Holding onto Hope – Owning Your Blog / Writing

Holding onto Hope, blogging, writing

I decided to take a much-needed break from revising my manuscript and sat down to watch a couple episodes of Fringe (now my new favorite TV show. Yes, I know, it came out years ago but I’m new to this). After retiring to my bed and scrolling through Pinterest I was forced to deal with the thought that has been lingering in the back of my mind. The thought was doubt and as I struggled to ignore it, I knew eventually I’d have to face this beast, stop being lazy, and rid it from my consciousness.

As I sit here, typing this, I know I would reread it gazillion times before drafting it in WordPress. I will then preview it a billion more times when it’s drafted in WordPress and I’ll be sure to choose the Justified button for my paragraphs so they look nice and neat. If it’s anything like my usual posting, it’ll be revised in the draft five to six times before I actually push publish and even then I’ll go back to reread it as if I’m not the person who wrote it. I’ll read it on my laptop and then again on my mobile just to make sure it’s formatted correctly. I’ll probably then proceed to share it on social media and go look at it. You know, just to see if it looks right.

If this sounds a bit OCD, then diagnose me now because it’s not an embellishment. Yet despite how hard I strive to ensure the proper crafting and delivering of content online, I sit here and find myself the victim of “what if?” The truth is that I am on the brink of stepping outside of that comfort zone and I’m starting to wonder if I’m good enough. Will the confidence I know I need as a writer be mistaken for arrogance?

Can I be trusted with the responsibility of giving advice or do my readers scan my posts and think that I’m a fool? Yes, I know these thoughts aren’t true and yet, I found myself embracing the possibility that maybe I look silly writing about things that others are so much more knowledgeable of. I sit here and I publish a post with the passion and the authority necessary to own it and yet, I cannot help but wonder.

But then I got a wake-up call. One from Emily Dickerson and one from Verily Mary.

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

I realized as I read these words, that if I am to accomplish anything of significance at all, then I must buckle down, rooting myself in hope, the songbird of my soul. As one of my sister’s so eloquently put it, “Hope is your anchor. Stay tied down in your faith.”

Additionally, this was solidified by a post I ran across prior to writing this post. As I stated, I was scrolling through Pinterest and discovered the blog of Verily Mary. Specifically, her post on:

Truths Every Self-Expressive Writer with a Blog Needs to Hear

…brought me back. I’ve always published posts on this blog with a certain level of ownership and I realized after reading Mary’s post that it’s not about being puffed up and proud (which I make a consistent effort to stay away from at all cost), but only that writers must own their writing with that same level of authority and devout seriousness or we won’t make it.

Tonight I was reminded that if you know you put your all into something (not just your C work, but your genuine all), then there is no need to feel shame. Mary’s words, like my sister’s, spoke life and I offer them to you with the hope that they’ll inspire you the same as they inspired me. Hold onto Hope and never give up:

“I say all of this to say be gentle with yourself when you write online. Aim for excellence while understanding that you are a different beast altogether when it comes folks like you writing in the blogging world. Your writing may be just as meditative and self-reflective as it is logical and analytical. And just because your type of brand or niche is not as saturated or mainstream does not make it less valid. Keep playing your heartstrings and continue to let their songs spill over on your blogs. Whether 10 people or 1000 people hear them, they still make a sound. And in the end, that is what truly matters.” – Mary, Writer, Blogger

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To Be Real

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Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

“The Velveteen Rabbit,” also called “How Toys Become Real,” is a children’s novel written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson. First published in 1922, the story was Williams’ first and most popular children’s book. If you’ve never read it before, the story is about the journey of a toy velveteen rabbit learning about love and what it means to become real.”

*******

People talk a lot about realness today, but few people understand what it means to really be real. The phrase “Keep It Real” is prominent, yet many people are not willing to hurt for it.

“He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these.”

Why is wisdom measured by old age? I suppose its because by the time your hair is gray and your knees buckle and you can’t walk as far, by then you’ve gone through enough heartache to know real. You see, you’ll never be real without going through the furnace of affliction. Yes, diamonds are beautiful, but they had to go through much pressure to get that way. The truth is that we learn early on to hate ourselves because we learn to fight against disappointment, to buck against pain, and to despise trial. We learn not to rejoice in the bad but to complain about it, never once considering that such pain is reaping strength in our favor. As a result, we end up being fake most of the time because we’re not strong enough to be weak.

“Of what use was it to be loved and lose one’s beauty and become Real if it all ended like this? And a tear, a real tear, trickled down his little shabby velvet nose and fell to the ground.”

This. This most painful, most humbling of a moment. Now, you’re real.

The Velveteen Rabbit

Self-Publishing – Laying Bricks Ep 3: Cutting The Excess

Laying Bricks(1)

When applying Mortar, sometimes it’s just too much and you need to cut the excess. When you get your script back, you’ll need to decide what to keep and what to ignore.

Cutting The Bricks

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“A good book needs a good edit: nothing screams ‘amateur’ louder than a glaring spelling mistake or improper punctuation. One criticism leveled at self-published literature is that the quality isn’t up to the standard set by the traditional trade, where editorial services are of precious significance. The constructive input of a skilled editor is certainly valuable; a structural overhaul – or even just a light copy edit – can radically transform a novel, elevating it from the ordinary to the extraordinary. In fact, in a recent poll of publishers and their authors, authors said that the number one thing they wanted their publisher to contribute was ‘discoverability’ i.e.: marketing. The publishers however, all thought that their most important contribution was editorial input.”

Editing, like feedback from critiques and beta reads, is part of the revision process and encourages more rewrites. After the feedback from your readers you’ll need to revise. Then, you’ll need to get your manuscript edited. Finally, you’ll want to take it through another revision, adding the changes suggested by your editor (or some of them).

  • First Draft
  • Beta Readers / Critique
  • Revision Stage One
  • Revision Stage Two
  • Edit
  • Revision Stage Three
  • Proofread

You can really have as many revisions as your heart desires. Not all bricks will suffice at their original size. Most walls require smaller bricks at their ends. Before cutting a script, it helps to place it in the hands of someone with the credentials to absorb the shock of the blow. There are many forms of the edit but don’t worry, you may not need them all. Choose the brick chisel you need to cut your brick:

  • Line Editor
  • Copy Editor
  • Developmental Editor
  • Proofreader

Let’s get help from The Helpful Writer to define these:

Copy

The copy editor specializes in grammar, punctualization, fact-checking, spelling, and formatting. The Copy Editor is used most often in journalism publications, but utilized by some smaller publishers.

Line

Also known as a Copy/Content Editor, often employed by the small – medium publishers, and self-published authors. They do it all – grammar, fact-checking, spelling, formatting, plot, sentences, characterization, setting, punctualization, and voice. They go through every inch of an MS, word by word, line by line.

(EC: Go into the edit with the mind that you’ll have to utterly destroy your favorite parts. Truth is, your favorite part isn’t necessarily the reader’s favorite and we’ve already established the fact that giving readers what they want is important).

Developmental

Used by big publishing houses, and often ghost writers. You can find a few freelancing DEs. They are best with non-fiction writing, but can be hired by fiction writers. Their primary function is to ensure a book moves in a forward motion, watching plot and characterization. Think writing coach.

Proofreader

Many get a proofreader and an editor confused. A proofreader is the one who goes over your MS after an editor. They look for the glaring mistakes missed, generally in punctuation, spelling, and formatting. They look for the glaring mistakes that may have been missed during edits.

What if I want to Keep Parts?

That’s OK, as long as you keep in mind that you’re writing for more than just yourself and what you find profound may not resonate with your readers if it’s not presented well. For instance, I’m a big advocate for writing with purpose. I believe everyone has a mission, a purpose, a calling if you will and that everyone, as a consequence, has a responsibility to live up to this purpose. That said, when deciding what changes to make for me personally, it’s important that the vision is not lost in the revision. There are some parts of a story I will not sacrifice.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t heed the call of feedback that makes sense. It doesn’t have to come wrapped in fancy wrapping paper with a bow, some advice just makes sense. Its logical. The wisdom in what to change in your script is to heed logical advice while learning how to incorporate your passion into a story people will enjoy. As stated in Episode One, at the end of the day good stories sell. Period. Market and promote all you want. If its not a good story, it won’t sell. So while living up to your purpose, keep in mind that no one likes to be preached to. By preach I mean anything that may come across as preachy whether it’s of a religious nature or not. Always remember that there’s a way to embed messages into stories. In short, think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.

The final stage of the revision process is the proofread. Once you got your bricks in place, you’ll want to give it a once over. Are the bricks straight or crooked? Is mortar oozing from all sides? Do you need to cut out portions of the brick itself?

Proofreading is done to look for those final errors that slipped through the cracks. Proofreaders examine your script carefully to find and correct typographical errors and mistakes in grammar, style, and spelling missed during the edit. Proofreading should be done after the edit and is the final stage of the revision process. In this way, you can ensure a polished manuscript before moving onto other fun stuff.

All excess mortar is squeezed out, and the joint is removed by scraping it off with the proofread and we’re ready to move on.

*********

Next– Brick Pathway

Next, we’ll talk about moving on from revisions with a manuscript that is ready to be seriously read. Now that you’ve scraped off excess mortar, what’s next in our brick laying process? Create a welcoming entrance to your book by laying a brick pathway. We’ll discover what that is next week. Stay tuned.

Be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter for more tips, updates on my upcoming projects, free excerpt chapters and articles not yet published to this blog, book promotions, and more.

Disclaimer. Everything I share on Self-Publishing is always based on my own experience and research because I believe you can’t advise people on stuff you haven’t really tried. It’s just best if you’ve walked those shoes. So, that said I do not profess to be an expert. There are too many of them out there for you to glean from. Now, should you find information on this blog useful? Whoo hoo! Go for it.

Missed the first two episodes?

Laying Bricks Ep 1: Guide The Bricks

(About Focusing on the Story)

Laying Bricks Ep 2: Mortar

(About the Revision)

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Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.