Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Monsters

When I said I'm battling monsters, I meant that in many ways... the most literal of which is through a board game called Super Dungeon Explore. It's a dungeon-crawler full of fun and adorable chibi miniatures. It has a bunch of grammar and syntax problems, as well as some formatting issues, but it was so worth the money. It plays a lot like the game Jaron and I started making (which we're still doing, by the way--it's different enough to be worth it for us). And the miniatures have been really fun to paint.

That's the first one I finished, and it was a lot of work. I've spent ten to fifteen hours painting already, but I've only finished nine of them (out of more than fifty). Each layer takes two or three (or four) coats of paint, and the slightest twitch in my grip can undo that. It's already happened twice. Oh, and to give you an idea of how 'mini' the miniatures are, the base at the bottom is a teensy bit smaller than a quarter. Yep.

Of course, there are other monsters out there. Work is really stressful and exhausting and sometimes painful (say the scars on my arms). I really do love the kids I work with, and I love helping them to learn. But there are some things about the environment that have upset the delicate balances of their minds, and they're learning to do things that they should never do--like spitting on people and scratching them. And lying about things to their parents.

I'm kind of upset that someone could even think I would ever hit a child. Being angry makes me sad, not aggressive, and even if I ever felt violent (um, that pretty much never happens) I would take that out on a pillow, not a person. And never, ever, on someone's child, even if they scratch all the skin off my arm and bite me and spit in my face. Never.

Heavy sigh. And now for the last big monster this week--I've decided to get back to work on Tsirash. It's not finished, really. Things that I love about my characters don't come across in my writing. I've spoken with a few people about this, and I believe the exact words were, "your writing needs to grow up." As harsh as those words were, I knew they were true.

I think I got excited because being a published writer has always been my dream, since before I could read, and I felt like I'd accomplished something. I had hopes of leaving the school battlefield and working full-time on the ideas in this messed-up brain of mine. But there are things that I want to change, and so I've decided not to query any more. I have all the pieces of the story--but not all of them are in place. Some are missing, and an unfinished puzzle cannot measure up to the whole picture. I need to grow up, be a big girl, and stop justifying my jumbled writing. I want this to be all I feel it can be, and that means starting over again.

I won't drop the other writing project I'm working on until June, when I won't have to battle at work anymore. Then I can dedicate my whole self to Tsirash. My dream will eventually become reality--but today is not that day. I have to stay alive first, and when those basic needs (money=food+shelter) are met, then I can truly begin to live.

Well, monsters need slaying, and this Rachel needs sleep. Wish me luck. :)


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Defender - Dragon

Dear blog,

Please excuse Rachel for her prolonged absence. She has been busy battling monsters of every shape and form.


Saturday, January 7, 2012


Not too long ago I used to wait for lightning to strike. I used to wait for the inspiration, the perfect idea to hit me in the head and then I would write.

Not anymore.

“You want to write? Write. Don’t wait for a muse. Write. Just plant your butt in a chair and write.” –James V. Smith, Jr.

Good idea, eh?

It doesn’t really matter what you write. It’s why you write. I do it because I enjoy it. I do it because it makes me feel good. I do it because I want to, need to do it.

I don’t know what your motivations for writing are, but whatever they are, keep writing. If you think that you have to write something great, inspirational, profound, unique, breath-taking, or perfect to get anywhere, well, I have news for you. Writing is never perfect. It’s a process. It’s a journey, not a destination. Books are never finished, just released. You could edit the same paper a dozen times, a million times—to infinity and beyond—and it will never be finished. You’re too lazy to make it any better, or you’re rushed for time, or you’re bored, or you did your best and it’s time to move on.

I stop sometimes because I’m satisfied with my work. Sure, it’s not perfect. I don’t necessarily think that it’s inspirational or profound. My idea might be cliché. It may seem comparatively dull when I compare it to my other work. That isn’t why I sat down and wrote. I wasn’t looking for perfect. I was looking for an expression. I was looking for something… doesn’t matter what it was, really, but just that I found it. When I found what I was looking for, I was done.

At times, we are pressured to be “finished”. We have a deadline to meet. So, we turn in a draft. We call it our final, but really, it’s only a draft. All published books are drafts. They all have flaws. Really, there’s never a point where an author suddenly becomes amazing at everything. It’s practice. Publishing is the point where it’s polished enough to display, even with its problems.

It’s like art. There’s always “something more” that you can add to the drawing, painting, whatever it is, that will make it better. We analyze our own work. “Well, her nose is a little too high, and the hair didn’t do exactly what I wanted it to…” but to your three-year-old niece, it’s perfect.

Perfection is all in the eye of the beholder, just as beauty is. One man’s straight is another man’s crooked. Little children envy each other’s drawings as much as adults do. They can’t believe the work that the adult is doing, but the adult is too busy admiring the work of another artist. It follows suit, then, that one person thinks they are a terrible writer, looking at someone else’s work in awe. The little kid standing next to him is reading that ‘terrible’ book, silently smiling and enjoying the marvelous fairytale.

Comparison can be a good thing when we’re using a realistic value of things. It’s what we use to judge what is right from wrong, who our friends should be, and whether or not a scene fits with the rest of the manuscript. It’s just that we tend to focus on our worthlessness than our worthiness. We should probably not compare ourselves to others’ work. Yet we do it all the time. When we compare ourselves to others, we tend to compare our worst with their best.

That habit is unhealthy. If I look in the mirror and focus on how imperfect my face is, I’ll be depressed and avoid social situations out of embarrassment. Bad plan. Do you know what the difference between something silly and something awesome is? Confidence. (I mean, look at Lady Gaga. She wears ridiculous outfits for all of her shows, but just going by the hordes of fans she has, you’d never know it.)

If, however, you can focus on the reasons that writing is enjoyable—discovering worlds, finding a purpose, venting frustrations, manipulating words, telling stories, sharing ideas, bringing about change, or whatever else you can love it for—then eventually, that writing may find its way to someone who loves it just as much as you do. Or possibly more.

Maybe to them, it’s perfect.