40 Reasons Why I Write

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Relatively recently, Bryan Hutchinson issued a challenge on his blog, Positive Writer – list 40 reasons why you write. You can see his answers here. When it came about, I was in the throws of Camp NaNoWriMo. As that is now complete, and I’m taking a small break from the novel so I can attack it again in July’s edition of Nano, I needed this challenge. It’s been difficult to stay motivated, because the hits just keep coming in both my personal and professional life. So, I’m going to take some time to remind myself why I write. I hope you find my answers either interesting or inspirational. Also, I am so incredibly late to this challenge.

  1. Writing keeps my brain busy. With my ADHD, my brain is always spinning anyway, so this gives it something to work on in the background.
  2. Stories haunt me, and I have to get them out.
  3. I have had a lot of trauma and strange events in my life, and I need an outlet.
  4. Sometimes, I like to live vicariously through my characters.
  5. Sometimes, I like to bury myself in my characters so I can forget life.
  6. My son looks up to me for creating whole stories all by myself, and there’s no beating that.
  7. Writing is a strong bond I share with my husband, as he is also an author.
  8. Writing is a strong bond I share with my sister-in-law. She is also an author.
  9. Writing has helped me make amazing friendships, some that are sure to be lifelong.
  10. I like how writing makes me feel, like I am weaving worlds from my imagination.
  11. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I finally get something right is amazing.
  12. Rewriting has taught me all about perseverance. Frustration, but perseverance.
  13. I like to read things I love over and over again, so this was probably a fitting career choice.
  14. I love to paint with words.
  15. I love to listen to music, and music always inspires me to paint with my words.
  16. Clever dialogue is all around me. What would I do if I didn’t jot some of it down and use it for my own benefit?
  17. My best friend has yoga. I have writing.
  18. The creative people on my journey with me are the best people.
  19. My characters tend to be stronger than I am. Or at least, than I was. These days, I seem to be taking a page from my own book. Writing has encouraged me to be stronger.
  20. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I won’t get anywhere in this business, or something is wrong with the core of a particular story, etc. I intend to prove them very wrong.
  21. When my anxiety disorder, my depression, my PTSD rears up, writing helps me cope.
  22. Because, as a woman, and as a woman with physical and mental health issues, my voice and my individual experiences deserve to be heard.
  23. I love reading so much, and I know how it feels to really connect with a character. I would love to be able to provide that for someone else.
  24. I’ve always loved playing with voice and word choice, seeing how different an outcome I can create just by finding a more exact bit of syntax.
  25. Writing often helps me to put feelings I’m dealing with into words, to tell truths through my characters that I can’t articulate properly in reality.
  26. I honestly don’t know what I would do with all the spare time I’d get if I didn’t write or plan to write.
  27. When I’m writing I can temporarily put off other, more important chores. But not the most important ones, of course. 😉
  28. I still believe in magic, and sometimes, writing feels like magic. Like when something inexplicably comes together, and it feels like destiny, that feels like magic. That is the rare moment where I become a believer.
  29. How else can I justify talking to the people who live in my brain?
  30. I’m stubborn and I’ve said I’m going to do it, so damn it, I’m going to do it.
  31. Some of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met write, so I hope some of that rubs off on me.
  32. Sometimes, I’m not all that adventurous, so I need an excuse to try new and interesting things. Research gives me that excuse.
  33. I was already a fact hoarder. This gives me a reason to hoard facts.
  34. I hate waste, and I feel like I have a lot of knowledge and random experiences that just kind of sit around in my brain and go to waste. I want to give them some use. Like my two years working at an ice cream shop. I’m using that in my latest book.
  35. There are tons of stories that I want to read, that I don’t find out there. I’ve always been a bit of a control freak. They say, if you want something done, do it yourself, right?
  36. I’m getting to a point where rejections mean almost nothing to me. I’m numb to rejection.
  37. Unless, they come with constructive criticism, at which point I am disappointed, but I have learned to love constructive criticism and view it as encouragement and help, rather than an insult. I think writing has helped to improve my personality in that way.
  38. I have also become able to tell the difference between constructive knowledgeable criticism and insults, being led astray, and jealous attacks designed to keep a person below them. That lesson has helped me in all areas of my life.
  39. I have a side gig as an editor, and I’ve always believed that, if you are going to manage people, you should be willing to get your hands dirty. If I won’t get my hands dirty with words, why should I tell other people to do so?
  40. I love to geek out. It’s my life’s mission to make other people geek out as much as I do.

So, there are my 40 reasons! Do you need to remind yourself why you love something? Share your reasons in the comments, and thank you for being one of the people I’ve encountered on this journey, the people I write for. Thank you for being one of my reasons. ❤

2017! The Year of the Manzanos!

As the holidays approach and I sit down to write my last blog post of 2016, I’m reminded of just how erratic my year has been. Politics were the pits, tons of celebrity favorites died, and a general malaise settled over the world. Things were not looking so shiny. We took some personal hits this year as well. My Uncle Bobby died after a long and grueling battle with cancer. My son was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety disorder, which has really kicked up recently and has us struggling to find the answers. My husband and I had our own respective health issues, one that landed me in the hospital having a small, but not fun, surgical procedure. I ended my publishing contract with no book to show for it.

But there was light toward the end, at least with my career. There was Pitch to Publication, two short story publications, and an Editor’s Choice Award. And there was the prospect of next year on the horizon. Next year, when I start to query The Order of the Key again, in hopes of finding an agent who will love it. And next year when I embark on two new projects that aren’t exactly about my writing, but have some interplay with that career.

Allow me to introduce you to my two new projects. Or should I say OUR two new projects.

geektastic-bannerGeektastic: My son, Logan, wanted to be a YouTube sensation. My husband, Ismael, missed doing reviews. My sister-in-law, Megan, wanted to start a BookTube review channel, but didn’t know where to begin. I wanted a way to show off how damn random we all are, and wanted to have a place to openly be meta about geeky things.

This is what lead to Geektastic. We put our minds together, and decided to create a YouTube channel/blog where we could openly discuss all of the wonderful things that make being a geek so kickass…and so that we could offer an alternative to adults. Fun, kid-filled YouTube channel with gaming, toys and memorabilia, that speaks about some more sophisticated television, books and movies, but in a way that’s totally family friendly.

We’re still working on our first video, but it will be available in January. In the meantime, you can view our website and go follow us on our social media links, because we want you along on our adventure. Check it out at www.geektastic-manzanos.com.

inkwell34434The Inkwell Council: After leaving my work at Fantasy Works Publishing behind me, I was told by one of the writers there that they would miss my editing work. I am also constantly asked by my close circle of writer friends to read their stories, to help polish them up. I came to realize, I could help new writers. Maybe not with entire manuscripts, but I could read their first three chapters, and offer suggestions. It wasn’t about money. It was about giving back to a writing community that gave to me.

A discussion with Ismael revealed he missed writer’s workshops. Last to join was Megan, who was trying to make a living doing freelance edits, but didn’t have enough exposure and wasn’t sure how to build a client list. Moving forward together, we created The Inkwell Council, a manuscript editing service with specific rules. Basically, if you have no writer’s critique group, and you want someone to polish up the first three chapters of your Fantasy manuscript (we could only do one genre we could all agree on) we’ll be there for you. For rules and specifics of our program, please visit us at http://www.theinkwellcouncil.com/. Submissions officially open in January. Please also follow us on social media, which is linked on the website.

Add these two amazing projects to querying The Order of the Key, writing a new short story, and brainstorming on three other novels, and there is a busy year ahead. And the best part of it, is I will get to work with a big chunk of my family, whom I adore.

So, what’s new with your year? Anything exciting to look forward to? New projects? Let me know in the comments.

Either way, here’s to you and yours in the new year. May 2017 be a bright, shining light, leading as far away from 2016 as possible. 😉 Happy Holidays!

Keep it Simple Stupid: What My Son and Twitter Taught Me About Writing

I can hear my son, Logan, shouting “Don’t say stupid!” in my head as I type this.  That might be the most important thing he’s taken away from my 3.5 years of parenting him.  Don’t say stupid.  You see, I am a potty mouth, and somehow Logan has only managed to pick out the word stupid from among the myriad creative ways I have found to swear or say otherwise nasty things in his presence.  (No, I am not a perfect parent, or a perfect person by any stretch of the imagination, and if there is one absolutely terrible parenting faux pas that I have committed, it is swearing in front of my son.)  Stupid is the only word he has repeated.  I taught him that word is forbidden after he called his friend stupid.  So he reminds me.  Every single time I say it.  Because for him, we live in a black and white world, words have good meanings and bad meanings and if he shouldn’t say stupid, then darn it, nobody else should.

That’s the way it should be.  As one of my favorite characters, the eponymous character Angel, once said, “We live as if the world is what it should be to show it what it can be.”  Except, that’s sort of impossible.  We can’t live in a world where we react to things as though evil and good were very easily divided into their corners because the grey areas are where the conflict lives and where the interesting essence of a story can be found.  There are great mountains of complexity to be found in the space between good and bad and that is more than enough to make people’s head spin.  Your reader can be entranced and confused and compelled by what you write because of that alone.

You don’t need extremely complex verbiage to do that work for you.  And despite what E.L. James may have taught you with “50 Shades of Grey”, you do not need to chew, swallow then vomit a thesaurus up to do so, either.  (I know I pick on her far too much, but all I can think of upon examining her work is a very enthusiastic and, still simplistic, “ARGH.”  The occasional book reviewer in me cringes.)

Watching Logan grow up and develop language of his own has provided me with an opportunity.  As he struggles to define and understand new words, I also struggle to put my own thoughts into words that he can understand.  If one fact can be distilled from that experience, it would be that language is important.  You may be thinking, “No s&^t, Sherlock!”  And to that I can only reply, “Told you about my potty mouth.”

Logan is not only constantly in search of the right words, but I’m always constantly in search of language economy – a way to explain my ideas in simple, effective sentences that are not ridiculously verbose.  Logan is also a hyper child, and when I try to explain things in roving, complicated sentences, he reacts by walking away from me.  Which is what readers often do if you present them with long, twisty sentences that look like a paragraph when you really could have said it in one line.

Oddly, my use of twitter has taught me something similar.  If you look at my twitter account, it is filled with #WIPquotes, or, quotes from my works in progress.  These usually get posted as I’m writing my story.  I write a line, I like it, I tweet it.  But often times, the line does not fit in the tweet.  Since I like to share, I really want to make that line tweetable.  (Language can also be invented – tweetable?)  So I will try to find better words to streamline the sentence, and in that way, most times, I make the line stronger.

It’s true, that talking to Logan usually means simplifying too much, unless I want to spend the next hour explaining the words that explain the words that explain the words, etc., etc., etc.   But the idea that sometimes the simplest explanation, the simplest phraseology, the simplest term, can often be the best is something that is often tossed aside in the pursuit of “prettier” language.

Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule – there are always reasons to go for the more complex terms, the more interesting turn of phrase.  The idea is always to strike a balance between the two so that your work becomes more well rounded and not too bogged down.

Any thoughts on this topic?  To any of my writer mothers out there – Any fun things you have learned about your work from your children? Share!