Why Do Writers Write Part Two: Why I Write

dream girl

It’s been a peculiar four months to say the very least. Between fearing for the health of my loved ones and the fate of my country, living through a historical time has been no cake walk. But, the clouds have some silver linings. Being furloughed has left me not only more time to cook, garden, and work on crafts, but more time to discover what sort of day job I would prefer. The insights gained have led me to begin the process of getting qualified for something I have always loved but never gave much thought to doing professionally. I also had another poem published.

The stress of these last few months interfered a great deal with the editing of my novel. To effectively “check out” of reality and get lost in the pages of my manuscript for an hour or two requires a feeling of safety, something which I lacked a great deal of throughout the spring and early summer. I am getting back in the saddle now, but am thinking my book launch might be delayed until 2021.

Getting back to my story and playing with the beginning of my next one, has proven to be extremely therapeutic, and I can feel a small measure of joy reigniting within me. And, I’ve found myself thinking lately…why do I specifically write? In an earlier post, I explored why writers write from a more universal standpoint, from where exactly does the urge to write stories come? That’s a question for the ages, but for me I believe writing is a pleasant and relaxing retreat, a delicious little fantasy of which I am the creator. I cast the characters, craft the setting, set the mood, and have control over something which humans don’t always have control over: the end. From this exercise, I derive a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. It also allows me plenty of ways to play with the English language, another of my favorite pastimes! In my writing, I can explore questions and feelings I don’t always explore in everyday life. Writing makes me feel better when I feel bad, and great when I feel good.

Talk to me! If you’re a writer, why do YOU write?

Write on, Brave 2020 Participant! 😉

PS: Follow me on Instagram! @kamoscatello

Writers, Don’t Be So Serious!

Why I stopped trying to prove I was a “serious” writer – and why you should too!

Laughing Girl pic

I have visited this theme before in a previous post, but as my growth arc continues (hehe, you thought growth was only for fictional characters! :D) my understanding has deepened and I needed to touch on this again.

I used to have an obsession with being taken seriously as a writer. For years, I did not want to admit that I was essentially writing a romance. My current WIP is not quite formulaic, but I think it will still fit in the category. When asked what I was writing, I would reply with “fiction” or “historical fiction“. I would have rather choked than admit I was writing about, you know, two people having a relationship centuries ago and navigating around obstacles  in the way of that relationship. It was childish behavior, fueled by fear of condemnation from the “literati” who don’t consider genre “real” literature, and the knowledge that our current society often looks unfavorably upon anything that is traditionally feminine — and what is more feminine than love stories?

But, this obsession was causing me to take an overly-serious attitude towards my work. Yes, writers need discipline. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to write or finish projects after the honeymoon phase ends. And we need to devote time and energy into making a truly good, marketable product. However, an obsession with whether the majority of the reading public is going to take you seriously will only hamper your growth as a writer, not promote it. It might even stop you from telling the sorts of stories you love.

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So how have I combated this? I simply embraced what is. I like to write romances. This does not make me a silly person. This does not make my writing bad. I just enjoy writing about people and their relationships. And really, what is so wrong about that? My stories probably won’t become some monument to American literature. That’s fine. If I provide other humans with some much needed relaxation and entertainment, that’s great. If I get lots of four and five star reviews and generate some extra income, that’s awesome. All I really want is to put my creations out there. I don’t need to prove myself to anyone — and neither does any other writer.

If you’re a writer who is struggling with validation and serious-to-the-point-of-being-delirious syndrome, take my advice: lighten up. Enjoy what you write. If you do that, your best work will pour out and you’ll find it much easier to polish and sell. Some people will love your writing, some people will hate it. That’s fine. That’s life. Stop seeking validation from without. That only comes from within. Whatever sort of write you are, love that writer with all your heart!

Write on!

Writing In The Time Of Corona

woman in bed

 

Yes, the title is inspired by the title of one of my favorite books – Love in the Time of Cholera.

I don’t think the current situation with Coronavirus or COVID-19 needs any explanation or introduction. Its nasty reputation precedes it!

Now for the serious part…

For the last eight days, I have found myself trapped on treadmills of worry due to Corona’s widespread and assorted effects.  Numbers and deaths are rising, but our data is unreliable and we don’t really know what is right at this point, if we have already hit the peak or not. Most of our freedoms have been curbed for the foreseeable future, and I have realized I am more of an extrovert than I believed. The pain of separation from friends is not to be taken lightly.  People are frightened, and the media is whipping us all further into a mass frenzy of terror with their constant coverage. Ignorant remarks online likening Corona to the Black Death are not helping.

One of my fears came true today – a lay-off, hopefully only temporary, but unsettling nevertheless. I haven’t been unemployed in the past twelve years and though I have no intentions of working in the travel industry for the rest of my non-retired life, I would rather work there than have no job at all.

Work on my manuscript ground to a halt about ten days ago. This massive interruption may put a dent in my plans to publish this year. Though I knew I did not have the means to hire an editor, I did intend to have my novel typeset, have the covers designed by a professional, and set up a website. Depending on how long this lay-off lasts, publication may not take shape at all this year.

So where do I go from here? I don’t remember the last time I felt this adrift. I have a great deal of fear now, and I sense the great fear in the collective consciousness too. I fear for my family and friends who are older or somehow immuno-compromised. I don’t want to see mass amounts of people die. But I also fear the aftermath of this nightmare. When the smoke clears and COVID-19 has been contained, where will our society be and how will it recover? Will these lockdowns ultimately do more harm than good? How many will continue to suffer from poverty and mental anguish? How many businesses closed forever, how many dreams shattered? Are we heading into a second Great Depression, a sustained period of social and political unrest? How many divorces, suicides, spirals and relapses into alcoholism and drug abuse will we see in the months to come as a result of isolation, unemployment, and desperation?

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But, whatever is going on, creativity never ceases. The muses do not really sleep. They’re always awake, kindling fires deep in the subconscious, whispering in our ears. My creativity has been strangled this last week by so much worry. Perhaps now that one of my biggest fears is manifested and “purged” if you will, I can focus again.

I must focus. There’s really no choice, I suppose.

I have always had a strong spirituality, and I will turn to this in the trying weeks to come. My writing has also always been a safe haven for me in times of sadness, and it will be so very much now. My critique group will continue online for however long it must, which should give me some inspiration  to continue. Friends have checked in on me through text or phone calls and I live with family, so my lot could be much worse. Facebook video chat is pretty cool, and so are the streams of operas and plays, and virtual museum tours.

I suppose I should use this “down time” to put my nose to the grind stone and edit like a hurricane. I certainly can’t say I’m just too busy this week or burnt-out from work. I just need to pull my attention from the insanity going on outside my door and look inward, to the mysterious place of dreams and inspiration.

Times of adversity don’t last forever…but the writerly spirit does. I will continue to remind myself that this is but a temporary limbo, that every day of worry is one we will never have to repeat, one day closer to a cure or a drop off in cases and deaths, one day closer to the end of lockup –er, lockdown.

One last insight. Like many Americans, I am accustomed to a rather cushy life. Aside from the usual nonsense and glitches of daily existence, my experiences of discomfort have been mostly fleeting and highly personal. I have never lived through a global crisis of this sort and magnitude. My book is set during a tumultuous time that took place over a span of several years. Hopefully, an economic crash does not unravel the very social order of the United States and tip us into something even more frightening and destructive — like a revolution. I now find myself with a whole new admiration for other humans who lived through times of darkness and uncertainty.  The day to day stress of such things is extraordinary and coping with it and moving forward takes strength. Humanity’s survival through so many ghastly happenings is a testament to the amazing durability of the human spirit.

One thing’s for sure…I will never again take dining out or sitting with a journal and some coffee at Panera for granted ever again.

 

Be well, and write on. ❤

The Third Draft! We’re Almost There!

Girl Jumping

Yes, I took another long hiatus. Summer tends to have this effect on me. But, I am back and I have big news!

I am now working on the third (and hopefully final) draft of my novel. I completed the second draft in July, and am now seventeen chapters into my edit. Between hand edits and the help of amazing editing tool ProWriting Aid, I am well on my way to producing the best work that I can.

Like usual, everything is taking longer than I thought, so this means my book will not hit the market until 2020. If all goes according to plan, I would love to put it out there to coincide with the anniversary of when I began working on the first draft in earnest, which would be mid-March. If not, April would be perfect too.

I will try to update this blog more frequently. You might get some posts about editing! Stay tuned and Happy Autumn!