Blog Archives

Don’t Let ‘Stuff’ Get in the Way of Your Writing

Jeff Goins has a point!

Jeff Goins has a point!

I’ve written about the importance of resting and also about finding time, even in a hectic day, to write. But, as we all know, balance is the key to allowing the flow of creativity to remain constant as it reduces that awful guilt when we don’t do at least a little bit of writing every day. It really is okay when you miss a day here and there because there will be days when you can’t stop writing you feel so inspired and energised. But if you’re not inspired don’t stress; there’s nothing like worry to kill the Muse.

But today I’m writing about those things in our lives that take up time that should be dedicated to our beloved craft, and as I write this I am, of course, speaking to myself as much as I’m speaking to you, dear Writer. I can procrastinate brilliantly. Actually, I believe I’ve made it into an art form. The only justification I can give my lax attitude is that I’ve just finished doing an epic rewrite of my last epic fantasy novel in my tetralogy and now it’s time to face the mammoth task of editing. My other three books I’ve written and published in a year. This last one is way overdue because I’ve moved to the UK. Talk about stressful! Unfortunately, I’ve used this as an excuse to take my time with Book 4 (The Sword Bearer’s Ascension) and now I regret procrastinating so fervently. People are waiting impatiently for my last installment and I feel awful about it!

Cover for Book 3

When life gets busy we tend to shift our focus onto the external and neglect the internal. What I mean by that is, as soon as our external environment takes up all our attention we lose touch with that spark inside us that ignites our creativity, our passion for storytelling, our inspiration, our desire to get it down on paper so that we can share it with the world. The external, monotonous, stressful, rushed world – professional and personal relationships, careers, responsibilities – keeps our attention away from what makes our hearts sing with inspiration, that part of us that gives us a reason to get up in the morning.

It is vital to understand that if we do not allow ourselves to be revitalised with the fire of our passions then life becomes meaningless and dull. We have to feed what makes us laugh and dance and sing because then we can deal with the external world – all that ‘stuff’. As a writer, you know that the only place you can find the buzz that makes you get up in the morning is turning inward and basking in the power of creativity. This is where your true life resides, not ‘out there’ but only inside where it’s quiet and peaceful and where all the answers will be found.

This is a lesson I’ve learned since moving to the UK and dealing with the ‘stuff’ that snatches away my attention from that which I love to do. It’s easy to lose sight of what is important (inside) by focusing only on the external world and being drained physically and emotionally by circumstances. I’ve gone days without writing because there’s been so much to do – unpacking, finding work, settling down in a foreign environment, new relationships, missing home and friends and family, etc. ‘Stuff’ got in the way of my passion and I truly resent it, which adds to my stress, which in turn drains me of creative energy.

Find your inspiration within!

Find your inspiration within!

Separating myself from the external and being alone and inward-focused has proven a creative lifesaver. I encourage you to not only find time to write, but to remove yourself from the external world and sit quietly with yourself and remember where your inspiration really comes from. You’ll never find it ‘out there’ only inside you.

I’d love to read your thoughts and if you’ve had similar struggles with the external world draining you of creative energy and stealing your passion and inspiration. If this is still going on in your life then I encourage you to step away and remove yourself to a quiet place where the only thing you can hear is your own heart speaking to you.

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NaNoWriMo: It’s Here Again! Will You Be Joining In?

NaNoWriMo Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Yup, it’s that time again and I’m ready for it! I wasn’t sure if I could handle NaNo and still work on my novel (The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4) and get it finished for publication early next year, but I think a specific goal of reaching 50 000 words in 30 days will encourage me to set aside a few hours every day to do both NaNo AND Book 4 and complete them by the end of November. Hey, I’ve never done anything in small measures in my entire life and I’m not about to start now!

The South African Flag

The South African Flag – SA, my first home on this earth.

Moving from South Africa to the UK was utterly exhausting, as you can imagine. Picking up your entire life and dumping it in another country is not for the faint of heart and should not be attempted too often in one’s life. Exhaustion aside, I am thrilled to be here in a country that appreciates fantasy and science fiction authors more than they do in SA. Sad but true. I was told by an agent in SA that the fantasy genre is a difficult sell in our country, local author or not. As it is, there isn’t much room for the arts in any form there unless the community does all the work and finds private funding. Thankfully, there are the handful in each field, including a few corporations, that have the passion to make things happen in the face of ignorance and apathy; our leaders have no idea that without the arts a nation has no soul and will soon die. They are oblivious to the enormous potential of its highly skilled and talented people, of which there are thousands, therefore these struggling artists get no recognition or support from their useless, unaware leaders.

I have many South African author friends and they are doing fantastic things on their own and raising awareness in their field. They love what they do, and despite how hard it is to be an artist in SA they are thriving because they’re doing what they love. They make me proud to be a writer and an artist.

Make time to write every day even if it's just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

Make time to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

NaNoWriMo is growing in leaps and bounds, and I am proud to be part of it again this year. South Africa did brilliantly last year and I just know they’ll do even better this year. I will always support and encourage them. This year I am thrilled to be part of a huge writing community in the UK that is participating in NaNo. Hello, Kent! This year I am sticking to a scifi novel. As I work on finishing my epic fantasy tetralogy I am looking forward to having new projects to focus on next year, and since I will have two novels – one, a mixed genre of fantasy, scifi, horror, and western from 2012 – and this year’s scifi, along with another horror/scifi short story, I will have lots to keep me busy in 2015.

So tell me, dear Writer, are you participating this year? I would love to hear what you have up your sleeve and which tactics you will be implementing to succeed. Do share. If you need to chat and discuss issues and even your fears of not making the word count goal then let’s chat about it and encourage one another. I wish you luck and word count success by the 30th! I will keep you updated on my own progress right here. Now, go write!

How Do You Face the Page When You’re Exhausted?

006

Editing Book 4 of my epic fantasy tetralogy, The Sword Bearer’s Ascension, has been going slower than expected. The reason? We’re in the process of moving to another country, and for the last month we’ve done nothing but pack and make arrangements for the movers to first come over for two days to wrap and then take our stuff, hoping we’ll see everything in one piece and all present when we get there! Sorting out what we want to take with and leave behind (and the fact that once you’ve decided, even if you’ve made a mistake, once it’s done it’s done!!) is mentally and emotional draining, to say the least!! This includes my entire life of stuff accumulated over 45 years that I must now fit into a few boxes and what’s left gets thrown away, the latter being more stressful and painful than can be described in simple language.

It has taken a few months to make the final decision to move to the UK and leave behind all I know, including my poor mom. During this chaotic time I have done very little work on my book, and with teaching ballet (my afternoon/evening  job) five days a week, finding the time to sit down for a couple of hours and get something significant done has been nigh impossible.

Now I know some of you will say that even getting in half an hour is better than nothing and I agree. But what level of quality will my work exist at if I just squeeze it in quickly here and there? Surely I need a good 2-4 hours at least to lose myself in my story once more and connect heart and mind to ensure it doesn’t become superficial and amateurish? Doesn’t that cheat the reader out of the best of me?

You see, I know myself too well. I need that full emersion to get the entire spiritual experience. I have to live my story and my characters, to see their world and partake in it again every time I sit down at my computer in order to feel what I did when I wrote that frenzied first draft, when the true magic of creation happened.

Everything you do has the potential to be brilliant - but if you're too tired to see it then you and your readers won't experience the magic you've created!

Everything you do has the potential to be brilliant – but if you’re too tired to see it then you and your readers won’t experience the magic you’ve created!

No, I MUST find the proper amount of time to spend on the book, to edit it well so that my existing fans, and future ones, will not be cheated out of the final installment that I worked so hard to create. They deserve all of me – all of my emotion and attention and creative force, that which makes magic on the page and leaves them wanting more. Isn’t that our duty as storytellers, anyway, to ensure that our readers get what they want from a story – laughter, tears, love, joy, excitement, fear, adventure… It is vital we bring our readers what they want and need, and to do that we need to invest all of ourselves into every word. Therefore, I will make the time to edit and edit well so that I and my readers are completely satisfied.

What do you say, dear Writer? Do you write when you’re tired? I have heard it works and I have experienced an interesting emotional effect when I do the same. But when it comes to editing, that extremely detailed process that requires a clear mind, isn’t it preferable to be more alert? I’d love to read your thoughts. Please leave a comment and let’s discuss.

 

When Life Interferes with My Passion

Make time to write every day even if it's just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

Make time to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes! Feed your soul!

So, those of you who follow my blog might have noticed that I haven’t written a post for a while. The reason? My job, and I don’t mean writing. I mean that thing I do that pays the bills. And every day I cannot get to my computer and focus on my first love, my passion, my creative outlet, and drug, to put it mildly, makes me grumpy and miserable.

I enjoy teaching ballet, but there comes a time when it all becomes too much, especially when I can’t find time to spend writing or editing for even just a couple of hours. My mood sours, my husband complains I’m not as cute and cuddly as I usually am when I manage to spend a few hours a day feeding my addiction, my hunger to create and unleash what churns inside!

I share my teaching week with another teacher, who is also an international examiner and tutor. As a result of her status, she frequently travels all over the globe  leaving me with more classes to teach and less time to write. The month of March was insanely busy for me as I taught six days a week as opposed to the usual three. Hey, I received an incredible salary at the end of the month so no complaints there, but I can’t help but feel robbed of time with my beloved characters; you know, spending quality time with them in their world.

I know I don’t really have to ask you this, dear Writer, but do you not also feel a sense of separation when you cannot be with your characters, especially those you’ve written four or more books about? For me, it hasn’t only been the last five years of penning their story. No, try thirty-seven years!!! Yup, my epic fantasy tetralogy was born when I was a wee kid, and the story has evolved over all that time, growing, morphing, evolving, until it eventually found its voice in 2009 when I decided to share it with the world. These characters have lived with me practically my entire life, so when I can’t spend time with them every day it feels like I’m ignoring them and my relationship with them suffers. I lose the connection with them and their story, never a good thing when writing an emotionally charged tale!

My writing and blogging have taken a back seat this past month but I hope now to finally kick it up into gear again and finish editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4, the final installment and the end of a thirty-seven year journey. My characters are waiting for me to finish telling their story so that the world can read it, so that they can become part of the hearts and minds of those who choose to read it. I also hope to blog more regularly, and I want to thank all my followers for your support and interest in what I have to say. It means a lot to me that you read this humble blog, and I hope that in some way you are inspired to never stop writing every day no matter what life throws at you.

I have determined to make an effort to write every day even if it’s just for a few minutes. My soul sings when I create; how could I be so cruel and deprive it of  such joy and expression?

I love reading your thoughts. Have you also had times when the mundane necessities of life have interfered with your first passion? Please share!

Why Writing is Like Flamenco Dancing

Flamenco Dancer

For the last two weeks I’ve been doing Flamenco. As a dance style it has always been one of my favourites. It’s fiery, passionate, rhythmical, powerful, sexy, and as much about the music as the steps and movements. The last time I did Spanish dancing was at Art School thirty years ago and I missed it a lot when I matriculated and ended up in a classical ballet company. Don’t get me wrong, I love my ballet, but there’s something about Flamenco that stirs that ancient part of man that feels and desires and recognises earthy rhythms!

Now, it’s extremely difficult to do Flamenco if you aren’t musical. The time signatures, the syncopations, the pauses, silent beats, co-ordination of body, skirt, and castanets has to be flawless in order to do Flamenco well. Fortunately, I was born musical; I hear rhythms very easily. I started my dancing career as a tapper at the age of 5 so it’s part of me. It’s different to the intricacies of classical music; the rhythms and phrasing in Flamenco can get pretty complicated. But once I allow myself to become engrossed with the sounds and beats and nuances then it takes over my movements and I am led by it rather than trying to manipulate the music to follow me.

Stephen King Quote 2

It is the same with writing. Finding the rhythm of my writing, the ebb and flow, the cadence of the story, is vital to the creative process and the development of the story, especially in the beginning. When I allow the story (music) to take control of me then the words (steps) become easy and the story tells itself.

When you watch a professional Flamenco dancer, she doesn’t count her music 1-2-3-4, but rather the music weaves around her and she becomes one with it and in so doing tells her story effortlessly, drawing her audience in, creating emotion and passion and excitement with every step, every twirl of her skirt, the undulation of her hands, arms, and body, the beats of her castanets, the emotion on her face.

As a writer I have to use my words, the core energy of the story – its passions, colours, visualisations, characters, environment – to captivate the reader and draw him in. And to do so effectively I have to have the perfect rhythm, a rhythm that doesn’t break or stop or become annoying or disturbing because of an unnatural style which the reader will sense instinctively.

Just as a dancer has to create movements that are effortless and as close to perfection as possible so as to hypnotise her audience, so, too, does a writer.

Ebb and flow, rhythmic perfection, minimising mistakes in language, grammar, punctuation, and style, is how the writer creates the performance his readers will applaud!

Music Fades by Billy Alexander1 sxc

As a more experienced writer, after three published novels and a short story, I still have to work hard every day to perfect my style and rhythm. While I edit I ‘listen’ to my story, sometimes reading it out loud, to hear if there is a break, something that will distract the reader and pull him out of his trance. The goal, dear Writer, is to keep the reader entranced from page one. Do nothing to disturb the rhythm of your story or you will lose him to discordance.

What are your thoughts on writing style and rhythm? I love reading your thoughts. Please share!

Last image courtesy of Billy Alexander

Rewriting and Editing is Not for Sissies!

 

Dream Landscape 1 by Chris H index17 sxcLast week I started reading my first draft of The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 after months of creation without looking back to do any rewrites or edits. I took the advice of seasoned authors and wrote with the single-minded goal to finish the story and not check back on what I’d written (as I’d done with my other works) until it was time to do a rewrite. And what I discovered took my breath away!

I’m a Pantster. I do not outline or have a storyboard with cards and post-its all over my wall. I have one notebook which I use to remind myself of particular details I need to include in the story relating to characters or descriptions or vital plot twists that will make the story better and more exciting. Those thoughts come to me when I’m not writing but doing other things completely unrelated to the craft like brushing my teeth, washing dishes, watching TV, or when I’m just about to fall asleep – the latter being the best time to come up with great ideas. When I sit at my computer I allow the story to tell itself without any interference from my perfectionist brain. I do not have a muse (that I know of), but I do believe that my stories come from a place I cannot describe, a place where the magic happens – that source you cannot explain to someone who has never had the privilege of creating magic with words.

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

Whenever I write and allow this inexplicable process to take over, I am always left dumbfounded by what comes out of me. So, when I began reading from the beginning, I was amazed with the incredible detail and power and beauty of the story. “Did I write that?” I frequently asked myself as I tightened up my style, got rid of extraneous words and redundancies, and checked spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I have been drawn into the story anew; I experience the turmoil and chaos of the battle scenes, the love stories, the grief and joy of the characters I fell in love with – the characters that are so much a part of me that to say goodbye to them is a special kind agony reserved only for storytellers, I believe.

Rewriting is hard work; it requires an unemotional approach because it is meant to remove the detritus that accumulates, the bad habits that have crept into my writing I’m still trying to get rid of, and the stuff I know my readers won’t be interested in. Sometimes its a brutal process, especially when you have to get rid of entire scenes or delete a sub-character you really love. But it is necessary in order to create a product as close to perfect as possible. (You do know that no work is ever perfect, right? That would remove the soul of any story.) Rewriting and editing polishes up the frenzied creating that went before, that first ‘pen to paper’ moment when the fire in your belly and brain is urging you to create just like an addict’s urge to satisfy his cravings. The latter is the most exciting part of writing – for me, anyway. I have no inhibitions, I do not concern myself with perfect spelling, grammar, punctuation (my typing skills are not fantastic as it is), and I do not get in the way of whatever/whoever is working through me. And that is when the magic happens!!

Pen on Paper

My readers are going to be blown away by the final book, but before they get their hands on it, it’s my responsibility to make it a smooth experience for them. It is my duty to make sure nothing creates a bump as they lose themselves in the story. My goal is to take them in so deep, to hypnotise them so completely, that when they are rudely pulled back into reality by the demands of normal life, they cannot remember the passing of time. All they do remember are the emotions of getting lost in a story so completely that time stood still for a little while.

Don’t you want power like that? I do. I have never received a greater compliment than when one of my readers tells me they couldn’t put my book down until they finished it – all 700 pages!

Rewriting is not for sissies, it isn’t for those who are only interested in the emotional aspect and who do not care enough about the quality of their craft. I have posted on this before: Balance between passion and knowledge is vital. It takes experience and patience to rewrite in a way that keeps the passion/emotion/magic in the story alive and then compliments it with great grammar, punctuation, and style. If we can learn to find the balance then we can be better storytellers. I make sure I learn something new ever day to improve my craft. I encourage you to do the same.

I love reading your thoughts! Do you agree with having balance between passion (that first frenzied, magical draft) and knowledge (the more emotionally removed process of rewriting and editing)?

What Would You Attempt To Do If You Had No Fear?

QuoteWith the new year spread out before me and nothing yet written – both figuratively and literally (and I am talking new works here) – I have the power to create not only new literary works but my very life, and the message I’ve been reading and hearing about the most since 2014 began is that I have the power to decide what I want and how to go about getting it.

Whatever your faith, whether you believe in God or the Universe or your own creative power, I know that this is possible, and therefore I have presented myself with a challenge: This year will not be a year of negating or doubting my skills as a writer, creator, student, teacher, and wife. I want this year to be different to last year. Oh, I accomplished a lot last year, but by the time December rolled by I had a distinct sense of non-achievement. I could have done more, achieved more, written more, learned more, and become more.

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

So, this year I am going to achieve great things. I am going to improve my writing skills; I’m going to finish rewriting and editing The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 and get it published, and then rewrite and edit the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2012! Yes, I haven’t had time to do it yet because my tetralogy had to be completed first and I’ve never been the kind of person to handle two writing projects at once. That’s just how my brain works! I give all my attention to one main project and if an idea comes along for another book I jot it down to come back to it later.

Now, some of you may think that all this is a simple case of procrastination, but, unfortunately, it’s worse than that. Feeling despondent because I’m not selling as many books as I’d like, or because more people are interested in 50 Shades of Grey than epic fantasy, is quite simply an excuse to not to keep focusing on what I want! I began writing my Sword Bearers tetralogy because it needed to be written; it needed to be read and shared with the world – even if that world was only a handful of people.

When I started, I wasn’t as skilled as I am now. I made mistakes and I had to learn as I went along. I read excerpts from Book 1 now (The Sword Bearers) and I pick up those small mistakes, things that a rookie might do their first time out. But you know what, I’m so proud of that first book. I nicknamed it The Beautiful Monster because it was both beautiful and a monster in that it took so much out of me – blood, sweat, and tears, as it were. But I did it! It was one of the greatest achievements of my entire life! I didn’t give in to the fear of public opinion or my lack of knowledge or the fact that I was writing in a genre that wasn’t as popular as romance or thrillers or the paranormal.

Book 1 in The Sword Bearers tetralogy

Book 1 in The Sword Bearers tetralogy

My writing career began in 2009, and by the time 2013 came along I had read hundreds of blogs by experienced writers and editors and publishers, enough to make me doubt myself that the fear I defied writing Book 1 suddenly reared up and took hold of me and I started slowing down. There were too many people telling me what I was doing wrong and, the worst, not to publish until my work was perfect! Perfection? Really? I didn’t know that perfection actually existed in the human race!

Thank goodness I didn’t listen to those ‘perfect’ bloggers and experts but rather to the writers who had tried and failed, tried and failed, tried again and failed again, and how they kept going and finally succeeded. Those are the people I gravitated towards because those are the people who were like me. They had faced their fears and had snubbed their doubts and had pushed ahead and had conquered not only their fears but their shortcomings regarding their skill as writers.

So, this is what I have decided for 2014: No resolutions, but rather a decision to approach my year with the same fearless tenacity I had when I decided to write my first novel. I have grown so much as a person and a writer since The Sword Bearers: Book 1. I am a better writer – more skilled, more knowledgeable, braver, and more confident – and armed with these truths and a determination to create my future, I will accomplish a lot more than I did last year and the year before that and the year before that!

My message to you today is to defy your fears, your doubts, your concerns, and those people who say you can’t and press forward with new determination. If you need more knowledge then go get it; if you have a weakness then face it and deal with it; if you have lack in a particular skill then find out how to improve it. But whatever you do, do it with no fear!

Truthfully, there isn’t really anything that exists that you can’t accomplish this year. You just need to believe it, and then hold on to it as you approach every new project.

Personally, I have to rewrite and edit The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4. Writing this incredible story, a story that began in 1978 when I saw Star Wars for the first time, has been a thrilling, joyous, and often tearful journey as I’ve told the tale of the characters that have lived with me for over thirty years! Coming to the end had me sobbing, and I mean sobbing! But typing that last sentence filled me with such a sense of accomplishment and joy and all because I started it with no fear!

I love hearing your thoughts! Tell me about your fears and doubts and how you overcame them. Do you still face any? Maybe I can help.

Life’s Craziness Can Lead to Great Productivity and Progress . . . If You Take the Time to Rest

 

Life gets crazy sometimes!!!

Life gets crazy sometimes!!!

What a week!!! What with finishing NaNoWriMo before the deadline, and then chaos erupting in my life as though it was waiting in the shadows for days, watching and preparing for an all-out assault, it didn’t get me down when it finally attacked! Instead, it showed me that no matter how tough things appear they’re not really so bad. All I have to do is stop and breathe.

Since last week Wednesday, when we had an insane storm with hail the size of tennis balls sending Joburg into chaos, hubby and I experienced the added fun of the following: first, his hard drive decided it was done with life and shut down permanently, therefore we had to fork out money for another; secondly, our internet went down and knowing how notoriously slow our phone company is we phoned them with pretty low expectations. And our fears were justified when, five days later, we finally got the internet back only to be told that we now need a new modem because they’d upgraded our line to make it faster and the old one was no longer compatible! Aaarrgh! Another lot of money gone just before Christmas!! Then, (I think this is fourthly?!!) our outside drain decided to get blocked and our delightfully friendly chairlady of the Body Corporate told us it was our drain and at first she wasn’t prepared to do anything about it and basically told us to sort it out ourselves. That is until I got all huffy (hubby is way too nice!) and explained why it couldn’t be our drain as it was spewing out huge amounts of toilet paper, brown water, which smelled a lot like sewage, and cigarette buts – but we don’t smoke, she does!!! Eventually, she called out the complex’s plumber, who quickly discovered that the blockage was being caused by roots and he sorted it out at cost to the complex not us! Hallelujah!!

Jaque by asterisc21 sxc

Now, it’s so easy when things like this happen in quick succession to think that life and everything about it sucks, but when we realised that what we got out of it was a new powerful hard drive, a new powerful modem and faster internet, and a clean drain at no cost, hubby and I were very grateful, indeed. Sure, we are out of a pocket a bit, but my in-laws helped us out with the modem so, fortunately, we managed financially better than expected. All good!

Drawing a lesson from this chaotic, unexpected week, if I viewed the bad days – the frustrations and slogging that writing and promoting and selling my books sometimes bring me – I can either choose to wallow in misery or I can use my irritation to rethink and refocus, even if it means taking a few days off from writing (something I hate to do); I can step back and view my situation from a fresh perspective with a clear head.

It’s important to recognise when you need to step back instead of focusing on what’s not working. The act of such intense focus on what you don’t want will bring down your mood and mess with your creativity and clarity of thought.

I’ve blogged about this before: rest is as vital to your writing process after weeks of intensive writing – like NaNoWriMo brought you. If you have that novel done, or even the start of one, then step back and take your time assessing what you did and rest from the insane, nonstop process to allow yourself to breathe and really see what you’ve created.

Everything you do has the potential to be brilliant - but if you're too tired to see it then you and your readers won't experience the magic you've created!

Everything you do has the potential to be brilliant – but if you’re too tired to see it then you and your readers won’t experience the magic you’ve created!

As the holidays approach, make time for yourself by going to a spa or for long walks or spending time with your family, who no doubt hardly saw you during November – if you did NaNo 🙂

I have the first draft The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 to finish, and I’d like to do it before next year, but I’m not going to push too hard, not after I wrote most of Part 3 during NaNo and got pretty far. It’s the end of the story and it needs me to be fresh and clearheaded and excited and re-energised to write the ending of a powerful, incredible story that has taken me four years to write! I plan to do it slowly and to do it well, and I urge you to follow my example and rest, then approach it with love and respect and a fresh perspective that will enable you to finish another masterpiece 🙂

I love reading your thoughts! Please leave a comment and tell us about your creative process and if you agree with me or not about resting in order to produce better results.

You can find my works here! Great 5-star reviews for Books 1-3 and my sci-fi short story, The Door. Enjoy!

You Never Lose What You Gain – as a Writer or a Dancer

Polina Seminova

Polina Seminova

Yesterday I did a ballet exam for the first time since I was 17. It was an interesting experience, as you can imagine. At 44 one would think a person done with such intense exercises, but I wanted to get fit again and have a goal to work towards for the end of the year, besides finishing Book 4 during NaNoWriMo, of course 🙂 I was just informed that I got the highest mark and a fantastic report, which makes me smile and nod sagely to myself because although I am no longer as subtle or fit as I used to be there is one thing I retained after all this time and that was the technique required to pull off an exam of that level. It’s called muscle-memory, and depending on how good your training was as a kid you never lose that knowledge.

This goes for writing, as well.

It should please you to know that as you constantly learn you become better and better at your craft, never worse. This, of course, depends on whether you develop bad habits and faults and allow them to perpetuate your writing. The same principle applies to ballet. Bad habits are hard to break unless, with steely determination and a lot of hard work, you attack them with the very opposite and completely remove said bad habits and replace them with a good, solid foundation upon which anything is possible to achieve.

Having the right mindset is vital, naturally. You must want it badly enough, and by ‘it’ I mean perfection. I want to be a perfect writer, knowing this is impossible just like being the perfect dancer is impossible – but with regards to both careers I can get pretty close. It is up to me, however, to create an environment in which to work – at home and inside my head – that creates optimal achievement.

Writing Inspiration

I must gain knowledge in order to improve, to achieve, and, ultimately, to succeed and reach the heights I’m aiming for.

As a ballet teacher my goal is to train my dancers to think correctly. I have all the knowledge to turn them into better dancers, but they must want to receive that knowledge and apply it, then make it part of not only their dancing but themselves, for what they learn in the classroom they can use in all aspects of life. Knowledge empowers them to become better dancers and thinkers, and as their teacher I must make sure they understand that knowledge and then show them how to apply it.

As adults we may no longer have tutors to guide and nurture us, but we have learned the responsibility and discipline to make sure we continue our own education to the best of our ability. Even though I received the best training as a dancer there were still things I needed to be be reminded of and become more conscious of again nearly thirty years later. As a writer, I keep learning and reading and gleaning from the experts because I need and want what they have in order to apply it to my work and become better and better. I still need reminders of the details, the intrinsic stuff that makes the whole picture look so much more professional and appealing to my readers. It is my responsibility to keep learning and relearning so that I can keep growing and improving.

The learning never stops! Please remember that!

I’ve spoken before of being willing and open to learn and gain knowledge, and of finding the balance between knowledge and passion – it’s what this blog is really about. Never stop learning and you’ll never stop improving. It’s as simple as that.

I love hearing your thoughts. What are your opinions about continuing your education? Do you feel pretty confident where you are in your career as an author, or are you constantly aware of the need to keep honing your craft with more knowledge?

If you’d like to read other posts on this subject of passion verses knowledge please check out my Archive.

Remember, you can find all my books right here Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Goodreads.

NaNo and 36 years of Preparation!

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer's Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

The Cover Image for The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 courtesy of Jon Sullivan

It’s been just over a week of NaNo and I’m ahead of schedule. Yay!!

Last year I decided to write an entire novel in a wad of different genres – sci-fi, urban fantasy, western, fantasy, and horror – and the precious file sits awaiting a rewrite and edit since then. Now, this isn’t because I’ve been procrastinating or anything, it’s because I had to finish The Sword Bearer’s Awakening: Book 3 (published in May this year), and then I needed to complete The Sword Bearer’s Ascension: Book 4 by the end of this year, the final installment of my epic fantasy tetralogy.

This year, NaNo for me is about drawing to a close the 36-year project that has lived with me, grown with me, evolved with me, and then, finally, was birthed from me when the pen-to-paper journey began in 2009. And this November is the month I complete this incredible story and lifelong adventure. It’s a very emotional time for me because these characters, especially Khyri/KC, my main character, have lived with me nearly all my life.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

Star Wars was the catalyst of this marvellous, exciting adventure and I have to give praise and thanks to Mr. George Lucas for inspiring me to the extent that the future Sword Bearers tetralogy bore me through tough times, good times, happy times, and, most especially, the sad times. That kind of inspiration that makes your heart soar and your soul sing is very rare, indeed. But I was blessed beyond youthful understanding when I beheld the magic, mystery, and thrill of Star Wars.

Movies like Star Wars and the countless books and superhero comics I devoured as a child, all contributed to helping me develop into a successful, “genius, brilliant” (the words of friends and reviewers) storyteller and I couldn’t feel happier and more fulfilled! So, thank you Marvel Comics, DC Comics, all movie makers of sci-fi and fantasy films, authors of great adventure stories, and mom, who allowed me the freedom to discover my passions and pursue them. Mwah!

This November sees me finishing 36 years of one story that I have had the incredible privilege of writing. It came to me with great power and it is being completed with great power – magic, mystery, adventure, facing demons and monsters and defeating them, and then, when the ending is ready to be written, I will be in tears as I write that which must happen the way it was always meant to happen. By the end of November Khyri’s story will find its rest and so will I. It’s been a long journey, and my life has dictated this story’s path from the very beginning – all my trials, victories, challenges, and losses are all part of Khyri’s journey, as are my beliefs and the knowledge about the mysteries of life I have gained along the way. Book 4 is an ending and a beginning, for Khyri and for me, and to find out how and why you’ll have to read all four books!

Pen on Paper

I wish you all the best, Dear Writer, as you face this month-long challenge. Remember why you love writing when things get tough and your eyes can’t focus and you just want to sleep; go back in time and revisit that exact moment when you knew with absolute certainty that you are a storyteller. Then, use that passion to cross the finish line and celebrate yet another great accomplishment.

I’d love to hear about your 2013 NaNo project. Please share in the comments and let me know how things are going!

Trust your passion and talent and let nothing stop you!

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