A Simple Suggestion

I had a memory pop up on Facebook the other day, from when I was just finishing the first ever draft of Prince of Light. Oh, I remember that draft. I was so proud of it, so attached to my characters, so convinced that it was the next Harry Potter.

Well, that was a learning curve.

Several years of interacting with other writers and rejections from agents taught me how to have a thick skin when it came to construction criticism. Honestly, my writing is much, much better for it. Yes, those years kind of sucked, because it felt like a huge landslide of rejection, but it made me stronger in the long run.

So when the memory of writing my first book came up, it soon followed with the proud feeling I had when I finally had it self-published several years later. That was back in 2012.

Then came my marriage.

Well, I technically published Prince of Light not long after I got married. The story was complete by then, and I tried getting the attention of many agents before turning to the route of self-publishing.

But then I endured 6 long years of verbal and emotional abuse during my marriage, and the spark of creativity that I had always had burning inside me came close to snuffing out. I never had time or energy to pursue any of my passions, much less continue writing a love story. I no longer believed in love. How could I write about something I had never really known?

I broke free from that situation almost three years ago. And as I healed up, I tried to get back into my story, because I adored my characters so much. I read Prince of Light with a fresh set of eyes, ready to tackle the next step of the story.

Once again, I found myself writing absolute drivel. It was so cheesy and sub par that I couldn’t even bring myself to continue at times. I tried to force my way through, because I knew that as soon as I could get to a certain point, everything would make sense again and it would be really good. But getting to that point was just shy of impossible.

Then, just the other day, I went to a very dear friend’s birthday party, and she introduced me to a couple of new friends. In the midst of our nerding out and writerly conversations, one of the new friends heard me mention that I was still having major writer’s block when it came to Prince of Light.

“Well, you could just do a time-hop,” he said casually. “You know, fast forward a ways in the future and then explain how she got there.”

The light bulb went on.

I suddenly realized that I didn’t have to actually tell the story of how my main character got to the next phase that I saw. I could just explain it through her memories of what happened.

I’m telling you, it’s like my life had new meaning.

I honestly don’t know why that never occurred to me before. It was the simplest suggestion, but it completely changed my way of thinking and opened up a whole new level of creativity that I hadn’t tapped into before.

All that to say, for those of you who have been here since the beginning, when I first published Prince of Light and created this blog for all things character and book related, get ready for book two. It’s finally coming.

For those of you who are new here, well, you’re going to end up seeing a lot more fangirling but still some pretty photos. Ye be warned. 🙂

Love you all, and thanks for being a part of my journey!

Before and After, and the Work In-Between

Can we take a minute and talk about a couple of words that most people don’t like to talk about? No, not those words, you dirty-minded person. 😉  I mean those OTHER words.

Hard. Work.

I confess that there are many times when I seek out instant gratification. I can be very patient when I want to be, but sometimes I just don’t give a flip and want it done NOW. As in, like, finished yesterday. But there’s something to be said for slow and steady progress. For the satisfaction of knowing the blood, sweat and tears that was put into your craft, whatever it may be. I’ve studied many things over the years, from singing to bellydance, and there’s always been a sense of pride from the work that I’ve done in those areas.

Most recently, I finally started pursuing my passion in photography, as previously mentioned in this blog. I’d always enjoyed it to an extent, but I didn’t really start seriously studying it until about three years ago.

One of my favorite places to go is Sahalie Falls. It’s only about an hour or so from where I live, which is amazing, and it’s just a beautiful area. The McKenzie river is green and lush, with several waterfalls and pretty areas all along it. Sahalie Falls is one of the most popular tourist destinations, with a short three-mile loop that allows you to see the waterfalls from both sides of the river. A couple weeks ago, I went there with a good friend and completed the full loop for the first time in a couple of years. When we approached what was nearly the end of the trail, I just had to stop and take a photo of the tiny little waterfall cascading near the trail. It was much fuller than it had previously been, thanks to a large amount of recent snowfall, but it was so nostalgic to me.

That tiny little waterfall was my first ever attempt and capturing a long exposure image. Basically, long exposure means your shutter-speed is set for a longer period of time, so it creates a blurred effect for things that are in motion. That’s how you get that beautiful, flowing look for things like waterfalls or rivers. I had never tried it before, but I remember the sense of pride I had when I first took photos of this place. This was how it turned out:

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I tweaked it in Photoshop, because I hadn’t yet purchased a copy of Lightroom, and even printed out a copy to hang above my bed at our old house. This was it, I had found what I wanted to do forever. I was so happy with the results that I posted it everywhere, convinced it was going to be one of my best pieces ever.

Well, it’s not necessarily bad. But I can see where I over-exposed a lot of the image and didn’t set the shutter for the right speed. Not only that, but over the last two years my style of photography has gone from bright colors and exposure to more dark and moody. When I processed the most recent photo, I used some of the go-to presets that I almost always use now.

SmallFalls3

Same place, same water. Completely different photography styles.

I’m still proud of both of these works. But I love seeing how far I’ve come in the last couple of years. When I look back at things like this, I see the hours of labor and studying that I put into it. I see the late nights and early mornings. I see the tears of frustration over a failed attempt or yet another rejection. But I always see progress.

I know it’s been credited to many different authors, but my mother always used to quote to me that when you find the job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Oh trust me, you’ll still put in the work. But when it’s your passion, it’s worth every moment.