A to Z Challenge: Unsure

One thing you need to know about writing: You’ll never be quite sure about it.

You’ll feel amazing one moment. The next, you’ll doubt every word.

You’ll spend the rest of your life trying to master the craft, except you never will. There’s always something else to learn.

Sometimes, you won’t even be sure about why you write at all.

But you’ll write anyway, because it’s the one passion in your life that’s almost as important to functioning as breathing.

So don’t worry about being unsure. That aspect to being a writer never goes away.

Get used to it.

What are you always unsure of as a writer?

NaNo doubts

Sorry if today’s post comes out reading and feeling a tad… lumpy. I’m currently super focused on my NaNo project, so any other writing is going to suffer.

This could have been my IWSG post, but since I have a bigger writerly concern as well, I figured I could write about this today.

You see… I have sort of started to doubt if I’ll be able to get as far with my NaNo project as I did last year. 2011 saw me writing 25k in about ten days before I froze up and shelved the WiP. But right up to 25k, it was frighteningly easy to write.

This year, though, my story took me by surprise. I thought it would be just a nice run-of-the-mill we-will-prevail sort of dystopian.

Should have known my muse wouldn’t be this easy on me. No. I somehow managed to stumble onto a psychological pea soup. Day one went well, but after that, it feels like I’m writing through wool.

It isn’t the same feeling as I get while blocking, though. I know what has to happen next and every successive scene comes to me easily. It’s just that when I start writing, things are hard.

I think it’s because my female main character has grown up in more shit than I originally thought and her mind’s workings keep making it hard for me to write her thoughts. Hard… It’s actually more like I’m bashing my head against a wall.

My male main character isn’t much better. He’s not quite the idealist I thought he was, so his approach to revolution is sort of… unnerving.

All this adds up to probably the most difficult book I’ve ever attempted. Including Doorways.

Not sure if I can do this, but I have to try.

Have you ever written a story that fought you all the way? Did you make it through to the end or did you give up?

Others have said: Just write.

Don’t get it right, just get it written.

James Thurber
If I had a cent for every new writer I find who is overwhelmed by all the “rules” and “prescribed methods” to good writing, I’d be on my way to Tuscany by now.
The Internet is a wonderful place, and the blogosphere a treasure trove of knowledge and advice on writing. I love it. But I was lucky. I had too much of a confidence in my own abilities to be overwhelmed.
Why? Because I’ve written for about eight years before I decided to take the plunge and start a writing blog. So by the time I started nosing around the blogs, I already knew what worked for me and what didn’t. I already knew where my writing needed help.
I knew that if I had conflicting pieces of advice, that I’d be able to pick the one that works best with me and the way that I write.
But note the words: FOR ME.
If everyone writes according to the way that works best for them, is there really a right  way to write?
Short answer: No. The only way to write is your way.
Sure, you can take advice. If it works for you. You can deviate from the “rules”, if you’re willing to stand firm in the belief that you did the right thing.
Writing isn’t about writing to a set form. If it was, every book would be the same. Who’d want that? Especially if it’s a book you wouldn’t like?
So, while it is excellent to see what options are out there (and I’ve seen some brilliant suggestions that I never would have thought about), don’t sacrifice your own writer’s identity in order to implement them.
Forget about being right. Get that story written, by any means possible.
What’s your favorite writing “rule” or “best practice” to break?

Yet another dilemma…

Warning! Gratuitous Cute Kitty Picture to follow…

There is a reason though. Two, actually.

One is that I finished WiP2 this weekend. So… Those thousands of errors I conveniently pushed aside for later? Uhm… yeah… I’m talking rewrites. AND research. Of course, I’m loving the latter, but I’m not sure if I should be taking it on right now.

See, my Doorways crits are coming in. So far I’ve gotten two back. My courage flagged at the sight of the amount of work I’d need to do for round 2.

If I want to be finished with edits any time soon, I’m not sure that embarking on WiP2 rewrites will be the smartest thing. Especially when my time is sort of a rare commodity until the very end of October.

Of course, there’s NaNo, but I think it will be better applied to writing another rough draft (WiP3), so WiP2 won’t be happening then either.

So now here’s the million dollar question: When will I be able to do it?

Contradictions in my muse and me.

My muse is a wonderful lady sometimes. Yet somehow, she manages to be a complete bitch at the same time. 

For example, she believes that pressuring me to write during a time that I’m down is a bad idea, so she just doesn’t give me anything to say. Of course, the one thing that can get me out of the doldrums would be… yep you guessed it. Writing.

She hits me with the most wonderful ideas.

When I’m too busy to do anything with them.

Then she leaves in a huff because I didn’t get back to her quick enough. Leaving me with nothing when I do have time to write.


 She got me though the first draft of Doorways. And promptly started ignoring me when I wanted to get stuck into the rewrite.

Now she’s nudging me towards writing again. Except that the idea floating around in my head has nothing to do with the rewrite. 


I’m actually contemplating putting my rough draft aside for a month so that I can approach it with an open mind.  I think a big reason why I’m getting so stuck is that I’m co close to the current version that I just can’t possibly imaging changing anything to the storyline. Even as I realize that huge changes are necessary.

But even as I say so, part of me is completely balking at the idea. After all. I spent so much time on Doorways that the idea of doing something else for a while is completely alien. Sigh.

My muse is refusing to give me any advice on this one. So now I’m asking yours. Do I take a break or don’t I?

The post where I wrote what I didn’t want to say.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to rant.

It’s more of a venting…

Fact is that I’m ten days away from my last exam. I wish I could say last exam ever, but since I don’t know if that is the case, I decided to rather not be the die-hard optimist. Anyway…

That’s not what I want to go into. I’ll go into it when I’m really really back. Right now I’m more of a I’m hiding out from my other responsibilities back. Which is why I must keep this post short.

If I write too much, things are going to come out that would serve me better tightly caged. So…

Sometimes I hate thinking. In stead of making things clearer, thinking muddles everything up. Like worrying about what happens next.

There. See? I did it again. I freaking can’t stop. It’s like trying to stop a runaway train with a penny.

Right now, not thinking is taking so much concentration that I can’t really think about anything else.

Not a good state in which to find myself when I have to finish my exams.

Not that it matters. Since my economics happened again. This time slightly differently, but with the exact same effect. Well… not exactly the same. I got two poems (I think) out of it. In two languages.

Did I get a degree out of it?

A most emphatic no. See… when you write your predicate test in October and suddenly draw a complete blank (and I do mean complete) remaining calm to get through the work with a miraculous second chance just isn’t as possible as people seem to think. I studied for five weeks this time. I gave up my NaNo aspirations in order to get through the work. I did everything I could. 

I kept myself together admirably if I say so myself, even when I knew I wasn’t nearly prepared enough to feel good about writing. I sat down and turned the page. 

And… Nothing. Not a single solitary thing registered. I sat through an hour and a half out of three, trying to recall what I knew. I wrote two poems just to calm down enough to think. Nothing… Actually I think I wrote the poems just to create noise. It felt strange to be the only person in the room except the invigilator that wasn’t writing. 

In some sort bleak irony, that was the first time in months that my mind went completely quiet. 

Not that peaceful, calming quiet with running water and laughing children in the distance. I’m talking about that eerie roaring silence you get after a bomb went off close by. 

I think that I wrote “Sorry” in the answer sheet.


I can’t remember. 

Oh my word I wasn’t even going to write about this. I was going to mope fore a bit about how I can’t study because I want to write, but can’t write because I need to study. Something like that. But I guess this had to get out.

I haven’t told anyone yet. Everyone is assuming that there is hope, but refusing to talk about it. No one except for me, and now you, know how badly it really went. I just can’t deal with telling them. Maybe I’m a coward now.

Still… I feel a lot better now. It isn’t ruling my thoughts as much as before. So I can maybe pull myself together enough to get through the next ten days or so until I can face up to what I had allowed to happen to me and to the repercussions of it all.

But not right now. Now, I have to knuckle down and finish what I can.


This is a question that has been with me for some time. Fate. How far does it rule our lives?

Me, I think Fate plays a huge role in things since I believe that God has a plan with my life. It’s just that I sometimes have to make decisions that might or might not be dependent on Fate.

For example. Last night I met an awesome guy… and I think he liked me too, yet we just were never alone for long enough to exchange numbers. We can, however, ask our mutual friend for the other’s number, but to me it’s not that easy.

I’m right at the end of the year. After that I’m going to leave University and very possibly the country. For me, actively seeking a relationship is just a bit too complex to even think about. Part of me believes that if we are meant to be together or even date, we’ll meet again.

Part of me wonders if I’m being a coward.

But that got me thinking about my books. In the Beast, the characters are quite fixed to their fates, although they get to choose if they step up or not. In the Western, they are responsible for their own fates.

Clearly, part of me obviously believes that even if Fate is there, it’s my choice to accept it. And thinking about it, I do accept a lot of what Fate throws my way. It’s my of knowing whether or not I’m following the Plan. I like following the Plan. It’s the best one there is for my life. 

But this was such a near miss. I have no idea about whether the door closed or not. So… Do I shove it a little and see what happens, or do I move past it and go on with my life? What do you guys think?  

One person… three tragedies (and no, I’m not talking about me)

Why do people do things like this to themselves?

My flat mate and I were having a loooong and wide-ranging discussion about emotions and guys and everything in between yesterday. You might think that I’m stretching the word long a bit, so I will have to explain that we can sit down and talk for hours… and not about fluff.

So during yesterday’s four hour discussion, she mentioned that she knew she wasn’t a practical person, and that she felt she was supposed to be creative, but just wasn’t. For the purpose of showing rather than telling, I will now paraphrase that segment of conversation. I’m sure that you’re dying to know about the rest of it, but as  said, a lot of words flowed… And… A lot of words were pretty out there. Any way, back to the story. (I think you might now understand why  never use a narrator.)

“You are creative,” I introduced gently, “I actually think you’d make a good writer.”
“No… I don’t think I will… I’m not as good with words as you are.” It took a lot of restraint for my mouth not to hang open. Sure I’m good with words, but to lower her belief in herself due to my skill?
“Honey, I’ve had years of practice. I’ve been writing since I could spell out words.” Truth, if somewhat exaggerated. I see myself as seriously having started at the age of twelve. But I was trying to get the point across. “You have a way with words.”
“No I don’t,” she insisted. “I tried it once and it was rubbish.” She ducked under her office table and took out a box that had been shoved right against the far corner. She opened it and dug right to the bottom. She took out some pages and handed them to me. “Don’t you think?”

On the pages were three poems. When I read them, no amount of self restrained could have kept my jaw from dropping.
“No I think this is good. Very good.”

Brilliant even. Her words carried every ounce of feeling she had while she had written them. How many people have you met that can do that? Translating feelings to writing is one of the most difficult aspects of writing. She had it down.

And I’m not kidding. I was partially raised by a woman that writes poetry and books for a living. I like to think that I know what I’m talking about when I say a poem is damn good.

So that’s the first tragedy. Marg just can’t see how good she is.

The second is that I told her how good she is… and she refused to believe me. I even went on to show her one of my more recent poems (due to the fact that she said she’s not as good as me) to show that her work wasn’t far from mine. That she just needs practice. She didn’t see it.

The third is that she showed me those poems because she trusts me (good taste. not tragic), but she’ll never let the world see her talent, because she doesn’t believe that she’s good at it.

It really saddens me to think how many good writers out there are lost to us just because they refuse to believe they are good. But what can I do to help my friend find her writing voice?

My tiny dilemma(s).

Well, except for trying to remember how to spell the word dilemma.

Last time, I announced my decision that I was out on the hunt for a crit partner. One of the big reasons for this is that I am well on my way now, but I’ve been feeling this tiny nag of uncertainty in the back of my mind. It has to do with my plot.

See I have five main characters along with a cast of supporters. Fine. The thing comes in where the story is told from two perspectives. The book is largely about two stories.

To me, this isn’t large, since I keep track of the goings on, but then, I did create the stories. I let my gran read the first portion and she said that the story is good, but that she’s worried about the readers being confused.

Problem here is two-fold. One, she absolutely doesn’t want to hurt my feelings and two, she was taught never to write with more that two or three main characters. She never read or wrote a fantasy novel. 

I can’t give it to my three best friends. One will soften the crit, and the other understands the convoluted workings of my mind too well. So Theresa will say I make perfect sense, because she knows how I think (Although the deal with helping me edit stands :-)). As scary as the thought is, I think that creatively, she thinks like me. Waldo is well read on fantasy, blunt to a fault and being a guy, never quite grasps my thinking, but… he’s doing a Masters in Engineering. I just can’t be cruel enough to make him read through what is sure to be a reasonably sized beast of an epic – in rough draft form – again and again.

So I need someone to read my work, that doesn’t know me, but understands Fantasy as a genre.

Which brings me to the troubling part(s). Firstly, there is the matter of trusting a complete stranger with my brainchild. I don’t know if I’m being overly dramatic, but it feels like I’m toeing the abyss with my eyes closed. It’s just that, I think that this is such a good concept for a book. Really, it’s very very good. If I can pull it off… So I have to check, but what if this person I choose to trust decides he or she likes my idea more than their own?

Then there’s the logistics of the deal. I’m currently writing the Fantasy with pen and paper. So, to get it to a CP involves me rewriting the parts I’ve written, while I’m writing the rest of the book. I don’t want to stop dead, since I’m on a roll. Also, if I get input early on, it might mean a smaller scale rewrite later… 

Anyone have any advice about this?

Nearly a week. and… nothing but soul searching

I’m starting to feel rather down now, but maybe it’s just that I want to sleep.

I’ve been blogging for almost a week now and this is the impact I’ve made: five profile views. Absolutely no followers.

As much as I enjoy blogging, I never really enjoyed the idea of writing for myself. Not even my book. Since I was really small, everything I wrote was presented to someone to see. My mom (for honest crit) and my gran (full out support) were my favourite recipients. After I got the idea of short stories down, I wrote every assigned task with the idea that someone else is going to read this, namely my teacher.

I would ask, what am I supposed to do? What do you want to see on the blog… but… alas you are not here. So the empty house reverberations continue, leaving me to fight a slight sense of panic.

What if… the same happens with my book… What if… I write all of it and no one cares. Should I even care at this stage of the game? I think so… everything I write comes straight from my heart. Repeating this process again and again and again without anyone actually seeing this makes me feel… well… terribly lonely.

When people tell you that you should blog, they never warn you about the beginning days. The writing isn’t hard. The honesty isn’t hard. Sharing experiences isn’t hard. But blogging to yourself is. It sucks. Big time… So much so that I’m wondering why I’m doing this to myself.

Generally, when the world turns its back on me, I want to turn my back on the world (that cynicism is acting up again). But… that’s cowardice. That’s me running at the first sign of resistance. I can’t have that either. I mean, getting this book published will be filled with obstacles. If I don’t learn to stick to something through the difficult parts, I might as well stop writing all together.

I guess, someone reading might think… jeesh, she’s taking things way out of line, but then, there is something you should know about me. For most of my life, everything I ever tried my hand at, turned to at least moderate  success. I excelled academically for as long as I care about academics. I got distinctions for my ballroom. I had provincial colours at table tennis and I was, if I say so myself, a very good fencer. I maintained a 97% average for university level Mandarin – while spending less than twenty minutes of preparation per test. The thing is, I always have so many things that I want to do, that I can never do everything at the same time. So… when I get bored, which happens often enough, I move on to and excel at something else.

Conversely, if I don’t enjoy something, for example my degree, nothing works to get me working on it… So… I am probably one of very few people with near genius IQ’s that actually failed three subjects that they understand as if they wrote the textbook. This includes Actuarial Sciences. I try to do better, and last semester I did do better. But I just never live up to my family’s expectations of my results.

I am very sorry about that, and I did a lot of soul searching about this. As I am writing this, I am coming to a realisation about myself that I have been looking for for years. This realisation scares me.

In high school, I was the smartest girl that anyone has ever met.  I’m not saying this to brag, it’s just a sentiment that has been drilled into my mind by almost all of my acquaintances. I have been described as scary smart. Anyway… this smart girl never ever knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. Aptitude tests show that I could become anything I like. Whether I’m left or right brained seems to depend on my moods. So… I never had that thing where I thought: hmm… I’m good at math… I want to become a teacher… Instead I looked at what I enjoyed and that was… drama. A collective gasp rose from those nearest and dearest to me… My mind… wasted on drama… The genetic lottery gambled away… So… listening to the prodding of others, I set passion aside and chose to follow the smell of money.

In February 2007 I was one of the few that were selected for the Actuarial Science course. I had to March to adapt the degree. I didn’t. And Misha Gericke, the girl who always had somewhere in mind, who excelled at everything she did, who never made a decision that didn’t work to her benefit, made the biggest mistake in her entire life.

Oh… I know this now, of course, but there’s this old adage: “Retrospect always comes too late.” It took me six months to realize that I didn’t really like the course. It took me another six to wonder whether the money I was going to earn on qualification would be worth my doing the work. Six months after that, I was scrambling to salvage the scraps of my soul. My decision to choose money over what I love nearly destroyed me. It took away the foundations of almost all of my dreams. It took away a large part of who I thought I was. It left me with a stranger.

In 2008 I remember spending quite a lot of time, wondering who I was. Sure, I was still a scary smart kid, but it was never something I wanted to be define me. The young, success orientated business minded ambitious woman on the edge of her dreams was gone. In stead there is a very lost little girl, scared of the day she’s going to have to make a choice, because the last choice she made cost her nearly everything.

It’s half way through 2010 and this is what I have:

  • If I could have anything in life… it would be a life on my terms, where my last words will be: “I lived.”
  • I know that I’m smart, but to me, trying to use my mind to chase after money is unhealthy if not dangerous.
  • the only reason I got through the aftermath of the decision was because I reached to God instead of anything or anyone else.
  • I’m a very very very good leader.
  • I’m a very good public speaker (in fact I love speaking in front of crowds)
  • I am loyal, fair and very very complicated.
  • I will never be able to understand myself.
  • If I can’t understand myself, I shouldn’t expect others to understand me either.
  • I love writing. It makes me happy.
  • despite all my walls and strong personality, I have weaknesses too.
  • while writing this I realized the greatest weakness of them all. It’s so big, it almost scares me to write it down. But realizing this has put a lot of things into perspective. I never really measured my success by money. I measured it by the recognition of others.

That explains why I can think of exactly one composition that wasn’t intended to be read. It explains why I got so shit lost. I fell for the what would the others think nonsense. Even while somewhat annoyed by the fact that people seem to look at a single facet of who I am and think that it’s all of me, I am perversely glad that at least that part of me is gaining recognition. Even if that part of me isn’t good. That’s why I hate when people don ‘t like me, even when I refuse to admit the fact to myself. That’s why I hate when people compare me to someone else – especially when they’re wrong. For heaven’s sake, there’s a part of me that measures the future choices of my life by what I will tell my future grand children.

It explains why I am in fact not living on my terms. Because I’m looking too much at what others are thinking of me.

And, armed with this piece of truth, I look around me in my minds eye, and find myself on the edge of a precipice. Writing for publishing is about recognition. Someone out there will have to recognize my skill as a writer. What if they don’t? Will I be left eighteen months from now having to completely redefine myself after having picked up shattered pieces again?

I don’t know. I guess I should try to measure my success by something else, but what if it’s hardwired into who I am?

I guess that the only thing I can do is to just do my best to get followers for my blog and not get hit so hard by the apparent lack of interest. I’m sure that someone out there cares enough that he or she will stumble across my attempts and join me in the experience. Maybe it’s just coincidence that they haven’t stumbled across me already….