Welcome to 2020! Today marks not only the beginning of a new year but also the beginning of a new decade. I started this blog in mid-2012, which doesn't quite bring us to a decade ago, but there's still a lot of content here to explore if you'd like to review. A good place to start is with my past resolutions!
New Year's Resolutions
January Humor and New Year's Resolutions
Top Ten Tuesday: New Year's Resolutions
New Year's Resolutions 2017
New Year's Resolutions 2018
New Year's Resolutions 2019
For me, this decade was largely marked by illness, with 2010 being the year that I first started seeking help for my developing fibromyalgia. According to my journals, I started showing possible signs of interstitial cystitis as early as 2013, with chronic fatigue syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome possibly making their appearances around 2015. In mid-2016, I became ill enough that I could no longer perform substantial gainful activity, which continues today, although I saw a great deal of improvement after visiting Mayo Clinic in 2017. It's been an adventure, that's for sure!
âââNow we've got the Roaring 20s ahead of us.
I'm always shocked, somehow, when the weekend arrives! It feels like this year has been moving so quickly. Perhaps that's just what happens when you're chronically ill and have a simple life spent mostly at home. 😋
Today, I want to talk about an epiphany I had when I was writing this blog post. In the post, I wrote about trunking #ProphecyStory and the bright possibilities I saw moving forward in my writing career. As I did so, I suddenly realized why it's taking me so long to write something good enough to get a literary agent.
A little while back, I wrote a different blog post about how my books have lacked the originality necessary to succeed on the market. At that point, though there are reasons why I'm glad my career hasn't taken off yet, I was feeling fairly discouraged. I kept thinking, How can I be such a slow learner in my writing career when I've always been a fast learner in everything else? But now I understand that it's not an issue of being a slow learner. I've likely been learning and improving at a decent enough pace.
The problem is that I wasn't writing in the way that works best for me.
I've known for a long time that, when it comes to writing advice, the cardinal rule is that you need to do what works for you. Not every piece of writing advice will be right for every writer, though most advice has its place. What I didn't realize was that this doesn't always come naturally. You have to put in effort to find the way that works for you, and it won't always be the first way you try. You have to test it. You have to apply those pieces of writing advice and see if they improve your work.
Today, I have a few updates to share, so I'm going to devote a post to them!
First, an update to My Writing Career So Far. When I wrote that post, I was planning to stop writing #SnowQueenStory, as I didn't feel like I was in the right frame of mind for the story, and start editing #ProphecyStory instead--once I finished the latest edit of #OCDStory. I had a lot of edit ideas for #ProphecyStory that had been building up over the years, and they were haunting me every time I tried to read an epic fantasy novel.
I'm still plodding along in my #OCDStory edit. I'm doing a close line edit, because the prose at the beginning is better than the prose in the rest of the book. It's actually pretty normal to be slow on this kind of edit, which makes me feel less frustrated, LOL! There are a few other things I'm adjusting to. So It'll be a while yet, but I am making progress towards being able to hand the story over to my next beta reader.
However, I realized this week that #ProphecyStory won't ever be what the market needs, no matter how many edits I pile onto it. Like all my past work, though it has plenty of heart, it's too tropey and unoriginal. The premise also relies on big-level conflict that I'm not really suited to--I'm trying nowadays to follow the advice of this Tumblr post because it's really good advice that I haven't been able to get out of my head.
So I'm left now with just #OCDStory, the first part of #SnowQueenStory, and a hoard of ideas.
I really enjoy going through my old journals when I write posts like this one, and so today I thought it would be fun for me to look specifically at the history of my writing "career" so far. Calling it a career is a bit strong, given that I've yet to be published and earn money from my books, but I've put in a lot of work--and I certainly intend to make it a career. Everybody has to start somewhere, and I'm still in the beginning phases of my career right now.
I've talked before about the very beginning here, where I discuss how my love for words and stories led me to do a writing project in the first grade where I discovered my passion. From then on, I was a writer. I began with journals (which were rather inconsistent until the fifth/sixth grades), short stories, and poetry. Some of this work was published, and you can see my credits in my achievement list posts. However, as time passed, I was drawn towards something bigger. I am and always have been a voracious reader, and even from the beginning, I wanted to write real, full-length books like the ones I loved. I wanted to see my writing on the library shelves.
As my longtime readers know, I've aspired towards becoming a published novelist since I was young. I started trying to write my first novel when was nine, and I sent my first query letters when I was twelve. I had a goal to get traditionally published before middle school started... then before high school, then before college, then before my graduation from college. I was (and continue to be!) a huge supporter of teen writer initiatives. But none of these things turned out for me, and here I am, twenty-five years old, nineteen novels written, 117 query letters sent, and still unpublished.
My younger self would be horrified, and a small part of me is disappointed. However, there are reasons why I'm actually glad I haven't been published yet. It's not because I was too young--I stand by my support of teen authors, All authors have to start somewhere, and some are ready for publication sooner in their writing career (and in their lives) than others are. But I, as a writer and a person, was not ready for publication before. I don't know if I'm ready now, or when I will be, but there were at least three reasons why it wouldn't have worked in the past. I'm sharing them here to help other writers who might be facing the same issues and setbacks.
As y'all might have noticed, Camp NaNoWriMo didn't work out so well for me this last month. In April, I wrote just a little over 8,000 words of my new #SnowQueenStory. For someone who used to be able to win NaNoWriMo (50,000 words) in two weeks or less, that's... really discouraging. But this is my reality, and reality can be harsh at times.
It's important that I recognize that this is my first attempt at writing a new, original novel since 2014. (I did write a novel-length fanfic that helped comfort and bolster me through the worst of things in 2016/2017. It took about a year to write.) This is my first attempt at a new, original novel after my chronic illness crisis. Expecting it to be easy, and expecting to be able to win NaNoWriMo right off the bat again, wasn't realistic of me.
I did face challenges that I couldn't have anticipated, c'est la vie for us all, right? For most of the month, my chronic illnesses were flaring due to acupuncture, which I'd decided to try out after like a million people recommended it to me--turns out it was not a good idea for me. I wasn't sure it would do anything at all, but I definitely didn't expect it to have such a strong negative effect!
When I first started writing, I didn't believe that writer's block was real. Since then, I've had many years to learn otherwise! I now believe in a writer's block model where there are four different causes. Today, I'd like to talk about those causes and what the solutions are for each of them. So let's dig into writer's block, y'all!
Problem: Lack of motivation
This is probably the most common cause of writer's block. People tend to believe that writing is something that happens when you're in the "mood," when you feel "the Muse" speaking to you. They believe you should only do it if you're enjoying it 100%. But what if that "mood" just isn't coming around?
Solution: Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard
The reality is, if you want to actually finish your project (and especially if you want to have a writing career), you need to write even when you're not feeling like it. It's okay just to write for fun, but if you want more out of your work, you need to buckle down. Writing can be hard. Periods where you lack motivation can last for a long time. Oftentimes, the motivation doesn't hit until you're in the middle of writing. As such, the refrain many authors repeat is "butt in chair, fingers on keyboard." Sit down and start writing anyway. It may take a while, but if lack of motivation truly is the cause of your writer's block, writing on a regular basis will almost certainly help--eventually.
Anyone who's followed this blog for a while knows that I love to analyze stories. I write a lot of casual analyses on this blog, looking at anything from The Hunger Games to The Phantom of the Opera to To Kill a Mockingbird. (You can find more in the Thoughts On Stories tag.)
But I also wrote a lot of formal analyses of literature during my studies for my English BA, and I'm proud of that work. So I thought today I'd create a little portfolio, sharing links to PDFs of the essays and papers I kept from my undergraduate work. Just in case someone out there has a craving for some more serious analysis. Also, to show off.
Here we go!
I've been writing creative projects since I was six years old. I was already an avid and above-grade-level reader by then, so my mom and I decided that for an end-of-year class project, I'd explore various types of writing: poetry, picture books, personal narratives.
I loved it. I've always had a vibrant imagination, full of magic and romance, and this gave me a way to preserve that, to explore it, and to share it. At the end of the project, I read a picture book I'd written to my brother's preschool and then presented them a copy to keep. In that moment, with all those little faces looking up at me, I knew this was something I wanted.
Hey guys! It's time for my annual post about this year's WriteOnCon! (You can see last year's summary here.) I was eager to get into the conference, now that I'm really getting back into the game with my writing career. It feels like it came and went so quickly! And it left me with a ton of information to catch up on--turns out, when they post multiple videos every hour, there's no way to be on top of it all. 😆 But I always love how the conference renews my enthusiasm for my own writing.
The forums have generally been the main attraction for me, and this year, it was a bit odd, because it seems that I'm now one of the more knowledgeable people on the boards. In past years, I was uncertain and inexperienced and almost overwhelmed by the feedback, although I greatly appreciated it. This year, I have much more of a handle on querying, so there weren't a whole lot of changes I ended up making to my work. I did enjoy the chance to read other peoples' queries and see where they are in the process and help them along. There are some great manuscripts out there!
One thing I do wish they had kept is the Ninja Agent or Supers roving through the main boards. This year they made a separate board for those experts, and I didn't end up getting any feedback there, which I think is true of many people. It was more fun and exciting having them on the main boards and having them be more active.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another installment in my "on this day in my history" series, where I summarize all my past diary entries for a certain date of the year. The last installment (May 12) can be found here. Now it's time to see what's happened on January 26 throughout my life!
January 26, 2005, Ten Years Old
I enjoyed dance at school, but I hated orchestra, which was "1 hour of loneliness" and "no use."
No January 26 entry in 2006.
January 26, 2007, Twelve Years Old
I found school to be pretty boring today. I was critical about my art project, felt like social studies had been too much work, and had to convince two feuding friends to continue with our small strings ensemble.
It's now 2019, which means it's time for new year's resolutions! First, we'll review last year's resolutions, and then I'll list my new ones for this year.
2018 Resolution Review
1) Transcribe my old diaries.
I don't even remember making this resolution! I think I did make some progress in my transcription, and I got to the end of my freshman year of college... but 2013 is still a good ways away from 2018. 😬
2) Finish editing The Prophecy Keeper and start editing Coca.
Once again, I got through a lot of THE PROPHECY KEEPER, but I didn't finish editing it before I decided to switch over to CUCUY (previously called COCA), which I've been working on ever since. I'm so close to being done with this edit finally, agh!
This is the second of two parts (thus far) of my "official" story about living with chronic illness. Read part one, "Fibromyalgia: My Story" here. This also acts as a kind of part two to my mental illness story, "Obsessive-Compulsive: My Story," which can be found here.
*Contains discussion of suicidal thoughts*
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a medical condition characterized by long-term fatigue and other long-term symptoms that limit a person's ability to carry out ordinary daily activities.
Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as bladder pain syndrome (BPS), is a type of chronic pain that affects the bladder. Symptoms include feeling the need to urinate right away, needing to urinate often, and pain with sex. IC/BPS is associated with depression and lower quality of life.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a condition in which a change from lying to standing causes an abnormally large increase in heart rate. This occurs with symptoms that may include lightheadedness, trouble thinking, blurry vision, or weakness.
-- via Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
As of next month, it will have been four years since CUCUY (originally titled SAMMI), the most recent original novel I've written, first came into being.
In December, I posted a five month update about all the progress I'd made with my chronic illnesses since going to Mayo Clinic at the end of July/beginning of August 2017. It's now been a full year since Mayo Clinic, and it seems appropriate to post another chronic illness update. So here's what's changed since then.
Since December, I've continued to make progress in many ways. The most significant is with my interstitial cystitis. Since I developed it in 2016, I've been at a constant pelvic pain level of at least a 6 (on the Kira Pain Scale, which I know for a fact is skewed upward from a regular person's pain scale). But in April, I started taking gabapentin. At first it didn't do anything, but once I hit the right dose, my IC pain level dropped dramatically. It's now down to about a 3 or 4, the same general level as the rest of my body. While the gabapentin didn't have any effect on my fibromyalgia pain, despite being approved for that, its effect on my IC was something like a miracle. Gabapentin, basically, is to my IC what antidepressants were to my fibromyalgia.
Since then, I've been able to reduce my bladder instillations from once every other week to once a month. I've been able to start wearing skirts again, instead of just dresses all the time, and yesterday I was able to give loose sweatpants a successful test run. I've also been able to add a few more foods to my diet, and I'm much less afraid of setting off a horrific flare if I eat the wrong thing.
It's been a while since I shared a "day in the life" post. This is mostly because I've been so sick for the past few years that my daily life is not really that interesting. But I do want to share some of the reality of chronically ill living with you, and my life has improved enough to keep it from being too super boring. So I figured it was time to share, not a day in my life, but a week in my life, starting last Saturday.
*Long post ahoy!*
Welcome to 2018! It's time once again to look at last year's resolutions and share the ones I have for this year.
2017 was a rough year for just about everyone, I think, and the same goes for me. However, I made a lot of progress, especially after going to Mayo Clinic at the end of July, and I look forward to continuing that progress in 2018.
My goals were to stay alive, find better treatment options, and do some writing. I accomplished all of these, I'm happy to say. I didn't give in to the suicidal thoughts that I was dealing with at the end of 2016/beginning of 2017, and after Mayo Clinic, I did find better treatment options that have allowed me to return, bit by bit, to my life, thus resolving those thoughts in a positive way. I also did do some writing--not just journals and blog posts, but also some rewriting on The Prophecy Keeper and half of a novel-length fanfic that was really helpful in keeping my spirits up through the hard times.
Furthermore, I was able to start attending church on a regular basis for the first time since 2013, and I attended the LDS temple for the first time since 2014. I returned to the level of exercise I was at before I started having tremors at the end of 2016. I also read 343 books, which is less than usual, but I read more pages in total than I had since 2014. (Also, 343 is pretty boss, let me just say.) I also joined Instagram! And I temporarily achieved my weight loss goal from April 2016, although I've gained some again since then, LOL.
So things are really looking up. This year, I can go back to making the same kind of goals I used to before I got super sick. Here we go!
One last Wordy Wednesday before we return to "Waiting On" Wednesday next week. You guys voted for me to share two more poems today, so here they are!
And there was light!
The sun rises into the sky.
Brilliant gold screams out
from on high.
The sun rises into the sky.
Dew lights up on the trees.
From on high
comes the colors of fire.
*Long post ahoy.*
So, the next book in my "Waiting On" Wednesday queue doesn't yet have a cover. That's the hazard of sharing books that won't come out for months! As such, I'm going to hold off on posting "Waiting On" Wednesdays until the cover is revealed.
Today, instead, I'll share the first chapter of the novel I'm revising right now, THE PROPHECY KEEPER. This is a YA epic fantasy novel that I originally wrote when I was a senior in high school. Right now I'm doing an intensive worldbuilding edit. Obviously, this is not the final draft, so do keep that in mind!
“Are you ready?” their teacher asked.
Among the many important choices that writers face is what point of view to write from. Point of view is absolutely key when it comes to storytelling. After all, it has an enormous impact on how the audience perceives everything from worldbuilding to characterization. As such, I thought today I'd talk a little bit about the different options we have when it comes to POV and about the choices I've made in the past with my books.
First, it's important to define the terminology for points of view as discussed in most English classes. Point of view can come in one of three basic forms: first, second, or third. First person point of view uses the pronoun "I" and originates within the consciousness of a single character. Second person POV is the least commonly done, using the pronoun "you" to guide the reader into the place of a character. This usually happens only for short, hypothetical-type passages and is generally not recommended for long passages. Third person point of view uses other pronouns like "she" or "he" in reference to all the characters. Third person POV further can be limited, omniscient, or limited-omniscient: focusing on a single character, aware of the feelings and thoughts of all characters, or a mix of the two.
An additional decision that must be made in terms of perspective is tense. Though multiple tenses are necessary in any writing, most authors work with a primary tense of either present or past, where the character either is performing the actions as they speak them (present) or is telling the story as though it has already occurred (past).
These basic POV elements will be mixed and matched throughout most stories. If an author chooses to use multiple points of view (usually alternating between chapters), even more mixing and matching may occur. However, it's important to know which base POV you are working with.
Almost every aspiring writer takes a creative writing class at some point in their lives. A lot of us wonder, though, about the value of those classes. I know a lot of young writers especially question whether or not they should go on to get a Creative Writing degree. So today, I thought I'd share my own experiences with creative writing classes.
I took my first creative writing class in seventh grade. Before that, my teachers supported my writing, and I even had some dedicated time to it through the GATE program, but everyone took the same classes. In middle school, we got to choose some of what we did, and I, of course, chose to take creative writing.
That first class did not go well.
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