Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

The Creativity Cycle as Illustrated by Emily Cheeseman (Twitter)

I go through extreme phases of burnout and momentum as illustrated above.  I wouldn’t have been able to explain it as succinctly (or artistically) as Emily has done.

At this moment, however, I’m going through a writerly do-nothing period.  I had a momentum burst to work on After the Fall not long after finishing Cliche, but it was short-lived.  Now, I’m focusing on my studies and all the things I have to focus on, and forcing myself to remain dormant so that I can tackle my Cliche rewrites at the end of the year.

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Why are my poems always so depressing?

Something I’m sure you’ve all noticed and that I’m definitely self-conscious about is the nature of my poems.  I rarely write happy poetry, or poetry that is remotely positive.  I feel self-conscious because I worry my poetry may be hurtful to others who struggle with their own negative emotions.

Well, poetry is cathartic for me.  It allows me to say the things I can’t say in regular words, sentences, paragraphs….  If I’m happy, I feel I can be pretty open about it.  If I’m happy, it’s usually because of positive things.  If I’m upset, it’s usually due to other people, and I don’t want to name and shame.  I’ve tried to channel my happy feelings into poetry, but it just doesn’t work the same way.

“Take your broken heart and turn it into art.”  Those are the words of Carrie Fisher, of blessed memory – an actress I’ve always wanted to meet (and hope someday to meet when my time is up), and an author I don’t plan to read.  But these wise words resonate with me.

My heart has been broken plenty of times, though not in the way Taylor Swift or Carrie Fisher or other amatonormative artists likely discuss in their works.  The best thing I can do is make art out of my negative feelings.  I can only do so much venting to my fellow, fallible humans.

Still, I hope sometime I’ll get better at channeling other emotions into verse.  Art should inspire others to make better art, even if I’m not there yet.

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Authors & Fans, Part II

Earlier this year, I blogged about how two of my friends, on opposite sides of the Author-Fan relationship spectrum, had interesting experiences.  One of my friends was slighted by an author who took her criticism out of context; the other is a creator who’s had to deal with an overly attached young fan.

In recent months, I’ve experienced a similar challenge to my author friend.  When people join the very small Allison the Writer fandom, I appreciate it so much, but that doesn’t make me best buddies with all of my fans.  It’s true, I have good friends who have become fans of my work, and I also have fans of my work who have become my good friends.  But this doesn’t apply to everyone, and in my situation, I feel the fan wasn’t getting that.

There’s a lot of background information that I feel would be inappropriate and disrespectful to get into, so I’ll cut to the chase.  Long story short, I asked them (as politely as I could manage) to leave me alone, to not email me as they’d been doing every time I posted something new and interesting to the blog.  It’s a free country and I can’t stop them from reading my blog, even leaving public comments on my posts.  (I mean, I could, but I really shouldn’t….)

I saw the way a famous author acted beneath her dignity and slighted my friend on social media; I’d hate to be that person to somebody else.  As an author, artist, creator, I feel I have an obligation to be professional, not pettily vindictive or mean simply because I have the power to do so.  Everything I said about barriers of professionalism still stand for me, and as challenging as it may be, I must stick to them.

Anyway, this small, somewhat annoying challenge was a good opportunity to practice what I’d preached with little experience to justify it at the time.  At the end of the day, I’m grateful to G-d for giving me this test.

Posted in Behind the Scenes, Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Progress on After the Fall

I have good news: I’ve been on a roll with writing After the Fall.

From May to August 2016, I’d managed to churn out several chapters in quick succession.  It was an intense and exciting time, and I was hoping to finish the story before a certain significant milestone in my life.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and when Autumn rolled around, I started to run out of steam.

It’s taken a while, but I’m so glad to say I’ve returned to this project and I’m making significant headway once again.  I am so in love with the story I was trying to tell that I felt so guilty at the thought that it might get permanently shelved as so many others have.  Fortunately, that’s not happening!

Where I’d left the story, I had a bunch of unfinished, disjointed chapters and snippets that didn’t really have places in the current order of things.  I managed to salvage most of them and rework them slightly until everything fit together.  But there’s still so much more to write and I’m so ready to write it.  (I’m not sure if it will be a novel-length work by the time it’s done, but that really doesn’t matter to me as long as the story flows.)

Here’s the kicker: I’m seriously considering pulling another Seaport for After the Fall.  When I self-published Secrets in Seaport, I was overconfident in my self-editing skills and I inflicted the story upon the world in a frankly sorry state.    But as much as I hate Seaport now, I force myself to keep it available as a snapshot of my abilities at the time it was written; a cringey milestone, if you will.  I’ve promised myself to do better next time.

Cliche is my attempt at doing things better, more traditionally and responsibly for self-publication.  It’s being beta-read.  When that’s done, I’m going to edit, revise, and proofread it to the best of my current abilities.  Then and only then will I publish it.

After the Fall is kind my book-baby.  I want it to be delivered into the world as all babies are, bare and helpless.  (The comparison sounded way better when I said it aloud to my mother….)  If I’m to spend months or even years editing this, as I grow older, it will change too.  It’ll age with me.  It won’t be the story whose general plot I jotted down on a sheet of loose-leaf paper two years ago.

When I finish After the Fall, I’ll do a basic self-edit and some other minor damage-control rituals (to make sure no one’s backing their cars into circular driveways and people’s ages don’t change when they shouldn’t … stuff like that), but then I just want to publish it.

This is a conscious choice made with experience, however impulsive it seems, to publish this book “raw.”  It’s imperfect, holey, unrealistic, you name it.  But that’s how I think I want it to be.  I want it to be a testament to where I am now, that I can look back and cringe at when I’m older.  Hopefully, I’ll cringe a bit less at this one.

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life, Uncategorized

Recovery and writing about it? (Not yet.)

While I was going about my day, I had an inkling of a potential subplot for the Cliche story arc.  That story arc would be inspired by a darker part of my writing life, the part I’ve alluded to in poems and more explicitly in the sound art track on my poetry EP.

To respect the privacy of everyone involved, I’ve hesitated to speak about the time someone tried to control my creativity.  I was resistant, but it was at a low point in my personal life, and knowing that, the person tried to use that vulnerability against me.  In fact, anything creative they saw me doing, they tried to take over and then rub it in my face, make me feel guilty that I wasn’t creating for them.

No thanks to that person, I couldn’t really write for a long time.  And I’m wary to this day of collaborative writing projects, especially co-writing projects.  I’m able to do them now, but a) I worry (without basis) it’ll be like this one; and b) what if I become like that person – lazy, controlling, expecting my partner to do all the work while all I do is criticize and get my name on the cover.

Thank G-d, my bout of writer’s block finally cleared when I started roleplaying on Young Writers Society.  Thanks to the lovely people there, my zeal for writing returned, little by little.  I’ve got one completed manuscript that I’m super proud of, and I’m currently 75% done with another.

In my notes for the Cliche sequel, the entire subplot idea is covered in question marks.  Until now, Cliche has just been poking some good-natured fun at the stuff writers do.  I feel like crafting this particular subplot into the story would be pulling from a dark, shadowy source that might taint it.

But there’s a reason it feels so dark.  The thing is, I’ve only just come to the point that I can express my feelings about that time in verse.  I don’t think I’m ready to turn that experience into self-deprecating humor.  The time for that will come eventually, when I can look on that time and actually chuckle at it.  But not yet.

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

10 reasons why I might not be a *real* writer

This is all quite tongue-in-cheek, of course. 😛

  1. I don’t drink tons and tons of coffee.  I love the occasional iced coffee, especially if it’s a slushy iced coffee.  Occasionally, I’ll drink caffeine-free herbal teas to soothe my throat for my voice acting.
  2. I rarely stay up late to write.
  3. I’ve never won a real NaNoWriMo which requires 50k words in 30 days.
  4. I don’t have an agent.
  5. I don’t have stacks and stacks (or the ashes of) rejection letters from publishers.  I rarely enter writing contests.  I submitted a short story to a lit-mag and heard back from them once.
  6. I’ve never read Stephen King’s On Writing.  I read a short story by Stephen King once for school, and thought it was okay.
  7. I’ve never been a New York Times Bestselling author.
  8. My books don’t have love triangles in them.  Well, not seriously, anyway.
  9. I’ve never killed my darlings on-page. Not yet.
  10. I think I’ve only sold, like, three copies of my first self-published book, and given copies to four or five other people.
Posted in Behind the Scenes, Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Beautiful People #26 – Author Writing Process Edition

I had so much fun in May participating in Cait (PaperFury) and Sky’s (Further Up and Further In) Beautiful People meme for writers, that I’ve decided to join in again.  This time, we’re talking about my writing process (or lack thereof, haha)!


How do you decide which project to work on?

It’s rare that I’ll obsess over a single project.  I usually work on multiple and rotate between them depending on what subjects I’m inspired to cover that day.


How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

It really depends on the project and how motivated I am.  It took me three months to finish Secrets in Seaport, but that’s hardly an example of how long it takes for me to write well.  I think it took me about five months to finish my most recent project, Cliche, and I owe my fast pace to Aerin, my dear critique partner, co-writer, and muse. 🙂


Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

I don’t have an established routine for getting into the writing mood.  I take the opportunities as they come.  I never know when inspiration will strike next.  But in the past, listening to music that fits the mood or even just reading books have helped me break the cycle of writer’s block, at least for short periods.

If you know of any good ones, I’m all ears!


What time of day do you write best?

Extremely early in the morning or extremely late at night.  The best, albeit most absurd, madness-ridden pieces of writing typically come to fruition at unearthly hours.  I think the self-scrutinizing parts of my brain goes dormant when I’m half-asleep, which enables me to write more freely.


Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

My tenth grade English teacher compared my writing style to that of Douglas Adams.  I tried reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that year and never finished it, so I can’t verify that comparison for myself.  Still, Adams was a Whovian and considered a terrific writer by many, so I appreciate the comparison.

Oddly, my writing style is easily influenced by whatever I’m reading at the time.

For example, I wrote Cliche on the heels of finishing A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix – there’s a chapter entitled Meanwhile, Back at the Bookstore.

If I’ve been reading a lot of Conan Doyle, my first-person narrative pieces include many “said I’s” and other quirky Doyleisms.  (One of these days, I’ll read enough that I’m motivated to continue my Sherlock Holmes genderswap story.)

I also try (but don’t often succeed) to read Dickens when I’m doing freelance writing, paid by the word. 😛


Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I started writing chapter books in word processor files at age ten because it was a quiet and not particularly costly way of making art.  People didn’t take notice, so they didn’t make a huge fuss about it at family gatherings, as they did with my musical dabbles.

Today, I write because first and foremost to entertain myself.  In my tweens and early teens, I had a hard time digesting books with vulgar content.  (I still do, though I have a clearer idea of my current comfort zone.)  Anyway, I tried writing the kinds of stories that wouldn’t make me blush or feel very indignant as a kid.  I want to publish them someday because I hope others like me, with my sensitivities, might benefit from them too.


What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

One of the hardest thing I’ve written so far, for a story, is a diary entry from the perspective of a character who has fallen in love.  As a headstrong young prude, it took me a while to embrace the reality that attraction, love, and the creation of new life needn’t necessarily be cheap, dirty, promiscuous things simply because the mainstream media portrays them as such so often.  The least I can do is portray those beautiful facts of life in a clean, tasteful way; once I realized that, I was able to tell the story of how After the Fall’s protagonist came to be.


Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

Rewriting Adventures with my Time-Traveling Uncle.  It’s such a neat project, but at the time I wrote it, I really didn’t have the skills to convey the story in a compelling, publishable fashion.  I printed a single copy for myself and it’s around here somewhere, but I never sold it.  It was 50 book-pages long, approximately.  I have one-third a mind to retell the important parts as a short story, because I need to get back into the habit of writing those.


What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I didn’t make any. 😀  That way, I was pleasantly surprised when I was suddenly able to churn out an entire first draft in about six months’ time!


Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

Spontaneous. Passionate. Progressive.