Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dream Big and Live Life

I am twenty four, and there are only a couple of things in my life I have ever been truly sure of: the first is that I want to spend the rest of my life with my boyfriend Todd, which I've known almost since we got together; the second is that I have always wanted to write for a living. I'm fairly certain I'll get to do the former, and I have never been so convinced that the latter is what I truly want to do with my life. The only thing standing in my way is me. I know.

I graduated with my MA in English in May, and I can honestly say I'm not even sure I read a book that wasn't required in the entire year and a half I was pursuing that degree, much less put pen to paper. Before that, I was getting my BA, and finding time to write was difficult, but I still managed. Now, though, I teach three classes a semester, which means that even though I have huge chunks of free time in my schedule, I'm constantly exhausted and tired of words on pages and using my time to grade papers (sometimes). I also work at a movie theater because being a teacher really doesn't pay all the bills, especially since I only get paid once a month. So I teach in the mornings and am done by 12:30, and then I spend my nights and weekends shoveling popcorn and making drinks. It's a glamorous life, let me tell you. I am lucky when I get a day off at all, and any actual free time I have is normally spent curled up on my couch staring blankly at the TV simply because my eyes burn and/or I'm too mentally and physically exhausted to make my brain work.

But if I want it, I'll make time. Isn't that what people say? You force yourself to write whenever you can. Any words are better than no words. But I was an English major. And a perfectionist. And I hate writing things that are bad. I like to take my time and craft them well so there's less revising and editing and cutting and all that lovely jazz. But, Amanda, you say, that's just how writing works. Not just writing, creating anything, heck, even life! It's messy and takes work and patience! And I know it. I do. You know what else I know? That I just want to write. I don't want to worry about whether my classes are failing or if my students have figured out how to string words and sentences together any better or if I'm going to want to punch my coworkers for being too lazy to sweep up popcorn. I just want to write and be happy. But I can't do that until I can pay all my bills. And I can't pay my bills without working myself to the bones. Oh isn't life grand?

And you know what? I still find time to write. Because even though the words are crap and I have papers to grade and popcorn to make, writing is what I love, and if there's one thing I learned from my mother more than anything else, it's that you should do what you love. So I teach, and I work, and I lie in an exhausted heap around my apartment, and I write. Because it has always been my dream for people to read my stories, and it has always been my goal to be good enough at crafting them that people will pay me. And one day, it'll happen.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Titles are hard.

I finished what I thought was going to be a picture book, but it's too long for industry standards. I'm not sure what I'll do with it now; I absolutely love it because it's adorable and was so much fun to write, and, honestly, I'd never even considered self-publishing until now. I would love to have my brother illustrate it. (The man is a tattoo artist with crazy awesome skill, but don't tell him I said that.)

It started out longer, then I cut it down to stop showing everything that was going on since I wanted it to be illustrated, but even with that it's about 1200 words. Most agents won't consider PBs unless they're under 1k, and some even draw the line at 750 words. And oh have I tried to cut it down; sadly the story just won't allow it. So I have a cute story that needs illustrations, and everything I've seen says it's nearly impossible to get an early reader or chapter book published if it's a standalone. *sigh*

But writing is what I do, so I'll put it on the shelf and hold onto it, and maybe some day it'll get published. I really hope so. The whole thing started with the first line, and I just couldn't get it out of my head: "Once upon a time in a land called Suburbia, there lived a well-dressed man who had a daughter with a fondness for cats."  Once I started writing, it turned into this story about a man who gets a visit from a talking cat after his daughter makes a wish to upgrade for a tail, and I just ran with it. And it feels so good to have created something new after two years of nothing but paper writing and literature reading. Of course I still don't have a title for it, which is a tad frustrating, but hopefully I'll think of something soonish.

On another note, edits for The Sandman's Apprentice are coming along, or they were before midterms hit and I had tests and papers out the wazoo. Still playing catch-up there, but I work in time with the MS where I can, and I'm just glad I still love the story, even if parts of it are dreadful. I also started a new story the other day. It came to me with a line, and I'm not entirely sure what it'll be just yet, but it feels like YA so far. I think it may be in a different world than our own, so I'll get to do some real world-building again, and I love that.

Anywho, I have to go do teacher things now because this semester has been terrible, which means I have to rework all my syllabi and adjust the schedules and assignments if I want my students to succeed. What fun!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kill Your Darlings

So for the first time in a while, I let some people read part of the MS for The Sandman's Apprentice, and I got some decent feedback. But I let a friend of mine, who happens to be a voracious reader when she's not in mommy mode, read it and got an absolutely amazing critique, partly because it's not a genre she usually reads.

Anywho, when I first sent it off to everyone, I refused to look at any of it. I knew it needed work, so showing it to people seemed like a silly idea since I already knew I had issues to fix. And it's probably a good thing I didn't dive back into revisions first, because, honestly, I would have butchered it for no reason. I listened to what everyone had to say, and almost none of the suggestions for changes matched. Everyone thought something completely different. So I opened it up today, and I decided to take it one chapter at a time (if I do it any other way I see how much work I have ahead of me and just want to shut down), and I have to say, I'm kind of blown away by what I've written. I forgot how good it was. I'm not saying it's flawless Literature or anything, but for two years while I've worked on my school stuff, I've been thinking about how crappy bits were and just how much work it needed, and somewhere along the road I convinced myself that the idea was the only solid thing about it. But, man, it's good!

So I'm editing my novel with the help of a writing group I'm not entirely sold on yet, and I'm working on my picture book. And I'm really excited because not only do I have some new ideas I'm toying with too, but I might actually meet my new publishing goal. Things are looking up.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Open New Document

It feels so good to be writing again. I'm working on my first picture book, sans pictures of course because I'm no artist, and it's a whole lot of fun. I've even cracked open The Sandman's Apprentice and even shown a few chapters of it to a few new readers in a writing group at school. Writing used to be like breathing to me, and I can't express how great it is to be getting back to the things I love.

For a good two years now I've been out of the publishing loop trying to find time to jump back in, but all that's changing now. I have a new goal, and you can bet I'm going to do everything possible to see it through. So hello, publishing universe; it's been a while. ;)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Shiny New Thing

I think I wrote a picture book the other day. I need to go back and work on it, but still. First new words in a while, and I actually like them. Somehow I ended up telling a story about talking cats with attitude; I'll take it. :)

First line: Once upon a time in a land called Suburbia, there lived a well-dressed man who had a young daughter with a fondness for cats.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back in Action

It has begun. I am writing again. Starting this week I'll be in at least one writing group. I shall make it my goal to read blogs and update at least once a week. I am doing this. For real. No more excuses. No more waiting for the right moment or idea or whatever. Dreams only come true if you work for them. So I think it's about time I got off my butt. Off to get started.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

She lives!

Last Friday I graduated with my MA in English. It took me a year and a half and nearly killed me, but I did it. I've spent the last week trying to finish moving in to my new apartment (I still have boxes to unpack) and getting settled, but I'm almost done. I've read two books the last couple of days while at work, and intend to keep it up the rest of the summer, because frankly I have a lot of catching up to do. Next fall I start as adjunct faculty at the same school I've been at for the last six years, and I'm pretty excited to have time to get back to the books, both the writing and reading of them. Things have been crazy for me the last couple of years, but I think it's time to get back to me, which means I'll be back soon, lovelies, stalking your blogs and reading your books. Might even get back to Twitter again! but in the mean time, take care, and good luck with your endeavors!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making a Comeback

I've finally hit my limit. After graduation I'm done with school. At least for now. I haven't written anything or edited any of my stuff since before I started my Master's program and I can't handle it any more. I wanted to get my PhD because I wanted to teach classes that I'm interested in, to have a day job I enjoyed that would give me time to work on my writing. But when I'm in school, I can't write. I don't have the time, the energy, or the creativity. And I refuse to let my writing take a back seat and wait for me to have a job I like that pays well and gives me plenty of writing time; if I did, I may never write another word of fiction in my life. I enjoy teaching composition, and I don't need a PhD for that.

So this is me stepping away from another 3-6 years of school, not because I'm afraid of the challenge or because I don't think I can handle it, but because I no longer have a good enough reason to go. Why put off what makes me happy for the possibility of future happiness when I can do what I love and be happy now? Why did I have to make this so complicated to begin with? I've said I was going to be back on more (and I have), but I really think after I get this thesis done and I graduate (again) that my writing life will make a major comeback, and posting here and reading what you guys have to say is a big part of that. I've let my writing, and myself, sit for far too long. And I'm happier just thinking about what graduation holds for me now. Here's to being true to yourself and doing what you love.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Academic VS Creative

Academic writing is incredibly different from creative writing. My thesis is currently 14 pages and utilizes a good dozen sources, and I've been working on it for months. Months of creative writing gives me five times as many pages. At least. And yet they really aren't all that different. All of it is personal and all of it requires individual thought. But academic writing, at least research based academic writing, requires you to build on what others have said and to incorporate their thoughts into your own writing. Fiction writing )and poetry for that matter) is all you. Maybe that's why it comes more naturally to so many of us. Yes, it requires research, but the writing, the story itself comes from us. Everything we need, we already have. Writing a thesis on the other hand, well, I need a lot for that, haha.


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