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.

A Picky Life

It’s a new year and I want to get something off my chest. It’s a secret I’m selective in telling because it makes me sound like a child. But there are millions of people out there like me. One of the most famous people is Anderson Cooper.

I often will eat the same foods over and over again for weeks.

I, Febe Moss, am an adult picky eater. I was super picky as a child. I wouldn’t eat any Italian food. Parmesan cheese was terrifying and forget any kind of noodles. My parents tried to get me to try different foods to no avail. They even sent me to my room without dinner. But alas, my dear sweet mother couldn’t see me suffer. We had an arrangement. After everyone went to bed, I knew there’d be macaroni and cheese waiting for me. As I’ve grown older, my tastes have broadened. I actually eat fish and buffalo wings. I love many kinds of noodles and Parmesan cheese is a favorite. I still hate all vegetables except for lettuce. I’m a sucker for olive garden salad and their dressing. My husband is like a guru for picky eaters. I don’t know if it’s because he’s cute or it’s his svengali ways, but I am more open to try new foods when I’m with him. People often ask me what do I eat. I have plenty. I eat hamburgers with only mustard, turkey bacon and regular bacon, tacos, enchiladas, beans, rice, spaghetti, ziti pasta, lots of bread, lots of cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn, all kinds of fast food, chicken, certain kinds of white gravy, mashed potatoes from certain places, hot dogs with mustard, chili, frito pie, waffles just to name a few. Did I mention dieting for a picky eater is incredibly difficult? I’ve tried numerous diets. These days I try and control my portion sizes and choose lower sodium items of my favorite things and find healthier ways to cook these items. I’m making small progress. Did I also mention I have acid reflux and am also lactose intolerant? Thank heaven for lactose supplements. Both conditions have impacted my picky eating. I try not to eat anything too spicy and I have to monitor my dairy intake. One of the scariest things about picky eating is eating out of your comfort zone.

 T

Buffets are incredibly terrifying. When most people come back to the table with the plates overflowing, I’m lucky if I can find two or three things to eat. I call it a win if there’s desert.  The lingering hunger isn’t the worst part, it’s the stares from your table mates. 
“Is that all you got? There’s a ton of food!”
I often say I wasn’t that hungry and smile and dive into what little food I have.  
Buffets aren’t the only battleground. Holidays are even worse. People often invite you to their house and try to stuff you with awful things like cranberry sauce. Or as I call it underworld sauce for it’s the blood that comes from Tartarus. Sitting down to a meal at Christmas can be filled with as much anxiety as there is stuffing. 
T***
Picky eaters often keep their tastes to themselves. We will even go so far as to swallow horrible foods in attempt to fit in. Swallowing pot roast is akin to taking lashes from Davy Jones on his doomed ship.* We perfect the art of the polite smile, the graceful head nod, and the masterful delivery of the words, “It’s delicious!” when really we would rather slink away and eat a PB sandwich. 
Unless we feel we can trust you with our secret, you will never know we hated your sweet and sour chicken. We are food ninjas. You won’t see us spit out the food into our napkin, fold it up hide it under our plate, or slip it to your dog. 
But knowing our secret can be a burden too. My poor husband hasn’t eaten at Red Lobster in years, hasn’t stepped foot inside an Asian restaurant in months, and dreams of Texas Roadhouse. This is his sacrifice for our love. Maybe one day, I’ll be as excited for unlimited shrimp as he is, but it’s not likely. 
I’m not sure how or why I’m a picky eater. I wouldn’t choose it for myself. It’s not as easy as trying foods. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Just try it. You’ll like it if you try it.” No I won’t. The smell alone makes me run for the hills. I have to like the look of the food and the smell of it. If it looks weird I won’t go near it. It’s the same with the smell of the food. 
Now my confession is complete. I hope this post gives other picky eaters the courage to come into the light. You are not alone. Picky eaters, unite!  If you aren’t a picky eater, what questions do you have for me?
To close up, I found this great Nova episode all about picky eating. Enjoy!
 
*Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead’s man’s chest reference.

All things are possible with Nanowrimo

This picture sums up how it feels to complete Nanowrimo.  It was my first time ever to try it and I won.  I got off to a great start due to my writing retreat (you can read about it at my friend Annie’s blog) but then I got home.  Life is a bitch.

I do data entry for a living and this is my heavy season. Sitting in front of a computer and keyboard all day does not make you want to come home and mash out over a thousand words at night.  I ended up writing thousands of words on the weekend.  And for a while, it didn’t look good.

Then thanksgiving hit, and while I made a goal to do work then, the turkey conquered me and I ended up watching Seinfeld reruns, E! specials, and lots of harry potter. I also love Black Friday,

For a day or two, I thought about giving up, chucking it all in and saying maybe I’ll try again next year.  But I stopped myself.  I have a bad habit of starting things and not finishing them.  I give up on diets, stories, poems, exercise, budgeting, and worst of all myself.  I am a horrible pessimist at heart.  Don’t be fooled by my wonderful smile.


I trudged on.  I pushed myself to keep tying until my wrists ached with pain.  I ended up soaking them in Epson salt.  I even found an amazing keyboard that eliminated my wrist pain.  The Logictech Wave keyboard! I got mine at Best buy and wow what a difference.  I typed about 10,000 words in one day and not a single ache of wrist pain.


Also, my wonderful husband is an amazing cheerleader.  He kept me going by making me dinner, cleaning the house, and giving massages when needed.  I couldn’t have done it without him.


I was even able to finish a whole day early.  My final word count was 50,169 words in 29 days.  I’ll admit, the ending was tacked on and it’s a very rough first draft.  There will be much editing to do next year.  But it was an amazing experience. Typing the last few words was heart pounding, joyful experience. I’ve never had such an roller coaster of a November in my life. As I passed the 50,000 mark, the world cracked open and poured out an abundance of hope and light and for once, I allowed myself soak it all in.


I was able to see what was possible inside me for the first time in years.  Somewhere between 18 and 31, I stopped believing things were possible.  Now at 3 months until I’m 32, the world has opened up again.  My bear like pessimism is hibernating.  For how long, I’m not sure.  But I’m sure as hell that I’m not going to poke it like I’m prone to do.  I’ll let it sleep for as long as it can.


I have a thousand possibilities to explore.

Confessions of a real life Tom Boy

This week I came across an awesome article by the equally awesome Roni Loren.  She talked about a great campaign called speak out with your geek out.  It really got me thinking about myself.  And I am going to admit something I haven’t thought about since I was an awkward teenager.

I am a tomboy.  I’m a 31 year old tomboy.
I do not wear makeup, I get along MUCH easier with men or non-girly girls, I laugh at farts, and I love joking about sex.  I love playing video games, debating star wars, reading comic books, and dreaming of a post apocalyptic society.  Plus, I don’t feel the desire to constantly shave my legs every damn day.  A little leg stubble is good for the soul.

To be honest, I dress much better than I did when I was in college.  But compared to other women, I’m nowhere near as fashion orientated as others.  I do not follow fashion trends nor do I buy designer brands.  I will never suffer for fashion.

I’ve always gotten along better with men than women.  Put me in a room of women, and I’m so uncomfortable.  I feel like I have 10 arms and 1 foot.  I struggle to find things to talk about with women.  Even when I have children one day, I don’t see myself talking about my child non stop.  I’ve very opinionated, very politically minded, and have views on the world.  I’m also well read.  It’s extremely hard for me to relate to women because I’m never sure what to talk about.  My love life?  Celebrity trends? Hairstyles?  Usually it ends with an awkward smile and one of us walking away.  If you are a more feminine woman and we are friends, consider yourself very lucky.  It doesn’t happen often for me.  My two best friends are some of the loudest, vulgar, delightfully crude yet highly intelligent women you will ever meet.  I’ve had some of the most intellectually stimulating conversations and the crudest conversations with them.  It’s a match made in tom boy heaven.
But am I a lesbian?  No I am not.  Women who are tom boys get labeled lesbian early on.  Even though I wore lots of pants, never did my hair, and was more interested in computers and video games, I escaped this label.  I was always chasing after some guy.  Yes, I literally chased boys all through my elementary years.  I chased them differently in high school but I still chased them.  I even chased my husband when I first met him.  I think it’s unfair to straight and lesbian women for people to improperly label someone based on their style of dress and attitude.  
But despite all these masculine traits of mine, I love the sexy and the city series, and chick lit in general.  How can this be?  I just said I don’t like fashion and often these genres are high fashion.  Well dear reader, that’s one aspect of this series.  The heart of the genre is about personal growth, struggling for self identity, and relationships, both romantic and platonic.  When I was younger I  identified with Carrie Bradshaw, now I feel more like Bridget Jones.
To make matters more challenging, I’m writing a urban mythology chick-lit novel!  At first I tried to make it high fashion but I have a hard enough time matching colors.  So I listened to my main character, and after some deliberation, realized she wouldn’t be into high fashion either.  Although it is rather helpful when my awesome critique partner/craft extraordinaire/fashionista pal, Annie Neugebauer Tilton, leaves helpful fashion advice for my main character in her critique.  I would have never thought about it otherwise.

Maybe it’s the growing older but these days I feel more comfortable with my tomboy-ness.  There’s been times where I try to fit in, but it never worked.  It always turned into an awkward pie.  I’ve learned I need to be true to myself, whether anyone likes it or not.

Now, in being true to myself, here are things I often geek out about.

What do you geek out over?  Also, any other tomboys out there?

A wig and the future

I cut my hair this past Friday.

At first, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.  I’ve been wanting to cut it for some time.

A year ago, I decided I wanted long hair. Then the winter came and went, and I decided I wanted long hair just enough for a bob haircut.  But every time I had a trim, it didn’t feel right.  The haircut was nice, I got compliments, but it wasn’t right.  It was like I was wearing a wig that didn’t fit.

But I tried to convince myself this was what I wanted.  A lot of people I knew had long hair, besides summer was coming, long hair was great for summer.  Plus I could wear cute hair accessories.

But Texas heat is brutal.  It beats you down and demands submission.  And when you’re down on the floor, it forces revelations from you.  I had to cut my hair.  I had to cut it short.  I had to stop trying to be something I will never be again, I will never be a girl with long hair.  I’m not the same person I was  in my early 20’s.  I no longer drowned my sorrows in my naked silence.  I no longer hid behind a loud mask with the frailest stitches.  I know who I am now, I’m in a new decade in my life.  I’ m not a kid anymore.

I picked myself up from the heat, and I cut my hair, real short.A cute pixie style cut, a cut I’ve never had before.  At first I felt naked to to the world.  Everything about me was exposed, my insecurities, my failures, my regrets.  But as I felt the lack of weight on my head, I knew I had made the right decision.  The wig had been shed, and my true skin was out in the open.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I still have time accomplish my goals.  The more I worry about where my life is going, the more time I waste.  I’ll fit in where I’m supposed to fit in.  I must be true to myself, and choose my battles wisely.  I have to do what’s right for me, no matter the costs.

One of the most important lessons I learned from being unemployed for seven months was; Things will work out as they should.  I eventually found a job.  And I will eventually finish my book, edit it, and send out queries for it.  I will eventually have children, and maybe one day have a nice house.

And, I will eventually grow old with my husband and look back with fondness for my life.  And I’ll wonder, “Why did I ever worry so much about the future?”

Bullies are Shoes

I had a very interesting dream this morning.  In it, I was in some type of after school club (I’m 31 by the way and haven’t been in college since 2005) and this bossy girl started delegating everything.  She even pulled out a gun.  I tried to stand up to her but she ended up shooting half of the group.  In the dream, I decided to rethink my plan.  I was determined to bring her down.

The next session, she came in and stared me down, daring me with her stare to do something, anything.  I just knew she still had her gun.  I started to taunt her, I wanted her to come to me.  She did and put her hands on my desk and  taunted me right back.  I told her, “thank you, have a nice day.” over and over and over again.  She grew angrier and angrier.  She poured something awful on my hands and then her old mother came over and told her to stop it.  The old woman called me a bitch and said there were witnesses’s, said they could get me later.  I held my ground and the women left.  The group cheered.

I’ve been in his situation before.  I’ve been bullied lots during my life.  I’ve even been bullied by my own abusive father.  When you have to pull a knife on your father for fear of your life, you know you’re a fighter.  When I was a kid, I was called chocolate lady by this awful kid in elementary school.  I’m Hispanic, and I grew up in mostly white schools, so in the 80’s, I reaally stood out.  I took it for a long time, then I taunted this kid one day.  I taunted him until he threw the first punch, and then I fought back.  I wish I could remember the victor but it’s a blur.  He ended up getting paddled by the principal.  Seeing him in an ugly mess of tears as he walked out of the principal’s office, was extremely satisfying.  As per my mother’s wishes, I wasn’t allowed to be spanked in school.  My punishment was eating lunch in the principal’s office instead of with my friends.  I was happy for the solitude.

I was also bullied by other Mexican children at the Mexican church we attended.  I was made fun of because I didn’t “sound’ mexican enough, I didn’t speak spanish, and I didn’t live in the barrio like they did.  There was a whole gang of them so I wasn’t able to take them down.  To quote Kenny Rogers, “I knew when to fold them.”

But as a I grew older, the bullies changed.  They weren’t as physical, it was more mental.  I worked with a girl who constantly belittled me.  She was Hispanic and constantly questioned my “mexican-ness.”  “Why isn’t your boyfriend Mexican?  Why don’t you speak Spanish?”  etc, etc.  She also tried to spread rumors about my work ethic to get me fired.  I didn’t say anything at first.  I needed a plan.  I waited..and came to find out she was skimping on her duties, that and she had such a temper.  On one beautiful day, everything came together.  I gently informed my boss of her behavior, and that day, she blew up at a customer.  She was fired on the spot.  Later, she begged my boss to rehire her.  My boss asked my opinion, I said no.  She was not rehired.

I’ve dealt with other bullies since then.  Some have been brief, some have lingered.  But the biggest lesson is bullies are not all the same.  You can’t always say, “They are just jealous of you, they are really insecure sometimes.”  I’ve known some bullies who are extremely sure of themselves, and shove their opinions down your throats.  They belittle you with their words.  Bullies are like shoes.  Not every pair looks good on you, and not every bully is the same.  They all have a weakness though.  You just have to find it, and the rest will take care of itself. I think it also says a lot about you, in how you deal with a bully.  Do you fight with fists or with subtle word play?

When was your last bully experience?  How did you handle it?

On a side note. I’ve decided to give my main character a bully to contend with.  People usually tend to think, bullies die out in high school.  I think it might make for some great tension and character building.

My Artificial Life

I’m a picky eater.  No, I’m a really picky eater.  I only put mustard on my burgers, I don’t like Asian food, seafood, Indian food or Greek food.

I really dislike vegetables unless they are drenched in something tasty.  If I don’t like the smell of the food, I won’t eat it.I’ve been told I eat really bland things, and I’m inclined to agree.  I love boxed and frozen dinners.  I’m 31 and still eat Mac n’cheese on a regular basis.  I love fast food, and the idea of cooking meals is daunting.  I see recipes, and I don’t care to bake them because most of the time I don’t want to include half the ingredients.  
This love of the artificial came into play once again.  I’ve always preferred Taco Bell to Taco Bueno.  Then there was huge hub-bub about Taco Bell not using 100% real beef.  I really didn’t care if they did or not because it tasted good.  Then recently I got some grub from the bell.  And it was disgusting.  Did they change the beef after all this time?  I’m rather inclined to think so.  I’ve now decided to give up the Bell until further notice.
But it really got me thinking, I really need to write something about artificial life.  I type this as I’m listening to Daft Punk’s song, “Human After All.” I feel such a pull to write something about robots, or space and the loss of humanity, something.  But I need to finish my first novel first haha.
I love electronic music, I love what the Japanese are achieving with robotic intelligence.  It astounds me.  Maybe I should start off with some poems and then progress from there.  
Or my big dream would be to combine a horror element with artificial element.  What does it mean to be alive?  Do it mean a beating heart or an active server?  
Or maybe both and death would occur from the digestion of organic beef?  Would it be dark comedy or just a dramatic story?
Reading Phillip K. Dick really reactivates your mind.