5 Things About NaNoWriMo Week 2

Week two is over, and we are halfway through.  I would like to say I am halfway through my word count as well, but, well, I’m not.  Sigh.

1. This is harder than I thought.

I knew this was not going to be easy.  To write 50,000 words in 30 days requires an average of 1667, which is higher than my current average. This is the kind of daily word count that I knew would require focus and no days off. The no days off is a real killer as I usually don’t write much on the weekends.  This is a combination of family time, errands, and homework time.  I always get the required number of words on the weekend, it’s just not usually within the confines of my novel and unfortunately homework and blog post words do not count.

2. My writing schedule needs work.

Writing from home, much like working from home, requires discipline.  You have to be able to block everything out and just do what needs to be done.  I feel like this would be much easier if I had someone here to cook, clean, move laundry, grocery shop, go to the gym, organize, stress out, and worry for me.  Since that does not work, I need to find a better balance of work/school/family/home.  Everything seems to want every minute and it gets to be a lot.  I guess I am just not great at multi-tasking.

3. I am trying to take part in social media.

I like these big global events, and I am trying to actually be a part of the bigger conversation.  I’ve tweeted a few times about my NaNoWriMo experience, and I am trying to occasionally respond or show support of others.  It is difficult because there feels like an obligation of reciprocity; if someone comments or favorites or anything I put out there, I feel like I must find others to support too.  It is wonderful to be supported and support others, but it is another drain on my time.

On a strange note, it also brought me slightly to the attention of an actual corporation, but I’m not sure how.  I ran out of red vines, (a tragedy I know) and tweeted a comment that I did not have enough red vines for this. Someone commented, I commented back.  Whatever.  A couple hours later red vines retweeted my comment.  I felt like I had been tracked down by the man.  I didn’t tag red vines, or hashtag   them, they just found me.  Don’t ever doubt Big Brother people.

4. I am not sure I am going to make it.

When you start to fall behind, it is really hard to catch up.  The first two days of this combined I managed to get one days worth of writing in, meaning I started out about 1600 words behind the goal.  In order to catch up, I now have to write even more every day.  I’m writing faster and occasionally better than I have been in the past, but I am still not hitting word counts as high as I should be.  To catch up, I need to have at least a week of 2,000 words a day, a goal that has so far eluded me.  I have come close, getting as close as 1,939 before burning out for the day, but I can’t seem to break it.  Not only have I not broke that word count, I have had hard days where get no where near as much as I should. Usually these days are busy, but illness has also been a factor (thank you migraine for the 338 word day).

I know that technically the word count is subjective.  My book should be exactly as long as it takes to tell a story, and any longer or shorter is taking away from the power of the story.  I could still make it, as I am around the halfway mark in my story outline, even if I am not at the halfway mark in my word count.  Additionally, editing usually cuts words.  If I am below my word count right now, maybe I am leaving out things I would be cutting later.  The integrity of the story should come first, not the number of words.

I still wish I was on goal as far a numbers.

5. My family is very supportive.

I have stressed out, complained, posted my numbers on a white board by my desk, written a lot, refused to talk about my story, and felt as though I was close to a mental breakdown while trying to keep up with everything.  No one has done more than tell me I am doing great and should keep going.  This either means they are very supportive, or I am normally so crazy they haven’t even registered a change.  Either way, it is nice to hear kind words of encouragement, reminding me I am doing great, anything I get written this month is impressive, and that it is okay if I don’t make it.

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Art

Sometimes there seems to be a convergence of information; ideas come together, each feeding each other, and becoming more than they were to begin with.  The connection can be obvious, or not, depending on who is noticing, and what is being noticed.  For me, these current small events coming together seems like an obvious connection, but I would not expect everyone to see it.

It started with an article on another person’s blog.  It wasn’t a big deal piece, nothing meant to be controversial (and I don’t think it technically was).  The article simply caught my eye because the blogger was discussing reading more books lately, partially due to their subscription to the service, Oyster.  This excited me, as it was essentially a Netflix for books; pay a subscription fee and have access to a large collection of digital books.  I had been wanting something like this for a long time.  Yes, I know, many other people call this service a library, but for a person such as myself with a pitiful local library, I was willing to pay for a better option.

As excited as I was to have this service as a consumer, I could not help but wonder how this service is for the writers.  Are they paid per read, or a one time book purchase?  Does allowing their book to be on a service like this help them by allowing them to reach a larger audience, or does it hurt them by keeping their work from producing a paycheck, therefore making it more difficult to earn a living from their writing?  Does it matter?  I mean, it’s not like libraries have killed the book business; this shouldn’t be any different.

It was almost just a passing thought.  I am working towards joining the ranks of published authors, so I think about these things now.  I wonder how my behavior as a consumer effects the producers.  And yes, sometimes I wonder if my opinion on these things will bar me from entering the elite ranks.  It doesn’t always change my opinion, but I think about it.

So I wondered about it, made a note to research it a bit, and signed up for the free trial which would allow me to see their collection of works.

A week or two later I caught notice of a large hullabaloo involving Taylor Swift removing her music from spotify.  My caring about this technically makes no sense.  I’m not really a fan of Taylor Swift; nothing personal, she’s just not my style.  I’m more suited to the SNL commercial then anything else.  Additionally, I have never listened to spotify; I hadn’t even heard of it before this.  So why do I care?  A musician I don’t listen to on a service I don’t use?  I care because her reason for doing so fascinated me.

Now there are a lot of different reasons available on the internet as to what contributed to this, everything from flat out money issues, to the potential for fans to be embarrassed about buying an album.  If you do a search, I’m sure you can find many reasons and pick your favorite.  However the first reason I found (linked above) targeted an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal discussing her opinion on art and compensation.  Simply put, her music is her art, and giving her art away for free undervalues both her and her product.

I’ll be honest.  Not being a spotify user, I don’t totally understand the idea of this service being equal to giving away her music.  From my understanding, it is similar to other services I have used, Pandora and Jango, but with a little more control over how often you listen to a specific artist or which songs to listen to.  Using these types of music services in the way I do, free access with occasional ads, does not feel like it is taking away the paycheck of the artist.  To me it feels the same as when I was younger, listening to the radio and hoping to hear my favorite songs.  If I like something enough, I’ll spend money to hear it whenever I want to, but most songs I am good hearing on the radio only.  Does this mean I am undervaluing art?

What is art?

Yes, art is rare and unique.  You and I could try to make the same thing, but it would not work.  We would end up with one of two results; either we would have similar items or one of us would have an original while the other made a copy.  Whatever an artist does is unique not only because of the vision they used to create it, but because they are the only person who could create that exact piece.

Of course, using this as the only definition, the sandwich I made for lunch yesterday could be considered art.  It was my own vision, and no matter how many people in the world choose to combine tuna and avocado in an open faced sandwich, this one is unique because it was made by me.  Additionally, because I do not make sandwiches for mass consumption, sandwiches made by me are quite rare.

Now, the sandwich was good, but I would not call it a work of art.  It wasn’t that good.  So what is art?

I would absolutely consider music to be art, but I don’t feel it is more beautiful simply because I pay for it.  The beauty of the music comes from it’s ability to express or invoke a feeling, particularly one I had thought was unique.

Of course, paintings and sculptures are art.  I have stood inside the Sistine Chapel and while it was beautiful, it was no more beautiful than when I had seen it on the internet.  In fact, I could easily argue the images I have seen elsewhere were better; I could zoom in on details and look for as long as I wanted without the pushing and body odor of other tourists.  I was moved to stand and appreciate the Venus de Milo, but that does not mean that all other images of her lose their beauty.

Writing is absolutely an art.  When the words are right they are magic.  It is more than just the beauty of the right words; you are transported.  No one else can tell the same story, and it does not matter what the format the story takes.  Digital, paperback, first edition; the words are the same.

For me the art is not in the creation, it is in the sharing.  I love the art of others because it allows me to not only see a part of myself laid out, but a part of the artist.  It is the beauty of what is inside us all, even when we do not realize we share these qualities.  We think we are one individual until another shows us how much we are alike.

Art is not meant to be hidden away, it is meant to be free for everyone to enjoy.  Yes an artist has a right to make a living, but without sharing, are you really an artist?  The creation should not be done because you need a paycheck; that is business.  Creation of art comes because it must happen.  You write the song because your soul is singing.  You carve the sculpture because the angel is screaming inside the marble to come out.  You paint because the picture belongs on the canvas.  You write the story because you must tell the tale.  You sell the art because you need to live, but you create the art because it makes you alive.

Does this mean it is wrong to value your art based on what someone is willing to pay for it?  Maybe, but then again, maybe not.  It is your art, a piece of you, not me.  You have the right to make artistic choices, just as I have the right to make my own artistic choices.  For you, you might need the paycheck to feel appreciated; right now I just want to be read.

So thank you, for reading.

NaNoWriMo!! Week One

So, I don’t want to overpower everyone with my NaNoWriMo tales, but I am excited, so I have to talk about it, at least a little.

First, no I am not going to share my NaNoWriMo story here, at least not now.  Maybe when it is done, but I don’t usually let anyone read a work in progress.

Second, I am torn as to whether or not I am currently successfully completing my word counts.  The official goal, according to the NaNoWriMo website, is 50,000 words.  As of last night, the end of day seven, I had hit 10,026 words; according to their finish on time chart I should have written 11,666 words.  I have hit my word goal three days in the past week, with the worst day being day one, and the best day being yesterday.  It feels like a very brutal pace, but this may be because I am coming off of a slump and pushing to get a lot done.  I have heard that writing is a marathon, not a sprint, but this is definitely a world class runner speed marathon, not my slow, mostly walking pace.

No matter the pain, I am making progress.  I am currently on Chapter 9, though I am technically working on chapter 8, as I accidentally began a scene early and went back to write the previous one.  I have a few notes for revisions to make already, and I have added a few things in the spur of the moment that just felt right and I think I like them.

Third, I feel like the writing might be taking over my life.  Many things are being neglected, from cleaning to running as I push to get enough words in.  I am still a little bit of a space cadet when I sit to write, and I am having trouble focusing.  I think if I can get that under control, and be able to sit and write when it is time to write, I will get my life back.

Finally, and most importantly I think I am learning a little about my writing. I wanted to do this to prove I can, and I am getting it done.  But I am learning too.  For example, I didn’t know how much I shape my characters as I go.  I knew what was going to happen, and who was going to interact with who, but as I have worked, the characters have begun to represent something to me.  They are finding ways to speak about something more than just the silly plot I had worked out.

I am also realizing I rely too much on dialogue to get my point across.  I am writing from a first person perspective, and am trying not to have the entire view of the other characters come from this one persons thoughts, as well as trying to avoid spending too much time describing the mundane actions one does while speaking. Cutting a lot of this out, and letting the interactions speak for themselves seems to leave, well, a lot of speaking.  I can’t decide if it is a normal amount of dialogue for a YA book or not. This may be another point for revision later.

Oh well.  I have word counts to catch, and a weekend to live.  If I want to avoid spending the entire day on my butt in front of the computer, again, I should get a wiggle on.

Happy Writing NaNoWriMo-ers!

5 Ways I am Preparing for NaNoWriMo

I am super excited for National Novel Writing Month, starting in less than a week.  I have never tried anything like this before, and I am hoping for, nay, demanding my success.  I know not everyone finishes, and most people end up with work that will require major editing, but I am still remaining hopeful as I prepare.

There are a lot of articles out there right now, teaching people how to prepare for NaNoWriMo.  They talk about time management, outlining, story planning, all sorts of funny little details.  Some of these I am listening to, but not all of them.  After all, they won’t all work for everyone. Here are five things I am doing to prepare.

1. Have a plan.

I am getting ready for this, and I am trying to do this properly.  I know the story I am going to write.  I have an outline, with some scene details where I have them ready.  I am not going in blind, I am planning to follow a map.

2. Schedule writing time.

Life can get busy.  If the writing time is not respected everyday, the words will not be written.   They always tell you if you are trying to workout, write it in your schedule like an appointment.  Just like anything else, you promise to be there, and you show up.  My writing will be the same way; I am making an appointment for my writing time, and I intend to keep it.

3. Clean up.

To get all of my writing done this month, I will need to be focused.  So, the next week will need to be spent cleaning out the other projects on my list.  Beta reading, homework; anything I can get ahead on I need to do, so that I can have the time I need later.

4. Anticipate issues.

You can’t necessarily fix everything, in either the story or your life.  I can however look at my life in the next few weeks and see what will make things easier.  I know when my kids will be out of school, and when I have appointments.  Those times will not be a free pass to goof off and not get my writing done.  Instead, I can look at those moments and plan around them, not letting myself waste anytime.

5. Write!

No matter what I do, the only thing that will get me through NaNoWriMo will be sitting down and writing.  I can plan everything, anticipate everything, but if I do not actually do the writing, it is all for nothing.  By this time next week, I plan to be neck deep in a story, bringing it out, and hopefully making it mean something.

NaNoWriMo!!!

October is moving along, already almost half over.  For writers around the world that means one thing. NaNoWriMo is almost here!

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month, the yearly challenge for writers to stop making excuses, sit down, and just write.

The most common piece of writing advice I have heard is to stop talking about writing, and start writing.  Not only is this the most common piece of advice, but it is the most practical.  I can talk, and I can plan, and I can dream, but if I never put the work in it will never matter.

I’ll be honest, I have never done NaNoWriMo.  Last year was the first I had heard of this event and I wasn’t exactly sure how it worked.  I tried to use it as a push to finish a novel I had already started and it didn’t work out.  Long story short, that novel is still not finished.

This year I am determined to make it work for two reasons.  The first reason, is NaNoWriMo is fun to say, and fun to do.  I love to write, and I need the push.  The second reason is to complete my yearly writing goal.

I gave myself a goal to finish three manuscripts this year.  In January that seemed easy.  I had two that were sitting at 100 pages, and what felt like an abundance of ideas.  Now, halfway through October I still have those two 100 page manuscripts, as well as a third 100 pager, and one that I finally finished.  I need more than just November to be NaNoWriMo in my house; it’s looking like December is going to be one too.

Last year was a disaster, but this year I am going in prepared.  I have spent weeks preparing my outlines, thinking about the characters, plotting the scenes.  I have a plan, and I plan to succeed!

I might be getting a little excited here.   Or perhaps this is the beginning I need.

Let’s go NaNoWriMo!

Being Original

Today is a great day, which means I am willing to share something not so great.

Over the weekend, my husband decided that he was not going to wait until February to buy me a graduation present.  Since I spend so much of my time working on my computer, which was slowly inching closer to death, he decided we would drive 2 1/2 hours to buy me a nice new one.

It’s amazing.  The battery lasts longer a half hour, the internet does not randomly disconnect, and I have not yet had the system turn off while I was in the middle of working.  Sure, there are a few quirks to get used to, such as a different keyboard making me constantly misspell words, but overall I am very happy now.  I almost look forward to doing my homework because it means I get to play with my new toy longer.

All right.  I spent a minute bragging, now it is time to even out the universe.

The more I dive into the world of writing, hoping to one day be able to turn it into something that could be considered a career, the more I am forced to put myself out there. I know it is strange, but if I expect others to read my work, I need to let them actually READ my work. I have to open myself to critique and be willing to listen and actually consider their words in my future work.

Critique is one of my least favorite parts of the creative world. I know many people tolerate it, and some even love it, but I am one who hates it.  So much of myself is put into my writing, it is hard not to take it a little personally when someone insults it.  I’m working on it, but I am who I am.

As part of working on my hatred of critique, I have begun working on beta reading for another author, hoping that being the one responsible for giving the tough love will help me accept both perspectives.  Giving the critique is not easy either, and it shouldn’t be expected to always be what a person wants to hear.

The other large part of my working on my issues, is learning to share some of the critique and accepting not only that is was said, but also looking for elements of truth in the commentary.  I’m not going to share every piece of criticism I receive, because I expect to receive quite a bit over time.  Instead I thought I would share the worst thing that anyone has said about my writing.

A few months ago, I decided to work on my short story writing a little.  I know it may come as a surprise, but I tend to be a bit wordy, making short stories a difficulty for me.  It was a weakness I wanted to work on, so I put myself out there a little, wrote something up and put it into an online group to get a little feedback.  The first comment told me my story was ‘not very original.’  They then went on to say my topic had been done many times, in very similar ways, and there was nothing special about this particular story to make it stand out.

Now I might be taking it  little personally, but I have to say I think ‘not very original’ is perhaps the worst insult that can be given to a creative work.  If they had said derivative, I might have been able to take that in a constructive manner as it is possible I meant to make others think of specific other works.  To say not original instead implies that the author is incapable of thinking of something new or creative.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect every idea I ever have to be the most brilliant I have ever had, or to be completely incomparable to anything else.  There are 7 billion people on the Earth; it is reasonable to assume that at least one of them has had an idea similar to mine, and perhaps they might even do it much better than I could. However to not only say something is not original and them tear apart additional elements of the work is going a bit far for basic critique.

(Insert calming breaths.)

Sorry.  I know I am taking it personally again.  I had to wait a while to write about this one, and apparently I am still not calm and rational about it.  This critique hits hard, partly because it feels personal, but also because it is not constructive.  Telling someone their idea is not original, or any other general statement of quality, is simply stating you don’t like it.  There is no suggestions for how to make it better, which means it is not actually helpful.  Now if they had said ‘your idea is similar to many others, perhaps you could change something in the way you tell it’ or anything else, it would have turned into constructive criticism.

I know, I know, I am starting to get worked up again.

So, now it is time to make me feel better.  What is the comment you have heard (to you or someone else) that got to you?

To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish

I have once again hit that point; a story has been finished, edited, beta read, and edited again.  It is time to make a decision, to either put it away in the dark to never be heard from again, or bring it out and work on publishing.

This is not the first time I have done this.  Last time, I went through the process of putting myself out there, only to realize I was not quite as ready as I thought.  I’ve attempted to learn from my mistakes.  Not only did I ask for more advice and editing notes, but I actually took them into consideration, even when they were not what I wanted to hear. I am working to not underestimate the advice of others who have been down this road, either successfully or unsuccessfully.  I’m working on my research, targeting goals, and basically just trying to get it right this time.

I have also been dragging my feet. 

I know in retrospect my last attempt was riddled with problems that come from inexperience.  Anything great that might have come from my original attempts, would have been the product of extreme luck. Knowing what went wrong does not make it any easier to consider the possibility of going through the fear and rejection process again.  And I know, it might be different this time, but I used a lot of hope on the first time around; I don’t have as much as I should this time.

Before beginning the potentially soul crushing process again, I have been considering my options. 

My hopes have so far rested on the possibilities of signing with a talented and well connected literary agent, who will then sell my book to a large publishing house, who will naturally push my book hard and help me to become successful.  I had not counted out the possibility of self-publishing, it was more of a back up plan to. 

The more I learn, the more I realize that both options are difficult, and neither necessarily fits within my dreams. First of all, signing to an agent is difficult.  I could attempt to bypass the agent, however publishing houses are not necessarily any easier to sign with, particularly without an agent.  I have also learned how much of the help I thought might come standard is unlikely to happen.  It is not that agents and publishers don’t want their authors to be successful, but the bottom line is simple; they have many authors, and spend their money where they think they will get it back.  They are the business side, and they must think that way.  Publishing with a large publishing house will require a lot of skills I do not currently possess.

Of course, self publishing requires even more work.  I have complete freedom over my choices, both creative and business.  I could have my novel out tomorrow, and another one out the day after that if I could write fast enough.  Everything I want to do, I can choose to do.  However, I am completely responsible for the editing, formatting, promoting, well, the everything.  The entire success or failure of the novel would rest on me and me alone.  It’s just a bit of pressure.  Additionally, messing up a self publishing debut, could kill a career in both self and traditional publishing. 

I continue to do my research on both sides, but unfortunately there are very few well researched and informative articles that give a honest and fair portrayal of both sides.  Self published authors often discuss how their way is the future of publishing and even attempting any other options makes you archaic and boring.  Established, traditionally published authors might talk about how all authors need the support of an agent and publishing house to be successful, and their success does speak a little to their expertise.  While both sides make incredibly skewed arguments, they also make valid points.  Self publishing opens writing up to those who are the creative force behind the business; without writers, there is nothing to publish.  However traditional publishing lends support and knowledge about the business to those who either have no experience, or don’t have the time to both write and do the entire work of a large publishing house.  I know I don’t have enough time to do everyone else’s job, not if I expect to do anyone’s job well.  Authors need the experience professional agents and publishers bring to the table.

So what does this mean for my current novel?  I have no idea.  I guess I can only do what I can do; look for help, but not give up on my dream, even if I end up doing it alone.

A Writer

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I’ve had a few off weeks, weeks where I have hardly had a desire to write.  I know the stories are still there, I just seem to have lost my way of getting them out into the world.  I’m in between steps in my writing currently.  I can’t bring myself to finish what has been started, to edit what has been finished, or to send off what has been edited.  I am lost in everything I want to be, everything I could be, and everything I feel I should be, I am losing who and where I am right now.  Then, as I searched for some inspiration to write a post today, I found this reminder.  If I want to think of myself as a writer I have one fundamental action to perform; I must write, not just think about writing.

End of Story

Every now and then I am reminded how entirely new I am to the writing community.  Sure, I have been writing on my own for years, and have spent the last two years at home focused on writing, but I have not spent much time reaching out and connecting with other writers.  Now that I am branching out, I am learning there are controversies that had not even vaguely entered my realm of awareness.  It is almost frightening, knowing these issues are out there, because occasionally I am quite viciously attacked for something I was not aware was a breach of writing protocol.  (Though I should note, most people are rather polite in their corrections.)

One of these recent missteps of mine came during a read through.  Several writers are submitting an opening chapter, and giving each other notes, something I am sure is a regular occurrence around the world.  I typed my chapter, sent it in, and waited for my notes.  The first note I received was a very adamant, almost angry comment that I should NEVER put two spaces after a period.

This surprised me.  From my very first typing class (on a computer) my teacher was very clear that you always put two spaces after ending a sentence.  I’m not sure if they ever really told us why, it was just what you do, and just like any other writing or grammar rule, we did it because we were told to.  Now after over twenty years of typing, double tapping my space bar at the end of a sentence is so ingrained I don’t even notice I do it anymore.  It has become almost as automatic as capitalizing the first word of a sentence, or hitting the tab key for paragraph beginnings.  To suddenly hear it was wrong, shocked me, and naturally sent me into a research frenzy.

As soon as my husband came home, I asked him how many spaces he thought were correct and received the same answer I had been taught, two spaces.  When my daughter, currently in middle school came home I asked her the same thing and was told ‘I don’t know.  Nobody cares, one I guess?”  Apparently she was spared the typing teacher who cared enough to make you redo the entire thing, even if you could have just gone through and added spaces.  So far, it looked like it might have been a simple result of a generation gap.  I don’t consider myself excessively old yet, but at some point between my education and my daughter’s education, they changed the rule.

While my family was there to answer my immediate questions, they were not exactly experts on the argument.  I took to the internet, and began searching.  I wasn’t certain I would find the answer, but I knew I would find angry people who were certain they were right.  At least I would walk away with both sides of the argument.

One of the first articles I found was written by a person who was clear that two spaces is wrong. Seriously, I didn’t know the space bar could elicit such an emotional response, but this person knew one space was right, and everyone else needs to keep up with society. Anyone who dares to use double spacing is, in the author’s eyes, amateurish and ignorant. While they were definitely wrong about it being an inarguable point, since there was clearly an argument, it gave me a little insight into the point of view. Writers Digest and a person known as Grammar Girl seemed to agree, even giving the same story.

According to these sources, the double space rule came from the early use of typewriters where all letters were given the same amount of space no matter their size, known as monospaced type. The double space rule was done, to account for the way the letters looked on the page and give a break between sentences. However, it is argued now, with the use of many different computer fonts, which offer proportional typesetting giving each letter space based on size, there is no longer a need for the second space. Simple enough, right?

Being a person of a balanced nature, I needed to know more, and proceeded to look for the other side of the argument. It only took me a minute to see that not only was there another well written and clear argument in direct opposition of the first, but that the one space argument may not even have all of the facts correct. According to this article the double space standard was not a result of monospaced typing, but came long before that and was always the industry standard. As they say, the single space rule only began about 60 years or so ago as a result of a publisher working to save pages and money by reducing the technically unnecessary spaces that spread a book out a little longer. Agreeing with this article is the American Psychological Association, whose APA formatting standards are used in many published papers for Social Science subjects as a way to cite sources.

What it seems to come down to is readability. Both sides are certain that a particular number of spaces between sentences makes a work easier or more difficult to read. Some believe two spaces is too far, and breaks up the reading in an awkward and unfortunate way. Others believe that one space makes things too close, making the reading run together. Neither side can cite a source giving a readability study and a conclusive answer. Really, it is a matter of taste meaning we may never have a conclusive answer as to what makes something easier or more pleasant to read. I’m not sure if I have ever noticed the difference as a reader. I focus on the words, not the spaces in between.

Writing this post, I intentionally switched from double spacing to single spacing part way through, and it was almost physically painful to only do one space.  The habit is there, and it is hard to break, especially when I am not sure there is any real reason to break it.  The argument seems inconclusive to me; everyone is sure they are correct, and sure they know why, but the arguments don’t necessarily hold up.  It is a matter of taste, and who taught you to type.  As a person, I have my habits, but as a writer, I want to be professional.  It’s not just fitting in, it is projecting the image of a person who knows what they are talking about.  What if agents are turned off from my work because of the number of spaces I place between sentences?  Perhaps they may decide I do not have the necessary writing knowledge because there is too much white space on the page.  While I may want to be judged for my ideas and words, I cannot deny my ability to present them is a factor.  If I need to adapt, as painful as it may feel at the time, I will adapt.

How many spaces do you use after a sentence?  Why?  Should I adapt to a one space typing style?

Make Something

I’ve spent a few weeks in a writing funk.  This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I sincerely doubt it will be the last.  It is an unfortunate fact, but there it is.  Sometimes my writing ability can be interrupted by life.  I’m still getting my story ideas, but I am losing my inspiration to write them.

It started a few weeks ago, when I was working on getting some critique on the beginning of a story.  I went in knowing my own story weaknesses, but feeling like what I was submitting was all right.  I left realizing that everyone else saw the same weaknesses I had. 

Suddenly I was hit with an absolute knowledge that everything I wrote was crap.  Seeing my own problems was fine; I could pretend I was just being paranoid, or maybe giving myself a little tough love.  When someone else sees the same problems it means they are actually problems and I should fix them.

Trying to make a go of a creative career is not easy.  You have to be sensitive enough to follow your creative path, and express real emotion.  You have to open yourself up in a way that feels almost wrong; a part of you is exposed to the world that you would normally keep hidden.  You put that part out there, and then allow others to pass judgment in the name of making things better.  You have to be raw and place everything out there, yet tough enough to shrug off everything negative.  As soft as silk, and yet as tough as nails.  I’m not even sure what material out there would come close to that, but I’m sure I am not made from it.

I can’t take the critique without suffering a few scars.  Maybe it means in a few years I will be out, or at least in a perpetual state of ‘revising’ before letting anyone read.  Hearing negatives hurts, even if it is for my own good.  Sometimes, it breaks my confidence down for a little while, and makes it hard to write more.  This is my fatal writing flaw, worse than any grammatical or spelling error I will every make.  I take the hit, and I will get back up, but I might need a little rest first.

I think the worst of it all, knowing that some of it was true.  Many of my own fears of the piece were exactly what was said back to me.  I’d feel better if I could laugh and say they were wrong, but they zeroed right in on the target, and sent their shot there.  Sure, some of it I will brush off, because I know the purpose of the little facts that were included early on.  I know the big picture thoughts behind certain things, and maybe they just missed my point.  It’s all right.  Other things I will have to change because I know it is for the best of the story. 

After spending some time on my pity party is it time to pick myself back up.  Just because I made a few mistakes doesn’t mean I should never try again.  Every critique is important, as long as I take it as a lesson for future learning.  The most important thing is to get back at it, and make something.

 

 

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