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I don’t want an “A” for effort

I set unbelievably hard goals for myself.  I know this.  I do it on purpose.  These goals, like writing 50,000 words in a month (not including school work), or finishing an entire novel in a year, or editing at least five pages a day, are all intentionally just out of reach.  This way, I have to work.  I can’t let myself get lazy and procrastinate when I have slightly unrealistic goals set for myself.

I succeeded in my first unrealistic goal.  50,000 words were written in the span of 30 days, thus creating the (very) rough draft of what will hopefully become my debut novel.  The other goals since… let’s just say close, but no cigar.  But that’s okay.  I just set a new goal and aim for that one, working even harder than I did before.20170324_175156

But life happens (and by life, I mean school, because at this stage, school is life), and my goals get pushed further and further back.  My goal to have this novel finished by December 31st of last year did not happen.  My new goal was January… then February…  Now it’s the end of April, with a check point of my last “major changes” read-through ending by February 28th.  I can only work hard and hope I can make this goal, mostly because I am getting impatient, frustrated, and excited.

I’m tired of having to keep pushing my goal finish-date back further and further because I can see the potential in this book and I just want it to be done already.  Hopefully I’ll be able to slow down and keep my impatience at bay, but at the same time, the end is in sight.  I am sprinting toward the finish line now, so I hope the finish line does not get further away.

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The ever-looming question:

“What’s your book about?”

This is the question that no author can ever escape.  What’s so hard about that?  I’ll tell you what.  It’s the largeness of that question that, many times, the one posing the question does not recognize.  They leave it up to me to know what kind of answer they are looking for.  I could answer with my genre and general plot outline, or I could give them my purpose regarding form and subject matter relating to my audience.  Or there’s the option of only describing my characters, since they are essentially what the story is about.

How I typically answer is a weird combination of the three, unless I know the person and what they intend by asking The Question.

Despite this difficulty, this phenomenon got me thinking: What is my book about?

I mean, I know what it’s about and I know who my characters are, perhaps a little too well.  But what is my purpose for writing?  Am I just telling a story, or is there some other message I am trying to get across?  Teachers say there’s always a “hidden message,” but that’s not always true.  Am I one of those writers or not?

I don’t have answers to these questions right now.  I know I want to give Young Adults something of quality to read, but what does that mean for my writing?

I’ll find out one of these days, but for now, I will be okay with not knowing all the answers.

From Stress to Published

If I’ve learned one thing this week, it’s that stress always pays off.  Sure, I might stress out more than most people, and sure, that might result in my immune system giving up a little and letting a terrible cough inhabit my throat, but something good has come from it nonetheless.

I am so thankful for all the friends I’ve continued to grow closer with while here, as well as my friends and family back home that keep me encouraged.  I would not have made it this far without them.

With the help of a lot of tea and coffee, some gluten free lemon cake, and some very awesome friends, I got through this week alive and with a lot to show for it, including a presentation, two papers, a full day of novel-ing, and a very exciting email.

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Magical things just kind of happen here.

This week has been highly overwhelming emotionally, but not entirely in a bad way.  As of this week, I am officially published in a real life book.  I have two poems in a compilation titled, “Kentucky’s Best Emerging Poets.”  I have always been a writer, but this exciting moment will begin my career as a published writer.

It has been an insanely amazing journey and I cannot wait to see where else it takes me.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who has got me this far and those who continue to encourage and support me, including friends, family, teachers, and other authors, but above all, I thank God for this breath-taking opportunity.

P.S.  If any of you are interested, the link to pre-order the above-mentioned collection of poetry can be found here.  It officially comes out around April 10th, but pre-orders open Monday (February 19, 2018).  If you use the link above, I will be able to earn my first ever commission, so if you are interested, please be sure to order through that link.

 

 

I wish I could time travel.

Not just to go back to major historical events and witness them for myself (and try really hard not to create a paradox, but probably do it anyway), but I wish I could time travel because managing my responsibilities would just be so much easier.  At least in theory.  For example, if I was a clever time traveler, I could have gone to Ireland this weekend, as well as been just as productive as I wanted to be.  Guess which one of those things actually happened this weekend.

20180209_123949.jpgYep.  I went to Ireland.  And I have no regrets whatsoever.  Except perhaps the two papers I have due this week and the looming task of my novel that tends to eat at my perfectionist mind.  But other than that, no regrets at all.

Ireland was amazing, to say the absolute least.  Seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity College perhaps changed my entire view of the history of literature and artifacts.  St. Patrick’s Cathedral tried really hard to convert this protestant soul (it failed, but it tried).  Giant’s Causeway and the Cliffs of Moher did a spectacular job of showing me the beauty of God’s creation.  But in the wake of all that diverse, stunning beauty, I am overwhelmed by the real world and it’s demands.  Or, more truthfully, the demands I place on myself.

This is where my planner comes in handy, yet it is not perfect.  I cannot organize away responsibility, nor can I time travel it away.  I will take a deep breath, get an extra shot of espresso in my mocha, and get to work, because what else can I do?

Too bad I can’t go back to Ireland.

What is “Bullet Journal?”

I’ve been seeing things online about bullet journals for a while, but I would just scroll past, dismissing it as some sort of fad. That is, until today, when the need for a new organizational system (and even more, a need to do something productive today) came upon me. Then I said, what the heck? It’s worth a shot. I’m just watching a marathon of Shakespeare plays and I don’t want to do real homework, so why not?

Planner
Before…

I’ve always been a fairly organized person and this aspect of my personality heightened when I entered college. The almost-obsessive part of me has a need for a perfect organization of to-do’s, homework assignments, and ideas. My planner and my flash drive are both my life and they both exhibit these qualities.

But as I get further into developing my (dare I say) career in writing, as well as juggling school and travel and friends, I find myself needing to organize more and more things, a number of which do not have a home in my beloved planner. So, while watching Hamlet and drinking a new kind of tea (it’s called Vanilla Sundae and it is amazing), I decided to delve into this new world of “the bullet journal.”

Planner 2
….During…

I’m not entirely sure if I like this system yet. My perfectionist-esque qualities scream internally at the possibility of needing to add things to a certain list and then running out of space and having to squish things into the margins, making it no longer pretty and neat. Other than that, though, I’m liking this. I love lists. Lists are great, and this allows me to have many, many lists without having to add a multitude of post-its to my planner pages. I can also color-code and doodle and be creative while also being organized, which is the ideal.

We shall see where this adventure takes me as I try this out. Wish me luck.

Planner 3
…And After!!

Ode to Being so Close You Can Taste it

How do I begin to describe this feeling? Like, I’m not even super close to finishing this novel, but I’m getting closer every day and maybe that’s what this is. “The end” becomes a little more realistic every day, but I can’t quite reach it. I haven’t exactly said what I want to say yet. I know what I want to say, but I can’t find the precise words to put on the page. I’m past the stage where just getting the gist down on paper is acceptable. I’m in the refining stage and it’s getting better, but I still cannot pin it down.

The last page is just barely out of reach.

Somehow, this applies to more than just writing my novel. I am so proud of my progress on it and how much it has taught me. It has taught me to write every day, even if it is just one crappy sentence. It has taught me to work hard and passionately, even when I don’t feel like it. It has taught me that word choice matters. And so does dedication. It has taught me how to care for so many different types of people. It has taught me about relationships between fictional people and real ones.

I started my study abroad journey about four weeks ago, and oddly enough, my novel has taught me more here than it has in the past year. Now, I’m not one of those people who believes in magical inspiration or anything like that, but I am a fan of situational irony and God-given miracles. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been able to crank through editing so many more pages than I ever could at home and I wasn’t sure why that was, but I partially understand now.

When I got here, to the ever-wondrous Harlaxton Manor, I knew very few people and I’m not the kind of girl who can make close friendships super quickly. So, like the end of my novel, some of these friendships I’ve made here are wonderful and great, but they are just out of reach. They are getting better and stronger every day, but not quite there yet.

Just like my writing, I cannot wait to see where one more day, one more week, one more semester, brings these friendships.

In a “Manor” of Speaking…

this place is Narnia.  Harlaxton Manor is just like that big old house the Pevensies go to in the countryside to escape the war.  It’s big and old and full of old and expensive things.  And magic.  I haven’t found any wardrobes quite yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised!  There are some secret passage ways, though.20180107_155931

It is more than the secret passages that take you to magical worlds.  It could be as simple as hopping on a bus or looking out the window.  Some people say they have no words to describe this place, but that isn’t my problem.  My problem is I have too many words, but every single one of them has to be put together in order to get the entire essence of the manor and I will never have the time to work it all out.  I can always try, but it will never be quite right.  20180105_121220

Here is attempt #1 out of many at describing Harlaxton Manor:

It feels like this beautiful, chilly old house goes back through the generations of my family and I am just now finding out about it.  It’s all so romantic, I can hardly believe I’m living it; that’s how all my dreams have felt since I was a kid.  Dresses and real toasts with real wine glasses and bagpipers playing Stephen Foster medleys and Great Halls with face-palming statues.  Full of secret passages and being perfectly okay whether you are alone or surrounded by people or both.

If only I could catch all the words flying around this manor and display them like beautiful, rare butterflies.  But I guess then, it wouldn’t be quite as magical if anyone could see it at any time.

London: A Writer’s World

Brand new year, brand new blog (kind of).  Welcome to a fresh spin on the typ20180113_105158ical writing commentary and enter into Celeste’s Travel Guide for Writers.

London, England is the home of some of the best writers of all time.  Shakespeare, Dickens, Doyle, and Yeats all called London home at one time or another.  It is neat to visit the “literary places” of London, like 221B Baker Street, but what I also found is it isn’t hard to see why London is such a good place for writers.

image1_editedThere is something about setting foot in the oldest building I’ve ever been in (White Tower at the Tower of London, built 1080 AD) and being in the same room as King George III’s entire library (British Museum) and seeing real life paintings by some of the greatest painters in history (National Gallery) that makes me want to create art for all eternity.  All of London makes me want to write forever.

The history etched into the sidewalks and the buildings and the mailboxes is the same as the sky: gritty and true, but full of the prettiest colors.

NaNoEdMo Revisited

At the beginning of this month, I set a goal of, instead of writing 1,667 words per day for NaNoWriMo, I would edit that much.  Well, it turns out, this is more time consuming than I thought.  That being said, my goal of having my novel finished by the end of 2017 still stands.  I am still working as hard as I can, but I have found that editing takes more time than writing a first draft.  I feel like I already knew that, but thought I could rise to the occasion.  Perhaps I still will.  nanowrimo

With all the projects and papers school is piling on me right now, though, I don’t feel like my 1,667 word editing goal is going to cut it.  But that’s okay.  Just because I don’t edit 50,000 words this month, that does not mean I have not made progress or that I’m not any closer to my original goal.  November is still for writing.