In an effort to show more of the girl behind the computer (who happens to have a really tough time taking pictures of herself for posting and sharing online), instead I’m going to share something rather personal.
I’m afraid that in another raid on my parent’s house, I found this guy, and my first Teddy (broken beyond repair), and his friend (who really is sort of creepy, but also kinda cool as a gadget that connects to the main bear and comes alive to help tell stories). This one still works though. Mostly, anyway. I took his vest off to clean some spots from it and couldn’t leave him naked, so I put the first clean outfit I found– his PJs, haha. Aren’t they actually kinda cute?
I’ve been messing with this bear for a day or two, trying to get him to come out of his hibernation coma. (If you have some sort of electronic device that you love dearly, DON’T let it be stored in a shed for a year. In fact, leaving it with your mother who doesn’t understand why you kept the thing in the first place is probably a bad idea. It’s liable to be tossed. I’m lucky that she didn’t do that and only stuck him in a plastic bin in a shed that leaks and is guarded by humongous mutant spiders.)
Anyway, this brought back a lot of memories of what I was like as a kid. You know, I was pretty much exactly the same as I am now. Shocker, right? Parents out there already know this because they’ve seen it happen with their own kids, and I’ve watched this happen with my niece and nephew. The way you are as a little little kid is generally the way you’re going to be as an adult. Unless something horrible happens to knock you off the rails, and these things do happen to people.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with stories and books and music. Even though I’m the youngest of four, the age differences between me and my siblings made it so that I was practically an only child, and I used to spend a lot of time by myself creating stories. Before I could read, I was one of those kids making up stories based on the pictures. (I remember one afternoon forcing my dad to listen to the story I crafted based on The Runaway Bunny. I had no ending, and my poor dad had to find a way to politely excuse himself.)
Now as a kid, I remember being told to find what I was meant to do in the world. People used to say it all the time. Everyone has something they like to do, something they’re good at, and they should stick to that and find a way to make it work for them. This is how you get contestants on American Idol who honestly believe they can sing because they have a passion for it and they’ve always done it even when they were little.
Is passion enough though? I write stories because I absolutely love to, but that doesn’t mean I’m great at it. I work on my craft, and I’ll continue to work at it, but will I ever be as good as someone like Margaret Atwood or Neil Gaiman? Isn’t there a limit to what I am capable of?
I’ll be honest. I believe that there is a limit. I also believe that a person is capable of doing whatever they want to do if they really have their heart set on it. Like when I was a kid, I got so inspired by Disney’s The Little Mermaid, I decided I’d learn to draw. And I did in a way. I studied the lines, I copied pictures, I studied techniques, I experimented. But was I ever going to be as good as someone with natural talent and the same desire to work on their craft? Oh hell no. I learned that right away. I still like to draw, but it’s always going to be difficult for me.
I think I’ve found ways around this natural limitation though. We have a tendency to think that “growing” only moves in one direction. In order to get better, I thought that my doodles had to be more more realistic, more amazing, more like someone else’s work. Same with writing. Getting better has generally meant not just writing clearly, but crafting sentences that astound. Writing out the same old in some new fancy way that is halfway poetic.
But you can grow in other directions too. With doodling, I learned my limits and found my strengths. Instead of trying to surpass my limits, I decided to work on my strength– coloring. I still worked on basics like proportion, but I found that I could sometimes dazzle with simple colors that helped my style.
Writing is similar. I’m never going to be as insightful and poetic as Gaiman. But I can work on writing different types of stories, the stories that aren’t told. Instead of following a hero around, I might tell the story of his squire or the story of his wife and how she suffers at home while he’s away.
Rather than trying to scale the wall I’ve decided to stand in front of (writing), I’m going to look for a way around. The wall is pretty long, so I have a lot of walking to do.
Yesterday, a good friend of mine made a post about her decision to self-publish. It’s beautiful, a funny and honest look at one writer’s thought processes.
As I read it, I thought, “YES.” (In caps like that too.) I’m sitting here with my cat in my arms and cackling silently to myself because I don’t want to disturb the cat, so I probably do look a lot like a villain, making plots and twisting writer’s thoughts.
Here’s the thing, my master plan. This has been my dream for the longest time. It’s even why I went to school to become a teacher before I realized that being a teacher wasn’t really for me.
What I most want is for writers to see their own worth.
Writing is not an exclusive club. If you write, you’re a writer. It is honestly that simple. It gets more complicated when we talk about good or bad writing, but that’s not what this post is about.
This post is just about you, my writing friends. Your voice is unique. There is no one else who can tell a story like you can. In fact, inside you there are probably stories that will only occur to you and no one else. If you don’t write it, no one else will.
Artists everywhere are prone to angst. We all know this. We remind ourselves of this as we work on projects, when we feel down, like we’re not quite good enough. But among the arts, I believe the writer is the most troubled.
Everyone speaks in words and everyone tells stories. Because of that, writing stories is looked down on as one of the most pedestrian of trades. This seems to create an inherent need for us to prove ourselves to the world at large. I think this is where the rules and the comparisons come in. Writers absolutely feel a need to be able to point to something that proves their worth or they think they’re just some kid pretending.
It’s understandable, but I think, over time, we’ve taken it too far. Now people are starting to believe they’re not real writers unless they’re published or they make money from it. Strange terms like “aspiring” make their way into conversations because writers no longer want to confess they’re writers because they fear the scoffing.
Well, stop it. If you are a writer, you will know you’re a writer. If you’re a writer, you’ll want to write even when you’re told you shouldn’t. You’ll write, even when you feel horrible about your writing. You’ll write because you want to be better, because there’s a story inside you begging to be told. You’ll know you’re a writer because you’ll feel it.
You can deny it all you want, but there’s no escape. If this sounds like a curse, I don’t mean it to, but it probably is. You’ll write one story, and you’ll love it. But shortly there after you’ll think, “I can do better.” And you will. Because you’re a writer, it’s what you do, and when you’re doing what you’re meant to, you can’t help yourself. Whatever path you take, take solace in the fact that you’ve found something that means so much to you it makes your heart race and it makes you flinch. This is one awesome and terrifying ride, but I’d rather be doing this than just about anything else.
I’m testing things out all over the place. I’ve been on DeviantArt since forever, somewhat participating, but mostly not because writing and literature aren’t totally supported there. They are, kinda, but the community is much smaller than the visual arts community, so I always figured why not just go where other writers are and do a full on blog? (Besides, who on DA wants to hear my thoughts and whines on writing?)
So somewhat recently (okay, maybe like a few months ago), I started a DA just for my writing. The thing was that the cover artist wanted to post up the art she did, and I didn’t want to hold her up until the novel was released. I did push up the release date of the book, but ultimately, I decided I would start a DA account and put my links up so that once she posted the art, I could easily go, “Here I am!” and show off a few passages too as samples.
So far, I do get a steady stream of traffic from DA, though I only have two followers (who are both really awesome people). It’s not a lot of traffic, but it is something, and I’ve gotten a few likes on the Facebook page from people who came over from DA. (Literally a few, meaning like three, but hey, the book isn’t even out yet.)
The other thing I’m trying is Tumblr. I admit it it, I’ve been one of those people who don’t get it and then feel old and unadaptable because I couldn’t wrap my head around it. But then a good friend showed me this site called Pinterest and it clicked. I can use Tumblr as a way to pin things that inspire and interest me. These are things I come across daily, that I usually squirrel away in Evernote and never think on again. If I’m going to be clipping these things, I might as well put them up as a mash up of the things that inspire me and inspire the story. As I see it, it’s another way to get to know the story, or at least the crazy things that inspire this writer to write the story.
There is one problem with this, but the pros outweigh the cons. Social media right now is coming across to me as a lot of people shouting out all at once and hoping that someone hears and engages them in a conversation. I’m guilty of it, and I like it sometimes. Sometimes you do need that release. But it just seems that it gets abused a lot too. I utilize lists so that I can organize everyone based on what level of endurance I find myself facing that day. If I can’t take being shouted at on a particular day, I will skip that column.
I don’t dislike twitter. I actually really love it. The first column I check is always my friends from my quiet account. I love reading what they have to say. It’s just the larger account especially for writing that can give me a headache.
Anyway, I thought I’d share some thoughts on my various experiments. I have the Tumblr account set to update everyday this week. (And twice on Tuesday for some reason. Tuesday which makes me think of burgers… Mmmm burgers.)
I believe the key to everything is to do what interests you, not what you think you should do just for marketing. None of these experiments are purely marketing experiments. These are things that I am honestly interested in.