There are plenty of resources for finding people who write and would like to critique my work, and I know this. But since I am easily intimidated at the thought of becoming active on a new website, I’m not going to use any of those resources. Instead, I’ll stay in my own little bubble of comfort and put out a Help Wanted add via my blog.
I am looking for someone who is interested in critiquing a dark fiction novella with horror influences (it’s not meant to be horror movie scary, but maybe more like Room scary, if you know what I mean). It is the story of a girl who is trapped in a circus where humans are treated like animals, and tortured by the sadistic Ringleader who seeks to break as many of them as possible. If that brilliant morsel didn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will (please love me).
If this position as my new and only writing buddy interests you, let me know. I would be more than happy to exchange critiques or maybe even just be around for joint sobbing during moments of intense doubt and fear that we are terrible writers and will never accomplish anything in life. Everyone needs one of those, right?
I just had one of the weirdest editing sessions of my life. I started the third draft of my novel tonight, and word genocide was the name of the game. I was changing and deleting things from my first two chapters left and right. I was angrily reading over the remnants of the story that I began three years ago, thinking about how stupid and untalented I was back then. There was a lot of groaning and going helplessly limp as I thought about how much I hate everything I wrote before this past year, including the novel which I have spent a fair amount of my life working on.
What can you do when you’ve put that many years into something? You have to keep on keeping on, no matter the cost. So, after spending two hours trying to edit the first thirty pages of my manuscript, I decided to scrap them all. That’s right- tonight, a 304-page novel turned into a 274-page novel in the blink of an eye. It was actually one of the easiest decisions I have ever made as a writer.
Deleting those pages (from my current document- they are backed up safely elsewhere just in case) didn’t feel like falling backwards. It felt like a huge step in eliminating the awful book that my freshman-year self set out to write. I’m a different person now- a more intelligent human and a better writer. I don’t want these past three years to feel like a waste. I want to finish this, and I want it to be at least kind of good.
So tomorrow, I start on round three of editing with a new perspective and a new jumping-off point for my first novel. Let’s hope this is the year that I actually get it finished.
Sharing a story for the first time is always terrifying, no matter how many times you do it. You can finish editing something and be 100% positive that it’s a masterpiece, and the minute you let someone else read it, you suddenly realize that it might be the worst thing anyone has ever written. The things we write are like our children- they’re a part of us and we usually love them. We want people to give us feedback, but we mostly prefer the positive kind for the sake of our precious, fragile egos (or at least that’s what my precious, fragile ego prefers. But I have the backbone of a slug, so).
But what more can you do when you’ve taken your work as far as you can on your own? There comes a point where you have to let people see what you’ve been working on so that you can garner some idea of whether or not you have been running in circles the past few weeks, finishing a novella that is absolute shit. And since I don’t have any writing friends in the real world (or at all), I do what everyone does in this day and age. I share it on the internet.
Tonight, I reverted to my freshman-year self and posted a novella on Wattpad. Honestly, it’s mostly so that I can force my friends to read it and give me feedback, but I thought that I would also mention it on here in case anyone else is interested. Do you like dark, depressing stories with horror influences? Does the idea of a circus where human performers are treated like animals sound like a good read to you? Maybe take a peek at this novella and tell me what you think. Okay? Okay.
OH MY GOD, LIFE IS WONDERFUL, I AM MADE OF JOY. I got accepted to my first-choice university with a whopping financial aid package. This is the school of my dreams- I’m fairly certain that I’ve mentioned it before on this blog. I could not be more excited and terrified right now. I might throw up. I won’t throw up. Probably.
Well, I guess I lied. I could be more excited if one of my best friends had also been accepted instead of waitlisted. There’s still a chance he could get in, and I really hope he does because I am weak and I really want a friend with me like the huge baby I am. I’m 99.9% sure that I’m going there regardless, but it would still be nice to have a friendship safety net for being on my own for the first time at a college thousands of miles from home where I will know no one.
This is one of the things that is going to feel like the first day of the rest of my life. Again, I express my utter joy, fear of change, and feeling of maybe puking from both of the above. Who needed to sleep tonight? Definitely not me.
*Also, something that isn’t as noteworthy: I was accepted to a local university honors program, waitlisted at one of the other places I applied, and rejected from a reach school. I’m waiting to hear back from the Ivy that I applied to, but I doubt anything will come of it. It really doesn’t matter though, since I got accepted to my first choice. I just want to hear back because of general curiosity, and because I want to know the full scope of my options. Gah, I’m so excited! College life is so soon!*
I love moments of sudden inspiration with all of my being. I had a really strange and dark dream a couple nights ago, and it launched an obsession with the story that my unconscious brain created. I have spent the past three days obsessively hunched over my computer, telling a story of abuse and a circus where humans are treated like animals.
Maybe it’s just my obsessed brain talking, but I think that this unsolicited story is the best thing that I’ve written in a long time. Maybe ever. I feel so passionately about it right now, and I don’t think I’ve ever written this much in such a short span of time. I’ve done about 20,000 words in only three days, and it’s sort of started to make me reconsider my writing process.
Up until this point, I thought that plotting was the way to go. I wrote my first novel by creating a plot outline first. It seemed like the writer-y thing to do. But now that I look back on it, plotting may have been my downfall. Maybe it took me so long (and made me run out of steam because I was tired of it taking so long) because I felt like the story was already finished. Writing down every aspect of each chapter had a tendency to make me feel like I had already finished it, so I never felt motivated to actually sit down and write. The only plan I really had for this novella was my hazy dream and a single-sentence story idea that I combined with said dream, and it’s been pouring out of me like magic. I definitely have a lot to consider when it comes to whether or not to plot my next novel, but for now, I’m going to go finish a novella.
What’s your stance on plotting? Have you ever been randomly struck with a good story that you just couldn’t get away from? Tell me all about it.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? I remember very vividly at least some of my first stories. The earliest was a fully-illustrated story about a corporeal diamond, and it had a plot that was suspiciously similar to the plot of Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams. The next that I remember was about a family that survived a full-blown second Ice Age by ice fishing. Then when the ice melted a few months later, they had fish for supper at least once a week to remind them of their time in the apocalypse.
There was also the journalism kick that I went through as a eight-year-old who wanted to be just like Rory Gilmore. So I made up this robot family and wrote incredibly boring things about their lives. “Samantha is thirteen. She has a boyfriend. She likes singing and playing with her dog.” You would think that the lives of robots would be more interesting.
The next thing that I clearly remember writing was part of a screenplay that was pretty much Charmed with ten-year-old characters. I specifically wrote in a romance between two of my friends because one of them was in love with the other in real life. I was nothing if not a wonderful wingwoman.
By this point, I had decided to take my writing seriously. I was just a little eleven-year-old chubby kid trying to live the dream. The next thing that I wrote was the beginning of a novel called Silver Minds, which was a combination of Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And then, of course, there was the wonderful beginning of a Twilight self-insert fanfiction from when fanfiction wasn’t even a thing in my twelve-year-old mind. I’m sure it would have been glorious if I had finished it.
After that point, the things that I wrote got incrementally better. However, I guarantee that the most cringe-worthy of all of my work happened during my middle school emo years when I was trying to be “edgy” and “different”. Like, at least the other stuff is cute. But who I was in middle school was just disgusting.
Well, this was a nice little reflection. It’s really interesting and humorous to look back on where you came from. Once upon a time, I was just a small child writing a story about a living diamond, and now I’m a slightly bigger child writing about lots and lots of stylized murder. Ah, to be young again.
What are some of the earliest things you can remember writing? Do you still have any masterpiece manuscripts from your childhood?
I just finished my first novel for the second time and all I have to say is “ugh”. I’m almost dreading what my alpha reader is going to have to say about it, especially the last four chapters. Any bad thing she could say is going to be 100% true. I have completely run out of steam while writing this book for the past three years. At least I’ve learned what not to do. And now I have the first big stinker out of the way, and I can move on to bigger and better things. Ugh. Just ugh.