Happy Holidays!

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Just a short entry for today. It’s the holiday weekend, and I work both days at my serving job.

So Happy Holidays to everyone out there! Whatever you celebrate, may you enjoy lots of of love and laughter with your family and friends!

Confessions

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As many of you already know, for six months of my life I was homeless. I spent three months in Bremerton, Washington, and three months in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A lot of people told me that I could write about my experiences as a homeless woman.

It’s an interesting idea, a concept I would definitely love to put into a fictional narrative.

At the same time, I wonder how much of an impact I could make by incorporating what I observed and experienced for myself. I question it because, well, it’s the same narrative that Charles Dickens wrote about in many of his stories. He wrote about the plight of the poor in books like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol (the two stories of his that I’ve read). John Steinbeck wrote about what poor people went through during the Great Depression, that continual hunt for jobs that just weren’t plentiful to go around (Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath).

I wonder at my effectiveness when these books by Dickens and Steinbeck still exist. I worry about my effectiveness as a writer to write about these things when Dickens and Steinbeck have obviously failed at conveying the struggles of the poor and the homeless.

Or have they?

Yes, I do wonder at how effective I can be as a writer fictionalizing the very real things that the poor and the homeless endure. Yes, I smile and nod and say, I can do that when someone suggests to me that I should, that I can, and that I will probably have a hit on my hands. I have even thought of ways to incorporate my experiences into what I’m currently working on and ponder ways to write something that’s somewhat autobiographical.

And I do get annoyed wehn someone wants me to help them write about their life stories and their triumphs simply because I am a writer, not realizing I do have my own projects to work on and when I feel like their life stories are not anything new, not anymore.

But most of all, I’ve come to realize that the problem isn’t my effectiveness as a writer. It isn’t that Dickens and Steinbeck have numbed people to those possibilities anymore.

It’s that the majority of people have stopped caring to read. Period. I’ve been active on the internet rather regularly since 2000. That was the year I started publishing my Transformers fanfiction to a site called Lexicon.

Since then, I’ve come across a few memes that are horribly misspelled, talking about how only 2% of the population actually notices things like poor grammar and spelling errors. I’m sure many of my writer friends know the meme I’m talking about because it’s the 2% of the population that we cater to when we write. It’s discouraging to think that, as a writer, I will have a harder time convincing a non-reader to read than I will a person who actually loves to read. And it’s the non-readers that we need to reach just as much as the readers.

Add into this people thinking rape scenes are simply hot sex moments between two characters, the clear fact that the majority of non-readers find reading boring, people mock other people for reading, and now we have a problem. The messages are getting lost in a mix of instant gratification and visual over-stimulation in movies and video games. Mind you, I love video games, and I love movies. I’m quite picky about what video games I’ll play and movies I’ll watch, but they can still reach a message to me.

So how do we overcome all of this? Books get turned into movies and video games quite a bit anymore, so that helps some, but how many remakes of A Christmas Carol do we really need? I’m going to go out on a limb and say as many as possible because people still are not getting that message. Stories have success when their themes are told and re-told.

I still have my doubts about how effective I’ll be as a writer depicting a homeless person’s situation, but the idea remains on the table.

In the meantime, I highly recommend for readers to get their hands on books like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and similar stories. Push your boundaries. Read Harry Potter and Magnus Chase.

And may they all warm your heart.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

On the Subject of Advice and NaNo Results

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Here we are, the final month of what has been a very interesting and heartbreaking year. I know I didn’t post anything at all last month. Between NaNo, the election, and work, I was quite not into conversing much, and I was finding political discussions eating up more time than what I really needed to give to them.

So here are my NaNo results.

I ended NaNo with 38,501 words instead of the 50,000 needed to win. That’s with everything from Ravensrealm typed up, transcribed, and added to. I did push myself as hard as I could to try and make the 50k mark. However, actually winning NaNo would have been just a nice bonus for me as I’ve won NaNo in the past. The challenge this year was to write while working 4-6 days a week and not get discouraged that I wasn’t making goal.

My actual goal was to write every day. NaNo had participation badges, ones that I could assign for myself (rebel, caffeine addict, etc . . .), but they also doled out badges as well for hitting particular milestones – 1667 words, 5k, 10k, 25k, 40k, 50k and for writing X number of days in a row. I wasn’t writing nearly as often as I wanted. NaNo helped to get me back on track, and that was the important thing for me.

Overall, NaNo was a win for me. I got what was on paper typed up, I’ve furthererd the story and connected what was on paper with what I had on Word, and the writing is going smoother now for it. Camp NaNo is coming up in April and in July. Depending on what I have lined up at those points, I may participate in them as well to get some other stories completed.

The word count isn’t quite so important to me right this moment as it is getting the story completed. Ravensrealm is the third book in Arc of Fantasy, and, because of different main characters, I had to go back to the beginning, and these two characters, Alethea and Jordan, have been just as much fun to work with as Fen and the twins have been. To use the current McDonald’s slogan, I’m lovin’ it.

And that’s a good thing. I have a strong sense of what I want to write as an author, and I’ve been sticking with it. I know some people are not as fortunate as I am when it comes to wanting to write but not having an idea of what to write. Some want to know who to target, what’s actually selling, and so on.

My advice to these people who want to write but don’t know what to write is this: analyze yourself. Are you an avid reader? What sections of the library and bookstore do you browse the most? Which authors do you type into Amazon? What kind of movies do you like? Crime thriller? Erotica? Romance? Science-fiction and fantasy? Action and adventure?

In my personal opinion, you cannot target a genre or a demographic (like audience) until you know what it is that you like to read. You are basically writing the types of books and stories that you would want to find on a bookshelf or on Amazon. Know yourself. Once you better understand what it is that you like to read and that you want to read, you can proceed from there.

I prefer science-fiction and fantasy as an author. The ages of the main characters isn’t necessarily a deterrent from reading. I love the Harry Potter series, after all, and many of the works by Rick Riordan, and those are books targeted for middle grade and young adult. I will step outside of my preferred genre on occasion. The back of the book really has to snag me to get me to do that. But I prefer science-fiction and fantasy mixed with geek culture and Norse paganism. I’m writing the stories that appeal to me, that I would want to read, and that I would buy.
I’m not into riding a trend. If that were the case, I’d be writing erotic gay vampire romance stories where the vampires are at war with either zombies or young wizard children.

So analyze yourself. Know yourself as a reader first and foremost.

If you’re looking to write a story to make a quick buck, well, play the lottery. You’ll have a better chance of winning that than making a quick fortune writing a novel.

Happy Thursday to all!