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Melissa
21 June 2012 @ 11:20 am
So I've been MIA for the last two weeks or so due to being on vacation in the UK with my mom. This trip was my first abroad, aside from two trips to Canada, but those don't really count. We spent a little over a week in London, and the rest in Edinburgh. 

And here's what we did...Collapse )

My conclusion from this trip was London is overrated and Scotland rocks. Also, people in the UK read a lot more in public than people in the US. Needless to say, I hope to return to Scotland to visit sometime in the near future. And maybe I'll see some of the countryside in England. Or just visit Ireland instead.
 
 
Current Mood: amusedamused
 
 
Melissa
04 June 2012 @ 03:00 pm
For the last two months or so, I've been working on a new WIP. In the recent past, I've jump around from idea to idea on a biweekly basis, but this one is different. And so I'm trying something different with it. 

In the past, I've been an edit-as-you-go kind of writer. I'll write three or four chapters, discover something new, and then fix them and write more, repeat. This can make rewriting my beginning less of a chore later, but tends to slow down my momentum. When I lose momentum, I get distracted and "cheat" on my current story.

Aside from fixing typos and one major change (removing a POV I didn't need after writing a two chapters in it), I'm making notes on what I need to fix instead of fixing it right then. Which means I get to keep moving forward in the story instead of backtracking, and consequently, I keep myself interested in what I'm writing. Also, I've been avoiding loads of frustration that come with editing. Of course, this also means that once I finish, I'll have a glorious mess of a draft to fix, which may have me cursing myself later.

Any thoughts of methods of writing a first draft? Do you let it be messy and organic or edit as you go? Have you ever tried anything with your writing that wasn't your "usual" method? Did it work or backfire?
 
 
Current Mood: chipperchipper
 
 
Melissa
20 May 2012 @ 02:59 pm
So it's been about six months since I last posted. Life happened, among other things, and some stuff felt too personal to share at the time. But I've found that I miss writing in a public way, even if only a handful of people ever read this. I miss feedback. I hate to say it, but feedback keeps me writing. It's certainly not why I write, but it helps.

For the last six months, I've been working on getting my shit together. I'm not an outward failure now, and I wasn't one in November. I have a steady job, my own apartment, and I pay my bills on time...all pretty impressive in this day and age for a twenty-five-year-old. The thing was, I felt like I was barely hanging on. I felt like a failure and that no one had realized it yet. They didn't see how much effort it took to get out of bed or how I had panic attacks while driving or broke down crying in the bathroom over nothing at all. Contrary to popular belief, I'm a marvelous liar, and I lied to everyone I interacted with.

I didn't write. I didn't enjoy singing. I didn't want to do anything but lay there and somehow escape to a better life. And if I couldn't escape into some fantasy world, well...I had a final option, didn't I?

So five months ago, I finally went to the doctor and got some antidepressants. I've been on them since Christmas, and, excluding the rough first week, the medicine has helped tremendously. I didn't want it. I didn't believe meds would work for me. But I feel in control of my life for the first time in a long time. I don't feel the extremes anymore, which at times is something I miss, but I'm okay with the trade off for now.

In the last few months, I've felt more like me than I have in years. I love my job and can deal with its stresses better than I ever thought I could. I'm singing again, both in choir and with my new voice teacher. I'm playing a team sport and making new friends. And I'm writing again, on something new that I've managed to stay excited about since March.

I am by no means working at 100% yet. I feel like it may be another year or two before I get there. Maybe I'll need therapy. Maybe I'll just need to finish another book. I don't know. But I'm here again.

There's a quote I found once that conveys what I feel in way. So I'll end with that.

"I know nothing, I am neither woman nor girl; I have been living in a dream and when someone kissed me, it made me want to laugh. Now I am here before you, it seems as though I have just awakened and it is morning." ~Jean-Paul Sartre

I'm glad to be awake.

Tags: ,
 
 
Current Mood: pensivepensive
 
 
Melissa
19 November 2011 @ 07:09 pm
My word count is shrinking. In my defense, I've been writing. I've also realized that what has been stalling me out on writing my current WIP is because the story is wrong. Not all of the story, mind you, but that part when you are leaving the beginning and venturing into the deadly waters of the middle.

I blame the writing books I've been reading over the past couple of weeks. One in particular, called Thanks, but This Isn't for Us, is full of amazing advice with how to avoid common pitfalls in fiction/memoir writing. It made me feel kind of superior, actually, seeing errors that I know I don't make, until I reached the chapter about conflict. Basically, the book defines good conflict as constantly telling your protagonist "no" to the things they want. You throw in a few "yes" moments, but for the most part, you should be constantly raining on your protagonist's parade. As in Murphy's Law raining.

I read the chapter about conflict, convinced I didn't have too much to learn on the subject. And then I looked at my WIP and realized that the part where I got stuck...I was letting one of my main characters have exactly what he wanted at the beginning of the story. I kept feeling like something was off, when the truth was, I had maimed my story by letting a character get their way. Why did I do it? Well, a large part was because I was unwilling to cut a certain scene and wanted to let another character get something they wanted. And was it really so bad, if my characters eventually discovered that getting what they wanted made stuff worse? Except, at that point, it wasn't the worst thing I could have happen to my protagonist.

I'll let you imagine the number of times I banged my head against my desk when I realized what I had done.

Needless to say, I'm cutting the scene I loved now and changing my non-working plot with meager conflict into something meatier. This means I'm losing more than 30,000 words and having to rework my plot. But if it saves the story I was contemplating abandoning because I was growing bored with it, then it's worth it. After all, this isn't the first time I've had to cut words and start again with this story. And it likely won't be the last.
 
 
Current Mood: determineddetermined
 
 
Melissa
06 November 2011 @ 10:30 am
Hey look! I'm blogging before the end of the month! That's improvement, right?

I'm still sticking with writing one story, a feat I haven't managed for more than a month or two at a time in the past, oh, three years. Unfortunately, continuing to write on WIP means I'm not doing NaNo this year...not that I generally succeeded at it in the past. Instead, an lj friend of mine katherineokelly suggested doing a project she's christened TAM (or Tortured Artist Month), in which we artsy folks all endeavour to do bunches of art (either in writing, drawing, crafting, ect.) in order to get some art done and silence the inner critic. Needless to say, I can continue working on my novel for this and strive for the insane word count goal of 50k in a month. I got a late start on it, but I'm at about 4k so far. If nothing else, I have a goal to strive toward, and the company of other artists to keep me motivated.

All the talk of NaNoWriMo online has got me thinking more about why writers are so drawn to it. Trying to finish a novel in a month is next to madness, in my opinion. Also, everyone writes at a different pace. And what's the point of writing tons and tons of words, if there's no story in there? To become a better typist?

I think NaNoWriMo's real value comes in that of setting a deadline. Writing is lonely work, and if no one else has imposed a deadline on you, you can slack off all you want. After all, who will ever know you didn't write last week, and more important, who will care?

The answer, most often, is no one will know or care. And I think it's quite discouraging, as a writer, to not have that direction. I think it's part of why I've jumped stories so much in the past three years (but I'll save my deeper reflections on that for another post). But then November rolls around and because someone thought, "Hey, what if we all give ourselves this insane goal of writing 50k words in a month?", fledgling writers now have a deadline. And thanks to the internet, they also have entire writing communities who all cheer each other on during this mad race to 50k. Suddenly, writing isn't so lonely and the writer has some accountability.

I guess what I'm saying is, regardless of whether it's November or not, writers need deadlines. If you don't have an editor or agent giving them to you yet, get a writing buddy who will. Hell, make your mother give you a deadline. If nothing else, she'll nag you until you finish.

All I know is, without deadlines, I flounder and procrastinate. With them, I maye be more neurotic and needful of chocolate, but I also can make it through a novel. Speaking of which, I need to get back to mine. I have gobs of words to write to meet my deadline.
 
 
Current Mood: artisticartistic
 
 
 
Melissa
23 October 2011 @ 11:19 am
So I still fail at updating properly. I think this may be a flaw of mine...or I just need to start living a more stable life. See, I just started a new job a couple of weeks ago, so that's my excuse. Yeah...

Regardless, my new job is awesome. I never thought I would find a nursing job I actually liked, but working in the schools rocks. I get to hang out with awesome kids everyday and do gobs of paperwork. I can't imagine a better fit for me. And yes, I'm excited about paperwork. I love it so much more than getting yelled at by an addict for me to get their pain medication. Also, little kids don't try to hit on you because you are their nurse.

Now that I have my job all figured out for the present, I'm trying to focus once more on my writing. I used to be so set on being published. I wrote and wrote and researched and researched like i was getting paid for it. And then I graduated from college. I wouldn't say I gave up on writing, because I still have been writing between graduation and now. But I haven't finished anything. I haven't pushed myself. To sum things up plainly, I'm stagnant.

Now writing and physics don't have much in common, but I think they do in this regard: inertia. When you're in motion, when you're writing, it's so much easier to keep writing. But once you stop, or get stuck, you have to push to get back into motion. And sometimes you have to push for a while without getting anywhere. And that's where you start to give up.

I've been thinking about giving up for the past few months. Oh, not never writing again, just giving up on chasing after publishing. Obviously I'm not good enough and it's just too much work to finish a novel and then spend another year revising. I can't do it. Look at all my failures! See how nice and easy it sounds? I still get to write, just give up my dream. 'Cuz I'm a grown-up now and know better than to believe all my dreams will come true like some Disney song.

Then I got this job as a school nurse, a job I've wanted since I left nursing school. I always believed I would never be qualified enough for it, and even if I was qualified, there were tons of other people better suited. I sent an application in on a daydream, never expecting to get a call for an interview much less a job.

Getting this new job has got me thinking about a lot of things, but mostly, I'm re-evaluating writing. I think I gave up on writing after college, whether I knew it or not. I could not overcome my inertia to go after my dream. I whine and moaned and railed that I could not write. And it was really one simple thing: I didn't believe in myself. I didn't want it with a fire anymore. I wasn't desperate to get out the words or hungry to tell a story.

But I'm starting to get that hunger again. I don't have a fire, but I do have embers. I'm not moving yet, but I will be. Once you taste the victory of a dream come true, you want more. You can dream bigger, freer. You can believe in magic.
 
 
Current Mood: determineddetermined
 
 
Melissa
26 September 2011 @ 11:29 pm

My dear friends,

I'm not good with words, not when they come from my mouth rather than my pen. I mangle my meanings with unconscious body language and don't always realize how harsh my words sound until they have escaped my lips. I cannot express what I mean all the time, so I get frustrated with both myself and the people around me. Then I seem callous, uptight, immature, Aspergers-like, prickly...I've been called them all and they always hurt and make me question myself. Unfortunately, sometimes I don't realize that until after I snap. I hurt, so I communicate by doing something to make others feel how I do. It's something I've only begun to realize that I do unconsciously, and I want to change it. I want to say what I mean, what I feel. But I don't want to hurt those around me in the process.

To those I have injured in the past: I am so sorry. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. My feelings are my responsibility alone, you shouldn't bear them. I never should have placed that on any of you. And yet, you stood beside me anyway. You forgave and forgave even when I never said a simple, "I'm sorry." You were patient and present. You listened to my troubles for hours, gave into my whims, kept me company when I returned my dog, and pushed my wheelchair when I couldn't walk. I feel infinitely unworthy of these kindnesses, unable to ever repay the debts I owe you.

I cannot change the past, the words I spoke or did not speak. I have trouble forgiving, letting the past go and not holding grudges. But I want to change that now. I see my mistakes, feel them keenly, and they torture my thoughts sometimes until I feel I will drown in them. As long as I hold to that past, I'll continue to sink. I see what you said to me time and time again, the words I heard but did not listen to.

I'm not asking for you to fight this battle for me anymore. Just for patience. Ask me what I feel. Give me time to find the words. Hell, ask me to write it down. And I will try to remember to let mistakes go, to move on. I will try to learn your patience, your kindness. I want to be the girl I know I am, not the labels. I want to be the person you found worthy enough to call a friend.

I know for some, my words may be too late. I can never have our old friendship as it once was back. Maybe I never deserved it. Or maybe we can start anew. All I know is that you, my friends, have saved my life on many occasions. And even if we never speak again, well, perhaps it's corny, but to quote a song, "because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

Thank you, dear friends,
Melissa

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

 
 
Melissa
25 August 2011 @ 03:52 pm
So I'm far from the first person to reach out to a stranger in need or do anything to call attention to myself. I'm good at being a cog in the system when I'm outside the comfort of my own home. But today, I did something different.

When I got home from the store this afternoon, I saw a lady sitting at the top of the stairs. Now, I live in Texas, where we've been having a drought and weather over 100 degrees for far too long. So, on pure instinct, I invite this woman into my apartment. I mean, it's ridiculously hot and if I were stuck outside, I'd want someone to let me in. Plus, the nurse part of my brain didn't want her to get heat stroke or something.

Anyway, she told me she was waiting for her son, who had the keys to the apartment, to get home. She was hesitant to come inside, but I said it was no problem, so we both took shelter int the air conditioned bliss of my apartment. We proceeded to talk the next 15 minutes or so about cats and how kids like to text more than call and how the weather in Texas is nuts. And then her son showed up and she went home. It was nice. Strange, because I never do things like that, but nice.

Sometimes, living in a city, I think it's easy to forget that other people exist. You see other people every day, but how often do you really care to engage them, to find out what they might need? I'm far from being a do-gooder, and volunteer work frankly makes me feel like a fake. But getting to know my neighbor and help her out even a little bit, that seemed like a real piece of human interaction to me.

So if you don't know your neighbors, have never even tried to, maybe today you should. It could just be a "hello" or a smile, nothing more than that. At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, reach out to your fellow person. She may smile back or he may give you a weird look, or maybe, you'll make that person's day a little more bearable in some way. I definitely intend to try more to engage with humanity. How about you?
 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
Melissa
23 August 2011 @ 09:36 am
Huzzah! My journal finally decided to let me post again!

So I wanted to post about this a couple of days ago, when the black-lash to this article was going on. Basically it's yet another New York Times article that pissed off a bunch of writers, and rightly so. The main compliant of the article is that there is not enough reading material out there for boys and that is why they don't read. You know, since we're not counting the classics or even all of the amazing YA that centers around a male protagonist. Instead, this guy has to complain about their being too many ladies in writing nowadays.

To illustrate I'm not nuts in thinking this is what this dude is saying, he's a lovely excerpt for those who didn't click on the link..."The current surge in children’s literature has been fueled by talented young female novelists fresh from M.F.A. programs who in earlier times would have been writing midlist adult fiction. Their novels are bought by female editors, stocked by female librarians and taught by female teachers. It’s a cliché but mostly true that while teenage girls will read books about boys, teenage boys will rarely read books with predominately female characters."

Because you know, guys are incapable of enjoying books with women protagonists. Also, as you can probably guess, that paragraph was what pissed off the lady writers. Hell, I think it should piss off any writer, lady or not.

Since I think other people basically summed up my reaction to this article with far more tact, I'll just link to their posts on the matter. First the Rejectionist had some great things to say, and I loved Saudra Michell's solution to the purported problem of boys not having enough to read.

What are you thoughts? Do boys need more to "boy books" read? Or do they need to learn to enjoy reading about women without shame?
 
 
Current Mood: determineddetermined
 
 
Melissa
17 August 2011 @ 10:31 pm

My computer and livejournal are still having issues about me wanting to post, so my intended topic of the day must wait. Instead, I will tell you a story about one of the pictures on my inspiration wall.

In the lower middle kind of toward the left, there is a drawing of a tuxedo cat drinking coffee. I procured the drawing, and several others like it, on my first trip to New Orleans. I was 15, I think, and fell in love with that crazy messed-up city. I loved the music, the colors, the smell of river water and booze on the breeze. One day, I'll live there, and lord willing, I'd be fine with dying there. A few cities have souls, but the Crescent City is one of them.

Anyway, back to the cat. The pictures of the "creole cat" caught my eye in one store or another while I was there. I have a fondness for cats, so I bought a few postcards with the art on them. Then one morning, while eating in a cafe with my mom, I saw this black cat with a white chest and white mitted paws. He just sat there, like he owned the place, watching all the people with disdain. Eventually, he got bored and wandered over toward the steps of the courthouse next door. And then he sat guard, glaring as only a cat can at passersby and a police officer. I desperately wanted to pet him, but he seemed far too dignified for that. Instead, I took a picture. I have it somewhere I think. Perhaps when I get a scanner, I can post his picture, the creole cat revealed!

And that is the story of the creole cat in the cafe.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.