Monday, May 19, 2014

How I found the Write Path

Today's post is brought to you via the special blogfest, How I Found the Write Path, hosted by Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo. The Prompt: Write a letter to yourself when you first started writing toward publication. Details here.

Dear Younger Self,

You know how you hope you'll make a huge success of yourself, buy a mansion with an ocean view from your earnings as a bestselling author, and won't be able to walk down the street without being accosted by fans begging for your autograph? Good news: You can still walk down the street without getting mobbed by fans. Go you! Bad news: You didn't become an author until much, much later in life. Why? Because you quit. Dumbest thing you ever did.

Writing in dribbles--a couple of paragraphs a month or a handful of pages here and there--will mean it'll take you nine years to finish your first novel. Seriously, girl? You want to take nine years to write a book? Waiting for inspiration is one of your first mistakes, though not your biggest.

Your biggest mistake, apart from quitting, was having a totally skewed idea of what it takes to get published. You didn't do the research, you didn't put in the hours, and you gave up before you hit any kind of momentum. Surprise, surprise, there's a business side to writing if you want to get published. It's not easy for a dreamer like you, but neither is it impossible. Remember that.

Here's what you're getting right:
You are reading a lot. That's the best thing you can do so keep reading. Don't turn your nose at different genres. Read anything you can get your hands on. Even non-fiction. You'll notice a difference in your writing when you expand your exposure to a variety of styles and story types.

You are currently fearless when it comes to writing. Hold onto that fearlessness. You'll need it when you start reading How-To books on the craft or sharing your work with others outside your family. That's when you'll start to think you are doing it all wrong and the first doubts will come nipping at your ankles. Continue to write what you love, not what you think other people will love.

Here's what you could improve on:
Write every day. Don't be afraid to draw up a writing schedule. It might seem regimental to your creative self, but you'll revel in it. Same goes with outlining. Get over the fantasy that outlining is somehow less organic and creative, and give it a go already. You'll thank me later. Write more short stories to hone your skills. Attend more workshops. Find a critique group and enjoy the support and encouragement of other writers. Only other writers can truly understand what it's like to be a writer.

One last piece of advice: Write down your ideas. No matter how certain you'll remember those ideas, trust me when I say, you won't.

And, whatever you do, don't quit, you big goose!

Lynda R Young
Author of speculative short stories and YA novels.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When the Project becomes the Mountain #IWSG #b3d

Since today is the first Wednesday of the month, it's IWSG Day. Time to post about our writing insecurities or encourage others. Normally I go the encouragement route, but for today, I thought I'd visit the scary side: an insecurity I'm currently harbouring. Eek.

It's about my Mystery Project, the one I've called my non-writing project, only it does include writing. A different kind of writing. And a bunch of other stuff that's sending me slightly insane.

So what's this Mystery Project all about? Well, I can say there are no ducks involved, or any mysterious elixirs brewed under a full moon. I'm not ready to say exactly what it is, but it does involve 3D art and animation.

As some of you know, I was a 3D animator and graphic designer in another life. My program of choice for the art was 3ds Max. It's one of the industry standards for professional work. However, it costs around six grand. That was fine when a company provided the program. Alas, I no longer have access to it. That means learning a whole new 3D program. Double eek!

I'd heard good things about Blender. It's a free 3D package which can be used for commercial work. Anyone can download it and have a play. While it lacks some of the nifty time-saving features of 3ds Max, it still does everything I need. And the images I can generate from this package have the potential to be spectacular.

So I set myself up with Blender, just one of the new programs I'm going to have to learn for my Mystery Project.

A screen shot of me fumbling around in Blender. All this for a pipe!
Insert insecurities: It's been a few years since I'd dabbled in 3D so I soon realised how rusty I'd become. Turns out the keyboard shortcuts in Blender are completely different to 3ds Max. But I still remember the Max shortcuts (three deadpan cheers for muscle memory), which means I'm moving meshes when I want to pan the scene, or doing who-knows-what when I want to change the view, among other things. I feel like a noob all over again, taking hours to create objects rather than mere minutes.

Am I taking on more than I can handle? This is a question I'm asking myself on a daily basis. I'm still excited about the project. Ultimately it will even help my writing. So that's a major plus. Over time I'll get the hang of it—already, I've started to speed up—but in the meanwhile, I need to remember to take baby steps and celebrate the little victories.

What daunting tasks have you taken on? How did you find the reserves to complete those tasks?

#IWSG #b3d