This is how I get writing done these days. With this fellow passed out in my lap.
Teething is hard.
That is all.
Ramblings of an Obsessive Bookworm
THE WORLD IS MADE OF WORDS. THE TRICK IS TO FIND THE RIGHT ONES.
This is how I get writing done these days. With this fellow passed out in my lap.
Teething is hard.
That is all.
I met with the artist who is doing the interior artwork for my book this week.
Spoiler alert, she’s my sister.
Crazy, right? I, who can draw stick figures and the occasional smiley face, have a sister who does artwork like this:
If you’re interested in her Instagram, btw, you can find her here.
Anyway, she and I had a meeting. She’s been reading my book from the very first day I started writing it, and now I finally get to commission her and her incredible talents for the chapter headings, a full page illustration for the title pages, and a map.
I’m way excited about the map.
Every good book should have a map in it.
That first picture is a draft sketch of the chapter headings we designed together.
It’s a mess now, but I can guarantee it’s going to be gorgeous later.
I am still chipping away at revisions for the book I have coming out at the end of this year. Once I finish with it, it will be sent off to my editor, and she will send it back with a million notes to tell me all the things that are wrong with it.
When you have someone like that, y’all, appreciate them. Not everyone is willing to be so wonderfully honest with you.
While I’m working on that, I’m also checking off the other thousand tiny tasks that go into getting a book published, including this lovely new logo.
I finished it last night. It’s perfect.
My book is being published through my business, Storynook Productions. The regular logo that I have, with my personal and business brand, is too complex for the spine of a book, so I had to come up with a similar, simplified version.
I think I managed it.
I’m excited about this, y’all. Getting a book from manuscript to finished product is an overwhelming amount of details, but I have been planning for this for years, and I am so ready to have it in my hands.
Plus, this is the kind of thing I enjoy. I mean, who doesn’t love seeing a dream come together?
I have a confession to make.
It’s horrifying. Are you ready to be horrified?
Here we go.
Ten years ago, I wrote the first half of my two hundred plus page novel in the notes section of my iPod touch.
No, I’m not kidding.
Yes, it was every bit as bad as it sounds.
By the time I finally succumbed and switched to a computer, I spent almost as much time scrolling as I did writing.
You know, because it was all one impossibly long document visible only through a tiny iPod touch screen.
It makes me overwhelmed just thinking about it.
What happened was this. Ten years ago, I graduated high school and promptly went on a week-long road trip with my dad to a school up in Idaho where he was lecturing. The night before we left, I started playing around with a story that I had been thinking about for a while. A medieval fantasy story about a bodyguard-turned-gladiator who is forced to gamble on his own soul to save his partner from the ring.
And, because I was leaving for Idaho the next morning, I wrote the beginning on my iPod.
Would I ever do this again?
Was it worth it?
Well . . . I’ll leave that to you to decide. Ten years later, I am still working on this book/series. (There are five!) And at the beginning of this year, my lovely editor and I began moving toward getting the first one ready to release into the world.
I’m panicking. It feels like I’m letting my baby out of the house for the first time.
Okay, my ten year old child that I should have set free a long time ago. But these things take time, okay?
Anyway, the books are ready, and this year, we are running through all of the many tasks necessary to get them released into the world. Edits, a few last revisions on chapters that need an update, cover design, interior artwork . . . I’m having way too much fun.
There’s gonna be a map, y’all. I have an artist lined up already.
I’m wildly excited.
There are a lot of steps ahead of me, so I’ll be sure to share all the exciting things as they appear! I’m crossing my fingers for a 2023 release date and promise to keep you updated.
These days, it’s a little harder to find time and space to write.
You know, between nannying thirty to forty hours a week, building a house, and taking care of an infant with serious skin issues.
So finding time for my scripts, outlines, and short stories is a little bit difficult.
Finding time for my books is even harder.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way, so they say, and tonight’s way happened to be bundling myself up in my coat and sitting outside on our porch swing on a dark, cold March evening while my husband gave our baby a bath and got him ready for bed.
You do weird things for words when you’re a writer.
Weird, cold, uncomfortable things.
But words come and chapters are edited, and my goodness, I can’t wait to share this book with the world. It’s almost ready. I don’t dare give away too much just yet, but I hope to be holding it in my hands very, very soon.
Maybe even by the end of the year. What a crazy thought, after ten years. I can’t wait!
I read aloud to my baby a lot.
Baby books? Yes. We do the silly voices and the bright colors and the black and white contrasts for his little eyes to develop.
But I’ve been reading him full chapter books since I was twenty weeks pregnant, and I don’t intend to stop now. This month, we’re reading one of my oldest and dearest favorites. (I’ll let you guess the title.) He may not understand the story yet, but it’s snuggle time and connection time and, one day, hopefully, he will be just as obsessed with the books as I am.
Plus, I have an excuse to read all my old favorites all over again. What could be better than that?
Writing professionally is not for the faint of heart.
It’s true. Unfortunately, by its very nature, writing is a vulnerable business. Your stories are pieces of yourself, and putting them out to potential ridicule or even well-meaning critique is a difficult thing to do.
But there’s more to it than that, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years thinking about what makes starting out as a writer feel so hard—especially as my own career has gained a footing and is moving toward something like a real beginning.
This quote by Ed Latimore, a former heavyweight boxer and a full-time writer, sums up what I’ve discovered amazingly well.
“Embarrassment is the cost of entry. If you aren’t willing to look like a foolish beginner, you’ll never become a graceful master.”Ed Latimore
Beginning any new skill, especially in a professional environment, is a difficult thing to do, whether you’re writing, have your first job straight out of college, or simply were asked to light the bonfire for the first time. You run the risk of failure, awkward mistakes, and breaches in etiquette that will hang around as a standby joke for meetings at the water cooler for years.
Okay, probably not for years. But that’s what it feels like.
I, unfortunately, am very easily embarrassed. I like to show my best face to people, and I always like to go above and beyond expectations wherever possible.
And, realistically, that’s not always possible.
Starting a new skill and beginning a career requires fumbles. It requires mistakes and failures and awkward, stilted first attempts and most of all . . . embarrassment. If you haven’t been failing, especially as a writer, then you haven’t been trying. Your work can’t grow and your career can’t grow, because you can’t grow. As much as I would like to think that my career is built on the things I’ve done right over the years, I know that it’s not. It’s built on the moments that I got hit in the stomach with a massive dose of embarrassment, swallowed my pride, corrected my mistake . . . and learned from it.
Because embarrassment might be a harsh teacher, but my goodness, do you learn from it.
What are some ways you’ve learned to work through embarrassment in your life? Tell me about them in the comments!
I am a full-time writer. I’ve mentioned that about a million times on this blog, along with noting that I run my own business as a freelancer. But today, I’d like to dive a little deeper into what that looks like on a daily basis.I’ll give you a hint.
I don’t actually spend my entire day writing.
Nor, strangely enough, do I spend my whole day in my pajamas, although I work from home and generally spend the majority of my time with my kitty and my newly acquired puppy. No boss checking that I’m meeting dress code here! Except for me, and I have my own policies about that. But, we’ll get into that. In short, this is what a typically day as a freelance scriptwriter looks like.
5:30 – 7 AM: My alarm goes off stupidly early. My husband sets it for me every night, usually because I’m already buried in my blankets and stick my head out to ask if he will. He’s a good sport. I like to get up before the sunrise to get a start on my day before the rest of the world is awake and jostling for my attention. It gives me some space. Now that we have a puppy in the house, I take her out on her leash to use the bathroom, then walk over to my parents’ house to jump on their rebound mini trampoline.
People always laugh at me for the jumping thing. They can’t seem to figure out why I do it, and it weirds them out. Simply put, this is my time. I stick my headphones in, and I work on my books. Stories don’t just show up, you know. You have to plan them. You have to make space for dreaming and talking with characters and imagination, and this is my space. If I don’t have this time, I don’t have books. Period. You might say this is one of the most important parts of my day as a writer.
7 – 8 AM: When I get home, I clean. Obsessively. I find it very hard to be creative if the dishes aren’t done or the floor isn’t swept, so before my day really gets started, I make sure that all the little chores are well and truly finished. This is also when I get dressed—no pajamas here. I’ve learned through a bit of trial and error that I feel 100% better if I’m dressed for work and have done my hair and makeup. It’s the little things.
8 – 9 AM: I study Spanish with Duolingo. This is one of my weirder habits—it has nothing to do with my career, probably won’t be relevant to my daily life anytime soon, and as much as I enjoy it, I probably will never become a fluent—or even competent—Spanish speaker. But it’s something new and different for my brain to do, and it keeps me sharp.
9 – 12 AM: This is my first big ‘chunk of work’ for the day. I generally have meetings during this time to discuss scripts, casting, story problems, or just provide updates for deadlines and revisions that need to happen. When I’m not in meetings, I’m writing. Depending on the day, I might be throwing together an outline for the team to approve for a script, or drafting a chapter for one of my two books in progress, or writing dialogue for a script. This is all usually accompanied by a cup of tea, trips outside with the puppy, and my kitty attempting to crawl into my lap to get the love and attention she deserves.
12 – 2 PM: Lunch, another trip outside with the puppy, and maybe if I have time, I’ll walk over to my parents house to see actual human people and jump. Another brainstorm session helps get me back in the game for an afternoon of writing.
2 – 4 PM: More writing. Afternoons are hard, y’all. This is when I start falling asleep. Music generally helps, and sprints with my writers’ group over text. When we’re all working, it always encourages me to get more words in. If I’m working on books that particular day, this is also where I will switch projects. 1000 words in the morning for one book, 1000 words in the afternoon for another. We don’t always hit that, but we try.
4 – 6 PM: I’m prepping dinner, listening to crime podcasts or an audio book, and taking the puppy out for a good romp before the husband gets home and we eat together.
6 – 9 PM: This is supposed to be free time. It really, really is. But if I’ve got a tight deadline on a script that I’m trying to meet, or if I happen to be feeling particularly inspired, I’ll curl up on my couch with my computer and get in a few hundred extra words. My cat usually sits on top of me, and my husband plays video games next to me, so it’s all very cozy. Or, if my writers’ group is up for it, we’ll toss out a few prompts through text and free write for a while—which is always good for creativity and opens up dozens of interesting doors.
There you have it! This is what a typical day as a freelance writer looks like—at least in my neck of the woods. This was an enormously long post, but if you’ve ever wondered what a writer actually does in a day, now you know!
Every year, I get way too excited about fall.
Annoyingly excited, actually.
I’m one of those people who plans out my autumn before it starts, just so I can be sure to get everything I want to done before winter blows in. This is the first year I’ve actually written down my list, but I think it’s going to be a yearly tradition.
How else am I supposed to plan for all my corn maze excursions and the hot apple cider bonfires?
But the very first list I always make is my autumn reading list.
It’s vitally important.
Some books just have a certain time of year attached to them, and what is autumn without a few ghostly stories and some thrillers packed into it? This year, I got a bit of a jump on my reading list, mostly because I barely read at all this summer. The combination of a new business, a month-long vacation, and a long illness put a huge dent in my usually lengthy finished-reading list, and this fall, I’m determined to make up for it.
I started with Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie.
What better way to start an autumn reading list than with a murder mystery? Agatha Christie is one of my all-time favorite authors, and Hercule Poirot is my favorite of her characters. It felt very right to start off with this particular book. It has a chilling element of evil to it that captures that creepy, ghostly autumn vibe perfectly.
Sherlock Holmes has been on my list too lately. His books perfectly capture that rainy day kind of feel, and the minute I started The Hound of the Baskervilles, I knew it was just the right book for my reading list this year. Gloomy, dark, suspenseful, and with just the right amount of intrigue and action to make a good mystery. I’m a big fan of all the Sherlock Holmes novels, but this one is by far my favorite.
I have a few others on my list as well. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. Frankenstein, Dracula, A Wrinkle in Time. Possibly The Witches and Anne of Green Gables too, if I can find the time. I have to remember not to let the list get too long, or I won’t have time for my Christmas reads this year either.
That’s another list I’ll be making soon. In a few months.
What are you reading this autumn? Tell me about it in the comments!
Did I tell you all that I’m officially a business owner?
I’m a business owner.
What a weird thing to say. I am, after all, all of about five years old, and definitely don’t know the first thing about business or management or what might go into a sales report.
And yet, I have my own business. Story Nook Productions. It’s even registered with the state of Colorado, which means that it’s very official and grown up, which is odd, considering that I never set out to be a business owner. When I was little, I wanted to be an archeologist.
Have I ever told any of you that?
Yep, I was going to find clay pots and use a paintbrush to unearth the most amazing discoveries and probably live in Egypt or somewhere equally far away and fantastic.
The fact that I was terrified of skeletons and mummies and anything bone related didn’t bother me in the least. I just figured that I would leave those discoveries to other people. We don’t all have to find mummies, you know. Some of us can dig up clay pots, and that’s fine too.
Since I was about ten and didn’t know what an archeologist did for a living or even how to become one, that dream fell by the wayside. So did my plans to become a missionary, own my own ranch, manage an orphanage, and own a bookstore that doubles as an ice-cream shop.
Secretly, I’m still holding onto the bookstore/ice-cream shop idea.
It would be the perfect match for me. I love books and I love ice-cream. What could go wrong?
Melted ice-cream and bankruptcy come to mind, but I’m trying not to think too deeply about that.
But, for the moment, I own a business. I sell stories.
Lately, I’ve been swamped with work. I am still selling as many scripts as I can possibly bang out to the radio show that I’ve been working with for the past two years. I’ve also, just recently, sold a short story to a magazine that asked me to submit to them. They thanked me very nicely, said the check would be in the mail asap, and asked if I might like to sell them stories regularly.
I said yes very professionally, after I finished dancing around my kitchen and telling every single person in my family just how proud they could be of me.
Selling stories is kind of an odd business. I do my taxes, keep track of my expenses, and have a schedule, but at the same time, everything I sell comes straight out of thin air. I spend hours and hours thinking very deeply about people and places that don’t exist, and weirdly enough, someone pays me to do it. And at night before I go to bed, I pray that I’ll have good ideas the next day, because without those, I really will have to look into that bookstore/ice-cream shop plan.
I still think it would be the perfect fit for me.
Do you own your own business, or have you ever thought about starting one? Tell me about it in the comments!