Why do I write in English?

Someone recently asked me if I was going to write in English or Spanish. And the truth is… I don’t know.

Well, I know what I want, but my feelings are complicated. I want to write in English, but English is not my First Language, so I wonder if I should and if my writing would be any good.

Writing in Spanish is weird for me, though. I’ve read and studied Literature in English for decades, so Spanish sounds weird to me sometimes (Especially explicit language, which sounds too technical or too cheesy). Still, I would be able to tell if my writing is crap in Spanish, right? Maybe.

For me, the main reason to write in Spanish is that… I want to write Romance with  LGBTQ+ characters, and it’s something one can’t easily find in Spanish. I love helping and I want to help Spanish speakers find stories that will make them happy (which is why I became a translator, but that’s another story).

However, I love writing and reading in English, and if I was confident about both my English and my writing, I wouldn’t hesitate: I’d write in English first, and then see if I want to publish anything in Spanish as well.

Maybe that’s what I should do. Just follow the Fake-it-till-you-make-it philosophy. After all, there are proofreaders, editors and beta-readers out there. I wouldn’t be alone.

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Launch of English fireships against the Spanish Armada. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Masterlist for prospective writers

I love masterlists and writing reference posts, so I thought I could make a short one to go with my “Tips for prospective writers” post. These are some links I found helpful as I followed these steps, so I hope they’ll be useful for you too.

  1. Read a lot
    Sometimes it’s difficult to find what you’re looking for, and sometimes you find it and it’s too expensive. For those times, I recommend doing this:
    -Find your favourite books on Goodreads. They probably belong to a list of similar books. See what other readers have added to the list and increase your Want-to-Read bookshelf. You can also check the most popular lists (and all the rest) here, but there are too many, so proceed with caution.
    Here is another masterlist where you can find many sites where you can legally download books for free.
    -Do everything in this tumblr post: How to legally get cheap or free ebooks instead of pirating like a garbage person. If you’re an ebook-hater, some books won’t be available in this day and age, but authors and goodreads still organize giveaways for paperbacks; and bookdepository, already mentioned in that post, will always be your friend.
  2. Join the community
    You will have done it if you’ve followed the tips to legally get cheap or free books, but you can get more out of this experience if you’re a prospective writer, so:
    -Follow your favourite writers and publishers on goodreads, twitter, facebook, their blogs… Join their newsletters and read what they have to say. It’s always interesting!
  3. Don’t be shy
    Yeah, you people should be the ones telling me how to do it. I just try to reply whenever I have something to say and keep my fingers crossed, but if you’re following your favourite authors, maybe telling them why you love their books would be a good way to break the ice. You’d like that if you were in their place, right? And they’re human after all. Amazing human beings, for sure, but still human.
    -I don’t have links for this one, but please remember that being polite is always necessary when you talk to other people.
  4. Practice
    How you want to practice is very personal, so you may want to go look around the Internet and check what works for you. Here are some things that did the trick for me:
    -Lee Welch shared a post On ignoring writing advice that I found extremely useful. I have problems with anxiety and self-doubt, but now I’ve embraced the thought that my first book won’t be perfect and it doesn’t have to be. I’m also thinking about writing some short stories before I write a novel. It’s all an experiment, right? We’ll see how it goes.
    -Anyway, in order to ignore the advice, you have to read it first. And there are lots of places for that. I think I may make another masterlist about writing advice, but if you want to do some reading now, there’s a very complete list in thewritepractice.
    -You’ll also find lots of sites that will share prompts daily, like the popular Writing Prompts account on tumblr.
    -And, again, a good way to practice and receive feedback from readers is writing fan fiction. There are many places, but my favourite is Archive of Our Own.
  5. Beta-read
    There are many websites and books about finding beta-readers and learning how to beta-read. There are courses and a lot of information online, but a quick Google search gave me these ones that seem helpful enough if you’re not going to go professional:
    -“How to Beta Read” by Corrine Jackson.
    -“Five Commandments of Beta-readers” on Author Accelerator.
    -“How to Be a Good Beta Reader” on BookBaby.
    -“How Being a Beta Reader Has Made Me a Better Writer” by Jo Ullah.

That’s all for now, but please let me know if you have any favourite sites, or if you’ve written some posts yourselves on these topics. I want to read them as well!

 

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Writing Prompts’ Avatar

Tips for prospective writers

As you know, I am a prospective writer myself (I also like the term unpublished writer),  so I don’t have much experience… but I’ve been at this stage for a long time and everyone’s journey is different. Sometimes it’s better to share your experience before too much time has passed, I think, so this is what I’m doing hoping it will help other people out.

  1. Read a lot.
    Especially in the genres you want to write. There’s no better way to know what the tropes are, what has been done before, and what the readers are going to expect and demand.
    You may realize that your original ideas have been done many times before, but don’t get discouraged. As a reader, you’ll know that every work is different and you’ll always want to read more of what you love.
    However, you may also notice that something is missing in your favourite genre and find a way to contribute by making it more diverse.
    Some people avoid reading in their genre while they’re writing, so as not to be influenced by other works. That’s fine, and reading other genres may help during those long periods of time, but I think it’s important to note that those writers have been avid readers before they started writing. Better not skip this step.
  2. Join the community.
    Thanks to new technologies and social media, now we have the opportunity to follow authors, editors, publishers and readers across all platforms. Take it!
    Your favourite writers are all over Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads… and some of them can even be found on tumblr!
    You can also follow their blogs if you prefer that, of course.
    Readers of your favourite genre will also have interesting things to say, and they’ll share a lot of helpful information. They also share reviews and related news… even more often than authors, who are usually busy writing and panicking about deadlines.
    I’ve learnt a lot this way, and I’ll share some useful links I’ve found if you’re interested.
  3. Don’t be shy.
    I know I should follow my own advice, since I’m terribly shy and have no self-confidence… but if someone like me can ask questions when in doubt, you can too!
    And the first thing I learnt talking to writers is that many of them are glad to talk to readers, help people and answer questions.
    Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be polite. Please don’t send authors your work out of the blue and demand their opinion. It doesn’t work like that (sometimes editors and agents have free time and will read some first chapters and give their advice, in case you were wondering). I can’t fathom how some people think demanding things from authors is the best approach, but it’s apparently very common.
  4. Practice.
    If you’ve already read enough (it’s never enough, I know), remember that practice makes perfect.
    Well, nothing will actually be 100% perfect, so don’t become obsessed with perfection… but the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
    Fanfics are the most common practice nowadays, and with good reason.
    Some people prefer writing short stories and sending them to contests, but I am a fanfic advocate. You get lots of practice making short and long stories, get quick feedback, learn how to deal with critique and how to work with beta-readers… (And if you prefer contests because you have a chance to publish your story, remember that some fanfics have shared the same fate.)
  5. Beta-read.
    This is also related to the previous point. Good fanfics need a good beta-reader… and that could be you! Reading allows you to devise a goal, practice allows you to realize which are your most obvious mistakes… but all works need a second pair of eyes (at the very least!) and you can learn a lot from other writers. It’s easier to beta-read fan fiction, since there are lots of fanfics being written every day and you don’t need a resumé to apply. Seeing other people’s strong points and weaknesses will help you discover your own. It is an incredible chance you shouldn’t miss.

That is all I have for now, but I am open to suggestions! Which steps worked for you? Do you agree with any of these? Tell me what you think!

 

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The Archive of Our Own (aka AO3) logo. This is my favourite site for fan fiction.

Third Notebook

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Another notebook that’s now part of the digital world! This one I bought after my trip to Switzerland, where I’d visited an art exhibition and seen Monet’s Water Lilies. As you can see, the cover of the notebook mixes one of Monet’s manuscripts with a background based on the Water Lilies, while the magnetic clasp displays Monet’s signature.

The small notebooks by paperblanks are my favourite because they’re beautiful, solid, and the most durable I’ve found so far. They’re not heavy, either. I prefer the ones from the Embellished Manuscripts collection, like this one. Not only because I love seeing manuscripts of artists I like, but also because the magnetic clasp is very useful, saving the pages from (very) possible encounters with spilled liquids and sharp objects found inside a bag.

Anyway, there were lots of ideas for different stories in this one, including a few ones set in the city where I was born: Madrid. I think I have mentioned them in my previous post.

The fantasy story I was rewriting also appears in several pages, and it looks like I changed the names of the main characters along the way. I didn’t even remember they had placeholder names before!

I also wrote down some weird dreams I’d had and more tips for amateur writers I found around the internet. Maybe I could share some links in the future if anyone is interested.

By the way, this is the last notebook I filled in 2015. I wonder what I’ll find in my next notebook…

What do I write about?

First of all, thank you for all your likes, comments and questions! It was a surprise to find so much support and encouragement after just a few posts.

Some of you have asked me about the actual contents of my notebooks. In other words, you wanted to know what I write about. I don’t know if you meant everything that makes it into my notebooks or what may become a book one day, but I’m assuming it’s the latter.

I’m still reticent about giving details because I’m not sure about anything I do… and I’ve changed plot and characters too many times to ignore the very real possibility that it may happen again. I’m aware that nothing is set in stone… but I can give you (and myself) some general ideas.

These are the stories I’d like to finish one day:

  • A fantasy romance with a disabled MC.
  • A paranormal/historical romance set in Madrid, Spain.
  • Another fantasy romance with an MC trapped in someone else’s body.
  • A paranormal/historical romance set in Alcalá de Henares, Spain.

Since I love fantasy, historical and paranormal romance, I want to write those, but I keep having ideas for other contemporary stories with main characters and situations that’d be fun to write. Perhaps even a superhero romance…

Maybe I should start with those, since the research wouldn’t take that long? I could write a short story first….

As you can see, I can’t make up my mind.

 

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Alcalá de Henares. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons

How did I start writing?

I got asked this question and the short answer is: I’m not sure. I’ve been thinking about it, and I remembered I used to write diaries and very long letters, but I wasn’t very good at keeping diaries and people tend to stop replying to handwritten letters, so that was it.

But then I started what I didn’t know was a self-insert fanfic when I was 10 or 11 years old. As you might have guessed, I’m very glad I never shared it online (I didn’t have a computer and AO3 didn’t even exist back then!), but it must be hidden somewhere. And it shall remain that way forever. It was an animorphs fanfic, if you have to know, and all my friends were in it, of course. Together we were fighting the Yeerks, saving the Earth, getting Tobias to open up about his feelings…. the usual. There was no romance because I wasn’t the only one who liked Tobias, so I didn’t want to make him choose. Better to keep all options open and all parties interested.

I was 13 when my parents heard about a writing workshop for kids. I went there every Sunday for a while, but they cancelled it. Some years later, they decided to open one for teens with the same teacher, and I joined again. And after a while, I joined the one for adults, even though I wasn’t an adult yet. There was a a very intelligent boy who was even younger than me, a goth girl that fought ignorance and intolerance in every way, a Tunisian girl whose writing flowed as beautifully as her drawings, a journalist that hated journalism, a historian that loved auctions, and lots of mate (the drink). One day I got to touch a piano score handwritten by Chopin. It was amazing.

We even published a few books, but nothing too long or elaborate.

After the workshop ended for good, I tried writing a couple of things. But not having a teacher who would tell me if they were good or not… meant I just decided they weren’t. To be honest, my fantasy story was too childish and still a bit of a self-insert, so I think I was right to abandon it. Still, I didn’t want to let some of the characters die, and I kept thinking about them… until I got that notebook I told you about. That’s when I decided to rewrite the whole story now that I know what I want. More or less.

Years have passed and I’m still not confident enough, but I’ve decided to keep writing. Mainly because I enjoy it. But also because these stories and characters are eating my brain until I let them out.

Books don’t write themselves, yes, but they also take a lot of space until you do.

 

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Taken from Wikimedia Commons.

 

Second Notebook

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Another notebook that I can finally put away! I bought this one before leaving on a trip to Switzerland in 2015. It’s bigger than the previous one because I  was expecting to spend a lot of time travelling by train and writing.

And I did write a lot during that trip, so it was a good choice, but it took me a while to finish it because it was too big to carry around. Once I went back from my holidays, I only used it at home because my bad shoulder doesn’t allow me to carry too many things.

Anyway, its contents are now part of my Scrivener projects, and I have to admit it was an interesting process. At some point during that trip to Switzerland, I must have decided to change the main characters of the story I was rewriting (again, and hopefully for the last time). I thought it had happened much later and I was expecting to find a ton of obsolete information, but it wasn’t so. Most of what I’ve found in this notebook is still usable, and I was pleasantly surprised.

It took me a lot of time to type all of it, but most of my notebooks are much smaller, so I hope the process will be faster from now on.

First notebook!

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This is the first notebook I filled with my own writings. The notebook was a present from a friend who lives mainly in Singapore, and it made me want to rewrite a story I’d started writing years ago.

I started rewriting in 2014, so it has rained a few times since then. I’ve also found lots of notes for other stories inside, including several fanfics, and even tips for wannabe writers.

At one point, I started using different colours each time I sat down to write. That way, it’s easier to recognize when another story (or another part of the same story) begins, so I’ve been doing the same ever since. I use pretty colours like purple, teal or crimson because I think they help with creativity. Or, at least, I do get bored when everything looks the same. And my handwriting is terrible, so let me have something that makes reading it acceptable.

I already have this notebook in my (several) Scrivener projects, but this was the notebook that started everything, so I wanted to post a… memorial, I guess.

Thank you for everything, little notebook!