Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Is it a crime?

Is it a crime to call yourself an author when you haven’t published anything? 

I never know what to call myself. Writer, author, a dabbler, a wannabe writer, an aspiring author, the list can go on and on. The fact of the matter is, I don’t know what to call myself, so I just avoid answering that question. My default answer is just that I love writing. Frankly speaking though, I want to say “I’m an author” because it has such a large presence and stability to it. It sounds right to my ears. 

But if I were to say that, the next thing they say is “Really? You have a book published? What’s it called?”
“Well, no. I’m not published.” Then the conversation dies down like I just revealed I kicked a puppy this morning or something. 
And it’s not just with the word author. I’ve told people that I’m a writer, and they’re responded the same way. So what’s a girl supposed to do? 

If you look up the definition of an author—it’s “a writer of a book, article, or report”. If you look up the definition of a writer— it’s “a person who has written a particular text”.  (Both according to Google). 

So wait, let’s take a step back. 
Sarah, have you written a book, article, or report? 
Are you a person who has written a particular text? 
Does that mean you’re an author or writer? 
Technically yes. 

Do you see my dilemma? When do I get a plaque with the title writer or author on it? When do I get permission to say it aloud without people staring at me as if I grew a second head? Shouldn’t I be able to call myself a writer or an author without feeling like I’m lying? There is no hidden loophole in the definition of author or writer that requires us to have something published. And if there is a hidden loophole, will someone just kindly point it out because I would love to just cut it out and burn up that section. 

Really? Is it a crime that I want to be taken more seriously and want to call myself an author or writer? Shouldn’t I be proud of the fact that I do have several manuscripts? Just because it isn’t published, doesn’t mean that I didn’t write them. They exist. I swear they do.

Shouldn’t we be proud and add that title to our name? Look at Daenerys. She is “Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of Andals, and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.”

Why can’t I be Sarah, author of several unpublished manuscripts? 

Tell me what you think? Do you guys have trouble with what to call yourself? 

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I like to call it NaNo (because it’s shorter and I definitely learned how to say the “Wri” part incorrectly so I’m always self-conscious about saying the full name). 

Either way. You sign up on NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words in 30 days. 

It’s expected that you start NaNo with a new novel idea; you can do all the planning you want in the months (or days) before, but not actually write anything until the 1st of November comes around. It seems a little daunting at first and it’s not for everyone, but it’s a fun challenge.

This is my first year competing in NaNo. I actually won Camp NaNo (same thing as NaNo just in July) and finally finished off that manuscript on Halloween night at about 88k words (entirely driven by the fact that NaNo was starting the day after so I could finally write my new novel for NaNo). Then on November 1st I started writing full speed ahead.

Honestly speaking, I write rather quickly. I don’t mull over the right words and never edit as I go which is why I love NaNo. It more of less gives me an excuse to write as quickly as I want and not feel so guilty about it. I thought NaNo would be a breeze….boy was I wrong.

I never had to juggle school on top of writing 50,000 words in a month and let me tell you, it isn’t easy. At one point I was nearly 13,000 words behind schedule due to having all my exams the first two weeks of November. Good news is, I finally caught up by writing 10,000 words in one day! They’re probably not the best 10,000 words and I will most likely only end up keeping 5,000 of those words that I wrote after I revise this manuscript, but that’s the exact point of NaNo. It doesn’t matter how crappy your draft is. It’s Draft Naught*. It’s Draft Zero. It’s Zilch. It’s just to get all of those ideas in your head down because you can’t revise without a manuscript. That’s why I love NaNo and recommend it to any aspiring writers/authors. 

My first NaNo, I’m writing a story I referenced before that I call GUARDIANS. My small description of what it’s about is below.
Seventeen year old Tamar’s life as a member of the elite 44th consists of guarding her best friend Akira, the Princess of Ellaria. It’s a simple duty that Tamar has trained her entire life for and yet it isn’t as simple as it appears, especially when there’s the threat of the Sect, a rebellious group of individuals that support Catain, a neighboring nation that Ellaria has always been at odds with. The threat is large enough to influence Tamar into breaking her oath and duty by joining the Sect and forging relationships with her enemies. She has the best intentions at heart, but none of that matters when the Sect puts their plans into motion. How far is she willing to wade into the politics reserved for the leaders of nations when all she was meant to do was protect Akira? 

I would love to hear what you think! Also add me on NaNo as a friend if you’re participating—AshInOurMinds is my name over there. 

*This is my name for Draft Zero because I have taken far too many science classes where the naught symbol was used as initial—like Vo (V naught), etc. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ash in Our Minds

Someone decided to comment (in real life) on the title of my blog and I figured I might as well write out an explanation in a post. 

First thing, Ash In Our Minds was just something I came up with. I am absolutely terrible with naming anything it could be the title of a book, name of a class in my fantasy novels, or the title of a blog. Despite this fact about myself, I still like trying to come up with creative/cool titles or names or classifications. It’s grueling work on my part, so when I do find something I like I stick to it like glue. As in I will not change the name of this blog until I achieve my dream of being published (I have another title waiting for that day.) 

Second, I love birds. Not living, breathing, chirping birds that wake you up in the morning, but like dark silhouettes of birds (which I have on my bedroom wall). 
 The idea of birds fascinate me. Furthermore, I’ve always been a fan of fantasy and what’s the first fantasy bird most people think of? A phoenix. (I swear this will all make sense at the end of this post, so just bear with me.)

Third, I’m the type of person to find beauty in sadness. I have a penchant for darker, more negative things—don’t you ever just wonder what makes something so…dark. I like to consider it a residual part of my “moody years” which amounted to me wearing a black t-shirt now and then and refusing to believe anyone outside of my family and friends really understood me at all—oh how I don’t miss middle school (before I started writing at least).

So now to bring it all together. As subtitle for my blog so kindly puts: “After we exhaust the fire and passion in our minds, all that’s left is ash”, the title of my blog revolves around passion. I have a passion for writing and while passion is usually associated with the heart, I figured it would adept to correlate my passion with my mind because of all the story ideas that form in my head. Also sometimes the passion is so intense, so hot, and so bright that I can’t do anything but write it all down and get it all out there leaving only ash. The moment when you’re completely lost to writing that you can’t hear a thing around you is the moment I live for. The time when I can just forget everything else in my life and just focus on my writing, my story, and my passion.

It’s not as morbid as it seems. I swear it. My title’s not about burning out. It’s not literally about the ash that fire leaves. It’s my way of expressing how much writing consumes me. It takes over every square inch of my mind and when I’ve finally written all of it down. I’m left with the residual, the ash, in my mind. That’s the only way I know how to handle this. The only way I know how to deal with writing. It’s about how a phoenix has to rise from the ashes to be born again. With the exhaustion of our passion by transferring it onto paper only breathes more life into more ideas and more stories. 

That’s why I named it Ash In Our Minds. 

Comment below if you have any thoughts you want to share. I would love to hear them! 

Friday, November 21, 2014


Hi everyone! Sorry I’m posting this a day later than I said I would, but I have a good excuse. I swear. I was writing my story which is tentatively called GUARDIANS (yes, I know it’s a  horrible title—I’m the worst with creating titles and) and my next blog post will be about that story and Nanowrimo. 

Short interlude for Nanowrimo—you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s an amazing way to get the motivation to write. It’s torture and bliss at the same time. I suggest it for anyone who wants an external motivation and a community to cheer you on. 

Either way, I was up late writing and finally caught up on my word count. I’m even ahead of schedule since I am officially at 36,209 words! To give you a picture of how horribly behind I was, let’s just say I wrote about 10,000 words just yesterday. 

Now onto the real topic of this post—fearlessness as the title of this post so kindly puts it. 
So last night, I attended a writer’s group and it was my third time going. It’s where the local writers in my area meet up to talk about their writing, share writing resources, and bask in the glow of other writers. I’m usually the youngest one there, but yesterday there was a 12 year old girl. Let’s call her Amy. 

Amy was…interesting. You could see how much she loved writing and she was super excited to be at the writer’s group for the first time. Her enthusiasm for writing was great to see. Especially considering how young she was and the fact that I started writing when I was just one year older than her. 

The thing that really shocked me was how fearless she was. She was very vocal about wanting more writing time in her school classroom. She was eager to get her stories read. She was willing to butt herself into the conversation with adults 40 years and older as they talked about writing.

I don’t do that. I didn’t even think about asking my teachers in middle school for time to write instead of read. I don’t bring any writing to have them read it and I definitely say less than I want to just because I’m terribly shy. I still have trouble telling people that I write novels in real life. 

An author runs the writer’s group and asked Amy what the hardest thing about writing was. Do you know what her response was? She said her hand cramps up. This question was directed to a 12 year old girl who should be the most self-conscious out of all of us with writing, but she was the exact opposite. Her only problem with writing was that she couldn’t physically write fast enough to get her story down. 

True, she most likely misunderstood the question since the author was asking more about the “craft of writing” and wanted an answer like world building, POV, or plotting. We can just ignore that tidbit because in my opinion, she answered in the way that any author should. Her hand cramps. 

And just to illustrate how driven Amy was, let me just tell you that she has a plan written down for what type of story she wants to write very month from last June all the way to December 2015. Every month she had a plan. I distinctly remember next February is her horror/romance story. 

This girl….I am in awe of this girl and her fearlessness. Some people will comment and just say that she’s a little girl that she doesn’t know what she’s actually doing. She’s not actually writing things that could be published, but I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to be the best writer in order to love it (I’m proof of that honestly). She might not be able to publish anything at this age, but if her love of writing continues, she might just beat me in a race to getting a book deal. 

So next time someone asks me what’s the hardest thing about writing—I want to take a page from Amy’s book and answer that my hand cramps (which wouldn’t make much sense because I long abandoned writing with a standard pencil and notebook—computers are amazing inventions). 

That’s all I wanted to say.

Comment below if you want to talk. I’m always looking for more friends!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hello, my name is...

Hello, my name is….

Sarah. If you’re reading this, that’s great. If you’re casually pressing the back button because you realized this is definitely not the page you’re looking for, that’s great too. Have a great day! 
If you’re still reading, let me introduce myself. You already know my name so I won’t repeat that. I’m twenty years old. I’m a full time college student with only a semester left until I have to face the “real world” and frankly, I have no plans past the next four months.

I don’t really know what happened, but one day it was like someone just flipped a switch on and with that my desire to be published was alit. Now you’re muttering, “So what, Sarah”. Yeah, I know how it seems. Another twenty year old writing stories in her spare time hoping to be published. That seems like what all English majors want. 

Well, I’m not a English major. I’m studying Biochemistry and it is far too late for me to start over and choose English as my major (not that I really believe that I would, I love biochemistry, honestly). 

I mean I definitely considered English/Creative Writing when I started college, but that got lost in the hustle and bustle of choosing a more “stable” major, something that I could use to get into Medical School. Yep, I’m also Pre-Med…or I was. I might be Pre-Pharmacy now. Or I might just decide to forgo either of those options and go into writing. 

Which is why I started this blog. It’s a way to record my path to publishing (if I ever get there) and make some friends along the way. I originally decided to start this blog at the start of the new year (sort of like a New Years’ Resolution) and because my semester is rather busy, but I’ve been itching to start it, so I literally said “screw it” on my way back to my apartment after class today. I want to blog. I can have two readers or 2000 readers. I’m going to make the effort to blog at least every other day about writing and life in general so I can find out what it is I want out of life. 
Now that’s out of the way. Let me introduce myself again, just because I can -shrugs-. 

Hi, my name is Sarah. I’m a twenty year old completely and utterly in love with writing and reading YA books. I’ve been writing since I was fourteen—it all started with a  girl named Faith a healer who had to learn she had far more wounds to heal on herself before she could heal others. 

I continued writing in high school and then came to college. Writing my freshman year was non-existent, truthfully. I was struggling enough with classes and eating alone in the dining hall and making some new friends. Sophomore year I didn’t write very much either. But the summers after freshman and sophomore year—I wrote like a madwomen. I finished one manuscript the freshman year summer and 1.75 manuscripts this past summer. 

Now as a junior graduating early, I’ve been hit with those “big, important” questions. What am I going to do with my life? What do I need to do to get into this school or that one? What’s going to get me a stable job in the future?

And with all of these questions, I realized how much I love writing. How much I want to be published. How much being a YA author would be the dream job. 

So I decided I’m actually going to revise these manuscripts on my computer, continuing writing new ones, and start to eventually query agents. Basically, I’m going to take one step into the publishing/writing path. This isn’t something I ever want to forget—whether it works out the way I want it to (if I get an agent and a book deal) or if it doesn’t (if it doesn’t work and I have to return to my writer’s cave writing manuscripts that won’t see the light of day). 

I don’t ever want to forget. This is my way of recording everything. This is me taking a chance. This is me making writing a priority. This is me loving writing more than I’m scared of failing at it. This is me following my passion. Most of all, this is me being honest with myself. 

Whether you’re only going to read this post or all the subsequent ones—Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m an aspiring writer/author. (Pretend I shouted that from the highest hill/mountain/building in your respective town or city).