Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG: An Encouraging Comment

Today is IWSG day, a monthly event Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about their insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. This month’s IWSG question is: How do you find time to write in your busy day? My response: I wrote about this subject in last month’s IWSG post. The truth is, I don’t get to work on my novel everyday but that doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about it or doing other things (reading a book, researching details, or just reflecting on my story) to prepare me for the time when I get to work on it.  

 A few months ago, the IWSG question of the month was about sharing the best comment someone made about our writing. I don't know if there is one best comment I've received, as I've been lucky to receive support from many people. But there is one encouraging comment that has stuck with me for a long time:

…Years ago, I attended a weekend writers workshop with about two dozen other writers. Most attendees were other adults, like myself. A youth program allowed a few teens to participate too. The first two chapters of my YA work-in-progress at the time was publicly critiqued by everyone. Most of the feedback, useful or not, seemed to come with kind intentions. Still, I came home from the workshop feeling misunderstood and defeated. A few grown-ups in the workshop didn’t get what I was trying to do. *Sigh* As a courtesy, I still emailed most of the people I met that weekend, grown-ups and teens, with a quick note about how it was nice to meet them and good luck with their writing and all that stuff. One of the teens wrote back to me and shared that my manuscript had been her favorite among the grown-ups’ manuscripts.

It was a short note but it made my day. It also helped me see that not everyone has to get what I’m doing. But as long as someone does, it makes the effort to do what I'm doing worthwhile.

What  is an encouraging comment someone offered you about your writing? Have you ever felt, by certain feedback you have received, that your work was being misinterpreted?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: On Not Writing Everyday

Today is IWSG day, a monthly event Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about their insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. First, I just want to say that this week is a busy one for me. So while I might be slow to visit my regular IWSG buddies, I will get to you! And as usual, I look forward to meeting new members from IWSG.

The IWSG questions of the month are: What was your first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now?Something I remember writing for a sixth-grade class was a fairytale about a lost princess. I remember the teacher was extra impressed with it because I bound my story into a little book and illustrated it too, which weren't part of the assignment. I actually don't know where the book is now. 

Onto my IWSG thoughts...Many years ago, when I first started on my journey to be a traditionally published author, I often felt guilty because I didn't (and still don't) work on my novel everyday. This is one example of many where I sometimes feel I am on a different journey from other writers. Nowadays, I see the big picture more. For even on days that I don't work on my book, I might be doing other stuff, directly or indirectly,  that contribute to its progress: reading a book on the craft of writing or in the genre that I am writing in, researching details, reflecting on where my story has been and where it is headed, etc...

Do you work on your fiction everyday? In what ways do you feel that your writing journey is different from others' journeys?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG: Red Flags

Today is IWSG day, a monthly event Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about their insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. After this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’ve been meaning to remain more active with my blog through the summer. But I’ve been so busy with other responsibilities that I haven’t been able to do much blogging stuff. But hey, it’s IWSG day, and I’m here!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my earlier years. I remember the lessons I learned the hard way about people and the fragility of any bond when one party doesn’t value the investment the other has made for the relationship. Those times left enough of an emotional imprint on me that even as an adult, I don’t have to look far if I ever need to locate angst, perhaps for a scene in my novel in progress or for any of the story seeds growing in my head. The silver lining is now I know how to better spot certain red flags in people. (Maybe someone only reaches out when they want a favor, for example.) This is not to say that I’m an expert. Sometimes I’ve still been fooled.

Recently, I’ve detected red flags with some people. A part of me wishes that I could ignore those flags and carry on. After all, doesn’t it seem like everyone else carries on with them, even though most likely, they know what I know? But I’ve never been like everyone else, and therefore, I am going to politely and quietly walk away.

What do you consider red flags in people?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG: Mental Revising

Today is IWSG day, a monthly event Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about their insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives.

I have a tendency to mentally revise my work while I write. For me, revising isn't just about correcting faulty grammar or spelling. When I talk about revising, or mental revising to be specific, I'm actually discussing how I turn my story, with its plot, characters, setting, dialogue and stuff, inside out. Here, I dissect all the relationships and connections and things that make the story what it is and I critically examine if there's something that's obstructing the flow. While recently doing this mental revision with my WIP, I've decided that eventually I would need to delete traces of an unnecessary character while creating the presence of a completely new character. 

It's easier said than done. It means I have to delete blocks of text I'd written with such care and tear apart a good number of scenes and stitch them back together. Hours and hours of work I'd done earlier will go down the drain. The insecure writer inside me asks, Why do I bother laboring over these words, these scenes, these people, places, and things when so much of this ends up deleted? The writer inside me that's more grounded reminds myself that this is part of the writing process, and that my first drafts (even second and third ones) probably won't make great novels. 

How do you mentally revise your writing? 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Blogging from A to Z Reflections

I’m pleased to have this nifty new badge on my blog announcing that I survived last month’s Blogging from A to Z ChallengeFor this week’s reflections post, participants are invited to share their thoughts about their experience. First, I want to thank all the A to Z volunteers who maintained the operations of last month’s challenge and made this challenge possible for the many people who participated. 

During the challenge, I enjoyed connecting with new bloggers and getting to know better the bloggers I’ve connected with before. I was also open to meeting bloggers whose blogs/challenge themes didn’t match mine. That way, I got to learn more about subjects I didn’t know a lot about before. (Of course, there were bloggers who never visited me back in spite of my repeated visits to their blog. But I prefer to be thankful for the people who did come by to show their support.) 

My own challenge theme was about authors whose stories I read when I was younger. While composing my posts, I reflected on why certain stories stuck with me. Many of these thoughts were shared in the notes after a story synopsis. I noticed how certain subjects also occurred more than once in the books I shared- first time love, prom horror, the Ozarks, gang life, the disappearance of children, bullying and rivalries, to name a few.   

I made the effort not to discuss movies or other mediums inspired by these stories, even when sometimes I really wanted to talk about the movie. For example, for my OUTSIDERS post, I kept thinking about how The Outsiders movie was one of my favorites back in the day. Coincidentally, Rob Lowe (who played Sodapop Curtis) was in a number of my favorite scenes in the movie...So anyway, discussing movies and discussing books are two different things. So for the purpose of this challenge, I stuck with just discussing books.

If you have done the Blogging from A to Z Challenge before, what were your thoughts about your experience? Have you noticed recurring subjects in books you like to read?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IWSG: Traces of a Story

Today is IWSG day, a monthly event Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about their insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives.

While preparing for last month’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I sifted through the little pockets of memory in my head to retrieve certain stories I read during my youth.  Sometimes I remembered the title, but not the author. Easy, I could just look up the title online. Sometimes I remembered neither the title or the author, but just traces of a story. In such cases, there was not much I could do to locate the title and author.

One particular story (sans title and author in my head) that really intrigued me when I was a ‘tween is a MG novel of historical fiction. If I remember correctly, here are the traces of the story… An older woman, someone who isn’t so pleasant, is about to inherit a big fortune, as long as no one else steps forward as being one of the relations closer to the deceased than she. A younger woman comes forward. She claims to be the daughter of someone in the family- it was thought that she, as a child, had died in a plane crash many years ago. If this woman is who she says she is, she will receive the inheritance. DNA testing does not exist in this time period so there is no way to scientifically test the younger woman’s veracity. But this young woman is able to tell stories about the family that only the family members know, and she easily identifies family members in person and in photographs.

At the end of the story, the younger woman takes the inheritance. It’s also revealed that the younger woman was actually the nurse of a true relation who, on her deathbed, wanted to target the older woman who was about to take a fortune that should’ve belonged to her. So she coached her nurse on how to pose as the heiress by feeding her family stories and making her memorize people's faces in old photographs. 

Does this story sound familiar to anyone? If so, can you please remind me of the title and author?

Stay tuned for my Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections Post coming next week!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z: Paul Zindel & THE PIGMAN'S LEGACY

"You see, my mother and father never even touch each other, which makes me wonder how on earth I ever was born. I figure it was just an accident- they both happened to be walking around the bedroom nude and they made a mistake and tripped." - Paul Zindel, THE PIGMAN'S LEGACY (HarperTrophy, YA)

When I was a young kid, I frequently tagged along with my older sister to the library's teen section (they didn't even call it YA then).  I remember Paul Zindel's books were always in the Z section. I read his book THE PIGMAN'S LEGACY ages ago. This book is a sequel to a first book, THE PIGMAN, which I don't remember if I read. THE PIGMAN'S LEGACY is about two teens, John and Lorraine, a pair of friends who meet the Colonel, a senior citizen living in the same home where another senior the teens once knew had lived. (That other senior died in the first book.) At first, the Colonel doesn't seem very friendly but he eventually warms up. John and Lorraine set the Colonel up with Dolly, a lady who works in their school cafeteria. Soon after the Colonel and Dolly meet, John and Lorraine learn that the Colonel is dying. He has always known this. After marrying Dolly on his deathbed, the Colonel dies. The story ends when John and Lorraine are walking through the hospital past the nursery with the newborns. Here, John tells Lorraine he wants to spend his life with her.

My description probably gives the impression this is a sad and somber story. But much of the story is actually told with humor, as demonstrated in one of John's quotes shared at the top of the post here. I believe  humor is a weapon that some of us cultivate to better deal with the pain we experience in our lives.

Have you read THE PIGMAN'S LEGACY? Have you ever used humor to cope with something difficult?

And that's my last post for this month's Blogging from A to Z ChallengeMy theme: authors whose work I read when I was younger. Thanks to all of you who visited and supported my blog this month!