Thursday, May 31, 2018

Facing Fear

I have heard many times "The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one" so here it goes. I am a writer that is terrified of letting others see and judge my work. Not much of a problem? Too many people out there just like me, you say? Okay how about this? I am an author that is terrified of letting people see and judge my work. No? Still not compelling enough? One more try. I am a PUBLISHED author who is petrified of people judging me because of my crippling insecurities that I have never attended a critique group or writers meeting for fear of being laughed at so I have trusted my own meager abilities when putting out my books. That should do it.

There is a certain irony in being published and selling my work to perfect strangers when I cannot attend a writer's group meeting or share things I wrote while people are sitting there listening to me. I want to go and network with other writers. I need to learn ways to improve my work. There is nothing I desire more than to make my writing a viable career but whenever I think about attending a meeting of the Henderson Writer's Group, Sin City Writers, or Las Vegas Writer's Group and having to share my writing I go into an instant panic attack.

What if they laugh at me? What if they have more suggestions to fix it than there are sentences on the page? What if I see the look of pity and confusion that silently tells me I will never have what it takes in this industry? Or worse, what if they like it? I am sure you are asking, why would that be worse? I write in a number of different genres and if something was well received I have no doubt I would dissect it until I knew what made it work and then try to duplicate it across all my writing. However what works for romance would flounder in thriller. What keeps the pages turning in a mystery could bring a western to an abrupt end. I have a tendency to overanalyze things. This causes me to get stuck or shut down.

I am hoping by admitting this issue here I can see it in black and white and make the decision to face this fear. Accountability has helped me do many things in my life so I am proclaiming for the blogger world that by the end of the summer I will attend a meeting and share something. It might be just a short poem or a section of some random work in progress. If I can force myself to dive in completely I will share part of one of the books I am preparing for publication. As of right now I have six novels, a novella, and a handful of kids books that are ready to move forward but I think the feedback could be helpful so I will take the plunge. Stay tuned for updates on how it goes.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ah Ha Moments

There is something magical about that moment when things finally click together. I mentioned in my last post that I am getting ready for my annual belly dance performance and have been struggling with the choreography for our group dance. I watched the tutorial videos, I watched the self made videos from our groups' rehearsals, nothing helped. I just couldn't get it to stick in my mind. I finally decided I had to go to the only rehearsal I would be able to and beg for help. Once I was there and moving with the music I found that rhythm inside and everything came together.

Writing is like that as well. I used to be one of those writers that says "I'm waiting for inspiration", "I just need to get everything perfect then I can write", "I can't just sit down and force it". The fact of the matter is none of that is true. Things are never "perfect" so if that is what you are waiting for, you will never write. Inspiration is all around us and as writers we can interpret it anyway we want. You don't wait for inspiration, you simply open your eyes to it. You absolutely can sit down and force yourself to work. It may take a few moments and a couple random paragraphs to get into the swing of things but with practice there is no reason for a writer to not be able to sit down and produce.

There are days when life gets in the way. Maybe you are sick, you have a day job, there is some major event happening that steals focus, these are all valid reasons why you couldn't write. They are also temporary. I'm not saying it is easy to pull up a chair and write the next NYT bestseller. If it were I would have taken my celebratory cruise years ago. (I promised myself and my manager an Alaskan cruise with my first advance big enough to take one.) But it is certainly possible to train yourself to work in a number of situations.

Just as you improve with every book you write, every class you take, or craft focus article / book / webinar, you can also improve your work ability. If you are in between projects or simply having trouble focusing on the one you want to finish, take a day and write something fun. Sit down, find a writing prompt that speaks to you (you can find prompts everywhere, trust me) and see what you come up with. I used to do an exercise in a writing group where we would all pick story elements for each other then the person would take all of the pieces chosen for them and create a short story. It was similar to a MadLibs style exercise and gave us some great laughs and creative works.

IN any form of creation, whether it be performance, writing, or even something delicious like cake art, there is that moment. The one when the vision becomes a reality. When every part comes together to give the artist a true understanding of the piece. I love when I bake and get to put all the small parts together so I can see it as a whole. I have always enjoyed the brief instant after I put on my costume and feel the music begin to flow through me when I am on stage. But there is nothing quite like those "ah ha" moments when you realize something or hear a character talking and suddenly know things just moments before had been a mystery even to you. Art of any sort has that moment and I for one live to experience them.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Crunch Time

For those wonderful people that read my blog, you may have noticed I have been absent for awhile. I have been diligently working on numerous projects but I apologize for the periodic (and in this case extended) negligence here. I did want to mention I have finished the rewrite of my debut novel Never Give Up and cannot wait to update the cover and Amazon link on my website as well as on Facebook and here. I have also been doing some personal things such as helping my mom as she prepares to enter a new chapter in her life and working to make a possible career change in my day job as well.

One of the things weighing on my mind is my upcoming belly dance performance I participate in annually. I am sure you are thinking, this is a writer's blog...why would we care about belly dancing? The fact is, like most creative types, my varied interests all tie together. Belly dancing affords me the opportunity to keep a toehold in a world that was one of my first loves, performing. There is a sense of freedom and escape when I move to the music. There are also lessons I take from each element of my life and apply back to others. Just today there were two things that struck me about belly dancing and writing that are shared. Taking a chance on something new and leaving things until the last minute.

With the performance only ten days away I am still practicing the choreography for both the group performance and my solo; I haven't even started to make my costume yet. I am working on everything but I feel that old deadline adrenaline sneaking up on me. I do that with writing as well. It seems no matter how much I try to manage my time correctly, I still end up pushing it until the last minute.

For trying new things I can see that in both as well. I have entered writing competitions and begun working on stories / poems / books that are completely foreign to me in terms of genre and character development. I want to push the envelope in ways that make me explore new options. Belly dance was a version of that as well since I am a classically trained ballerina at heart. What is life without a little risk, and more importantly, without that deadline to make you buckle down and do it already? Wish me luck, maybe I will share some clips and excerpts in the coming weeks.