Letting Go – Old Writing

The big packing and de-cluttering continues at my house as we prepare to get it ready for selling. I’ve gone through so many of my things, that I’ve gotten to that exhaustive point of not caring and throwing old stuff out.

When I began sifting through my old writing stuff, I admit I was nostalgic. Looking over the print outs with notes of my own as well as from some of those in writing groups – the good and the bad. I wondered if the stories were worth salvaging in their half finished forms. I wonder if I could go back to them. In my gut, I knew I can’t. I saved a few ideas, a few snippets of notes with ideas written on them, but as far as the stacks and stacks of old stories, I sent them to the recycling bin. I felt a small pang for them, but then I realized that I have to start fresh. I can’t hold onto old ideas or stories that I never felt the motivation to complete.

I even discarded the notes and critiques. What good are they for me now? Do I take them in the move and get something out of them later?

Or would I rather nurture new ideas, ideas that are fresh in my mind that I can actually do something with them?

The answer is of course obvious. After chiding myself for wasting so much paper on the print outs, I knew that if a story was going to last, I would have kept at it. I would have transferred the idea onto my Google Drive, a much more environmentally friendly repository for all my copious thoughts.

Sometimes you gotta let things go. I’m starting to learn that as I slowly de-clutter my life. I’ve grown out of those stories, and though I may have gained something out of them in their time, they are no use to me anymore. Sometimes characters and stories just have to die; especially, if your writing style and craft has grown so much more since then.

What do you think? Can you de-clutter your own past writings and move on from them? How much do you mourn them knowing other better stories and ideas will take their place?

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

Advertisements

#MondayBlogs – Goal Setting

I love how Monday rolls around and I get this strange motivation that the beginning of a week will be different than all those other “failure” weeks. I have this confidence that if I was able to drag myself out of bed at 6 am and work out to a particularly hard Jillian Michaels video, then I can conquer the world.

Today was no different. I woke up in a really good mood. I got 30 minutes of intense work out in, and I made my lunch and fixed my breakfast, and I had minutes to spare before my husband got ready to carpool to work.

I arrived at work feeling READY. I tasked out all the things I had to catch up on, and I made a plan. As usual, most of my work was done in the AM, and now I’m working on my goals for the evening.

If I’m this productive in the day, hey, why don’t I try that schedule again? Meaning – it’s a new week, I will go back to trying to work at an art/creative schedule after work.

I grabbed the post-its and opened my calendar and laid it out.

GOALS PER DAY:

– 30 minute morning workout

– 1 drawing/sketch

– 1 hour of editing/writing or 500 words of writing

– 15 minutes of yoga/meditation

– stay under 1500 calories

Seems doable right? But there’s always this underlying fear in the back of my mind that something is going to trip it out. Murphy’s Law has put a target on my back. The shotgun is ready, and he’s already digging pitfalls for me to encounter during my perfectly pristine week of simple goals.

Maybe I have time to still fill those goals in barring any trip ups. Maybe I have nothing to worry about.

But I made a pact with myself, and I’m the person that I can let down. Let’s see what happens.

I always bet on myself.

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

#MondayBlogs – High Expectations of Self

To everyone that writes out there I want you to know that I have faith in you.

I may not know you, I may have never read your work, but if you love to write like I do, I feel a kinship with you, so therefore I have faith with you.

I understand some days really suck for writing. Some days you can’t look at a white screen without getting nauseous or anxious. You post a poem or a flash fiction on your blog or journal and you don’t get any likes or comments. The world seems quiet and you feel like no one is paying attention to you, no one gets you, and it’s the loneliest most awful feeling ever.

Some days you may even want to give up writing altogether.

I’m telling you now – don’t do this to yourself.

Keep writing, even if one person in the whole world reads it and appreciates it – keep writing. Keep writing so much that people can’t help but stumble upon your work. TALK about your writing to others. Talk about them to your loved ones, your friends, and strangers on the bus or train.

If you’re an introvert – well, try to have bursts of extraversion and TALK about your writing. SHARE it. Don’t give up.

But remember this – don’t have high expectations of others when it comes to your writing. Don’t expect everyone to love it, rave about it, and tell you that you’re the best writer they’ve ever encountered.

The only one you should have high expectations of is yourself. The writer in you needs to write like you need to breathe. The writer in you needs practice, as well as gain exposure to other groups of writers to learn basic writing formulas and structure, grammar, and critiques. You need to expose yourself to how others write and what they think of your writing in order to develop a sharp mind and a thick skin.

You need to have a high expectation of yourself because you believe in your writing,  you know you can work through the pain, grief, anxiety and self-loathing and someday become confident and strong so that criticism HELPS you, and flames and nastiness bounce off you like nothing.

If your feelings get hurt, learn to be the bigger person and move on. Learn to accept that not everyone is going to like your work. It isn’t personal. If it IS personal, then maybe it’s that person who has issues – not you, because you’re strong, you’re a rock star, and you write 1000 words every day, and read other books, and go to the local writing group on Wednesdays.

Do what you need to do to be the best writer you believe you are.

When you share your work with others, and you engage with other writers and readers, you form relationships. You need to be genuine and sane, and for gods’ sakes, open your mind to their writing and opinions. Writing is never a one-way street. You don’t fling your work out there like pasta on the wall and expect it to stick to everyone’s favor. Engage with your followers, writers, and readers and become a real person to them. Don’t expect too much out of them, but try to be receptive to what they like and do. Share and have opinions. Encourage others and engage with them at a real, personal level.

I say this because forming a one-sided relationship in life never works. It can’t all be about you and not anyone else. You have that thick skin now, so you can talk to others and not let small things bother you that you’ll turn into a drama llama and then block and flame them on your posts. Remember when I told you to be sane?

The only person you can disappoint is yourself, and that’s how it should be. If you disappoint others and it cripples your writing ability so much that you want to quit writing forever, I wonder if it’s really important to you.

How important is writing to you exactly? And how important are you to yourself?

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

#MondayBlogs – Writing Origins

I have always dreamed of being a writer. I know that’s a cliché line. Probably everyone here has dreamed of becoming a writer so they could someday see their work in print.

I guess the difference is that during the end of my teenage years, I abandoned my dream. I saw it as a necessary tragedy, an end to years as a child who dreamed of having my book in print and on the shelf at the store.

As a child I suppose I was naïve. I believed that I could be a writer because so many had done it before. I had encouragement from other adults, teachers and peers that I should write.

At age 5, I wrote a poem about horses. The poem was written in the middle of a sheet of copy paper, framed off by a pencil line. Outside of the framed poem, I had drawn apple trees with horses underneath them. This was the beginning of my aspiration to write, as well as draw.

When I was 13, I wrote and illustrated a story about a Native American girl who stood up to her Colonial oppressors and traveled the nation to speak out about her culture and protecting their lands. She was bullied, threatened and ignored. Yet she was braver than I could ever be. My seventh grade teacher had faith in me though. She sent my story down state for the Young Author’s Award.

At age 16, I wrote a poem about Marilyn Monroe and got it published in the local advertising paper. I have never been prouder of myself, and for a kid like me, it was hard. I was naturally introverted, an inward observer and thinker. I did not like socializing with people and writing was my only escape from being ostracized and bullied. I was a child from a divorced family, a child wounded from parental abuse. I was a child that often questioned a faith that did not fit me. Writing and reading (and art) were my sanctuaries.

I was always writing, filling diaries with my daily thoughts and struggles, and filling blank books with stories about female pirates, Christian girls who wanted to protect their families, and women in the Regency area that struggled to be independent in a patriarchal system. I wrote sci-fi stories about unknown worlds further expanding my creative escape.

Before my first semester of college I worked on the longest story ever, writing by hand because I could write anywhere (this was 1999, things weren’t entirely mobile at this point), and when I was finished, I used my new student ID to get into the college library so I could use the computer. I could type and write to my heart’s content, without any distractions. I wrote this story to enter a Science Fiction contest, and I was proud of how much I had accomplished. It was the longest story I’d ever written – 20,000 words! When I finished the manuscript and saved it on my floppy disk, I was ready to take it home.

Then, storm warnings went off and everyone in the library as well as the college were shuffled down to the basement. A twister was spotted in a field not too far from the college and everyone had to take safe cover in the basement.

Minutes went by and when we were cleared, I headed outside to the parking lot under a green sky, got into my car and headed home. My parents were frantic with worry. I was scolded and shouted at for being irresponsible, and I was sure I had told them I was going to the college to type my story. In a moment of their frantic worry, I felt like my story didn’t matter. I felt like I was being denied the glory of finishing my story because the storm had fueled them with worry. My accomplishment was nothing.

It wasn’t long before my focus on my writing would go dim. When I’d received acceptance into a college that focused on playwriting, something I dreamed of pursuing, I couldn’t wait to tell my mom. I wanted to become a playwright and work in Hollywood or Broadway! I wanted to write the next big TV show, or even a movie. The college was out of state, sure, but I’d been accepted, so that didn’t matter right?

It really didn’t. What mattered was the major itself. If I pursued this major it would mean that I would not go into the art field. I would not learn about design or art or even art education. My mother did not want me to give up on my art talent.

To me, it did not seem like my writing was as important as my art talent to everyone else. I was discouraged again. I left writing; I left my dream, and I enrolled in another school and declared another major: Illustration.

I can’t tell you how much this one moment in my life still stings me today. I felt like I was pressured to become an artist – to mold and shape that talent, and though I love art and design and did well in school for it, I never felt complete.

I suppose I gave up. I gave up the little girl who wrote stories and illustrated them. I gave up the dream to have a book on the shelves or write a play on Broadway.

I did not give up writing for long. Somehow, such a thing always comes back to people who have it singing in their blood, bones and brain.

I found another outlet, away from discouraging peers or family, away from my anxiety and stress to be the perfect artist… I found fanfiction.

A lot of successful authors have terrible and nasty opinions about fanfiction. They don’t think it’s real writing. They don’t believe it’s beneficial to borrow other people’s characters and make other worlds out of them.

At the time, I didn’t care about that, and I’m glad it didn’t. Fanfiction changed me. I saw all these people coming together for something they loved and putting their own spin on things. I wanted to be included. I wanted to share my thoughts. I wanted to interact with these communities.

In 2001 while I was at college, I did. I joined a few anime fandoms and began writing stories, joining online clubs and meeting other writers. There was drama, of course, but there  was also a great sense of community with critiquing and encouragement.

It was about this time I dropped my Art History minor and pursued an English Minor. I met my husband in an English writing class, and my writing began to improve with each fanfiction I wrote. I gained my confidence as a writer back; even if I was just getting encouragement from people on the net, it still meant something to me. It meant a lot to get that attention and to give it back, thus forming relationships with people. People come and go, but some have stayed, and I cherish all those relationships and experiences.

Around 2011, a fandom friend suggested self-publishing. I had seen fanfiction writers self-publish with vanity publishers and such, and I just found it way too expensive. However, I came to learn that Amazon was making it much easier for people to publish things on their own.

The idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I could finally publish something entirely mine! Someone might read it! I could share my story with others!

The little girl who used to dream about being a writer returned!

The rest is history. Last May I self-published my first original novel. I still write fanfiction to escape, but I’ve become a lot more focused on my own self-pub writing career. It’s still new, and I’m still learning, but I won’t give up this time.

I won’t let people discourage me.

I know I will always be writing. I owe a lot of my writing resurgence to fanfiction, and I am not ashamed of that. I guess the lesson is…whatever inspires you to write and improve as a writer, don’t ignore it. Take that chance. Find others who share your passion and express yourself. Don’t let people tell you not to write. Don’t let people’s opinion hold you back.

Has anyone or anything tried to discourage you from pursuing your writing dreams? Has your writing future ever seemed bleak and doomed so much you wanted to give up? What helped you overcome it as a writer?

Cheers,

HK Rowe