Hop that blog! I’ve been hopped TO from two fabulous writers that I LOVE and RESPECT:
The first is Araceli Esparza (what a beautiful name, right?). She is currently working towards an MFAC (Children’s Literature) at Hamline University. She teaches creative writing classes at local venues and uses mediation and practical techniques to get to the creative center she believes we all have. She writes children’s books, poetry, and short stories.
The second writer is Rachel Riebe. She is a wife and mama of identical twins and a toddler and has changed approximately 2,968 diapers this year. She is also a freelance writer and poet (after 10:00 pm) working on her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University. Rachel is in my writing group and is the kind of person I can never get enough of.
So. What am I working on?
My thesis novel for my MFA program! (Snobbish Alert.) Honestly, it’s always been hard for me to talk about a work in progress OUT LOUD. When I try to explain my half-baked stories, they lose their power a little bit. I don’t know why that happens, but it happens, so I tend not to share too much until I’ve got a pretty solid draft. I have around 80 pages, and I need to finish the first draft of the novel by about mid-August.
Here’s a little taste of what I have so far:
Wyatt here! Cofounder, Master Mind, and Supreme Ruler (if you don’t count Wisp) of the Lux Club, a super secret, super made-up, super awesome society of super teens concerned with the making of wondrous mayhem. If you’re reading this, it means you’ve been allowed into our exclusive club. Unfortunately or luckily, depending on your outlook, it also means that you are some sort of peer-labeled misfit/loser . Perhaps you are too smart or not smart enough (me). Perhaps you do embarrassing things in public (Wisp). Perhaps, for no reason you can discern, you are not liked by the “popular” ones. Well, fear not. You have arrived home, to a place where you can be whatever you want. (Except for a turd.) You can be more than the “typical teenage disappointment.” You can be a dreamer.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
There are a lot of YA books that have a great, exciting plot but flat characters and weak writing. There are other YA novels with strong writing and great characters, but the plot wonders or disappears. My goal (and I have no idea if this is different) is to write a book that has strong writing, amazing characters, and an exciting plot. Those are all the things that I admire about the Harry Potter series, so if I could pull that off, that would pretty much be the BEST.
Why do I write what I do?
The YA genre is playful and adventurous. And also, adult problems are boring. I have to live adult problems. I don’t want to write about them. And I don’t enjoy reading about adult problems. When I was earning my undergrad, my writing teacher kept asking me to elevate the emotions, the diction, the tone, everything, etc. in my work. It was later, after I graduated and the YA genre exploded that I realized I was writing YA and didn’t even know it.
How does your writing process work?
If you’ve read even ONE of my blog posts you know that first, I panic. Then, I procrastinate. After that, I ask myself seriously if writing is really what I want to be doing with my life. Working at McDonalds seems more appealing than writing at this point. What is behind all this: fear. Fear of failure. Fear of what people will think. Fear that I don’t know where the story is going. I am always having to FIGHT the FEAR.
Therefore, I developed a ritual to deal. This works best if I do it first thing in the morning. I find if I talk to someone or check my e-mail, my mind whirls away into to-do lists, and I’m lost to writing for the day. It also works late at night.
Pre-step: Turn my phone off and close all the websites.
Step 1: sit quietly for 10 minutes. This helps clear my mind. Sometimes, I light a candle. My faith is important to me, so this is one way I bring it into my process. In other words, I ask for HELP
Step 2: free write three pages, typed. I write about story issues I’m having or issues in my life that I need to get out of my head so that I can focus on my story.
Step 3: write. I write until I can’t anymore.
Process tips that work for me:
- If I get stuck, I go for a walk or a bike ride. That usually shakes the ideas loose.
- Other times when I’m stuck, the problem might be that I don’t know enough. In that case, I do free writes about what I feel I need to know more about. I might do a character sketch, a setting sketch, or explore the history of my story. Sometimes, I research (google things).
- I’m learning to recognize how many hours I can write in a day and leave it at that instead of pushing myself so hard. If I treat myself well, then I can write a little bit every day instead of binge writing and then not being able to write for days after.
And now, continue the HOP!
I challenge one Matthew to answer these questions. Matt is a creative who draws, writes music, song lyrics, poems, fiction, and CNF. I mean, what doesn’t the man do! He also writes about life thoughtfully, smartly, funnily, and honestly. And KNOWS HOW TO DO MATH!
I also challenge Josh Hammond, who is currently working toward earning his MFAC from Hamline University. Aside from rocking at the YA writing, he is also a teacher, a father, a supportive husband, and all around thoughtful, encouraging, smart guy.