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: The Evergreen Discipline

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I’ve been a naughty girl recently. I have fallen off schedule with my blog posts! :p This post was originally supposed to go live on the Solstice, but better late than never.

While my complacency and focus on holiday fun did not earn me coal in my stocking, it certainly did nothing to advance my literary aspirations or grow a potential audience. But I have become wise enough to know that sometimes we owe ourselves forgiveness and rest. All work and no play makes humans dull, after all. We must never lose the joy of life and living in the moment.

The holidays are behind us and the new year is upon us. Here on the East Coast we have nearly three months to move through before we see any evidence of Spring.  I feel a strong connection to the earth and find great wisdom in its workings. Each season brings its own symbolic lessons with it. Winter’s lessons are those of adversity — of being tested by the cold, by scarcity, by difficulties that seem interminable. But, we also have the lessons of perseverance, of rebirth, and hope. Our days will gradually lengthen and, even though we are still very much in the “darkness”, we have the promise of summer that will eventually be realized. We will overcome the challenges this season brings and bask in summer’s abundant warmth again as we always do. In winter, we will rest and mine the possibilities nestled in our dreams. We will contemplate and chart a course to follow in the coming year and hopefully succeed at it. Things may look bleak or even dead on the surface, but life never ceases, energy is always circulating, expanding.

In my living room, the Christmas tree still stands lit and decorated. Trees have always been one of my favorite parts of the season of light. The evergreens have a lot to teach us. They are one of the few plants that retain their color and needles in winter. Winter does not strip these hardy trees naked. If anything, their beauty shines brighter beneath glistening snow. They stand tall and full, defiant in the face of biting coldness.

I feel like the writing journey is a little like an evergreen. Even in the darkest, coldest  times, the urge, the talent is always there if we look deep enough. It is something that cannot easily be destroyed. Challenges can actually strengthen it in some aspects. If an idea is a valid one, it will remain “evergreen” — always there (or at least there for a long time), waiting for us to notice it, standing tall and proud in any season, distinguishing itself from a myriad other ideas that have fallen dormant and lost their allure or perished when critiqued or analyzed. Maybe every writer needs to look upon their path as an evergreen one, maybe we would all do well to cultivate the lessons of the evergreen.

I hope your holidays were wonderful ones and I wish you all the best in 2019! You’re probably wondering if I made any New Year’s resolutions. I have — but magical things should be kept secret lest they lose their potency and I certainly have some magical desires this year.  😉

Why I Have Decided To Self-Publish

With proper time and effort, self-published books can look and be as good as traditionally published books.

Book and daisiesBefore I proceed, I have not written this post to disparage those who work in the traditional publishing fields such as editors and literary agents. I am sure these people work hard at their jobs and are passionate about the written word. But I have chosen a different path.

After a great deal of thought, I decided to self-publish the novel I am currently at work on. This avenue had been suggested to me before by other people in my midst, but I fought the idea tooth and nail, justifying it with my erroneous belief that truly talented (or “real”) writers don’t need to self-publish. I thought no publisher would overlook something that is truly good and readers would sniff contemptuously at anything they discovered to be self-published. I have thankfully broken free of those beliefs. Why? Because they are false.

Many fine books have been rejected numerous times by the big houses only to become best sellers. It was only due to perseverance on the authors’ parts that we have those books to enjoy. They persisted but I wonder how many other skilled writers gave up after one too many discouraging e-mails, the gems they might have penned relegated to a desk drawer forever? I also happen to know other very talented wordsmiths who have received rejection notices even after rewriting and having their manuscripts professionally edited. Contrary to popular belief, books do not always get rejected because they are bad. Sometimes, the publisher has already published a similar work and cannot take on another, or it simply didn’t tickle someone’s fancy enough.
 
So far I have poured three and a half years into my novel. I would hate to see a project I have given my heart and soul to languishing in a slush pile forever. The writing world these days is highly competitive and the odds are pretty heavily stacked against new authors. They are just too risky to take a financial gamble on in a world where producing and marketing books is so expensive.
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Another variable that makes self-publishing an attractive option is not needing an agent. As great as I am sure agents are, they are difficult to acquire and, well, also have to be paid fairly for their work which dips into my author income.
 
My third and honestly, biggest reason for self-publishing is (almost) full creative control. I am free to chose the cover design, book length, publishing house name, and make the final call on what ultimately gets cut and what stays in the story. I can also set my price and earn higher royalties. These are all particulars I understand traditionally published authors have little control over.
 
Am I worried that readers may not buy my book if they know it is self-published? Not a great deal. Some readers do balk at self-published books over concerns that they are low quality. Admittedly, there are self-published books that are low quality, but that isn’t simply because they are self-published or the authors lack talent. From what I have seen as a reader, writers get so excited over sharing their book with the world that they forget to revise and take their time crafting a quality work. I share that excitement, I truly do; but years of working in sales has taught me that in order to make a good name for yourself and build a loyal customer base, you must offer a product that people love, that people are willing to spend their hard-earned money on, a product good enough that they will come back for more. These sorts of products take time and I intend to polish my work to the best of my ability.  
                                                                                    
Will people be able to tell my book is self-published? My guess is no (unless they read this blog. 🙂 ). With proper time and effort, self-published books can look and be as good as traditionally published books and I intend to put in the time and effort. I am sure self-publishing will be a big challenge, but I plan to give it my best. (I might be a Libra, but I have strong Virgo influences in my chart and Virgo is nothing if not exacting. 🙂 ) The internet has opened up a whole new field to writers and the publishing landscape is indeed changing. Follow my blog for updates on my progress!
 
What are your thoughts on self-publishing? I would love to hear them!