Tag Archives: Creative writing

Recognition and Acceptance

It’s not you, Megan. It’s me.

We’ve started writing the sequel to Love at First Plight, and I am finding the process to be both easy and a challenge at the same time. I love writing my character, Megan Wynters. I really do. Slipping into her character is like sliding my feet into my favourite and most comfortable pair of shoes or like wrapping myself in a warm blanket.

Working on Book 2

At the same time, writing Megan can sometimes be a challenge. It’s fun challenge, mind you, but it’s a challenge all the same. The reason isn’t because I find her difficult to write, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. The trouble is that my personal writing technique can frustrate me, at times.

I am the type of writer who is in a continual state of self-analysis and who relies on structure to tell a story and to bring my character to life. While this does have its advantages, where it puts me at a disadvantage is that I tend to have a difficult time getting started.

In other words, I get ready to write, but instead of hitting the keys, my fingers remain poised above the keyboard as my mind processes the steps that I will take. Finally, I begin to type slowly, but steadily, as I figure out how I want to form the first sentence and build the first paragraph. Eventually, my fingers will fly across the keyboard as I let my imagination flow, but I’ve always been slow to start.

Even though writing Megan comes naturally to me, I have never sat down at my computer with the intention of writing her character and immediately typed full speed ahead. I build up speed over time.

While this usually isn’t a problem for me, when there are time constraints, I don’t always feel like I have the luxury to take the time I need to comfortably write as much as I want to complete.

This is the main challenge I am facing right now, as I write Book 2 in the Perspective series. It isn’t that I don’t know how to write my main character or that I don’t know how to get inside her head. It is that it takes me a surprising amount of time to get into the groove of storytelling, especially at the start.

After years of writing, I’ve learned that my particular creative writing skill requires a great deal of focus, structure, and organization. I need to write in a distraction-free zone, I need to channel my character, and I edit while I create. Yes, I’m guilty of editing while I work, which is something that most writers warn other writers not to do. Ideally, when writing creatively, you should write first and edit later, so you don’t disrupt your creative flow; a process that should look like this: Write. Edit. My writing pattern, on the other hand, functions more like this: Write-edit-write-edit. Edit. As you have likely guessed, writing this way can significantly slow me down.

That being said, what I’ve come to realize is that even though others might cringe at my writing technique, I can’t change the way that I write and I don’t want to change the way that I write; it works for me. I have developed my own style and my own creative method and it’s not wrong; it’s simply mine. It may not be the fastest process around, which can really frustrate me, especially when I’m pressed for time, but I’ve recognized and accepted that that’s how my creativity flows.

Unfortunately, all too often I’ve compared my writing style and speed to Julie’s and to other writers and this, in my opinion, has been my most self-destructive habit as a writer. I should never compare my skill to someone else’s; no writer should. You can appreciate another’s talents, but you shouldn’t judge your own talents against theirs or feel that because you don’t possess certain skills that the ones you do have are somehow less significant or have less value.Getting started is the hardest part

The bottom line is that comparing how I write and how I create to how someone else does it, serves no positive purpose. On the contrary, it makes me doubt my abilities as a writer. It makes my self-confidence shrink and my self-criticism swell. It makes me think illogically that I can’t write the story of a character that I’ve written dozens of times before, which is ridiculous.

Thankfully, this is an issue with which I am struggling less and less. However, I would be a liar if I told you that I don’t doubt my abilities as a writer and storyteller from time to time. Nevertheless, at the moment, I’m pleased to say that Megan’s side of the story is progressing well and I’m immensely enjoying the creative writing process as I always do.

So you see, any time I think I won’t be able to write Megan, it has nothing to do with her character and everything to do with my suddenly becoming ludicrous and losing my nerve as a writer. All I have to do is write her to realize that I haven’t lost my touch.

Therefore, if you ever find yourself doubting your abilities as a writer, try slipping into the role of one of the characters that you’ve created, and hopefully they will remind you of your incredible talents as you bring this character to life with every word that you write.

That is exactly what Megan does for me every time that I slip into her character.

Thanks, Megs 🙂

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I’m a Second Author, not a Secondary One!

My authorship equality campaign begins today!

 

Love at first plight co-author authorsOh, the woes of being the co-author of an outstanding book (if I do say so, myself), and having my name listed second on the cover!

I can’t imagine that this is a situation that is unique to myself. After all, there are thousands, if not millions of books that have been written by more than one person. Someone’s name always has to come first. The problem is that bookstores, marketplaces, marketing programs, and even social media seem to think that the name listed first on a book cover implies that this author is somehow more important to the final product.

This is not necessarily true!

While Amanda and I both agree that if there were ever a project that was divided precisely down the middle, it was this one, the fact remained that one of our names had to come first on the cover. Neither one of us minded having our names listed as first or second. It didn’t matter. We knew that we were equal contributors.

The final decision was jointly made based on ease of search-ability. We wanted to make our book easier to find.

The name “Amanda Giasson” is, after all, far less common than “Julie B. Campbell”. Furthermore, there is already a very famous author named Julie Campbell (also listed as Julie Campbell Tatham in some of her works), who is best known for the books that she wrote in the “Trixie Beldon” series. While adding my middle initial to my name did help me to stand out a little bit from the thousands upon thousands of other Julie Campbells out there, it still wasn’t as unique as Amanda’s name.

That made the decision quite easy for us. We were quite pleased with the choice that we made, and still are.

However, at the same time, having my name listed second on the cover of the book seems to have dropped me into a kind of secondary status in the bookselling world. What is with that?

When Love at First Plight first appeared on the digital selves at Amazon, Amanda was automatically listed as “author”, while I was automatically listed as “contributor”. I contacted them immediately and their customer service was exceptional. I don’t think an hour had passed before the website was completely updated and I was granted “author” status. I couldn’t have been more impressed with the wonderful support they provided. Still, the fact remained that having my name listed second automatically implied that my contribution wasn’t equal to the author who was listed first and it needed to be manually changed.

Another example is at Barnes & Noble. When you perform a search for our book, the results are listed as though Amanda is the exclusive author. It isn’t until you click on the book from the search list and see the detailed product page that my own name appears. Again, I’d like to point out that Barnes & Noble has been very good to us and they’ve matched the lowest price in the U.S., to make sure that the paperback and the ebook stay affordable, there. This is not a complaint about the company. It is a statement about the shape of co-authorship credit as a whole.

At Goodreads (an experience that I am greatly enjoying and one that I would recommend to anyone who loves books), despite the fact that I was the one who added our novel to the site’s listings, when I wanted to make a change to the book description, I had to get Amanda’s permission to do so. The reason? She is considered to be the lead author and I am a secondary one.

Is there really no way for a co-author listed second on a book to be seen as an equal author? I find this baffling!

I don’t mind that my name comes second on the cover. After all, with two authors, one of the names must come first. However, at the same time, it seems strange to me that just because my name has been listed second, it is assumed that I am a lesser contributor, that my name isn’t as important in search results, or that I shouldn’t have the same author’s rights to the description of a work of which I am immensely proud.

Second co-author awareness ribbonI feel as though I should be leading some kind of march for the rights of co-authors who are listed second on their books. Should I be distributing ribbons (in red and orange, of course, the first and second colours of the spectrum) to help spread awareness of the plight of second authors?

Should I be standing on rooftops and shouting “My name is Julie B. Campbell and I am proud of my equal authorship of Love at First Plight!”?

Let co-authors everywhere unite!

 

….hmm…then again, maybe that’s a little dramatic.

Still, I feel that it’s a problem and I wonder if it is something that is ever going to change. Amanda and I have many more novels to add to the Perspective book series. Will I always be secondary, not just second?

Now that I’ve had my rant, I just want to thank Amanda Giasson for being a fantastic friend and co-author who has never let her supreme first-listed-name powers go to her head. 😉

Are there any other co-authors out there who feel the same way? If so, please feel welcome to share in the comments, below.

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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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Take a Break – Free Yourself from Writer’s Block

I’ve recently joined Goodreads as an author and one of the site’s recommendations is to answer a few general questions that people frequently ask authors. Since I was looking for a little inspiration for my blog this week, I figured I’d make one of the questions I was asked by Goodreads the subject of my blog.

The question is: “How do you deal with writer’s block?Writer's Block leaves you hanging

This might be a question that other writers may be able to answer in an instant. However, for me, this wasn’t the case. I really had to think about what solution works best for me when I’m struck with the big WB (no, I don’t mean a wrecking ball or Warner Brothers). The reason being, once I have overcome this maddening writer’s plague, I don’t spend much time reliving it or contemplating how I will be victorious the next time it strikes. Instead, I’m far too busy blasting through the block to care about what it was that finally gave me the power to smash through it.

That being said, what I did realize, as I gave it some thought, was that taking a mental break is what has always helped me to unshackle my mind and creative writing talents. While that is certainly not a revolutionary solution to the problem, it does work (for me, at least). Unfortunately, the trouble is that when I’m actually faced with writer’s block, the last thing that I usually want to do is take a break. I trick myself into thinking that if I keep writing, I’ll get past it.

This is the biggest mistake I make when I’m suffering from WB: I try to force myself to write. For me, this strategy is always a flawed plan. Forcing myself to write, when I am already discouraged, only makes the situation worse. Then, not only is my heart not in it, but I feel like an even bigger failure by the minute and I only make myself more frustrated. In the end, all I have successfully accomplished is to turn me into my own worst enemy, when what I should have done was supported myself, as I would have a friend, and cut myself some slack.

However, as soon as I take a brain break from what I’m writing and allow my mind to become fully distracted by other things, the block begins to lose fortitude. When I stop obsessively thinking about what I can’t do and what I’m not achieving, and turn my attention to other interests and activities, I’m reminded of a much bigger picture.

For overcoming writer’s block, the following are some activities I find to be especially therapeutic:

• Showering
• Taking a brisk walk or going for a run in fresh air
• Reading a book or watching a movie/TV that I greatly enjoy
• Getting proper rest (sleep does amazing things for thinking and memory!!)
• Playing a game (video or board games), especially with friends
• Engaging in a silly activity or conversation with friends
• Singing my favourite songs at the top of my lungs
• Dancing like no one is watchingWriter's Block Freedom

I’ve discovered that it doesn’t really matter what I do, what is important is that whatever I do choose, it’s got to take my mind 100% (or at least 90%) off of my writing struggles.

Finally, I’ve realized that not every case of WB is the same. There are occasions when it can be cured quickly, while in other instances it can last for what feels like forever. Regardless of how long it decides to stick around, don’t fight it directly and don’t rush yourself. Sometimes, the last thing that you want to do is the best thing that you can do for yourself. I hope I remember this the next time I’m faced with the block.

Thankfully, I’m not suffering from writer’s block at the moment, but if you are, my heart goes out to you and I’m sending you digital support and a digital hug (*hug*). Good luck and remember to cut yourself a bit of slack – you deserve it!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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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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To shut-up or not to shut-up?

That is the question.

One of the greatest feelings in the world is accomplishing a huge success that not only you can see, but that others can see, as well. Writing a book and getting published is, without question, one of the most exciting experiences of my life and one of the most meaningful. Since Julie and I first completed our book, all we’ve wanted to do is to tell everyone we know (and don’t know) about our achievement. We are so very proud of ourselves and are not ashamed to admit it. We want to sing our praises, hear what other people have to say, and bask in the thrill of what we’ve accomplished.Talk - Perspective blog

However, as understandable as it may be that we want to glory in our success and announce it to the world, there comes a time when we need to shut-up about it. What I mean is if I constantly market our book and jam my spectacular success down everyone’s throats, they’re eventually going to become tired of what I’m feeding them and they will get sick of my self-proclaimed awesomeness. I wouldn’t blame them. I would, too.

I’m sure you know what I mean, reader. Have you ever known someone who only seems interested in talking about what they have achieved or who sounds like their own personal marketing campaign for their job, skills, creative work, or whatever other feat of which they are (and should be) proud? After a while, if that’s all you’re hearing, you get tired of it and, instead of feeling happy for this individual, you kind-of want them to shut up about it in the worst way.

That’s what I don’t want to happen to me. I don’t want the people in my life to go from thinking: “Congratulations! That’s fantastic news. I’m so happy for you. I can’t wait to hear more about it!” to: “I swear, if she brings up her book one more time I’m going to find every copy and burn it!”

Shhh!Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of keeping quiet about our book. The only way people will hear about it and talk about it is if Julie and I spread the word and do our best to market it like there is no tomorrow. I’ve come to accept that this is likely going to irritate some people for a while (hopefully only to a minimal degree) because let’s face it, repetition gets on the nerves of most people at the best of times.

That being said, although I can take a few eye rolls in stride, I don’t ever want to reach the point where I start alienating people and losing support because were driving them crazy and they dread hearing about us and our book series.

I guess what I’m really trying to get at is it is tough to make a personal achievement the center of attention for the long-term, without annoying people and, at the same time, finding creative ways to keep them interested. It is a careful balance of knowing when to market and when not to market. Sometimes, that can be one heck of a slippery slope.

By the way, if you happen to be one of the people who is sick of hearing about our book, we’re sorry LOL! 😀

Thanks for reading!

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Becoming a Writer Who Reads

Perspective book series - Love at first plight - readingFor nearly a year, Amanda and I have been pouring all of our “free” time into the rewriting of Love at First Plight, which then turned into hours, days, and weeks of editing (and editing, and editing).

Throughout that time, the only fiction reading I did had to do with my own book (aside from a stretch of time in which I read 14 Superman/Batman-crossover graphic novels, but we don’t need to go there, right now). As much as I loved living inside the world of my own book, the process somehow managed to disconnect me from the works of other writers.

I wasn’t worried about it, at the time, but once Love at First Plight was published and I promised myself a break from reading those pages, I found myself playing game apps on my tablet, instead of reading. Shame on me!

The problem was, I had no idea what to read. In fact, I actually felt nervous about getting back into books again! It was as though I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find my way into someone else’s fictional world. Could I really be locked in Qarradune, forever?

Being the determined (that’s such a kind way to say “stubborn”) person I am, I decided to ease my way back into the fiction of other writers, once more. I picked up a copy of Lyddie, by Katherine Paterson (Jacob Have I Loved, Jip, Bridge to Tarabitha). I have to say, I enjoyed every minute of it. I only wish that there was a second book, because I would have liked to continue following the main character! I’m looking forward to the next book that I’m going to read, too, The Palace of Laughter, which is the first in The Wednesday Tales book series.

Am I looking forward to getting back into Qarradune? I sure am! Amanda and I have already started Book 2 of the Perspective series and I am already head-over-heels in love with it. But I’m glad to say that even though I am a writer, I can still consider myself a reader.

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