Fourth notebook

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After the last notebook of 2015, I had a bit of trouble choosing which notebook to transcribe next. I found myself with 4 notebooks I’d filled in 2016… but I didn’t know the order. I already said I’m rather chaotic, but I didn’t want to make things worse by starting with the wrong one. In the end, I realized I had two notebooks I must have used at the same time… more or less.

One was big, so I must have used it at home, and the other one was small, so I must have taken it everywhere. I probably finished the smaller one before, at least, so I decided to start with it.

You may have noticed this notebook and the previous one have the same format, but I already said they’re my favourite ones, so you should just know that I bought this one after reading “A Seditious Affair” by KJ Charles. I couldn’t not buy a notebook inspired by William Blake’s poems after reading that wonderful book.

This notebook had many snippets that never became a story and a lot of information for a fanfic I never wrote. Other than that, I continued working on rewriting my old fantasy story, now with new main characters. I also started to collect names for all the characters and places. And there’s even a story a cab driver told me, about one of his ancestors who’d been a bandit in Southern Spain.

Spoiler alert: I was surprised to find out that it was in January 2016 when I decided that two of the characters in the fantasy romance would know each other, but only one of them would remember having met before. I thought that had been much later and now I wonder where that came from. Anyway, that made a lot of sense and it became an important plot point.

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

New avatar and domain

I finally decided what pic to use as an avatar! I will use something different in the future, but I hope this one is good enough for now.

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My new profile picture.

Do you like it? I’ve chosen this image (with assistance) because it’s a photo I took of the sky in Madrid. You can see the sun, which is “sol” in Spanish, together with the clouds and sky I like so much.

Dusks with beautiful colors are very common and popular in Madrid, all thanks to pollution (I wish I was joking), so I thought it would be good to have an image people could associate with my name and origins.

I have also updated my twitter account with the same profile picture and then embedded the twitter widget on the sidebar here.

Now I just need a new header, right?

 

By the way, it’s probably too early, but I just got a domain for this blog. It’s https://solverawriter.com/ and… we’ll see if it’s worth it!

Too old or too young?

I’m always surprised to find people on the Internet who think they’re “too old” to write a novel and… they’re… 30 years old. Or younger!

It makes me wonder how literature is seen in the rest of the world. In Spain, important and famous writers are over 40 years old. The older, the better, since you have more experience and you’re supposed to write serious novels that critics will approve.

So I always thought 30 was young for a writer to start publishing. Below that? That was gifted-kid level. But maybe things have changed since then. Maybe it’s just different in Spain…

…Or so I believed until a Spanish friend mentioned she felt it was too late for her, and she’s younger than I am! So, here is what I have to say about this: no, you don’t have to accomplish everything before you’re 20, but it’s fine if you want to start before that (even though you’re not even an adult in some countries). You can also be a genius and write amazing novels before you’re 40, but life experience will always make them better with time. So go ahead and start writing as soon as you can, but don’t stop there. Keep writing and getting better at it.

As I said in this post, I’m glad I didn’t try to publish what I used to write years ago (because it was terrible). However, I’m aware that I’m taking the slowest approach and it’s not the best way to do it. That’s why I decided to create this blog and check what I’ve accomplished and what I have left to do. So far, I think it’s working: for the first time in two years, the mountain of notebooks I have to transcribe is decreasing!

I still have much to do, but at least I don’t feel too old or too young anymore. I’m just proceeding at my own pace, and trying to make it the right one for me.

 

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Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first novel at the age of 65. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Change of background and new Twitter

Hi, everyone!

Thank you for your support, as always.

Today I wanted to let you know that I’ve changed the color palette of the blog. I hope this one makes it easier to read! But let me know if you liked the previous one better, of course. For me it had an important issue: the default color for links was too similar to the rest of the text, and I couldn’t tell where they were. Did this palette fix that or do you have trouble seeing green text?

In other news (already spoiled by the title), I got a new Twitter account! This one is in English and will be related to this blog, so I hope I can use it almost daily. We’ll see, I guess. For now, feel free to check it out here!

 

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Twitter logo

And that is all for now. If you have any suggestions, complaints or pieces of advice, feel free to contact me here or on twitter!

 

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…