getting back to the joy of writing

I have been writing since I was at least ten years old and I have always loved it. Writing has given me solace in solitude. It has given refuge, healing, exploration, and a means to express my thoughts, beliefs, and creativity. Fiction is not only a means to extrapolate on what is happening or what has happened or alternate ways of stuff we already know about. Fiction is also how we envision and create our futures. I think that’s one of the many things that attracts me to fiction writing and how I know that I am a writer.

I took a trip to my hometown where all my family’s belonging have been since we moved to Fresno so I could clear out the smaller storage unit we keep there. I found out that the larger unit has been broken into and everything is piled inside like landfill garbage dump. it was shocking to see pages of my writing scattered everywhere, smashed up, torn from its bindings. Treated like trash, everything I own since the day of my birth that marks my existence in this world before moving to Fresno. Everything I have a copy or draft of that I’ve written since I knew how to write.

In the smaller storage unit, I found a huge folder of old stories and essays I had written prior to high school and during high school. Though I squirmed in embarrassment and discomfort, especially when I glanced at some of my poetry, the person I saw when I read some of those stories had an open heart, she was fun, trusting, sweet, determined, and never let anything stop her from telling the story she wanted to tell once she set her mind to it. I realized I am no longer really that person.

I also saw in her a world-weariness and sadness that I still carry with me. Recently, whether because of traumas and other things in my life, I had to think about why I write…and also why writing no longer holds as much joy for me as it once did.

Somehow I got disconnected from why writing makes me happy and what was fun about it. I got caught up in using my writing like a blade, like a tool of justice. I even started to think of it sort of like a formulaic science instead of the spiritual, heart-filled journey it has always been for me. I started not only using it as a weapon against enemies but also as a shield against my inner self.

I started trashing myself, telling myself I had no talent and no skill. I questioned whether or not I was “Doing writing right” in the first place, comparing myself to other writers I have read who are published and well-read, be they dead or alive. I told myself it was time to join the real world and put this writer-true-calling nonsense aside or just kill myself. I felt like this for two days or so, then I thought that maybe I don’t have any talent or skill (how can you gauge that except with the opinions of others when you deny yourself the pleasure and ease of pure ego) but maybe I have vision. I have something to say, I have stories to tell.

Isn’t that reason enough to keep writing even when everything else I try to do goes wrong and I get treated like a bum by my family for having a college degree, a mound of student debt, but no real job? Isn’t it the only thing to do?

So I started writing what I wanted to be a short story in a collection called The Lonely Lady. Then that was making me feel some kind of way, like I was trying too hard to dissect myself, so I started writing another story that was supposed to be super short.

Only it wasn’t as short as I planned.

Then the main character started turning into me kind of.

And I realized this wasn’t so bad.

It was meant to be a shallow, perfect-day romance short, kind of a daydream. The main character wasn’t even supposed to have a name, it was supposed to be narrated by me, like a story where the characters have no idea they’re in a story. Then I started writing with stops and stills, it started out with one ending and suddenly I had thought of three different endings and I wanted to publish all of them. Then I found I was enjoying how it was going in the second version and getting into the details of it, of feeling like part of me was part of the story and living and acting in it. It turned into something romantic and erotic, something magical, fantastical, introspective, beautiful, and adventurous. It turned into the kind of writing I like to do.

I felt happiness again.i felt like I was myself again…only better.

To Publish or Not to Publish Without Professional Editing (and Other Issues): Releasing My First Full-Length Novel

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A lot has been going on since my last post here at Sepia Heaven, including the passing of my grandmother.

Path of the Righteous is a story that begins, depending on how you look at it, with a girl who just wants to read some books and it seems her thirst for knowledge has led her into a bigger trap than she realizes at first.

I like the story because though Dahlia’s journey is harsh, it takes her to fantastic places and in the end she comes out stronger than any of her adversaries or obstacles.

Path of the Righteous is set to be my first full-length novel and I haven’t completely read through it for some cursory editing. I’d like to have a professional do it but hesitation and doubt just keeps winning in addition to literally not having the money to pay anybody to take the time to review and/or look over my writing. I have some inkling as to how to begin looking for an editor if I really want one and feel its necessary. I just want my first book to be kind of shiny and polished I guess.

In addition to living in an environment that’s counterproductive and sometimes even toxic to my writing process, I also want to roll out the book with professional cover art (more money) and a press release letter and everything. Though I want these things, I feel bogged down by my own ever-mounting delusions of grandeur that then collapse right back into the fact that I haven’t even finished editing yet and every time I look back at what I’ve already done, I see something new to edit. Something different to “fix”. There’s also an investigation into continuity with the sequel and a scene or two I’d like to add to Path of the Righteous (Book I) itself..

I’m so indecisive and emotionally and mentally constipated about the whole thing by now that I’m considering compiling a book of short stories to publish first instead.

But why? I think the reason is because it would take me even more time to write and compile those short stories, thereby preventing me from publishing anything for an even longer amount of time. Self sabotage. Doubt. Uncertainty. Attempts at perfectionism.

The truth is I just want to publish the damn book and forget about all this other stuff in my head. Shove it out there, edit as I notice stuff. Nothing like the pressure of sticking the book out there and trying to change typos and other editing issues before anyone else sees them, hahaha :-D. I don’t want my readers to have a potentially bad experience but this maybe the only way I can get anything out there without drowning in anxiety/panic attacks every five seconds and succumbing to procrastination and other forms of self-sabotage.

I’ll work through this, so please look forward to seeing Path of the Righteous on Smashwords in ebook format and available in hard copy probably on Lulu soon.

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