Jae vs. Ms. New York Times Bestseller

I attend a writing group where we critique each others’ works. We all submit by email, a maximum of 10 pages and then meet together and discuss what we liked and what we didn’t.

Those of you who have had me beta read for you before, you know I’m particularly honest. Though I admit I try and soften the blow with a preamble before I send off my comments. I feel like we all want to be serious writers though and if you wanted sunshine blown your way you’d take it to your mom or auntie or something so they could tell you how special it is. But we writers, I feel like, owe each other the courtesy of honesty. Helpful honesty, but honesty nonetheless.

I feel like I’ve personally been helped by this honesty and encourage it when I submit my own pieces.

But the thing about being in a writers group is you will often encounter those who came claiming they wanted feedback, but actually wanted a pat on the head instead for how awesome they are.

Needless to say, those types and I are always at odds in the beginning. They want to fight me tooth and nail for their baby. Then one of two things happens. Actually, one of three, but 90% of the time it’s one of two. We’ll get to three in a sec.

1. They hate everyone for not absolutely loving and agreeing that liquid gold comes out of their keyboard and eventually quit the writing group, because who really goes to silly groups anyway? They don’t need others’ opinions because clearly God ordained them to be a writer.

2. They realize that everyone is getting “hammered” with feedback too, but the others tend to accept it more graciously than they did and they simmer down and become one of us. And their writing tends to improve drastically each time we meet.

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Row80 Oct 29th

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This picture is of Bryce Canyon in southern Utah. The orange cylinders are called hoodoos. Pictures never do this place justice. This particular scene always takes my breath away. I especially like this park because it’s great for all types. There are easy to access views as well as hikes for a closer view. It’s well worth putting on your bucket list.

THE GOALS

Time for a Row80 update.

Finish outlining Book 2. FINISHED! I don’t know whether to call this finished or not. It’s an ongoing process in a way, but I think I’ve gotten it to where it needs to be. I’m gonna stick with accomplished.

Read “The Fire in Fiction” and one fiction book. No New Progress. I have no excuses for this, I just haven’t done this. I hope to repent of this for next week.

Rework Book 2. Progress. It’s funny how sometimes you abandon an idea only to come back to it later. I love watching the evolution of my stories. I enjoy rewrites and edits much more now because of that. I can’t wait to see how these changes ultimately effect the overall story. And I’m just glad it’s getting there.

BONUS GOALS: # 1 Write at least one short story. No new progress. Although it is a bonus goal, so whatevs.

#2 Do further plotting for Codename Clemmings. No new progress.

Sometimes only making progress in one area is really all that matters that particular week. I do wish I had read more, but I’m still proud of the progress I did make. And the beautiful thing about goals is you can always do better tomorrow. I’m good with this.

How are things going for you? Have you ever fallen short but found you were okay with it?

Coming On Strong, Going Pink

Recently I talked about being an introvert. Which I am. But being an introvert doesn’t mean you hide in your room all day, reading books and watching Netflix (though it does have its appeal at times). It just means after a certain period of time I have to return to a place where I can recharge internally, which often means hiding in my room reading books and watching Netflix.

I remember in college I took one of those personality tests. The most popular iteration at that time being the Red, White, Blue, Yellow color test. I scored a majority white, but second place yellow. White and Blue are the more sensitive types. Reds are the power executive types, getting it done. Yellows are the fancy free and fun-loving types. This test tries to claim you’re always the color you were as a child, but I’m a firm believer that a person can change, especially since we’re constantly exposed to stimuli that can change us.

I used to live with a girl who was a strong Red personality. She couldn’t see the sense in worrying about the tender feeling stuffs. Just get it done. Upon first glance, one would think that’s not the best personality to have, but I’ve come to find that each personality has its strengths. And again, we are all unique human beings with differing personalities that are allowed to and do change.

Point being, I feel the red in her rubbed off on me as the white in me rubbed off on her. Now I think of myself as a pink. White most of the time, red when I need to be.

In social situations, having been the quiet, shy reserved type, I saw the value of red getting things done. So even though I may be exhausted when I get home, I let red take control which transforms me from introvert to perceived extrovert stage.

Point being, I tend to come on strong. Which I often forget can freak some people out. I’m more like:

And less like:

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Spurts and Space

Yesterday a lot of you mentioned in the comments your habits when it came to writing, especially for writing those difficult scenes.

Sometimes you just need to walk away, many of you said. Let it get cold. Get it off of your mind. Go watch some Korean dramas for crying out loud. (Thanks a lot Gloria, for my new found addiction to Liar Game). Sometimes the writing needs some space.

But don’t you also find that occasionally when the writing spurts it really spurts and it’s like nothing can stop you now. NaNoWriMo could come and pass and you’d still be tapping those fingers away at the keyboard.

I think everything in life has it’s pulse. And just like our own pulses we can have some effect on whether that pulse goes fast or slow—or stops completely.

Sometimes you do need a break. Even if you have deadlines or goals to be met, a break can still do you good. I often go for a walk, or as previously mentioned, watch a Korean drama, or play a mindless game, just to get out of my story head for a minute and breathe.

But when I’m spurting, I tend to let the spurt continue on. For me I tend to jam on through until I encounter a problem that slows me down, makes me rest, makes me think. Sometimes I feel like a bad writer in these situations, but lately I’ve reminded myself much like the heart beat, there needs to be those moments where the pulse goes down again before it comes back up. There has to be those pauses.

For us they may be long pauses or very short ones. For us they may be long spurts or short spurts. After all, a healthy heart gets subjected to more rapid beats for a short period of time.

BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN THOSE SPURTS NEVER SEEM TO COME?

While it’s important to take a break, it’s important not to stay away too long. For me sometimes the break doesn’t come from no writing, but writing something else. I’ve found a lot of refreshment from going to a completely different genre and letting my writing brain have at it. It could be another novel or a short story, but even if it goes nowhere I think that can be equally as important in “resting” as taking time to get away from writing completely.

I also think reading is another way to refresh the mind. One of my favorite Ray Bradbury quotes essentially says that. It says we’ll never run out of ideas if we’re always stocking the fire with fresh ones.

“If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels,  films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every  morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life,  mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake  early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping  beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.” -Ray Bradbury

So you’ve shared with me how you take a break from problems? But what things do you do to recharge in general? What about getting inspiration or gaining the motivation to “spurt” your writing? How do you keep your mind fresh and writer’s block far from you?

Row80 Oct 22nd

zionpicThis pictures comes from the Weeping Rock of Zion National Park. Those colors are all nature’s doing. There’s also a lovely bit of water being “wept” out of the rock. It’s an easy hike, though a bit steep, and very well worth it. Beautiful colors everywhere in Zion.

THE GOALS

All right, a week has passed since I jumped in on Row80. What have I accomplished thus far?

Finish outlining Book 2. Progress. I think I’m close on this one, though I’ve realized it may be a bit of an ongoing goal as I sometimes have to stop and ponder and outline another scene when it’s giving me a lot of trouble. This book has been a struggle, but I think that just means it’ll be even better because it was so hard to get out.

Read “The Fire in Fiction” and one fiction book. Progress. I started “The Fire in Fiction” and put “Ask the Passengers” and “What Happened to Goodbye” on my Kindle. Hopefully I’ll have a lot more progress to report next week.

Rework Book 2. Progress. The outlining wasn’t exactly finished, but I felt like I needed to write anyway and so I did. I have a new start to the book which I think is a lot better. A member of my writing group thought my original first chapter seemed like a bunch of exposition and I decided he was right. This should be a little more exciting, plus I have opportunity to do a little foreshadowing and build in some other subplots. It feels like this round of rewrites will be very productive.

BONUS GOALS: # 1 Write at least one short story. No new progress. Although it is a bonus goal, so whatevs.

#2 Do further plotting for Codename Clemmings. No new progress.

Things are coming along. Again I do appreciate Row80 for making me feel obligated to report something each week. I may try the dreaded getting up early and writing before work. It benefited my last book quite a lot, but the early is tough. We’ll see.

How are you doing on your goals whether for Row80 or personal? When you write, do you have to stop and brainstorm or do you just keep on writing until something comes out? Have you ever had a piece you struggled with and what did you do to overcome the struggle?

Introverts Unite (At Your Own Separate Locations)

I have a man who is in charge of recruiting at a college frequently complain to me about Facebook and how he doesn’t like/understand it. I find this extremely amusing and somewhat tragic as he’s a recruiter at a college. Since 99.9% of all college-going kids are going to be on Facebook you’d think he’d be learning all he could about the elusive Facebook on the ever more elusive interwebz because it is a tool that can help make him look better at his job.

Alas, he is ever stubborn about refusing to participate in that fad the kids call the Facebook. It doesn’t stop me from reminding him how ironic it is as a recruiter that he refuses to use a powerful recruiting tool.

But I digress.

What I set out to talk about was Facebook. More specifically how I appreciate Facebook for linking me to article I would never have sought out on my own. Take a recent article on the HuffPo about how to interact with introverts.

It includes a neat infograph/comic that describes how to understand introverts and being an introvert myself, I jumped for joy. Plus I felt like it gave me a lot of insight into how I deal with people.

The gist of the article, which is info a lot of you probably already know, is that extroverts gain their energy being around people while introverts generate their own energy being alone. So an introvert values that energy as precious and doesn’t want to waste it on unnecessary interactions. One of my favorite parts of the infograph.

via Huffington Post (Roman Jones)

via Huffington Post (Roman Jones)

When I’m in a conversation I feel like is a “just to talk” and not that the person actually cares that I listen to the words they’re saying, I do feel this angst/anxiety to exit quickly. It does wear me out to have these interactions. Not that I don’t want them. But I think understanding this about myself can promote a better relationship between those friends of mine who are extroverts and me.

If you have introverts in your life or are one yourself, I highly recommend checking out the full article, especially the infograph.

That’s not to say I don’t like extroverts, even though they do steal my energy. For me it’s usually a mostly equal trade off. Extroverts help me get out of my shell (or hamster ball) a little bit and typically allow me to be a little more silly and goofy with them. That’s particularly why I like the variety of personalities and people in the world. It would be too dull if we were all the same or even similar enough.

My own two cents to the extroverts is to be cool if us introverts just don’t want to chat. It’s not that we don’t like your or want to hear about your stuff, but we may be low on energy and need to recharge.

So are you an introvert or extrovert? Did you find the article helpful? What advice would you give to an extrovert dealing with an introvert or vice versa? Especially you extroverts. What advice do you have for us introverts? Let us all know below.

You’ve Gotta Work At It

I work at a business college of sorts when I’m not gallivanting off to take people on vacations, so I’m around a lot of 20-somethings. And these 20-somethings are the might-still-be-18 or just-turned-20-somethings. Young is my point. Sometimes they seem really young.

But as I writer I think it’s supremely important to eavesdrop on as many conversations as you can, more especially when they occur in your vicinity and you didn’t even have to seek them out. This particular conversation wasn’t hard to eavesdrop on, not only because it was happening behind me prior to the beginning of a forum, but also because they were loud talkers.

It was a girl and a guy. The girl spoke of her high school years, which happened waaaaaay back in 2013. She was the star athlete of her tennis team. She had actually transferred to that high school, but because she played tennis so well, they put her on the team and she was the top player.

She mentioned how her school probably, like, totally sucked. Like, they just wanted her because she knew how to play and that made her look good in comparison.

I truly believe she believes she wasn’t that good at tennis in a general sense, but she was probably hamming it up a bit to feign modesty for the guy she was trying to impress.

But it was something she said that really struck me that almost made me turn around and correct her, but a) then they’d know how much I’d been eavesdropping and b) I doubt they would have cared what I had to say anyway.

She said something like:

I’m honestly not that talented. I just worked hard. I practiced like 4 hours a day and practiced really hard and that’s why I was any good at playing. But I wasn’t born with talent like some people.

I won’t do the all caps on you, so just imagine this next bit is me yelling passionately, but I wanted to say to her: talent is nothing without effort. Do you really believe someone like Serena Williams got to where she was today because she picked up a racquet and discovered she was suddenly a pro tennis player. She may have had a natural ability to learn quicker than most, but I can guarantee you she was out there busting her butt, probably harder than anyone before her to get where she is today. True talent comes from hard work. You’ll never be very good at anything if you don’t put in gut-wrenching effort!!!

I know this is an attitude prevalent among our society. That anything you have to make effort doing means you lack that talent. I know for a fact there are many aspiring writers out there who believe they just write and liquid gold pumps out of their keyboards onto the screen. We probably all still have that attitude a little bit when we scoff at editing our work. Even though I know editing has made my writing a bajillion times better than before, both then and now and in the future, sometimes I still just want to be lazy.

But even to get as far as I am today, I had to work hard at it. And the thing is, if you put in efforts to magnify whatever talent you have, you increase the amount of it.

So my dear 2013 high school graduate, the fact is you are talented at tennis precisely because you worked at it.

You’ve gotta work at it. You’ve gotta work at anything you want to be the best at. Many articles say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something, which means unless you’ve already spent 8 hours a day for 5 years of productively doing something, you can’t call yourself a master.

Sure, there are people who haven’t put in this time who get far or in a writing case, get published. But if they truly want to master their craft (and they should) the improvements should continue on. My own personal goal is to always do better than my last project, which is honestly why Book 2 is killing me. But I’ll get there, because I’m working hard.

Hard work is the answer. Hard work gets us there. Hard works makes our talent shine.

Have you noticed an attitude of ‘born gifted’ around you? What would you have said to Miss Tennis Player? Have you noticed your own talents improve because of the hard work you put in? Anything else you would add?