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Month: May 2014

Writing Weaknesses

After my last blog post I started back working on my flash fiction pieces and I’ve realized something about my writing process:  I write short.  Meaning?  I’m going for stories in the 750-1000 word count range and yet most of my first drafts (and second drafts, if we’re being honest) barely reach 600 words.

I’m really good at writing dialogue.  I’m pretty good at writing action in between dialogue – you know, describing my main character doing the dishes, drinking coffee, or putting away something in between talking with the other character.  I also like to think I’m okay at describing my character’s appearances, at least in my longer works, but not so much in my shorter pieces.
The thing I’m really bad at though?  In both my novel and flash fiction? Description of place – setting, time period, smells, sounds – things that help ground a story in reality (even if it’s a totally made up place like in a fantasy or a sci-fi story).  
Example:  I’m working on a short story involving a party filled with superheroes.  But right now (in draft #2) there’s little description of how people are dressed, if there’s music playing in the background, the type of lighting used, what mood is being created, etc.  I just dive into dialogue and keep going for a full page before I divulge the tight-wearing “weirdos” (as my main character calls them – not me) at the event.  
The good thing, I know this about myself because I’ve thought about it.  I’ve studied my drafts.  I went back through old stories, read what various writing teachers have told me.  And yet, it’s still a constant struggle to do this during a first draft, second draft, heck sometimes a third draft is still devoid of most descriptions.
How does one fix their weaknesses?  How do you guys fix them?  Do you just not worry about it, write your first draft quick and dirty, then slowly revise making sure you add in things you know you’ve missed?  Or do you consciously work at it right away making sure your first draft has all the right elements in it, so you can use your revision time more for polishing?
Is this something that will eventually get better with knowledge, study, and practice? Or will it be a career-long battle?  What do you think?
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Am I a REAL Writer?

I’ve been away for too long haven’t I? Sorry about that. A lot of stuff is going on in my life right now – stressful stuff. I haven’t been in a writing mood so instead I’ve been reading writerly type blogs. And I swear lately I’ve been reading that they all knew from a young age that they wanted to be writers. This is not true for me and it’s causing me some self-confidence issues.

As a kid I changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up often – sometimes daily. Journalist, Judge (until I discovered that you had to a lawyer first, I just wanted to be Harry T. Stone from Night Court), Photographer, Astronaut (until the Challenger explosion, that is) – you name it, I probably thought about it. Until, at age 16, I finally settled on THE ONE – actor. I could be all those things I wanted to be, and more, on TV or in the movies. I could sing and dance and make people laugh or cry on Broadway.

And that’s what I devoted myself to. Voice lessons, acting classes, head shots, BFA degree in college, moving to NYC, auditioning, getting rejected, becoming depressed. Depressed, hating my day job, feeling lost – then I read about NaNoWriMo and thought, that sounds like fun. So I signed up without a plan, a plot, or even much of an idea. November 1st, I started writing.

I “won” the challenge, 50,000 words by Thanksgiving. It felt wonderful, my creative juices were flowing, mind was reeling. I felt alive and passionate again – something that had been lost for quite some time regarding the theatre world. Now, I’m knee deep in revision of a full-blown novel. One I planned, thought-out, and executed. I took classes and studied. I tried things. Started and finished something. I became a writer.

But sometimes I feel like a fraud because I never was the one with my face buried in a book as a kid – I was daydreaming about singing in front of adoring fans. I practiced signing my autograph over and over again and planned my wedding to Joey Lawrence. I haven’t always wanted to do this, but I want to do this now – is that enough?

Can I be a legit writer if I just found this writing stuff by happenstance? These feeling are leaving me blocked for longer than I care to admit. With my novel, my flash fiction short pieces, even my blog – heck, my life feels a bit blocked right now. I want to feel the passion again. I want to be okay with where I am and how I got here.

It’s not the path of most writers, but it’s the only path I know – mine. Mine and mine alone. I need to be okay with that. I need to give myself permission to say, “Yes, I am a writer!” I need to just write. So, here I am, getting back to basics. My blog, my flash fiction pieces, my novel. Me. My story. My path.

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