Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Digging into *this* Writer's Brain

I’m not going to talk to you today about quick secrets of success, or how to write the perfect book. I’m going to share with how believing in myself changed my life as a writer.

It all started in 4th grade with poetry assignments. I was terrified to come up with words that rhymed, much less read them aloud in class! I honestly thought that would be the end of writing assignments. In 6th, we were given a bound book with blank pages to fill up with a short story. The mountains suddenly stretched tall into the vast skies in my little brain, and the world of novel-writing was born.

I fell in love with fantasy in high school as most young kids do, though reading was something I did not like. The reason for that was my mind would wonder as I read; I failed most required reading tests. At 17, I started my first book, a high fantasy novel about an elf who had lost her sense of self through the evil sorcerer who destroyed an entire nation. I completed that 700 paged novel by hand 8 years later.

At this point, I found writing a vital avenue of escapism, and branched into another high fantasy novel, this time, I involved humans. Involving humans, in my opinion, was boring. Why bother when that’s all we face in our everyday lives? Give me goblins, dragons, mermaids anytime! The story was still wrought with adventure and romance.

Because I started off as a poet, I have always been in love with description. I fell in love with Eudora Welty’s A Worn Path and strove to live by her standards since. As it goes, authors are discouraged from using flowery words. Oh, I was (ahem, still am!) so in love with flowery prose.

As the writer in me matured, I tried my hand (don’t you just love puns?) in other genres. The next novel was a regent romance. I quite enjoyed writing about debutantes, dashing pirates, intrigue and the Wild West. Enjoying the switch, I explored humanity a bit more and wrote a story taking place in the Viking Era, but with an invented peoples. On I journeyed, visiting different lands, people, and worlds.

This was all just for fun, until one day, it hit me hard in the stomach. I felt it deep in my bones. You will become a published author. Yes. I will. I will. On and on this belief haunted me and I started my search for writers groups. After I found one in which I was ecstatic over, I looked into attending writers conferences. I entered their contests, lost, and cried. But writing has always been my first love, so I refused to abandon it.

Because of these first steps into braving the feral country of publication, I extended myself into sharing my work—which I’d always been eager before anyway—but in a very different way. Critiquing! It sure wasn’t an easy road because it always made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Like my words were just pieces of wadded paper worthy for the garbage can alone. I also learned that I wasn’t the only one who endured the sense of failure and that it is not failure I experience, but refinement.

I read many self-help books, lost my confidence all over again, but applied the techniques when I felt brave enough. After learning that nothing was like my style, I could incorporate the techniques and still have a fresh voice and great piece, I flourished. (I managed to explore, discover, and retain my love of visual description by integrating it into my characters’ emotional actions, which intensifies the feel of my stories).

The belief in my ability to break into the publishing world boosted my confidence, and I met many authors when before, I was happily ensconced in my closet. Getting published didn’t dawn on me until I was about 35!

Rubbing shoulders with published authors was an everyday affair since I attended several writers conferences where they present, share, and sell their books. I soon joined many online social networks—when before, the thought never occurred to me to do so! I gained a strong online presence and that was when fate smiled upon my unsuspecting self.

An author fell in love with my art that I had recently felt impressed to post on my illustrator blog, and she referred me to her publisher. Darkspell was snatched up by TreasureLine Books and my little heart sprouted wings. I was going to be a published author!

As time marched on, I knew what it meant to be published. It was definitely not the spectacular life of a celebrity as is the misconception. There are many forces tugging at the author and soon, the honeymoon for me as an author faded and I felt lost. I still continued my love of writing, but it wasn’t just a hobby any more (oh, but during the wee hours of darkness, it's still fun to write!). I viewed my work critically, because as a published author, I bear the thought of how it would impact my readers. Getting published changed things inside my brain.

On top of underlying stress of exposing my book via my social platforms, creating an author brand, gaining confidence to speak about something I love so much, I also discovered that it was also one of the best things that could have happened. I get to interact with people who love my work! Who look at me with shining eyes, hanging onto my every word as I shared my journey; this came with signing up to hold presentations, book signings, and interviews.

Through it all, I never gave up my first love with writing and just kept living through the worlds I created. In times where I felt the least capable, I still didn’t give up writing. Even when real life grew bigger than my writing one, I clung to my hopes of getting back to my writing when the opportunity presented itself. It always will as long as I don’t give up.

I find strength in the support of my family, fans, and fellow authors. But when the curtains are closed, the stage is empty and no one is in the audience to watch me shine, I’d quietly encourage the writer in me, saying that it’s okay during these down times, because if I could just reach the heart of a single reader, I’ve succeeded.

But I always remember, during the most difficult of times, why I love writing so much; because it makes me happy.

When did you discover your love of writing?


  1. As an author, seeing the social media aspect of writing as a chance to connect with other lovers of books is a great attitude to adopt! Thanks for the perspective and honesty!
    Raquel Byrnes

  2. That is such a wonderful story. I wrote as a kid, then stopped as I entered adulthood, then started up again once things settled.

    1. Oh, what a wonderful thing find your love of writing again!

  3. Getting published does change things. It's like moving from the quiet countryside to the bustling city.
    I enjoyed writing as a teen but didn't pick it up again until many years later.

  4. I can definitely relate to parts of your journey. I vividly recall those early writing assignments in class. I also remember testing low on every reading comprehension test from K through 12. I later ended up getting my MA in English and have an agent who's shopping around my manuscript to publishers. Take that reading comp tests! ;) Thanks for sharing:)

    1. Woohoo, way to go, Mark! Isn't it ironic? Thanks for sharing your story. :D


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