A Relationship Takes Work

Writing is a relationship. I’m a little afraid to jinx it, but writing is going well, lately. I’m definitely all over it, trying to figure out why it’s going well so that I can replicate the situation, environment, and mindset for the next time writing becomes challenging.

I’m not sure if it was like this for all my schoolmates, but during my time in conservatory and thereafter, I was rather… down-to-earth and business-like in making a career and making money from music. In other words, keeping the passion and love alive was definitely not on my priority list.

Being “professional” was sorta drilled into your skull at all costs. (I am a rare bird in that I remember my time in conservatory fondly. The majority of my friends spent about a decade “getting over” the experience. When I was there, they hired a full-time psychiatrist to help students deal.)

I remember one friend being rather proud of herself for being down-to-earth enough to realize that “it’s a job, just like any other.”

It worked, honestly. I think C.I.M. boasts that 90% (around there) of their alumni make their living in music. But personally, I got burnt out. That was my fault, not C.I.M.’s. I sometimes cut corners out of what I loved about being a musician and teacher in order to make money.

Bad idea. It kills your enthusiasm, stresses you out, and burns you out, which, long-term, gives you less profit.

With writing, I’ve been careful to take the opposite approach: I protect the writing at all costs. I am trying to nurture my enthusiasm. I refuse to settle. Sure, what I’ve learned about making money in the arts is up there in my head, and I can’t completely turn it off (and perhaps my approach only works because of this), but my focus is on having fun and loving story and giving fiction everything I’ve got.

So I’m very careful to monitor what motivates me and what does not. Writing is going awesome at the moment. It’s erotica, though. I’ve got to figure out how to apply that to a NY-able genre.

Another big difference is that I have a lot more on my plate to write. And people already want it. That makes a big difference for my motivation.

Oddly, I have some deadlines coming up, but I’m writing as if I have none—and writing faster because of it. I’m just spending every second I can writing because I can’t wait to get back to my world and my characters.

I forgot what this was like.

I’ve been going to the movies a lot. That’s important for me. I love story, and in a movie I can disappear in it. When I read, it’s a little like working. I analyze too much while reading, so movies help me disappear in story.

I’m trying to remember these things, so I can keep the love alive.

How do you keep the love alive in your relationship with writing? What motivates you the most?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: , ,

WIP is Finished!

Stand down Deadline Alert. Natasha has been reported to be both sane and approachable.

Thank goodness. This one was hard and it stressed me out, for some reason.

How are taxes? I finished mine in January, but I’m still waiting on a 1099. Yeah, I know. I know. I was just hoping to save the hassle. There’s still a chance I could be emailed the numbers, which would be fine with me.

Speaking of which, one of my other pubs put the numbers in the wrong spot. Annoying. Yeah, yeah. I know. Yes, I know.

I have five WIPs in the wings, and I’m hoping to get three of them done by the end of May. I finally want to try self-publishing: I’m not convinced I couldn’t have better royalties on my own, with a lower price point. But I have another one or two for one of my pubs, and then my YA to query agents/NY.

The YA is the one I most want to finish, but I’m anxious to get all of them done.


Not “anxious.”

I mean, I am calmly looking forward to when they will all be done.

The only “craft” goal I have for the next month is this: I want to write without forcing an adrenalin-rush freak out in order to grind out my word count. I still want to write fast a lot, but I want it to be slow and steady throughout the day, like a turtle.

Slow and calm and relaxed like a turtle.


I might take a day off tomorrow. *waits for the world to come to a groaning halt* Probably not. I don’t know.

Do you take a day off between WIPs? What’s your foremost writing goal, right now?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags:

All Over the Place

I am working on seven projects right now, with three simmering in the background. All novel-length. This is insane.

I don’t normally work like this. I’ve never worked like this, and it’s driving me a bit batty, but I find that when I expect myself to write a minimum of 3K-5K a day, I get stuck if I can’t switch to another project.

My word count, at least, has improved. I generally feel guilty and lazy and beat myself up for anything under 3K. This is stupid and irrational because most writers hover in the 1K-2K range, but it is what it is. I have a strong and healthy guilt complex.

And I guess I’ve always felt I need to triple the work of everyone else, just in case I have no talent. Having a lot out there does make a big difference.

Two of my projects will hopefully be an experiment in self-publishing (finally!). Three of my projects are for my current publishers. Two could go either way. And three are targeted for New York.

I’ve learned two things, so far.

First, I seem to need a more exciting idea and bigger challenge with my stories than I have in years past. In the first few years, I’d shrug and make any idea work. I still can do that, but I don’t like it anymore. I need to really LOVE it, in order to write it without much wailing and gnashing of the teeth.

Second, with a lot of things in the pot, it’s interesting to see how much some stories stand out… and others don’t. At some point, I’ll have to start abandoning stories, and I think that’s a good idea. I’ve never done that before. I usually make everything work.

Multiple projects give me a perspective that working on a single project doesn’t.

But I think I still need to write faster. Maybe I should up it to 5K-7K. This is an important year, and I need to “grow” a lot of stuff that I can get money from later.

I feel a lot of pressure to pay bills, to make this career work. I took away my safety nets, which was a good thing for me, but I keep looking at the calendar and watching time pass and getting nervous.

My friend can write 12K-15K of brilliance every day, I kid you not. She does take days off sometimes, so maybe that’s a requisite, but I always feel the pressure to write faster.

How do you handle the pressure? How do you get yourself to write faster? Have you ever tried working on multiple projects? Do you feel pressured to write faster?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing,Writing Biz | Tags:

Delete Freak

This is what I’ve been, lately. Delete, delete, delete. It’s like my obsession with clutter: I can’t fix until I get rid of all the junk around. I get unhappy with my tone or mood and throw the whole thing out. No, I can’t revise or edit it. I have to erase it from existence.

Since December 2009, I believe I have deleted at least 60,000 words. Not even counting the five blog posts I delete for every one I post. How DID I used to write a post every day?

This has got to stop. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me, because I’ve NEVER done this before.

As for good news, the Year of the Ox is over. The Year of the Metal Tiger is here, which is a finish-everything-you-start kind of year. I’m told.

Cool. I can use some of that energy.

(I do know I’m grasping at straws.)

(But whatever works.)

image I fired up  Write or Die yesterday. Have I talked about Write or Die yet? Why yes, I have. It triples my productivity, but I seem to keep forgetting that fact and not using it. It’s free to use online, but I bought the desktop version ($10), which is prettier and has a few more features. (Customizable font color, background color, save feature that appends to a file, word war, and other stuff.)

It turns writing into a game. You enter a word count or time goal, and you have to keep writing. If you stop writing for more than ten or twenty seconds, it either plays an awful screeching violin sound (Normal Mode), or it starts deleting your words (Kamikaze Mode). It’s fun, and I write fast again. And I actually keep my words, fancy that!

You can give Write or Die a quick whirl online, see if it does it for you or not.

The desktop version also has a “Word War” feature that’s in beta, where you hook up with someone else, and a progress bar at the top of your screen tracks you and your war partner, to see who writes the most words in a certain amount of time. (Doesn’t seem to be working at the moment, though…)

It all sounds silly, I know. But whatever gets the words out. It makes writing feel a bit like a video game. And the quicker I write, the better.

It’s odd, but the faster I write, the better I write. What’s up with that?

Do you have any tricks to get the words out when the words are coming too slow? Ever been on a deleting rampage? Ever play with Write or Die?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: ,

The Problem Is…

…most of what’s on my mind, I don’t want to blog about yet. So blog thoughts just aren’t coming. These snippet posts seem to be all I can do, lately.

Writing Fast

I’m a little envious of people who both write full-time AND take a year to write a book. Wow. Just think of all the research you could do, and how leisurely you could write! You could feel proud and on track for having written 400 words a day, AND take 65 days off a year! (Or use 65 days for brainstorming or research, etc.)

Or maybe I’m just upset that my novel for “real name” is going slow as freakin’ molasses. And I’m writing it amidst pounding out words for pseudonym.

Honestly, I’m just sick of the pressure to always write faster. But what can you do? Gotta pay the bills. And really, I’m not real fond of that pressure, either. They’re close to the same thing.

Learning Spanish

I’m learning Spanish. It’s hard, as I’ve never worked with a Romance language before (just the barest of Italian). I’ve been dreaming in Spanish, which is encouraging. One of the things I’m using to learn is LiveMocha, which is great. It’s a bit like Rosetta Stone, except it’s online and free.

It’s like learning a language on Facebook, because once you submit an exercise, three or four people will write and tell you that you suck and need to try again. (Okay, not really that bad, LOL!)

What’s funny is that I grade TOEFL tests now and then, since I speak English. And WOW. I’d heard they were… ridiculous, but they really are. The last one I graded was on the study of etymology throughout history, written in unreadable college textbook style. (And NOT the applicable kind of etymology. Just long terms that I’ve NEVER used in my ENTIRE life, used in thick and sludgy prose I had to read three times.)

Real useful. *eye roll*

I’m also using Fluenz and a wonderful book called Listen ‘n’ Learn Spanish with Your Favorite Movies. The last one is definitely my favorite, and my Netflix account is getting a good workout, too. :-) I also dabble with the free courses written by the Foreign Services Institute. Useful, but “hard” learning.

My goal is to be conversing at Intermediate level by the end of February.

Contact Form

Lastly, I’m getting a lot of blank contact forms. Could a couple of you contact me, just so I can see whether spammers are blanking me, or if my contact form isn’t working? Thanks so much!

So what’s up in your world? Any blog ideas for me, LOL?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing,Musings | Tags: , ,

Stories Fighting; Readers

I made a decision. I made a plan. I outlined the stories I’m writing in my thirty-sixth year, with a method to my madness, a plan for my career. And this other story is interfering. What am I supposed to do?

I’m so irritated.

To make matters worse, I feel horribly underqualified to write the story that’s bugging me. The story that’s interfering has nothing to do with what I want to write. For goodness sake, it’s commercial, I guess you’d say, almost on the literary side. I am a genre writer.

I suppose it’s okay if I flit back and forth, but what really irritates me, is that the planned story is not writing. I’ve written a buttload of crap and brainstorming and nothing holy is emerging.

When this happens, I always go back to pseudonym. Her stories write so easily, mostly, kind of. Well, easily in comparison. Why do they write so easily?

There’s an element of escapism, I suppose. And when Glenn’s away, particularly, there’s an element of loneliness seeking company with my characters. There’s always a passion… usually to comfort my character, to make her feel less lonely, empower her, give her her dreams.

When things are flowing, there’s always this big element of love. I feel like my heart is wide open. Just… loving.

I need to love my audience, I suppose. Angie laughed that I’d never written a spy thriller, having been “spyscribbler,” LOL. But the number one problem I had and never resolved, is that I didn’t know my audience, and I couldn’t write blind.

So maybe, instead of searching for my story, I need to search for my readers. I need that touchstone. Even if I’m wrong about my readers, I still need to write to them. I need to love them first.

I don’t know.

What do you do when a story isn’t writing? How do you feel when a story is flowing? What triggers that rush of words, when things are going well, when you get that “writer’s high?” Do you try to get an emotional sort of connection to your readers before you start your story?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Writing Craft | Tags: , , ,

2009 in Retrospect


I spent the morning reading through old blogposts for the year. Evidently, I really wanted a more peaceful life. (I got it.) And somehow, I knew change was in the air.

Biggest Disappointment: I really want a baby. Very badly. I’m not feeling much hope on that front, for health reasons, age reasons, private reasons, and health insurance reasons. I cry inside a little (or a lot), every time I see a child. I’m trying not to think about it for a year or so. I’m not succeeding.

I ended my piano studio on a kick-ass note. I decluttered, decluttered, and purged this year.

Number 1 Thing I’m Proud Of: After three (or more) years of contemplation, yearning, and restlessness, I am finally living outside the window. These are my new adventures. I bought, (broke), and fixed a camper.

Campground life in Ohio rocked. Except for Dish Day, which was a lot of work there. But I didn’t want to leave: I was close to my best friend and niece. I miss them daily. Especially my niece, who is turning three today!

Restlessness followed me to my first stop, but not to Arizona. Part of that restlessness was my foot; I’m dying to get back to Tae Kwon Do. The foot’s actually doing better, and I practice my kicks in the pool every day. As soon as I can run, I’m signing up.

I am disappointed I won’t get to Slab City for another year.

The trip across the US was exhilarating. Living in Arizona is like living in the Wild West. Border Patrol is BIG, here.

Number 1 Thing I’m Least Proud Of: On a related note, I’ve been wrangling with writing all year. I felt I was getting worse. I wish my word count had been better. I want writing to be easier and faster in 2010.

ADD has been a big challenge for me, probably because my lungs have been drowning, and lack of oxygen makes thinking even more difficult.

I decided to read 365 books from September 2009-2010. I am about thirty books behind, but I’m thrilled that reading has become a bigger part of my life than Facebook and blogging, LOL. (Although I miss the socializing!)

At the beginning of the year, I was moved to tears at Obama’s inauguration. Near the end of the year, I was heartbroken over the prejudice against same-sex marriage.

And finally, my favorite and most self-inspiring post of the year is There’s No Traffic On the Extra Mile. For the thing that was most hard for me to write this year, I went twenty extra miles to get it done. (Seriously, swear to God, it was so challenging for me that I just went crazy, doing about eighty times the work it called for, and that’s probably an under-estimation.) And I’m tickled pink that it ended really well, being one of the things I’m most proud of.

Overall, it was a year of big changes, probably the biggest of my life thus far. I miss my niece and best friend. I can breathe better here, and I’m learning how to control my asthma. I think it’s a year I can be proud of.

How was your 2009? What are you most proud of? Least? What’s your verdict?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: My Adventures | Tags: , , , ,

Write. Or Die.

My NaNo novel is kicking my butt. I’m not saying pseudonym’s stories are formulaic, but they sort of are. They follow a familiar pattern and have familiar elements and, while I do try to bring something fresh to the formula, they have a structure that feels easy to me, because I’ve done it many times. And while pseudonym’s stories have explored every genre under the sun within the confines of her genre, a YA/New Adult novel is completely kicking my ass.

But I’m kicking back. I’m shoving it out. I got busy this month, so I wrote about 20K on a project I was finishing later than I wanted to, plus I wrote about 5K on a novel I want to write sometime soon, plus I lost a lot of days being sick.

So I have five more days to hit 50K. I’ve calculated that if I write 500-750 words an hour for the next five days, about 12 hours a day, then I should be good.

Write or Die is a lifesaver at helping me push the words out past my fears. NaNo has inspired some genius inventions, that’s for sure.

And it’s not just NaNo that’s pressing on me. There are two more novels targeted for New York that I want to write in the next few months, as well as pseudonym has about 60K worth of projects for the first few weeks of 2010, plus a 60K erotic novel I want to test out self-publishing with.

I love my life right now, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure to hustle for fear I’ll lose it. I do need to up my income in the next year… or find another career. And that is NOT an option.

So it’s write or die for me.

How do you push the words out when you’re flailing, but a deadline is looming? How do you hustle?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: , ,

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