Why You Should Never Give Up On Your Ideas (No Matter How Small)


This week we learned another Dr. Seuss book is on the way. Thank goodness he wrote it down, or the idea behind “What Pet Should I Get?” would have been lost forever.

Do you know what Dr. Seuss is most notorious for? Writing brilliant stories, with exceptional depth and purpose, using very few words.

In the very small writing community with which I am affiliated, I am notorious for writing large quantities of words, quickly and frequently, whenever I take on a new project. My likely-never-to-be-published novel, Queen Bee, is made up of about 130,000 words written across a time span of 14 consecutive days.

There may or may not have been a wisdom teeth extraction, and accompanying pain medication, to blame for this otherwise impossible feat. But you get the general idea.

If I’m normally so inclined to plow through a project at warp speed – not while taking prescription-only pain meds, mind you – why am I averaging about 100 words per day this month as I pour over a story only half-finished even in my own head? And why am I OKAY with this?

A lot of reasons, actually. The first being that it is February, and for the first time in a very long time, I’m in no rush to finish what I’ve started. Continue reading “Why You Should Never Give Up On Your Ideas (No Matter How Small)”

“Novelly” Challenged: Rewriting a Story I Don’t Know How to Tell


Answer me this: how do you explain wind to someone who has never felt it?

I never thought I would encounter a challenge like this, as I began rewriting the first installment of my series. (I would say trilogy, but there are points as I’m writing in which I’m not entirely sure the story can be condensed into only three volumes. Word lover problems.) It’s wind. It tickles your face and scatters leaves, sways trees, helps remind us the world is in constant motion even when we feel stranded in the same space for months.

I just had to go and make things complicated. Again.

Continue reading ““Novelly” Challenged: Rewriting a Story I Don’t Know How to Tell”

What We Can’t (and Can) Do with Time



We can’t manipulate it, freeze it or slow it down. We can’t skip it, not literally; we can’t hit fast forward to get through the bad parts or get to the good stuff. It is constant. Yet we can’t predict, in these identical seconds, minutes, hours or days what will happen with every tick of the clock.

Time is my worst enemy. Sometimes I feel like I have too much; sometimes, not nearly enough. It’s completely different now that I work full-time (not that I’m ungrateful to have a job, having graduated with an English degree and all). I don’t have homework, but when I do finally come home at six after leaving at seven in the morning … nothing else usually gets done. Which leads to worry and sleeplessness … which is awful time wasted. Really.

In college, we’re supposed to master time management. Apparently. Yet my senior year, I was still up until three finishing a research paper the day it was due … once, only once, I swear. Now I have my own side projects outside of work, which is obviously self-inflicted, but seriously, where do grown-ups get all their ‘extra’ time from? I fall asleep on the train, both ways. If I drink any more coffee, I’m going to give myself permanent tachycardia at 22. Not on my bucket list. Anywhere.

You could argue that I don’t need to write a book, or read “Game of Thrones” or apply to graduate school (even though I can’t afford it). I don’t need to write a weekly blog post for all 2.5 of you to read, or vlog back-and-forth with my now long-distance best friend. Yet I want to do all of these things.

If we’re going to enjoy the time we do have – whether we feel like we have a lot of it or not so much – it can’t always be about what we need to do.

We need food, and social interaction, sleep (sigh) and a place to call home. Life is full of necessities. But what about the extra things – things we often don’t think that much about – like the shows we watch on Netflix (cough cough “Friends”) or the ‘just for fun’ books we read on the weekends? I could go the rest of my life never having made it through one of the GoT books. But I want to read them. It’s my time to relax. To do what I want.

Weekends are hard, now. I look forward to them all week, especially my weekly Starbucks reward. Then Sunday night comes, and I realize I haven’t had time to finish everything on my list. That’s when I wrestle with the time I feel I’ve wasted, the time I spent sleeping, thinking, eating, breathing, hoping, dreaming, wondering. Where’s the ‘doing’?

Time is so easy to lose track of. We get lost in reading a book, or maybe writing one of our own. We get caught up in conversations, in daydreams, in the scenery that passes by our window. There’s a lot we can’t do with time. One thing we can do? Make the most of it.

I spend a little time every day reading, and writing, sleeping and working toward my goals. Day to day, it never feels like I’m accomplishing anything, and for me, that’s frustrating. I am a control freak; I have always, and will probably always have, issues with that. But looking at the big picture, glancing back at all I’ve done, all that time seems worth it. I’ve written most of one book, been brave enough to start over, and have loved every moment of crafting this new version. I have survived over a month of real work, and have almost read seven books since this year started. So I’m moving forward. Slowly.

Time. It’s not infinite on an individual level. But it is, for every moment we do live, ours. What we do with it? That’s our choice.

I choose to face time. I don’t know where it will take me, but it will never push me backward. And that’s, almost, perfect.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

The Evolution of a Hunger (to Write)


I am not a great writer.

My resume might tell a different story; ask me if I have writing experience, and the proof is out there if you go looking for it. My blog archives span over a six-year time period (!). My Wrimo participation borders on maniacal.

As far as full-length “novels” go, I have completed, and possess proof copies of, four. (Side note: of those four, three were crafted during JulNoWriMo, may you rest in literary peace.) And these works don’t count the hundreds of articles my brain has tricked me into formulating for young adult audiences who like food and working out and want to become sophisticated, young professionals.

There has never been a phase of my life that did not somehow involve storytelling. Dancing tells a story through movement; art, through pictures. Stage performance slips you right into the middle of the action. And when I toyed with other potential career paths, in attempt to imagine an unpredictable future, I wrote about them, casting myself as the twenty-something main character.

I published my first creative writing piece my junior year of high school, the same year I participated in my first NaNoWriMo contest. It was a terribly structured realistic fiction piece, and Teen Ink didn’t even use my real name in the print issue. My creative writing teacher (in all seriousness, God rest his soul), was the one who introduced me to Teen Ink, and after my first two semesters enrolled in his class, hungry to improve upon my underdeveloped skills, I enrolled again the next year.

It was my three straight years of that creative writing elective that jumpstarted my “career,” and even though I swore back then I never wanted to be a journalist, in college, that’s essentially what I became. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write, and the more I wanted to write, the more that desire to create became a desire to create well.

So what’s with the curriculum vitae? Do you really care about the fictional love story I tried and miserably failed to “subtly” base on my life? (Please. Don’t.) You’ll never read the story a 2012 romantic drama totally ripped off of my book (I will continue to swear by it until they admit it), or the one about love and loss and Starbucks baristas. Or the one about bees (and songs about math). But maybe you’ll eventually find my current project on a back shelf in Barnes & Noble. It won’t be the best book ever written. It won’t win a Nobel or be made into a movie. But it’s better than a story I might have written 10 years ago.

I am not a great writer. But I’m better than I used to be.

Some things have not changed. I am still terrified that no one will ever like what I write. I’m still self-conscious about my dialogue, and even though I’m much more careful about the words I use, sometimes I still don’t feel they’re exactly right.

What has changed, over time, is my hunger to tell stories. You don’t have to limit yourself to fiction, either; in my literature classes in college, I analyzed the most obscure themes I could find, tying the complexity of a language back to an element I admired. Those authors challenged me to put a new spin on old literary methodology, to write not because I’m always looking for someone else to read it, but because there are stories that need to be told. If I happen to be the one to write some of them and share them with readers, fine. If not, I’m content entertaining myself.

The ability to write, and write well, is not a “gift” or even a “talent.” I was not born with this ability. Neither were you. I’ve had to try, fail, study, practice, fail again, and have had a multitude of minor successes go miserably unrecognized. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Over time, my life as a writer has evolved. And not without effort. I’ve had to train myself to believe I am in tune with the rhythm of language because I have worked so many years to recognize the beauty within its complexity.

If you think writing is hard, you are not wrong in your assumptions. It is exhausting. It can take hours to revise a single chapter. And to write the original draft, that takes bravery, because ideas come to you that are uncomfortable, and upsetting, but they come to you because they need someone who will dare to put them on paper. Even the exciting, brilliant ones aren’t always that easy to put into words. It is a constant challenge. I am constantly afraid that the hours I spend intertwined in the worlds of my characters will be hours wasted.

But they won’t be. Because above all else, what the past six years have taught me is this: if it makes you happy, if you lose yourself in it, if you’re not the best but that doesn’t bother you, then you would be foolish to ever think of letting it go.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

This Is the Most Terrifying Moment In a Writer’s Life


Sometimes when we write, we throw caution aside without a second thought. In that moment, we are invincible, our minds immersed in a world no one else can invade or criticize. We are the gods of our own literary universes, creating exactly what we want, when and why we want it.

Sometimes we sit back and realize what we once thought was a brilliant string of narratives, which we hoped would eventually form at least a mediocre masterpiece, is actually a disaster. One you can’t fix just by changing a few thousand words.

That’s why I’m starting over. Continue reading “This Is the Most Terrifying Moment In a Writer’s Life”

Excerpt: “Immiscible” (Working Title), December 10, 2014

An excerpt from the first book in a yet-to-be-published (or finished) series, telling the story of a society obsessed with achievement and aversion of emotional attachment.

I stand in the doorway for a moment, suddenly hesitant. The walls are painted vibrant colors – neon yellow, sky­blue, bright green, orange, purple – not like the rest of the walls in this building, solid white or grey. The walls also have pictures hanging on them: paintings I recognize from history of art class.

It pulls you in. It makes you want to sit down, stay awhile.

I’m not here to stay. I’m here for answers. Continue reading “Excerpt: “Immiscible” (Working Title), December 10, 2014″

The 30,000-Word Slump: A NaNoWriMo Horror Story

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbWell, fellow Wrimos, it’s that time of November again. Not just National Novel Writing Month. Not just literary insanity mixed with sleep deprivation, caffeine over-consumption and thinking we hear our characters talking to us out loud (they’re not). It’s the time to be brave, to face our biggest fears, to finally gain temporary control over our setting, plot and characters (though not necessarily in that order). It’s time to fight the battle we’ve been dreading since typing out our first word.

It’s time to plow through our 30,000th word. Continue reading “The 30,000-Word Slump: A NaNoWriMo Horror Story”

The Halfway Mark: Family Ties, Trust Issues and a Murder-in-Progress


No thought is more conflicting than, “Do I really have to kill off this character, too?”

Except the honest answer: “Yes.”

It’s Friday. I have coffee. I have 25,000 words (plus a few hundred more). And I still have no plan for anything that comes between here and the end of this book, other than one mysterious murder, a few plot twists and a few potential cliffhangers to launch us straight into Book 3.

Oh yes. I’m THAT kind of writer.

Halfway through my 50,000-word journey, and therefore halfway through November, I have yet to establish some form of order and/or dictatorship over my characters. They went along with me as I wrote Book 1, but they’re a bit more bold in their hopes and desires for the future of their story as I write Book 2. I have no idea what they’re planning. I think I’m okay with that.

I think. Continue reading “The Halfway Mark: Family Ties, Trust Issues and a Murder-in-Progress”

What to Do When You Have No Clue Where Your Novel is Headed

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbThere are people out there who need to plan out at least the major plot points of their novel before they start writing. I have a deep respect for these people, because writing is the only part of my life that is completely spontaneous.

You’re shocked. I know.

I am a Type A, list-obsessed, always-needs-to-be-early perfectionist. I was the freshman who showed up to her first college classes 30 minutes before the class before mine had even let out. I fill out my planner in the form of task lists, not special events or reminders. I will literally stop reading a post or article on a web site if it has a spelling or grammar error.

Don’t get me wrong or label me a blog snob. My blog probably has typos all over the place. I’m a perfectionist. I’m not actually perfect.

That all being said (er, written), you would think sitting down every morning, opening the precious document that contains my novel and “winging it” would drive me up the wall. But the thing is, it doesn’t. And not having a solid plan, only a few fuzzy plot points and an indefinite ending up there somewhere in my head, is probably what keeps me averaging about 2,000 words per day.

Is making slow progress on a story, without a preset plan, terrifying? Of course. And that’s exactly why I keep writing it. Continue reading “What to Do When You Have No Clue Where Your Novel is Headed”

12,000 Words: A Traitor, a Dying Man, and Graduation Practice

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbQuestion: How do you, as the author of your novel-in-progress, maintain control of your setting, characters and plot line as the story within your head unfolds?

Answer: You don’t.

There are a few major differences between reading a book someone else wrote and sitting down to write your own. Surprisingly, though, there are also some similarities. Like when you suddenly realize your absolute favorite character in the whole story is about to die, and you cannot contain your despair, even though you know it’s just a book.

But it’s NOT just a book. For that span of time it takes you to read or write that story, it’s your LIFE.

Characters, like real people, have minds of their own. While this might seem a bit wacko on the surface from a writer’s point of view (after all, you’re the one writing the story, you’re ALWAYS in control, aren’t you?), I can honestly say I’ve never written an entire book without writing a scene or adding in at least one plot twist that I hated. It makes sense from the view of the reader: authors play with readers’ emotions on purpose. But a character isn’t really “alive.”

Or are they? Continue reading “12,000 Words: A Traitor, a Dying Man, and Graduation Practice”