The Woes of a Writer

Why am I made to feel like a failure for not having a job? Why am I judged for following my passions? Every day, I work towards making my dreams a reality and yet because I’m not earning an income, nobody seems to agree with what I’m doing. Some people probably think that I’m taking advantage of my girlfriend – that it is unfair that she has to work and I don’t – but I didn’t create these circumstances. If there were jobs out there, then I would take one and help contribute to the household. I have done this before and I would happily do it again.

I truly admire my girlfriend for keeping a roof over our heads. When she gets frustrated with her job, I feel her pain because it dismays me when she is upset. Yes, the situation is unfair, but I can’t pluck a job out of thin air. And the last three times that I’ve landed myself a job, I haven’t even passed the probation period… what does that tell you? Dare I say that I’m not suited to certain working environments? Is it so wrong that I thrive best when I am my own boss creating my own work? Traditional employment has not worked out well for me so far, so where is the harm in me exploring other options?

Many people would tell me to grin and bear it, just because that’s what everyone else does… but I refuse. I refuse to submit to something that goes against my way of life. Sure, I might get jobs to help pay for the bills, but I will never give up on my dreams. My heart will never be invested in workplace politics and mundane tasks. There is a reason that I keep failing my probation and it has nothing to do with how much effort I put in (because I always give 100%, even when my heart isn’t in it)… the reason they keep letting me go is because I’m not suitable.

So why would I want to apply for certain jobs that I know I’m not suited to, just because they’re available? Must I apply for every job vacancy just because it’s a job? Will I only succeed in life once I become employed? Somehow, I get the impression that I will only be viewed as successful once I have a job, no matter what the job happens to be. And even if I become a published author, then I strongly suspect that some people still wouldn’t acknowledge my success, as it wouldn’t fit in with their ideas about traditional employment. But that doesn’t matter because I plan on following my dreams anyway.

Life is short, my friends! Do what you can with the time that is given to you. If you have a hobby or a passion, then don’t neglect it. I usually don’t care much for the opinions of others (especially those of naysayers) but occasionally, a narrow-minded remark can slip through your defenses, which is why I produced this angry rant. For those of you that can relate to my frustration, know that you are not alone. The problem lies not with you, but with the way that society works. Our greatest challenge in life is being ourselves in a world that wants us to be like everyone else… ignore the judgement of others and take the path that’s right for you.

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Coming up with characters

When people rave about a book, it’s usually about the characters.

The characters are the most important element of the story, so it’s important to get them right. The plot is important too, but it’s the characters who drive the plot. If you don’t have realistic three-dimensional characters, then the plot feels contrived and forced. Good characters help to create the illusion that the narrative is unfolding naturally. But how do you create these vibrant characters?

What I personally do is take elements from people I have encountered – either in the real world or other works of fiction – and mold them into an interesting character. If you’re already familiar with the type of people that you’re writing about, then it’s easier to breathe life into them. Authors are encouraged to write what they know, and I would definitely encourage you to do that with your characters. There are many different types of people in this world, both good and bad, so take inspiration from everyone that you meet. Your characters will ring true if they are drawn from your own personal experience, even if your story is set in a different world.

There are many things to consider when coming up with characters. What’s their name and what do they look like? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Their motivations and goals? While it’s good to consider all of these things, I try to let my characters form organically before I start putting them into boxes.

And before you begin to write, I recommend that you at least know the basics about your characters. Know enough information so that you can proceed with the story without having to stop every five minutes to ponder over what a character might say or do. As I like to map out my narrative in advance, I always have a basic framework of how the story is going to pan out, which means that I usually know my characters quite well before I get started. But regardless of whether you like to plan or simply go with the flow, you will definitely get to know your characters better as you go along.

Art is never finished, only abandoned

These wise words were spoken by Leonardo da Vinci.

At some point, we all must say goodbye to our project, whether it be a book or a painting or anything else that you might have created. There is always the danger (especially for the perfectionists among is) that we will keep on polishing our projects forever, because it can be scary to announce that something is finished. You want to do everything you can to ensure that your masterpiece is perfect before you send it off into the world, where it will face the judgement and scrutiny of others.

But there is no such thing as perfection. Perfection is an ideal – something that can never be attained – because everyone has a different opinion on what constitutes perfection. So there’s no point chasing perfection because everything is imperfect. Of course, you want your project to be presentable and outstanding (who doesn’t want their work to be amazing?) but at some point, you have to move on.

Recently, I finished the third draft of my first book. After the major corrections were done, I nitpicked with grammar and punctuation for a while, but I eventually called it a day. In theory, I could have carried on redrafting forever, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I had to accept that “art is never finished, only abandoned” (thanks Leonardo) and finally say goodbye to my project.

It can be particularly difficult to move on if you’ve spent months (or even years) working on something. Nevertheless, life goes on. You must be brave and let your baby go. Soon enough,  you will find something new to take under your wing.

Hooray!! My second book is DONE!

After six accumulative weeks of writing, it’s finished!

Even though I knew that I was approaching the end, it only properly sunk in once I wrote the last sentence. I then realised that I have written two books in the space of a year, which is quite the achievement methinks.

Compared to the first book (which took eight months to write), I bashed out this latest yarn in no time! This is partially because the story is quite close to home, but also because my productivity has greatly improved. In all honesty, I am very relieved that this book took less time to write, as I would like to churn out as many books as I can during my lifetime! I have lots of ideas in the pipeline, so it would be nice to breathe life into them all.

But as most writers know, it would be impossible to develop every idea. There are simply far too many – ever-growing in number – and they can threaten to distract you from your current project. However, I have very good tunnel vision so I always give me full focus to my current project.

Now that the second book is done, I am sure that my next project will present itself to me. Out of my idea bank, I always go with the idea that naturally develops in my head… the one that resonates with me the most. At the moment, I’m developing a fantasy series, but another idea may well jump the queue in the meantime.