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Pink | Apocalypse | Massage

The neon pink sign flickered overhead. Its buzzing no less perturbing than the placid stray cat by the door. In fact, the sound of its malfunction was comforting. Any sound, for that matter, was comforting. Perhaps there was hope after all.

Welcome to my world. Or, shall I say, what’s left of it. Before this dreary mess, hope wasn’t a preposterous pipe-dream. There was a time where, despite the toil of survival, laughter and cheer prevailed. A time of sound, I call it. Sound of cars whizzing down the highway. Sound of steam hissing from the coffee machine. Sound of trees rustling in the evening breeze. Sound of another – breathing, moving, living. But then they all came to a stop. The world ended – the apocalypse. Sound lost its dominance, as the living that made it drew their last breaths. And the world, as we know it, became silent.

I’ve lived in this quiet – alone – for a while now. There was a time I actually enjoyed it. After the chaos ended, the absence of even the faintest noise was solace. The peace, accompanied with the ringing in my ears, chased the maleficent thoughts away. Alas, it was short-lived. Soon I wanted to hear something – the howling wind, the dripping tap, the heavy footsteps. Soon, I needed it. Unfortunately, there were none. I could make my own to fill the void – to help me keep my sanity – but they weren’t organic. They weren’t real or true. They were contrived. But just before I lost all hope, I heard it – the sliding of paper from under my apartment door. It was deafening in my muted world. Its sound and its black, slanted words, offered to feed my hunger.

So, there I was – under the sign of the dingy massage parlour embracing the buzz. I would’ve continued in my languor, but the creaking of the door broke the spell. As it opened from the inside, I saw my first human. He was a six-foot, clean-shaven man.

‘Are. You. Sure?’ he mouthed. He didn’t speak as though to deprive me further.

“Yes,” I replied.

The man nodded and gestured for me to enter. With hope, I did. Into the forsaken foyer, heavily laden with dust, I went. But inside was noone.

“Where are they?” I asked. “You said there were people.”

Shutting the only exit, the man spared no word and took the lead. I was tempted to ask once more, but I tailed him like a lost puppy instead. When we finally came to a stop, it was before another door. This time, he spoke.

“If you live, you live with us,” he said – repeating the offer on the paper.

“And what must I do to live?” I asked.

“Fight,” he replied.

The man pushed the door open, and a breath-snatching reverb hit me. It was overwhelming. My eardrums thumped. My chest tightened. And I hesitated. In the presence of my heart’s desire, I contemplated.

Ahead was a descending flight of stairs, and at its foot was a room lit in dim neon light. Rising from the unknown were disembodied voices. They shouted my name. And their calls wrapped me around their preternatural fingers. So instead of turning back, where it was bright and familiar, I shuffled down the stairs. Oh, how quickly I regretted it. The moment my feet stepped onto the solid ground, I received a nerve-shocking blow to the jaw. And just as I stumbled backward, a cheer erupted.

Where were the people? Attempting to get my bearings, I found myself in the dark. Despite the light, I could barely grasps my surroundings. Everything was a blur of swirls, alike the sky in a post-impressionist painting. What was happening? Where was I? I knew I had to fight to live – to live with these people – but how, when I couldn’t see?

“I can’t see,” I shouted.

There was no response. The cheering continued as a hand reached for me. To spare myself from another painful punch, I repeated, “I can’t see! Stop! I can’t see!”

To think those words would make a difference proved my naivety. Yet in the oddity of the entire experience, they did. Declaring my weakness, a white light flicked on – blinding me in an instant – as the voices quieted down. And in the return of silence, my eyes adjusted. Where I was, was an empty basement with moulding walls. There was nobody around, not even the man who’d ushered me in. And I was alone, in silence, again. What was going on? Had I lost my mind? I must’ve.

“Hello?” I called. “Is anybody… there?”

No reply. No echo. No ghostly creak. Nothing.

“I can fight now,” I muttered. “I can see now.”

Silence.

At that moment, I knew the only person I’d be fighting was myself. There was only me in this world. But as long as I could see, I could fight – whatever the fight was.

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Pink, apocalypse, and massage were words given by Vincent Lim on Facebook. If you have no idea what this story is about, great! It’s up for interpretation.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. But before you do that, leave a comment below with the 3 most random words you can think of. I need your creativity to stir my creativity.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in Original Works

 

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I’m Not Done Yet! Or am I?


Am I done with this novel? Is it good enough? When can I say I’m truly done?

As a writer, I always ask myself these questions. But the fact is, one can never say a novel is truly done. There’s no benchmark. There’s no checklist. There’s just me… and my novel. I’m the judge of when it’s complete. And yet, I cannot judge. I wonder if the extra rounds of editing would make my book worse. I oscillate between editing again or leaving it as it is. I don’t know what to do! Help! The uncertainty drives me crazy. But recently, I’ve come to a realisation.

Whenever I edit my novels, I mostly dislike what I read. I’m rarely happy with the text before me. I always think my story sucks – that I’m not a good writer – and I know I’m not alone. But in the midst of that, there’ll be a moment in time – a second of contentment – that hits me like an unforeseen kiss. It’s rare. It doesn’t happen as frequently as I hope it would. And it only transpires after I’ve grown tired with my work. This emotion comes after my self-loathing is replaced with fatigue.

Have you ever felt worn out from all the editing? Have you told yourself, “I’m done. I’m not touching this again. I’ve done all I can”? This brief moment of unexpected tranquility is how I know I’m done. Because… it only sweeps past me after my final round of editing. And by ‘final’, I mean I decided it would be the ‘final round’ before even starting work. How convenient, right?

You see, subconsciously, we know when we’re done. We can sense it. It’s an innate ability. Like how animals can sense an earthquake, it’s a gut feeling we writers have. But the two things holding us back – driving us to spend years on a single book – are doubt and fear. We doubt we have what it takes. We fear we’re not good enough. So we keep at it, on the same piece of writing, not realising that by working on the same thing over and over again, we’re not growing. We’ve boxed ourselves. We’re unable to learn by exploring other stories within us. We squeeze our creativity, then question why we’re not good enough. And when that moment of contentment hits – when we’ve come to believe we’ve given our all – we quickly brush it aside. We disregard the prompt that’s telling us to stop. And we repeat the vicious cycle of wondering, questioning, and not knowing when it’s done.

I, personally, don’t believe we should work on a single piece of work for years. I know I say this with The Slave Prince being a novel I worked on for 3 years, but I wrote plenty of other work during those 3 years too. And by honing my craft, I’m able to better The Slave Prince as I find my own style and voice. Am I done with The Slave Prince now? Yes. Very done. I’ve given my all. And there’s only so much I can do where I am, right now.

Moving forward, I’m ready to dive into new worlds. I’m ready to challenge my creativity and imagination. And I know I cannot do that if I’m stuck on the same book. Don’t let the question of ‘done’ stop you from moving forward. Because in reality, we’re never done. We will always grow, and we need to let ourselves grow.

So take it from me. The next time a wave of surprising satisfaction washes up your shore, after your ‘final round’ of editing, ask yourself these:

Am I done with this novel? Yes. Is it good enough? No. When can I say I’m truly done? Never.

You don’t have to publish your novel tomorrow. But you most certainly need to start writing something new. Only then can you free yourself from a curse, so cruel, it robs you of your much needed ‘happily ever after’.

The End.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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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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Willow | Mouse | Hat

Once upon a time, there lived a mouse. He hid under the dying shades of a willow tree. And bearing the weight of a gargantuan human hat were his feeble shoulders. For most of his life, that was the frame of his identity. He was a small and weak creature, shielded from the world by a soulless perennial plant, with a destiny that mirrored a curse. And with such a fate, he couldn’t live. Yet, in the irony of his birth, he was told to live – a great and mighty life.

Growing up, he heard stories about the creatures beyond. They lurked outside the drapes of the sallow. They had monstrous fangs, sharpened claws, and an insatiable appetite for little mouses. And the one he trusted – the one that groomed him – the tree, continued to feed him those lies. It painted a hazardous unknown, one he feared the most. But then came the day he was done – tired and frustrated of living in the shadows.

“I cannot live like this, Willow,” he said.

“Then how should you live – as dinner for those beasts?”

“I can sneak.”

“And your hat?”

“I can be quiet.”

“You stupid little mouse. I’ve told you, these devils can smell you. They can’t see, but they can sniff.”

“Then what am I to do – continue with this purposeless life?”

“You have a purpose. You will be great one day. But that day, is not today.”

The tree shook its branches – shedding its browning leaves – ending the conversation. The mouse was left to wallow in the growing darkness, as day gave way to night. Soon, the moon would bask in the starry canvas. And soon, he would hear the terrifying howls of the monsters outside. Perhaps the tree was right. Perhaps he should remain where he was, do what he was told, and wait for the promise of a great life. But how long should he wait? He was no longer a pup. He could now carry the human hat with little difficulty. Should he wait till his shoulders were broader? They didn’t seem like they could grow any wider. Deciding to take control of his destiny, he left the tree.

As he cautiously slipped from under the willow’s shade, the glorious evening hues had altogether vanished. It was now the darkest hour. There was no warmth in its embrace, and absent was the comforting scent of spring. His little feet scurried to the nearest rock for safety – his shadow stretched distorted under the moonlight. And in the silence, his ears perked for the familiar call of the beast. Yet oddly, there was none. Were the monsters in hiding? His eyes darted to every moving shadow, as his breath grew short.

Five feet behind him was the tree in its slumber. It was unaware of his truancy, and he was tempted to scuttle back in fear. But, he pushed forward. He’d caught sight of a glistening body of water, and its preternatural attribute called to him. Its stream winded through the field of grass. Its current stirred a soothing melody. And in its transparency, it reflected the night sky. Dragonflies zoomed above, unafraid of the night and the monsters in hiding. Having not met any creature outside his cocoon, the prospect of friendship excited him.

“Hello there,” he greeted in a whisper.

Three dragonflies buzzed past, but one stayed behind. It had a peculiar question, one the mouse didn’t expect to hear.

“Why are you whispering?” the dragonfly asked.

“The beasts. They might hear me,” he replied.

“What beasts?”

“The beasts that devour mouses like me.”

The dragonfly, in its graceful flight, oscillated from left to right. “I see. But you don’t have to whisper,” the dragonfly stated.

“The beasts-”

“It makes no difference, little mouse.”

“It doesn’t?”

The dragonfly caught the night breeze. It rose in its lift before diving down. “It doesn’t. And with a hat like that, you’re safe.”

“But Willow said my hat makes me vulnerable.”

“Did it now? See that owl on that tree.”

A few feet down the stream was an autumn tinted tree. Faint were the colours of its leaves, but bold was the predator on its branch. The snow white bird swivelled its head toward them, and a shiver ran up his fragile spine.

“That’s a beast!”

In the panic, he scurried into a bed of periwinkles. The dragonfly promptly lowered itself on a leaf beside him.

“One of the many beasts in this world, I’m afraid. But look, it isn’t coming after you,” the dragonfly said.

“Because of my hat?”

“Because of your hat, and because of you.”

“Me?”

“Go to the water, little mouse. It’ll show you who you are.”

“But the beast…”

“Go.”

The dragonfly didn’t wait for him, nor did it offer to watch his back. It left him words without assurance, taking off into the sky. But as it did, a strange desire to see himself sparked. So he took a bold step forward. And with one step, came another, and another, until he was at the bank. In his peripheral, the owl remained perched. But the caution toward his predator evanesced when he caught his reflection.

Staring back, in the mirror of the universe above, was an aged man. Adorning his head was a shimmering crown, embellished with rubies and sapphires. Draping from his broad, square shoulders was a crimson robe. He was no mouse – he was a king. The willow had lied. And a costly lie it was. But could he blame it and not himself? He chose to believe the willow’s tale. He chose a sheltered life. Now, if only he was braver sooner. If only he wasn’t fearful of the unknown, he could’ve lived a greater and mightier life – a life promised from birth. But at the very least, he could now die a man. At the very least… he was no longer a mouse.

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Willow, mouse, and hat were words given by SJJ. When I think of these words, I think fairytale. Hence, I’ve attempted to write a story one would read to a child during bedtime. I’m not sure if I did a good job, so I’ll leave the judging to you.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. You could, perhaps, take a fairytale spin to it too. The choice is yours.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in Original Works

 

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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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Love | Hearts | Roses

loveheartsroses

It was on a sunny day in the year 1995. I stood by a tree in the park, with a box brimmed with origami hearts – it was what she wanted, or so she told me.

“Hey!” I called, waving her over in the middle of her game of hide-and-seek.

“What?” she asked.

Her hazel eyes reflected my grin, as I handed her the gift. That day, she wore a yellow floral dress with puffed sleeves. Alike a princess, she caught my breath in her innocence and grace.

“What’s this?” she asked. “And who are you?”

“It’s what you wanted,” I said.

“My mummy says I shouldn’t talk to strangers.”

“And your mummy is right.”

She frowned, as bewilderment glazed her small face. I had the urge to reach down – to brush her hair – but I pocketed my hands instead.

“Anyway, that’s for you. Happy Valentine’s Day, Emily,” I said.

“Eww!” she exclaimed. “You’re not my boyfriend.”

I chuckled. And just when she proceeded to unwrap her gift, I left.

1995 was the last year I saw her. It was also the last time I did something for her. But it wasn’t the only time. At least, in this respect, I was in control.

It was on a rainy day in the year 2007. I stood outside the diner, with an umbrella and a bouquet of velvet roses. It wasn’t something she wanted, but perhaps something she needed.

She once recounted a tale of being stood up by her date. The boy blamed the weather for his no show, and she laughed at the absurd excuse. But as I caught the glistening tear, trailing down her cheek that evening, I needed to rewrite history.

Entering the quiet eatery, I confidently strolled to her booth. In the warmth of the building, she wore a polka-dotted, monochrome mini dress. When I halted before her, she gazed at me expectantly. Then realising I wasn’t her high school crush, she turned away. Her disregard of my presence broke my heart. But I wasn’t there for me – I was there for her.

“I have something for you,” I said.

“I don’t know you,” she replied, eyes fixated at the barren street outside.

“Someone asked me to deliver these to you,” I added.

Shoving the bouquet in front of her face, I left her with no choice but to accept it. And when she did, she promptly asked, “Who?” Her dejected mien now replaced with curiosity and anticipation.

“Not whoever it is you’re waiting for, that’s for sure,” I replied. I had to tell her – he wasn’t worth her time.

“Then who?”

“Your secret admirer.”

“I have a secret admirer?”

I nodded. I contemplated on asking if I could join her, but the eyes behind the counter narrowed on me like a hawk. So after acknowledging the presence of the stranger, I turned to her and wished, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Emily.”

“Who’s my secret admirer?” she repeated. “Tell me.”

I shrugged in reply. Then before I raised further suspicion, I stalked into the wet outdoors – leaving her wondering from behind the glass window.

2007 was a memorable year. I lingered for months to see the result of my intervention. It didn’t alter the course of history, but it did repaint a memory in good light. That was my intention all along… after I failed her.

It was on a cloudy day in the year 2017. I stood by the sidewalk, moments before her death. She wore a red, fitted dress – one I told her not to, but she insisted anyway.

“I’m ready,” she said.

“No. Let me try again,” I replied.

“You said it yourself. Nothing you do can save me.”

“Please let me try.”

“How many times have you said that – how many times will you watch me die?”

She wasn’t afraid of death. The fear in her eyes, and the dryness in her voice, were for me. She fought back the tears, threatening to break her in the face of death, for me. And at that moment – the moment I’ve experienced countless times – I knew it was the last. Her words were different. Her countenance was foreign. In this timeline, she embraced her fate.

“Emily,” I pleaded.

“I don’t want you to live your life on repeat. Please let me go this time.”

“I can’t do that. I cannot let you go.”

“You can. And you will.”

“No, I need to go back. There’s a loophole somewhere. I know there is.”

She sighed. Then reaching for my hands, she said, “If you must go back, then go back. But when you do go back, don’t return to this moment.”

“What?”

“Let this be our first and final goodbye.”

“I…”

A wrenching pain wrapped inside my chest. Its asphyxiating nature dragged my soul into a darkness I never knew existed. My throat tightened in response. My head scrambled for words I couldn’t say. And my eyes blurred in her final moment alive.

“I love you,” she said, with a thin smile.

“I… Em…”

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

That was, indeed, our first and final goodbye. Of all the endings to her life, I’d found the one with the most peaceful facet. And so I heeded her words – I went back.

It was on an ordinary day. I stood before the place I called home. As I reached for the door, ready to accept the life within, the door opened from inside.

“You’re back!” she squealed. “Happy Emily Day!”

With a smile, I picked her up for a tight hug. That day, she wore a navy blue jumpsuit.

“Happy Emily Day, Emily. Did you miss me?” I asked.

“Every second of every day.”

“I missed you too, Emily.”

Every second of every day.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Love, hearts, and roses were words given by breezyonthebeach. In fact, they were given as a Valentine’s Day prompt last year. I thought, since it’s Valentine’s Day next week, I might as well run with them.

Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. If you’re not up for a fictional tale, then recount your Valentine’s Day with these 3 words. It shouldn’t be difficult… unless you’re as single as I am.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Original Works

 

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How To Tell An Author They Suck

howtotellanauthortheysuck

You don’t.

Unless you’re their writing coach/ language professor/ English teacher – someone professionally hired – you don’t have the right to tell an author they suck. You might think you do, but you don’t.

“Did someone just tell you you suck?” you ask.

“No. This isn’t a passive-aggressive rant.”

Personally, I’ve not encountered anyone who has told me I ‘suck’. But of late, I’ve noticed a lack of respect for authors. And this disrespect isn’t coming from readers, but from authors themselves.

“What? From fellow authors?”

“Yes. It is unfortunately so.”

It seems it’s now considered kind to tell someone they have no talent. It seems it’s now acceptable to feed one’s pride by trampling over someone else. There is no intention to help, only the goal to hurt and a platform to gloat. And we’re doing it to each other.

Authors are fickle human beings. We oscillate between crippling self-doubt and obnoxious pride. Some of us try our best to stay humble when tempted to boast. But some of us think it’s OK to free the beast and let it wreak havoc. What we often fail to see is that this monstrosity loves to attack the weak. And when targeted at fellow authors, it destroys dreams – it magnifies self-doubt and builds fear. It imposes beliefs and revokes creativity. It tears a soul apart for the sake of building its master. And as a cherry on top of the cake, it burns bridges… forever.

Frankly, this beast isn’t something we should be proud of – it’s not an emotion we should even feed. So from one author to another, can I ask you keep this beast locked inside?

“Well, this beast is quite difficult to cage.”

“I agree.”

Pride is a tricky emotion to handle. But despite it tough to tame, it can evolve… like a Pokemon. If we increase our self-confidence – if we learn to trust in our own capabilities – pride would be a memory of the past.

“But isn’t it the same thing – pride and confidence?”

“No. There’s a difference.”

Those with self-confidence find no need to boast about their accomplishments. They don’t step into a ‘coaching’ role when not asked. And they certainly don’t think they’re better than anyone else. Self-confidence is being aware you aren’t the best, but believing you can be the best you.

Those with pride however, will tell the world of all they’ve done. They’ll see the need to correct someone, and think they’re doing it out of favour. They certainly believe they’re better than many others in terms of skill and talent. And whenever there’s an opportunity, they’ll state it.

“How then do we build self-confidence without crossing the line?”

“We starve pride.”

I know, being humble is easier said than done. I struggle with it too. I want people to know I’ve accomplished something. I want the world to recognise my work. But whenever pride tempts me to gloat, I ignore it. I starve its need to shine. When I read a fellow author’s work, I don’t tell the author what they should do and change. Instead, I encourage them to keep writing. I’m not their editor. I’m not their teacher. I have no right to act as though I am. I also know that when they keep writing, they’ll get better. They’ll improve and find their own voice. And if I’m confident in myself, I won’t be afraid if they outshine me – even if they do, I’ll celebrate.

“But what if I’m just trying to help?”

“There is, of course, a difference between giving constructive criticism and being demeaning.”

To know if you’re feeding your pride, ask yourself this: do I feel ‘clever’?

If your words have the intent to make a fellow author admire you, then it’s pride. Because if you truly want to help someone, there’s no subconscious need to feel important. Your goal is to assist, not to fortify your own strength. But like I said, taming pride is – and will always be – a challenge. The only way to beat it is to make a conscious effort to starve it.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel good about ourselves. We should learn to love ourselves and be proud of what we’ve accomplished. But let’s not do it at the expense of others. Let’s not destroy hopes and dreams in the process. Let’s learn to be confident in who we are and what we can do, without stepping on someone else.

“So wait, how do I actually tell someone they cannot write?”

“To think we’re better than someone is to forget we started somewhere too.”

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in Writing Journey

 

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