Monday, October 29, 2012


I survived. Five days of an intense writing workshop, but I walked away, mostly intact, and with a vastly improved book.

I'm really getting to the point where being a published (and successful!) author feels like a reachable goal. My classmates were wonderfully helpful and I really feel like everyone in that class has the potential to be published. Everyone, including me, has a long way to go, but I think we'll get there.

So where am I in terms of my book?

I've finished the first act completely. I'm sitting somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 words (I haven't calculated since the first round of editing cuts). My two main characters have finally collided and I'm getting ready to wade into the middle section.

For many authors, the middle section can get kind of boring. Not for me. I'm about to hit a brick wall of intensity and I think my main problem will be maintaining tension throughout the middle while gradually increasing towards the climax. I need to be careful not to start out so intense that I have no where to crescendo to.

Needless to say, I'm pretty sure my google search history would get me landed on some pretty serious watchlists (terrorism, interrogation methods, torture, etc.)

I'll need all the encouragement I can get to keep going. What helps you stay optimistic about your writing?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Prep for Writer's Boot-camp Phase 2

This Monday, I will be starting William Bernhardt's Small Group Writing Seminar, Level II. Level I was amazingly intense and I'm already beginning to feel anxious/excited about this next week. Not only is he the best selling author of over 10 million books, Bill Bernhardt is an amazing teacher. He's strict and helpful and encouraging. And he's going to kick my ass for not having written more.

He reminds me of my father in a lot of ways, but most especially in his quiet manner and his very high expectations. He expects all of his students to be the absolute best they can be and he pushes each and every one of us to go further. To work harder. To write more. 

And my type-A, teacher's pet self can't help but feel that I could have done more. I know I could have written more, but hopefully now that I have a few other facets of my life straightened out, I will be able to fulfill my potential. 

The first class was one of the best experiences of my life. It was completely draining and completely wonderful. It took everything I had to give and more. I know Level II will be just as intense and possibly more so. The class goes from Monday to Friday and last for three to five hours. Then the homework begins. Even at the height of my college career, I never had as much homework as I have for this class. Towards the middle of the week and on into the end, I will be getting very little sleep. 

I will try to write at least one blog post in that time, but I can't make any promises. 

What I can promise is that, by the end of this next week, my book will be significantly closer to being published. 

Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A New Year: Thoughts of a Twenty-Three Year Old

Today is my birthday. I'm 23. When I was a teenager I always imagined that twenty three would be the perfect age. It was past the uncertainty of the teenage years and far enough into the early twenties that the euphoric joy of new experiences like college, drinking, and sex would have settled into a modicum of normalcy and I would have a pretty solid idea of myself and my future.

Instead, I feel more like I'm on the brink of a brand new journey and everything I thought I knew is up for grabs. I still have the intense uncertainty of my earlier years and, while I do have some basic expectations and understanding of my life, I don't have any idea what comes next. It's like I got to some end point and now I'm starting something completely new.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was nineteen and I've struggled with it constantly. I thought I had it under control and that while my "normal" wasn't close to healthy, I thought that I'd learned to navigate it, learned to operate on a day to day basis without falling off some cliff. And that worked for a while. But when I moved and after I started writing, it got worse. And continued to get worse until it was interfering with my ability to write.

I really dreaded seeking treatment. I'd been twice burned and the thought of medication (which is basically the only option since it's a purely chemical issue) terrified me. But I have an amazing support system. Even when my brain tells me I'm alone in my struggle, it's not true. My amazing boyfriend, although he often doesn't understand me, is always there for me. My mother has gone through the same struggle and she understands how to help me and when I'm capable of being helped. And my brother. My brother pushed me to consider treatment again because he understood that it really is the first step to mental health. Because of these amazing people in my life I have been able to start a new treatment, and, while it's only been a week, I really feel like I might actually get better this time.

So now that I've got my mind on a better path, I'm hoping my writing life will improve drastically. I hope that if I don't have to spend all my energy fighting my own brain, I'll be able to write and get my book finished.

I understand that writing is, technically, something you do on your own, but living is not. Living requires help and love and encouragement and at the cusp of this new year I feel an especial gratitude for the people in my life that are always there for me.

Everyone needs help sometimes. Don't be afraid to ask for it.