The Magic Number

One thing I have noticed lately is writers who are agented or published have one thing in common: most of them, this is their second, or third, or sixth book–it took them that many tries to get it “right”. This made me curious. Is there an unspoken magic number in the publishing world? Is there a certain number of books it takes to master the art?

Like I’ve said before, I’ve been writing my whole life. What started as picture books progressed to short stories then chapter books, until finally I finished my first complete novel at 12, handwritten in a pink journal. It was a science fiction/dystopian about a girl who discovers government secrets, and then teams up with the rebels to overthrow them. Naturally, now I read it and it’s complete crap, and will live the rest of its life locked away in my files, never to see the light of day.

My second book was an epic fantasy that probably should have been two or three books instead of one, about four kids united by magical powers, saving their land from the Dark Lord. I was probably about 13 when I wrote it, so considering that it’s pretty brilliant, but like the previous will never see the light of day.

My third I wrote when I was about 15 and is 102 pages of teenage angst. It was my first contemporary, about a girl whose boyfriend is killed in a car accident. Again, teenage angst. There are some tiny gems, but most of it is one giant facepalm.

Now my fourth was Ember, which you have probably heard me mention. I started writing it when I was 17, and this was the first one worth reading. Countless rewrites and two years later, I am in the process of querying it. Though I’ve only been at it six months or so, it’s hard not to get discouraged, especially when promising leads end up going nowhere. I started writing its companion, but needed a break from writing in the same world and same story for two years. So to battle the rollercoaster of querying, I started Nightfire.

Ember and Nightfire are my true loves. But one question I have been asking myself a lot lately is–what if Ember isn’t the one? What if it’s just another one in the series before I get it “right”? I absolutely believe in that story; I love the characters, the world, everything. It was the first story that characters became real to me, that I started to get voices in my head. I believe I have developed my writing skills well enough that I could be published now. But what if there’s something wrong in the formula? Something that Nightfire has the chance to get right?

Which led to me wonder–what is the magic number? I wrote three books before Ember, but was that enough? Do the ones I wrote at 12 or 13 count, when I was still so young and had so much to learn?

I believe in Ember, but I wonder if it’s not the one that will get me agented and published. Maybe that is Nightfire, and Ember can come later. But my question remains–is there a number?

What do you think? How many books have you written–if any? Is there a magic number of books a writer has to write, before they have “mastered” it? Is there a magic number of books it takes before one makes an agent fall in love?

 

Breaking Writer’s Block

We’ve all been there. Staring at the blank page, that stupid blinking cursor, taunting us. We search for inspiration–from earlier scenes, from coffee, from the ceiling, but alas there are no words to be had. Writer’s block has set in like a guest who has decided to stay much past their welcome.

Writer’s block is something we’ve all dealt with, myself included. Lately, I’ve been struggling with a lack of words. Mostly, because I haven’t had time or energy to sit and write. But the few times I have, the words were nowhere to be found. Anything I did manage to eek out, was plain awful. Had I suddenly forgotten how to write? In the past couple weeks, had I somehow become a terrible writer?

Some people say writer’s block doesn’t exist. I think it absolutely does–but only in our own minds. We really are our own worst enemies when it comes to writing. I think writer’s block can come from all different places (busy lives, lack of energy, no motivation), but tends to stem from an unconscious fear that what we write won’t be good enough. The idea that writer’s block is a lack of inspiration is slightly ridiculous, because if we always waited to write until we were inspired, we wouldn’t get much of anything done at all.

But for me, writer’s block is absolutely real. It can happen to the best of us, and strike without warning. These are some things I’ve found to help with my own writer’s block:

1. Read. Read. Read.

Even when I don’t feel like writing, it still feels good to spend time among words. Reading doesn’t always make me want to write afterward, and it doesn’t always lead to words of my own, but reading is the fastest way to get me “in the mood”. Something about getting caught up in another world makes me want to be lost in my own. Even if it doesn’t, reading is always a great source for inspiration and learning as a writer.

2. Be Stubborn

This is something I’m good at, to a fault. If the words aren’t cooperating with me, I make them cooperate. I force them out, one by one, no matter how awful or boring they may be. Think of it as steering into the skid–face it head on, gun it, and the rest will right itself. For most times I’m stumped, this works. Usually it’s just a matter of getting past that stump, of breaking through the block. Once you break through, the words flow again. Sometimes, I find something beautiful by accident.

3. Get In The Mood

Bow-chicka-wow-ow. Whatever it is that gets you into that writing spot, do it. Light some candles. Play your favorite music. Make a really great cup of coffee. Sometimes it’s as easy as getting yourself in the “write” mentality (see what I did there?). Sit down, in your special writing place, with no distractions. Just you and the words. And wait for the magic to happen.

4. Quality Time

This can be one people forget about. The words may not be cooperating right now, but they were at some point (I hope so, at least). Go back to those and read through them. Spend time in your world, with your characters, and remember everything you love about your story. Maybe work on some edits, or something old will inspire you for something new. And even if I’m not writing anything new, spending time with my characters always makes my heart happy.

5. Let It Go

Really, writers need to do this more often. If I encounter writer’s block that I can’t overcome with any of my usual stubbornness, I let it go. That’s right, I let it go, let it goo (It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? Sorry not sorry). Don’t worry about it. The words will come. Sitting and stressing about it is only going to make it worse. Go do something else, set foot in the real world, enjoy this life. The words will be there when they are ready.

Fish

As a freshman in high school, I remember feeling like a little fish in a big pond, so it was only fitting that freshmen were called “fish”. I looked up to those big, wise seniors who were impossibly tall and more worldly than I, and I couldn’t imagine ever being like that. How does a guppy become a shark?

Well inevitably I became a sophomore, junior, then senior and I was the one looking down at the incoming fish, and I didn’t feel wise or worldly at all (though maybe I had impossibly tall covered). Had I missed it, somewhere along the way? Some seminar or rite of passage, some magic spell or machine that would transform me from a guppy to a shark?

Though high school is behind me now, I can’t help but feel like a fish again, staring up at those established writers and wonder, how do I get there? How is that even possible?

One thing I’ve noticed that the little voice of doubt has liked to focus on lately is my age. I used to see being young as something good for a writer–fresh, current, ambitious, wild imagination. Now I sometimes see it as a hinderance. While reading Ruin and Rising (which was unbelievable and I hope to get a review of the series up soon) I naturally admired her prose and creativity. On the other hand, I thought that some of that can only come with age and experience–broader vocabulary, more experience to draw from, a better grasp of worlds and cultures and people and relationships. How can I use something that I don’t have?

Looking up at them, they may seem larger than life and impossible to reach, but I might venture to guess that the view from up there is much like a senior looking down at the fish. Truth is, we’re all looking through a fish bowl, distorting our perceptions into reality.

There will always be certain things I do not have, and cannot have, that those with age and wisdom do. But there are also some awesome things about being young and inexperienced. And if the journey to the top of the writing food chain is anything like the high school one, it will be over before I even know it happened and I’ll look back and wonder, how did I get here?

Whether you’re young, or new to the publishing world, or both, it can be overwhelming to stand at the bottom of the food chain looking up. But everyone starts at bottom, and the only place to go from there is up.

Best Before: Yesterday

The publishing process takes a long time. It’s a known fact, and something I’ve come to accept. But somehow I still find myself feeling like the clock is ticking, like the sand is running out on the hour glass, and there’s an anvil hanging over my head. Somehow, I feel like there’s an invisible window to getting published, and if I don’t make it in that time, I’m finished.

I feel like there’s an expiration date stamped on my forehead, and it reads: Best Before Yesterday.

Now I know this is basically irrational, but I can’t help the feeling. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. When I get another rejection, that little voice wonders: was that it? How close am I to the point where I’ve used up all my chances? I wonder if it won’t happen this year, or the next, or at all.

But here’s the thing. The little voice doesn’t know what it’s talking about. Yes, maybe it’s good so I don’t get my head too high up in the clouds without some dose of reality. But that little voice is wrong.

There is no expiration date. If I don’t get it this time, I’ll try the next, and the next, and the next. There is a part of publishing that is pure chance and luck. Finding the right agent, at the right time, with the right words. But there is also a huge part that is persistence.

By not giving up, and putting myself out there again and again and again, not only am I ahead of the crowd but I increase my chances of getting a yes with every time. I could get a hundred nos, and it wouldn’t matter. All it takes is one yes.

It doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, just started, or have been trying for years. You do not have an expiration date. Let me say that again. You do not have an expiration date. Maybe that’s hard to believe if you’ve been at this a long time. You just started, you say. You’ve only been doing this a few months, you have no idea how hard it is. Yes, it is hard. It is hard to the point of wanting to give up sometimes, but there is no time where the window to being published is closed.

The only time you expire, and lose all chances of realizing your dreams, is when you stop trying.

It’s not like an Indiana Jones movie, where you triggered the trap and have to dive through the temple door before it closes and locks you in for all eternity. That door stays open until you let it close.

So get up, dust yourself off, and wipe that invisible expiration date off your forehead. Jump back in the trenches, and keep fighting and fighting and fighting. All it takes is one victory.

The Q Word

If you’re a writer, and have ever planned or even thought about publishing, you’ve likely heard the infamous Q word.

Query.

Now, deep breaths and swallow that tang of panic and dread in the back of your throat and stay with me.

When I first started, querying was terrifying. Then I did some research, practiced, and with the help and encouragement of an author friend, I sent out my first wave of queries. After writing my whole life, and two years working on Ember, I was finally doing something! I was finally pursuing my dream.

Now that I look back, I wish I hadn’t sent those queries.

Wait, what?

I’m glad I took action and started the publishing process myself, but I wish I had waited a while longer, and really practiced before I sent those first queries. Honestly, they’re embarrassing. Even though I did my research and had some help, I can clearly see why they were passed over. Not to mention, my story wasn’t nearly at the place it needed to be, which I kind of knew at the time, but was overeager that my author friend believed in me, and here was my chance!

I regret sending them without more time, practice, and revision, because now those are opportunities I’ve wasted. I didn’t understand at the time that once an agent has passed, you can’t query them with that manuscript again, no matter how drastic the changes. And most agencies, you can’t query more than one agent within that agency.

I learned quickly that there aren’t infinite agents out there, just waiting to fight over my book.

Now most of you writers are familiar with the roller-coaster ride of querying. Sometimes it feels less like a roller coaster, and more like an endless, rotating paper shredder (ouch).

This week has been one of those. I had been corresponding with an agent for two months, and was very hopeful that things would work out, but unfortunately, they didn’t. After going through that, facing the query process all over again feels a little like standing at the bottom of Mt. Everest. Naked. With no climbing gear.

Not to mention I’m still not great at queries, and hate the thought of my not-so-great query being written off before agents can ever get to read my writing. That aspect of queries has taken a lot of getting used to–how much sheer chance and luck it requires, and how very subjective it is.

I think that is also the most frustrating part of the process–how little I can control, and how little of it actually has to do with my writing. Maybe the agent doesn’t like how the query reads, or they just signed a YA fantasy the day before. Maybe they woke up and their car wouldn’t start, and they were late, and spilled coffee on their favorite shirt. Maybe your writing is really good, but dystopian/science fiction/vampire slayer memoir just isn’t selling right now.

Sometimes, it feels a little like carrying my heart around, asking someone, anyone, to love it like I do. But I have to remember, that this isn’t personal. For me, my book is my heart. For them, it’s business.

This is the hardest part about being in any creative industry–not letting the industry affect you. It’s okay for rejections to hurt, but remember that everything is subjective, and there are a dozen other factors that go into that rejection, some of which have nothing to do with your writing at all. Someone said that they love rejections, because each one is like a big sign, saying “Not here. Maybe over there,” pointing you that much closer.

It’s hard not to let it affect me, because I want it so bad. This is my life, my dream, and the possibility that this might not ever happen terrifies me sometimes.

But then, little things like a comment on my post saying, “I totally need to read this book” or my author friend telling me that there are big things ahead for me, or a fellow writer my age who is just as new to this as I am, getting signed by an agent.

It does happen–it will happen.

In the mean time, I’ll keep writing these stories for me, because I love them–and hope that one day, I’ll get to share them, and you can love them as much as I do.

 

 

Breaking the Rules

Recently I wrote a post on pushing the boundaries, and being a fearless writer who embraces their inner crazy. Well, consider this part two, or me beating a dead horse, whichever you prefer. 🙂

I’ve learned a lot through the writing community the past couple months. I’ve received advice and wisdom which has been extremely helpful, but  sometimes this can be overwhelming. There’s countless tidbits, do’s and don’ts, and rules. I mean, there’s hundreds and thousands of books filled with this stuff! Before I dove into this process, I’d more or less just figured everything out on my own. I didn’t have any resources or guidance, so I had to learn through trial and error. Which was great, but time-consuming (think 19 years of writing time-consuming). But coming from that, I think it has given me a unique point of view on writer advice.

First of all, it depends who you are and where you’re at in the process. You might be like a friend of mine, who is writing her very first book, and seeks out every single bit of information and advice there is to be found on the craft of writing with the appetite of a teenage boy. Or you might be like me, and you’ve been writing your entire life and things sort of come naturally. You might be somewhere in the middle.

Rules are more like guidelines, than laws. They are like a trail, leading you through the forest so you don’t get lost and starve to death, but you’re not surrounded by a stone wall. You can veer off the path a little bit, and maybe find some pretty awesome things along the way.

For example, two of the major rules I learned when I started this was A: prologues are a sin. And B: Opening a book with a character waking up is also a sin. But, how does Hunger Games start? With Katniss waking up the day of the reaping. And the book I am currently reading, The Park Service by Ryan Winfield, begins with both of these. But it was done so well that by the end of the (short) prologue I was hooked to the point of no return.

I was guilty of A in my current manuscript, and held onto that prologue for dear life, refusing to believe that rules applied to me. But my prologue was amazing so it didn’t matter, right? Well, yes, there were some pretty awesome moments, and some great worldbuilding (if I do say so myself) but ultimately, I realized it wasn’t necessary. I took the choice bits and dispersed them later on, and eventually wrote an entirely new beginning altogether (which you can read under my Weekend Writing Warrior posts). In hindsight, I realized the prologue was only extra words between my reader and my hook, which is something you never want.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Rules are there for a reason, but don’t be afraid to break them. But if you do break the rules, make sure it’s for a reason.

Make sure it serves a purpose, and makes your story better for it (not just because you worked really hard on that prologue and it’s beautiful, dang it) As I said in my last post, jump off the ledge first, and worry about reeling yourself in later. Don’t get caught up in the ten thousand do’s and don’ts and end up trying to navigate a minefield. It’s good to listen to others who are more knowledgeable and experienced than you (read: experienced, not just “experts”) but don’t treat it like gold.

Because really, there is no one way. Whether you’re brand new or a NYT bestseller, writing isn’t an exact science. There’s no secret formula, no How to Write for Dummies guide to becoming the next JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins.

Don’t be afraid to take risks, and take every bit of advice with a grain of salt (even mine). Because at the end of the day, none of us really know what we’re doing, we’re just all trying to figure it out, one word at a time.

Writing, like all art, is messy. Sometimes, the mistakes are the most beautiful part. 🙂

Pushing the Boundaries

As writers, we constantly ride that line between being creative and just plain crazy. We want to be fresh enough that we stand out on the shelves, but not alienate readers – we want them to think WOW, not WTF. And the gatekeepers say on one hand they’re looking for something different, but then some things are so different they don’t have a market.

It’s easy to get sucked into this. I know, I’m always over-analyzing my writing now that I’m looking at it from an industry/publishing perspective. At first, I only wrote for myself. I wasn’t scared of what people would think, because I was the only one who would read it. Now I find myself constantly second guessing, and cutting lines or scenes that might turn people away. I’m embarrassed before anyone even reads it.

And then I think,  what am I doing?

It is our job to be crazy. It is our job to push the boundaries and try new things and turn the world inside out just to see what shape it will take. I love that about writing. Sometimes I worry so much about stepping too far outside the lines into crazy-land, that I forget. Writing doesn’t have boundaries. With only 26 letters, somehow the possibilities are limitless.

Exhibit A: from DFWCON. In the query gong show (which is basically a roast of people’s queries) there was a query so outlandish that everyone, including the agents, laughed through the whole thing. Like 80-year-old grandma and aliens in her backyard crazy. But guess what? It was one of only two queries that made it, and got requests. The crazy characters are the ones we remember. Donald Maas said in his character workshop, “Don’t be afraid to push your protagonist over the edge.” I love that.

And that’s something I’d really struggled with. I’d tried to reign in the really dark and twisted bits of my story to keep it marketable to a wide audience. But that’s the problem: it is dark and twisted. One of my main characters, Crow, is really dark and twisted. But he’s an assassin for the most ruthless drug lord in the city, with a background of torture and abuse. In other words, he has some serious issues. Watering his character and his scenes down to make it a pill easier to swallow just didn’t work. He ended up feeling flat.

Now, I’ve opened the cage door, taken the chains off, and explored where he can go. It’s taken me by surprise how much he’s come to life. It’s messed up, it’s dark, it’s disturbed, but it’s raw and emotional and powerful. I got chills while writing some parts, and cried while writing others. It’s real, and it’s him. He’s become my most vivid and dynamic character. It wasn’t fair to him, or my readers, to lock him away just because he might be a little too much crazy for some people. You know what? Those people are just dumb and boring. 😉

We’re self-conscious creatures, writers. Especially when we open up our writing to the world, with the possibility of it being picked apart. But don’t be scared of that, don’t even think about it. Write what is genuine. Write for yourself, and for your story, and for your characters.

It is ten thousand times better to be too much, than not enough. Don’t tiptoe up to the edge of crazy, dive off of it. Even if you don’t keep the crazy, you’ll find a whole new world of depth to your story in the process. Your characters and your readers will thank you.

 

 

Query Critique, Pitch Slam, DFWCON, Oh My!

So I just got back from DFWCON! Which explains why I have been a little MIA. It was my first conference ever, and was a complete whirlwind. I am so exhausted (dead) I really don’t even know how I am functioning right now (I’m not)…and I’ll probably pay for it by taking a week to recover. So worth it though.

First, I will talk a little about Pitch Slam, which I participated in a week or so ago. Mainly, I learned not to listen to feedback. What? Let me rephrase that. Especially being new to the whole publishing process, I think I know nothing and that anything other people say (especially credible “experts”) is gold. It’s not. Feedback is great. You need it. You need to get out of your bubble and get fresh eyes and have someone tell you all the parts that don’t make sense or could be better or just plain suck (hopefully they don’t say suck). But I learned not to take it too seriously. It is still just someone’s opinion.

The best example of this is that prior to the contest, I got a free critique by an author. She told me she thought my pitch was perfect, and nitpicked some things about my first 250 but they were very constructive and helpful. I felt pretty confident going into the contest. Then I got my official Pitch Slam feedback. They called my pitch “disorienting” and “hard to imagine.” And then in the second Pitch Slam round they were much more positive about my first 250 (I think it was another person).

I also entered my query into an online query critique workshop, and had feedback ranging from “I love it” to more or less “throw it out”. I literally had someone tell me I’d never be able to get an agent (seriously?). And, by the way, if anyone ever gives you feedback like that, really don’t listen to them. I’ll be honest, that one hurt (and I’m not sensitive about critique), but I don’t think that ever needs to be said, or is ever true! Everyone has a chance, a lot of it is just luck and timing.

I’m sure you’ve heard this a dozen times, but it’s really all subjective. There are rules, but they’re not laws. And besides, rules are meant to be broken 😉

DFWCON. Wow. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect with my first conference. It was overwhelming but so eye-opening and educational and fun! I think the first day I was overstressed and overthinking it, and wasn’t able to enjoy it as much. Now I wish I could rewind and do it all over again, because I really just loved it. I could probably talk about this for days, but here’s the highlights.

My pitch went well! Got a request for a partial from the agent, so I am frantically trying to perfect my first pages and query. I was also able to talk with her more during lunch and around the conference, and feel like I made an impression. She remembered my name, so I’m hoping that will help when I query her! I made some great connections. Which, really, is what conferences are about. The workshops/panels were great (They had some fantastic authors/editors/speakers. Donald Maass is unbelievable) but I feel like you can kind of learn a lot of that stuff elsewhere. Conferences are really one of the only opportunities writers have to connect face-to-face. And I think becoming a part of the writing community is so important, no matter what stage of the process you’re at.

These are some of my favorite quotes I jotted down from various speakers:

“It took me one month to write it. It took me a year to make it a novel.” Bob Stewart

“Let yourself off the hook. Write a crappy first draft. That’s genuine.” Jonathan Maberry

“Send your protagonist over the edge.” Donald Maass

“What stops a lot of people writing is the belief that everything has to be perfect.” Jonathan Maberry

There were a ton of super memorable moments and wisdom nuggets, but my favorite was Donald Maass’ closing remarks (his character workshop was also fantastic, I wrote five pages of notes). I actually teared up it was that good. He talked about something I firmly believe in–that the best books have something to say. There are endless tips and tricks and techniques for being successful as a writer, but that’s what it boils down to. Write a great book first. Books are so, so, so powerful. A lot of times we underestimate ourselves as writers, and the impact we can have. We have the power to change the world, literally.

To sum it up, I’ll leave you with this from his closing remarks:

“Quit just trying to be published. Let’s change the world.”

What’s Up Wednesday

KITE2

 

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime or Erin’s blog.

What I’m Reading

I am still reading Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce. I am about halfway through, and still loving it. I would have finished it by now (probably even in one sitting), but everything else has been so crazy lately I haven’t had much time for reading.

What I’m Writing

The past couple of weeks I’ve been getting ready for DFWCON, which is this weekend (eek!). I’ve rewritten my pitch and query about 10,000 times and been frustrated with my MS. Then, I had some deep talks with one of my CPs, and she said that I was trying to put it in the wrong genre, that it felt much more like a fantasy. I realized I had been trying to force it into sci-fi, when it really wasn’t, but when I made it into a science fantasy (it’s a thing) suddenly everything fit! So first I went back and rewrote my query/pitch (again) so those would be ready for DFWCON. Now that I’ve got those done, I’m in the process of making revisions on my MS to change the sci-fi and add fantasy elements. And so far, I’m loving it 🙂 I got to keep the integrity of the story, and it turned out 10x cooler, more interesting, and unique! Bye, bye dystopian, and yay genius CPs!

What Inspires Me

My fabulous CP Stephanie (she’s amazing, check out her blog here) has been unbelievable as far as brainstorming. She is also 100% honest and challenges me to be better, which I love. We have come up with some genius ideas together! I have been inspired and productive in art, I did a couple pieces this week (watercolor) and even some poetry. I went through a bunch of my old writing journals–three years worth–and dug through for the parts worth keeping. I was pleasantly surprised (especially since I wrote it when I was 13-15 years old) and reinspired by some gems I found in there. Little me was very melodramatic, but I had my occasional moments of greatness 😉 Some even have book potential, so I typed them into my laptop to save for later!

What Else I’m Up To

End of the semester, Pitch Slam, and DFWCON. Finals are in two weeks, and I’m scrambling to finish all the projects and papers that come before. I just finished the Pitch Slam pitch contest, which I will write a detailed post about after DFWCON this weekend. And DFWCON–I’ve reached panic mode! Two days left. I feel horribly unprepared, but I’ve done all the research and preparations I can. I am somewhat of a control freak, and definitely a huge planner, so I hate not really knowing what to expect since it is my first conference ever. Thankfully I’ll have the majority of my amazing writing group there for support and networking. That’s a huge part of my nerves, I think. I have social anxiety already, but especially in big groups or crowds. Plus this will be the first time I have to really “network”. I’m not the person who can just go up and strike a conversation. I tend to get nervous and blurt out nonsensical things/overshare about my life in order to fill up the awkward silence. But, it is my first conference and will be a great opportunity to learn and grow and get connected in the writing community. I’m just going to keep telling myself that, so I don’t panic 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

When Did Dystopian Become a Dirty Word?

Dystopian.

It used to be a genre, a category, a trend. It still is a trend among readers and the media. But in the publishing and agent world, it has become a negative, an insult. A dirty word.

Labeling a manuscript dystopian is like slapping it with a big red rejected stamp. Signing its death warrant. Condemning it a pariah that no one would touch with a 10-foot-pole.

In order to have any chance of being considered by an agent or publisher, a dystopian cannot be called as such. Instead of calling a pig a pig, there needs to be a spin–it’s a blood-soaked thriller, a story of futuristic war, an epic love story of star-crossed lovers. Which, I am not necessarily blaming the agents and publishers. It is a business for them. And right now, dystopians seem like bad investments (which I blame trendchasers for, and talk more about in this post)

Why am I so riled up about this? Big deal, dystopians are over. Get over it.

I am frustrated that because of the connotations dystopian brings with it, manuscripts are killed before they have a chance. Who cares about the characters, or the world, or the storytelling? If there’s anything that even remotely stinks like dystopian, it’s done.

This is especially frustrating to me because (surprise) I have dystopian elements in my book. There a thousand other elements to it, but because there is a rebellion against power, it is often labeled a dystopian. But as I talked about in my Hipster Dystopia post, it didn’t come from wanting to be a part of the cool dystopian club, it came from having something to say about society and power. I saw these characters, and this world, and this conflict, this struggle. I saw the story in it, and I explored it.

We live in an era of conflict, unrest, and change. A recent post on Distractify brought this sharply into view (check it out here) and summed it up well by ending with: “When students in the future look back, they will see us as one unified generation who overcame incredible obstacles and made swift social progress, despite little certainty of what lies ahead.”

If you don’t feel like scrolling through 100 of the “100 Iconic Photos That Forever Define the 21st Century So Far” (but it’s really worth the time) here are some particularly powerful photos:

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Especially this last one (Kiev, Ukraine before and after the revolution). All of these were photos taken during events that happened in the last decade. This is real. And this is powerful. There are stories here. Thousands, millions of stories that have the power to change things, change people. This is what I was writing for. A world in conflict, on the cusp of change. With thousands and millions of people rising up and crying out for justice, for a better world. People putting their lives in danger, sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

We live in dystopia. Arguably, we always will be. It is part of human flaws, and human nature. There will always be  corruption, abuse of power, greed, violence, casualties, war.

This is the story I am writing. About a world on the brink. About the catalyst, the snap, the break. About that ember turning into a spark and spreading like wildfire.

I am tired of dystopian being a dirty word. I am writing the world I see, in a pill easier to swallow.