and I wanted to read some fantasy more heavily in that vein. Problem is… I don’t know where to start! Tomorrow begins a mini-staycation and I’ll have loads of time to read for a change. Which should I try first?


That’s all from me this week. I look forward to returning to a regular posting schedule, especially as we get into my favorite part of the year: PREPTOBER! Until then, 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.

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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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Bullet Journaling (Or Something Like It)

Manuscript News

I’d been having some trouble reconnecting to my manuscript after my little hiatus. That was a tough spot to be in by itself, because it fed back into the guilt and resentment I’d been feeling during the hiatus. However, after giving it some real thought, I realized that the problems I was having with it started before I took a break. And after doing a read through of the last half dozen scenes I wrote, I was able to pinpoint what it was that was giving me such a hard time.

I talked about it in the last post about the hiatus: I had written myself into a corner. At the time, I told myself that was okay. It could all be fixed in revision, I just needed to keep moving forward regardless of that pesky little scene.

Well, reading over it and all the disjointed, messy, stunted scenes I had tried to write after it made it apparent that this was an error that could not wait until draft two to be revised.

So I committed to stripping out the last 2500 words and rewriting them entirely. To date, I’m not quite caught up to where I left off, but I feel so much better about what I’ve done.

Writing is such a fluid process. Sometimes, it will be better to just leave trouble spots to fix later, but there will also be times where it is necessary to do some on the spot revision. It’s not always going to be obvious which solution is the right one.

 


The Weekly Struggle

This week (and the week or two before, really) for me has been all about getting myself back into a healthy, positive mindset when it comes to my writing. I’m terrible at habit forming, and I tend to jump around from one fad to the next trying to find something that works for me.

Sometimes I wonder if the lack of consistency is part of process and I should just embrace it, but that’s neither here nor there.

A fellow writer I admire and follow on Twitter posted her writing To Do list last week, and throughout the day continued to post updates to it. I loved it. Mostly I loved the public accountability part and the way it drew her friends and followers into her process. I thought to myself, “I am so going to do that every day from now on.”

I realized 200 milliseconds later how ludicrous and annoying that would be.

I’ve had bad luck with To Do List productivity apps in the past (see above), but I thought that I would give a new one a try anyway. About twenty minutes and a few ill-fated downloads later, I was feeling dejected. My writing is tactile — as you all may know by now, I do almost everything longhand. Using my phone to track my daily goals and progress felt like a betrayal of my most fundamental sensibilities.

And then I remembered, belatedly, like a dope, that because I languish in longhand I carry a notebook and pens with me literally everywhere. At the time, hilariously, my drafting notebook was sitting about three inches to the left of my arm.

So, I flipped to a new page and I wrote out the writing-related tasks I would like to accomplish, complete with cute little check boxes that I could tick off.

Then, on a whim, underneath my list I wrote a few words to remind myself to keep my spirits up. I was (and still am) shaking off some depression-related doldrums and needed a boost. I’ve never understood the “affirmations” sections of the numerous planners I’ve bought and abandoned over the years, but that day, for whatever reason, it clicked.

Underneath that, I left a space for notes. I was researching new themes for this blog and I wrote down which ones I liked the best. I also jotted down various creative bits and bobs as they came to me (names, mostly; names of people, towns, chapters, etc.).

The next day I did it all over again. To do list. Affirmation. Notes.

And just like I started what I think is a rudimentary bullet journal.

Admittedly, I know very little about bullet journaling. I’ve done some cursory research into the subject, because I love fads and I will try almost any supposed productivity booster once, but at the time I found it to be too unstructured for my tastes. However, looking at what I’ve been up to the last week or so, maybe that which I rebelled against mentally is actually what I need. Not something I need to hold myself to rigidly (I’ve already taken a few days off from making these lists), but something fluid that I can utilize when I want or need it.

bullet journal
Today’s list.

Honestly, I’m not really interested in whether or not what I’m doing falls into the “bullet journal” category. I don’t even know if it’ll stick. What I do know is that I get a very tiny surge of excitement and sense of accomplishment when I get to check off one of my little boxes. I know that writing my affirmations has helped me climb the hill of my various anxieties. And I know leaving myself a space to take notes, rather than relying on my memory, has already helped me stay in a creative state of mind, even when toiling away at my day job.

It’s working, for now at least, and that’s what matters.


Wow this one got long. I’ll be back with another post next week. Until then, may your writing be plentiful and your struggles be few!

Kerry Share

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Writing With Depression

I’ve written and erased more words than I can count trying to compose this blog post. My mood has swung from defensive, to apologetic, to ashamed, with plenty of pit stops in between. One moment I feel emboldened to share my experiences, so that others who might be going through something similar can feel seen. The next, I tell myself that strangers on the internet care not a whit for my problems, and that I’m only opening myself up for negative attention by talking so frankly about something so raw and personal. In the end, I hope I’ve found some middle ground.

To put it frankly and simply: I, like many others, suffer from depression. Mine manifests primarily as major depressive episodes, which I experience three or four times a year. During these times, which usually last around three weeks, my chief symptom, apart from an emotional cocktail of all the usual suspects, is exhaustion. A normal day of waking up, taking my kids to daycare, a 9 hour work day, then coming home to care for my three littles literally feels like being in a state of perpetual motion designed to drain every last iota of energy from my body. As such, any waking moment of spare time I have not being used to keep up appearances at my job or to my family is spent in bed.

If I could form a list of all the activities that are sacrificed on the altar of my depression, creativity would be at the very top. It’s not a choice, but, logically it make the most sense. Writing is work, hard work at that. Squeezing it to a full schedule of work, kids, and a social life is a labor in and of itself. Trying to maintain it while your brain chemistry is trying to convince you of how worthless you are… well, I don’t pretend to know how other depressed creatives feel, but for me it’s damn near impossible.

It goes without saying that it sucks having to take a break in this way. It feels like I’m giving up on my dream, even if I know rationally that’s only temporary. At a time when my mind is already fertile ground for self-loathing, writing becomes yet another catalyst for guilt, which then turns into a sort of resentment for my project, which then morphs back into guilt and the cycle continues. In the end, the title for this post becomes a misnomer because in reality, for me, there simply is no writing while depressed.

Eventually the fog starts to clear and I feel a little silly for all the things I did and felt during the episode. I go around and make my apologies to my kids, my partner, anyone who I let down or was short with. And then I get on with my life, knowing that in a few months we’ll all be going through it again.

I wish it was different. I really do. Who knows what I could have accomplished this month off if I my brain hadn’t decided it was time to venture down the rabbit hole. Even now that I feel ready to get back to it, I’ve found myself having difficulty reconnecting to the project after such a long and mentally trying hiatus.

Ultimately, the only answer is to just… keep fighting through it. I have to pick up my pen and write the next word, the next sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter until it’s done. No matter what obstacles I face, that goal has ever been the same.

Thanks to those who read this, even though you don’t know me or perhaps can’t relate to this particular difficulty. And to anyone who’s going through something similar: I don’t have any advice, but I see you. And I believe in you.

 

Kerry Share

Telling Yourself the Story

Manuscript News

Honestly, I’ve had a great writing week. I hit 65,000 words — a milestone for me, because that was my very first, completely clueless, word count target for this novel. Looking back that’s an absurdly low count for a fantasy novel. I knew it was then, but I tried to rationalize it as this story is technically a low fantasy, the setting wouldn’t require that much description as the focus would be on the narrative.

Yeah, I don’t know what possessed me to think that a custom built fantasy world wouldn’t need a lot of description, but I was dead wrong.

Anyway, I hit a good stride this week. I slowed down a little yesterday thanks to my anxiety and a smash cold taking over my sinuses, but I’m hopeful to get back into it today. I’m just about to crest a hill and start hurdling down the other side toward the end, and I’m so NERVOUS. AND EXCITED. NERVICITED.

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The Weekly Struggle

It’s not all been sunshine and roses, though. The latest three or four scenes have flown out of my pen as if it had a mind of it’s own. However easy the words have come to me, they have also put me in a bit of a bind narratively. Not only have I committed the cardinal sin of telling, instead of showing, I have jumped the gun on a conflict I intended for the sequel.

When I realized what I had done, I admit, my enthusiasm deflated a little. The majority of the 5000 words I have done this week will have to be either be rewritten or cut completely. And that’s kind of a bummer. I was really proud of the work I had put in and really felt like I was propelling myself along nicely toward the climax. To realize it would all be for nothing… yeah. I took a little break after that.

And it’s a good thing I did, because I was laying in bed, gloomy, wondering if I should just tear ten pages out of my notebook and start fresh, when I remembered my second favorite writing tip.

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. – Terry Pratchett.

Oh my gosh, the relief I felt. The weight that lifted, the joy that returned. If I could, I would have tattooed those words on my eyelids so that I would never forget them again.

It’s okay that my character is literally telling her friends things that I really should be showing in the narrative, because these were things I was figuring out as I was writing them. It’s okay that I wrote myself into a corner that I’ll have to cut and paste somewhere else later, because getting the details figured out now can only help me foreshadow them for the future.

I am telling myself the story, discovering it’s nuance and it’s flavor as I go. None of this time is wasted, because I am learning so much from it. All of this is a perfectly normal part of the first draft phase and I really shouldn’t be beating myself up over it.

Maybe it’s because I’m an inherent plotter that made this truth such a struggle to accept. I have always tried to keep an open mind about my outline, allowing it to expand beyond the borders I originally drew for it. But, for better or for worse, I always thought I knew where I was going and how I was going to get there. This latest sequence of scenes was a curveball I hadn’t been prepared to deal with.

Writing a novel truly has been more of a learning experience than I ever expected, in more ways than can be counted. This latest lesson has returned a sense of joy I had lost as I got bogged down in the Great Soupy Middle. I had forgotten that this was meant to be a journey for me, too, not just my characters or the people that one day might read the story.

Cheers, Terry.


I’ve been remiss in my reading this week. I’ll try and get back on the horse next week! That’s all from me for now. Time to get back to writing.

Kerry Share

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The Right Tool for the Job

Manuscript News

It’s been an interesting week.

First thing’s first: no, I did not go to that write-in on Friday. I really did have plans with my partner on that day. As early as Friday morning those plans still had a non-zero chance of falling through, so I was keeping my options open for the evening. However, our plans went ahead as scheduled, and thus the write-in was skipped. I’m still looking forward to getting out there sometime, maybe even this week.

Also: yesterday I hit a big milestone. I reached the last page of my pretty flower notebook. That baby helped me get through NaNo. She came with me, shoved unceremoniously into a purse really too small for it, to family functions, gymnastics practice, the day job, road trips and everything in between.

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At only 70 pages I know it doesn’t sound really impressive. But I average about 550 words per page, and if you add it all up, it comes out to about 38,500 words. That’s a HUGE chunk.

I’m really proud of myself, if I’m being honest, which also feels kind of silly. My manuscript isn’t done yet, so even though I filled up a whole notebook, there’s still so much more work to be done. But it does feel a little awesome and not a little satisfying. To be able to flip through the pages and watch the kaleidoscope of different colors from all the various gel pens I managed to burn out whiz past is just… a really cool feeling.


The Weekly Struggle

Which brings me to the main topic today, which isn’t really a struggle per se, more of a realization I came to when I finally closed that notebook for the last time.

Every writer is different. I know that, of course, but yet I somehow hadn’t really internalized it. I would rail at writing tips that offended my own writing style, and yet I still tried to adhere to them, subconsciously or otherwise. I binge listened to Rachael Herron’s excellent podcast How Do You Write, seeking out tips on how to improve my own writing process. Yet, even though each guest would have wildly different ways of getting their work done, I somehow held on to the thought that there is a right way to write.

Despite the fact that I extoled, what I consider to be, the virtues of longhand writing in a blog post dedicated to the subject, drafting this way was almost a secret shame. It is not as fast as typing, and it even creates extra work, as those words you write on the physical page will then have to be transcribed onto the digital one. It’s kind of hippy-ish, and certainly lacks the numerous tools programs like Scrivener offer.

But the truth is, I can get really locked up when I sit down in front of the word processor and see a blank, white screen with the insistently blinking cursor taunting me. For whatever reason, I really can’t pinpoint why, that doesn’t happen to me with a blank page. The tactile feel of the pen and paper, the indentations of writing on each page, the notes scribbled in the margins… taken together it creates something that my brain finds creatively stimulating.

So, what do I take away from all this? It’s simple really: stop trying to force myself into a process that just doesn’t work for me. Embrace the methods that do. Stop looking for things to act over and start enjoying the process a little more.

The feedback I got on Twitter after posting a little video of my completed notebook was honestly incredible. It helped me take pride in my choice of medium in a way I hadn’t before. So, honestly, thank you everyone for that.

I’ve just started my next notebook, another 70-pager. I’ve got my crappy middle-school gel pens all ready to burn out after only four pages. And I’ve got roughly 40,000 more words to write before I can call the first draft of this MS done.

Time to hit it.

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What I’m Reading This Week

I’m still making my way (slowly) through Tree of Ages. My plans with my partner this weekend completely eliminated my reading time. But, I am takings recs for what I should tackle next!


That’s enough rambling for one week. Til next time!

Kerry Share

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Writing While Introverted

Manuscript News

The key word in this blog’s name, and the central theme all around, has been the struggle. I’m not under any illusions that this process was ever going to be, or ever will be, easy. Some people think that talking about your struggles is poor marketing, or that it might damage your “brand” but, hell what do I know? From the very beginning I had decided that I was going to on this journey with anyone who might care to join me. Ups and downs included.

So, to the point. Writing has been especially hard for me lately. It’s entirely psychological, but there it is. I haven’t been able to recapture the magic I feel I had back in November. I’ve tried, as anyone who has read this blog might know already, all sorts of carrots and sticks to spur me back to productivity, and nothing has really stuck.

I can’t be the only one who thinks about their unfinished manuscript with a sense of… contempt, almost. Not at the words themselves, but at the work required to complete the project. I’m in that stage where part of me is wondering, “Why the hell would anyone ever write a book? Why on earth did I even bother trying?”

This phase doesn’t last forever… right?

It’s a good thing I’m too stubborn to give up entirely at this point. Though, I don’t think stubborn is the right word. Self-consciousness is more accurate. The embarrassment if I don’t finish…

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The Weekly Struggle

So, this week I have been struggling to reconcile a facet of my personality with potential events that could prove tremendously helpful in my writing journey, even if they might run afoul of said personality trait.

I am an introvert with social anxiety — that much is an undeniable truth. I prefer to be at home, on my couch and in my jammies, with reruns of Mythbusters playing in the background while I do my writing. I have always been this way, as long as I can remember. I have a few close friends who can pull me from my fortress of solitude on occasion, but my natural inclination to stay homebound coupled with the task of parenting three young children means that the majority of my socializing is done digitally. And I’m fine with that.

However, I’ve been starting to think quite seriously about local writing groups. I see their virtues extoled online and the reality is joining one, at this stage of my infant “career” (are you even legally allowed to use that word if you haven’t finished a MS?), a group can only be a benefit. I live in a sizable metro area and just a quick google search brought up numerous writing groups within a reasonable driving distance. One such group is prolific enough to put on a conference every year (more on that in another post entirely.

Perfect, I thought. And then the anxiety set in.

What if I get turned away because I’m only on my first draft? I find myself wondering. What if I submit for critiques and I cry in front of everyone when given negative feedback? What if I’m on the only genre fiction writer, or worse — what if they don’t even want a genre fiction writer?

And from there I go down the rabbit hole. I make excuses — this group meets on a designated non-writing day so that’s out. This one meets on nights when I have my kids, so can’t do that one. Already had plans to stay home and do nothing on that day, so I guess I’ll skip this monthly meeting.

I know the only way I’ll ever get through this mental paralysis is to, well…

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But, in my experience, getting over that first hump is the hardest part.

My first opportunity to try out a group is this Friday. It’s a weekly write in at a café, which really is perfect because there’s minimal socializing required. It’s all the writing I’m already going to do, just…near other people (there’s the option to chat after the writing hour is up, of course).

I’m trying to battle past the anxiety (what if I show up and no one else is there??) and the excuses (well, my partner and I had tentative plans to play video games that night so…), because I really do think it would be beneficial to get out of the house and rub elbows with other writers.

Fellow writers, if I may ask, what has your experience been with local writing groups?


What I’m Reading This Week

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Tree of Ages, by Sara C Roethle

I’ve had this book in my Kindle library forever, but for whatever reason I only just started it this weekend. And let me tell you, this story has an incredible hook. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. [insert wink emoji]


That’s enough babbling from me for one week. Until next time!

-Kerry Share

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