I made a goal of getting ten thousand words done today, and it didn’t happen. I slept in, thanks to too much excellent German beer and good company the night beforehand. I had all those pesky things one needs to use a weekend for, and it got right up my nose that, as I sat down, an excellent idea I’d had for dialogue had slipped through my fingers. I didn’t want to write at all. I was tired and so annoyed that the dialogue had escaped me that I wanted to leave it be for the day.
So I sat and wrote.
I didn’t make my goal but there is still a part of the evening left and several thousand words already done.
Writing stories isn’t just about finding the time to write, it’s about writing when you know the story is missing something, about pushing on through past the barrier of writer’s block. It only stops you as long as you let it.
I’m not going to be happy with today’s writing and that’s alright. It’s more important that the plot moved on, that there are good bits coming up, and that I at least got something done.
I know too many people who want to be authors and couldn’t get past this point, and it won’t stop me and shouldn’t stop you.
Write through the writers block, put word after word down just to get to the bit you know well. You can always come back to the bit you didn’t like and edit it.
It’s hard to grasp the concept that it doesn’t have to be perfectly formed, or even the way you like it.
It doesn’t do anyone any good if you walk away, saying you’ll do it when it comes to you and letting it lie for a day. It becomes a week, a month, a year.
As I have just discovered, pausing to write my weekly update, it’s a far better thing to push on and find something new about your character you didn’t know was there because you pushed through that barrier.
It’s important to keep pushing through your own barriers, you won’t know how far you can get until you try.
I spent several months reading and researching self publishing after it became apparent that publishing an ebook would be better than a publishing company. This came about for a really simple reason; I couldn’t pigeonhole my book into one genre. I didn’t want to be rejected because it wasn’t just steampunk. It wasn’t just fantasy. It wasn’t just horror.
It was a story that had all those elements and more.
I wasn’t going to write to one particular genre and so it seemed natural to self publish. Further research and reading concluded one thing if you were going to follow that path; you had to self promote.
Make a website, get on social media, get your name out there! Oh, and by the way, do it all before you’ve done the first book, it builds up excitement about it. Wait… what?
I cringed when I first started.
It sounded so terrible, “Hey, I’m self publishing,” and I’d watch some expressions appear delighted, others to minor concern, and some right along to flat out sympathy. If I was self publishing… wasn’t it going to be… uh… not very good? Explaining my reasoning was fine, and then I’d talk about my book. I could do this for hours, and have done so. I’m passionate about this story.
I’ve felt I took it too far and monopolized the conversation to the extent of boredom for some people, who were simply being polite, and then I’ve let my excitement over it get the better of me and gushed over the new cover, my editor, the map, etc. There is a certain glazed expression I see, and I know I need to talk about something else. These people aren’t my fans, they are family, friends, and acquaintances that are politely listening to what I’ve been doing lately, and being supportive. I had a nightmare the other night that my mother called about Christmas planning and during the phone call told me I needed to stop talking to her about the book, which I don’t think she’d actually ever say to me… right, Mum?
I got my own business cards and get scared every time I hand one out because I feel like such a jerk.
Except… it worked.
People I haven’t spoken to in ages are coming out of the woodwork, interested and supportive. It’s been overwhelmingly wonderful. It’s actually stopped me having panic attacks about the book being completely slammed when it’s released because so many people have said it sounded great and can’t wait to read it. People who’ve admitted they don’t like the genre I’m writing have said that they’d give it a go because of the way I’ve talked about it.
It’s a reminder that I have a very clear and definite purpose behind all of this; I want to tell you a story.
My self professed number one fan was also promised that the map for Hidden Monastery would come with this post.
It won’t be the first time I’ve lied to my sister.
On the weekend I was telling someone, sitting around a campfire in rural Victoria surrounded by the bush with only the stars to witness, that I had no idea where to begin for my first blog post on my very own author page. She said, as you might expect, at the beginning; when and why did I want to become an author, how did I get started? Which was obvious, except I didn’t want to start there.
I didn’t want to bore you with my dreams as a three year old of being a Disney princess. I didn’t want you to pity me when I talked about how bullies in high school tore up the first book I had laboriously handwritten for a year. I didn’t want to talk about the novels I’d written before that I’d lost thanks to hard drive failures and lost USB sticks, or worse, stories I knew were really, really terrible. Telling you to feel sorry for me wasn’t how I wanted to start this.
So instead I’ll start with the Last Prophecy; the story that, after a time, I felt was good enough.
It began in a moment last year, where I just needed to write, to start work on a new story; new genre, new characters, new worlds. This was without the intention to publish, but solely to write for the fun of it. It took a lot of mindless internet image searching and a few random generators to push me along for inspiration and then I found myself writing a great story.
It was gripping, detailed, fantastic and nothing like anything I’d written before. I couldn’t stop writing it, the entire story, beginning to end, was there before me, and it had all the things I loved. Airships and adventure, hidden agenda’s and things that went bump in the night. The detail and intricacy and vivid desert landscapes scenes my mind’s eye was creating was inspiring and fun. And then I ran into a problem. This wasn’t the first story in this series. I backtracked with the main character, went over details of where that first story would end up, and standing back realised this was far greater than anything I’d done before. So I stopped writing it.
Taking my trusty journal I started to pen in the bits that were missing, there was a several books that took place before the one I was writing, and several more after. The character’s destinies seemed completely out of my control as their lives interwove with others, all different people living different lives, not even aware the effect the actions in one story would ripple across to affect someone else. Through many scribbled notes and 3am dreams I finally penciled in the outline of Last Prophecy.
I moved on to what I knew the first novella was; The Hidden Monastery.
It was fun to write and the characters were interesting, and like that first book, it was nothing like I’d written before, but it started to become like nothing I’d read before either. I’m an avid reader and I combed through various books online looking for something similar, and found nothing I liked. So I kept writing.
Hidden Monastery was finished very early in the year of 2015, which became over time, one of the worst years of my life. My partner and I went through several personal medical problems, there was sickness and death within our family. There were too many times we knew it wasn’t going to get better, and there was so little we would take away from this year that made us happy.
The silver lining on our clouds was that my husband found his dream job, and it was clear he couldn’t have been happier. It was something for us both to take away in the darker times of this year. And I was happy for him, ecstatic at his newfound enthusiasm for his career. Before I then felt left behind.
Because I wasn’t happy.
It would be wrong to say I wasn’t satisfied, I had a good job, good friends, a man I couldn’t live without and my life was ambling along nicely. But in the face of our personal trials I had to admit to myself I was satisfied; but I wasn’t happy, mostly with myself. I wasn’t doing things I loved, and I felt so frustrated because I knew I loved to write.
I’d asked myself over and over what do you want to do with your life, and I’d always answered that I wanted to be a storyteller. I wanted my place by the fireside, I wanted people to read my books and ask me what happened next. The doubts that had plagued me all my life; who’d publish what I wrote? Who’d even be interested in reading it? Did I even have a story I thought was good enough? They were all insurmountable. How could such a ludicrous dream be brought to reality? I had inspiring quotes from all my favourite authors and the one advice that was repeated amongst them all, over and over again; write. Just write.
I also took another quote very strongly, the words of J. K. Rowling; rock bottom was the foundation on which I began to rebuild, if not my life, then a part of me that had been too long neglected and left in the dark.
I knew the Last Prophecy would be a saga, and it was one I wanted people to read, because I knew for the first time I had something good, something that I thought you’d like. So I joined a writing group, I found an editor, I started working at upping my social media skills, I found myself trying to find what on earth I’d post in my first blog and it was soon spiralling into something tangible, something real that felt right. I remember describing it to my mother as being not unlike the first time I asked my now husband if he wanted to go out with me; terrified he would say no, but unable not to try.
My hours became filled not with mindlessly playing games, or reading books and being unhappy that they were not what I wanted to read, or looking at my life and realising there was nowhere for my creativity to flourish. They became filled with writing.
I made it my personal goal to have publish my own book via e-publishing before the end of the year, something to take back for myself. I don’t know yet if we will see Hidden Monastery this year, but given how far I’ve come I’m not going to judge myself for being a few days late. For now, this is enough, because I’m happy, and we should all try to do the things we love because it makes us happy. We should be the last people to leave ourselves in the dark.