The five stages of a writer

I can see the end of this latest bout of revisions. I can see it. It’s been a long hard road with this novel and it feels amazing to almost be done.

I’ve been actively writing for over four years now. Poetry, short stories, and a novel. And it’s been a strange trip. Right now I feel a certain kind of confidence about the publishing industry, about the mechanics of writing, and about where I am currently in my career and where I’m going. But it wasn’t easy. And there’s still room to grow.

But I got to thinking, about the path it took for me to get here. And I realized there are 5 stages of being a writer.*

(I may or may not have been through these stages more than once.)

*Now with more gifs/video/awesomesauce

 

 

1) The newborn
Baby yelling

An idea is born!! Holy shit. You’re going to write a novel. Amazonian Vampire Mechs who invade the planet Mars and turn it’s inhabitants into zombies! It’s going to be awesome. Your mind swirls with possibilities. You’re going to be rich. Filthy J.k.Rowling rich. And famous. The paparazzi are totally going to follow you.  You’ll be so rich you’ll entire mansion is going to be filled with gold furniture and you’re going to have a diamond studded robot dog.

It’s going to be awesome.

My life is going to change in less than a year.

I can’t wait.

2) The child

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mom, significant other, even my cat tells me my idea is awesome. Writing is easier than I thought. It’s so freeing to write whatever pops into my head. I’ll even add a subplot involving a talking parrot. AND I’LL ADD VAMPIRE PIRATES TOO! Maybe even throw in some star wars references as well. Why do other people worry so much about plotting? They just need to let it happen, get weird, and let loose. OMG YES. The fanfic that’s going to be written..the youtube fan videos that will be made. I can’t even..omg I want it all it’s tasty goodness.

My book will change the world.

 

3) The teenager (aka the beatnik, aka the Riggs)

Holy shit. You just attended your first critique group/writing conference/etc and got slaughtered. Your writing is covered in more red than Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. What happened? Plus they said I need a twitter, facebook, and blog? What’s that got to do with writing? I don’t want to be a sheep! And they said I need to know my genre? My main character is twelve but all the other characters are elderly. All I know is my book is a fiction novel. Who cares about what I can compare it too. Why does it matter? I want people, any people to read it. It defies genre!! I don’t want to play by the industry rules, man! Fuck the system! I’ll do what I want! Why even bother reading other books? Mine’s the only one that matters. I live by my own set of rules!  When did writing like become so complicated? Isn’t it supposed to be about the craft, the art of the written word, man? As long as it’s gets published and gets me lots of money, to hell with everything else. And besides, if the system doesn’t want me, I’ll be a renegade and publish myself! I don’t need them!

 

4) The Adult

Maybe your critique group/beta readers/etc weren’t full of shit.  Hell, Jack Kerouac was for the Vietnam war and eventually Riggs learned to play by at least some of the rules. It’s time to grow up.

You do your research and then find a new favorite author who writes in your genre! Okay. Maybe you’re protagonist isn’t twelve but in her late 30’s which is like 1,000 years old in intergalactic years.  You discover that there is a TON of free writer advice on blogs. FREE. You make other writer friends. You discover tweeting is super fun. And you learn the rules. You get a feedly to follow all your favorite writing blogs. You realize you don’t have to change everything your critique partners suggest, but you at least vow to consider it. You start a blog. And you learn that revision and rewrites aren’t dirty words. You realize the publishing industry is first and foremost a business. And like with any other job, your work needs to be presentable before you start querying agents. You also know what querying means.

Or maybe you made the informed decision to self publish. You did your research on what that entails, the pros and cons, and made a real adult decision about your career. Bravo!  Maybe you even make friends with other self-pubbers, and now you all can guide and support each other through the process.  Whether agent or self-pub, you’re on your way!

 

5) The  old man/woman

You’ve been published. You’ve reached the heights of success. Your name is now used by the newborns as a status to achieve. You’ve done it all.  You can barely remember your life before being published it’s been so long. What is there left to do? Publish under a pen name, try and totally different genre.  Sure you’re known for thrillers but why not try YA? Shake up your fan base.

Maybe you could create a whole new series with a whole new character! Something the world’s never seen before! I’ll be even more famous than before! Yes! MOAR FANS! MOAR MONEY! It will be glorious! My idea is like a newborn baby..

Or you could become a recluse.

 

 

There you have it. I don’t think the path is the same for everyone. I think writers, myself included, jump around the first 4 stages quite a bit.

What stage are you willing to admit you’re in? I’ll go first, right now I’m in stage 4.

That time when Richard III was a headless ghost on Blackadder

Today I am 32 years and 324 days old. The exact same age Richard the third was when he met his once mysterious demise.

King Richard III

It was quite lonely underneath the cars..

What better day to history nerd out!

I love European and ancient history. I get sucked into the history channel 2’s history docs. I’ve got so many books, dvd’s, and even coasters it’s kinda crazy.

One of my favorite British comedies was the Blackadder series. And episode one? The alternate history of the death of Richard the third!!

And to top it all off, this month the world is a buzz because the bones of the Richard the third have finally been found.. in a parking lot. Sadly not the cunning plan of one Baldrick.

Richard the third has a dark and twisted legacy  in part due to how Shakespeare portrayed him in the play of the same name. He’s always fascinated me because of the story of how he supposedly locked away twins who threatened his claim to the throne.

He was also described with several nasty ailments and deformities. It seemed whenever someone wanted to really vilify a person back in the day, the way to go about it was to say they were deformed. But it was very specific deformities, not just random insults.

I would really love to see a “yo mama” battle with British Royalty insults and character assassinations.

Of course my all time favorite British Royalty would have to be King Henry the 8th. I’m a total Tudor junkie. It’s such fantastic irony that Elizabeth  became one of the greatest monarchs in English History.   Herself the daughter of a king who beheaded more than 1 wife and divorced another just to have 1 son to rule after him. Elizabeth’s mother, Anne, was quite hated during her short time as queen.

If I wrote this story, brought it into my critique group, they’d tell me it was too far fetched. I would say the same thing too.

Anyone else miss the showtime show, The Tudors? I thought Jonathan Rhys-Meyers did a fantastic job as Henry the eighth. My favorite season was the second with Anne Boylen. The chemistry between them was mind blowing.

I will leave you with a picture of one of my favorite wives of Henry the 8th, on a coaster.

Any recommendations for any other British Royalty shows, music, and accessories? Or maybe you have a favorite royal? Please, share in the comments.

The Beauty of doubt

Aman-Jean Confidence
That’s me drowning in my sorrows as doubt whispers in my ear.

I feel in love with doubt.  I lost myself in time, wrapped up in it’s arms, and ate it’s lotus offering.  I was like Odysseus and doubt was my Calypso.  The minions of doubt filled my head and left me a nothingness.

But this week snapped me out of doubt’s spell.  When one of the higher ups in my office asked me some get to know me questions last year, I informed him I was working on a novel.  And since then, from time to time, he’ll ask me how it’s going.  He asked me again recently, and the words just slipped through my mouth.  “I’m working on my second draft.”  It felt so good to say that.  It was true.  I’ve gone farther than I ever have before. I haven’t given up.  Sure, I wish I could be like other writers, write a novel in a month and have it polished and ready to go in another month, but that’s not me and that’s cool.  I need to stop comparing myself to others.  
Today I plotted my entire novel.  Thanks to Annie’s awesome novel sheet found on her website.  I was able to really pinpoint some weak spots, and get a big picture of my work in progress.
I am making progress.  
It’s so easy to get bogged down in the middle of the revision process.  You start to see plot holes, characters aren’t making sense anymore, and you just think about your novel and pull up the covers over your head.  When you bring your work to critique groups, you can’t hear the positive.  You only hear the negative comments through a speakerphone.
Take a break. 
But come back to it.  Print out your whole novel at least once and thumb through the pages.  Today I found several pages I needed to cut, but I could see that now.  I couldn’t before.  I even laughed at some really good scenes.  I can write a funny scene, I can make people laugh, and connect to characters.  You can too.  Remember why you fell in love with your story in the first place. 
Remember, you can’t please everyone all of the time.  Please yourself, write something you’d want to pick up and read.  
You can defeat doubt.  Her spell can be broken.
So I’m going to do a bit of self patting on the back.  One of Annie’s blog posts inspired me.
Here are five things I do well in writing:
1) I am awesome at metaphors.
2) I am awesome at having characters have their own distinct style of speech.
3) I am awesome at one liners and puns.
4) I am awesome of subtle hints of sarcasm and remarks on culture.
5) I am awesome of coming up with original ideas for stories.
Join in! What are five things you are awesome at in life or in writing?