writing

My Writing Story

This week I’ve been really hitting the book tags on my blog so I thought today, I’d share a little of my writing journey and how I came to the realization that I wanted to be a novelist.

I’ve seen a lot of videos titled, how to know if you’re a writer but I’ve never clicked on them. It’s because deep inside myself, I feel it. Writing has been a strength for me, to express things that I couldn’t communicate. When I was younger, I had many trust issues concerning peers and I’ve never reached to that point where I feel fully able to confide in someone. I am now thankful for those lonely periods where I experienced a lot of pain, rejection. It’s what gave me my voice.

Here’s how it all started.

I’ve been writing my thoughts and feelings in journals for as long as I can imagine. The way I express myself isn’t very direct to a reader. There are parables, emphasis and much elaboration in how I feel. As I got older I lent bits of fiction to my feelings. At this point I didn’t think I could write a story,  I didn’t even know I was carving something out of nothing.

Like many readers and writers, I too lived within my imagination as a coping mechanism when my will to smile faded. I was a child who felt so deeply, and hurt so easily and I was disconnected from everyone around me. I felt misunderstood, and I still do.

From an early age, I’d look at a lot of movies. Sometimes I believe they thwarted the reality of love and relationships for me, but nevertheless, I became so engrossed with those movies, based mostly on love and also my books that stories began to take fruition in my mind.

I used to dream that one day I’d write a story like that and see it on a screen so I had this unrealistic dream of becoming a screenwriter. This is entirely different from being a novelist. Being a novelist is more of a struggle to me as I do better with dialogue and conversations.

During my teenage years, I started outlining stories… I even wrote a full story in a notebook in my last year of high school which I let one friend read, and she actually enjoyed it. If being a writer wasn’t such a world away from where I was at, I would’ve continued with my stories there.

After I left high school, I wrote books of poetry. I went through heartache, more rejection, I was emotionally disconnected from my family. I felt unsupported and pressured into studying things I didn’t want to study. Nevertheless I did it, because I had to follow norms, I eventually had to pay bills. I couldn’t just survive on a silly childhood dream.

There was a period of just work and university, I barely found time to read, the one thing that helped me throughout my life. I hadn’t even turned on the TV in two years. It was a horrible period in my life but the stories never left me. The worlds I’d build a decade before, the characters I’d molded, the lives they lived…it never left me.

Fast forward some years, where I’d now migrated, gotten married to a man who I believe could be my only true friend, and a kid later, I was better grounded in my life but still trying to figure out what I want to do personally with my life. I was searching for that part of myself that I never found. Did it mean going back to college? Did it mean settling again to do something I didn’t want to do?

It was through my daughter’s physical therapist that I learned about the world of self-publishing and it took me two years to even sit down in front of my computer and write. It’s been a year since I’ve started writing and outlining my story ideas, and it’s brought me self-fulfillment if anything. It’s my hobby, it’s my stress reliever. Do I wish I could do it as a career? Of course but the most important thing for me is, to read the very stories that took birth in my own head.

What roll does writing play in your life?

xo Kat

Start by Writing Simple Stories

Recently I have been so engrossed with writing techniques and listening to other people on Youtube share their writing journey or publishing journey. My eyes have opened quite a bit since I have started pursing writing full on. I have all of these stories in my head and the need to get them out is sometimes, painful. I go through these period where I feel like a failure because all of these ideas mean something but it’s hard to choose which one is the most epic. In the middle of writing something, I feel it mundane compared to what I know I can do. Deep down we know our potential, and we can only get there through hard work and diligence.

Last year when I started writing my first book-like piece, I was under the impression that to write something good one had to be over-the-moon smart but after hearing some of my most admired authors’ stories, I’ve started seeing writing from a different perspective.

I’d like to share something I’ve noticed, and also experienced to people who are pursuing writing, as a hobby or as a career. This is for beginners like myself and comments/tips are always appreciated on this blog!

There’s a Youtuber that I look at from time to time who shares writing tips. Said Youtuber has a self-published book out and I thought to myself, “Wow, her book must be something great if her tips are that great.” So I went over to amazon and downloaded a sample of her book and do you know what I found? Within the first few paragraphs I saw that she broke the very rules she was telling people not to break. Over usage of metaphoric descriptions, too much telling.

I’m not here to bash on another writer’s book, it simply wasn’t for me. But that’s not the issue. From what I gathered, this author had to build an entire world and characters in them, and it was quite a lengthy task. I myself, as a novice writer have many epic story ideas but I won’t pursue them quite yet.

Building worlds, and writing about other worldly elements is quite a difficult feat. So if you’re just starting off like I am, go simpler. Learn your craft before you tackle anything too hard. I think it was JK Rowling that said you have to get out all of that bad writing out before you find your voice. It’s like that saying, practice makes perfect. And no piece of writing is bad writing. Never delete your work. It came from a genuine place and it would project in your story. Anything you don’t like, can be fixed but never delete it.

Happy Writing! Leave me a comment to let me know how your writing process has been thus far 🙂

xo Coffee Doll

Outlining Your Story Helps You Write Better

Last year, I’d managed to finish two novellas without a particular process or schedule and since then I have been struggling with planning and completing stories. Every time I’d sit down and try to write complete mayhem broke out. In between normal life and daily duties, I could not utilize whatever spare time I had to write something of significance. I’m still struggling but I took time out to really study the writing process before jumping back into writing. So far, it’s been effective. I’m happy for myself, that I’ve recently started writing again, something that I just need to do.

I was under the impression that to be an author you had to be beyond intelligent and just know everything, that one can just sit down and write a perfect novel in one shot. When I started experiencing writer’s block despite knowing where I wanted my stories to go I realized that I needed to halt and revamp the way I approached writing. Dialogues are easy for me as I’ve always wanted to be a screenwriter since my tween days but it’s the details, descriptions and making my characters emote that I have the most trouble with. As my research progressed I learned that extensive research and planning goes into a story. At least for me, it was a new and different approach and one I decided to try out.

I did plan before but there were always holes in my story. I had the core idea, knew who my characters were and what was going to happen but it’s the how that hindered my progress. After trying to outline my story, I realized why I should’ve done this a long time ago. I consider myself very novice at writing but it’s something I love and I want to pursue so I had to get it right. I am still trying to get it right. So instead of just writing based on small notes I’ve made, I outlined an entire story from beginning to end and it felt almost as satisfying as completing a book. Bear in mind this is just the beginning. After completing a first draft, there’s lots of edits, formatting and modifying that needs to be done but I’ll elaborate on that more in another post.

Here’s how I outlined the story that I’m currently working on…

  1. OneNote. I came across this program, that’s free on all platforms by the way, called OneNote. It doesn’t save like a word document, it syncs and you’ll be able to access your work on multiple devices. Sometimes a thought might hit you and all you have is your phone on hand so I find this very useful if I quickly need to make a note or addition to anything. (I will create an entire post how I use OneNote for outlining and writing with pictures.)
  2. Writing Chapter Summaries. I used to write one entire synopsis and a few details here and there about scenes and dialogues that I already know I want in my story. I’ve started writing one liners about each chapter and it didn’t start in order. By the time I kept adding paragraphs to the one liners, I noticed my story tying together to make sense. (Note: If at this point your story sounds chaotic, worry not. It will tie together. Remember that this is just the beginning of it and your work will always be tweaked as fast as your ideas come along.) This is one thing I like about chapter summaries, if you feel like adding something different, it gives you room to work. Unlike just writing your book and half way through you realize that you need to redo the entire thing. So outlining your sub plots save you all of that. Once you’re satisfied with the outline, you can then begin to write.
  3. Character Profiles. Previously I would make a brief description of my characters such as dark hair, green eyes, tall, short…whatever their job was, who their family was. Sometimes I’d add new characters as I wrote and sometimes I’d want to take out a character that wasn’t making sense anymore but I couldn’t. So planning out my characters well and outlining the entire story, helps me know from the beginning which characters should be omitted as well as if I need to add a character somewhere down the line. I also ran into problems when I called my characters doctor or accountant and in the middle of the story I had to research details of their job descriptions. My advice is to research these details and any information about their jobs…note their likes, dislikes, behavior, families previous to writing. It has helped me in a big way so far.
  4. General Research. As much as us fiction writers make up a lot of details we still need extensive knowledge on how things in our stories function. For example a hospital…if a lot of our story is set in a hospital revolving around the people that work there, we’d have to know what goes there, who is in charge, their responsibilities, what equipment is placed in what department…things like that. You get the idea.
  5. Don’t leave holes. One of my biggest mistakes when planning a story, I’d leave out a lot of details thinking I’d polish it during the editing process. This causes more chaos that you’d think. Plan your scenes, and elaborate as much as you can before even beginning to write. It helps you write with a flow as you have noted exactly what you want to convey in that chapter.
  6. Sketch your Plot and Climax well. All stories have some sort of issue that needs to be dealt with which can either break or make your story. Make sure it’s a convincing and sensible one as well as your climax. I’ve read many books where the entire build up was brilliant only to have a rushed ending with an unconvincing plot. I’ve also written stories like this, sadly. So that’s why I feel it’s important to pay attention to your plots and sub plots along with the climax.

Thanks for reading! xo Coffee Doll

Introducing Super Short Story Sundays

If you’ve read a thing or two on my blog before you’ll see that I love to write. I try to write as much as I can but it doesn’t always work out the way I want it to. My family is first and foremost so sometimes my schedule doesn’t get to squeeze in writing. I am aspiring to write small books and self publish them, however I know I’m a novice and there is need for much improvement. Because most of my books are underway it’s hard to gather feedback for uncompleted work.

I had a thought a few weeks back about scheduling a super short story on my blog every Sunday to garner feedback from my blog readers and hopefully attract readers from social media sites. I am open to positive and negative criticism, advice, tips. Your comments will be much appreciated and met with a positive outlook. I will most likely be starting Super Short Story Sundays from next Sunday as I need time to plan what content I’m going to be working on. In the meantime, check out the stories tab on my homepage and look at what I’ve done for fun so far on my blog.

Thanks for reading! xo Coffee Doll

The Challenges of Writing Romance

I enjoy both reading, and writing in the romantic genre. I think my obsessions with a good romance started at an early age. The first trigger was Indian movies which I looked at quite a bit because of my mother and most of them were centered around romances. For some reason the library at my high school carried Mills and Boon novels and I fell into that very quickly. My fifteen year-old mind went places, if you know what I mean. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mills and Boons, they are a set of romantic books published by it’s parent company, Harlequin Enterprises. Most of what I read was set in a historical period and till date I enjoy reading romances set in the far past. Not everyone enjoys romances or its sub genres but I do. I love a happy ending, flawed characters that grow, the essence of drama and love. I love it all. One of my favorite authors as an adult is actually Nora Roberts. She’s my hero when it comes to reading romance. Her books usually have strong characters and suspense or a little mystery so it dramatizes very well.

And because I enjoy this genre so much, a lot of ideas or plots that take birth in my head end up materializing into a romantic story. I have plotted and outlined so many of these romantic story lines and even though I can almost always see the ending, it’s hard to complete. It may seem like an easier genre to write compared to sci-fi, fantasy or crime fiction but it comes with it’s own challenges. If you run into similar problems or have any input, please feel free to drop me a line in the comments.

  1. Creating subplots. The template for most romance stories are similar. Boy meets girl or girl meets boy and they instantly click or click over time. The thing that would separate your story from another writer’s story is your subplots. Both or one of the main characters will need an issue to resolve.
  2. Repetition. Romances are a difficult genre to write because much of what we fantasize or dream about has already been written. It’s unnerving when you question every dialogue, every scene.
  3. Creating Interesting Characters. The earlier romances that I read had weaker female characters who suddenly came into thier own after finding love. In more recent times we see stronger female characters. I often find I write bland characters and need to make them do something drastic or have an annoying quality to appear more engaging to a reader.
  4. The Problem & Climax. Every book, romance or not needs a problem in order to reach the climax. The problem needs to be engaging and convincing enough for readers to want to get to the climax. I’m left doubting my work more than I would like to. The climax also has to be a suiting one. For example, not all love stories have a happily ever after ending. It all comes down to the fear I have of disappointing readers. I’ll talk more about that in a separate post why that’s not a great idea.
  5. Simple love or sexy love. When it comes to writing erotica, I’m still having a hard time. I am uncomfortable with writing intimate details, for the fact that I won’t allow my parents to read something with adult content. I’m also a sucker for back in the day romances…you know the kind with love letters and chivalry. It’s difficult when I sit down to write and all that’s playing in my head is “Clean or dirty.” I wish so many stories didn’t call for it, unfortunately it does.

Thank you for reading! xo Coffee Doll

Where Do You Get Your Writing Ideas?

Where do you get your ideas?

Not very often I might be engaged in a conversation with another human, and I might reveal the fact that I write stories. Mostly it won’t be an interesting topic for them and they’ll likely move on but sometimes I get asked, “What do you write about?” My tongue gets caught for a moment because, while I do have a lot of ideas, I have been writing romance for the past year and people react strange when I say this. I’m focused on romance currently because it’s easier to navigate through the story and less research goes into it compared to my fantasy and thriller ideas. Those take quite a bit more planning and may take years to complete.

The question that follows the first one is, “Where do you get your ideas?” or “How do you come up with these ideas?” It seems unnatural to people who don’t see a story in every feature of their day, and sometimes it surprises me. What do non-writers even think about? I don’t know anymore. The moment I made the commitment to become a storyteller, most of my spare thoughts are focused on my characters or plot.

By the time I brush my teeth in the morning I have three or four things to write down that I may or may not use in a story. By the time I drop my kid of to school, I’ve made about ten mental notes to explore with an idea.

My ideas come from everywhere, and everyone. I’ve always been observant about people and the way they are, fascinated by the things they do and what drives them. I don’t judge people based on anything whether it be race, religion, choices…and that’s a plus if you’re a writer because you can explore a character in a non-biased way. I don’t exactly copy anyone’s physical attributes or their demeanor but closely paying attention can help you shape your characters in a relatable way.

Story ideas are always brewing in my head. No process or major thinking goes into the core idea of a story. The hard work comes when the writing starts but plotting the story just happens and it can be triggered by anything. Any thought or action can bear fruit into an idea for a story. It’s how story telling works. If someone pisses you off write about them. If you feel an emotion deeply, use that also in your writing. Anything and everything is part of a story. I have this book that I literally label book idea #1, book idea #2 etc. I’m sure I won’t use all of it, but brainstorming for ideas and plots is one of the best things you can do to let your ideas run freely.

xo

I was jealous of your Grandma

Yeah, I really was. I think I’ve gotten over it now but it still stings a little. So flashback to twenty years ago…

I never knew either of my four grandparents. They had passed on by the time I was born so unfortunately I never even got to see them. I’d always hear the kids at school talk about their grandparents or even my cousins with grandparents who weren’t mine, and I thought, “Wow, it must be cool having a Grandma or Grandpa.”

Despite not having a Grandma or a Grandpa, I could tell they were a bonus parent. The same way your relationship with your parents are special, it’s special with grandparents too. I could see kids being really attached to a grandparent and I often heard about their relationships with their grandparents. I even saw it as many grandparents flocked to the school yard to pick up their grandchildren. Grandparents meant a lot to them, it was definitely something special to have…and I envied it.

I really wanted a Grandma or a Grandpa to run to when life wasn’t being fair. An extra person to spoil me, someone to take my side when my parents were being parents. I felt a little sorry for myself, and I still do, a little. It’s one of the things I really miss having in life, a grandparent. I guess a lot of people might take it for granted because they do have it, but since I never did and saw how amazing it looked like from the outside, a little part of me really cried for it.

Recently I thought about it again, and I haven’t gotten over it. I asked my husband about his grandparents and he had no shortage of words for the love they’ve showered on him and for how much he adored his grandparents. I love asking my mother about her mother, it’s heart warming to hear about the way she was, the things she liked or didn’t like. If you still have a grandparent around, just be nice to them okay…give them some love from a blogger…from me to them. Just love them and care for them, be patient with them as they were patient with us.

xo Coffee Doll

Reading As A Writer

One of the most basic things to know about writers are, they were first readers. Readers possess the ability to use their imagination to carve out what an author is conveying in his or her book. It’s truly a great relationship to be in when you delve into a good story, and your whole world revolves around it. It gives us a place to be, an escape…somewhere to belong.

I’ve always been a good reader, although my choices aren’t always literary. It sometimes borders on senseless entertainment but hey! reading is reading, right? It’s not too far into a book that I start appreciating a story unless it’s really not my cup of tea, then I won’t even finish it.

Lately I’ve been having trouble concentrating on the story alone as I’m picking up on writer things. I really have no other words for it at this moment, I’m in between sleep and a cup of coffee so bear with me. I’m noticing the use of words, new words and phrases, unique expressions by the author, the descriptive scenes in some books and the lesser descriptive scenes in other books. I try not to use it as a stencil for my own writing but it does broaden my perspective as in the creative world, you’re always learning and developing. There really is no end.

I find myself highlighting expressions I’ve never seen before or the writing style of the author instead of dreamy or deep quotes. I really learn from each piece of writing and it helps me enhance my own writing, I hope.

As a writer, you’ll also find things wrong with material that you’re reading. Not every published work is brilliant or to your tastes and you’ll feel the need to make a comment. Just remember to be constructive in your criticism 🙂

xo

 

The Guilt of Not Finishing A Book

Even though I know it’s not the truth, I still feel like the only failure in the world to not finish reading a book. I feel ashamed to disclose whatever reasons I may have for not completing an entire book. My reasons may be ridiculous to other people. I can’t begin to describe the feelings of unworthiness and incompetence as a reader when I leave a book unfinished, and I have no idea why I am like this. I mean, I’m comfortable with other ridiculous things that I do so why not this one?

Like I’ve said a billions times on this blog(that may be slightly exaggerated), I am a lover of storytelling. When I say this, it means I appreciate all stories. They’ve taken birth from somewhere special and was conveyed in a way that maybe we can’t always see fit but the author does see the magic in their writing. And that to me, is special. To us it may be easy to nitpick an author’s work but to them, they know why everything happened the way it did and why everyone is the way they are.

I do leave negative reviews in a sense. I don’t always love a character or a story line, or the unnecessary clutter in a book and I do elaborate on it in a review which is fine. It’s not blatant hate of an author, it’s just feedback. Yet I feel so guilt-ridden when I can’t finish the story or even care to know what happens.

Most recently was The Sun is Also  a Star by Nicola Yoon. I’m sure it was a fine book to the audience that it catered too. I felt like it would’ve been an interesting book after I heard a review on it but after a hundred or so pages, I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was just not for me. There’s still a niggling voice in my head that’s telling me I have to eventually finish this book, which I dread, but I may have to comply at some point.

xo Coffee Doll

A Day in the Life of a Diabetic Part 2

It’s seven a.m. and I’m faced with a dilemma. To eat or not to eat. I roll of the bed and start moving around. I look at the clock and it’s suddenly 7:18 a.m. I accomplish nothing important in eighteen minutes.

I’m thinking again, do I have a cup of coffee or do I risk a dizzy spell and get my preschooler to school early. I could never be one of those sprightly morning people, yet I do love getting things done early. My day seems to fit better.

I decide against the coffee before school drop off, and wake my four year old. I duck into the kitchen to warm milk for the baby before I wake her up. It saves me some wailing if it’s ready and waiting when she wakes up. I walk back into the kids’ bedroom and my firstborn is still fast asleep, ignoring my soft voice telling her it’s time to get ready for school.

I’m astonished that I’m not yet falling apart as I’ve had about three hours rest the night before. The younger child is totally unpredictable and it often weighs on my sanity. My body is moving around briskly and efficiently this morning, and I don’t want to think too hard of it in fear I jinx myself.

Twenty minutes until we leave the house and one child is half ready. My stomach isn’t churning which I’m grateful for and I have the energy of someone two hours before bedtime.

I’m usually perspiring at this time and tend to under-dress even though it’s below zero outside. It’s a windy morning and I don’t wear any extra clothing underneath my coat. I load everyone up in the double stroller and proceed to the preschool which stands a couple blocks from our house. I skid quite a bit this morning. Four days ago we had a snow day and as per usual, the lackadaisical residents of my city don’t shovel snow the way it’s suppose to be shoveled.

My hand is both numb and burning from the iciness in the air. The baby starts crying as the icy wind cuts into her delicate face and hands. I’ve tried to keep gloves on her but to no avail, she keeps ripping them off. Most days I don’t realize because I’m focused on the journey to and from school.

There’s four flights of stairs to climb, with a twenty-five pound toddler on one arm. I sigh and curse the day I signed my child up for this school. There is an elevator, which is only used for kitchen services. Humans with their own free will still take it, as do I on days that I physically can’t make the stairs. But there’s a woman at the school, a villain in my day. I dread running into her because I sometimes wish to use the elevator but she flies into my face and it reminds me of a bat opening it’s wings. Then she spews her venom and accuse me of not understanding a basic sign in English.

I want to retaliate in my best vocabulary and irritated tone but I decide against arguing with fools in a children’s environment. She isn’t worth my effort, especially when it’s taking me all of my will power and physicality to stay standing at this point. I hurriedly lead my child to her classroom and want to shout, “Yay!” Half of the hassle is over with. Now to descend those vicious stairs in which I fear my toddler will catapult into the air.

I huff and I puff and make my way down the stairs with my wriggling toddler sitting on my burning forearm. I can feel the heat emanating from my body and being trapped beneath my jacket. My hairline is slightly drenched and I wish to be out in the open where it’s cold. The heat of my body makes me want to pass out.

When I open the door to exit the school, the biting coldness makes it’s way through my skull and my brain stops for a split second. My eyes can’t focus on any one thing for too long. I tell myself, one way home, no detours. Coffee, breakfast and medicines.

xo

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