Wisteria Writers Tag (to which i am allergic OOPS) + Early Writings

6:00 AM

So I had several mild allergic reactions today. And by the time I got home from work an hour before midnight, I was exhausted and my brain refused to come up with a good blog post. Then I remembered, I was tagged for this ages ago! And it's funny because FUN FACT ABOUT HANNAH #291: I am allergic to wisteria.

When I was eleven, I stepped out on our porch and got hit across the face with a wisteria vine (the thing infests our porch and simply will not go away). A couple of hours later, a sore had appeared, and by the end of the week my left eye and nostril were swollen shut.

Fun times, right? Anyway. I was tagged ages ago by Rachael to do this tag. Sorry it's taken me so long, Rachael!

1. Which is your favorite character you've written?

This should be a hard question to answer, but it's actually not. My favorite character ever to have written was Jack from The Call of Atlantis, the book I wrote with my cousin when we were thirteen years old. He's an ESTP and he's so funny and snarky and smart and witty and just amazing and I resonate with him on a deep level that I didn't fully understand until revisiting him recently. 

2. How many books have your read this year?

*grins sheepishly* one half?

3. What genre do you tend to write in?

I'm a fantasy girl at heart. 

4. Have you ever written a book and then immediately trashed it?

Surprisingly no? My writing start is a little unique in that I sat down and started writing a full-blown novel, and I finished it. I didn't jump around between projects until I finally found one that stuck. I started writing, and I didn't stop. 

5. How many books have you completed?

I have written 6 complete first drafts. Of those six, four of them have been through draft 2. And of those four, only one have I moved on to draft three with. I have yet to complete a third draft.

6. Do you work on multiple projects at a time?

Not usually. I sometimes take a break (like when I wrote my Baby Book in July for nano when I was halfway done with draft 2 of The Dream Walkers

There were a few more questions, but I decided to stop here so I could incorporate another tag, since I'm sort of along that stream.

Abbiee created this ingenious tag a while ago, and I've been wanting to do it ever since. I have a sad amount of trash stories though. Like I said, I didn't jump around much.

But that first series I wrote was enough embarrassment for an eternity.

I'll talk about this book series as a whole.

What horrendous book did you write as a child?

*The series was called Eliza's Tale. 

*I thoroughly planned out each of the nine books it consisted of, including a tenth book that featured the main characters' children.

*I only wrote the first two books, both by hand.

*The main character, Eliza, was a Very Special Muffin Child who was the Only One who could save both our world, and the world she was taken to (after getting kidnapped by evil bad guys).

*There was an evil ice princess. (my favorite line by her was her response to my main character's question--"what's a Finder?"--to which she broke out of her evil monologue and said, "It's complicated. I'll explain later."

*It was basically a monster stew of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and The Last Airbender.

What did you learn from it?

The only reason I have the guts to tell you about this series I want to cringe over is the beautiful and surprising fact that what precious little of this series I put onto paper taught me how to write. 

It taught me how to craft characters that are flesh and blood and have problems and flaws and aren't perfect or desired by everyone. It taught me how to make villains that aren't pure evil and don't make long speeches every two pages.

It taught me how to let my creativity run absolutely bonkers, and to take the craziest of ideas and make sense of it. It taught me how to create a world that my characters could walk across and my fingers could sketch and my plot could dance upon.

This book series that I cringe over is what made me the writer I am today. It taught me everything. Because you have to do a bunch of stupid, embarrassing writing before you can figure out how to craft gold. You have to have some silly, cliche ideas before you can become an imaginative creation queen.

You have to stumble and fall a little before you realize you have wings and can fly. I poured literally thousands of pages into this series and millions of words. I have five notebooks stuffed to the brim with ideas dedicated solely to this series. I spent four whole years of my life on this, countless hours of getting up early and writing with burning eyes, or staying up in the wee hours and scribbling till my hand ached too much to write another word.

Instead of cringing, I have to smile. Because these words, these stories, made me into who I am. And that makes them some of the most precious and beautiful things I own.

What about you? What books did you write as a child? Tell me a bit about your favorite character you've ever written!


What I've Learned from 2017

6:00 AM

Another year, come and gone. Crazy, isn't it? You're probably getting tired of all the end of year recaps, but you're going to get another one here. This is sort of my Fourth Quarter Recap post as well, so we'll see how this goes :P 

Last year, I did a post on 16 things I learned in 2016. Since I was born at the end of 1999, I get the cool opportunity to reflect on my seventeenth year of life in 2017. 

What did I learn this year?

Here are 17 things for you.

#1: Letting go of your story is very important.

Both for your story's success, and your own mental health, letting go of your story on an emotional level is very important. We get so invested, so involved, so wrapped up and connected to our stories. And that's not a bad thing, but when you hit writer's block, or when you can't figure out this one character, or when you get harsh comments from a beta ... your feelings and emotions will plummet. You won't want to work on the book anymore because you'll feel like it's trash, and since your book is trash, obviously that means you are too, right?

You are a beautiful person, and writing takes time and growth. Each story you write will shape you more, and you will find yourself getting better and better and better ...

So let go of your story, friends. Just because it's a part of you doesn't mean it defines you.

#2: Tell the truth to yourself.

There are going to be things you struggle with and face in life, but only by identifying those problems and dealing with them are things going to get better. It's so easy and tempting to ignore problems. I am a pro at that. But the longer you ignore something, the more time it has to sit and simmer in your heart and mind, until it's almost so large, you can't face it at all.

Be honest with others, but also be honest with yourself.

#3: Don't be afraid to look for answers. 

If you have problems, try to find solutions for them! Google it, even if it's far fetched and likely won't get a pinpointed response. Telling the truth to yourself about a given problem is the first step. Finding answers and taking action to help yourself overcome it is the next.

#4: Bookstagramming is fun!

I got a bookstagram this year, and I've really enjoyed it! I haven't posted as often as I would like to, but that's because I've been a naughty reader and been very ... slow on reading. I've read 38 books so far, and I'm aiming for 40 before the year ends.

#5: Hard work pays off.

Looking back on this year from a writing standpoint, I'm actually fairly satisfied? I worked really hard to get draft 2 of The Thief's Conspiracy done, and after almost a year of work, I finished in February. And after reading through that draft, I realized it wasn't as much of a wreck as I had feared. Edits had been very successful. Granted, it still needs a ton of work, but it's better. And it wouldn't have gotten better if I hadn't stuck it out and worked.

#6: Tea puns are The Actual Bes-tea-est Things Ever. 

I'm not going to explain this one. Except for some sly smirking towards the Tricky Seven.

#7: TOP's No Phun Intended album is amazing.

If you haven't listened to any of those songs, go listen now. Forget this post. Listen to Just Like Yesterday. IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

#8: Twitter is fun!

I got a Twitter guys. After ages and ages of my writer frens telling me I needed one (because for some reason that's where it's at for all the authors?) I finally caved and got an account. So you should go get one too! It's great! Much sass! All the snark!

#9: Flying by yourself is not as scary as you might think.

I flew for the first time this year. I actually flew twice. The first time was with my cousin to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Minneapolis Young Writer's Workshop. And the second time was to Arizona to visit my best friend. I was completely on my own the second time, which was a little stressful but completely chill.

When you're doing something new, it's important to take a deep breath and remember that this may be new for you, but a lot of people have done it before and if they can do it, you can too.

#10: Planning is not as confining as going into everything with no clue what you're doing. 

*coughs* That one's a mouth full. And a rather recent realization. Recently I've found it to be true, both in writing and in life, that planning is a very useful tool for effectiveness. It helps organize your thoughts and actions, and helps you to be productive. I even wrote a post on it!

#11: Good things don't last forever. 

This has been a very hard and sad lesson to learn. About a month ago, it was announced that the Minneapolis Young Writers Workshop, a gathering of writers that I have attended for the last two years, had been cancelled and would never again be held in the future. 

That workshop was such a light to my life. It changed me and my writing in so many ways and provided me with amazing opportunities. I wouldn't be the same person I am today without it, and I have so many amazing memories and things to be thankful for.

And I'll never have that again. I'll have amazing opportunities in the future, I'm sure. But I'll never again attend that workshop. It breaks my heart, but it's a part of life. Things end. Chances are given, and opportunities are taken away. 

Be thankful for what you have and the experiences you are blessed with. 

#12: Dream big.

I've made some big decisions this year (on which I will ellaborate more with point 17). And that's a good thing. You'll get disappointed that way, yes. But you'll also soar. Take advantage of the opportunities you've been given. As Oscar Wilde put it, "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." 

Dream big!

#13: Your writing can teach you lessons about the craft, and about yourself. 

There is a motto in my middle grade WIP, The Dream Walkers. My two boys say it often to themselves. 

Be bold, daring, brave.

Back when I was in the middle of editing draft two, I began praying and meditating on these words. And slowly, over a period of several months, God began to show me exactly what each of those words really meant, for my story, and for me in my life. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. 

Examine your writing and your themes and look for ways it can teach you more about yourself, and help you to live to the fullest. 

#14: Write for fun.

For July's Camp Nano, I wrote a book I had no intention of editing, much less trying to get published someday. I wrote it as an "experiment", but also, I wrote it purely for the joy of writing. 

And it is one of my favorite books I've ever written. 

I didn't have plans to edit it, but given how much I love it, I've been reconsidering. That book was written with no stress and no future intentions, and even though it might have felt like a waste of time at first, it wasn't. It was so worth it.

So remember to spend time doing what you love, simply because you love it.

#15: Embrace change.

I've gone through some big changes this year, one big one actually being here on the blog. I underwent an extreme makeover. It was scary at first, but once I finally finalized everything, I was so satisfied. I'm in love with my blog design, and am so thankful I ignored the voice saying, "Just leave it how it is. It'll be safer that way.

Change is a part of life. As my youth minister is fond of saying, "Nothing in life is constant except for God and change." So embrace it.

#16: Embrace newness. 

I did a lot of new things this year. I flew in an airplane. I took my first online college class. I got a job. And through all that newness, there was no small amount of anxiety. But if you look past that fear, you'll see the beauty of life and what the days before you promise. Newness and change go hand in hand, and though they bring with them fear, they're truly gifts from God. 

#17: Doing what scares you is empowering and worth it. 

STORY TIME! On my flight back from Arizona, I sat down next to Sara Ella. I knew who she was but I was terrified to talk to her. And I almost didn't! I almost let the opportunity pass me by, but I toughed up and said hi. She was amazing and wonderful and lovely, and I am so thankful to have talked to her! If I hadn't, a lot of things would not have been put into motion.

Like me attending the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in 2018. That's right. After a month of prayer and heart searching and consideration, I've made the decision to save up and attend this conference, as it will be held near me this coming year. I am so excited and thrilled, and I can't wait to see what I learn through this experience!

Well, that's it for me. Tell me, what have you learned in 2017?


Who We Are

6:00 AM

Mildly deep, spontaneously written blog post time!

I got home from work and was doing Very Important Things like scrolling through pinterest. And I came upon a graphic that said, "Remember what you are."

This was a curious statement to me. Why not who? Why what? We are people. But what about the whats of who we are?

As writers, we have a unique situation. Writing is such a consuming thing. It is both a passion, but also hopefully a career. It is so much more than a hobby. I always wince when people call it that. Do they understand just how much this means to me?

Writing isn't just something we do. It becomes part of who we are.

But, if you're anything like me, we walk a dangerous line. Writing is a part of who we are, yes. It's very, very important to us.

But it's not who we are.

And I'm speaking as a Christian right now. As a beloved child of God, I am a member of His family. I have been seated in Heavenly places. I have been called according to His purpose. I have been made holy and pure. I am beloved and blessed.

So why is it a dangerous line to walk? Why would identifying yourself as a writer be a bad thing?

Because if we hinge our identity on something temporal, it can be taken away.

In other words, my writing is a physical act. When I die, my books will turn to dust right along with me. And on a lesser scale than that, my books can fail. I could never get published. I could get published, but no one likes my work and it does horribly.

What would happen to my sense of self? My self esteem would crumble. Because I, being a writer, would be a failure.

And even less than that. Now, before I'm even published. I could get a negative comment from a beta and it might crush me. If that's what I'm basing my self-worth on, of course negative words on my work would crush me.

But my God? My God is eternal. And He does not fail. My status as His child can only be taken away if I choose to cast it aside--and I have no plans on that.

You want to know a little secret?

Ever since I've given myself to Jesus--ever since I stopped letting my work define who I am--I've found that it's a lot easier to both explain my book to people and share my work with them. I used to freeze up and freak out when someone asked me what my book was about, but now I smile and have a mostly coherent response to give.

Because I'm not afraid of being crushed by their words. It's okay if they think I'm stupid. My worth isn't defined by my "stupid" idea, or their opinion of me.

So who am I?

I write books. I play piano. I bake things. I make coffee. I read a lot. These things matter, and they're a part of me. But they do not define me. 

I am a Christian. That's who I am. And no one can take that from me.

Who are you? Where do you tend to focus your sense of self?


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