Video: 30-Question Survey

Here’s a just-for-fun video post that might function as a prompt for people who are stalled out on their writing right now but might be able to reclaim some passion if they get to talk about it.

Designed as a blog survey but there are certainly more uses for it than that! Enjoy.

Not Me

Despite all the excitement and busy stuff going on and my getting pretty unreasonably excited about cartoon things, I managed to calm down enough last night to do a little bit of writing (and, hopefully, will be able to do more this week), but I wanted to post a little ramble about an issue I’m running into.

My character is Not Me. She’s more divergent from being Me than most of my characters–not just in life circumstances (because all my characters have very different life circumstances from me), but in the way she speaks and thinks and IS. And because of that, I actually have to work really hard to stop my own inclinations from elbowing their way in when the flow clatters a little bit and I’m trying to keep going.

I have this wordiness problem, as y’all well know, and though it’s gotten a LOT better in recent years, I still have a tendency to wordify things. That includes feelings and thoughts and reactions and attempts to include other people. And I’m kinda used to having introspective, self-aware characters who revel in those words, composing significant dialogue and having a fair amount of running commentary in their heads.

That’s not what Megan is like. It’s kinda frustrating.

Nearly every time I write a full sentence for her I feel like it’s too much. She doesn’t talk a lot, and when she does talk, it’s usually pretty guarded. She doesn’t take extra steps to invite people to understand her; she doesn’t explain her thoughts; she doesn’t even fixate on what she’s thinking enough for me to nail it down in the text. I’m not used to a character like her who mostly speaks because others speak to her or because she can’t avoid it or to get them to STOP talking to her. (And I think this is going to make the times Megan DOES speak for other reasons far more significant, which will make my job easier down the line.)

It’s turning out to be pretty hard working with someone whose communication style is so different from mine. And I don’t want to just write it how I would write it and then edit it to be more like her because that will fundamentally change how I think about her. I’ll only really nail her voice if I practice with it as it’s developing in the story.

It’s pretty funny that I’m finally writing an asexual character and she’s the least like me of any character I’ve had. (We do seem to share an opinion when it comes to kissing, though.) I wonder how many of my readers are going to relate to her?

Why do you write?

“You just want attention.”

Recently I had the misfortune of interacting with someone who claimed my “desire for attention” was the reason I write. In context, the suggestion that I “wanted attention” was an unflattering description; it was framed as being childish, needy, silly, and narcissistic to “want attention” for my work. And it was also suggested that I write as a substitute for “real” human interaction.

Whew! A lot to unpack from that, huh?

Most of what that person said was so ignorant and pointlessly oversimplified that I just didn’t care and remained mildly irritated but mostly just baffled. Really? It’s only immature attention-mongering desires and inability to interact “normally” that can explain why I write? And enjoying when someone likes my work or benefits from it is evidence of self-centeredness or a poorly conceived attempt at a social interaction substitute?

It struck me to wonder after I was faced with this question, though: Hey, why do I write, anyway?

Because I have ideas.

That’s pretty much it.

I had an idea. I wrote it down. I liked writing it down. I like making stuff up.

I like creating worlds. I like creating characters. I like the actual experience of writing. I like entertaining myself with the stories. I’ve gotten ideas for things since I was a tiny child. I didn’t even show the majority of them to anyone at all, though some of them got shown to parents or friends. I just like writing stuff.

But then there’s another layer of enjoyment from sharing a story, sure. If I’ve written something and I entertained someone or they learned a lesson from it or they got valuable information from it or it helped them feel less alone, that’s great. It’s not what motivated me to write, but I’m not going to say positive feedback and knowing I helped someone is irrelevant.

I do think it’s VERY disingenuous to claim that if I appreciate good feedback or like feeling that I helped someone, it’s therefore a hobby I engage in because I’m needy and I have to do this to feel fulfilled.

Not to mention that if writing was the one way I could access approval and self-worth, who the hell would you be to tell me it’s inauthentic, mock-worthy, or pathetic? If something that makes you feel good, needed, productive, or happy is working well for you, it seems kind of mean-spirited and even vindictive to barge into someone’s life and tell them they’re not doing life right. This is irrelevant to me because I do not write for those reasons, but coping mechanisms are a thing, especially for people who are sensitive or have particular needs. There’s no reason to say people who do write because they enjoy the attention and approval they get should be torn away from it through belittling comments about how that person should be striving toward fulfillment. Especially if you’re not a writer and you don’t understand what could be rewarding about it.

It’s just so gross to imagine that anyone out there wants to characterize something like writing as a cry for help from a desperate person who wants “empty” attention, or that people like this want to shame people who have different or less-than-perfect coping methods. What exactly is so bad about attention? Why is it so frequently categorized as vapid or even pathological to want something you do to get attention?

Actually, don’t assholes also frequently make fun of people who don’t get attention (or the “right” kind of attention), characterizing you as a social failure or a hilarious loner regardless of whether you desire whatever is considered a “normal” amount of social contact? (Because if you’re not very social and you’re fine with that, they’ll still assume you would be interacting with friends more than you do if you had any, and make fun of you for not having enough friends or not being likable.) I can’t even tell you how often people see that I like to read and write and do things on the computer and react to my choices with “HAHAHAH IT’S FUNNY THAT SHE PRETENDS SHE’D RATHER BE HOME READING THAN OUT AT THE CLUB, BUT SHE DOESN’T WANT TO ADMIT THAT SHE’S TOO AWKWARD OR WOULD BE EMBARRASSED AT HOW NO ONE WANTS TO HIT ON HER ETC.” You know, because if I actually do want to spend the evening at home, I’m making excuses because I know I would fail at being coveted and popular in a social setting. What I get from this is you’re supposed to flourish from getting attention, but you’re never supposed to be seen deliberately doing anything that suggests you want it.

I think it’s pretty cool when people like what I’ve written. I don’t do it because I’m desperately hungry for their attention and have nothing else worthwhile to live for in my life, no. But writing things people like and appreciating it when people like them is not ridiculous.

I can certainly think of some worse ways to spend one’s hours on the planet. Particularly, spending a bunch of time criticizing how others spend THEIR time.

New blog

I primarily use this site to discuss big writing news, occasionally share perspectives, and promote other content. I’d like to continue to have a fairly dignified lifestyle over here, but there is a time and a place for silly, so I have started a new blog over on Blogspot:

In Propinquity

I plan to blog about books, personal life stuff, publishing, and of course writing process and product. But there are some things I didn’t really want to clutter up this site with that I can participate in more easily there, and it also has a connectivity factor that this one doesn’t.

Both blogs will of course feature any important news on any of my projects!

Please follow the new blog. It is lonely.

(And just in case you are curious: I called it “In Propinquity” because it is a quote I really like from Keith Miller’s The Book of Flying: “But keep characters in propinquity long enough and a story will always develop a plot.”)

My Desktop

For the curious, this is what my desktop background looks like. I think the (original) quote accompanying the avatar is one of the most important ideas I live by as a writer.


Do any of y’all have desktop designs that are writing-related or inspiring for your work?

New YouTube channel for writing videos

I’ve decided to start video-blogging about writing-related things. Sometimes I will post how-tos on things I know how to do in the writing world, and sometimes I will post personal perspectives. You can subscribe to my new YouTube channel at Channel JulieSondra.

Here is my video on writing query letters:

And here is my video on how I got my agent:

Feel free to let me know in the comments of this blog post or the comments of the YouTube videos whether you’d like me to do a video on any particular topic. It should be noted that optional captions are always installed in my videos for anyone who needs/wants them.

Old journals from fifth grade

I’ve been going through some old journals from when I was a child.  I found this hilarious “About Me” packet I had to fill out in fifth grade—full of prompts asking me to provide answers to unimaginative questions that everyone asks kids.

In asking what I wanted to be when I grew up, it said “When I grow up, I want to be a . . . ”

I wanted to be an author.

So I wrote “author” and then I corrected the prompt above by changing “a” to “an.”

That’ll show those jerks who can’t imagine that any kid would want to grow up to be something that starts with a vowel.

I also found this prompted journal entry for “What Makes Me Happy,” in which I announced that I liked writing and wanted to be a writer . . . and that “not having a boyfriend” made me happy.  Guess I was destined to be an aromantic asexual from a young age?

Word of the Day: Favonian

I subscribe to Word of the Day from, so I get neat words delivered to my inbox daily.  Today’s:

Word of the Day for Wednesday, January 3, 2007

favonian \fuh-VOH-nee-uhn\, adjective:
Pertaining to the west wind; soft; mild; gentle.

With dusk came cool, favonian breezes.

I LOVE this word. I want to start using it all the time, except I guess I don’t have that many occasions to talk about western wind.

Can I use it to describe when a country star farts?

Movie Recommendation: Stranger Than Fiction

If you are a writer, or have ever fancied yourself one, you need to see the movie Stranger Than Fiction.

I went to a pre-screening with my friend and it was such a wonderful experience. I mean, seriously, when was the last time you can remember watching a movie while grinning practically the whole time, enthralled, actively involved and completely immersed in the story that you’re being shown?

I’ve been guilty of being a passive movie-watcher. There’s not a lot out there that impresses me. But once in a while there’s a movie that hits every nerve, makes me say “OH!” throughout, makes me completely relate to the characters and draws me right the hell in.

Stranger Than Fiction involves a rather interesting relationship between a writer and a character, and vice versa. It raises interesting questions about the nature of writing, of stories, of literature and story forms, of the duty of the creator and the created to their own respective worlds, with a nod at the weird little glimmer of reality where the two meet.

Will Ferrell usually plays a different kind of character, but in this I could totally believe in him as a stiff, numbers-obsessed IRS agent who’s suddenly in a situation he can’t puzzle out. Emma Thompson plays an AWESOME neurotic writer! While I was watching her I was like, “Oh my God. She GETS it.” Maggie Gyllenhaal was such a convincing bleeding-heart hippie baker . . . I was totally reminded of my college hippie days going to poetry jams. And Dustin Hoffman was his usual brilliant self—completely comfortable in the role of a literature professor who doesn’t appear to think it’s all that bizarre to be analyzing a story he’s become part of. (Queen Latifah was also in it, but I didn’t really have anything to say for or against her—I like her in everything else I’ve seen her in, but in this she felt like kind of an extra character.)

The last time I was this taken with a movie, it was also about writing. That movie was Adaptation.

Three words: Go see it.

Four words: Go see it NOW.