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The Breakup Post

It's down to this: I have two blogs. One on Blogspot, one on LiveJournal. 

I like Blogspot more, and it's too much to separate my writing and personal life into two blogs. Let's face it; the two are so intertwined that it's pretty much impossible. 

As much as I love you, LiveJournal, I love me more (to quote Samantha in the only part of Sex and the City The Movie I sincerely approve of). 

I'll miss the cat emoticons, but that's about it.

So, without further adieu, I must say goodbye to you, LiveJournal. We'll stay friends, I hope, and I'm sure that I'll stop by and read through you (I don't have the heart to delete you). 

Thanks for the memories.

My OneandonlyBlog: http://morgantown2009.blogspot.com


-Kira

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Creative writing major?

I feel obligated, just because it's made of so much awesome:



In other, less awesome news (but still fun to me), I'm working on chapter 3 of my second book, and waiting to hear back about the first. There is an amazing person reading my book to help me sharpen it up (I want it to be very pointy indeed), and I'm trying to get my query critiqued in a YA forum for writers. Then I'll be on the query hunt again. I actually learned something in my quest for publication. The road to hell is not, in fact, paved with good intentions. It's paved with rejection and query letters.

Sigh.

My life is going well though, even if this blog is not. Had some life-changing sushi earlier today, and my critique group on campus, No Strangers to Fiction, is growing to be a wonderful, diverse, loving group. I'm so proud!

Classes are... ok. Gay and Lesbian History is my favorite one by a long shot, though Survey of English literature is ok. The Brontes are... well, very victorian, though we're reading Wuthering Heights next week, which should definitely liven things up. Sociology (the individual and the society) is a big let down. I thought it would be, well, interesting. It's not. What a pity.

The biggest thing on the front (besides the book) is the very ominous, very intimidating Creative Writing application. Gulp. At least, that's how it felt last year. This year is different, to say the least. I feel more sure of myself as a writer, and how could I not? I've not only completed a full length novel, I've began others, researched the industry, and who could forget that largerthanlife writing class with crazyawesomevisitingprofessor? I just don't feel the same fear in the pit of my stomach. I don't think my life will end if I get rejected, though I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't feel disappointed.

I want more time to write, I want to be a better writer, and I want to work with more amazing teachers before I graduate college. That's the only reason why I want to be a part of this program. God knows the diploma won't help me get a job.

Not to seem jaded, or bitter. It's a great program, and I'd be honored to be a part of it. But after taking umpteen billion (hyperbole, anyone?) English classes about legendary authors who never even walked into a classroom, let alone a writing seminar, I know that a diploma can't guarantee success, and people have made considerable dents in the literary canon with much less.

We'll see how it goes, I guess.

Hi.

I DO have another blog, though I update it almost as much as this one (almost never). I'm sorry, and I feel horrible every time I neglect it.

Check it out here: http://morgantown2009.blogspot.com/

I survived winter quarter, but just barely. It seriously sucks, and I HATE spending three months in cold weather with classes that suck the soul out of my life. Needless to say, I would rather go to the dentist than go through another winter quarter (THAT'S saying something. And I DO have to go through another winter quarter, AND go to the dentist. How unfair is that?)

On the bright side, I'm hard at work on Chapter two of my second book. It's close to being done (I might be lying, but I'm not sure yet), and I'm pretty excited about having more than the first chapter finished.

However, one character completely surprised me. I wrote one line for her. ONE. A tiny off-handed comment. It snowballed, and now I have to deal with the aftermath, which is basically an entirely new subplot. As much as it helps the rest of the books, I'm a little frustrated. I don't WANT to spend more time with this character. I made her gross and rude on purpose, and now I have to get all buddy-buddy with the hag. It's annoying.

The things I do for my writing...

On the extra super bright side, I have my summer plans worked out! Puerto Rico and the Florida Keys!!! I'll post a link to my bridesmaid dress as soon as my internet works properly.

Until then, adios!

Good advice.

The Intern, a blog I read, wrote a post suggesting this: at any time in your novel, any page, any sentence, you should have a damn good reason for every paragraph, word, and comma. Otherwise it's wrong. The reader should feel like everything belongs, that you have a purpose for it all, that you weren't just bumbling through the writing process without knowing what would happen next.

Cool, right? Go read it! Now!

I'm going to go slink off and try to take the Intern's advice...

Happy March!

 I feel absolutely terrible for not posting for the past few weeks. I promise, I've tried. But halfway through about the third sentence, I realized how uninteresting the post was. That happened like, four times. Then I gave up, with a vow that spring break would be chock full of blogs galore.

Things change though, and maybe it's the thick layer of fog between me and everyone else, but I'm in the mood to blog.

So here I am.

Hi!

I have some great news, and a few links for you! 

1) I got my first partial request one week ago from an amazing agent! I'm really excited/anxious/freaked out/happy beyond belief that she was interested in reading more, considering this request was part of a contest. I wasn't expecting it at all, as the contest was focused on an honest rejection. The point was supposed to be to get an agent's first thoughts while reading query letters, instead of getting the usual form rejection. She emailed me back and requested the first 20 pages of the book. I went over them once or twice, emailed them, and now I wait. 

I have to say, waiting is the hardest part of the game. Writing and editing wouldn't be so terrible if I weren't always waiting to hear from someone, but I understand that EVERYONE has to go through this. It feels like a right of passage, albeit an irksome one. 

2) I think I have the beginnings of a new book on my mind. I had the eureka moment last night as I was headed to bed, and today I wrote a few pages of plot, characters, main conflict, etc. Unfortunately, no matter how interested I am in this cool new idea, I have to wait till spring break to really dig into it. I will give you my MC's name though: Diana. I'm so excited to get to know her!

I know there's more to say, but I'll just cut right to the links. First, this video: 



It's a nice tune from Wyclef Jean, and I've been listening to it on repeat. Also, this song: 


I've been completely obsessed with it over the past few weeks, to the point where I sing in the shower, hallways, and stairwells. I even learned it on guitar so that I can belt it out at all hours of the night! 

Follow me on twitter!

Also, for you writers out there, I just joined this online community of YA writers, YALITCHAT. If you're looking to get published, you should probably go check them out! 

Once spring break rolls around, I'll post a lot more on here. Winter quarter's been rough, but once the sun comes out things will be rolling again. I'll also hopefully have a handle on the sequel to Morgantown (I feel too lame to say Morgantown 2), which is WAY exciting to me. 

Until then, I'm off to write for my life! See you when the dust settles. 

A long post

Because quite frankly, I'd rather do this than write one of my six papers due this week.

Today I came across an absolute gem of a tweet, in which an author (Nicole Peeler, I think?) posted this article on ten rules of writing. Basically, a bunch of amazing writers put ten (well, some of them put three, or eight) rules that every writer should follow. Obviously, they didn't all agree, and obviously, there are exceptions to every rule. But despite all of that, there are some incredible finds in that article. 

Even though I just posted a link to it, I have to put down some of my favorites: 

Elmore Leonard

"If it sounds like writing, rewrite it."

Margaret Atwood

"Ask a friend or two to look at [your book] before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up."

Roddy Doyle

"Do not place a photograph of your favorite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide."

"Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible.. Regard every new page as a small triumph-- Until you get to page 50. Then calm down, and start worrying about the quality. Do feel anxiety--it's the job."

"Do, occasionally, give in to temptation. Wash the Kitchen floor, hang out the washing. It's research."

"Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones."

"Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biography... But then get back to work."

Helen Dunmore

"Finish the day's writing when you still want to continue."

Geoff Dyer

"Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire."

"Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don't follow it."

Anne Enright

"Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand."

"Try to be accurate about stuff."

"Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this ten-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. You can also do all that with whiskey."

"Have fun."

Richard Ford

"Don't take any shit if you can possibly help it."

Jonathan Franzen

"The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator."

"Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money."

"Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting."

"You have to love before you can be relentless."

Esther Freud

"Never forget, even your own rules are there to be broken."

Neil Gaiman*

"Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong an how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

"Laugh at your own jokes."

"The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter."

David Hare

"The two most depressing words in the English language are "literary fiction."

PD James

"Read widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious."

"Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to a writer--however happy, however tragic--is ever wasted."

AL Kennedy

"Be without fear. This is impossible, but let the small fears drive your rewriting and set aside the large ones until they behave--then use them, maybe even write them. Too much fear and all you'll get is silence."

"Remember that you love writing. It wouldn't be worth it if you didn't. If the love fades, do what you need to and get it back."

"Remember writing doesn't love you. It doesn't care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on."


***

*Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. If you haven't read anything by him, please go to a bookstore NOW and remedy that. I recommend Coraline or Neverwhere. Both are amazing. 

This article is absolutely brilliant, no? There's plenty more where that came from, but I took the ones that stuck out to me as more than the general good writing advice. 

What rules do you think are essential for every writer? 

My most essential rule: Be an optimist. In order to keep going every day, you have to believe that you're passionate enough, capable enough, and talented enough to make it. Believe in yourself, and all that jazz. Otherwise, what's the point?


A quick post

 It seems as though I was wrong in assuming that hell week would be limited to seven days. Now I'm about to enter hell week part two, at the end of which (if I survive it), I will get a bottle of wine and celebrate being a college student. 

A quick post though, because things have been happening in terms of my writing life. 

1) If you write, make a twitter account. Seriously. Do it, right now. 

It's astounding to me how many resources there are online for writers, not the least of which is twitter. Agents, published writers, and publishers alike tweet about queries, links to blogs, etc. It's like following a bunch of miniature blogs, and it's mega helpful.

Of course, the reason why I'm posting this now as opposed to some other time is that I recently got a lot of help over twitter. We all know that querying is a five letter word that rhymes with witch, and any help in that area is invaluable. I follow a few interns of literary agents on twitter, and I messaged one about possibly critiquing my query. I knew it was a long shot, but it never hurts to ask (well, that depends, but it didn't in this situation). She said sure! I emailed her my query, and to my delight, she sent it back with tons of helpful comments, and let me know that I was on the right track. Woot! 

Moral of this story: Don't hate on twitter.

2) Nagging is the best thing a friend can do for your writing

No, seriously. 

It's one thing to have a cheer leader on your side, and that's all well and good. But it's something entirely different when there's someone hounding you constantly about the next chapter, and the next (or lack thereof). I imagine this is what it's like to have an agent/publisher, because there are deadlines, impatience, and people involved. I actually kind of like it.

Friends are especially helpful when I have SNI syndrome. When I get extra excited about some vague new idea, my friends say, "Well that's great, Kira. How about you finish the book you're working on first, and THEN worry about this other one?"

3) It is necessary to hurt yourself to get better

Whoa, hold the phone. I do NOT support cutting, or self-abuse, or any other kind of abuse. This, of course, refers to Evil Editor (and you would KNOW that if you could read my mind, which you clearly cannot). 

Evil Editor takes your queries and makes fun of them with reckless abandon. His notes are usually very relevant and honest, but all of that wonderful constructive criticism has a price: your self esteem. One writer wrote, and I'm paraphrasing here:

"I'll be in the corner licking my wounds for a few months, but thanks so much for all your help!"

I highly suspect she had to force herself to add that second bit in there. 

I'm up next of course, and though I'm terrified, I'm also strangely excited. I firmly believe this lends itself to the theory of my mental instability, but I suppose that's what it takes to be a writer. I've had to reign in every urge to query more agents, because I want to send out the best letter possible. I would hate to ruin my chances when they might have considered my manuscript after EE tore my query apart. 


That's all the words of wisdom I have today, except maybe for this; DO NOT procrastinate when you have three papers due per week for two weeks. It's a terrible idea and you WILL hate life until the entire ordeal is over. 

Contests and Tea

As I wrote in my last entry, I participated in a contest over on Miss Snark's First Victim, and it was a great experience. She holds a monthly contest called Secret Agent, in which she invites fifty of her readers to email the first 250 words of their manuscript for critique. People comment on each entry, and finally the agent who judges the contest comments on each entry. 

Then, a week after the contest starts, the agent chooses a winner (sometimes more than one), who gets an in depth critique of their query letter and first few chapters. 

Nifty, right?

Anyways, I'm entry number 11, if you want to go read mine :) 

I didn't win, but I got a lot of helpful advice. I learned just how important those first opening lines are. They need to shine like none other, or people will put the book down. In the real world, you don't get another chance to make first impressions, and man do those count. 

This week I'm starting my second round of query letters, and I rewrote mine. I think this version is more startling, and it leaves the reader wondering what comes next. The first one was a mildly interesting summary, but nothing too interesting. 

I hope that this round goes better. I think it will. This contest really sharpened my awareness of a reader's perspective (though I still have a long way to go). I just read this great article on queries, written by an intern at a literary agency. I sort of already know the basic rules by now, but it's nice to reread stuff and get it fully engrained in my head. 

Meanwhile, planning for book two is coming along... sort of. It's more of me writing random scenes that hold my attention than any version of actual planning. This article is on visual strategies of planning out a book, and I had a blast reading it. Basically it outlined a lot of the things I already do out of habit, but there were a few new fun ideas. One thing I love doing is finding actors to portray my characters. I have the major characters for the first book all in a nice little folder, and right now I'm on a man hunt to find the new characters for book two. 

Hey, it's that or doing homework.

Speaking of, this week is going to be horrendous in terms of homework, so I'll be taking another hiatus from the blog world for a while.

Have a great week in the meantime! 

Oh the weather outside is frightful!

 And I have no fire, no guy, and worst of all, no hot cocoa.

I DID, however, trudge through the much to get to the gym (For The Win)!

I also slipped on the curb of the main road into a large pile of disgusting slush (For The Lose). 

Today was definitely on the longer side, but I thought of something very interesting at my meeting tonight. If I haven't explained before, I'm the cofounder of a critique group on my campus (I guess I'm the leader too, but I'm in a stickittothemanwedon'tneednoleader mood). We get together every Tuesday and talk about books we love, books we hate, and books we don't get. Then we try to make our writing fall into the first category. 

It's a blast, and even though we had a startling amount of people not show up, we also had the pleasant surprise of not one, but three new members. Two of them were quite enthusiastic about the whole idea, but one was shy, and repeated the phrase, "I'm not a writer." It was her first introduction, it was her preemptive defense tactic when reading her work aloud, and it was her parting phrase. 

I found it interesting, just because her written stuff was awesome! It made me wonder how many great books will never get written, all because people don't consider themselves writers. It's ridiculous to me. The term "Writer" is a label, a nasty one that was probably made up by THE MAN, all to create more red tape around people's dreams. 

Ignore the labels and do what you love. Please. And never let a silly word get in the way of your dreams. If you sing, you're a singer. If you paint, you're a painter. If you write... 

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Highs and lows and in between

 This whole journey has caused some amazing things to happen in my life. For one, I know now that I have the will power to commit, to stick with something against all odds, for no other reason than, "I love it." That in and of itself would have been enough to make it all worth it, but it keeps getting better.

But it's not all happy-go-lucky type stuff. Sometimes I feel like crap. Sometimes I feel like I suck, or like I'm completely unoriginal. Sometimes I cower alone and wonder if I'll ever get published, if it'll ever pan out or if I just wasted a year of my life doing something I'll never be able to do again. It's terrifying. Like literally, terrifying. 

I had one of those moments in Borders on Saturday. I know, it sounds ludicrous, but I just, panicked. I saw the sheer volume of books on the shelves (mostly the sheer volume of urban fantasy books), and I freaked. I saw some books with similar names to mine, with similar settings. And I cried a little on the inside. No joke. I definitely cried. 

The story doesn't end there though. If it did, I wouldn't be posting this. I tried to post on Saturday, and I couldn't get  the words out, because I was terrified. But now I feel better. On the surface other books may seem similar, but once you open the cover, my book is definitely different. Note: I don't mean better or worse. I mean different. 

At the core of it though, there are no more original stories. It's all about evolution, about timing, about personal spins, twists, views, and influences. I read a great post in which writing was compared to cooking. I can't cook for the life of me, but it went something like this: Cooking is like writing in the way you make things. Sure, you take a common recipe that everyone knows, but then you sprinkle in your own spices and make it your own. That's what separates the average from the great. 

Alright, spices and cheesy metaphors aside, I really do this. My awesome writing teacher told us all to brush up on our Greek mythology. Why? Because there's so many to be had from all of those myths. So many things today draw heavily upon the books of old, but we still read them, and in a lot of cases, we still love them. It's just like my American Literature professor says. Progression of literature is all making it new. "It" being stories we all love and know. 

So here's to hoping I've made it new. 

Changing topics for a second, I found this awesome video that I think every single person on earth should watch. It cracked me up while doling out some amazing advice: 


Did it work? I'm trying this new thing where I paste videos into my blog instead of making you click on them to view them... Ah well. 

Wish me luck in this contest I'm about to attempt to participate in! And have a great week!

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kirabell89
Morgantowngirl

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