Stephen King in his famous writing book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, has this to say about his daily word count:
“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”
Wow…that’s a lot of writing!
What about you?
For this month’s IWSG Blog Hop, my question is this: As a writer, should I settle with a “niche”?
I discovered writing by “accident” at the age of eleven, and been writing on and off ever since. In 2007, my first (short) story was published. Now that I’m a full-time homemaker, I write almost every day.
Yet, I haven’t decided which form or genre or niche to settle on.
I’ve dabbled in poetry, screenwriting, essays, journaling/memoir, serial fiction, flash and short stories and have written in almost every genre (except for historical fiction).
What’s my problem?
I enjoy writing all of them.
I’ve been told that I should write whatever my heart and soul desire.
So, why am I so conflicted?
Although I have published many forms of writing but they’ve all been “short” (meaning under 10,000 words), I still have hope to publish a novel one day and that’s my dilemma.
If I write and publish a book in a particular genre, does that mean I’m stuck with that genre in the foreseeable future? Or, can I jump around from one genre to another? My main concern is confusing my readers especially if they enjoy reading only that particular genre and not the others.
Or, perhaps I’m making a huge mountain out of a molehill?
Today we have a very special guest, Jeanne Blasberg, as she tells us a bit about herself and her DEBUT novel!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve kept a journal all my life and have always loved to read. My favorite book as a child was Harriet the Spy. Being an only child who spent a lot of time alone, I got scarily close to emulating Harriet’s spying ways.
My passion is fiction, but my early professional life had me writing business case studies and articles on the retailing industry. My first serious pursuit of creative writing involved memoir and essays based on personal experience, but I always knew I had a book in me.
Once my three children moved out of the house, things got quiet and my mind could slow down. I used that time to write and study the craft. My husband and I also love to travel, and I blog about it on my website. In the last nine months I have been to South Africa, Uganda, Patagonia, the Canadian Rockies, and Iceland.
What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of stories you write?
I have always been fascinated by family dynamics. What is spoken and often unspoken between siblings (which I can only imagine, having always wanted to be a sister) and how bonds strengthen or deteriorate between generations are things I think about.
I have also witnessed (as well as read and thought about) the way behaviours get passed down from generation to generation, especially painful ones such as addictions and secret keeping.
You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.
EDEN is the story of a family matriarch in her late seventies who, after the death of her husband, decides to introduce her family to the daughter she gave up for adoption fifty years earlier. The setting is their grand summer home, built by her industrial tycoon father, in a fancy summer community on the coast of southern Rhode Island. The chapters describing the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, as relatives arrive, and our matriarch prepares to make her announcement, are alternated with chapters revealing the 80-year history of the family. Four generations of women are introduced, each with secrets of their own.
What inspired you to write it?
The idea was born after my husband discovered he had a brother who had been given up for adoption. In getting to know this newly discovered brother and having conversations with him and his wife, I understood something about how the mystery around his birth had been bound to his self-identity. I related to this immediately. The product of a hasty marriage, I was ten years old when I did the math on my fingers to figure out I was a mistake, something a could never quite shake. I never stopped thinking about the different choices our mothers had (or didn’t have) and also the residual effect on the children.
How do you get into the minds of your characters?
I spend time meditating or quieting my mind and then I think about the scene I am writing until I just know how a character would react. Sometimes, I get it wrong and in the editing process I think “no, no, no, that’s not quite right.” My characters are evolving and so getting it right sometimes requires writing an entire first draft and then going back to refine them. I understand my characters so much better when I know the ending.
I often think about my characters when I’m out in the world. I might notice a woman’s clothes and think that is something Becca would wear. Or overhear a conversation and think that is something Camilla would say.
In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing female writers today?
Maybe the same obstacles face men as well as women, I’m not sure. I am a debut author and don’t feel I have a very knowledgeable opinion on this topic. But the one thing I have noticed in the process of launching EDEN is that there are a lot of books being released each season and there are a lot in the genre I am writing…. By Women For Women. Is the obstacle one of continually feeling relevant and original? I have found the communities of women authors that I have become a part of to be extremely helpful and supportive. So whatever issues we have as a gender, there is a big movement around taking them on!
Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?
Here are 5 good writing tips for a satisfying writing life:
1) Consistent routine, for 8 out of 10 people morning energy is best – take advantage of that time and don’t give it away
2) Meditate – unclutter the mind
3) Find a community of writers and hold each other accountable
4) Be generous – with yourself and others
5) good writing has a lot to do with intuition – trust it
Synopsis of the book: “Becca Meister Fitzpatrick―wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community―is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition . . . until she discovers her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up fifty years ago. The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel―with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship―will react.”
Jeanne can be found at the following sites:
March IWSG Day Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?
Over the years, I’ve written several stories (both short and book-length), and for various reasons, I set them to one side never to go back to them.
Voices of one of those abandoned projects begin to cry out to me…
Please tell my story.
Complete me so I can rest in peace.
Finish what you’ve started so that the world may know what happened.
Someone somewhere need to hear this.
Come back to me.
Eventually, I give in.
I have to.
These voices give me no choice; just an ultimatum.
Write, or completely lose my mind.
Or, my soul.
Both are bad in my opinion.
Choosing which one to pick up and continue.
How should this particular story end?
Especially since I may not have set eyes on it for a number of years. I find that I have to get to know the character(s) all over again (which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing). I enjoy rediscoveries. Sometimes I look at a story and ask myself-what was I thinking of when I wrote this? Was I possibly possessed????
Nah, someone else wrote this one. Couldn’t be me.
Then slowly, the memories return as well as the excitement.
I pick up the pen, and begin once more.
*To answer the question above…I am currently working on an old story with the hope of one day finding a “home” for it.
There is a new serial fiction in town!
This idea pretty much tortured me for well over a year, and I figured the holiday season was a good time to start it. It’s mainly a fantasy story, but it also has zombies, werewolves, elves, and other magical creatures. And yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus but that particular aspect of the story will be unlike the one we now have in this world.
Not Your Usual Christmas Story
Early next year, I plan to create a “book” trailer so stay tuned for that!
Samantha Dunham lost everything, her husband and her young son, to a virulent pandemic that’s sweeping the world.
Struggling to find the will to survive, she finds herself swept up with a small group of survivors made up of mostly children who have been placed in her charge. Along with Lieutenant Lance Shirley, they all will soon find themselves journeying to another realm that will prove to be fantastical as well as terrifying.
The question for December: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?
Wow, my first month with the group and they just had to ask this question. What is a writing career? I have always considered a career as something you get paid for while you pursue a passion or an occupational path which leads to promotions and higher pay grades.
I have hung up that “hat” in January 2015. You see, I have a progressive disability called Usher Syndrome (where I’m slowly losing my vision coupled with moderate hearing loss); and because of this, I “retired” and went on Social Security. And because I receive the SS disability benefits, I’m not to earn an income.
I’m only 45.
And believe me, I still have lots to live for!
So, back to the question.
In order to clear my conscience and help me figure out my answer, I consulted a dictionary and here what it had to say about the word, career:
Hmm, still having trouble with applying this word to my situation. Let’s see what else I can find.
“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”-Maya Angelou
That’s it! A writing career to me isn’t about “making a living” but “making a life.”
Now that I’m feeling better about things, let’s move on.
For the first part of the question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now?
Though I’ve been regularly writing and publishing (short stuff) since 2007, I still haven’t found that niche. I desire to have a book of some sort traditionally published in five years, but whether it’ll be the fiction or nonfiction sort, I haven’t a clue. I have dabbled in all forms and nearly all genres, and I’m still in the dark.
Does this mean I should try to be one of those multi-genre/format kind of writer?
Or, should I continue to try and narrow down the area or areas of “expertise” for myself?
I’m starting to wonder if maybe I need to find a mentor to help guide me on this journey.
Sheesh, I’m all over the place. See what you did, IWSG? 😉
On to the second part of the question: what’s your plan to get there?
At this juncture, I plan to continue what I’m currently doing: craft the kind of fictional stories that I’d want to read, and then find a home for them; plus write micropoems and essays about my various life experiences (have been dealt with a lot of losses that I’m still trying to work through).
Survived this one.
What about you? Where do you see yourself, as a writer, in five years?
I have two questions for those who have had their works self-published.
- Which self-publishing company or service would you recommend, and why?
- Which ones should I stay away from?
Many thanks for your kind help!
Why do I take part in NaNoWriMo each year?
- Gets my butt in gear (er, in the chair) and fingers moving
- By announcing to the world (aka twitter-verse or Facebook-world or even on my blog) that I’m doing this thing actually makes me feel liable to my followers/subscribers to at least ATTEMPT to reach the end-goal
- If I don’t WIN, heck I’d at least feel productive that I’ve done something with an idea
- It’s not about the quality, but physically PUTTING the words down (many famous writers have said that the first draft will always be crappy, but you won’t have a draft if you don’t do anything about a story that relentlessly keeps you up at nights)
- Mainly I do it because I’m a crazy writer who likes to torture herself with an insane deadline (for instance, 50,000 words in 30 days or less)
What about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, why do you do it?
Like many of my fellow writers, I am participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) all this month so the postings here may be a bit erratic. I’d like to apologize ahead of time.
As some of you may already know, I’ve been writing a serial fiction, Tomorrow Falls, for the past year. Part one initially posted as a novella with Juke Pop Serials (and was selected to be one of the top 25 Summer Writing Projects), and is now currently running in a serialized format with Piker Press. I intend to use NaNo to write Part two.
Instead of describing what this story is about, I created a short trailer:
If you have a trailer, feel free to share on the Facebook page for this blog (or in the comment section below) so we may watch it!
I’ve had it pretty easy in my writing life. Grammar and syntax come naturally to me. I had great English teachers who praised my creativity and encouraged me. My mother was a reader who indoctrinated me early in the joys of fiction, with the help of a great library. No one suggested that writing wasn’t a good career choice, or that I needed to be more practical. I’ve had support out the wazoo.
So far as a crucible to forge a writer in, my childhood was a good one.
Many writers have had more to overcome—unsupportive or outright abusive families, second languages, mental health issues, political persecution. All that is to say that I know I have very #firstworldproblems when it comes to my writing life.
See, I was always going to be a writer. Ask people who knew me in first grade. It’s always been on my agenda. An assumption, like being a mom and a teacher. A given.
As I grew up, I used to talk about writing a lot. I’d get all dreamy and imagine my future career as a world-famous novelist. But it was always a hazy dream, filmed through Vaseline so you couldn’t see the harder realities of it: the actual work. It was “someday.”
But I wasn’t doing anything to make it happen.
Sure, I wrote. Once in a while. When I felt inspired. When I was in the mood, or when one of my ideas was just so tenacious there was no escaping it. But I didn’t take myself seriously as a writer, and neither did anyone else. Why would they? It was like I thought some big publisher was going to somehow just find me and pay me to write without my ever having proven I could even do it. A fantasy discovery scenario. Not a career plan.
Then, I was turning 42, which Douglas Adams taught us is the answer to life, the universe and everything. It was my crisis moment. I told myself it was time to give writing a serious attempt. There was a lot less “someday” left than there once was.
The obstacles in my writing life were all internal. Setting priorities, finding focus, making time. I was my own worst enemy, putting my own dream last on the list of things I would spend my days and hours and years on.
That’s when I committed to a daily writing habit. It was a game-changer for me.
It was harder than that might seem. At age 42, I was in the middle of a teaching career and a marriage. I was parenting two daughters and a dog, maintaining a house and household, fighting the battle of the bulge, and trying to have some kind of social life. There were a lot of pulls on my time. And I’d made a habit of many years of giving my time away.
But, I started to insist on writing time. Slowly, over the course of a few months, I renegotiated my contract with life, and made sure there was room in it for writing. I gave up things that I could: television, social opportunities that I didn’t want badly. My initial goal was 250 words per day. Just one page. And I struggled to put down that many words. It took me two or three hours some nights. It was hard and frustrating.
But I am stubborn. And it got easier. Soon, I could write 250 words in half an hour. I learned that the words didn’t have to all be keepers. That sometimes, I had to write garbage to get it out and get to the good stuff underneath. I learned that if I could just get something on the page, I’d be able to make it better in the next pass, but that I had to give myself something to work with.
Now, I can’t imagine a day without writing. I write somewhere between 800 and 4,000 words a day, depending on other life demands. A day when I only write 250 words is a day that was full of lots of other life—parties, sickness, travel, or something—and a decision I made about my use of time.
My family notices when I haven’t written. They see me getting grumpy and say, “Hey Mom, did you write yet today?” the way other families might suggest you get a sandwich, take a nap, or take your meds. It’s that important to my equilibrium.
And because I’m writing every day, I’m getting better at it. I have flow. I’m finishing things, revising and polishing and publishing things. People are reading them. Some people even like them. This summer, I sent my third novel off to my publisher. I get to say things like “my publisher.”
So all this is to say, if you want to be a writer, you’ll have to write. Look at your life. Figure out what’s in your way (even if it’s only you that’s in your own way). And find your way around those obstacles. You can’t ever get there if you don’t start the journey. And it’s quite a trip!
Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. You can find her Menopausal Superhero series from Curiosity Quills on Amazon, or request it at your favorite independent (or big box) bookstore. You can find her online on her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+, and now on Tumblr.
Hey-you made it! It’s Friday! Time for a little fun 🙂
Have you ever thought of what your motto and mantra are as a writer? These are great to have for those days when nothing seems clear-cut, and you feel like you’re wandering around in perpetual circles.
In case you may have forgotten, we’ll clarify exactly what these mean. On to the dictionary shall we?
Motto: “a sentence, phrase, or word expressing the spirit or purpose of a person (in this case, writer).”
Mantra: “ ‘
Okay, I’ll start off.
My motto is:
This pretty much sums up my purpose in being a writer: to get this all-consuming gnawing out of me. Only thing, this gnawing encompasses so many different things which means this may take me a lifetime to extract. Truly agonizing (at least for me it is).
My mantra is:
“You must write the book that you feel is missing from your bookshelf.”-Elizabeth Gilbert
There are many versions of this type of statement. If you don’t see the story you want to read, write it!
Now, it’s your turn. Write a post about what your motto and mantra are and share the link to the post in the comment section below. I will then come and visit!
Some of you may know that I’ve been writing a serial fiction over at Juke Pop Serials called Tomorrow Falls. I entered TF in to the SWP16 (Summer Writing Project) contest sponsored by both Juke Pop Serials and 1888 Center, and on July 1st, TF was among the top 25 selected as finalists for the next round!
What does this mean?
Throughout the month of July, the top 25 writers selected will be participating in a series of events, essays, and podcast episodes as well as workshopping and promoting our stories. On August 1st, the story with the highest participation by its readers (how many hits the story generates, the time spent reading each chapter, etc.) will be selected to be published.
Throughout this month, please share this link with your readers to help me promote Tomorrow Falls. I will be posting some of the items I’m participating in throughout the month as well (interview, essays, etc.).
(*Note: For all 25 of us, our stories are WIP meaning we will also be tasked with editing/revising over the course of the month as well.)
In the END there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.
In a matter of days, Tess’ world became nightmarish. Something was unleashed that turned people into hideous, blood-thirsty creatures. She soon became the hunted as she fled the only home she ever knew in search of a safe haven.
Beck has always been running from something. Until he met Tess. He knew if she ever found out about some of his past sins, he feared she would never forgive him.
Can they survive what’s to come, together? Or, will they be ripped apart by past secrets that could ultimately doomed mankind?
In Gabriela Pereira’s upcoming book, DIY MFA, she debunks the following 5 creativity myths:
- Creativity is an exclusive club, and you can’t be part of it.
- Creativity is innate–you either have it or you don’t.
- Creativity is driven by chaos, so there’s no way to control it.
- Creativity is all about getting that one “Big Idea.”
- Creativity is focusing on an idea until it’s perfect.
#5 resonates most with me. I’m a perfectionist in pretty much all things. You’d think this would make me a “master” of anything I attempt.
Instead, I rarely follow through or finish anything because I am a perfectionist.
If I can’t get it right in my first attempt, it gets discarded or set aside permanently. I kept comparing myself to the successful writers (JK Rowling, Stephen King and Madeleine L’Engle for examples) which made things even worse for me. I found that not only I couldn’t finish what I started, I couldn’t even get started on anything!
For a long time, I thought that perhaps I wasn’t meant to be a writer because I had no skills or talent for it.
Then, I began to study the history of these writers more closely.
It took JK Rowling about five years to write the first book of Harry Potter. This manuscript was rejected twelve times before being accepted.
Stephen King threw his first manuscript, Carrie, in the trash because he wasn’t happy with its progress. It wasn’t good enough. Tabitha, his wife, retrieved it and encouraged him to not give up on it. To finish it. God bless that woman.
Madeleine L’Engle was very shy and introverted as a girl; so much so, many deemed her as “stupid.” So, she reverted to imaginary friends and worlds. Writing grew out of this. With very few publications under her belt, she faced rejection time and time again. Eventually, at the age of 40, she decided to give up on writing altogether. However, the inner voice wouldn’t let her do it. She would write A Wrinkle in Time which would ultimately be rejected more than thirty times before being published.
Wow…these writers weren’t perfect. They didn’t happen upon success over night.
No, success came slow and hard for each of them.
Anne Lamott summed it up best for me:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”
Oh, this rang true and clear for me! Other than the fact that I am a bit on the crazy side, I don’t relish the thought of being miserable for the rest of my life. I’d rather write than NOT. I also began to realize that just about every successful writer out there had to work hard in their craft to get where they are.
Which means that there is no such thing as being “perfect.” Just lots and lots of practice.
Do any of the creativity myths listed above resonate with you?