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I Am a Writer

It took quite a while for me to be able to say this without scrunching my face up and laughing in embarrassment. I had two books published and on sale before I could force the word “author” past my lips. There’s a stigma attached to it, one that I used to buy in to on some level. Writers are people who have nothing better to do with their time. They are loners. Most of them will never amount to anything. Here’s the best: writing is easy! Easy! I wish it was easy!

Truth be told, I never wrote more than school papers before I became sick and disabled. Suddenly I had a lot of free time- check. I never felt well enough to be around many people- check. I’ll probably never make much money at writing so if that’s how you judge accomplishment then that’s another one off the list. Now, easy? Sure, drafting stories and creating characters comes naturally to me but that’s different. I guess I’ll settle for three of the four.

Is that why I was embarrassed to call myself a writer when I was well on my way to having published a completed trilogy? People judge and the first thing they usually want to know about you is how you make your money. That’s just how things go.

I couldn’t work but was tired of telling people I was on disability so that prodded me to get over myself. I can now say with pride that I AM A WRITER and here’s how you understand what that means for me:

1. I have imaginary friends.
I spend so much time with the characters that I’ve created that they begin to feel like friends, if not family. Creating dialogue is almost like talking to them and I grow very protective. I model some of them after people I know so that only adds to the feeling.

2. My bad moods can get violent.
Most people who know me only see the sweet, overly talkative Michelle. Occasional biting comments are my only defense mechanism. When my mood gets dark, so can my books. I start to blow shit up and kill beloved characters before I even realize what I’m doing. I hammer at the keyboard, writing vicious stabbings or fire fights. It’s pretty scary but a hell of a lot of fun.

3. I’m a little insane.
Some government watch list is probably monitoring my key strokes as I research how to build bombs and the different types of automatic weapons. At least I now know how to remove evidence from a dead body — that could come in handy.

4. I find typos in everything I read.
Yes, every best seller and magazine article has mistakes. I don’t mind that because nobody is perfect. What I hate is that I see them! Before becoming a writer, I was as blissfully ignorant as the rest of the readers who’s eyes don’t fully take in every word. It was wonderful. Now, I just want to bang my head against a wall.

5. Some days I think my books are great and some days I feel like they are trash. 

6. Good isn’t good enough.
A 3 star review is supposed to be good but anything below 5 stings. My books feel like they are a part of me and any judgement on them is a judgement on me.

7. And last, I am a terrible editor.
It’s true what they say- always hire an editor. I learned this the hard way when I published my first book. Many authors can do it- I can’t. I suck bad, yet I still spend hours upon hours trying to get it right.

So, there you go, dispelling some ideas about writers. We are all different. Being an author is fun but also challenging both mentally and emotionally. It’s never easy and most writers will never earn a living from it- but it is also a profession where accomplishment is not solely measured on income but on quality. Anyone with a half baked idea and a laptop can start a book but can they craft it in to something worth reading? Can they capture your mind and enhance your imagination?

That is the goal.

Fantasy Favorites

I can be fickle when it comes to fantasy books. Some of my all time favorites fit into the genre as do some of the most boring books I’ve ever read. I tend to love books that leave a lot to the imagination. The fantasy genre is ripe with long winded, overly descriptive passages. 

That being said, it can also be a genre of magic. I’m not talking about bippity boppity boo type of magic – although there is plenty of that. I’m talking about the kind of magic it takes to be completely immersed in another world from the comfort of your own house. Fantasy books are the best kind to disappear into. I’ll admit it, I’m an escapist. Sometimes you just need to forget everything. 

The amazing this about fantasies is that they’re about worlds that are created from scratch. Some of the best writers are in this genre. No other type of book takes the kind of planning or imagination as these. I’d lump science fiction in the same category – but I’m not quite as big a fan of those. 

So, here are my picks. All of these except for one are indies. There are a few others I absolutely love that I put in my romance post last week. So check them out there. 

 

Basically anything by Robin Hobb

This is my favorite series of all time. Fitz is a boy who was born on the wrong side of the sheets. When his mother dies, her family drops the young boy off on his father’s doorstep – if castles have doorsteps. He is the bastard son of a prince who is no longer around to claim him. He is taken under the wing of a man who trains him to do what needs to be done to protect the kingdom.  

Buy on Amazon

 

This series is one of the best I’ve read in the past year. It’s a stay-up-all-night type of deal. 

Daria is a young girl in Fresno. All she has is her father and her best friend Alex – who seems to have abandoned her. When her father disappears, she must go with Alex’s family to find him. Little does she know, it isn’t in her world they’ll be looking. She soon finds the reasons for the protective measures her dad has always taken as she learns who she truly is. 

I’ll reiterate. This one is amazeballs!

Buy on Amazon.

 

This book has a unique kind of world that I’ve never seen before. Two worlds spin opposite each other – one hot and one cold. As they rotate, sections of their world become uninhabitable, making the people need to migrate every so often. 

The two worlds are enemies. After tragedy strikes, the tatuma (princess) of one world is kidnapped and taken on the treacherous route to the other. This tatuma is veiled and has never even seen her own face. Her mother is the only one who knows the reason for this. As secrets come out, and more people learn the reason for the veil, the tatuma will need to take action.

Buy on Amazon

Writing For Sanity

I’ll say it bluntly, I was in danger of losing my mind.

I spent my adolescence in doctors offices and as part of medical trials. I was sick and we didn’t know why. Doctors were throwing diagnoses and medications at me like they were the darts and I was the dart board; forever searching for that elusive bulls-eye. I missed a lot of school and was unable to participate in many of the things people my age were supposed to. It was not easy.

Fast forward to my last year of high school. I had a new diagnosis and a medication that started to work. I was finally feeling better. I was finally a normal teenager. I could not have been happier. I was able to go off to college where I had the time of my life. Things could not have been better for me. I had tons of friends, was dating, and even joined a sorority. I thought I would finally be able to have a normal life. I would go on to get a great job and start a family. That’s what I hope would happen anyways.

After college I moved home and started to get sick again. The diagnosis was proven to be wrong and we were once again back to the drawing board. I was crushed. It might have been better if I had never had those good years at all; if I had never know what it felt like to be uninhibited by disease. The worst part was that it came back worse than ever. I had trouble even leaving the house. I spent more time in my bed than on my feet.

As you can imagine, my spirits were low. I’ve always been a happy person but the depression began to creep in.

I began to write.

I spent hours upon hours every day carefully crafting my words, never imagining anything would come of it. I created my own world. I focused on building characters that could do great things. I began to think less and less about my problems. Instead, my thoughts turned to unwritten chapter ideas and dialogue possibilities. Two months went by and I had my first draft of Dawn of Rebellion.

My illness had always left me feeling useless. I could accomplish anything. I was never really good at anything. I didn’t really have a passion for anything.

Until now.

Writing this book saved my sanity. It also made me realize that I am a writer and I have a story to tell. As long as I keep writing I can get through anything. Whether I sell 1 book or 1 million books, that’s not the point. I write because I love it. I write because I need it. I write for that one person out there that may be struggling and looking for a little inspiration as well.

What do you do?

What do you do for a living? It’s the standard question when meeting someone new. Everyone asks it and most people have a simple answer. It’s as if that one question can tell someone who you are so they can decide if you’re worth their time. If your answer is interesting, they will want to know more. If you say accountant or banker, they change the subject quickly. If you say that you work at McDonald’s, well… you get my point. We’re all guilty of it; judgement. It comes as naturally as breathing unless we fight against it.

The “what do you do” question is kind of scary to someone like me. I don’t have a quick answer. I don’t even really have a long one. People are always telling me to make one up but I don’t like to lie and have never been good at it. When I meet someone new, I usually say that I’m on disability and can’t work. For some people, that is enough because they realize it’s none of their business. Most people, however, are curious by nature. They follow up with question after question until I’ve explained everything I would rather not talk about with strangers.

So, what do I do? What does anybody do when they don’t want their job to immediately define them? I spend most of my time writing. I’ve published one book and have one on the way but I will probably never make a good living from my writing. Can I tell people I’m a writer?

There is a lot more to my life than my disability. There is a lot more to a lawyer than the law and a homeless man than his lack of a house. If we can’t change the stigmas attached to our employment, maybe we need to change the question.