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You Do You

I don’t care that my stories or even my characters may not seem realistic all the time. I write the kind of stories I want to read, and so should you.

How often have we heard that encouragement? “Write for yourself! You’ll find readers who enjoy your work as much as you do!” But how often are we hounded by the same gurus telling us we need realistic, heart-felt, raw characters, we need ordinary, everyday issues about life and personhood addressed and resolved, we should write about current events so readers will gravitate to our work?

I struggle with this idealism to make my characters real in a real way, and yet molding them into the heroes and heroines I need to propel the plot forward. Sometimes I write characters who are bolder than I feel. Some of them are shy and morose like me. I’ve been blamed for making shallow main characters who are only moved by supporting characters. Maybe sometimes I feel shallow and can only be moved by people around me. But on the flip side, I’ve also been accused of writing unrealistically brash characters who jump into action without thinking!

There’s no placating people. Everyone has an opinion, and someone will always tell you to do the exact opposite of what you are currently doing.

So, here’s my question: What’s your opinion?


Sometimes we have to refocus ourselves to the reason we write. I’ve been writing for so long, I don’t remember not being a writer. Before I started publishing, before I even shared my work, I literally only wrote for my sister – and maybe one or two supportive friends. I also wrote…for me. I loved my stories. When I get an idea in my head, it’s so exciting. I love the thrill of adventure! I love writing about young girls who get the chance to experience magic, who talk to fairies, who aren’t bound by family but go off willy-nilly without repercussions, scoldings, or groundings. I write to free my mind from my body, and I write to satisfy these urges to hop on a plane to who-knows-where and just escape!

In reality, I really don’t want to run away from home. Yes, I want to explore this world, but that’s not financially realistic – yet. Besides, I love my home. I love my stupid town. I love all the stupid people who populate it, the just and the unjust alike. I just want to experience adventure in a safe way.

And what better way to – safely – experience it than through a good book?


If I never publish another book, it won’t break my heart. I will continue to populate my personal bookshelves with my stories, and if that sounds narcissistic to you, then YES. YES IT IS.

Here is the only time I will tell you to fully embrace narcissism. Nobody is going to love your stories as much as you do. You will never have enough fans, enough adoring Tweets and Facebook messages to compete with the love you have for your own book. And you know why that is? Because you birthed the darn screaming, pooping, puking, colicky thing. You stayed up late and woke up early. You beat your head against walls and computer desks. You were stumped by its rebellion, but you overcame its temper tantrums. You pointed a finger at the notebook or computer screen and shouted, “You’re going to behave, grow up, and become a decent book, so help me God!”

Good parents will always tell you no one will love your child more than you will. It’s the same for books. No one will understand why you put so much patience and time into a few stupid words. Some will even tell you to trash something if it’s just being too difficult.

Well, that’s not what we do around here, is it? No, sir. You pick up that sniveling, snot-faced, puffy-eyed story, wipe away its pathetic tears, give it a few pats on the butt and tell it to go play on the swingset. This is your book. And this is my book.

So let’s write like we don’t give two fudgesicles about the world and its problems.

This has been,

Fanny T. Crispin

 

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NaNoWriMo

The End is Near

I distinctly remember that day in October when my friend texted me. It was early in the morning. I opened the message to read her giving me an update, as she had been doing all month, on the approach of November. This time there were only four days before NaNoWriMo. The same fear and anxiety that plagued me then has returned, because you see…

There are only four days LEFT of NaNo

I’m about 8,000 words away from completing my goal, which isn’t a difficult task to accomplish. I have been known to write 5K words in a given day – given enough time, that is. The main obstacle I’m encountering now is trying to figure out what would be the next step in my timeline. I have only dropped a few minimal clues for my murder detectives, certainly not enough for them to solve the mystery, and I’m honestly stuck trying to figure this out myself. I mean, I know who did it. I know how they did it. I know why they did it. And gosh darn it if they weren’t so good at concealing themselves and planting clues not even I can find fault with them.


Writing is tough business. It just is. No one realizes how much work you put into your projects, but that knowledge is solely for your benefit. You reap the most reward from sitting back and enjoying a work well done. When you pick up another author’s book, you don’t just admire the cover and flip through the pages. You don’t just become immersed in the story. You take a minute, wonder how many years were put into the pages, admire the clean look and feel, and maybe even give a nod of appreciation when you find a small typo – because everyone has one. We wouldn’t be human without typos.

I initially began this blog post with a song stuck in my head from the animated movie for The Return of the King. It speaks of roads and goodbyes and sad, sweet things. But now I’m not feeling the message (and I can’t claim the song for my word count anyway.) I’m actually feeling fairly positive.

Wrimos, we can do this. We showed up, we came to the game, and we got in and played. It’s only fair to ourselves to keep charging ahead toward that finish line as if we were in a race competing with a runner who we’ve been neck-and-neck with all month. It’s nearing the end. We can see the red tape. We just need to stay the course, inch passed our competitor, and claim the goal. Now, our competitor is Time and the course is NaNo, but the sensation of flying across a track is the same.

Minus the severe cramps, fatigue, blisters, gasping wheezing breaths…

And if you have these symptoms now, you should consult your doctor. It sounds serious.


So where are you on your journey? Are you word-stuck like I am? Are you stressing a little bit? Or are you blazing hot; on fire with words and material and imagination? Whatever the case, no matter the word count, you have accomplished something here this month. You’ve accomplished writing. And if that isn’t something to celebrate, then I’ll just shut down this blog and we’ll all go back to our black-and-white society.

Because words are real. Words are magic. And words light up the world one syllable at a time.

Happy writing, folks. It’s been a tremendous journey, and I’m proud to have come alongside you for one more year. (Google’s trying to tell me “alongside” is one word, and it’s making me cry. I just need the words!)

This has been,

Fanny T. Crispin

NaNoWriMo

NaNo Week 2

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-Cover

Good morning!

How are all my happy writers this morning? We’re entering Week 2 of NaNoWriMo, and the challenge is real. The heat is getting intense. Ideas are dropping to a trickle. I would say “the end is near,” but we’re far from it. Far, far from the end…

It’s about this time that reality sets in for many of us. Whether we’re running out of story to write, or we haven’t been able to write at all, Week 2 is defined by the anxious fretting that we’re all about to become losers.

Yes, losers. That’s the thought rolling around and around – our inner editor voice. “You can’t stay on track. Look at you, you’re a mess. You’ve run out of things to write about. You know what, your story isn’t even that good. I mean, let’s be real – your plot is faulty, your timeline is a mess, you’re going to have to go back and overhaul everything you’ve been writing, and just think about that overhaul. I mean, thiiiiiink about it. You’re doomed before you even begin. Your main character is an idiot. You should just get rid of her. And what’s will all these empty supporting characters. You’re terrible at writing people. Boooorrrriiiiiinnnnnng!!!”

That is the voice of our inner editor. It’s brutal. Especially during the creative process. This is why our amazing TEAM at National Novel Writing Month encourages – and urges – us to put our silly little inner editor in a box, lock the box, put the key in a safe place, put the box in your closet, and bury it in clothes (you know, so you can’t hear the muffled screams and accusations.)


This year, I have a small band of writing buddies, but we check in with each other every day. That’s super important to me. I get a few texts in the morning: “147 words before noon!” or “32. I got 32. I fail.” And we encourage and boost each other forward. Some days I need the encouragement, and they never fail to come alongside me with advice and enthusiasm. Sometimes they need it, and I’m quick to step up to the plate. You know, I honestly wish life was like this. Every day, we touch base with our team and talk the real talk.


NaNo teaches me to be honest. I can’t lie to my team saying I’m making all these words, when the word count on my NaNo dashboard clearly states otherwise. And why would I lie? There’s something about claiming false glory that festers inside you, eating away at your conscious in a most unsavory manner. We tell little white lies all the time – ones we can brush off and have no lasting effect because they cover our butts at work, or save us from humiliation around family or friends (who, if we’re very honest, we don’t like anyway.) But there are some lies we can’t tell, because they defile our character. They leave a lasting tarnish, one you can’t scrub away with all the classic home remedies in the world.

NaNo teaches me to be honest, even when I’m failing. I can handle failure. It’s scary at first, but I know I’ll survive it. I can’t handle dishonesty. At it’s core, it’s just ugly. Dishonesty harms you. Even if it affects no one else, it tears you down from the inside.


But what is failure? Let’s look at that one. My mentor and friend always tells me failure is the unwillingness to even try. I’m sorry, Yoda, but “do or do not, there is no try” doesn’t work in the real world. Because if you don’t try, you never end up doing. When I was tossing around the idea of publishing my books, she looked at me point blank and said, “I don’t care if you sell twenty books or twenty hundred. If you never try, you’ll never know, and that is where you will fail. The fact of the matter is, you were willing to put yourself out there where other people only talk about it.”

Success is the act of doing. So maybe Yoda was right after all? If we do it, we’ve done it! But if we never do, we’ll have done nothing.

So go out there every day and try! Write 2 words, or 5 words, or 1,667 words! And do it every day! Because at the end of a month, you’ll have 60 words, or 150, or 50,000 words!

And that, my dears, is how you write. You just do it.

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This has been,

Fanny T. Crispin

(Side note, it was soooooooo tempting to split up all my contractions for the sake of word count… The struggle is real.”

 

NaNoWriMo

The Time Has Come

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-Cover

Dear Fellow Writers & Readers alike,

Of course I’ll be blogging during NaNo! Did you think I would drop off the face of the cyberworld like so many other writers during this time? Writing is already a lonely business, so it is good to maintain our social habits during this time.

Also, word count… And blogging counts.

I will be putting our 10 Deadly Habits series on hold again. My apologies. It’s taking longer than expected. You set yourself a goal and somehow life happens. But not to worry, we will come to the end of the horrors of these habits in due time! Fortunately, we are halfway there already!


I am writing to you today to reach out into the writing community. Are you participating in #NaNoWriMo2017? If so, I wish you the best of luck, and I encourage you on this journey. Being a bit of a veteran myself, I have felt all the feels you may be going through right now.

Excitement.

Anxiety.

Stress

Elation.

Positivity (don’t you autocorrect me. That’s totally a word.)

Downright fear.

Hopelessness.

Depression.

Anger.

Frustration.

Cowardice.

Blasé.

[Insert yours here.]

A wise person would remind you that it isn’t about the destination or the end result of the matter. It’s all about our individual journeys. How you conduct yourself along the road of life says more about your character than showing up at the end victorious. And how you run the race gives or takes more from your victory than you may realize.

So we can twiddle our thumbs, mope and complain, make excuses for why we are not writing. Or we can climb aboard our Imagination Stations, buckle in, and get ready for a bumpy, but exciting ride.

I welcome you to join me this November session. You can follow my progress and share yours here or on my Twitter account @FanTCBooks. I’ll keep you updated on which project I’m working on (Clara and the Chronicles of the Locket leaps out of the starting block with a whopping 10 words this morning,) and together we will conquer this great and glorious thing.

Happy National Novel Writing Month. May your pens flow with ink and your keys never stick.

This has been,

Fanny T. Crispin