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My Blog is Moving!

April 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Good morning, WordPress and all the great people who have followed me. I appreciate the support and interest I have had from over here over the year (despite my less-than-active posting). 🙂

Over the past couple months, I have been working hard to get my freelance career going: freelance writing and freelance editing. I am doing well through Elance and I am now getting some local gigs. To go along with all this work, I finally broke down and got a domain!

As such, I am moving over to my website: sewilliamsfreelance.com – Over there, I will be posting once a week (really this time). This weekend I am working on an editorial calendar! If you can think of anything reading/writing/editing/publishing related, I would love to explore it and write a post about it. Feel free to comment here or over on my page under the “About” page.

Again, I appreciate the interest and loyalty each of you has shown me over the years and I hope you will follow me on to new adventures.

Best,
Samantha

Inspiration and Craft: Entering the Writer’s Life

March 15, 2015 2 comments

I am curious to know which novels and stories inspired authors and which helped hone their craft. It is part of what I am exploring in myself now as I continue to work on a (long-time-coming) novel of my own. Similarly, my short stories, which I have had more practice at writing, need the same reflection.

In college, I wrote a biography about George Orwell for my capstone. Not only was it immensely interesting to explore one of the authors who has had a profound influence on my own writing (thank you, 1984 and Down and Out in Paris and London, among others), but it made sense to understand his own influences. For the most part, it isn’t a story or a novel or an author that sparks the need/desire to write. At least, it doesn’t appear that way. For Orwell, his life in Burma afforded him the spark under his pants to finally get writing (something he enjoyed, but failed at before he writes Burmese Days).

Now, I don’t have a life experience that truly caused me to write. I have always wanted to write (don’t we all). I remember the desire snagging me in 1st grade when my teacher at the time would ask us to write stories based on prompts. Mine were always fantasy, granted, I was a child. My teacher then really pushed me and encouraged me to write. Ever since then, I have wanted to do it, and failed at it miserably. I like to think that part of it has to do with my influence and craft. I have the influence behind my chosen genre, but I don’t explore craft in a way that makes sense to my writing.

Hell, I have an English degree, yes. I have analyzed and broken down many a novel and story. But what has that done for my writing? In all honesty, I wasn’t paying attention to the analysis in a way to make it inform my own writing. I was paying attention to the analysis in a way to make it inform my mind. You can argue that it is one in the same. I disagree.

My reading tastes are unusual, to say the least. Russian classics, SciFi classics, modern SciFi, and a dash of Fantasy makes up my shelves for the most part. I did not read these types of novels and stories in college. These are not the stories and novels I analyzed. These are the stories that influence me daily, that excite me into considering my own plots. However, I have never looked at them as more than a platform from which to jump myself. Instead, I have missed possibly the most important offering these books have to offer me: craft. If only I had paid attention to them in a more serious, critical way before this point. I believe true craft comes from studying what makes your favorite novels great. What symbols did they use? How did they get to the denouement? Did they begin in media res?

Influence and craft is something I am going to begin exploring more in depth–what do my favorite author’s have to say about it?

I also want to know what other writers in the community think about their own experience. Does the simple act of reading inform our craft or do we need to look at what we read with a more critical lens?

Freelancing Niche: To Write or Not to Write

February 8, 2015 Leave a comment

I am finally in the “freelancing game.” I took the leap and got a couple jobs. Verdict: Why didn’t I start this sooner?

Truly, the reason behind my lag time in starting writing projects came down to two things: confidence and the thought that I had nothing to write about. I think many writers struggle with both or at least one of these reasons. It is easy to let either reason control your decisions and I definitely let both control my desire to write for pay.

I got over my confidence issues, but I still felt I had nothing to write about when I started. Of all the projects I have started so far, none are similar to one another. This brings me to the biggest issue with freelance writing: finding your freelancing niche.

How do you figure it out?

Surprisingly, there isn’t a ton of information or thought out on the web. The first post I could find by googling it was a post from Carol Tice on Make a Living Writing. Quite honestly, I think the post provides the most practical advice about figuring out your niche.

As with anything, trying a bunch of different things appears to be the way to go (I guess I am off to a good start). The sentiment works well in any part of life (regular jobs benefit from this test and decide method).

So far, I have found that writing about the healthcare industry (an area I work within, though barely, during the day) has been interesting and entertaining. But, I also enjoy the other topics I have written about. As Tice notes, I will benefit from continuing to write in these areas before refining my “niche” and becoming an authority on the topics.

It will take time, surely, but I am off to a good start.

This brings me to a final thought: to write or not to write. I was offered a meager amount to write an ebook on a topic I enjoy and care about. However, due to the nature of the job offer (on a freelancing website), I would effectively be signing over my rights to what was written. I enjoy the topic and although I have not yet approached a market to write on the topic, I think I may want to one day. I turned down the job (and the money!), but I made the right decision in the end (hopefully).

How does a freelancer decide to turn down a job, to write or not to write? It is a conundrum that has me pondering, but a conundrum that also motivates me to keep writing.

Thoughts are welcome.

Organizing a Novel (That is Half-Written)

January 25, 2015 Leave a comment

As part of the generation that uses online search engines for many things, I took to the internet in search of some help.

Help doing what, you ask?

You see, I have this half-written novel that I have been working on and dreaming about for a while now. My dad took a pass through recently to find any bugs (misspellings, inconsistencies, etc). He was also supposed to offer advice on where characters need to grow, how to advance the plot to the ultimate ending, etc.

My dad is a voracious writer and he has read many a novel, so I expected plenty of criticism. Criticism did not come. Instead he told me he enjoyed it and got hooked.

Ego boost, truly.

What about the missing scenes? The poor transitions? Where do I need to add? Where do I need to take away?

We discussed several of these issues prior to him reading the draft because I am well aware there are missing scenes and missing transitions to make the story coherent.

Alas, here I am with a half-written novel and no idea on how to organize it.

Here is the issue: I started the novel as a short story.

The short story became a small novelette.

Trusted readers (friends, family) read it and suggested it was too “big” to stay a short story or novelette.

I agreed…I enjoyed the story too much and it had grown into more than a small idea. So, I wrote more.

Unfortunately, when I write fiction, planning is my detriment (writer’s block seizes me hard when a plan is in place). Oddly enough, I do not have this problem with non-fiction (academic or otherwise).

Anyhow, I do not have an outline. I have half a novel haphazardly pieced together, scene next to scene in a somewhat sensible order.

The hardest part? The internet has nothing to give me.

Most of the articles i could find pertained to organizing and planning a novel BEFORE it is partially written.

The most promising I could find was the first option when I put it in the search engine: an article from Writers Digest. Even this assumes that the end result be an outline.

Some of the tips are useful, however. Especially the parts about filling in the gaps (of which I have many).

Any help the world of writers can provide would be more than appreciated.

I am going to try anyway, without much direction as it is.

Why Aren’t Short Stories More Popular?

January 22, 2015 Leave a comment

My writing thought of the day.

Short stories are enjoyable to write. However, good guides on writing short stories are hard to find. I did a quick search online and didn’t find any “how to” or “tip” pages that I found worth sharing. Part of this stems from the seemingly difficult way of explaining how short stories are, in fact, different from novels. (And boy, are they different).

I suppose the best way to figure out “how to” write a short story is to continue to read them. Only recently did I become interested in reading short stories from my preferred fiction genre (science fiction). Previous to that, I read plenty of short stories. I am a strong believer that the best American literature can be found in short story form. I believe it so much that I have more short story collections in my room than American classics in novel form. I even gifted my brother’s foreign girlfriend two short story collections after she told me she did not like American literature.

However, short stories are no longer as popular as novels. At least, it appears that way to me. When I ask people what they are reading, they never tell me they are reading a short story collection or they recently read a great short story by so-and-so. No! It is always about novel-length works.

Why aren’t short stories more popular?

I love them. A short story by Tolstoy is what introduced me to the fantastic world of Russian literature (and now I am addicted to Dostoevsky). A short story by Raymond Carver inspired me to put more into my short story writing during college.

Short stories are excellent, neatly packaged pieces of prose.

Why aren’t they more popular?

Freelancing Mistakes

January 19, 2015 3 comments

Since deciding I want to get into freelance writing at least part-time, I have been reading everything I can land my eyes on about freelancing. I have joined a couple freelance websites. I have worked on being more present online (something that meant little to me before I realized I needed to market myself in some way).

I have not landed a job yet, but I am working on figuring out my niche. When I found the below article on FlexJobs, it reminds me that not every job should be accepted, so matter how eager I am. So, with that, I will keep my eye out for jobs that interest me, and, when the time comes, I will accept those that make the most sense for me.

Here is the article: 11 Mistakes All First-Time Freelancers Make – FlexJobs

I would love to hear other people’s freelancing experiences: the good, the bad, the downright confusing. Anything.

Read What You Want to Write

January 14, 2015 2 comments

Should one read what one wants to write or should one read a variety to further what they want to write?

My initial reaction: variety.

Why? As an English student, I used to be offended by professors who trash talked genre fiction.

I am less offended now.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy genre fiction (a lot), especially science fiction and fantasy. However, I have a weird, loving relationship with literary classics from Nabokov as well as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, etc. I enjoy an occasional recent “literary” read as well.

It comes down to prose. There are great genre prose writers out there, but most genre fiction is mostly great story writing. In contrast, most literary fiction is made up of damn good prose.

I think I will continue to read a little of everything with the hope that it in some way helps my writing.

Thoughts?