Headed For Home

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I’m going to be honest with y’all.

I’m writing this while we drive.

I think we’re in Alabama right now. Somewhere near Birmingham, I think, although I am directionally challenged and it’s very possible that I’m wrong.

Guys. Alabama is hot. Like, ridiculously hot. Like, if it wasn’t so beautiful I would never come here again kind of hot.

But the trees have flowers and leaves instead of needles and the grass is lush and green, and everything is beautiful. Also, the dirt is red. And today is cloudy and misty. So I’m trying to ignore the heat.

We’re headed for Texas right now. Then, tomorrow, our wheels will be pointed toward Colorado and home.

I’m excited.

I miss my cat. And my family. And my house.

I can’t swear that anyone misses me, but I have a little—possibly vain—hope that my cat missed me. A tiny bit. A very tiny bit. Like, she went to sleep at night in my big empty bed all alone with no one to cuddle with and thought, “I wonder what happened to that one person who used to feed me and would whine back when I whined at her.”

I’ll admit, that’s a little bit of a stretch. But I can hope.

As much as I am excited to get back home, this has been a trip and a half. We’ve been through twelve states so far and have four more to go, and I have loved seeing the country change along the highway. We’ve crashed in hotel rooms, been hosted by wonderful friends, eaten way too much fast food, baked on beaches, swam in the ocean, in hotel pools, lakes, and backyard ponds. My brother made friends with a lizard, I found baby clams and ate my first Po’Boy sandwich, my dad drove us through the town where he grew up and showed us where his dad’s mechanic shop had been and the house he’d lived in. We saw flooded rivers, Florida swamps, the sea, and a telephone pole shaped like Mickey Mouse.

It was wild.

And now we’re headed for home. Tomorrow night, I will sleep in my own bed, and one week from today, I will start my first full-time office job and get paid to be a writer.

Life is crazy, y’all.

Anyone have any crazy road trip memories to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Overwriter

Good Morning, Creatives!

Can I confess something to you guys? Like, heart-to-heart?

Good. Because I’m going to anyway.

I am a chronic overwriter.

Are you shocked? You should be. It’s true. I have a serious problem. My poor, poor editor is constantly having to cut things back and tell me to rein it in a little. (Hi, Beth! You’re my favorite!)

This week’s question is to soothe my own ego a bit. Or convince me to start a support group. Either way. Are you an underwriter or an overwriter? (If you’re not sure, judge it this way. When you finish a manuscript, do you have to add words or cut them out? Which do you have a harder time doing?)

I’m supposed to cut them out. I usually add them.

My Process

I love words. I love worlds. I love my worlds. So, because I love them so much, I love to spend a whole lot of time exploring them and showing all the little details, the cultures, the cities, the languages, and the people. I love to build cities and construct architecture and grow deep forests with lore that extends back to the beginnings of time.

One of my favorite authors is Victor Hugo. If that helps give you an idea of how bad I’ve gotten.

My Struggles Within That

Readers get bored! Stories need action, they need swift plots that plow through a lot of material and keep their readers engaged! As much as I enjoyed the chapter in Les Miserables about the Paris sewers, it didn’t move the plot forward.

Yes, I loved it.

Someday, I’ll write a book about those black labyrinths.

I’m strange that way.

But! Readers have to be engaged! And they don’t like pages and pages and pages of OVERWRITING! So I’m learning to cut back and do some of the exploring only in my mind. This issue is actually one of the reasons I started writing short stories. It taught me to say a lot in a very little amount of time.

Your Thoughts

What about you? Are you an underwriter, always struggling to flesh out your chapters and fill out your word count? Or are you constantly cutting sentences and struggling to get down to a certain point? Tell me about it in the comments!

A Writer’s Life: Expectation

What keeps a writer going?

That’s an interesting question. On the surface, it’s easy to rattle off a long list. Love of the story, dedication to their craft, or—as we talked about last week—determination.

But I’m inclined to think that at the base of it all, whether we admit it or not, the driving force behind our creativity is expectation. The expectation of a book in our hands, of our reader’s surprise and enjoyment of our book, of typing those exceptionally satisfying words, The End. Without expectation, the frustration and discouragement of writing can become too much.

Expectation

Expectation is so, so important for your writing journey. Goals, dreams, a solid idea of why you’re working as hard as you are is so important. If you don’t have that, you will peter out long before you reach the finish line. Whether you need a mantra, a dream journal, or a poster with your goals written out for you to see and read every morning, cultivating expectation is one of the most important things you can do.

Expectation is the trust that at the end of the journey, after all the bumps and snarls, there will be a finished product.

Everyone has dreams they’re running after, everyone has hopes . . . but sometimes we forget to define and hold onto those dreams and use them to drive their journey forward.

How To Make It Happen

Expectation should drive you forward—not hold you back with disappointment and frustration. It should be what keeps you together, keeps your writing, keeps you hoping on the days that are hard. Writing has ups and downs, and some seasons of the writing journey have more downs than ups. Without using expectation to keep myself moving, I would have given up a long time ago.

I do it with two truths, three tricks, and one solid dream.

Truth #1

Without expectation—or hope—the hard days will drag you down and eventually end your dream. We all have bad days. Whether you like it or not, there will be days when you want to give up. There will be days when it feels too hard and too impossible to continue.

Without expectation—without hope—your manuscripts have a good chance of ending up in the trash.

Truth #2

Expectation needs intentionality to thrive. An undefined dream won’t get you anywhere. Do you know where you want to be? Do you have a goal, a plan, something to shoot for and hold onto when things are tough? 

Expectation needs intentionality. Intentionality comes from a person who cares enough about their dreams to define them.

Three Tricks

  1. Know your dreams. Have a journal. Have a vision board. Know what you want and what you’re aiming for. Take some time to sit down and really define what you’re aiming at in your journey. Do you want to finish your book? Write a series? Be published? Hit a bestseller list? You need to know that and know that you know it.
  2. Plan big, and allow yourself to dream beyond your own limits. Instead of saying, I wish, say, I will. Big dreams are scary because they feel out of reach and impossible. But the first step to achieving a big dream is admitting that you have one—and turning it into a goal.
  3. Have step-by-step goals. A dream with step-by-step goals becomes a plan and becomes achievable. You want to be a bestseller? Write a killer book. Start working on your pitch, on marketing, on social media platforms. Work on what is in your reach now, and have steps to help you climb your mountain. You’ll get there.

One Solid Dream

Everyone needs a dream, an end goal that they can turn back to when things are hard and they are starting to question why they do the things they do. Struggling forward in pursuit of someone else’s dream will drain you—struggling forward in pursuit of your own dream will build you.

Writer, know your dream. Whether you want to be a published author or a teacher or a journalist or a blogger, know your dream. Set goals. Have a dream board, a place to go to when you are tired and discouraged and ready to give up.

Know your dream. Plan for your dream. And move forward in expectation.

Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.

What are your dreams for your future and your stories? Tell me about them in the comments!

This is the last installment in the Writer’s Life series. I so enjoyed this journey with you, and I hope you will tune in next week as we tackle nine truths in a writer’s journey.

Until next time!

Road Trip

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Guys.

I’m probably lost.

Like, lost lost. Somewhere in-between Virginia and Florida. I think the GPS knows where we are, but I lost track way back in Missouri. This has been a TRIP. And it’s not even halfway over yet.

As far as I can recall (because I blacked out a few times and slept like a log), we have driven through Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.

I’m sure we’ve been to more places by now. We’re driving just now, you see. Things are in progress. I shall let you know by the end of the trip where all we’ve been and what we’ve done.

Most of the time, we’ve just been driving. Seeing the world pass by. Cruising.

While we were in Missouri, I stayed with my editor and her family. We had a blast. I caught a frog. His name was Reginald. I did not kiss him, but I did almost accidentally squish him, which was mildly horrifying because he was so tiny. (No frogs were harmed in the making of this post, I swear.)

We also swam in a pond, played with paddle boards, and fished. My sister dropped her hook in the water and pulled one out immediately—like, within seconds. My little brother caught four.

Guys. I love fishing. I do. But guess who is the worst fisherman among the three of us?

You got that right.

Me.

I did catch one though. After waiting. And waiting. And losing my worm. And waiting some more. And giving up.

But I did catch one. Finally. I was so excited.

You know what else I saw in Missouri?

Fireflies.

I love fireflies so much. They’re like tiny fairies. We don’t have fireflies in Colorado, because it’s cold and dry and a desert. But Missouri has fireflies, and they made me very, very happy. I wanted to bring a thousand home with me, but I felt like they might die in the car, and it would have been weird to come home with a jar of dead bugs.

So I left Reginald and the tiny fairies/fireflies to enjoy Missouri and we kept driving.

We went hiking in North Carolina (on their cute tiny pretend mountains), kayaked in the bay in Virginia (and toasted on the beaches), and had way too much fun with my sisters who live there.

And now, we are on our way again. More updates to come!

Anyone else been traveling this year? Tell me about it in the comments!

Coffee Dates: Houses

Good Morning, Creatives!

Okay, all ya’ll are about to laugh at me. And not because I said all ya’ll. I’m allowed to say that because technically I was born in Texas and thus have the right to say ya’ll. And there are more than five of you, so it’s definitely all ya’ll.

I know these things.

Anyway, this week’s question is going to make you laugh at me. It’s silly and ridiculous and totally inconsequential, a question with no merit and no deep meaning.

I’m really excited.

Since we were talking about personality tests last week—specifically the Myers-Briggs test—this week, I wanted to ask about a different personality test. Specifically, Hogwarts houses.

My Process

I am pure Ravenclaw. I love books, I think too much, and I am not a biggest fan of having one ‘right way’ to do things.

Okay, ‘not a big fan’ is an understatement.

If there was one right answer to every question, no one would actually need to think.

My Struggles Within That

I have struggled deeply with this one. (Not really.) I wanted to be a Hufflepuff. I was so, so sure I was a Hufflepuff. My whole existence is a Hufflepuff kind of existence. They just seem like such warm-hearted, gentle, brilliant kind of people. The kind of brilliant that doesn’t quite make sense to most people.

But no. Knowledge is power. So I am a Ravenclaw.

Your Thoughts

Are there any Harry Potter fans out there? What is your house? Any other Ravenclaws around? Tell me in the comments!

Tying Up Loose Ends

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I am leaving tomorrow on a super special, very exciting trip.

One last hurrah, you might say, before my job begins and I have to settle into a desk and learn a new routine.

Since I love routines, I am very excited.

But the fact remains that tomorrow morning, somewhere between Very Dark and Sleep O’Clock, I will be crawling out of bed like a creature of the night and setting off on a road trip with three of my family members.

We are going many places. I will tell you about them next week when we have actually been to these many places.

Since I haven’t left yet, and my job hasn’t started yet, this last week has been all about tying up loose ends and preparing for a whole new season. I’ve gotten new glasses, a haircut, overhauled my wardrobe, cleaned my house . . . 

A lot of stuff, in other words. All the things I need to do before I show up for that first day.

One of the things that I have accomplished is to finish the first draft of my book, Of Bullfrogs and Snapdragons.

*Trumpets blare, people—mostly me—celebrate, a duck quacks*

Wait . . . what? I have a job where I’m getting paid to write and yet I’m still writing my own books?

Yes. In case you were wondering, my life plans are still the same. This job hasn’t changed them. I am still an author, I still have many books to write and many I want to publish, and I will still have a blog to keep up with.

And I’m going to manage all those things if it kills me.

No, I’m kidding.

Actually, I’m going to take it slow, learn my new routine, and adapt my life accordingly. Things will slow down a little, but I will still post on my blog, I will still write, I will still be me.

And, since I am not quite twenty five yet, I have plenty of time. My goal has always been a lifelong career, not instant fame or ten books on the market as fast as I can produce them. So, if you ever wonder what Abigail is doing with her life, just know that I am still here. Building away. Creating my empire.

And right now, that means tying up all my loose ends. Which probably means I should buy some groceries and do some meal planning.

Eh. I’ll do it when I get home.

In two weeks.

Any advice for someone starting their first ever office job? I’d love some wisdom from people are more experienced than I am!

Coffee Dates: Myers Briggs

Good Morning, Creatives!

Does anyone else need caffeine this morning? I do. Maybe not a straight cup of coffee or espresso, but I would not say no to a few cups of black tea with a little cream and honey. Just to get my brain moving in the right direction.

But! The weekend is near, O people of the pen, so take heart! We’re going to make it through!

Now, before I ask this week’s question, I want to clarify that I do not think any sort of test can put people in a box. We are created as beautiful, infinite beings with endless potential and ability to change. Our minds and our choices are our own, and what we decide to do with them shapes our brains.

However, sometimes the tests are fun. Personally, they make me laugh, and sometimes it really is fun to read through the descriptions and snicker over how close they came.

So, that said, today’s question is all about personality types! According to the Myers Briggs test, what is yours?

My Process

I am an INFJ, which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judgement. I have never been one to search too deeply into ‘societies definition’ of what that means, but for me, it means that I spend a great deal of time alone, I am incredibly empathetic and can almost always tell when someone is having an off-day—sometimes just by glancing across the room—and it takes me a very long time to connect with and trust someone.

I also have an enormous amount of patience for a long task, thus my writing career.

My Struggles Within That

I hate public events! Parties are the worst. Especially if I don’t have one person I can latch onto and dig into the deep parts of life with, instead of struggling through small talk. I hate talking about myself in job interviews and meet-and-greets, and I hate pitching my novels! But I do it. Because I am an adult, and I do things I don’t necessarily like to do.

Your Thoughts

What is your personality type? More than that, what do those four letters mean to you? Are you outgoing and the life of the party, but struggle to maintain lasting friendships? Do you write, but scream sometimes because you need human interaction? Do you, like me, HATE pitching your novel? Tell me about it in the comments!