Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m linking up with Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In for their monthly feature: Beautiful People. It’s a link-up about our characters, books we’ve written, et cetera.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I participated in this link-up. But that was waaaaaay back in August 2012, when Sky was co-hosting the link-up with a different blogger, so it’s been quite a while. I’m excited to take part in Beautiful People once again!
Anyway, here are this month’s questions… enjoy!
1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a “writer”?
Well, I learned to write shortly after learning to read, so I suppose I would’ve been five or six years old. When I was in kindergarten/first grade/second grade, we’d often keep a daily diary or create little books, so that was my introduction to writing. So if this question is asking what I think it’s asking – as in “how long have I been putting words down on paper/a computer screen”, not as in “how long have I considered myself a Writer” – then I’ve been writing for thirteen years, give or take a few months.
As for when I first considered myself a writer… oh gosh, I haven’t ever tried to figure this out before, honestly. I think I was about twelve, though. I had to write short stories for a school assignment and ended up loving that project. Many of them were later submitted for publication in a now-defunct secular homeschooling magazine.
2. How/why did you start writing?
There are a few reasons, actually.
First of all, I had to write stuff for school.
Secondly, I was (and still am) in the 4-H Creative Writing project. (Last year, I won second place! This summer will be my ninth and final year.)
Thirdly, I started blogging when I was fourteen. This provided an excellent outlet for my creative nonfiction.
Lastly, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) for the first time in ninth grade (age fifteen) and have participated each year since. (And won each year, as well!)
3. What’s your favorite part of writing?
Well, I do like the satisfaction that goes hand in hand with finishing a project. Doesn’t everyone? But I’d have to say that my favorite part of writing is the feeling I get when I’m in the “zone.” You know, that stage of a writing session when you’re completely absorbed in your project. You scarcely notice anything else – noises around you, the time, your cat climbing up onto your desk – and your fingers fly over the keyboard/page as your thoughts pour out.
It’s a pretty awesome feeling.
4. What’s your biggest writing struggle?
PROCRASTISTRACTION. This is a practice of my own invention, which involves both procrastination and distraction. When I procrastinate I tell myself, “Just five more minutes, and THEN you’ll start writing the thing!” When I procrastistractinate, I become so engrossed in whatever I should NOT be doing that I lose all track of time and before I know it, I’ve just spent an entire hour looking at cat pictures and rewatching the Game of Thrones season four blooper reel.
I really need to stop doing this. I’m working on it, but it doesn’t seem to be working very well.
5. Do you write best at night or day?
It depends. Sometimes I’m too tired/procrastistracted to write by the time evening rolls around, but sometimes that’s when my best ideas hit.
Mostly, I just like writing whenever I get a chance.
6. What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!)
I typically work at a desk in one of the living rooms in our house. (Yes, we have two, don’t ask me why.) I do have a desk upstairs in my room, but I rarely work on anything there because it’s usually covered with papers and books and stuff. So this is a picture of the downstairs desk:
I spend many hours here.
7. How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft?
A draft of what? If we’re talking about short stories – which are what I usually write – then it takes me anywhere from a day to three or four weeks. If we’re talking about a novel/novella, then I usually spent two or three months working on the first draft. I’m slow.
8. How many projects do you work on at once?
HA HA HA HA HA HA UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE, I HAVE NO SELF-CONTROL WHEN IT COMES TO HOW MANY PROJECTS I WORK ON. So I work on LOTS. I don’t actually know exactly how many I’m working on at the moment, but in between short stories, a novella, scholarship application essays, school reports, and blog posts, I probably have at least twenty projects going on right now.
9. Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between?
Again, it depends. Usually, I write endings that are somewhere in between, but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, usually after I’ve just read a book with a really sweet ending, I’ll give my characters their own sweet ending.
After reading/watching anything George R.R. Martin has written, I write sad endings where EVERYONE DIES.
10. List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey.
- Roald Dahl; how to write for children
- Laura Ingalls Wilder; use your own life for inspiration
- Terry Pratchett; how to worldbuild
- Gail Carson Levine; put a new spin on an old story
- James Patterson; how not to write action thrillers
- Rick Riordan; the middle-grade genre is a lot of fun to write and you should try it
- Lois Lowry; much can be said with only a few words
- Suzanne Collins; how to dystopia
- J.R.R. Tolkien; how to write beautiful prose
- George R.R. Martin; kill your darlings
- E. Lockhart; how to write kick-ass female protagonists
- Steven Moffat; how not to write science fiction and mysteries
- Malinda Lo; diversity is super important
- Marissa Meyer; combine genres for fantastic, unique results
- Alan Moore; explore the connections and coincidences between your characters
- Derek Landy; children’s stories can totally be dark and violent, right?
11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not?
Nope. Well, sometimes I let various online writer friends read my stuff, but even that happens quite rarely. I’m very self-conscious about my writing, I suppose, ESPECIALLY my fiction.
And I definitely don’t let my family read my stories, not anymore. Look, my mother is an awesome lady, but her many qualities and skills do not include critiquing. Whenever I’ve asked her to read through some of my essays and let me know what she thinks, she always tells me what punctuation I’m missing… but that’s not what I’m asking for. I want to know if my thoughts are coherent, if I’ve defended my points well, if I transitioned smoothly from one idea to the next!
I don’t share my stories with her anymore because I’m afraid she’ll tell me her thoughts about the commas, not the characters, and that’s just not helpful. Sorry, Mom, but… yeah.
12. What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream?
Hmm. I have a lot of goals, so I’m going to combine them all into one big goal! I’d like to publish an LGBTQ+ YA novel that wins awards and causes people to send me fan mail. And then I would write back to them. That’s really important to me, actually – I wrote to a number of authors when I was a little girl, and loved receiving replies from a few of them. (Bill Bryson, Anthony Horowitz, et cetera.) I want to be the sort of author who interacts with my readers a lot.
13. If you didn’t write, what would you want to do?
LGBTQ+ advocacy! This is what I plan to do anyway, actually – I’d like to be a full-time author/journalist, and volunteer at a center for queer kids/teens in my free time. So basically, I’d probably want to do social work. I’m cracking up and blushing as I write this, because Lesbian Social Worker is kind of a stereotype and OH MY GOD I’M SUCH A DORK. (I have no idea if that’s a stereotype that straight people have, but among the LGBTQ+ community it seems to be a Thing.)
14. Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt yet?
I’d like to write a graphic novel someday! I don’t feel that I can attempt writing it until I’ve found someone to help me storyboard, though.
I love that format. Absolutely love it. I would have never even considered writing a graphic novel of my own prior to last fall, though, because I’d read so many graphic novels that were written AND illustrated by one person. I became discouraged because I. CANNOT. DRAW. TO. SAVE. MY. LIFE.
Then I discovered two authors: Ed Brubaker (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and sequels) and Alan Moore (V for Vendetta). I REALLY enjoyed their books… that they didn’t illustrate. I realized that all I needed to provide was the story – and then I could boss around the artist/colorist/letterer. OK, maybe “boss around” isn’t the right phrase to use here, but you get my point. I’m hoping to find some creative-artsy-types to collaborate when I head off to college next fall, and maybe then we can start working on a science fiction idea that’s been bouncing around my brain for a while.
15. Which story has your heart and won’t let go?
OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH OK SO I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER TALKED ABOUT THIS STORY BEFORE SO I AM EXCITED! Does anyone else work on stories in their head? Like, for a looooong, looooong time before putting pen to paper/fingers to keyboard? Because that is totally a thing I do.
There’s a story I’ve been dreaming up since I was nine. As my interests have changed, so has the genre of this story: It began as a loosely-disguised Star Wars rip-off, vacillated between high fantasy and urban fantasy for a long time, and now seems to have settled into “dystopian fantasy.” (Tolkien + Game of Thrones + various classic dystopian novels + Skulduggery Pleasant = my story.)
The characters, however, have remained more or less the same people – a “chosen one” type of protagonist, their family, love interest, various friends/mentors – with one big exception. I spent, like, three or four years trying to pair up various dudes with my (female) protagonist.
And it didn’t work, because I kept losing interest in that little subplot. I credit that story as one of the things that helped me figure out I was gay, because during one of those high fantasy phases I tried pairing my character with one of her (female) friends and something clicked.
And I’ve been shipping them ever since. It was definitely a “Eureka!” moment, both for my personal life and for my life as a writer. So now it’s basically a story about lesbians who have swords and fight evil science fiction peoples.
Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, I know that I REALLY should start writing this story. (I suppose it counts as part of question #14!) It has my heart and won’t let go, but I’m also afraid to start. What if what’s on paper doesn’t adequately capture what’s in my head? What if I end up hating the story? What if the story’s just so big that I don’t know where to start?
If you’re interested in this link-up, you still have time to participate – it’s still open until the end of this month! In the meantime, why don’t you tell me about your writing? What are some of your current projects, and what were some of your favorite projects in the past?