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C.J. Rockwell
08-17-2010, 06:45 PM
This really isn't a general question, but since most of what I post now ends up here anyway, why fight it?

After another fiasco with my last thread, I'll ask as simple a question I'm capable of.

For years I've tried to write MG novels, but I can't attain the quality I want.

So many suggested I change what I wrote, but still be something important to me.

Problem is, to do that would mean writing about the things I've fought to avoid for years. I'm not going to say what they are unless someone asks, otherwise it'll just look like I'm being defensive, but trust me, these are the kinds of things I can't put a fun twist on.

Plus, these stories demand I write them for YA, and I've never felt very comfortable with most books for that age group, even when I was one.

I wrote what I did to escape my pain, despite knowing what a hard sell it is, and this change would mean writing about things I still struggle to deal with.

I know many of you have written about the tough times in your life, either as memoirs or novels where you know about the subject matter than you wish you did. How did you do it? Were you glad to do it? Even when it was hard?

This time, I'm not going to reply to anyone's comments. I'll just listen. That seems to be the only way I can avoid the mean way I've been acting.

Susan Littlefield
08-17-2010, 06:52 PM
For me, it depends. I can take a simple childhood or adult experience and create a story around it, whether it was a painful or joyous, to the point where people will ask, "Did that really happen to you?" When I get that question, I know I have done my job.

On the other hand, I cannot bring myself to write about when my mother died of cancer when I was 23, in either novel or memoir form. It is way too painful.

It's okay to listen in, but you've got to participate- after all, it is your thread. Please share your thoughts. :)

Ol' Fashioned Girl
08-17-2010, 06:57 PM
I have many, many times incorporated my own painful experiences into my manuscripts. Not only has it contributed to the story, but it's helped me examine the situation, understand my feelings about it and place in it, and work through it. Self-help in its most basic form. :)

Maryn
08-17-2010, 07:02 PM
I've written and edited with tears streaming down my face, pausing only to get another Kleenex, even though I was fictionalizing actual events rather than accurately recounting.

I find doing so, facing the pain again and again as I work the story, has two positive effects. One, it's cathartic. Two, I become somewhat desensitized, so the pain becomes less severe.

Maryn, who's lived a life with pain, same as everybody has

quicklime
08-17-2010, 07:23 PM
This really isn't a general question, but since most of what I post now ends up here anyway, why fight it?

After another fiasco with my last thread, I'll ask as simple a question I'm capable of.

For years I've tried to write MG novels, but I can't attain the quality I want.

So many suggested I change what I wrote, but still be something important to me.

Problem is, to do that would mean writing about the things I've fought to avoid for years. I'm not going to say what they are unless someone asks, otherwise it'll just look like I'm being defensive, but trust me, these are the kinds of things I can't put a fun twist on.

Plus, these stories demand I write them for YA, and I've never felt very comfortable with most books for that age group, even when I was one.

I wrote what I did to escape my pain, despite knowing what a hard sell it is, and this change would mean writing about things I still struggle to deal with.

I know many of you have written about the tough times in your life, either as memoirs or novels where you know about the subject matter than you wish you did. How did you do it? Were you glad to do it? Even when it was hard?

This time, I'm not going to reply to anyone's comments. I'll just listen. That seems to be the only way I can avoid the mean way I've been acting.



CJ,

a couple thoughts:

1. you're going to have to thicken your skin a bit; this is a rough sport. In another thread someone wanted percentages for first novels that are accepted, while that has tons of variables the closest we cme for an across-the-board number was WELL below 1%. Good luck with that, and I mean that, but again, it's a rough sport.

2. I've heard a number of things about writing, and I thought a lot of them were self-serving, artsy bullshit. Some are. However, I will say you don;t have the luxury of making your stories, you write what you have, not what you want. I couldn't write "gone with the wind" or "The Hunt for Red October", although I could produce 400-600 pages of utter dogshit with similar themes, because it isn't the story I have in me. I think of the story as being a lot like a train and I'm the conductor--there are plenty of things I can do to change speed, course, etc., and I can certainly tweak and nudge my story, but I cannot change it 180 degrees. I might be able to add a love interest to a suspense story, or to let a character live when I initially thought he would not, but I can't just say one day "Watership Down" is hot again, I'm gonna write a bunny-book" or "Twilight is still hot, I'm writin' me a vampire romance for teens". The train would derail. I can write what comes to me, I can't make someone else's idea my own if it isn't.

In light of #2, are animal stories, or YA for that matter, what comes to you, honestly, or are they what you're shooting for because of market, relative lack of need to plumb your own psyche, etc.? Writing can be hard, miserable, cathartic, and depressing. I killed a girl who was a version of my wife and spent half a day in my office hoping like hell nobody came in to see me crying--that wasn't a hell of a lot of fun, but hopefully it also worked out on the page. I could not have said "f' this, I'm writin' about the President's teenage daughter falling for the hunky Prince of Spain in a teen comedy" just because I found it less miserable work.

Maybe, and I'm only saying maybe; it is something you need to look inward and consider, you aren't actually cut out to tell animal stories after all. maybe that's part of your problem. Maybe you need to cast your net elsewhere, or maybe you're not ready to and/or you need not to.

sunna
08-17-2010, 07:37 PM
I've written scenes that left me so upset I was shaking and queasy, and definitely ones that made me cry. Not only is it, as Maryn and OFG have said, useful in a cathartic/desensitizing way, but I think some of my best writing has been connected, vaguely or directly, to some of my worst moments. (With judicious editing afterward, of course.)


How did you do it? Were you glad to do it? Even when it was hard?

1) I just plowed through it. For me, scenes with high emotional tension have their own momentum, so after a while I can pretty much just let myself be carried by it.

2) Yes, definitely.

defyalllogic
08-17-2010, 07:37 PM
it can be cathartic but it also helps when you think about it, Maryn mentioned, fictionalizing.

I'm not sure if you're talking about the pain of writing what you don't want to write or the pain of writing about some tough time in your life...?

for the first, i suggest you MUST be interested in various subjects even if you don't think you are. think of things you read and just like tv shows or when you put a book down for the night or those supporting characters who pique your interest. you imagin and wonder what if. you day dream. that's were my newest WIP came from, a what if day dream that wouldn't leave me alone. force your self to thing in what ifs and day dream a bit.

if it's the second. i try not to upset myself. :) you can avoid things that make you uncomfortable if they don't detract form your character. you shouldn't write about a girl who's teased for being fat and never actually acknowledge her feeling before and after... but you could write about a girl who's fat and happy. or sisters where one if fat and one is thin and they're jealous of each other. that could be emotional or humorous or both or neither.

i guess, the long and the short of it is that you don't have to writ what causes you pain or you can throw yourself into it or you can tip toe around it.

good luck.

Kris
08-17-2010, 10:54 PM
Problem is, to do that would mean writing about the things I've fought to avoid for years. I'm not going to say what they are unless someone asks, otherwise it'll just look like I'm being defensive, but trust me, these are the kinds of things I can't put a fun twist on.


There are books that deal with serious subjects without putting a "fun twist" on them.

It's also possible to write for catharsis without trying to publish, and to write for publication as a separate endeavor.

ishtar'sgate
08-17-2010, 11:16 PM
There are books that deal with serious subjects without putting a "fun twist" on them.

It's also possible to write for catharsis without trying to publish, and to write for publication as a separate endeavor.

I agree. I was actually going to suggest this in the thread you alluded to but wasn't sure it was something you'd consider doing. It sounds like you've already been thinking about it though so I'll second the idea. Painful subjects aren't easy to write about but they can be a great release and a good way to expel the anger and frustration you've been feeling.

Hope you find a solution. My cousin took 10 years to confront a painful subject but finally wrote about it and found it helpful. Sometimes it's the only way we can move on.

leahzero
08-18-2010, 12:04 AM
I wrote what I did to escape my pain, despite knowing what a hard sell it is, and this change would mean writing about things I still struggle to deal with.

I'm curious why you feel you have to write about painful events or topics from your own life in order to improve the quality of your writing. Because writing about experiences that have painful emotional resonance with you won't automatically improve your writing--though it will no doubt help you heal and learn from those experiences.

Writing as an escape is perfectly okay. And it sounds like that's what you want to do, since you talk about putting a "fun twist" on events.

Your humor has undoubtedly been shaped by the painful experiences that seem to be haunting you. Humor may be your way of coping with, and understanding, pain.

I agree that you should write about things that are important to you, but that doesn't mean what you're doing now is wrong or not good enough. I suggest that you examine why you're not satisfied with the quality of your writing. Is it really lacking in emotion, particularly the dark and difficult emotions associated with painful experiences? Tapping into painful memories can be a cathartic experience in itself, and a rich source of inspiration and raw material for art, but I caution against doing so with the assumption that it will fix the problems with your writing.

Kris
08-18-2010, 12:09 AM
I'm curious why you feel you have to write about painful events or topics from your own life in order to improve the quality of your writing. Because writing about experiences that have painful emotional resonance with you won't automatically improve your writing--though it will no doubt help you heal and learn from those experiences.

Writing as an escape is perfectly okay. And it sounds like that's what you want to do, since you talk about putting a "fun twist" on events.

Your humor has undoubtedly been shaped by the painful experiences that seem to be haunting you. Humor may be your way of coping with, and understanding, pain.

I agree that you should write about things that are important to you, but that doesn't mean what you're doing now is wrong or not good enough. I suggest that you examine why you're not satisfied with the quality of your writing. Is it really lacking in emotion, particularly the dark and difficult emotions associated with painful experiences? Tapping into painful memories can be a cathartic experience in itself, and a rich source of inspiration and raw material for art, but I caution against doing so with the assumption that it will fix the problems with your writing.

Yup. You said it better than I could.

The more I think on this topic, the more I wonder... It's different for everyone, but I think when I first started writing I stuck closer to my personal "Big Topic of Doom." Then later I began to be able to be fully engaged in writing things that weren't about my personal Topic of Doom. I submit that thought into the wild, here, for what it's worth.

As a whole separate topic, getting an agent and getting published is this crazy long-odds game that you have to approach in a certain way, and even if one is a complete and total pro about it -- an absolute machine who makes no mistakes and comes charging right out of the gate -- even then, just based on the odds, it will usually take a while before you hit the bullseye and land an agent/get published.

Theo81
08-18-2010, 01:26 AM
I don't write about the painful stuff in my life; I write about the things that didn't happen to me because I made (or didn't make) the choices which caused/prevented them (That's the line I'm sticking with, anyway. In the event of publication, there is no way on this planet I'm admitting to anything in my MS.). It keeps a measure of control over things while still being able to think over the issues and it enables me to think about the ways we interlock as human beings and how different people see a single type of behavior in different ways.

As for putting a fun take on tragic subjects, I think that is always a mistake. There are some jokes which shouldn't be made. However, you can juxtapose comedy and tragedy and, if you do it well, it only makes the final end more potent.
The final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, for instance. It doesn't dilute the events or attempt to make light of the terrible things which happened during WW1, but it is quite brilliant and genuinly funny and the emotions sit beside each other in equal measure.
To combine tragedy and comedy, I think it's important to be clear on where the joke lies and to give the subject complete honesty. If there is a greater portrait of the post-suicidal than Steve Carrel (sp?) in Little Miss Sunshine, I haven't seen it. That is how to do it.

Kris
08-18-2010, 01:40 AM
As for putting a fun take on tragic subjects, I think that is always a mistake. There are some jokes which shouldn't be made. However, you can juxtapose comedy and tragedy and, if you do it well, it only makes the final end more potent..

Yeah, but part of me wants to say that there are just no rules about this stuff. I've read so many books that made me think, Wow, I didn't think that could be done, but that writer did it.

Jamesaritchie
08-18-2010, 04:18 AM
I just do it because, to me, my life experience, the good, the bad, the pleasant, and the painful, are what writing is all about.

"Write what you know" is, I believe, the best advice in the world. It's just misunderstood. It means you use your life experience, all of it, to bridge the natural gap between you and your readers.

I've never had a problem writing about the painful, unpleasant perts of my life. Just the opposite. Without this, fiction is dry, dead, unbelievable. There are millions who can write well, but fail because they either have nothing to say, or are afraid to say it.

Stephen King pooh-poohs it, but many a psychologist believes he's writing about the same traumatic childhood experience over in over, in form after form. The one where a childhood friend was killed by a train while King was playing with him. To me, it makes perfect sense.

Putting a fun twist on painful experience is one way to write about them, but certainly not the only way. Telling them just like they happened, whether in actuality or metaphorically, is extremely effective.

Really, what good are these painful, traumatic times unless you learn from them, learn to use them for your own betterment?

Mr Flibble
08-18-2010, 04:34 AM
"Write what you know" is, I believe, the best advice in the world. It's just misunderstood. It means you use your life experience, all of it, to bridge the natural gap between you and your readers.




*note. No sleep. Spelling awful.

I've always taken it to mean 'wrote what you know about people' and, lawks how egotistical would it ne to wrote about yourself every time? But to put yourself in another's shoes while referencing yourself and what you know/feel/understand? Absofuckinglutely.

None of my characters are loopy (I am) except one. That one IS hard to write, Bu I do it a chunk at a time. It;s harder. It even harder because his moments are like mine. But the character closest to me? Complete blast to write. Me without my problems, but with others. What I would do if I a) was not loopy and b) lived where she did

For me half the fun of writing is that I get to be someone else. The point is, to get that voice, that agents want, to do have to BE that someone else, at least in your words. I actually become them..YMMV on that. But, you thing us, you are not you when you write, Yes, it should soun like you wrote it, with word chocies etc. The characters should sound like THEM. WIth their own esxperiences, biases, memories, not yours.

I am almost certainly not making sense. I need to sleep. A lot.

Polenth
08-18-2010, 05:37 AM
Actually, no one told you to stop writing middle grade. They advised you to try something other than a talking animal story. This doesn't mean you have to write dark and gritty. All it means is trying a human point-of-view character.

For example, the story about a girl who rescues a stray cat. It'd be a cute and fuzzily story still, and it's still about animals, but it's told from the point-of-view of the child.

You've created this divide where talking animal stories can only be light and escapist, and human stories can only be dark and gritty. You can have dark and gritty talking animals and light and escapist humans. You don't have to try dark, but it would benefit you to have a go at humans. I like writing from non-human points-of-view too... but the market is a lot smaller than it is for human characters. So I write a bit of both.

SueLahna
08-23-2010, 11:30 PM
I guess I'm an emotional masochist, I enjoy writing was is/has caused me pain. For me its like therapy, which is funny considering I've never had any/refused to put up with it. Its easy to write what you know, and though I do not make my characters at all into me, I do give them a few things I've been through, or something to that extent, but most of the time they deal with it a lot better/worse than myself.

So, how do I write what causes me pain? Very easily.

Libbie
08-24-2010, 05:27 AM
There are books that deal with serious subjects without putting a "fun twist" on them.

It's also possible to write for catharsis without trying to publish, and to write for publication as a separate endeavor.

Yeah -- who the heck says you have to put a fun twist on what you write? I know quirky/fun fiction is popular, but it's not the only way to write. I SELDOM put a happy spin on my writing -- nearly everything I write has a sad ending, or at least a bittersweet ending that is heavy on the "bitter."

As for how you write it...well, you just do. You just have to work yourself up to the point where you don't care whether people read these dark things you've kept inside yourself. Or you have to decide that it's worth it for you to express these things, that the value of honest expression outweighs the value of keeping it to yourself.

Life isn't all fun twists. Sometimes life sucks. It's okay to write about that, and to be honest about it.

Libbie
08-24-2010, 05:33 AM
You've created this divide where talking animal stories can only be light and escapist, and human stories can only be dark and gritty. You can have dark and gritty talking animals and light and escapist humans. You don't have to try dark, but it would benefit you to have a go at humans. I like writing from non-human points-of-view too... but the market is a lot smaller than it is for human characters. So I write a bit of both.


Yeah! Er -- you have read Watership Down, right? A Black Fox Running? Duncton Wood? One For Sorrow, Two For Joy? The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West? Silverhair? The White Bone (talk about dark and gritty....)? The Plague Dogs, for god's sake?

Of course, all these are talking animal stories aimed at adult readers, but my point stands. There is a lot of dark and gritty in the talking animal genres -- maybe more than there is lighthearted fluff. Some YA/MG examples that are heavy on the darkness and grit: Mossflower (and most of the rest of the Redwall books) Firebringer, the Ratha series, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.

I am a HUGE fan of talking animal fiction -- I've got a Watership Down tattoo, in fact. That's how huge a fan I am. But it is hard to sell. You really need to be savvy and possibly a bit lucky, too. I pitched an idea for an adult talking animal book to my agent and she told me, "Wellll, if you feel you really NEED to write it, go for it...but it'd be darn near impossible to sell until later in your career." It's never going to be a bad move to start out with human characters for your first few books and then move to the animal fables. :)

But keep writing them on the side. They're often the ones that resonate with readers the most.

KTC
08-24-2010, 06:29 AM
i absolutely love digging in to the meat and pulling out a vein. it gives me a high.

SueLahna
08-24-2010, 09:11 AM
i absolutely love digging in to the meat and pulling out a vein. it gives me a high.

Here here, good sir. Cheers.

Carolanne Patton
08-24-2010, 08:03 PM
It's easier than you think. Just start writing, it'll be cathartic. I'm not just saying that because I think so, I'm saying it because I'm doing it. My WIP is about 3 siblings in the aftermath of their brother being murdered when he interrupted a serial killer in a wrong place wrong time scenario.

My own brother was murdered last November when he was at a friends house taking a shower because his plumbing was being worked on and found himself in the middle of a home invasion. When he came to the aid of the woman who lived there he was shot through the aorta. Died within seconds.

If I can take the painful aftermath of that and write about it, then I'm sure you can write about whatever you've experienced. It actually makes the writing part easier and more realistic. I suspect that is why they say "Write what you know."

C.J. Rockwell
04-03-2011, 03:07 PM
There are books that deal with serious subjects without putting a "fun twist" on them.

It's also possible to write for catharsis without trying to publish, and to write for publication as a separate endeavor.

I know that, but what if you just don't want to write them?

If you can't get that than why don't you go work for CNN if you want that.

Linda Adams
04-03-2011, 04:38 PM
I know many of you have written about the tough times in your life, either as memoirs or novels where you know about the subject matter than you wish you did. How did you do it? Were you glad to do it? Even when it was hard?

When I came home from the first Persian Gulf War, I was very angry at something that happened over there. At the core of it was a huge betrayal of trust across many people I was supposed to be able to trust, and I had to work with them again, pretending like nothing had happened. I wanted to write about it and bleed off some of the poison--but I couldn't. I was still in the army, and they would've taken a dim view of that. Then I realized I could write fantasy stories. They were fiction, they were set in another place and time, and it wasn't about the army. I let the writing control the direction I went, which was fantasy about war. The stories were dark, but they never touched the actual incident.

Twenty years later, and I still haven't written anything specifically about what happened. I actually think I'm only getting to the point where I might be able to. I've heard that war vets write their books 20 years after the fact because that's when they can have enough distance to tell the story. I think there's some truth in that. Yet, aspects of what happened comes into what I write. My last story was about betrayal. My current story is about betrayal. My next story is about betrayal. Only one was set in a war zone, and that was my cowriter's idea, not mine.

Don't think that you're only limited to write in middle grade or that you have to write about what happened. Let your muse guide you in the direction you need to go and see where it takes you. Trust it to do what you need it to do.

amlptj
04-03-2011, 05:11 PM
I dont know what you went though as a child so i dont know if this information will help you, but i'll tell you what i went through and what i did about it. Hope it helps some how.

For a long while now I've written a series, I've written since i was 12 and writing was my way of escaping my horrible life at the time. In grade school i was horribly bullied, like beyond the simple one kid in the class called me names stuff, i mean like the entire class tormenting me daily for 5 years, living in a constant hell, kind of bullying.

Anyway I wrote my series, where I was a character, I created my own little world where I had friends, and I was special, and well I wrote about the life I wish I had and the people I wish I knew. For a long while it sustained me. I still write my series because I'm in love with it and its become my sort of safety mechanism for keeping myself sane when things go bad in life.

But I'm 20 going on 21 and still have issues because of the things that have happened to me in grade school. Its the kind of past that haunts me daily and even in college I cant seem to simply "Forget about it". Point is I never got therapy for this shit or anything and my grandmom one day was talking to me about it and brought up a good point, she said "Well you love to write, you should write about what happened to you."

Naturally I thought that was a stupid idea. Why would I put myself through that sort of pain reliving it all? I wrote Horror/Thriller books not drama and all that stuff, hell I didnt even read books like that. Why would I want to write a book about how pathetic I was and how even after i graduated I was still haunted with what they put me through? What kind of book would that be? But as i thought about it more the idea came to me... it didnt have to be an autobiography, what if i wrote about what i wish i did to all those bastards that tormented me. What if I told my story and in the end, unlike in real life, they would get what they deserved?

In November when i found out what NaNo was i figured it would be the perfect chance to give this idea a shot. I didnt really have an idea other then I didnt want it to be "me" in the book, which was a first because "I'm" in my series. So i came up which a character, who was really me in every way except her name, I slightly changed the names of all my bullies, but if they were to read the book it would only take them a split second to figure out who every one was. I ended up writing a book where there were 2 bullied kids, a boy and a girl who both found each other got sick of being picked on and killed or ruined the lives of all there bullies then ran away together and lived happily ever after. (Had to add my horror element, plus get out all my anger)

I used actually stuff that happened to me when i wrote about there pasts. That was the hardest part because i had to relive it but in a way i think it was good for me, because i finally got it out of my head it put it on paper. And the pain was lessened because it was happening to my character not "me". What really helped me was the made up parts where my characters finally got revenge. Killing some and completely ruining the lives of others who hurt them. Actually it made me really happy writing those parts, as horrible as it sounds, but hey, at least I didnt do it in real life right?

The books still not finished yet but, that was because school work got in the way then i got more interested in my first love, my series, so i put it on hold. But honestly now i feel much better that i got almost all of it out. The book i will say is horribly violent, a little immoral, and very very sad but i honestly still want to finish it and get it published. Why? Because i think getting my story out there will not only help me get past it all but help others who might of went through the same thing, just so they know they aren't alone. Might also teach bullies to what out for who they pick on.

Anyway not sure if this will help you at all. But all i can say is writing about what happened to you can be very... therapeutic, it was for me at least.

fourlittlebees
04-03-2011, 05:26 PM
amlptj has it, on the money.

I wrote two trunk novels that will never see the light of day just to get that stuff out of me that was out in front. In one, it was actually cathartic to kill off a few characters who'd brought with them a ton of pain, and in the other, I was able to give myself the fairy-tale ending I wasn't ever going to get in real life. Only once I got those out of the way was I able to get to what I really wanted to write.

The trunked books, by the way, were over-the-top in every regard: one so dark and depressing it made Sophie's Choice look almost like a lark, and the other one with such a syrupy sweet ending Disney could almost option it for a cartoon. But once all that mess was out of me, I was able to go back to what I really wanted to do and write the book I really wanted to write.

amlptj
04-03-2011, 05:29 PM
Hahah yeah my book is REALLY REALLY REALLY dark too. Like back hole dark. Ironically thought it has my own dream fairy tale ending too.

Wow I really thought i was the only one who did this! Glad to know i'm not alone!

KimJo
04-03-2011, 05:32 PM
In my YA series Reality Shift, one of the main characters is very much me. Some of her experiences were mine; some of hers are worse than what I went through. Through the series, her life improves.

But there are still scenes I can't revise without crying, and there have been days when after revising one of those scenes, I've had to step away from my computer for the rest of the day.

I write/revise them anyway, because it does help me to get that stuff out, and because I hope it will help readers who might be going through similar things.

C.J. Rockwell
04-03-2011, 05:43 PM
Thanks everyone. I brought this thread back because I hit a worse plateau than when I first started. I really do appreciate everyone who took the time to share their thoughts, both this morning and last year.

I couldn't reply back then for fear I'd cause another flame war, but I hope this time, things will be better.

Sometimes you need a reminder.

quicklime
04-03-2011, 08:34 PM
ummm, got your pm; welcome back

Libbie
04-05-2011, 09:53 PM
C.J., it sounds like you're still really struggling to decide whether you should write something that really exposes your real feelings and/or experiences. Maybe you need to just try the experience of writing about that stuff without any expectation that this particular piece of writing will be published. Take some of the pressure off yourself to write something you can sell, and instead just experience writing as a form of expression. See what it does for you.

C.J. Rockwell
04-06-2011, 12:08 AM
Libbie, that wasn't what I meant. It's not that I want to publish the book about my past and present living nightmares, I don't, but keeping it to myself is not the issue. I spent years writing away from what I dealt with and still do, just minus the high school motif, and even when I tried to engage it only for self-healing reasons, I still freeze up.

Because it takes me a pathetically long time to get over setbacks like this, I was afraid if I wrote the pain out, even if no one ever saw it but me, I was afraid I'd get stuck there, and there's a good reason why.

Since novel writing's been sparse in recent months, I started reading and writing poetry, and that helps at least a little.

But my recent poems have started me questioning the direction I want my writing to go. A lot of poems now tend to have this angst and power people have told me screams YA, yet the only YA novel I attempted I abandoned half done on a first draft. Why?

Two reasons. One, my mechanics were mortifying back then, and by the time I'd heard about Twilight, the paranormal market started on the comeback that's only now just starting to cool off a little, and since I was having a hard enough time with Gabriel fighting the stigma and pressures of competing with all the established MG animal fantasy novels, I didn't dare risk even worse scrutiny on my YA paranormal.

Did this YA novel deal with my particular life struggles? No.

In fact, with some exceptions, most of the stories I've written have MCs who are either more patient, way less bitter versions of myself, or just opposite me, not "perfect" little goody-two shoes mind you, just better anger management, and who don't turn on the tears nearly as easily.

Everybody who said to just give it the happy ending I never got, my last WIP did that, and let's just say that didn't go over well.

I think as far as YA in general goes, I didn't think I'd be that good at it, never mind that unlike some of you, it's not forever and a day ago for me, and until some folks recommended books to me that didn't thrive on the hot button subjects, I really knew of or read few books in YA until recently.

Most the bestselling YA novels I'm too chicken to read, or just too close to heart in order to read or write them authentically and with integrity, and angst in all the right places.

But I think it's just a matter of finding and reading the right books for me. Sometimes all it takes is the right writer or book to help you appreciate what you've been missing, and I think that's what is starting to help me now.

It took me some time, but I think I'll just put my novel writing on hold, since I'm having trouble thinking up a non-animal fantasy plot I'd actually have a shot at pulling off.

Since poetry is less demanding on me in some respects, despite my lackluster efforts to write short stories that don't feel hollow when restricted to under 500 words, and I'm better at it that I first thought, I'll focus on that for now. At least I'll still be writing something.

I'm also taking this time to catch up on some books that until recently I'd been too afraid/jealous to read, and I hated feeling that way. I still love reading, and the writers who made me want to write in the first place, but my ambition to improve mt craft blocked that from me at times.

It's better now.

I will say this though, and despite my bad attitude, this is something I hope a writer who's struggled as I have, will know this-

Maturity and Mortality rarely, both happen slow, and rarely work together in harmony. When they do, be thankful, when they don't, pray, and remember you need them both.

Or to put it bluntly, don't let dying without achieving your writing goals drive you nuts, or at least not drive those trying to help you nuts, but sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference, and I've sure learned that the hard ways in recent years.

So to end this on a positive note, I really do appreciate those who've commented and tried to console/commiserate with me, and I know I was a pain a lot of the time.

I really was listening, even when I projected otherwise, but all I can do is try to be a bit less angry and pressuring every day. I sure didn't get so bitter and negative overnight, so I can't rectify it that soon either.

But I do know that at my core, a happier, way less angry me still exists, I just have to remind myself of that, especially at low points like this.

This will take time. I know and appreciate that now. But at least admitting it is an important step, many people I know can't even do that much. Now I just need to better act on it. I was okay more or less for a while, but got off track, and after yesterday, I know the pattern I didn't see before that caused it.

Once I know what to watch for, I watch it better, so hopefully that's starting to happen now.

ArcadiaDarrell
04-06-2011, 12:58 AM
I used to be an angry, negative person. I was downright ragefilled. I made Eminem on his worse day look serene as the Buddha. It is no easy task to get over that kind of negativity. There are days when you just feel like you're burning in side as the bitterness eats you alive. For me, I approached it like an addiction. You deal with it much like people in AA or NA or any of the As. Its a struggle but you have to concentrate on the good no matter how tiny AND STOP MAKING EXCUSES. when you get into a mind set of negativity its so easy to brush off the good as "not good enough."

And sometimes the best way to deal with bad things in life is to not deal with them at all. If things are truely bad you have 3 options: 1) go crazy; 2) die; 3) get over it. If someone claims their life is bad rambling on about it, well then it really isn't that bad 'cuase they're still waxing on.

You keep back tracking and making excuses. Do you want to deal with your pain and move beyond it? Or are you having a whiney moment?

Libbie
04-06-2011, 01:02 AM
Since novel writing's been sparse in recent months, I started reading and writing poetry, and that helps at least a little.


Good! I love writing poetry, too. And reading it. It's got its own feel that (to me, anyway) allows a person to get closer and more directly to one's feelings. It's awesome. I'm glad it's helping you some.


A lot of poems now tend to have this angst and power people have told me screams YA, yet the only YA novel I attempted I abandoned half done on a first draft. Why?

Why do you have to write YA? The most angsty and powerful novels I've ever read have all been adult fiction. That's not to say that there aren't powerful, angsty YA novels...of course there are. But personally, the stuff that's moved me the most has all been adult fiction.

Have you ever read any John Updike? Or Joyce Carol Oates? If not, you ought to give both a try.

You seem very focused on breaking into either MG or YA (eventually -- I hear what you're saying now, that you're just enjoying poetry and reading, and not necessarily trying to get anything published at this point.) Maybe what you need to do is allow yourself to feel whatever story wants to come out, and write that, and enjoy the process of writing it without worrying about how it will be received.

Yes, marketing restrictions can really put a squeeze on the books you've spent a lot of time nurturing and creating. I know that as well as anybody. I finished a novel and a half, both of which I am really proud of, and I've had two agents and one editor tell me that the first (completed) novel falls too squarely between YA and adult, and that they can't figure out what exactly to do with it...but I don't think the story needs to change. There are areas that I could improve, of course, but overall, as a story, I don't think it HAS to be smooshed into either the YA mold or the adult mold. It's a good book as it is; it's not my fault that the market has become so compartmentalized that it's hard to sell anything that can't be unequivocally labeled. After a tough conversation with my agent, I decided to let this book and the unfinished sequel lie for an indefinite period of time. I'm going to move on to other projects that probably will be easier for the industry to define, and maybe some day when I have an established backlist I will find a publisher who's willing to take a chance on my YA/adult "cusp" book. It took me a little while to find some peace with that decision, but I know it's the right decision. I keep the integrity of my book(s) and I free myself up to focus my energy on the next project.

What I'm trying to tell you is, it's all right for you to say, "You know what, Industry? I like what I'm doing. Maybe some day we'll see eye-to-eye; in the meantime, I'm happy doing my thing so I'm going to keep on doing it." Actually, sometimes that feels really good.



Everybody who said to just give it the happy ending I never got, my last WIP did that, and let's just say that didn't go over well.

Don't ever, ever, EVER give your book somebody else's ending. Or somebody else's beginning. Or somebody else's characters. It has to be yours or it will never work.


I think as far as YA in general goes, I didn't think I'd be that good at it, never mind that unlike some of you, it's not forever and a day ago for me, and until some folks recommended books to me that didn't thrive on the hot button subjects, I really knew of or read few books in YA until recently.

YA isn't really my thing, either. It seems like everybody out there just expects authors to write YA, since it's hot and it's just about the only genre that's selling really well right now. But it's just not for everybody, plain and simple. Believe me, I've tried to motivate myself to write a YA book. I never could get into it. I love teens and have a great time hanging out with them (while I was a zoo keeper I worked with tons of teen volunteers) but I just have no desire at all to write for them.

It's totally fine if you're not a YA writer. It's totally fine if your writing is hard to define. It might make it tougher for you to get published some day, but you only need to find one editor who is ga-ga for what you do.



Most the bestselling YA novels I'm too chicken to read, or just too close to heart in order to read or write them authentically and with integrity, and angst in all the right places.

What are the RIGHT places? Art is not dictated, and art changes with every viewer (or in this case, reader.) However you approach and react to a work of art, including a YA novel, is the RIGHT way to do it. And I'm sure any author would rather they evoked some strong emotion in you, no matter what it is or where they managed to evoke it, than they would have their book be just another cookie-cutter YA novel to you. :)




It took me some time, but I think I'll just put my novel writing on hold, since I'm having trouble thinking up a non-animal fantasy plot I'd actually have a shot at pulling off.

If you feel inspired to write animal fantasies for adults (or for anybody else), then do it. Richard Adams went through years of rejections for Watership Down before he found just the right editor for it. And that book has never gone out of print since 1972. So there's pie in the eye of everybody who says adults don't want to read animal fantasies.


Since poetry is less demanding on me in some respects, despite my lackluster efforts to write short stories that don't feel hollow when restricted to under 500 words, and I'm better at it that I first thought, I'll focus on that for now. At least I'll still be writing something.

Again, I'm glad you're writing poetry and finding some satisfaction with it. And I'm really glad you're motivated to keep on writing. But I kind of don't get your approach to all this. Why do you feel so discouraged if you can't conform to what's expected? Who told you you have to keep a short story under 500 words? You can write short fiction that is thousands of words long. It's still considered short fiction. I'd also like to point out that all three forms of writing you're exploring -- novels, poetry, and short fiction -- take three very different skill sets. They do overlap in some areas, but for the most part they are three entirely different skills you'll need to learn before you feel comfortable with them. So just because you had a few lackluster short stories, don't feel down in the dumps. Writing a short story is not at all like writing a novel or a poem! It takes practice and familiarity with the form.



Maturity and Mortality rarely, both happen slow, and rarely work together in harmony. When they do, be thankful, when they don't, pray, and remember you need them both.

Or to put it bluntly, don't let dying without achieving your writing goals drive you nuts, or at least not drive those trying to help you nuts, but sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference, and I've sure learned that the hard ways in recent years.

That is true!

I'd also like you to remember that part of the joy of life is allowing yourself to feel and express a variety of emotions, including the negative ones you want to suppress. Own them and channel them into constructive or productive forms of expression, but don't stifle your emotions just because you think you should.

And don't write anything because you think you're supposed to, or because other people think you should. Write what you know you want to write. Tell the stories you want to tell. To hell with anything else.

HUGS!

fireluxlou
04-06-2011, 01:23 AM
I don't write about anything close to me. I don't like reliving it. I've already tread that ground many times by talking about it. So I don't write about it. Writing is my fun times, I get to create my own fantasy world, new people and new adventures. I'm not bringing my real life, emotions and events into it. It's not that kind of world. you write what makes you happy not what you think you should write.