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My Existence As A Writer

How often does life corner you to think about your existence?

For the most part of my life, I knew I wanted to write. Writing is my passion – it’s my calling. Writing is my purpose – the only thing I have that truly defines me. But how much of my writing has made a difference? How much of my writing has inspired, provoked, and brought about change? Well, to be honest, not much.

In this unexpected season of my life – where change has forced me to question – I realised I’m not writing enough to make a difference. Or at least, I’m not using my words enough to do so. I write for fun, for leisure, to pay the bills, and all for what? What I’m doing brings no fulfillment. And I cannot imagine living the next 50 years as such.

Hence, I’ve decided to make a couple of changes in my life and on this blog. And for the first time ever, I’m going to stop a project. You see, I’m the kind of person who endeavours to finish every race. But when I begin questioning the race – dreading to put my best foot forward – I believe I should stop. It’s not quitting. It’s realigning why I do what I do. Thus, I’m calling an end to Beneath The Crimson Star. This blog series, as cool and fun as it might sound, serves no purpose. The story exists to challenge my imagination, but I find no drive in that reason alone. So in replacement, I intend to write stories that matter.

Moving forward, I want to share more on my writing journey while publishing thought-provoking stories you’d enjoy. I’ve monitored the ‘likes’ and I’m able to gauge your general interest. In no way I intend to make this blog about me alone. I want it to be about you too, and I plan on giving you my best. So if you have any questions – in regards to whatever – ask away. If my words can help you realise your full potential, while I uncover mine, I’m more than happy to share them with you.

Wow. Apologies. This post reads rather personal

Honestly, I never thought I would question my existence. I always believed I knew, until I took a step back and found myself in a meaningless monotony. This brief existential crisis has made me more self-aware. It brought me to a conclusion that I want to write with a purpose – that I want my words to have meaning 7 days a week. Writing to pay the bills isn’t how I want to live this life. And I hope that in this paradigm shift, you would continue to stand with me. I don’t know where life will take me from this point onward, but I’m hoping I’ll be at a place where I can make a difference… and truly live.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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The 7 Stages of ‘Writing’

the-7-stages-of

Or should I say, The 7 Stages of ‘What did I get myself into?’

Those who think writing a novel is a single phase operation, I believe it is my duty to inform you that it isn’t. Oh, how I wish it was. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Alas, this arduous truth should not be withheld. Hence, I’ve decided to write this post and share my 7 stages of writing.

Disclaimer: My process isn’t benched at 7. Often times I go beyond when working on a novel. Sometimes I go under when working on a short story. But as my standard guide, 7 is a wonderful number. Do note that these stages do not include planning, and most certainly excludes professional editing.

1. Word Vomit

Mean Girls, anyone? My first stage of writing is vomiting everything in my head onto a word document. It’s just me, getting the story out, while trying to be as creative as I can. However, creative writing isn’t my goal. This stage is about telling, or should I say ‘reporting’, the story as it is. I do build the universe, I do develop the characters, but only as much as it is required to complete the story. Then, once my head is figuratively empty, I move to stage 2.

2. Rewrite

This is where I get creative. I research, google, and expand my imagination to paint vivid worlds and mold believable characters. I endeavour to be as ‘literary’ as I can, one paragraph at a time. Yes, one paragraph at a time – I rewrite every single paragraph. And yes, I detest this stage. If I could skip it, I gladly would. But I can’t, of course. Nobody wants to read word vomit.

3. Line Edit

Once I’ve heaved a sigh of relief, after completing stage 2, it’s time for line editing. I read aloud, test the pacing, check for errors, and split lengthy sentences. I scour for problematic areas. And as an extra step, I send the manuscript to beta readers.

4. Rewrite… Again? Again.

There’ll be areas in my writing that bug me excessively. So in this phase, I rewrite those paragraphs, dialogues, and sentences that rob me of my sleep. I also catch repetitive words in each chapter and find alternatives for them. And while doing all of that, I request feedback from my beta readers.

5. Line Edit… Again? Again.

Since I rewrote, I need to re-line edit. It’s back to reading aloud, testing the flow and pacing, and making minor changes if required.

6. Proofing

Before proofing, I usually take a break. And by break, I mean working on another story (either a new one or an existing one – it doesn’t matter). I try my best to clean my palate of the current work, and only return to it a month or so later. Fingers-crossed, my brain wouldn’t default to autocorrect upon my proofing. Though, let’s be honest, there’ll be mistakes I’ll overlook. Hence, stage 7.

7. Audio Proofing

Depending on the work, I sometimes run audio proofing twice using different voices. I alternate between tssreader.com and speechninja.co. Audio proofing helps me catch what I’ve missed, while testing the tempo as if read by a reader. It’s not a full proof stage in cleaning a manuscript, but it does call out errors. Despite it taking a while, it’s worth the time.

So, there you have it – my 7 stages.

Like I said above, this is just a guide for me to follow. The Slave Prince has gone over 10 stages, with multiple rewrites. Trails of the Wind has been audio proofed 3 times. Whereas most of my stories below a 1.5k word count are only rewritten once.

Also, the stages differ from author to author. I know of authors whose stage 1 is carefully executed requiring fewer rewrites after, and of those who’ve lost count of their rounds. It depends on the individual. But, we can all agree on one thing: no story should be published straight from the head.

If you’re new to writing, I hope this doesn’t scare you. Draw strength from your passion and dream, and you’ll find yourself doing your very best. Writing may seem laborious, but if it’s what you love, you will do it. Heck, you have to do it. It’s your life! And you’ll embrace whatever it encompasses.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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Dream & Doubt

dreamanddoubt

I don’t question my dream. I don’t question the amount of work I put into achieving my dream. I don’t question why I dream. And I certainly don’t question if my dream is worth it.

However, I do question my skill – my talent – and if I really have what it takes to do it. Am I made for this industry? Are my works of any value? Am I making a difference? Do I disappoint my readers? Can I actually produce something that people love? Is there a hint of potential in me? Why am I… not good enough?

I would start a round of editing and go, “Hey, this writing isn’t so bad,” only to think, “This sucks,” moments later. I would crack my fingers, ready for a fruitful day of rewriting, only to sigh at sunset having not achieved my goal. Out of all the days spent at the keyboard, 90% end with disappointment. And don’t get me started on rereads of older works. Boy, if I had soil beneath my feet, I’d bury my head in a jiffy.

So let’s be honest – I’ve never once been assured of my writing.

I’ve never been confident with what I put on the table. I cannot say my works are worth reading, because there’s always something wrong – something I cannot fix. I can give my all. I can drain my emotions. But I cannot be 100% sure I’ve done a good job. And if you’re finding this relatable, then I’ve achieved the goal of this post.

You’re not alone.

It’s nice to know that, huh? Still, it doesn’t change the fact that we still doubt. And as comforting as the words of Bukowski, it’s something we cannot escape.

The problem is that bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt. – Charles Bukowski

Despite the assurance that, “Hey! I’m a good writer because I doubt!” we still chuckle and smirk in disbelief. Maybe the saying is true. But whom am I kidding? I don’t believe Bukowski. I’ve not read any of his works. Even if the internet proves he’s a good writer, we don’t know if this quote is true. There’s no substantial evidence to it. So, where does that leave us? Back at square one.

At least, we’re not alone.

I know it’s impossible to be confident in my works. I’ll always be afraid of disappointing my readers. I’ll hold my breath at the sight of a new review. I’ll not know where I stand in this ocean of writers. And I’ll never stop wondering. You probably feel the same way too. However, in the unknown, I will keep writing.

My dream is far too valuable to be shaken by uncertainties. So I’ll live with them – both doubt and dream – the unlikeliest of friends. In spite of their differences, they drive each other. And the result of their friction fuels my passion. At the end of the day, that’s all I need. That’s all you need. The only important emotion, in the midst of our insecurities, is passion. Because passion… is the spell that turns dreams into reality.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Writing Journey

 

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Poetic Milestone

poetic milestone

What should I say on a day like today? What right words should I put into play?
I know a simple thank you cannot do. So maybe something else in a similar hue?

In all honestly, I don’t know how to thank you all. Five thousand subscribers! That number is not small.
I must add something different in this special post. I have to try to be a more grateful host.

Maybe I should just say what’s on my mind? I’m sure those words will come out fine.
So please bear with me a little longer. Here comes more words from an indie author.

Firstly thank you for your time, dear reader. You’ve kept the dreams alive in this dreamer.
Thank you also for sparing a word and a thought. The monster of doubt, together we fought.

I truly appreciate all the support you have given me. If not for it, where would I be?
Even with all the ups and downs, your presence has made a smile from a frown.

I hope you will continue to be by my side, even if this journey has an unpredictable ride.
Surely you know that there is no fun, if the dragon is slain by a party of one.

Alas, the climb to the peak is still a long way and my adventure is only starting today.
But I’m ready for whatever tomorrow brings, even if the bee stings at the late arrival of Spring.

I pray my words will inspire much more, as I try to be better than I was the day before.
My dream is not impossible and yours aren’t too. So believe in yourself and don’t let fear stop you.

Let’s continue to dream together. With our passion, we can always go further.
Let’s toast to a greater future, and thank you once again for supporting my endeavour.

 Signed, Jeyna Grace © 2014
 
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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Others

 

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Lost

Lost

I was lost… lost in the dark eerie forest. This was not your ordinary forest with cute rabbits, deer families, and an orchestra of bird chirping and rustling of leaves. This was the kind of forest you never, ever want to be lost in. And though it may seem extremely wise to not venture into it, I did not have a choice.

On the other side of the forest was a town with fresh fruits and meat. In order to have food on my table, I had to go through the forest to buy some. Everyday, I and a few others would follow a small path that ran in between tall trees with roots that were waiting to trip passersby.  Along our journey, we would hear strange howls and loud growls, but as long as we followed the path we were safe.

Unfortunately for me that day, I was held up at town. There was a minor dispute and the few that came with me left without me. I was not going to ask them to stay, because nighttime in the forest was the worst. So, I sent them on their way.

After the little problem was settled, I contemplated on going home. It was a wiser idea to stay in an inn for the night and head back home the next day, but the thought of my hungry pregnant wife and son made me choose the riskier choice.

As I slung the little knapsack over my shoulder, I tightened my grip on my torch and started my journey. The forest was scarily quiet at night, as there were no chirping of crickets and hooting of owls. There was also no wind, and everything stood silently still. The only sound that I could hear was my footsteps and my breathing.

Nightime in the forest was like a walk in a dark room. The trees blocked out the moon and the torch was all the light I had. On several occasions, I caught a pair of eyes watching me. But when I waved my torch in their direction, they disappeared.

It did not take me long to conclude that the fire was protecting me. It also did not take me long to realize that I was lost. I had been walking for hours and I had not even seen a glimpse of my little village.

At that hour of revelation, I had no problem accepting the facts. Being lost was a definite fact, but being alive when morning came was not yet determined. I knew I had to try and survive the night for another shot of returning home.

Since there was no use walking, I stopped by a tree and tried to build a fire. The fire on my torch was not going to last much longer, and I needed it to keep me safe. Gathering as much dry leaves and sticks around me, I wasted no time in making a bonfire that lit up enough of my surroundings.

When the light spread out and the fire on my torch died away, I noticed dozens of eyes disappearing into the darkness. Were they watching me or was that just my imagination? I couldn’t tell the difference, all I could do was sit as close to the fire as possible and pray that day would soon arrive.

Despite being so tired, I kept my eyes open and watched the flames flicker. The fire was getting smaller as the minutes ticked by, but there was nothing I could do about it. As the eyes began returning, I knew my fight for a different fate was a losing battle.

When the fire finally sizzled out, I hugged my legs and buried my head between my arms. I could hear them walking towards me, their footsteps light but their breath heavy. Death was so close, and I lost all power to run. My legs, arms, and head were all locked in position, leaving my back exposed to the creature that was now behind me.

It bended towards me and I felt its warm breath against my neck. The hairs on my arms shot up immediately as I felt the creature trace its sharp finger down my spine. A few seconds later, I felt a sharp pain as the creature clawed across my back. My lips felt too numb to even utter a cry.

I could feel my blood soaking into my shirt, and yet I made no move. I shut my eyes tighter and when I felt too tired to anticipate my death, I slipped into a dreamless state.

When my eyes finally opened, I did not know where I was. The sun was up and I was sitting in front of a pile of ashes. It actually took me a while to realize I was not dead and that I was still in the forest. I also saw the path leading home a few feet away and I could not believe I was so close. Though, it was much harder believing I was still alive.

As I got on my feet, the searing pain in my back sent me on my knees. My hand trembled as I reached to my back to feel what I could not see. The shirt I wore was soaked in dark red, and the flesh on my back was caked with blood. I was glad I did not bleed out, but the clogging of my blood for such deep wounds terrified me.

The memories of the night before immediately came flooding back, and everything that happened imprinted something in me. It was as though the three gashes on my back was a mark… a mark of something I did not know or could ever imagine.

If only I kept the fire burning, if only I made my bonfire bigger, if only I persevered long enough I could have reached home with my torch still ablaze.

Now… there is nothing I can do. Something feels missing, something feels wrong, and I will never be able to place a finger on it.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

What does this story relate to besides scary monsters in the dark? Take a guess!

I know this is strange, but when I was writing this story I had one word in mind…. passion.

We all have a passion, whether it is reading, dancing, hiking, running, gaming, etc. Our passion is our escape, our painkiller, and most definitely our entertainment. Some of us have a bigger passion and some more extravagant, but to each of us they are important.

However, a time will come when we enter the forest of work, family, loans and responsibilities, and our passion is slowly sidelined. When we realize that we are losing our passion, we try to rekindle it with a bonfire, but ultimately it fades off. Reality then creeps up behind us and marks us as a passionless soul, sometimes wondering what are we doing with life.

If only we kept the fire burning, if only we protected our passion by investing more time into it, if only we held on long enough instead of just giving it up because ‘there were more important things to do’. If only…

Fortunately for us, we can still get it back! We just need to find the passion we lost and light a new torch 🙂

Anyways, leave a comment below and let me know what you think! This story is a another strange metaphor, but I hope it communicated well enough 🙂

© 2013 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

 
16 Comments

Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Original Works

 

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