Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why should I write this book?

Some time ago, I seriously considered ditching a nonfiction WIP. I haven't done so yet, but I have come very close to it. I thought about ditching it, or even handing it over to another nonfiction author to take on, because I started to doubt myself as an author. I started to doubt how this book would be perceived. What if people looked at the very meager success I have achieved as an author, see this new book by me – and its title! – and think it’s not worth their time? What if the book doesn’t get the attention it deserves? (It’s a reference book for authors.) What if people see MY name as the author and think the book sucks?

What if, what if, what if.

For a long time, I tackled with these doubts. I really struggled with them. They made me seriously consider stopping work on this book and just letting it collect dust on the hard drive. I believed every single doubt I had and actually thought I was not the right person to write this book.

And it didn’t help that one of my publishers wasn’t interested in it!

But then I realized something that has made me change my mind: This book is NEEDED. There is book other book like this on the market and that makes it unique. This book has good information in it because I know it would be useful to at least one author out there. And, this book should be written, because the material in the book WORKS! I can stand behind everything in this book because I have “been there, done that” with all the info it has in it.

So, because the info in this book actually works and has been put to the test, I really feel that it should be written and it should have a chance for publication. I really feel, now, that I shouldn’t give up on it.

I came to this realization after reading the Q&A section in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s newsletter, Sharing with Writers. It was the January 22nd issue and you can check it out here. In the piece titled “Making Our Goals Personal Resolutions,” Carolyn encourages people to read books by different authors to see what kind of ideas they have to share. Mostly, she suggests writers who have “been around for a while” because their “advice can be trusted.”

That’s when I realized: Hey, I’m a writer who has been around for a while! I have been an author for over 10 years and I’ve stayed as involved and active in the author community, as well as writing and publishing, as was possible. (There were two writing communities I had to leave because I no longer felt that I was welcome.) And the info in this book I am writing is solid, because it’s been tested and proven to work. So it must count as “trusted advice.” I think so, anyway.

The book could still mean something to somebody out there. Some unpublished writer out there or some author out there who hasn’t thought these ideas yet. I know there are a lot of people who have very low opinions of me and I'm not exactly a bestselling or multimillion dollar earning author people would go crazy over, but I believe that the book should stand on its own merit for what kind of information it contains and not by who wrote it. I have to believe this to be so, anyway.

So having reached this conclusion, I will resume work on this book. I will write it to the end and send it off for publication. I believe in this book, even if nobody else does. And I only hope that is good enough for the book to have some kind of importance to somebody who might actually find the information in it useful.

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Friday, January 08, 2016

Writing Challenge 2016

Before the new year started, I wasn’t sure if I’d be writing again, but I sure hoped that I would be. I HAD hoped to start work on revising a novel with another writer (a collaborative project) but we’re not ready to go there yet. Eventually, I started to have a strong feeling I’d be writing a novel on January 1st.

That actually happened. In fact, the novel I started writing – not revising – is one I’d had an idea for for several months before 2016 even got here. The novel is based on true events. At first, I was going to write an article about about something I had come across in my research. Then I decided to write a nonfiction book about it. Like an expose. (Yeah, that reporter in me will never die!) But then, I started to think maybe it would be best to write a novel based on this thing. Maybe I could show just how bad this thing is if I wrote about a fictional person going through it. That might work better. Once I decided to go in this direction, I started having bits and pieces of the story come together. I carried those pieces around in my head for a while there, working on it in the “workshop in my mind.” I let that idea grow and take shape.

Then, on January 1st, I sat down and started writing it.

But this particular novel is being written just a little bit differently than my other novels. In the past, I’ve come across the Stephen King quote to write a page a day, and then at the end of the year, you’ll have a novel. I saw that quote so often that I finally folded my arms and said, “Challenge accepted.”  I could easily write a novel over the course of 12 months. I could easily write a page a day. No prob, Bob! I have actually written a novel in one week, in one month, and even 3 months. So, 12 months? Easy. I could do that! But I wanted to ACTUALLY do that! I wanna be able to say “been there, done that” after the year is over with and I see that quote again.

So, that’s what I’m doing with this novel. I am taking it one page at a time, a day at a time. And so far, it is working out really well.

That is my first Writing Challenge of 2016.

And I have a second one.

Another piece of writerly advice I have come across is to write a short story every week for one year. I thought that was a neat challenge! I have had a ton of ideas for short stories but never actually wrote them. Some ideas I trashed because I thought they were too “unrealistic” to write.

Well, guess what? Today I finished writing that “unrealistic” short story idea. I actually turned that idea into a story. It was not the exact same thing as the original story idea – the ending took an interesting twist that surprised me – but I made it WORK! I wrote it! And it’s done!

I started this second Writing Challenge on Monday, the 4th. I wanted this to run from a Monday-Friday type of thing. So I started on Monday and I finished it today (Friday). Woo-hoo! I am really psyched about it and I think the story turned out pretty well. I am just so glad I wrote it. Yay! I challenged myself to write a short story in a week (well, 5 days) and I did! AWESOME! Here again, I’ve written short stories in one day, so that’s not a HUGE deal for me. But it was a challenge that I set myself to and I was able to do it. Now to plan for the next short story I’ll be writing next week!

So, I have two Writing Challenges for 2016: Write a page of a novel every day of the year (or until it’s done) and write a short story for every week of the year. So far, so good! I hope I can complete them both by the time December 31st rolls around.

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Monday, January 04, 2016

Influenced to write

Recently, I read the book A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. It was a difficult book to read because of the terrible things that happened to that girl, and many times as I read that book, I became angry at her abductor.

But there was something else about the book that made me feel uncomfortable. Something I had never expected. This girl’s experience at the hands of her abductor reminded me of a poem I had written in 2000. The poem is called “Descension” and it’s about someone who was kidnapped and “used up” by her tormentors.

When I wrote this poem, it had just popped into my head. Nothing inspired it. Nothing in front of me made me start writing it. It just planted itself in entirety in my head and I just wrote the words down.

The fact that the poem is similar to what Jaycee went through is kind of eerie. But I am beginning to think I was subconsciously influenced to write the poem in some way. Perhaps I had heard about Jaycee being abducted and somehow or another, my exposure to that news created this poem. Of course, I had absolutely no idea this poem could be about something someone was going through. I did not know Jaycee or her family or any of her friends. I didn’t know the guilty people, either. And it’s strange that THIS particular poem, with its content, may have been the result of my exposure to her story. It's just so weird that it was similar to what she went through.

It’s funny how things affect us in that way. The kinds of things we see, hear about, read about and discuss with people. All of those things can influence us in some way, whether it’s by inspiring a poem or dreams. That’s just the way our subconscious works.

I was reminded of this when I read a short story yesterday. The story is similar to an idea I had for my own short story. This idea came from a dream. I had that dream and I thought, That would be a cool story! But I never wrote the story. Not yet, anyway. At the time I shared this story idea, I was told (by a non-writer) that it was not logical, not realistic. So I abandoned it.

Then I read this short story that was similar to my idea. Fortunately, it wasn’t my short story idea. Just somewhat similar. And after I finished reading that story, I decided on one thing: The short story that I got the idea for long ago needs to be written. It wasn’t written here, but it does need to be written. I want it to be written. I want it to be a story. A REAL story. And I need to be the person to write it.

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