Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Practice Makes Permanent

Twelve years ago, I was a member of my middle school orchestra. (I played voila, thank you very much). The orchestra teacher was kind of psychotic, which is a great thing for a public school (please note my sarcasm) but she did teach our class one concept that stuck:

“Practice makes permanent.”

She stressed that even if you practice endlessly, you can’t guarantee that it will be perfect. If you practice the wrong hand position or the wrong finger placement, it will be permanent, and definitely not perfect. Therefore, practice makes permanent. It was a pessimistic lesson for a bunch of 7th graders, but it was an important one.

In the case of orchestra, “Practice makes permanent” is a bad thing, or it can be. However, in the case of writing, it’s a good thing.

If you write daily, then it will become easier to pick up the pen or turn on the laptop and start pecking away. Writing 300 words a day will turn into 500 a day and even hopefully 1000 words daily. Luckily though, there’s nothing permanent in writing. That’s what editing is for. There’s just something permanent in the writing habit.

So I practice. I open my story document – saved on my Darth Vader USB drive (borrowed from my boyfriend) and I write. Some days I just stare. Some days I add comments: “This needs work.” “Describe the character here.” “WHERE’S THE TENSION?!”

You know, helpful reminders. A few days later, the document will be full of comments. Some days it so full of notes that it’s tough to look at. But with work, and a little writing, I can have it comment-clean and a few pages longer within a week. Then the writing, re-reading, editing, extending process starts again. It’s a long one, and it’s definitely confusing, but there’s always progress. And progress is the point, as well as creating the permanent, but not always perfect, writing habit.

Here’s some helpful blog posts on creating a writing habit:

Goins, Writer:  How to Form a Daily Writing Habit

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Declaration to Society

I’ve said it once or twice. Maybe I’m closing in on a dozen times. But, here it is again: I am a writer. I tell stories. I dream in dialogue. And the Day 1 Habits of Great Writers Challenge was to tell someone that you are afraid to, or that might judge you. I didn’t have someone particular in mind, so I decided to declare it to society.

I made a sign, and embarked on a journey to campus. I enlisted my awesome boyfriend, Josh, to assist as photographer. At first, I was weary of the sign I carried around in public. I wanted to roll it up or at least fold it so no one would see. But, what’s the point in that?

It was tough as I posed with my sign. I wanted no one to be around, but I understood that wasn’t the point of the declaration. As we ventured into more trafficked areas of campus, I began to feel more comfortable carrying a sign that said, in colorful bold print: “I am a writer.”

Here’s my photo journey:

Just across the street from the parking garage, there is one of IU’s great antiquey clocks.

The Showalter Fountain: A mother from a tour group walked around to read my sign. My introverted self explained in short.

Stop! I’m a writer!

In front of the IMU, blocking one of the gated entrances.

No one needs to know what the sign underneath says. Except it might prevent a few crashes. Okay, I won’t leave mine there permanently.

It was such a beautiful day!

Woodburn Hall, where I spent a good portion of my time on campus.


Lost in the woods, or in my imagination.

And there’s my journey. Maybe I didn’t approach anyone (I’m still quite shy), but I didn’t mind the tour groups and their watchful eyes. I didn’t care if all the people walking by judged me. (Except the one time I held the sign upside down for a photo. That was a little embarrassing.) But, by the end, I was proud of my sign.

And that's what it's all about: being proud of who you are. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 1: Declare (Postponed)

Yesterday I joined Jeff Goins' 15-Day Writing Challenge. Today the first challenge was extended. As my great idea on how to fulfill it expanded and congealed in my mind, I realized that I wouldn’t have the time or assistance to complete it today, a lonely Tuesday. My idea requires a photographer, some creativity and a bit of traveling. Therefore, I will prepare, and wait for the weekend. But in the meantime, here’s a temporary Day 1 entry:

My Letter to JK Rowling

Dear Joanne,

So, you are kind of my idol. And by kind of, I mean that I kind of want to be like you. The money would be nice, the paparazzi not so much. The reverence wouldn’t be so bad, who doesn’t want to be worshiped like the Queen? Also, the acts of charity that you can accomplish are one word: awesome! And hey, you have the freedom to WRITE what you want (I’m sure there’s some pressure involved).

But, then, I don’t want to be like you either. No offense, I promise it’s not a British thing.

(I looove London!)

I really just want to be: ME.

I want to find my own way, struggle on my own mountainous journey and—oh yes—write my own (hopefully magnificent) books.

That’s correct, Ms. Rowling, I am a writer. I’m not a published writer, but I am a writer. I am not a full-time, stay-at-home or freelance writer, but I am a writer.

And I just wanted to share that with you, the celebrity author that I adore.

*shouts* Hey JK, I am a writer!



P.S. Can you tell I'm a fan?

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Definition of Unputdownable

So I left off last time with this question: What do I write?
Well, I write teen. Usually fantasy adventure, occasional dystopian or historical. I’ve written about fairies in Ireland and resistance fighters in an alternate history of WWII Europe. I’ve written about a ghost of a girl watching her man die on Omaha beach. Did you know there’s a fairy portal in the backwoods of Kentucky? Neither did I, until I created it in my imagination.
Writing is imagination, for me at least. And I love it because it takes me away, to my own world.
So, why teen books?
I write teen because I haven’t really grown up, at least in my mind. I work 9-5, I pay my own rent and all that adult stuff, but I love the escape of teen fiction. There is something about the bravery of what teen authors are doing that really intrigues and entices me.
Just pick up Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” or Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s “The Future of Us” and you’ll understand.
And the teen genre—or young adult as some refer to it—is rising in popularity. Hunger Games, anyone?
As Lev Grossman, author of “The Magician," said in his New York Times article:
“Statistically speaking, most adults were young adults at some point in their lives, and some of us are still processing that experience. Young adult novels can be as powerful as anything out there. Read John Green's “The Fault in Our Stars," about teenagers with cancer. I did, and I'll be surprised if I have a more wrenching, emotional reading experience this year. Bottom line, there's one thing that young adult novels rarely are, and that's boring.”

If there’s one quality that I require in my reading (which I can hopefully exemplify in my writing), it’s that the books I read are unputdownable.

un·put·down·a·ble [adjective Informal]
(especially of a book or periodical) so interesting or suspenseful as to compel reading.

That’s what teen books are to me. So that's why I read and (am attempting to) write them.