I Thought I Had To Write Something Hard

I consider myself a pretty smart person. I’m well-educated. I went to the top high school in my state. I have a Bachelor of Science degree. I like to read really long, really complicated books, like the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin (also known as Game of Thrones). I do enjoy what I consider to be “light” books as well, stories that are easy to read and understand and I can go through quickly. Many of these kinds of stories are classified as “young adult”, things like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson. But I never wanted to write them.

To me, my “light” reading is a guilty pleasure. I know I’m capable of more than that. I come home from the library with books four inches thick and my husband just stares at me. I like big, epic fantasies, with storylines that make me think and remember, that are so convoluted that I sometimes struggle to keep them straight.

When I formally began this writing journey, I wanted to write stories with impressive, complicated storylines. Because I believe I can, and so I should. It’s the “go big or go home” mindset. And I tried. I threw myself into my fantasy project, and I had big plans for it. I may still go back, I haven’t made any plans to abandon it, but for so many reasons it just isn’t working for me right now. What is working for me is writing a “lighter” young adult story.

And I’m loving it. I didn’t expect to love it this much. Both of the major projects I’ve worked on before were grueling, taking months upon months, with breaks and give-ups and busting my butt just to put down a thousand words. But, as I’ve mentioned before, my young adult project is flying by. And it’s changing how I feel about the whole process.

I don’t know if this story will be a success, or if I’ll even capture an agent’s attention with it. But I love the story, nonetheless. And, as I write it, it doesn’t feel “light”. If it turns out that way, that’s fine, because I’ll know I put my best effort into it and it’s something I can be proud of. I do have plans to expand it into a trilogy, which is cool and very hip right now. I also have a new idea, which I’m trying not to think about until this project is finished, but it seems to have a young adult slant too.

I may never write an epic fantasy. I may discover that my niche is in young adult, and have a successful career there. And that’s okay. A story doesn’t have to be long and complicated to be good.

I Miss The Hub

I’ve made mention several times in previous posts of an online forum I have access to called The Hub. It’s special, because it’s only available to students of masterclass. By enrolling in James Patterson’s masterclass last spring, I was one of the first group of students to be introduced to The Hub.

As I understand it, The Hub was newly launched, and chose James Patterson’s class as a testing sample. Far as I can tell, when I joined, there were only about 7-8,000 people active on the forum, which isn’t much. And it was centered around writing topics, which was exactly what I needed it for. It was all student-driven, and many of the posts were relevant to the larger population.

I participated in quite a few topics, and began to recognize many of the names posting alongside mine. We evaluated and complimented each other. Many people posted sample chapters for feedback. Some posted resources they found helpful. Some, questions they needed writers’ opinions to answer. There were some days I wasted a lot of time there, and I had to pull myself away to get actual work done.

Now, The Hub has changed. Masterclass has broadened its accessibility, to its detriment, I believe. First, they opened it up to people from other classes, which is fine. Writers don’t need to hog The Hub. But, each person only saw posts related to the particular class they were taking. So, even though the screenwriters and the cooks and the photography students had their own forums, they didn’t cross over with ours. And it still worked.

Recently, The Hub decided to change its format. Since many people are enrolled in more than one class, they thought it would be a good idea to give everyone access to all topics on The Hub. Which is fine in theory, but organizationally, it’s a nightmare. I’ve only been on the site a handful of times since, and only for a few minutes at a time. The topics are so jumbled together that the writing posts can’t be easily singled out. I log in and it shows me 84 new topics, and I have to scroll through all the titles to find one that might be relevant.

The content of the writing posts has also changed. When  I can find them, they’re often writing prompts and challenges posted by facilitators of the site, not the helpful posts of the past. I feel like The Hub has lost its sense of community and camaraderie, and I’ve lost a valuable resource in the help of my fellow writers.

Life Happens…Again

I feel like all my posts have been the same lately, when I get around to posting at all. Basically: I meant to write, but such-and-such happened, and I didn’t actually get any work done, so I have nothing to say, but I’ll get back to work soon.

Life happened again this week. After finally getting back into my current fantasy project, which is still soo close to being finished, I only actually worked for about 2 days before I came down with the stomach flu.

I’ll spare you the details, because it wasn’t pretty, but I spent 3 days completely useless. Even after the not pretty stuff was over, I was still weak, and could barely eat, and spent all my time either sleeping or binge-watching stuff on Netflix (The Good Place and Santa Clarita Diet, if you’re curious). Even today I feel more like myself, but I’m still exhausted and have a crazy headache. I’m trying to get back into a semi-normal routine, but my body has decided I’m not quite done recovering yet.

I’m finally settled in with my laptop for a bit, and kinda feel up to working, and I’ve realized that I don’t know where my story needs to go next. I’m smack dab in the middle of chapter 20, and I don’t know what to say. Typically when I’m stuck, just diving right in helps me to figure it out, and once I get started everything ends up being fine. Hopefully sometime in the next few days I’ll get past this block and truly get good work done.

Slogging Through Unread Emails

I have 2 email accounts. There’s my personal account, which I check multiple times a day and can access from my phone. Then there’s the new account, which is associated with this blog. I intended to use it for all things blog-related, but this blog hasn’t exactly taken off like I hoped it would. At the moment, the only emails I get into that account are daily posts from Writer Unboxed.

I typically only check that account every couple of days, because I know there isn’t anything important waiting there for me. But, during my convalescence, when I was rarely on my computer for more than a few minutes a week, I neglected to check it at all. I knew what was there: weeks of posts for me to read, which would be time-consuming, which I couldn’t do at the time. So, I ignored it.

Fast forward to tonight. I got out my laptop, intending to get some work done, but I’ve been having trouble getting focused. I wanted to do…something. I just didn’t know what that was. I got on the Hub, my writing forum, but there haven’t been any new posts in the last day or so and I didn’t find anything especially compelling to read. That’s when it hit me that I really did want to do some reading about writing. The Hub wasn’t satisfying that need, but I remembered my weeks of unread emails.

I had 31 unread emails from Writer Unboxed. I’ve made it through 15 of them. Most were interesting. Some were irrelevant to me, so they got immediately deleted. Nonetheless, it was satisfying to read them. For some reason, they were exactly what I needed tonight. I’m trying to understand why. Maybe I wanted to feel connected to other writers as a whole. Maybe I wanted a reminder that I’m not in this alone. Maybe I wanted to read about other people’s experiences and know that they’ve all been where I am now. Whatever the reason, the emails did their job. I may still read some more, but I feel like I can finally get some work done.