Wednesday, July 5, 2017

IWSG: Tuning a Piano

It's IWSG day, a monthly event author Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. Today's IWSG question is: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing? I've learned not to compare my journey to other people's journey. I find that some who might appear to be ahead can have the same doubts and insecurities as I do.

Last month, I played a song on my piano after a long piano playing break and I cringed at how creaky and distant the notes sounded. So I hired a piano tuner to come over. I’d actually never gotten around to having the piano tuned before. When the piano tuner was finished working on my piano, I was amazed at how clear and clean the notes sounded. While the piano tuner worked on my piano, I was worried that I would be told that my lack of attention to tuning the piano all this time had permanently damaged the instrument in some way. But all it took was an attentive tuning to return the piano back to shape.

I wonder if the concept of tuning a piano applies to the various interests we have, such as writing. Sometimes I feel quite rusty returning to a writing project after a writing break. I’m sure my words come out creaky and distant sounding, like an untuned piano. As much as I wish I could hire a “tuner” to refine my fiction writing muscle when I’m returning from a break, I know I need to get back on track on my own. But I welcome tips on how to get there. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG: Broken Promises of Writing Time

It's IWSG day, a monthly event author Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives.
I know I'm posting really late Wednesday night. I have been crazy busy with work, family, and it's also the last week of school before summer break at my daughter's school, etc...  

But if I am extremely disciplined, I can finish off my workload for next week and have a free week to work on my novel! I have to admit that I've been somewhat neglecting my novel because of all my other responsibilities. But the idea of a juicy week to indulge in my WIP is really motivating me to keep burning the midnight oil. 

My cynical side keeps reminding me of the times the promises I made to myself of free time were broken when something unexpected came up (e.g. a suddenly comatose laptop, a power outage, someone gets sick) to infringe on that free time so that the free time was never more. Sometimes just the thought of losing the free time I worked so hard for slows me down.

But I've been working on my WIP long enough that I just need to do what it takes to finish it, even if it means pushing myself to earn a week of free time with the risk of losing it. 

What unexpected things have infringed on your writing time?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: Beauty and the Beast

It's IWSG day, a monthly event author Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. This month’s IWSG question is: What’s the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story? I don’t know if this is considered weird or cool…But since my WIP has a culinary theme, I’ve been spending time in the kitchen trying new recipes. When my recipe is successful, it’s fun to eat my research. (And when the recipe is a fail, I consider it a learning experience.)

Today I don’t have an insecurity to share but a thought about how stories can be interpreted differently from one audience member to another.

Back in March, I took my daughter to see the live-action movie for Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson. Both my children have seen the Disney animated movie. Lately, they have been listening to the soundtrack for Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast. 

I’ve always interpreted the story’s villain as Gaston, who shows no empathy to the suffering of others, tries to have Belle’s father incarcerated and killed, and attempts to kill the Beast once he realizes Belle has feelings for the Beast.

The other day, my son asked me if the Enchantress who cast the spell on the Prince to turn him into a Beast was a bad guy. I responded that the bad guy was Gaston. My son persisted and asked why the Enchantress had to turn the Prince into a Beast. I explained that the Prince wasn’t nice to the Enchantress- he unfairly judged her looks-and so the Enchantress wanted to teach him a lesson about looking past outside appearances. My son responded, “Just because someone isn’t nice to you doesn’t mean you have to turn them into a beast.”  

I have always been fascinated by the character of the Enchantress in Beauty and the Beast. In the recent live-action movie, I was particularly pleased to see that the Enchantress played a bigger role than she did in the animated feature.
(Actress Hattie Morahan did a great job.) I never saw the Enchantress as a villain but a character who existed to support the fantastical elements of the story.

Nonetheless, my son’s perspective is also valid and offered an idea I hadn’t considered before. It is true that you don’t have to turn someone into a beast just because they aren’t being nice. (You can just imagine doing it, haha.)

What do you do when you encounter someone who isn’t being nice?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

IWSG: A Quote for the Overwhelmed

It's IWSG day, a monthly event author Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. I hope that those of you who are participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge are having a good time so far. I did A to Z last year, but this year I decided to pass.

Today I don’t have much to share except that I have a lot on my plate right now with an endless to-do list. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Sometimes it just feels like a 24-hour day isn’t enough to do what I need to do. Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed too? If so, here’s a quote for you and me:

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” –Williams James

What quotes or thoughts do you find comforting when you are overwhelmed? How are you feeling today?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG: Skiing Down Bunny Slopes

It's  IWSG day, a monthly event author Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. Today's IWSG question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out? There is a novel I began working on shortly after I graduated from college that I didn't finish. In recent years, I've considered rewriting the story from the beginning. Sometimes when I'm watering all the story seeds I nurture in my head, I still think about all the places I could go with this particular story. 

I don't have an insecurity to share today. I just want to share some travel reflections. Last weekend, my family and I went to Tahoe to go skiing with some friends. This is the first time I've skied in a really long time.Once I got onto the snow, I remembered stuff I learned eons ago about skiing, like keeping my knees slightly bent while going downhill and making a pizza with my skis when I wanted to break or slow down. Surprisingly, I did okay, much better than I'd expected. Being on easy hills helped. While I was making my way down, I eyed snowboarders defying gravity on other slopes that were super steep. They glided through the snow effortlessly, as if they had wings. I can't snowboard. And even if I could snowboard, it would undoubtedly take me endless hours of practice to get to that level of expertise. Still, I enjoyed what I was doing where I was on my short beginner skis on the bunny slopes. Here, I could safely pace myself.  

I can enjoy doing something even if I'm a beginner at it.

Bringing this analogy into my writing life, sometimes I need a reminder that even though I'm new to novel writing (I'm still an unpublished author, after all), I can still take moments to enjoy the process of doing what I'm doing. I'm not ready for the steep slopes of the author's journey right now but maybe someday I'll get there. 

What do you enjoy the most about doing something that's new to you? What are some steep slopes of the author's journey you have survived?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: Viewing My Work Objectively

Today is IWSG day, a monthly event author Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. It's 10ish PM here on the West Coast...still Wednesday! Today's IWSG question is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader? I find that being a writer has helped me approach books with more attentiveness to character and plot development and how the author works (or doesn't work, at times) these elements into their writing.

Recently, as I was reflecting on my novel, it occurred to me I should switch out one of the supporting characters for another kind of character. So far, I am pleased with my choice. Awhile back, I decided to remove another character altogether, another decision I was glad to have made. I find that some distance from my work-in-progress helps me to view my story in a more objective light when I return to it so I can more easily identify areas that need attention. That's one benefit of having a work-in-progress that I've been working on for so long because my ideas and intentions for it have changed over time. Still, sometimes I still feel frustrated that I have not yet written THE END on my project yet. And that's what I sometimes feel insecure about.

What major editing choices have you made in your work after you've taken a break from it?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: Information Dumping & Clearing Out Office Space

Happy New Year! Today is IWSG day, a monthly event author Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. Today's IWSG question is: What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?  One writing rule I don't care much for is the one that warns writers not to information dump. I find that information dumping in earlier drafts of a story can help me better flesh out a story in my head. Besides, excess details can always be trimmed in future drafts. I also find that an author can get away with some level of information dumping in a novel AS LONG AS they can still hold my attention. Lately, I've been reading some YA fiction by an author who information dumps quite a lot and it doesn't bother me at all because she's such an excellent storyteller. 

Now for my insecurity...at the dawn of 2017, what I really want to do is to continue on with a long-term project I’ve been working on (besides my novel) and that is to clear out some space in my office. This has been a challenge for me and I wonder if I'll ever have a truly neat desk or office. Stuff that take up a lot of space in my office are my books, articles, and research materials. On my shelves, I keep many books I’ve read, books I haven’t read yet, and books I’ve received as gifts. (It's no secret among those who know me well that I love books!)  I also hold onto a number of articles and clippings that inspire me in some way whenever I look at them. And on top of that, I keep folders full of stuff related to research and "homework" for my various projects. It's hard for me to decide what to let go of! 

How do you minimize the clutter among the items in your reading and writing life? 

What are your thoughts about information dumping in writing?