Can’t concentrate!

 

With everything that is going on in my life, I think I’m doing a good job with my writing and reading schedule. At  least I hope I am.

What bothers me is that I know I can do much better than this … but how can I concentrate and totally immerse on my books when so much is going on around me? Other thing that bothers me: those “events” that disturb my concentration are out of my control and still I wish I could do something …

Let me explain a little of what I’m talking about: I moved from US to Brasil in May 2009. In November 2009, my husband had been promised to go back to US in November 2010—it’s July 2011 and we’re still waiting. And we’ve been living in between 2 houses (2 hours apart) for the last 17 months (too long to explain why now).

There are times things seem to progress and our hopes go up. Yes, we’ll go back to US! Then, other things happen, or nothing happens at all, and we loose hope and start talking about staying … See, staying in Brazil is not bad. We are Brazilians, our family is here and we love the food … but we adapted too well to living in the US. We made good friends. We miss it terribly!

Moving up and down and all around, not having my organized writing space and a normal routine, makes me crazy and spoils my concentration.

I feel like my life is pending …

There were times when I was super focused on my book, really pleased with what I was writing, then something would happen, some news would come and ruin my day … and my writing!

I’ve written 2 manuscripts this year so far. I dropped 2 others because I lost interest in them—I think so many things happened while writing them that it messed with my mojo. And I lost the inspiration to write them.

I know I’m capable of more than 2 manuscripts in 6 months—and that bothers me!  I could have written 3 or 4 if I had my own desk, my own corner, one home and no travelling around, and not expecting life-changing news.

I know my life will never be smooth and calm and perfect. Nobody’s life is. Everyone is always complaining and wishing for more. Otherwise, where would be the fun in living if everyone was static and satisfied, right?

But this indecision—going, not going, move to a new apartment, not move, talk about staying, not talk, etc—drives me crazy. I like more regularity, more stability. In the last 7 years, we’ve moved 5 times! That’s just too much …

I’ve been trying to win my anxiety over … I’ve been trying to make tea (I love coffee but try to avoid it), turn the music on and loud (I can’t do anything without music), and just write … even if I’m not in the mood, even if an upsetting news has just been delivered, even if my head is spinning …

Unfortunately, I don’t always succeed.

But I’ll never stop fighting.

And when this situation settles down—when I find out if we’re really moving to the US or staying here and choosing only 1 house—my anxiety and concentration will be under control … and that will make me very happy, cause it’ll mean I’ll be able to write more and more =)

 

Cheers,

The Terrifying First Blank Page

 

 

I started a new story last week.

Each time I start a new story, with that first blank page staring at me with its terrifying brightness (laptop screen!), I feel like I can’t do it. I can’t write anymore.

How do I start? What if my story is lame? What if my first pages are trash? What if my characters are not intriguing and relatable?

And the possibilities? Gosh, it’s endless. You can right ANYTHING about ANYTHING! For example, you could write about a polar bear who lives in a suburban house in the middle of humans–and that would be normal in your story. And he has a porcupine girlfriend who is a socialite and hate animals. The polar bear could love to cruise in his convertible and do a little magic in which he makes coke bottles appear (coke ads?). Then, a comet could crash right in his backyard and little aliens could come out of it. You see? ANY crazy shit could happen. It’s your imagination, after all …

Anyway, back to the topic …

Then, I think my writing is not that wonderful yet, that I should take more workshops, watch more webminars, read more books about writing. If I surrender to that, I won’t ever write. There are too many books about writing out there, too many websites giving tips and promising to make you a better writer … If I let myself believe I’m not ready and postpone my writing because I think it’s not ready and I need to study before actually writing, then it sure won’t ever be.

My writing will only get better once I start writing. To become a better writer, I must write, write, write, read, read, read, write, write, write and so on. And, even when my manuscript is ready and good to be published, I won’t be done. My writing, like any other writer’s, will keep evolving and getting better forever.

Did you ever notice how the Harry Potter books get thicker and thicker and thicker? It’s not only the complexity of the plot. It’s the fact that J.K. Rowling got better at writing each time she wrote her books. And it’s easy to notice her writing improving from book one to book two to book three … At least I noticed it (perhaps only one with a writer’s mind would notice that?).

So, after a few moments of panicking while staring at the first blank page of a new project, I shake it off and just write … whatever scene comes to mind, or, if I have a set outline, I try to follow that … later, I come back and tweak the beginning since it won’t be terrifying anymore.

And, once I get started and move past the second page, I relax and my writing comes out naturally …

… till the next first blank page!

Cheers,

Reading: June

 

Like I said on a previous post, June was more of a reading month to me. Yes, most of the reads were short (novellas or such), but, anyway, I read more than I normally do.

NOTE: this is not a review. I don’t review books that I read. Not here at least. On my Goodreads page you’ll find the rating I gave each of them, but not a detailed review.

 

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I picked this one because I saw it on agent Mandy Hubbard’s post that most publisher’s would like to have a book like that on their list. And because it was high fantasy–I love high/epic fantasy.

It was a very, very good read, but I guess that, because many publishers wanted it, it was going to be even better. I guess I was too expectant for this one. But I highly recommend it!

Now, I need to read the second one: Fire.

Kristin Cashore

 

Eternity Embraced by Larissa Ione

I picked this one from Amazon’s short stories list. I was thinking about writing more short stories and went looking for some.

Very nice. It made me want to read the rest of the series. (Technically this one is book 3.5, but you don’t need to read the first 3 before reading this one.)

Hot short read =)

Larissa Ione

 

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

As I’m still trying to squeeze “writing” books in between my reads, I chose this one, especially since I think my editing skills are terrible.

Good book. Good points. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do a decent editing and revising after having reading it =)

Dave King

Renni Browne

 

 

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

After almost 17 years, I reread The Princess Bride. This time in English (the first one was in Portuguese).

I remember how I found out about the book: I saw the movie on a cheap TV programming and my mother told me she had the book. I froze. Really? Was there a book about the movie? Wow! (I was ten years old, give me a break!). Of course, I read it.

And, a few days ago, I was perusing my TBR list and bumped into it. Ah, I missed it and decided it was time to reread it.

William Goldman

 

The Alchemist (O Alquimista) by Paulo Coelho

Well, now it’s going to be an embarrassing moment. I’ll confess something: I was never a fan of Paulo Coelho. In fact, I never even tried to read one of his work.

I remember being a kid and simply disliking him. Seriously. Just don’t ask me why I didn’t like him. I don’t know. And I grew up with that. Not liking him.

Then, now that I’m trailing the arduous path of an aspiring author, I thought “Well, it’s time to read Paulo Coelho.” Can you imagine if someday I’m slightly known and people ask me about the famous Brazilian writer, if I like him, which one of his masterpieces did I read … and I’ll say “none.” People will ask “But you’re Brazilian like him, how come YOU NEVER read anything written by him?”

So, I bought a Portuguese copy of The Alchemist.  Yes, in Portuguese. I confess I prefer English to Portuguese, but, since the piece was originally written in Portuguese and it’s my first language, I gave it a try.

And the result was completely the opposite of Graceling.

I was expecting to push me through the read, cause it would be boring and philosophical and massive and I wasn’t up for this kind of reads. I didn’t need any psychology or self-help book in my hands at the moment.

Boy, was I wrong!

I read it in less than two hours. Yes, it’s a short book, but even so! I even cried at the end!

I LOVED IT! God,  how it is wonderful to be wrong! Totally unexpected and heartwarming!

Paulo Coelho

 

Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

I also picked this one  for being shorter (novella length) …

It was a very good, steamy, quick read. I already put Kaye’s other book, Forever Freed, on my TBR list. Yum!

Laura Kaye

 

Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet by Stacia Kane

Self-explanatory.

I’ve been reading (not on purpose) lots of novels/novellas in which sex scenes are more detailed. And I’ve been thinking: it must not be that easy to write about it like that. Perhaps I should try and include scenes like that, instead of just letting the “camera” drift away during those very important parts.

If I succeed, I’m sure this book is one of the reasons. Very good.

Stacia Kane

 

For Love of an Angel by Rosalie Lario

The idea of this novella was/is unique. At least I thought it was. And I loved Michael and his kind. I wanted to be one of them. Seriously.

I’ll certainly read the rest of the series =)

Rosalie Lario

 

Hum, eager to see what next month will bring to my reading table!

Good readings!

Cheers,

 

Writing time vs. Reading time

 

 

I came across Nathan Bransford’s post about Writing Time vs. Reading Time … and that got me thinking …

May was a writing month to me … while June was a reading one.

Well, June is not over yet, but I barely wrote–anything new at least. I did work on my book (a lot), with edits and revision and I’ve been working with an editor, and, while she revises my manuscript, I decided I should catch up with my reading. My to-read list is enormous and it gets bigger and bigger by the minute …

Though, what got me thinking was the reading time … I’ve been following some very interesting and informative people and organizations in Twitter and they post links to articles they wrote or read. And, if it sounds interesting, I open it up and read it.

I also follow many blogs and most of them post new articles daily.

Then we have emails, news (which I read online), and other social media (facebook, goodreads, orkut, etc).

And books. We all read books, don’t we?

So, with so much reading to do, is there time to write? Ah, yeah, that’s a good question.

Internet and social media made our lives easier … I shop mostly online, I do all kinds of research, search maps and places, watch new music videos by my fave bands and singers … I got to reconnect with friends I had not seen for many, many years! And I also follow my favorite writers and talk to readers and fellow aspiring authors and much more. It’s fast, easy and fun!

But it’s also easy to get carried away and forget about time when surfing the net …

As a writer, it’s necessary to turn off the internet for a few hours each day, literally, otherwise I won’t get any writing done. And that’s good because, when I get engaged in my story, I write really fast (in a good day, I can get about 8k words … but that’s for another post).

Also, I need time to read the books in my long to-read list, after all, a good writer is also a good reader.

 

And you? How do you balance your “reading” time and your writing (or your job, if you’re not a writer)?

 

Cheers,

Hi! I'm Juliana Haygert,

USA Today Bestselling Author.

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