My website is taking a new direction as both my blog and I transition from college and study abroad adventures to my professional writing career. On the technical side, I switched servers to my brother’s, so let me know if you experience any issues while visiting my website. I respond to all comments on posts and messages through the Contact Me form.
Now that disclaimer is out of the way, I’d like to pick up where I last left off. Since graduating from Georgetown, I have moved back in with my parents. Now, that might sound like the beginning of yet another narcissistic woe-is-me millennial pity fest blog post, but for me, living at home has been the best decision for me, mentally and professionally. Not that I’m some loony three hairs away from meltdown, far from it, but I found it incredibly helpful to spend some time reevaluating my goals. I was an overachiever for enough years to affect my health, but I’ve seen the experience as a blessing in disguise. I have rediscovered what sleep, diet, and reflection can do for one’s health. Not to mention that I finally had the time to engage with what I really want to do, which is write.
I finished writing my first novel, which I’ve planned as the first of many, both in that series and in my lifetime. One of the exciting things about writing a science fiction novel is how inventive it can be; how much creativity goes into each idea. It’s also one of the scary and overwhelming parts of writing science fiction. As a writer of science fiction, I not only have to come up with authentic characters, a believable story, an engaging plot, or any of the elements that (almost) all novels share, but I have to know the political, social, and cultural forces at work in our world, so I can attempt an accurate portrayal of another universe in which those Human interaction elements are at work. (Yes I capitalize “Human,” just like I do in my novels).
(Note: I say science fiction, but my writing has many fantastical elements. I am not equating the two genres, but my writing does inhabit both spaces.)
I have to fully flesh out my worlds, which takes a great deal of scientific research, as well as keeping a list of details (such as what color makes the Roarks’ national flag, or the motions of centrifugal force) in my notebooks and in my mind. I have to act as a historian, because history is often doomed to repeat itself, and really, what better source material is there to pull from? My reader will find similarities between 1940s China and what happens on the Outer Planets of my galaxy. As a science fiction writer, I must have a basic understanding of political science and economics (or “Psychohistory” as Asimov posited economics could become), so I can portray civilizations and their operations on a galactic scale. I have to be an artist, or someone who can visualize this new world that I am creating, and then use my prose to describe this world in a way that immerses the reader. I must have a working knowledge of science fiction that precedes and supersedes my work, so I can jump off ideas and take them to new heights, without repeating them wholesale. As a writer, I must have an understanding of what I crave in a novel, and then hope to my higher deity that a lot of other people will crave those things too.
I have to hold all of this knowledge inside my head and then, most importantly, let go. Let go of my fear and just create. Trust my instincts and write until it feels right, then write some more.
What I’ve found (is incredibly obvious, yes, but stick with me for a minute) is that writing a novel is A LOT of work. Of course like any aspiring writer, I just wanted to be DONE. I wrote the first chapter and wanted to fast forward to the end, when I’ve published and sold copies to complete strangers and I’m actually living off of my art. (But then I think of the Adam Sandler movie “Click” and realize that would probably mean five years of my thrilling 20s that I’d lose.) I’m sure almost every writer has had this thought, and I think it’s the reason why so many people who want to write, don’t. Writing takes patience. It also takes the ability to let go of perfection. So many people want to create the perfect product without experiencing any of the sweat, tears, headaches, cramped hands, and stiff back muscles that accompany it. They hold onto this illogical idea (perhaps even subconsciously) that writing must come easy and fast if you ever want to make a living at it. They never give themselves the chance.
All of that is complete shittake.
Most of writing is the struggle to transform ideas into the flesh of words. The results of which are the sleepless nights, the car rides, the long showers, the strangers who catch me talking to myself about an idea. It’s those lazy afternoons in my chair by the sunny window, staring at the page, flipping through articles, then staring at the page until my brain screams for a break. When I can’t write, I have to journal, so I can get my thoughts out, and then rummage through them, organize, and throw out the expired stuff.
Sometimes I think, “Dang, this takes forever. Where’s the income?” But I know, deep in my bones, that I will become an author. Every since I was little, I used to copy the styles of books I read and create a “new” book, which was really a ripoff of the one I just read. I believe all of my experiences have shaped me as a writer, and continue to shape me. I am completely open to altering my beliefs and schema if I encounter contrary evidence. I think this is important not only as a writer, but as a Human, to be continually evolving, continually looking to prove your dearly held ideas wrong.
I know how fortunate I am. As I write this blog post, my brother sits at the kitchen table, his body physically shuddering from the lack of sleep that his minimum wage, physically-exhausting job steals from him. His job is not enough to pay rent and the pay raise that he needs is years away. We were born into the same family, but I was given social skills, and thus opportunities, that he was not. I know, exactly, how fortunate I am.