Can’t write, can’t stop writing

Focusing on my current career path has taken me away from writing and craft work for a second. I also do not live in a safe or healthy environment which also wreaks havoc on my ability to write.

It’s not that I don’t want to write. Nothing should hold me back from letting all these stories out of my head. Sometimes I have a spell of not writing for a while, which is normal. And I keep telling myself it’s okay. But I know somewhere inside that the reason I can’t do the writing I love is because of where I am physically and financially and where it puts me in my own head and emotionally.

Besides, no reader wants to hear that an author can’t deliver.

Two people in my life, more privileged than I in opportunities and background, have openly admitted that the problems they face in life are a direct result of choices they’ve made. In my case, that isn’t true. So I find myself barred from the worlds in my head that desire manifestation through the written word as I clean up messes that were made before I ever even born or thought of. Inherited messes that have made me stronger and yet somehow also weakened me and continue to stunt my growth. It’s personal, it’s me. And more than half of it isn’t my fault yet I find myself on damage control on my own life.

Can’t write. Can’t stop thinking about writing. It feels toxic. It hurts. Holding all this stuff inside my head on eternal pause. Worrying that something will slip away forever and I’ll never get it back.

Honestly, I’m between a rock and a harder rock.

This morning when my body woke me up at 6am with a painful, unexplainable adrenaline surge as it has done for the past couple months regardless of how much sleep I’ve gotten prior to the waking, I did write. I added to the next chapter of Infinity Second.

It felt good. Writing.

And I hope it doesn’t go away.


Less is More? Social Networking Sites

Social networking: I’ve never been one to use Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. Honestly, I thought they were superfluous fads. Of course, they can be useful but most of the time it’s about numbers. Yes I want people who are interested in me and interested in my work and want to follow me but blogging and social networking sites look like a popularity contest with a circus on top and I’ve never been the type to get caught up in those types of things or the type to attract that sort of attention. If rather have one reader who really likes and finds value in my work than a thousand followers that I have no real connection to. I’ve created profiles in several different places but I don’t use them, not the personal ones or the professional ones. Now that I have them, I’m not sure I should get rid of them even though I don’t use them. You never know what will be useful later. A tool that’s not relevant now might be a good thing to have in the future.

As much as I hate popularity contests and trying to win people over, planning and scheming, and numbering people, I always agonize over whether or not people hear me (as evident in my agonizing over whether cover art is part of my problem). Am I writing and no one is reading? But aren’t I writing for myself? If that’s true, then why does it matter who read it and how many? But, as a writer, I’m supposed to care about that right? With so many digital methods of reaching people, or audiences as they say, shouldn’t I be doing everything I can to connect with readers? How can you know for sure if you reached even one person on a meaningful level?

I’ve always believed that social networking and the internet has made people lazy and ultimately uninterested in each other. Everything seems so impersonal. Click a button to “like”. Share with contacts. “Unlike”. Follow. Retweet. Reblog. It seems meaningless and shallow. It gives some people a reason to be lazy and hide from solid connections with others. Some it strengthens and helps maintain their connections. Others it gives them a chance to meet in the first place.

So far I’ve deleted my Twitter and my Tumblr (which is still there but I’m not using it). I still have a FB page that isn’t getting any hits so that’s next on the list because I see the tumbleweeds a-blowing ’round. Honestly, I don’t know what will work for me. Even with this blog, I try only to post once a month out of concern for doing way too much.

not just broke: why I chose indie publishing

Like most things that are labeled as “free”, when it comes to self publishing, there’s all this fine print, double meanings, and hidden agendas and costs. They say nothing in life is [really] free.

I keep finding that to be true everywhere I look in the publishing industry. Its hard to listen to writers with well-paying jobs and published books that people are actually buying tell working class and poor writers to self-publish as if its absolutely free.

See, its not really an issue of me being “broke”. I’ve never had much to begin with and getting paid these days is even harder than it was in my mom’s day when she was building her super working class career.

Some publishers will act like not having presentable and tasteful cover art, an editor, and an agent is a choice. Pardon me for saying it sounds like these people don’t know what it’s like not to have access to those resources or  be able to afford them

I often compare publishing to getting a record deal. You don’t really choose them, they choose you. You are recognized by them. I don’t know if that’s the way I should think about it but it is what it is. Probably sounds very pessimistic.

But it does require you to have money, it requires people of status to recognize you.

There’s this unspoken understanding that nothing is really free no matter what anyone tells you. Pay up or suck it up. This has always been one of my greatest obstacles in really believing I can be published, write from my passion, and make any semblance of a sub-modest living out of it.

I don’t ever expect to be as famous as Octavia Butler, J.K. Rowling, or any of the big names. I think I just want to be heard.

Why do I want to be published?

From Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages

My love language, according to The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, is words of affirmation. My friend keeps pulling me into these quizzes and assessments online, but its true: I express myself with words and I receive a lot of love through words. I can be loved and hurt through words. I experience love through people hearing and listening to what I have to say. I thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words that build me up.

Why do I want to be published?

Writing helps me survive, it nourishes me. I want to be acknowledged. I want affirmation. I want to share my stories with people. Even if it only touches one other person (though lots of people would be nice :-D). I feel as if writing is my calling in life. The truth of this desire makes me want to be humble and deny it. I am also an INFJ personality type according to a Myers-Briggs evaluation. If I feel I can’t contribute something meaningful and positive to the world, I feel I have no purpose. Enough about personality tests though, I actually don’t like them.

I’ve been writing since I was in the third grade. In all that time, I’ve always thought I was too poor to ever be published, not trendy enough, borrowing too much from my inspirations, too sloppy, not diverse enough, and not worthy. Any teachers who read my work, encouraged bu eventually pulled away. Acquaintances got caught up in my urban fiction but wouldn’t read what was closest too my heart which is cross-genre speculative fiction (more along the lines of fantasy) and I didn’t want to be pigeonholed in the urban genre. Even my family doesn’t support my deepest passion with words, encouragement, or money.

But I still wanted other people to read my work. Here I am years later, still thinking about it, still trying. Still writing. I’m either stubborn, stupid, or there’s something to it that hasn’t allowed me to let it go.

The copious amounts of blogging (not referenced here) I’ve done in the last couple of years has helped me get to know myself as person and as a writer. I never gave up, but I’m ready to keep trying again.

Hugging My Cat Before Step 7 of Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide

where is u at 3

Yesterday, I formatted my novella, The Taker,  for Smashwords.

And, believe me you, I feel like I learned more about Microsoft Word document formatting while reading Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide than in all the time since I’ve been in the vicinity of computers.

Welp, you learn something new everyday, that’s what they say.

As suggested in Step 6, I hugged a loved one. Actually I was hugging my cat periodically  from the moment I started. It was frustrating sometimes and I stayed up all day getting most of it done but hopefully it will be ultimately rewarding. I had three issues or so tho I think my document is almost set.

  1. I can’t get professional cover art for my novella. Coker doesn’t give a lot of alternatives for this–just get a good cover with the right format requirements or miss the Smashwords Premium Catalog Club gravy train. He even stresses the importance of not doing it yourself and how it should look like a NY Times Bestseller cover or the cover of some indie writer who has money and connections. I. AIN’T GOT. NO. MONEY. LIL’ FOLKS. NO, I do not even have $40 and up to pay a recommended Smashwords cover artist. So a rudimentary cover will just have to do it.
  2. I also do not have an editor and cannot pay one. I read the manuscript line for line and had two other people read it. You can always miss things no matter how many times you look at it. I will continue to look for ways to improve but professional editing is not an option.
  3. Before I understood that using TAB for indents was very, very bad, I had these five or six paragraphs that had no indentations and would never format properly with all the other paragraphs. Little did I know that for whatever reason they were like this, these pesky paragraphs were in the right and my TABS/the entirety of my original document was in the wrong.
  4. I only have Word Starter 2010. I cannot afford to get the full version, so no bookmarks for table of contents though I did type it up and include it.
  5. I am persnickety so I was confused about whether or not the Smashwords license notes, copyright page, and title page were all supposed to be on the exact same page. Is there supposed to be an entirely separate title page, or is it straight to the point? (I’m used to looking at print books with a lot of “pomp and circumstance pages” leading to the actual manuscript.) I ended up keeping title and copyright info on the same page and giving the license notes its own page. Being pretty particular and somewhat anxiety-ridden, Step 21 in the guide wasn’t clear enough for me. I can always fix it later, I guess.

I also intend to read Smashwords Book Marketing Guide and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing, and Twitter for Authors and How to Market a Book offered by National Novel Writing Month for participants.

Taking a Step Forward

I’m finally going to take a step forward and try indie publishing. The freer it is, the better. I really don’t have the money needed to invest in a book. Stuff like editors, graphic artists, and print are well out of my reach.

I would like to someday offer my work for free but that is not possible for the time being.

I’m trying Lean Pub and Smashwords right now for my novella, The Taker, and my completed manuscript, The Scholar’s Apprentice: Secret of the Valor Lexicon.