Why I Don’t Feel Guilty About Not Writing

Why I Don’t Feel Guilty About Not Writing

BOOK UPDATE: I’m going to hold off on When Stars Die either until I feel comfortable during this summer term since it is supposed to be really difficult and where my cohort really hits the ground running, or right after when hopefully I will be completely, 100% comfortable with the physical therapy program. I just don’t want to add in trying to get a book ready for publication into the mix because I actually am having a very difficult time even re-outlining the third book. I have the time, but the problem is that I am so mentally drained that all I want to do is decompress and remove myself from anything stimulating. ADHD medication can only do so much, but I very much am neurodivergent when it comes to how often I need to decompress to prevent burnout and in turn succeed at my classes.

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Some writers believe you need to write a little bit every day, even if it’s just 100 words. Those writers neither understand that not everyone has the same 24 hours in a day nor do they understand that not everyone has the same mental faculties.

I wrote a whole novel last summer. I haven’t really written anything since, and I don’t feel bad for it. Do I miss it? Absolutely! I would love to get back to revisions on the novel I did last summer, but physical therapy school has to take priority. It’s a doctorate and as such demands an incredible amount of discipline and mental energy that no one who has ever done a doctorate will understand. Frankly, writing a novel cannot compare because with writing a novel, you are doing it because you want to, 100%. You might not like every part of the process, but you are doing it knowing you have all the time in the world. Earning a doctorate means taking a few classes you may not enjoy, doing assignments you may absolutely despise, enduring practicals that are emotionally taxing and intensely stressful because you can’t get anything less than a B, studying things you find mind-numbingly dull but are necessary to progress in your degree, prepping for back-to-back exams, and bearing the weight of knowing that as each term progresses, it only gets harder, and as such you don’t want to slip up and fail and have to redo a class, putting you behind–and then, of course, let’s not forget clinicals and the looming boards in order to be licensed as a physical therapist. Oh, you also don’t have all the time in the world because you’re only allowed to fail so many times before you’re kicked out. At least with writing a novel, you can mess up an infinite number of times.

The stress is just different.

I also have ADHD. That adds another layer of what I’m able to tolerate. People with ADHD don’t have as high of a stress threshold as those without, so decompressing is absolutely crucial for us. We burnout more easily than neurotypicals do.

When I am done with hours of studying, I am mentally drained. I don’t want to do anything that requires mental effort, which is why I play video games and watch TV in my spare time. That is how I decompress. I read books as well and have taken up painting again. Even my job is an escape because it doesn’t require much mental effort. However much I love writing, writing a novel is mentally taxing and requires mental effort I do not have and cannot force. I don’t care what that one author said about how if we only wrote when we wanted to, we never would. That, frankly, is absolute bullshit. When I outline the third novel of The Stars Trilogy, I want to be at my semi-best so that this outline is something I can actually work with. I’ve already outlined the novel once, after all, and I want to change it entirely. If I tried to outline after I just got done studying for pathophysiology, it would be half-hearted, rushed, and garbage, to be frank. I even had a hard time fitting in a workout I was so drained.

Perhaps once I get more comfortable with school in general, with the idea that I can pass all of my classes without failing, I can begin to compartmentalize my days more and squeeze in writing before my brain has lost all of its energy. For now, I am fine with the idea I may not pick up the proverbial pen again until I graduate.

My Philosophy on Criticism

My Philosophy on Criticism

Recently I’ve been offering criticism for other writers’ stories–mostly short stories or a chapter or two in a manuscript–in an effort to help keep my skills sharp. I’ve been enjoying it, and I realize how much I’ve missed it. It has also gotten me thinking about how I prefer to word my criticism versus how other writers might do it.

I prefer to be kind in my criticism. I am straightforward, but I am not mean- spirited, overly critical, or even unnecessarily tough. The way I view the world of writing is that writing as a craft is tough to master as it is, but it is an art that many do for enjoyment and self-fulfillment. Writing is not the military where it must be tough because soldiers might find themselves in a life-or-death situation. So I don’t see the point in being, well, mean. You never know what your criticism could do to someone.

I understand. You have to have thick skin, but to me that’s only insofar as understanding that your story IS NOT PERFECT. You cannot ever hope to get published without receiving criticism from someone else. You have to be open to changing your story, even going so far as to perhaps tearing the entire thing up and starting over again. But that thick skin should not extend to having to endure meanness. And unfortunately, I see a lot of it out there.

I can recall when The Stars Are Infinite was an entirely different story in its infancy. I put the prologue (when it had one) up on some writer’s website where people could read and rate it, and the whole idea of the website was that publishing professionals would be drawn to it and use it to request partials or fulls. My chapter had 4.5 stars despite being very amateurish and was actually on the front page, which meant it was popular. But I remember one commenter who was rather brutal–and they were the only one. It didn’t hurt my feelings, and I did take the criticism and run with it after thinking on it; however, I would have taken the criticism anyway, even if said person had worded it kindly.

It was just overall unnecessary, as though this person had a chip on their shoulder or was jealous. And when I see other writers commenting similarly, that’s what I think: you’re jaded and are tired of one too many rejections.

I actually did not grow as a writer from that person. I grew from Georgia McBridge, owner of Month9Books. When YALitChat was around, I was an intern for it. In exchange for helping out, she offered to critique TSAI. She was only able to help with the first five chapters, but never was she once harsh. She taught me how to write a good hook, how to write some solid first three chapters, and when I was struggling with chapters four and five, she told me to sit down and outline the whole book. And as I was outlining, that’s when I realized TSAI needed When Stars Die first.

Without her, I never would have gotten this trilogy off the ground. And again, she didn’t have to be mean at all! I feel like I learned many years worth of material under her than I ever would have learned without her. So ultimately I learned nothing from that harsh critic despite readily accepting their criticism.

Ultimately, I do not understand this idea that writers should just accept severe criticism as a part of doing this craft. So next time you’re critiquing a writer, perhaps think of how you’re approaching their piece and realize you can be thorough and even strict without being callous.

My Current Writing Projects

My Current Writing Projects

While When Stars Die is still on sub, I not only finished hardcore revisions of a contemporary novel I started several years ago, but I also finished outlining an entire novel in the paranormal romance genre, a genre I didn’t think I was going to ever visit again. Not only that, but I have made a major change to the third book in The Stars Trilogy. But before I get to that, I want to talk about my contemporary novel a little bit.

It was originally called The Glorious In-Between because the story focused more on the queer-platonic relationship between two asexual characters, but after receiving some feedback that the protagonist didn’t really push the story along, that stuff happened to her but she didn’t make much happen, I had to completely tear the plot apart and redo it. There’s still a queer-platonic relationship in it, but it’s not the main focus. Instead the focus is on something entirely different, and I hope that new focus means my MC is now the one making things happen. That one is currently being critiqued.

As for the novel whose outline I finished, it is currently untitled; a title won’t come until I’ve actually started putting the story itself on paper. However, what I can say about it is that it’s a magical girl story (sans transformations), something I’ve always wanted to write since watching Puella Magi Madoka Magika for the first time. I was fascinated with how that show turned the magical girl trope on its head and ultimately turned into something dark and delicious. Being drawn to magical girls myself and the concept of girls/women having incredible powers inaccessible to boys/men, I knew I wanted to transition this concept to novel format. Of course, they won’t be called magical girls. It’ll be a play on words.

Like The Stars Trilogy, it’ll take place in the 19th century. But unlike my trilogy, it’ll take place in our world instead of a made-up one.

I don’t know when I’ll able to start writing this. I’m hoping to hear some good news about When Stars Die soon, so that’ll have to take precedence. And also, I start PT school officially tomorrow. I’m hoping I can fit my writing life into it as well as take care of my mental health.

As for the third book in my trilogy, All Stars Align, it’s been several years in the making. I outlined it once, did have the draft written, started re-writes, but I just wasn’t happy with it. The entire novel was from Amelia’s perspective because a reader of mine recommended I do that; however, I wasn’t feeling it with her perspective–I wasn’t close to it. It seemed wrong because the stakes weren’t high enough for her. Her primary concern has always been her younger brother, Nathaniel, and her story had already been told in When Stars Die. Alice’s story is told in the sequel. It’s time for someone else to have the spotlight.

So I’ll be re-doing the outline and giving that spotlight to Nathaniel because the stakes are highest for him. I won’t reveal any spoilers as to why this is.

But that’s what’s going on, and I ask that you all wish me luck!

When Stars Die: Chapter One

When Stars Die: Chapter One

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So unfortunately Gnome on Pig Productions folded. The publisher had high hopes it would be able to push on through this COVID mess, but it was another victim in a long line of businesses that have had to shutter, so The Stars Trilogy will be seeking new representation, starting with When Stars Die. 

I will start seeking a new publisher (only two are on my list for now), when my books have been removed from all distribution sites, like Amazon and B&N. In the meantime, if any of you know other publishers that accept previously published works, I will be eternally grateful. I’ve already been through Pandamoon and Clean Teen in the past, so those two are off the table.

In the meantime, you will be able to read the first full chapter on Wattpad.

Vanilla Chai Tea and Writing Update

Vanilla Chai Tea and Writing Update

tea and writing

Before I get into an update on my writing life so far, I want to mention how I am currently working on my website to make it more tea/writer themed since tea has always been a hobby of mine, one I’ve recently picked back up since discovering a place in Aiken that actually sells loose-leaf tea. We used to have a Teavana at our Augusta mall, but they closed down since Starbucks bought them out (a disastrous move, might I add, because there is nothing Teavana about what Starbucks has done to its products). In any case, it is called The Confection Cottage run by two women named Lady Kelly MacVean and Chef Kirstie Wohlfeil. You don’t have to live in the Aiken, South Carolina region to enjoy her teas, as you can order them online.

My most recent purchase was a vanilla chai tea. It’s a black tea, and I am used to using water to make all my black teas. However, I wanted to create a dupe that New Moon Cafe sells because it was just sublime. So first I made it with 8 oz of water at 100 degrees Celsius, seeped 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vanilla chai in a tea bag for 3 minutes, then added two teaspoons of half and half, two teaspoons of milk, and two teaspoons of sugar. It was good, but it had a watery flavor to it that I didn’t think was right for this particular blend. So I decided to try milk, and this is the dupe I came up with (it is perfect):

  • Boil 16 oz of milk to 100 degrees Celsius (about half will boil out anyway) in a tea kettle
  • While you’re boiling, put 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vanilla chai blend in a tea bag and rest it in your cup.
  • Now pour the milk over the bag and steep for 3 minutes.
  • Once you’re done, still add 2 teaspoons of half and half or 1 teaspoon of whipping cream. Stir.
  • Now add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir. You can add more if you want a perfect New Moon Cafe dupe (if you’re ever able to go there), but two teaspoons is perfect, in my opinion.
  • Now you can add whip cream and even sprinkle cinnamon on top.
  • And yum! It is amazing. It is bliss.

On to writing!

I started a book five years ago that was dubbed The Glorious In-Between, a book about an asexual character (Shailene) who forms a fast friendship with another asexual character (Sean). They had a kind of squish (an aromatic crush) relationship going on. However, the problem with TGIB is that a lot of stuff was happening with my main character, but she wasn’t doing anything herself to progress the story. In fact, it was the secondary character, Sean, doing all of the progressing. Now after a few recent beta reads, I’ve renamed the novel Panic Switch and have given Shailene panic disorder because upon doing research, I don’t think there are really any YA books at all that touch upon panic disorder (if I am wrong, point some out to me because I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to read them). Sure there are books on anxiety, but generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder are not the same thing. I have been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks myself recently and am currently working on them with my doctor.

So I am re-writing this entire novel where it now centers around Shailene having to cope with this new panic disorder diagnosis while also trying to find closure for her recently deceased twin sister Annabelle who committed suicide. While the scenes are very much the same, the plot is completely different, and I think this time around–I hope–Shailene has much more control of the plot than Sean will.

Now on to All Stars Align. I will admit I am being slow with this one, but I am at least writing it. It is happening. It may not be submitted by the end of this summer (more like the end of this year), but I’m taking my time because I’ve noticed I have partial burnout with this trilogy–I have discovered I am simply not a series writer. Two books and that’s it. That’s why I want to take my time because I don’t want to short readers by getting out a subpar story all for the sake of finishing it before I start physical therapy school.

I also have a little surprise I want to unveil in the future, but first my books (When Stars Die and The Stars Are Infinite) will have to get fixed on Amazon first because the e-books still aren’t up and now the paperbacks supposedly only have a few in stock or are entirely unavailable. Apparently this has been a common complaint amongst the indie community. You can get them on Barnes and Noble though.