Blog Archives

Disturbances in Your Writing

Last Friday I asked you guys three questions, and one of them was about what you struggle with most in your writing. Several of you said that your biggest challenge is actually finishing projects, so I’ve decided to tackle this problem. Today I’ve compiled a master list of all the things that have ever prevented me from finishing a writing project, and over the next few weeks I’m going to discuss in detail how to overcome these obstacles, dealing with one or two obstacles per week.

If you have some obstacles that aren’t on the list, feel free to mention them in the comments and I’ll see if I can help you with those, too.

But first, take a look and see if your biggest obstacle made my list:

Interrupting family.

Ringing phones/messenger programs.

The internet.

School/work.

Writer’s block.

Urge to jump to a new project.

Illness/repetitive strain injury.

These are all the things that have ever slowed me down. When you’re not used to them and you’re just getting started, it’s easy to let these things stop you from finishing a project. But with the right strategies you can overcome all of these obstacles so they barely even slow you down. I’ll be delving into those strategies in detail over the next few weeks, and if you implement the strategies I suggest I guarantee you’ll have a long-term(think novel) project finished within the next two months.

Is there anything stopping you from finishing your projects that didn’t make the list? Post it in the comments below and I’ll make sure to tackle it in the coming weeks.

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More On Overwriting

A couple weeks ago I discussed the concept of overwriting, the use of needless words in your writing. Having known about overwriting for years, it seemed like basic stuff to me. So I was stunned by how many of you told me you’d never thought about it before. I was even more stunned when I asked Twitter what to blog about today and RedParrot told me she’d like me to talk more about overwriting.

My goal has always been to help you become better writers, and since there’s high demand for advice on this topic, I thought I’d discuss a few more examples of overwriting to give you a better feel for it.

Last time we discussed overwriting I gave you a handful of specific words/details that can be left out of your work. Today I’m going to show you how to cut overwriting by showing the editing process I’ve used on one of my own stories.

To do this, I’ve grabbed the first paragraph from one of my currently-in-editing stories, Brothers.

Original Paragraph:

When my father sent my thirteen-year-old brother to live with the Byrnes, I was jealous. I’d only ever been allowed out of the city twice, both times with my parents and a hundred armed guards to attend a wedding. Of course they were training Andre to be a Noble Slayer—the elites of our army, whose job is to kill the undead—while they taught me to be a king, but back then, I would’ve done anything to switch places. At least a Slayer had some freedom. They could walk down the hall, even out of the castle, without anybody watching.

Edited Paragraph

When my father sent my thirteen-year-old brother to live with the Byrnes, I was jealous. I’d only ever been outside Moon Spire twice, both times with my parents and their guards to attend a wedding. They were training Andre to be a Noble Slayer—the elites of our army—while they taught me to be a king, but back then, I would’ve done anything to switch places. At least a Slayer had freedom. They could leave the castle without anybody watching.

The changes

You’ll notice that the original paragraph is five lines, whereas the edited paragraph is four. How did I achieve this? When I could turn two words into one–such as turning ‘out of’ into ‘outside’–I did so. By removing the word ‘some’ from the second last sentence, not only did I shorten the sentence, but I made it stronger. Too many words weakens the sentence and distracts the reader from the point you’re trying to make.

I also took out some of the details because they’re not important to the story. This story has little to do with the Slayers, so it’s not necessary for the reader to know that they battle undead. When Jacob says he was jealous of Slayers for their freedom, saying they could leave the castle without anybody watching is enough. We don’t need any more details to know how constricted Jacob feels within the life he’s been given as heir to the kingdom.

If you’re really paying attention, you’ll notice that not all my changes shorten the work. In the second sentence I traded “the city” in for “Moon Spire”, which is still two words. Why did I do this? Because “Moon Spire” is more specific. It gives you a better idea of where you are–a specific city rather than just any city–and doesn’t use any extra words. Being specific gives your readers a better feel for your setting and characters, and is more important than shortening your sentences.

Applying this to your own work

To eliminate overwriting from your manuscript, start by looking for places where two words can be shortened to one. This includes contractions, but it also includes things like changing ‘next to’ into ‘beside’.

Once you’ve found all the places where you can turn two words into one, start looking for extra words and phrases. Words like just, very, some, and most words that end in -ly can be cut from your manuscript to make it stronger. Remove these from your manuscript whenever possible. Keep them only when removing them alters the sentence beyond recognition.

Even after you’re familiar with the concept of overwriting and you’ve ruthlessly cut unnecessary words and phrases out of a dozen manuscript, you’ll find that you still end up overwriting. That’s fine. Everyone does it. No writer is perfect, and that’s why nobody should ever send out a first draft. Your job is not to make sure everything’s perfect–it’s to make sure that you only send out the best possible work.

Where have you found instances of overwriting in your work?

The Dangers of Self Publishing

Self publishing is a growing phenomena with the rise of ebooks. Thanks to numerous self published authors whose books have made it big and already published authors successfully self publishing their back lists and new projects, self publishing has gained a new level of respect in the industry and the world at large. And there are numerous benefits to self publishing–you get total control over your project, you get to keep all the profits, and you don’t have to wait for gatekeepers to respond to you.

However, there are also several dangers inherent in self publishing. The gatekeepers of traditional publishing certainly aren’t perfect, but often if they reject your manuscript it means you need to do more work on the book. It doesn’t mean your book will never be publishable–but often rejection is a good sign that your book isn’t ready for publication yet.

With self publishing, the temptation is to do it all yourself. But everybody needs an editor, especially on a book length project. It’s easy to overlook small flaws in your own work, and every piece needs a second pair of eyes to examine it–sometimes several pairs of eyes. Many people self publish because they’re afraid of rejection, and this same fear leads them to choose to do all the editing themselves. This is a mistake. A badly edited book is worse for your reputation than no book at all, so if you’re going to self publish, make sure to get an editor. Good editors cost a lot of money, but it’s worth it–and you can always find somebody new to the field who’s happy to volunteer because they need more professional credits.

Not only that, but the desire to save money and get the book out sooner often leads to authors creating their own cover art and formatting the books themselves. This is fine if you’re already pretty good at these things–but bad formatting or a cover that falls flat will be deadly to your book, so if you’re not already a confident graphic designer or programmer, you might want to hire a professional.

Note that self publishing is not inherently bad. It’s the desire to rush a book out to market which is bad. Spending extra time or money on editing, formatting or cover art will not hurt your novel. Rushing it out before it’s ready will. You’ll get unpleasant reviews which stings both your ego and your sales, and once that first novel has fallen flat on its face the second won’t even be considered by most readers and reviewers. It will take a long time–possibly even a pseudonym–for people to forget about your poorly edited/formatted book. Flat cover art will mean that most people never even pick up your book.

So if you’re considering self publishing, heed my warning. As a reviewer, I’ve read self published books, and I’ve enjoyed most of them–but I’ve also noticed a higher percentage of basic errors in self published novels than in the traditionally published novels I’ve read. I love stories and I’m pretty forgiving of misspelled words and incorrect grammar if I’m given a wonderful story–but most people aren’t. Releasing your book while it’s still riddled with these basic errors–which all books have at some point–means you’re not giving it the best chance to thrive in today’s market. And you want your book to have the best chance of success that you can give it, right?

Also, if you’re an author who’s considering self publishing and who doesn’t have the money for a high end professional editor, look for those who are just beginning their career in editing. For example, I’m trying to break into the editing business as well as the writing business–and I’d be happy to offer a discount to a struggling author, maybe even free editing if I like the project enough. There are plenty of others in my position, so take a good look around the web and see what you can find. And if you’re interested in working out a deal with me personally, shoot me an email at diannalgunn@gmail.com.

Have you read any self published books? How well do you think they were edited?

Preparing to Edit a Novel

It’s that time of year again. All the mistletoe has rotted and half of everyone’s New Year resolutions have already been thrown out the window. That first draft of your Nano–or whatever other project you’ve been ignoring for the last several months–has been sitting in its corner quietly collecting dust for long enough.

It’s time to pull that tome out and edit. It will be painful, it might be bloody–though I suspect you’ll go through more ink than actual blood–but it’s necessary. Trust me, your novel will look better without all those tangents and ten page character descriptions. They are extra limbs just getting in the way–I mean, spiders have eight legs but if a human had eight arms that would just be awkward, right? Think of limbs as sub-plots and character descriptions and then decide whether your book should be a human or a spider and act accordingly.

Anyway. Before you go into your word file and start messing around, there are a few things you really should do. These steps should help get you organized so that when you get to the novel to start messing around, you know exactly what you need to do and you don’t get discouraged.

1. Print it out. You’ll do all your actual tinkering inside word, of course, because that’s where you wrote it and that’s where the file is, but you have to print it out. First off, you tend to–and I do it too, it’s okay–skim when you’re reading on a computer. Printing it out slows down the reading process, which means you catch more errors. There’s also something about that black font on that crisp white paper that makes errors stand out.

2. Read it and take notes. Don’t go back into your word file until you’ve read THE WHOLE THING and taken notes on it. Some people suggest to read it really quickly and only to note how you felt about it overall the first time. I’ve never been able to do that. I’m anal enough to proofread my math tests and published books. I can’t imagine NOT crossing out words and fixing typos. But really, if you’re in one of your first few edits, those little things aren’t important–I’m not going to stop you from writing them down, but focus on the story.

One thing I’ve done, just as a quick example, is to write chapter notes at the end of each chapter. I write these on the back of the page where the chapter ends, and these are my story notes. Those are the notes I look at when going to the next step.

3. Make a To-Do List. Your to-do list starts with world building. Do you have any new questions about your world? Will you have to develop the world further to get a feel for a new subplot? I decided in this draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian to make politics more important to the story, which means I need to build the family trees of the politicians. That’s just one example of a number of small world building things I’ll be doing before I start my next draft.

Your to-do list obviously also includes any new scenes or subplots you need to add, characters you’d like to develop, writing exercises you’d like to do to master PoV, and any scenes or subplots you need to delete. Basically, even if it’s a separate short story that’s another exploration of your world or characters, include it on the list because it will in some way make your next draft more awesome. If in doubt, put it on the list. You can always change your mind later.

4. Do some writing exercises. Even if you didn’t put it on your list, do some writing exercises. Stay in the world you’ve already been working on and write about something in it or someone. Pick a famous object from your world and describe it. Write about the first time someone meets your main character–from that other person’s point of view. Put yourself into the head space of your novel by working inside its world for a little while before you actually dive into editing. That way you won’t have to spend time getting back into the flow when you’re actually in your novel file. Of course, this is also when you do any exercises you put on your to-do list and any world building.

These steps will prepare you to edit that monster first draft. Editing can feel overwhelming, but taking the time to read through and make a list of everything you have to do will make it a little less terrifying. At least now you know not just where you’re going, but–if only vaguely–how you’re going to get there, too.

Next week I’m probably going to talk about something totally random while the guilt about not doing anything on my MG to-do list eats away at me, but sometime soon we’re going to talk about first chapters.

How do you prepare to edit?

Editing a Short Story in Five Steps

Over the last week of December and the first week of January, we worked on fairly long short stories. Now it’s time to talk about editing.

Editing a short story is a much less painful process than editing a novel. It’s a shorter process, and if you go through each of these steps you can make it a lot easier for yourself. I recommend taking a day or two away from your short story before you start editing it. You don’t want to stay away a long time. Particularly if your end goal is to make money, it’s a good idea to have several of these on the market at one time.

When I edit a short story, I usually follow these steps:

1. Proofread on the computer. Sure, you don’t see all your mistakes on the computer, but spelling and grammar aren’t necessarily the most important things to focus on at first. It’s a good idea to reread it on a computer first and edit anything that stands out to you. If you can, read it somewhere other than where you wrote it. Your brain will automatically pay attention because of the new surroundings, and that should be enough for you to see the worst grammatical mistakes. If you can already see a flaw in the structure of your story, you can try to fix it now. If not, move on to the next step as soon as you’ve proofread your work.

2. Get feedback. Some writers go through several edits of their work before anybody looks at it, and I’ve always done that with longer works. With short stories, I find that getting feedback right away is the best. I see stories as movies in my head, and most of the time I don’t notice when it doesn’t look quite as nice on paper. There are a lot of critique groups out there and forums where you can look for a long term critique partner or beta reader. Feedback is a great thing to have.

3. Print it out. Armed with the feedback that you’ve gotten, look at your story again, this time on paper. Make a note about anything you find awkward either on the margin or on the back of the page. Cross out sentences you don’t like. Add details you left out because the image is so clear in your head. Proofread. You can either do this in one really long reading, or you can read it a few times, each time with a different goals. I like to take the intense, one read approach to my short stories. After you’ve gone through it, list the important changes you need to make on the back of the last page.

4. Edit your story. This is the long part. While it takes only a couple of minutes to notice most of the errors on any given page, it can take a while to fix them if they’re structural. Of course you can always get stuck looking for the right word too. Either way, it has to be done. Armed with your annotated story, go into your word processor and start editing. Make all the changes you’ve already noted, but take your time to read through it and fix anything new you notice. While the proofread on the computer was just a skimming to make sure it wasn’t awful, this is an edit to try to make it good.

How long this part of the process takes depends on two factors: how long the story is, and how badly it’s messed up. If you’ve written a ten thousand word story, it’s probably going to take longer to edit than a two thousand word story. However, if your ten thousand word story is relatively clean grammatically and sound structurally, but the two thousand word story is just a mess, the shorter story might take longer to edit. No matter how long it takes you to edit, don’t forget to reward yourself after you’ve done it.

5. Get more feedback. Now that you think you’ve got an awesome story, it’s time to send it back out into the world. Get more than one opinion if you can. If you’re lucky, people will notice improvements and they’ll only be pointing out grammar issues and spelling errors. Odds are that your readers will still see something that throws them off, but that’s okay. That just means it’s time to start the process again.

How many times should you go through this process? Well, that depends on how much experience you have as a writer, and it also depends on the story itself. Some stories take a long time to really become what you’ve envisioned. Other stories come together almost fully formed and only need the most superficial polish. Only you can know when it’s time to send a short story out into the world.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be talking about the process of finding feedback, critiquing etiquette, and the submission process.

How do you usually edit a short story?

Creating your Editing Watch List

Some of us are instinctively better with grammar than others, but none of us are perfect. We all have to edit our work to make it into something awesome. Every writer makes different mistakes, but individually, we tend to make the same ones over and over again.

This is why it’s a good idea to create an editing watch list. There are a few things that pretty much every writer does in the first draft that, while not necessarily wrong, don’t make the story better. Your editing watch list will contain words and punctuation that you use too often. We all have crutch words and behaviours, words and behaviours that we force on our novels and our characters because we can’t think of anything else and we know they need to do something.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to create an editing watch list. I’ve only just created mine, but I can already see that it will help me when I edit stories in the future. While you’re making big storyline changes to your novel, if you have this list sitting next to you, you can edit out crutch words and excessive exclamation marks. First edits, particularly of longer works, are generally done to work on story problems, not grammar, but if you can get ahead and easily fix some sentences while you work, what’s wrong with that?

You might be able to figure out some of the crutch words you use and when you cross the line into excessive punctuation on your own. For example, nobody needed to tell me that all of my characters sigh a lot. I know that, and as I go through a story, I try to cut a couple of the sighs out of the story. But the best way to discover your crutch words is to pay very close attention to your critiques.

Over the last year or two I’ve written a couple of short stories and a couple new drafts of novels. I’ve submitted bits and pieces of my writing for critique to a couple of different groups while trying to get settled with one in particular. One thing a lot of people told me in critiques is that in fiction, you really shouldn’t have too many semi-colons. In fiction it’s usually best to separate a semi-colon sentence into two. It builds excitement or helps readability or something like that.

I love semi-colons. I think they look cool and they’re immensely useful. It’s been a hard thing to cut out as many semi-colons as I could. It’s meant the deletion of some pretty phrases that just didn’t work as two sentences. I’ve been very reluctant to cut them out, but it’s just one of those sacrifices you have to make. Some pretty prose is acceptable, but when it is totally unrelated or it’s taking readers out of the story, it’s got to go.

Without critiquers, I would have kept on using a semi-colon every couple of sentences. A critiquer is also the one who pointed out to me that I use ‘and then’ a lot when it’s already implied. That advice has helped me to create my editing watch list.

Find a good critique group, online or offline–for online, check out Critique Circle or the International Writing Workshop–and listen to them. They will tell you which words you use way too many times. By really paying attention to what they say, putting these words on your editing watch list, and making sure to run through the manuscript quickly before sending it out, you can beat these words up and out of your story. So don’t forget to write up your own editing watch list before we go deep into the editing trenches.

What to do with Your Dear Diary Project

Now that you’ve finished your Dear Diary Project, there are several things you can do with it. They range from hiding it in a corner in your basement to trying to turn it into something publishable. But before you do anything with the file or manuscript itself, you need to properly extract all the valuable information from it for later use.

Extracting Information for your Dear Diary Project

Now, I don’t know about you, but my character profiles are pretty messy and I usually don’t have much room left on the page by the time I’ve written a Dear Diary Project for that character. So I like to create a fact sheet, which is a simple list of facts about my character. Things like their favourite colour, what kinds of animals they like, and experiences that changed their life that either weren’t important enough to be included in the profile itself or that hadn’t been thought of when you made it.

Reread your Dear Diary Project. Scan it for the things that are most important. Write down all the things you’ve learned about your character over the course of the month.

Once you’ve finished that, take a separate piece of paper and write down any new stories you might have gotten from writing or rereading your Dear Diary Project. Make note of any moments you think it might be important for your character to remember during the main project you’re working on. Pick out ones you might be able to turn into short stories. Write down as much about these ideas as you can, but try not to spend more than fifteen minutes on that.

Now you should be ready to start thinking about what to do with the project itself.

What can I do with my finished product?

There are a few things you can do with your Dear Diary Project. It’s possible that there are a few I haven’t thought of. In fact, writing that sentence I thought of something I’ve never considered before. I’ve created a list of things you should be able to do with your Dear Diary Project. Some are harder than others.

Leave it in a corner in your basement
Or in my case, a corner on my computer. I’ve never done much with my Dear Diary Projects. I’ve posted a few entries on my blog every year, but I’ve never done anything more than take knowledge from my Dear Diary Projects. I’ve thought about doing character blogs and all kinds of exciting things with them. But to be honest, other writing projects and school have always taken priority over transforming my Dear Diary Projects.

You know what? It’s all right if you do the same thing. Having a character’s diary stashed somewhere in your basement or your computer is pretty nifty. The important thing is what you’ve learned from working on your Dear Diary Project. Whatever you do with it, you’ll still have learned something about the process itself–and that was the real goal of this project.

Create a Character Blog
There are these nifty little things called character blogs. I don’t know all the history of them and I can’t tell you who wrote the first one, but I know they’ve existed for a few years now with varying success. Your Dear Diary Project can easily be turned into a character blog. At the very least you’ll want to clean up your grammar and spelling–unless you’re OCD and already have–and make sure that each entry shines, that each one is memorable.

If you want to get serious about character blogging, brainstorm what comes after your Dear Diary Project. Create a proper storyline around the Dear Diary Project. Decide how long–not exactly, but generally–you want to write your character blog for. Then go to great pains to make sure your character’s blog looks good and start putting your work up. You can generate quite a following with a character blog, but it’s a long and painful process. Then again, so is building a following in any kind of writing. If you want to do it enough, you should make it. But if you don’t want it bad enough, it’ll never happen.

Book
There are books made up mostly or sometimes entirely out of diary entries. There are tons of them. Most of them are historical novels set in our world during some particularly interesting part of history. There are also books written entirely in letters, and depending on how you wrote your Dear Diary Projects, transforming them into letters and adding some return mail might not be too hard. You’re going to have to polish the crap out of it though.

I don’t know how much of a market there is for this kind of story in genre fiction. I haven’t read or seen too many fantasy novels in the form of diaries, but I’m sure there is a market available for them. A book like this might do better in the ebook publishing world. It’s easier to find a specific group of readers with the internet and there’s an endless supply of people online. With dedication to your work and lots of revision, I’m sure you’d be able to sell a few copies, maybe a few hundred. With a little bit of luck, you might even be able to sell a few thousand. It might be worth a shot–you just have to decide how important this project is to you.

Screenplay
This is the one I thought of while writing this post. To make it into a script would probably take the most work, because your Dear Diary Project is probably mostly exposition rather than dialogue, and scripts are usually mostly dialogue. There’s more room for exposition in a screenplay than in a stageplay, and you can even take the most important parts and make them into a series of scenes for a screenplay. This is probably the hardest option, but it might just be the most entertaining. I, for one, think my Dear Diary Project would be a better movie than book.

The other thing about turning your Dear Diary Project into a script of either kind is that it’s really hard to start producing a play or movie. You have to do a lot of networking and you have to find funding for it. You have to find people willing to help you out on set, and you need to find actors. There are always lots of people wanting to be actors. It will be hard to turn some of them away, but you’ll only get one for each role. Finding people to help create your set, fund your project and film your movie will be much harder. Maybe even harder than getting a book published.

This is just the beginning of your options. With any luck, you’ll have thought of something I haven’t. Think about your options for a while before you do anything with them. You’ll need to get away from the story for a while before you can edit it anyway. Besides, Nanowrimo’s next month. It’s time to start planning–and I’ll talk to you a bit more about that on Friday.

What are you thinking about doing with your Dear Diary Project?

Mission Successful

Last night-or maybe early this morning, who’s paying attention?-I finished the current draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian at about 48, 000 words. I’ve decided to celebrate with a day of watching some interesting anime-a Japanese style of animation, for anyone who doesn’t know-and some chocolate.

Hopefully you’re done editing your work by now, too. If not, get yourself a treat and get back to work. Editing is hard work; you deserve to reward yourself every now and then.

Besides, what comes after the celebration? Why, more work, of course. Next week I’m going to work on editing the first in a series of short stories focused on a couple vampires while I research locations for the next few. I’m going to write as many of these stories as I can this month to help me reach my Camp Nanowrimo goal. I’m sitting at approximately 29K and confident that I’ll be able to hit 80, 000 words by the end of the month.

I’ll also be doing some dialogue and character development exercises both in relation to Moonshadow’s Guardian and here on the blog. Sometime during the month I’ll be adding a few scenes designed to round out some characters-scenes I already have starting in my mind-and once those are added, I’ll be ready to print it up and go through it again. This time I’m confident that most of the changes will be minor, adding and removing words, sentences and occasionally scenes rather than rewriting the whole thing.

Finishing a draft of a novel is a good reason to celebrate. It’s also a good time to stop and re-assess your goals, and make plans for your future. It’s not a good time to take a month off of writing; you have to keep in practice all the time.

Have you finished anything recently? Do you have writing plans for the rest of this summer?

Week 5

This week I’m pretty sure I only did two chapters, but they were both long chapters. I also just finished writing what, in my opinion, is the best scene in the entire book, which wasn’t there before.

Although most of the plot involving Riana’s past is in the second book, I decided that I needed to spend some more time on it in the first. The scene that I just created showed Riana facing Eternia, a spirit who she worked with once upon a time who she failed. Eternia led her to find an antidote that she needed to heal her leg, and she promised Eternia that she would look after what had been Eternia’s land. It’s a really touching scene and I’m very proud of it.

I’m having a hard time not going back to edit what I’ve done in this draft, to save it until the draft is actually finished, but at least I already know what my next edit’s going to look like. All in all I’m pretty pleased.

I’ve also got about 14K for Camp Nanowrimo, including the chapters I wrote last week-I decided they were fair game. This is a short update, but I’m almost finished a book that I’m supposed to review (a long time ago) so that should be up on Wednesday, and in the last week or so my brain’s been full of ideas for blog posts, so sometime soon you can look forward to me returning to my regular post schedule. I should also be finished this draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian entirely within the next two or three weeks, so it’s going to be a pretty exciting time here.

Before I go, I’d like to make a shout out to Red Parrot, who’s sponsored me for my camp Nanowrimo goal. Nanowrimo means a lot to me, and the fact that somebody believes in me enough to donate on my behalf means a lot to me too. I’m confident that I can hit my goal and have fun doing it.

Have a good weekend everyone! I should be back on the block on Wednesday.

How’s your summer writing/editing going?

Week Four

So this week I’ve edited three chapters, written one short story and published one lens on Squidoo. I’ve also signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, with a goal of 80, 000 words for the summer. What I thought would just be a severe edit has turned into a full rewrite, and to be honest, I don’t think I’m going to use any more chapters from the last draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian. This will allow me to reach a much higher word count.

Around the end of the school year I applied for a summer job program. I told myself that if I didn’t get in, I would spend my summer writing instead. I didn’t get in, probably because I had pretty much nothing to put on my application, but I did get a new laptop and I have been writing my butt off. In fact, I’ve been writing almost full time hours-from eleven or twelve until five or six, and yesterday from noon until eight.

Unfortunately writing doesn’t make a lot of money. This leaves me with a lot of inner conflict. I’m supposed to get money from the government and I’ve already been waiting for a month and a half. All the food I eat, the chocolate milk I drink (it’s always on sale in my area), the places I go, all of that is paid for by either my grandmother or my boyfriend. And while my grandmother agreed to be my caregiver and doesn’t fuss about it, and my boyfriend likes spending money on me when he has it, I feel very much like a parasite.

When summer started my biggest internal dilemma was telling myself that yes, I could take a break. That it’s okay to go out for a couple hours with some friends and have a bonfire, because I’ve got all summer, with all my days free, to get this work done. Now I’m in the process of convincing myself that it’s okay not to have a real job, as long as I focus on my goals and my dreams. Writing isn’t going to make me a 500 dollar or more pay check in two weeks. Someday it will be my career, and someday I might even be rich and famous-though I’m not holding my breath for that. I feel bad because right now I don’t have money to throw at the wonderful people in my life and I have no material wealth to share.

I’m seventeen years old, and as much as I always tell other people that not every kid needs a job in their high school years, sometimes I’m not so convinced of it myself. I need to remember that writing books and short stories and whatever else I might write isn’t about a pay check in two weeks, it’s about making money and enjoying life for the rest of my life. The time I spend writing is more of an investment in my future than a summer job.

For that reason, I keep writing on Squidoo for advertising royalties which will only go up from here, and I’ve started a fundraising page for Camp Nanowrimo, hoping that I’ll be able to raise $80, or $10 for every 10, 000 words I write. You can read my lenses here, and you can sponsor me for Camp Nanowrimo here.

In the meantime, I’m going to put on a brave face, tell myself that I’m awesome, and write a book.