on writing · Uncategorized

On Writing

I found this neat tag/questionnaire about writing, and I thought it would be helpful (for myself as well as others), to answer them.

A. What do you write? Fanfiction, original fiction, nonfiction, articles, songs, poems, essays, plays, what?

My chronological progression of writing has sort of went from original fiction -> articles -> fanfiction -> poems -> original fiction. (That is ignoring the essays I write for school, which goes all through the cycle.) I mean, I still have my Supernatural fanfiction blog that I share with a friend (which we really need to update because our followers most likely think we have been decapitated or something along those lines) and I write book reviews/articles from time to time on this blog… but original fiction is what I find the most fulfilling to write. I am more inclined to writing novels, but I enjoy dabbling in short story writing as well.

B. How often do you write?

Heh. The answer of this question varies – from once a week to an hour or two every day. I’ve been more recently sticking to the latter, and I am hoping it is a good habit that will continue.

C. Who is your favourite character of your own? Who is your favourite character created by someone else? Why?

As an author who views all characters as her children, I find this question unfair. However, I can give a few favourites and explain my reasonings behind my choices.

For my own characters, the ones that come to mind as being delightful to write are Benny from my Great Depression/WW2 short story (which I intend on expanding into a novel someday) and… oh my goodness, I believe her name was Rowena – from that book I started when I was 14. (I have just realized I don’t have a draft of that book on this computer – cue the mad scramble to go through my old computer, which is now my sister’s, and my laptop.) I love Benny because he’s one of those characters who seems so laid back and The Coolest™ on the outside – but on the inside, he’s so conflicted and has so many secrets that he can tell no one, not even his best friend Sean. Rowena was really fun to write because she is a proud girl who is positive that she is better than everyone else (unfortunately, this is only enhanced when she finds out that she is royalty) – but along the way, life starts humbling her. But she still remains a snarky sassy thing, which is probably my favourite character to write. Secrets and Snark. Those are Anna’s top character ingredients.

It’s the same deal with other people’s characters. I love Andrew Minyard from The Foxhole Court because he’s so conflicted and broken by the abuse he has suffered, and yet he has such a domineering presence. I love Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments series because he has got such sass and is so funny. I love Eowyn and Merry from The Lord of the Rings because they’re both so smart.

D. If you had a choice of going without writing forever or going without dinner forever, which one would you choose?

Oh man. *cue the sniggers and smirks from my family members* I mean, I really love my food. But since I could eat other times of the day, I’d probably go without dinner. Maybe…???

E. Have you ever participated in National Novel Writing Month or any of its variations?

I have, but I have never been able to complete the challenge. I am not only lazy and a procrastinator, but also very busy with university – which is a terrible combination for a writer.

F. What’s your favourite book? Favourite author?

My favourite books (and plays) off the top of my head are The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, Hamlet by Shakespeare, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Carmilla by Joseph Le Fanu, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, and The Foxhole Court series by Nora Sakavic.

My favourite authors are Tolkien, Jane Austen, Maggie Stiefvater, and my friend Gina Marinello-Sweeney. I’m pretty sure Wilde would make this list, too, but I haven’t read much else by him yet.

G. What’s your least favourite book? Least favourite author?

I’m sorry. I don’t know what this question means?

H. How long have you been writing?

Since I was eight years old. I still remember the day when I picked up a pad of orange paper, drew pictures, and then wrote a story for the pictures…

I. What grades do you/did you get in English class?

The best. *smirks and twirls*

J. What does writing mean to you?

Many people have very eloquent answers to this question. For me, there’s no real simple answer. I write because I feel the need to. I have to write down what’s on my mind so I don’t explode. Writing stories gives me a certain thrill that nothing else really can. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout Finch said, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” That is very true for the case of my writing.

K. Share an old, embarassing work?

Okay – so when I was young, I wrote a series of little stories about Molly and her friends. One of these stories was about how Molly and her friends got bullied by some Mean Boys™. Molly and her friends started this Super Secret Girl Power Club™ and they did such a great job at defeating the bullies, that they celebrated with a big party at Sally’s mansion and they got a million dollars for their “hard work.” Leading into the next book when Molly, Sally, and Sarah went on a trip to Europe using their million dollars.

L. What advice would you give to other writers?

Write every day. I don’t care what kind of writing that is. After a long period of not writing anything besides essays (because I had to), I started journalling. Then I wrote poetry. Then I started writing my own fictional stories again. (I still journal.)

One of the most helpful hints I’ve ever heard is to ignore the horrible, blaring mistakes of the first draft – the first draft is when you tell yourself the story. I’ve never got past the first draft for my novels (yet, but I’m planning on changing that this year), but it’s really kept me going.

And one more thing to keep in mind – we’re all a little mad here. My thoughts go round and round when I write. I’m going to copy a section from Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird which describes this quite well:

“But [writing] is like trying to scale a glacier. […] Then your mental illnesses arrive at the desk like your sickest, most secret relatives. […] What I do at this point, as the panic mounts and the jungle drums begin beating and I realize that the well has run dry and that my future is behind me and I’m going to have to get a job only [because] I’m completely unemployable, is to stop. First I try to breathe, because I’m either sitting there panting like a lapdog or I’m unintentionally making slow asthmatic death rattles. So I just sit there for a minute, breathing slowly, quietly. I let my mind wander. After a moment I may notice that I’m trying to decide whether or not I am too old for orthodontia and whether right now would be a good time to make a few calls, and then I start to think about learning to use makeup and how maybe I could fine some boyfriend who is not a total and complete fixer-upper and then all my life would be totally great and I’d be happy all the time, and then I think about all t he people I should have called back before I sat down to work […] So I become a dog with a chew toy, worrying it for a while, wrestling it to the ground, flinging it over my shoulder, chasing it, licking it, chewing it, flinging it over my shoulder, chasing it, licking it, chewing it, flinging it back over my shoulder. I stop just short of actually barking. But all of this only takes somewhere between one and two minutes, so I haven’t actually wasted that much time. Still, it leaves me winded. I go back to trying to breath, slowly and calmly, and I finally notice the one-inch picture frame that I put on my desk to remind me of short assignments” (Lamott 16-17).

I found it incredibly relieving that I am not the only writer who does this. In fact, the whole book is great.

M. How do you feel when somebody gives you harsh yet constructive criticism?

I tend to feel a little bit defensive – this is my child, after all. But I also love constructive criticism because I’m so used to getting the standard “ohmigosh that’s so good!!!!!” *cue rolling eyes*

N. Which writing blogs and writing help blogs do you follow?

I don’t really follow any. I used to follow The Bookshelf Muse, which had a great list of ways to describe emotions – Show, Don’t Tell™. That blog is now Writers Helping Writers – I haven’t really looked much at the new website, but as the Emotion Thesauruses are only available through paying money, it’s basically useless as far as I see. (I’m certain there’s much helpful material here, if only I would care to look. I’m just a little bitter.)

O. What motivates you to write?

Honestly? It’s usually strong emotion. If I have a really bad day, I’m bound to write pages upon pages in my journal. If I’m feeling great, I might think, “Hey – maybe I’ll actually work on my novel today.” When I have those blah moments, I probably won’t be writing.

P. What are your goals for things to happen to your writing? (Getting published, getting a good review, having a fandom, etc.)

Having a fandom, definitely. I write because I enjoy it, but I also write largely because I hope someone else will enjoy these trash bins characters and stories and little jokes as much as I do. I’d love to get published and be able to see my book in a Chapters store, but what’s the point if no one else is reading it? That’s why I still write fanfiction from time to time, using up my ideas for something that now cannot be published in print because it’s already been published on the net (according to my dad) – it’s nice to get approval from others from time time. I’ve had several people tell me that my writing makes them very happy – which is the best thing I could ever hear.

Q. How do you get through writer’s block?

Usually, I don’t. But if I’m successful, I usually start by just throwing a lot of words on a page. I just write. Something. Whether that is how I’m feeling or a jumbled mess of words (good old stream-of-consciousness writing) or an actual idea, it’s only the process of writing itself that will break that block. I promise.

R. What genre do you write in?

I used to write fantasy, but now I tend to write about modern life (and I honestly have no idea what you actually call that genre), except with my own twists. For example, the Alice novel I’m working on now has got a good touch of fantasy to it because duh, Wonderland. The novel I have in works which is my take on the Book of Revelations is more dystopian, I guess. But I also like to dabble in historical fiction.

S. Would you let a stranger off the street read your first drafts?

My first drafts are horrible (really, darling). But I’m much rather a stranger read what I’ve written than my family because it doesn’t really matter that much what they think. The farther removed from my life, the better. If I never have to see you face-to-face (thank you Internet), even better.

T. What’s your favourite part of the writing process? Why?

You know that moment when you’re really struggling with how to solve a certain dilemma in your writing – whether it is a plot hole, how to make a character’s actions in a certain scene fit with his or her behaviour in the rest of the book, what have you? Or perhaps you even feel like everything you’ve written is perfect. You’re in the shower or drying the dishes or something, and then suddenly – THERE IT IS. It is the best feeling in the world, suddenly feeling like you have it all (even if you don’t).

U. What’s your least favourite part of the writing process? Why?

Writer’s block. I haven’t had much experience with second drafts, although I have rewritten several scenes in my latest novel already – but writer’s block. It’s the worst. It is a very unfortunate fact that most a writer’s life is spent in this black hole of despair when you can’t think of a good idea or nothing seems to click. Or at least mine is.

W. What’s your biggest pet peeve in writing?

Lazy writing and plot holes. *shudders*

X. (Leave a prompt.)

Do? I’d love some writing prompts. Leave them in the comments and I’ll write you a little something.

Y. How would you describe the perfect prose? How would you describe your own prose?

The perfect prose has lots of beautiful word imagery and characters that I can really relate to. My own prose – I don’t even know, man. *shrugs* Maybe someday I’ll know, but I don’t now.

Z. How often do you read?

I try to read some every day. If I’ve got a really good book, I’ll be reading every single waking chance I have.

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