Write With Me: Intro

Last year I tried to write a book…and I failed. I had the idea for the book while I was in college but I waited until after I graduated because I spent most of college writing films and I just couldn’t fit another story into all of that. So, at the end of May 2017, I started developing that story idea. Everything was going great: I loved my characters, I was having fun developing the world, and I’d completed an outline for the story. I started wiring and even started doing blog posts about the writing process but around the 30,000-word mark, I hit a wall. I realized that my story was too big for one book and even if I were to write multiple books (such as a trilogy) the story would still be too big and have too much backstory. So I took a break from writing and during that break, I tried to come up with ways to fix this problem. During this break, a good friend of mine died and I became very depressed. During my time of mourning, I couldn’t bring myself to write or even brainstorm. This period lasted for about 5 months.

By the time 2018 came around, I was feeling a bit better…maybe even a bit inspired because I’d been reminded yet again that life is very short and I want to do everything I desire before it’s my time to go. So, I started thinking of ways to fix the problems I had last time I tried to write. The story was too big. How do you fix that? Most people start their stories too early, so they end up with first acts that tend to drag because the story doesn’t start to halfway through the second act. My problem was that the story started too late. Like, I kind of started the story during the final act of the story and that’s why it had too much backstory. I needed to explain too much in order for everyone (readers) to catch up with what has been playing out in my head for the past four years. The easiest way I could fix this problem was to start the story earlier. 

I took a look at my characters and asked myself, where would my characters have been two years before this happened? What would they have been up to and what would their world look like? So, that’s how I fixed that. The other issue I had, although at the time, I hadn’t considered it to be an issue, was my world building. The world I had created was really cool but my story was conflicting with it. There would be times where something could have been made easier had I not set the story in the world it was set in and I was always worried about world building holes that would distract readers. So I decided to create a simpler world, closer to real life and that also helped me figure out what genre I was writing in. Plus, I simplified my magic system. So basically, if you’re having trouble with your writing, take a step back and then simplify everything.

I also figured out how to outline my book in a way that works for me. That’s the stage I’m in right now. I’m outlining. I’ve been writing for a long time but it wasn’t until I went to college that I was forced to outline. Since then, I’ve developed a fondness for outlining but I had never outlined a book until that first try last year. This year my outlining process has changed so much and I think that has also helped with “fixing” my story. I’ll probably do a tutorial for how I outline now because it’s so effective for me.

Regular writing posts will start as soon as I get further into the book.

Until next time, peace…

I’m 23

I’m a pretty chill person so… feel free to click away if you’re expecting a story full of glow sticks in the desert, alcohol poisoning, and regrettable tattoos. That will probably happen on my 25th though because I plan to celebrate the year 2020 the same way people celebrated 1999. I’m dead serious.

So yeah, I turned 23 at the end of June (Thursday, June 28th to be exact) and decided to take 3 days off from life to celebrate myself and reflect on life while getting ready for my big move to Houston, TX.

This article is about what I did on my birthday. It’s just as anticlimactic as the rest of my life. Enjoy.

I woke up later than I planned, I guess I forgot to set an alarm because I knew I didn’t have to go to work. I took off for my birthday because last year I worked on my birthday and declared to myself, “Never again!” in an overly dramatic fashion probably with my fist raised and my chest puffed up. It’s not like I had anything planned but I wanted the freedom to do whatever I wanted on that day.

So, I woke up around 11:00 am and saw that my sister had texted me “happy birthday”. Her text message was one of the first things I saw and it put an instant smile on my face. I logged into Facebook and responded to the wave of “Happy Birthdays” posted on my wall. I then texted my cousin, Jimmy, happy birthday. This is something I’ve done for the past 8 years. When I didn’t have a cell phone, I would call him on the house phone and wish him a happy birthday. Our shared day has always and will always link us and although he is literally twice my age (something I just realized this year) I know this is something that I will continue to do.

After that, I got out of bed and talked with my mom and little brother for a bit before I decided to go out to eat for my birthday. I washed my hair put on some clothes and ordered an Uber and we headed out to the mall to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. 

***Fun fact: if you tell a server at the Cheesecake Factory it’s your birthday, they’ll give you one free scoop of vanilla ice-cream with hot fudge drizzled across it and a burning candle on top. It’s kind of sad but sweet at the same time. Plus, it’s your birthday so you’re happy with anything.

After that, we walked the mall for about an hour and I picked up some new Vans because I needed some new shoes. On the way out of the mall, we got some cheesecakes for later since we hadn’t had any desserts.

We made it back home at a very decent time and I thought I would do more but then the weather turned sour. I thought it was just another bad thunderstorm because we’ve been having them for the past week or so but then I heard the sirens. I went outside and saw the sky had darkened and the wind had cooled. It rushed past me with such furiousness that some of the smaller trees seemed to kneel in fear. Thick clusters of clouds moved across the sky threatening rain that would not come until much later. Apparently, the sirens were a tornado warning. I went back inside with the rest of the tenants in my building and switched the TV from Hulu to the local news and watched the flood cams and footage of the damage to houses and trees in my neighboring counties. Luckily for us, the tornado didn’t touch down in the city but a lot of the counties around St. Louis City experienced a ton of damage from the wind and the thunderstorms.

That lasted for most of the evening and killed the energy for adventure I was feeling but I did buy the new Florence + the Machine album and I spent the rest of the night swaying to it while listening to the rain.

Gone Away

Today marks the fourth year that I’ve been on this earth without my father. I wasn’t going to make any social media posts about this subject because I didn’t want to bring anyone down, but then “Gone Away” by The Offspring came on today and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. So I’ll leave you with the lyrics that both inspire and haunt me.
Maybe in another life,
I could find you there.
Pulled away before your time.
I can’t deal. It’s so unfair!
And it feels…
And it feels like,
Heaven’s so far away
And it feels…
Yeah, it feels like
The world has grown cold
Now that you’ve gone away.
Leaving flowers on your grave
To show that I still care.
But black roses and Hail Mary’s,
Can’t bring back what’s taken from me.
I reach to the sky
And call out your name.
And if I could trade
I would…
And it feels…
And it feels like,
Heaven’s so far away
And it stings…
Yeah, it stings now
The world is so cold
Now that you’ve gone away.

Back At It Again

I know that some of you started following me because this started off as a blog about writing, and then it started talking about traveling with a little bit of lifestyle content thrown into the mix. And then all of the sudden, the writing content stopped. There was a little travel content here and there, but it mostly became a lifestyle blog.

Let me tell you what happened…

My friend died.

Some of you who started following me because of my writing content may have noticed I haven’t done a full blog post about writing since around August or September of 2017. At that time, I was growing frustrated with my “current” work in progress because I was overwriting. My original word count was supposed to be around 85,000 words but I was starting to believe the story would really end up being around 110,000 words.  Yeah, that was a big baby. I know. But the real issue with the story was that there was just too much content. All the stuff that was there was needed information told in a way that wasn’t direct exposition. I was introducing too many of my plots at once. So I decided to take a month off from writing. I was supposed to use that time to figure out how to trim down my bloated first act or simplify the entire story.

By October, a very close friend of mine had died. His death was life altering for me because I always felt he was the one that got away. I live in North America and he lived in South America. We met during his high school study abroad experience. We became friends the moment he sat down next to me in French class. We started walking to and from school together because of how close we lived to each other. We became inseparable that year, with all of our inside jokes and shared curiosity.

Over the years, throughout high school and college, we stayed in touch. His death destroyed me because he was my biggest regret. I regretted the fact that I wasn’t brave enough to let him know how I felt when we were younger. By the time we were in college, we’d talked about things and even tried to visit each other once or twice. But he was in med school in Brazil and I was studying film in the U.S.

He was only 21 and cancer had stolen him.

Unbeknownst to him, he had leukemia.

My mother is currently in remission from the same type of cancer that killed him.

He was almost done with medical school.

He’d just delivered his first baby in May 2017. I can still see the photo of him smugly grinning as he carefully cradled a newborn baby; he and his instructor dressed in matching light blue scrubs and hair caps. That image will forever be burned into my mind because it’s the last smiling image I saw of him before the waves of “condolences” and “gone too soons” crashed against my computer screen, sending me into a black hole of depression that made me abandon social media for two weeks and writing for five months.

I failed NaNoWriMo not because I was busy, but because I couldn’t write. I had no creativity left in me. The story was dead. All I could think about was what this world had lost. We’d lost someone who was trying to do something good for the world. We’d lost someone who knew what he wanted to do and how to do it. I’d lost someone I’d loved and I knew I’d loved him because, outside of my father’s death, I’d never felt so hollowed by the news of death.

And so, after five months, I finally seemed to have recharged. For the first time in five months, story ideas are organically germinating in my mind. For the first time in five months, I feel like I have agency in my life and I’m not faking it.

 

Happy Birthday To My Blog!

Today is my blog’s first birthday. I’m so excited. Looking over all of my posts I can see a change in myself. I’m no longer the wide-eyed college kid who was constantly worrying about my future. Now,  I’m a working adult, trying to further my writing career.

At the beginning of January, I was promoted to a management position at the job I’ve been working at for less than a year. This is a big deal for me because I didn’t get my first job until I was in college. My first job was a secretarial job so I’ve never tried to venture far from that. Even with my current job, it relies heavily on customer service and data entry. All of the other jobs that I’ve applied to, in my search for a second job, have been secretarial as well because I was afraid to expand my horizon. It wasn’t until I realized I was undervaluing myself, my skills, and my education that I truly started making changes.

I’ve never seen myself as a natural leader. I’ve always been the leader who stepped up when no one else would but that has changed and I honestly think it’s because of this blog. Writing down my experiences and sharing them with you has inspired me to do better–to do more. So, I’m very thankful for this blog. It has changed the way I feel about myself and the way I approach problems in my professional and personal life. I look forward to another wonderful year with you. May we all grow as people and prosper in all of our aspirations in 2018.

The Blue Sky Tag

Hey everyone, this is going to be a different type of post today. I’ve been branching out and making friends in the blogging community and I was fortunate enough to be tagged by Anne Pyle to do the Blue Sky Tag. Here is her post. Check it out. She answered a different set of questions.

The Blue Sky Tag

 

Describe your life story in forty words exactly.

I was born in 1995—the middle child of three. I’ve always loved writing but before writing became my only viable claim for “fame” I used to sing and had aspirations to be a ballerina. Hahaha. Look at me now.

What is your favorite dessert, and why?

I love ice-cream. I’ve had affairs with cookies and cake but ice-cream has always been my love. I don’t know why I love it but when I’m really craving something unhealthy and lovely, ice-cream is the first and only thing that pops into my mind.

How did you come to be a writer?

I don’t know. I stumbled on it when I was younger. I’ve always loved movies and television. That love came from long nights staying up with my dad—our bonding time. I guess I just really liked the way stories made people sit and listen and as a child, that’s all you ever want people to do. Thus, I became a writer.

What made you pick your genre to write/publish in?

I love science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes, it can be a nice break from reality but the genre also allows you to talk about pressing social or political issues without it being all in the audience’s face. That is why I write primarily in sci-fi/fantasy. I plan to publish in sci-fi/fantasy for a very different reason.

I started wanting to publish works of sci-fi/fantasy once I became old enough to question the lack of diversity in the genre. The lack of racial diversity. Location diversity. Economic and social diversity. Sexual orientation and religious diversity. Diversity within the authors themselves.

What is your favorite aspect of the writing community?

It is not as competitive as journalism, which is where I started at when I was trying to become a professional writer. I also enjoy the idea that we exist in all cultures and lifestyles.

How magical was your experience with your first burrito?

Must not have been mind-blowing because I don’t even remember it.

Tell me all about your love for–or hate of–a warm gooey brownie.

I love the chocolate and the warmth of one that’s fresh out of the oven. I can envision myself eating one right now with some vanilla ice-cream.

How did you learn from your worst mistake?

I consider myself a humble know-it-all so when I’m wrong or I fail, I take it to heart and I try not to repeat whatever it was that made me fail/wrong.

Cat person, or dog person? Or bird/lizard/snake person?

I’m a dog person. I grew up with dogs and they seem friendlier. I have friends who have cats and I think they’re adorable but dogs have my heart.

What has being in your family taught you about writing?

Every family gathering will unfold like a paperback novel. Complete with a beginning, middle and end.  Laced with surprise guests and plot twists.

 

My questions for the Blue Sky Tag

  1. If you could time travel, would you? If yes, where would you go and why?
  2. What is your favorite color?
  3. Tell me something you’re really bad at?
  4. Who is the one person who can make you smile even on your worst day?
  5. What is your favorite childhood snack?
  6. What was the last television show you watched?
  7. What country are you from?
  8. If you had magical powers, what would they be based on your personality?
  9. What is your favorite music genre?
  10. How old were you when you got your first cell phone?
  11. How was your day?

Who do I nominate?

All of you of course. Comment below with your answers or do a blog post about them.