Tag Archives: book writing

Am I Lost in a Fictional World?

Can creative writing be considered a mental illness?

 

Creative writing crazinessIf you love it too much, does it actually take over your mind, for good?

I’m a proud, card-carrying weirdo, and I’m certainly a top contender for geek-of-the-year (for over thirty years, running), but when it comes to writing the Perspective book series with Amanda, I am taken to an entirely different oddity plane. I stop living here and I start living on an entirely different world that exists inside my head.

On any given day, I think about the books, the characters, and the future direction of the plot, more times than I can count. I can honestly say that an hour hasn’t passed in fourteen years in which I have not thought about something happening on the planet Qarradune, at least once.

Writers are known for being a little bit on the different side (to say the least). I think the entire artistic community – actors, painters, authors, sculptors, singers, etc – has a certain requirement in terms of being somewhat strange. But at the same time, as much as I’m glad to be unique (some might say that “unique” is a rather kind way to describe myself), I do wonder if I am crossing the line from being a quirky artist in the creative writing world, and stepping over into madness.

Am I supposed to think about a fictional world this much? Are people who are figments of my imagination and who interact with people who are figments of Amanda’s imagination supposed to matter more to me than some of the characters I have met in real life?

The thing is, allowing my mind to drift over to Qarradune so that I can mentally hang-out with Irys Godeleva, Megan Wynters, Thayn Varda, and Acksil makes me very, very happy. Even Galnar can bring the occasional twisted smile to my face…hmmm, maybe I should be questioning the sanity of that, too…

Perspective book series - crazy writerOccasionally, I think that the fact that I am this passionate about the book is a good sign. A lot of famous authors are, after all, known for completely losing themselves in their fictional worlds, to very extreme degrees. Then again, many of those authors are also known for struggling with the real world and escaping through hard-core drugs or a permanent visit to the bottom of a river.

Will I be able to recognize if I ever make that leap from peculiar or eccentric to plain-old nuts?

For now, I plan to embrace my bizarre side and to keep loving the world that flows from my mind and out through my words. Hopefully, someone will let me know if I’ve made Qarradune my forever-home, so that they might help me come back to Earth to visit, now and again.

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Creative Writing: The Emotional Toll

Refusing to be the Little Engine that Couldn’t

I am SO tired! Okay, whining done. I just had to get that off my chest.

I love (love, love) creative writing, and knowing that other people will be reading what I have written (that is, what I have written with my exceptionally talented co-author, Amanda, of course) is a huge thrill for me. But, like so many other things in life, the extreme highs that writing brings to my life has also sent some powerful emotions at the other end of the scale.

love of creative writingGetting the book published is the start of the dream. It really is. But it isn’t just a matter of finding a company that will put the book on shelves and then sitting back to relax as you automatically become a bajillionaire whose works have been read by pretty much everybody.

To be fair, I was never under the impression that, after finding a publisher, my only other activities would be to decide who gets the movie and merchandise rights. I may have been living on the fictional world of Qarradune for the last 14 years, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve completely lost touch with reality.

Still, even after having been the owner and operator of a small business for more than a decade, I wasn’t entirely ready for everything that would be required of me in order to make sure that Amanda and I not only had a book, but that people would hear about it and read it, too.

Look, Ma! I’m a marketer..?

Marketing is fun for me. I genuinely like taking part in the ads, videos, social media, and all of the other steps that we have been taking. I like to bring a personal side to things. I’m not one for hard-sells, but I like the idea of opening up a conversation with readers and, hopefully, engaging them to the point that they see the book – the passion of my life – as something that they’d like to experience.

True…but I’m still a writer, first

I take part in marketing every day. I also work every day and I try to write Book 2 most days of the week (because what’s the point in having only one book in a series?). As is the case with everything in life, things go right and things go wrong.

hard work creative writingWhat’s different about the experience when it has to do with my creative writing is that it is not only immensely personal and important to me, but it’s also happening at a time when I am stretched about as thinly as I possibly can be. Nearly every minute of my day is filled. If I’m not working, marketing, or writing, I’m thinking about those things. I haven’t had a day off this year, and it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down at any time, soon.

Am I upset about this? Nope! This is exactly how it has to be. But at the same time, the lack of rest and the extreme range of emotions that all this entails are certainly taking their toll! The idea that the result of all of this hard work could put me in the spotlight has also sent my social anxiety into high gear…which only makes me more emotional.

But it’s worth it. When you find what you want in life and you don’t put everything into it, you’re making the decision to be the “Little Engine that Couldn’t”. That’s not going to be me. I’m going to keep trying, keep working, and keep putting myself out there because I know that this book is a lot of fun, I know that the second book is going to be even more exciting (we’ve laid out the first seven chapters so far and all I can say is “wowee-zowee!”), and I am going to do what it takes to keep my dreams coming true.

If that means the occasional random tears of exhaustion and a lot of genuine apologies for snapping at people when they didn’t deserve it, then I am willing to pay that toll. Knowing that people are reading and enjoying the Perspective book series means everything to me. I guess that means that I’ll need to become a version of myself who can handle it.

This is going to be interesting. Look out, world!

PS – Do you find that creative writing is something that puts you on a roller-coaster, too? Tell me about it in the comments, below. I’d love to know that I’m not the only one who is responding to the writing/publishing experience in this way.

Okay, I’m going to go cry now…then snap at somebody…then apologize 😉

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Taking the Leap of Faith

…only to land in a net of support

 

Have you ever had a dream that was so close to your heart that you would give up every other item on your “bucket list” in order to achieve it?

If you have, then you know how important this first book (of our book series) has become to my co-author, Amanda Giasson, and I.

leap of faith perspective book seriesIf you haven’t, then you’ll just have to use your imagination for now, and when you do suddenly come across a goal that is means more to you than any other experience in your life, I hope that you’ll remember this post. No, that wasn’t my “subtle” way of asking you to please subscribe to this blog, but now that we’re on the subject, please feel free to do so if you want to continue to read about our thoughts and progress on the way to getting our book series published and becoming rich and famous 😉

We’re not quite there, yet, but we’re trying very hard and we’re making  promising progress. It’s a nerve wracking process! When you decide to try to turn a dream into reality, it means that you’re taking a massive risk. While something remains a dream, it’s “safe”. You may not have it, yet, but at least it remains on your list of things that could happen.

When you decide to actually try to achieve your dream, you’re essentially jumping off a cliff and are trusting that either the water below you will be deep enough, or that a net will appear and will catch you. If things don’t work out, all could be lost.

When Amanda and I decided that it was time to stop talking about getting our books published, and to start taking action to get our words onto real pages that you can find in bookstores, jumping off a cliff was exactly how it felt. Completing the first draft of the manuscript was a tremendous victory for us, as Amanda described last week, when she wrote “Some Success Lasts Forever”.

taking the leap perspective book seriesStill, taking our leap was a huge rush. Suddenly, we found ourselves mid-air, falling toward the unknown. We could only hope that it would work out; that the experience would be a successful one. We are, after all, headed into unknown waters in the most important undertaking of our lives.

That’s where the net came in. As we started to tell friends, family, and even blog readers and social media followers, about what we are trying to do, the support was nearly overwhelming. The thought of it moves me to the point that tears are forming as I type these words. Instead of calling us “dreamers”, looking at us with doubt, or telling us not to get our hopes up because the odds are against us, the support that we have received has been far beyond what I could ever have expected.

At no other point in my life have I been the recipient of such consistent, genuine, and remarkable positivity. Every “like” to our Facebook page or “follow” on Twitter, every person who smiles with interest and wants to know about how we’re progressing, and everyone who has enthusiastically told us that they can’t wait to get their hands on their own copy and read our story, has made an immeasurable difference to my confidence.

net of support perspective book seriesIn return, that all I can promise is that Amanda and I will do everything in our power to keep the books in our series fun, interesting, original, and entertaining. We will continue trying, and we will do everything to see our stories on printed (and e-printed) pages.

When we do, we will never forget the support that we received so openly from everyone around us – in the real world and the digital one.

…Here come the tears again.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this:

We are taking the leap, but you are providing the net.

Thank you.

 

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Some Success Lasts Forever

It feels amazing to complete a goal, doesn’t it? To finally bring that long-term goal that you thought you’d never see to the end, to fruition? I’m happy to announce that just over one month ago, I achieved this exact success. I have to say, it feels incredible!

Success is possibleAs my fellow writer in crime, Julie B Campbell, has already revealed in the blog she posted last week, we have successfully completed the first draft of our manuscript. While it is flawed and still needs a lot of work, before it becomes a truly polished piece, having this first, and most important step (in my opinion), behind us, was the real achievement for me.

We’ve been writing this story, in some shape or form, for 15 years. Finally completing the first official draft of our manuscript is a success that will stay with me forever.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that I have any intention of stopping now that I’ve crossed the finish line. Like many others, I have big dreams and I fully intend to chase after them. That said, ultimately, whatever may happen from this point forward, I know I can hold my head up high because I completed a goal that was truly important to me. I didn’t just talk about something I had intended to do that I never saw through to the end – I actually did it. I have finished what I had started.

As you likely know, if you’ve ever strived to complete a goal over the long-long-term, it isn’t always easy. You second-guess and doubt yourself countless of times throughout the process. You ask yourself if it’s worth it. You wonder if you will ever get it done or if you’ll have to give up on it, as has been the case with so many other goals that have come before and after it. But you can’t give up on what you love and on what you truly believe is great.

I never gave up. I am so proud of myself and proud of Julie for pushing forward and completing the first part of our grand adventure. The hardest part – finishing what we started 15 years ago – is now behind us and an exciting journey filled with new and exciting goals is in front of us.

I hope 2015 will be a wonderful and productive year for all of you and I wish everyone success at completing a personal goal, no matter how big or how small it may be. Julie and I have every intention of making this an amazing year for ourselves and our precious project.

I’ll write more again soon. Like Julie, I’m looking forward to keeping you up to date about our progress and sharing my experiences along the way 🙂

Take care everyone, and thanks for reading!

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Writing is Hard!

Back to the drawing board…

We’re back! I’m sorry for disappearing for a full year, but until now, there hasn’t really been much to post. I’m excited to say that this has now changed.

Perspective BooksSo here’s the scoop…

Amanda and I used 2014 to take our book (yes, that same book that we talked about through all of our previous posts) and start it again. Our intention had initially been to edit what we had and to see what we could do with it. After giving that a try, we realized that a “simple” edit just wasn’t enough.

That first draft was far, far too rough. So instead of trying to work with a deeply flawed manuscript, we started again. We went back to the drawing board. We held on to our characters and to the core plot of our story, but we essentially gutted it and began at the beginning. Now, we have re-written everything and we have a first draft that we can work with.

To be fair to ourselves, the original story was written nearly 15 years ago. We’ve come a very long way since then, both personally and in terms of our writing careers and abilities. So instead of trying to stick to what we’d originally written, we decided to take that foundation that we loved (and still love) and apply our decade-and-a-half of added experience to it. If I do say so, myself, it’s now on the way to being truly great.

The process reminded me of the house that had belonged to my Great-Aunt Marge. It was well over a century old, and my family loved how quirky it was. We had to sell it, and when I found out that the new owners had maintained its exterior but had essentially gutted it, my heart broke a little…until I saw pictures of the changes they’d made. Holy macaroni! The new owners completely embraced the age and style of the home, but gave it the modern touches – and level floors – that it desperately needed. Now, I only wish that I could buy it back 😉

In my opinion, that’s just what Amanda and I have done with the book. We held on to every part of it that made it great, and scrapped all of the sloping floors, the crumbling plaster, and the ancient carpet. Now, it’s something even more special and we love it to bits.

So begins the editing process…again. That first draft says everything we need it to say, but we’re now busily tweaking it so that it actually says it in English!

To motivate ourselves to get the job done, this time, we’re getting back to blogging and will be posting updates of our progress over social media. If you’re interested in following our progress, feel free to join us at:

Twitter (@Qarradunebooks)
Facebook
Google+

Thank you, Reader, for sticking with us! Aside from our own obsession with the fantasy world that we have created and the characters who live within it, you are the reason that we work so hard to bring our book to reality.

With luck (and a lot of hard but wonderful work), we’ll soon be telling you where you can actually read this book that we’ve been telling you about for so long.

Come back often, check us out on social media, and please feel welcome to subscribe to this blog so that you’ll always know when Amanda and I have added something new. Please, feel welcome to start commenting again, too! We read every comment and would love to hear your thoughts on what we’ve said or on the progress that you are making on your own creative writing!

See you again, soon!

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Two Heads are Better Than One: It’s Not Just a Sesame Street Song!

I can’t stand it when writers get too descriptive. It’s not that I don’t understand the value of description. It’s not that I don’t see the skill that a beautiful and clear description requires. After a certain point, I just stop caring. It’s nothing but a big yawn for me.

julie campbell writer - writing descriptionYes, description is needed to tell the story. If I begin a story that dives right into a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Character with absolutely no insight into who they are, how they look, and where they are, then I have lost an opportunity to give you, Reader, the chance to imagine the story in the way that I do.

After all, if I don’t tell you that Mr. and Mrs. Character are having their conversation on the deck of a sailing ship, then you might be imagining them in their kitchen, sitting on the porch, or on a picnic blanket at the park. Even if I do tell you that they’re on the deck of a ship, I need to tell you that they’re on a sailing ship or you might think that they are on a massive cruise liner.  For that matter, are Mr. and Mrs Character merely passengers, or is Mrs. Character actually a pirate queen who terrorizes the nine seas (it’s my world, it can have nine seas)?

However, if I spend the first thirty pages of the book describing the precise wood used to construct the deck of the ship, the type of sealant that was applied to protect it against the salt in the seawater, the name of the family that developed said sealant, the back story on how they came into the sealant-development business, the precise shade of brown that is achieved after the application of the sealant, the number of knots per plank and the difference the sealant makes in the clockwise swirling pattern of the knots in the surface of the deck, and so on, then I’m pretty sure that I’ll have lost your attention halfway through the first paragraph. I know that my mind would certainly have wandered by then (possibly to a story from a book that wasn’t as overly descriptive).

At the same time, though, I love to write description. I adore describing a scene. Since, I can see everything very clearly in my head, I want to share that image with everyone who is experiencing the story that I am telling in the Book. But where do I draw the line? It is in this area that I find myself relying very heavily on Amanda’s opinions. I haven’t come to the point that I have had the guts to ask for it (although, being a very smart person, she may see the subtle hint in this post), I think it’s coming close to the time in which I am going to need some extra help in the editing process to know when it’s time to just shut up.

I am confident that I can do my part in giving the book some polish, but this was a team writing effort and I know that it will be a team editing effort, too. We can only work on it independently for so long and then it’s time to get out the boxing gloves.  I only hope that I will be able to take the criticisms of the length of certain descriptions with dignity and not break down into a ball of tears on the floor. If the next post sounds a little bit cranky-pants, then you’ll know that things are off to a rocky start and that I’m clinging to that thirty-page ship-deck description. Wish me luck!

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I’m an Involuntary Smoker

Before I get started with the reason that I am writing this post, I just want to say that this is not my attempt to speak against (or for) smoking. I am not passing judgment against smokers. I am not telling people that they should not (or should) smoke. This is just a story about my life and how it relates to my writing and editing of the Book with Amanda.

Julie Campbell writer - involuntary smoker

The view out my window…which helps to show why I am a writer and not a photographer. This looks stunning in real life and disappointing in this image!

I live in a low-rise building with lots of huge windows that let in a tremendous amount of light and air. There are huge balconies that give residents the opportunity to relax in the sunlight (or the shade, depending on the time and the day). In my case, I use the space for a massive veggie garden.

When I write, I enjoy seating myself next to the largest window in my home, nestled into a comfy chair with my feet up on a stool. I like having the windows open so that I can enjoy the fresh air and listen to the wind in the trees (which is very audible right now as the leaves are changing and have more of a “rustle” to them), the many different kinds of birds that have nested in those trees (or that simply come to visit), and that one irritating cricket that chirps day and night. Give up, little guy. If it hasn’t worked by now, it never will!

Anyhoo…

Three times every hour, this experience also exposes me to the smell of cigarette smoke, as other residents light up and puff away on their balconies or outside in the beautiful gardens on the property. As much as I appreciate that they are headed outside to keep the smell – and associated ickies – out of their part of the building, it inevitably means that it enters back into mine through my large, beautiful open windows.

I have looked into air filters of all kinds (there is not a single one on the market that filters out cigarette smoke, as the particles are far too small – so don’t get suckered in by any marketing campaigns that claim otherwise!), and I have tried a steady routine of opening and closing windows in different patterns, depending on the smoker and his or her location.

Although I am a low-level health nut (in that while I try to eat healthy, exercise, and not smoke, I haven’t crossed the line, yet, into full-out nuttiness), I’m not going to take this time to complain about what this is doing to my health. I’m not even going to complain about what my neighbours are doing, as smoking is perfectly legal on private property in Canada, and this is not a no-smoking building.

What I am going to complain about (get ready for it, I know you are just dying to hear my complaints!) is that with all this stink, concern about my health (did I mention I’m a low-level hypochondriac, too?), and window opening-and-closing, it’s really taking a lot out of my day! It is distracting me from my ability to work and it is taking away from my extra time that I would otherwise use to edit the Book!

My characters are victims of my involuntary smoking! Maybe my next step should be to create a digital cigarette filter that can save them from the effects. But will Health Canada approve?  Hmmmm. 😉

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