Human: So, you write?
Me: Do you have time for this conversation?
Human: It's okay. I have an hour.
Me: You do not have time for this conversation.
At The Honest Bookclub, we make small, achievable goals. Our first was world domination via the subliminal messages in our social media posts*. (Small and achievable. Just the way we like it.) So we've set out to conquer Instagram, Bloglovin, and - yes - Twitter.
On Twitter, however, we split our interests three-way: one part overlording, one part readerly triumphs and woes (mostly woes, let's be honest), and one part writerly triumphs and woes (mostly woes, let's be honest).
There's a lot out there about writing. We discuss it at length - our refined name-selection process, our outlook on other authors, our character-killing philosophy, our overall writing philosophy, etc. In 140 characters or less, it is a refined collection indeed.
But what, you ask, are we actually writing? Who even are we? Where did we come from? And why are we suddenly renaming months of the year to match our favorite books?
In recent months, we've gotten these questions and more. (Maybe not that final one. We aren't quite there yet. But soon.) And what better way for a book blogger to answer questions than in a majestic blog post?** So without further ado...
* Fear not! When we conquer the world, the first overlordly decision will be to instate a Reading Day. It's like the day of rest, except people will actually be forced to do what the title says. In this case - read. And to whom it may concern, we'll pluck it out of the workweek. Aren't we just the best future tyrants?
** The majesticness of a post is directly proportional to the overlord's personal enjoyment of it. We like to be objective in all things.
Who are you as a human?
Lexie: I'm not a human. I'm mostly an orange. And coffee. And art. And books. This amalgamation has yet to be recognized as its own species. But it should. I am very much not the only one. I otherwise reside in Europe, I'm bilingual, I'm a student (psychology major) and a digital artist, and someday I intend to become a mermaid. (Once writing can be done underwater, I think.)
Natalie: A british human. An introvert who spends her time reading, drinking tea and being a lazy s.o.b. I also have attempted many times to do creative things like writing and making things, but I just end up watching Booktubers, having extremely long bubble baths or being surrounded by my friends. And when I say friends, I mean fictional friends.
Who are you as a writer (categorically different from human)?
Lexie: A writer is a different species from human entirely. I approve of this distinction. Writer-me is Everyday-me's bad alter ego. It comprises 50% coffee and 50% murder. It worships anti-heroes and secretly roots for villains and writes evil stories where the world is a mess and everything goes wrong. And if I sound delightful and bubbly, that's only because I am.
Natalie: A lazy one, that's for sure. I have many ideas written and I'm just not proactive enough to actually write anything. Which is likely due to lack of confidence, so I'm a weak and frightened writer. I'm a shaking little puppy kind of author. Ha, me, author...
Are you published?
Lexie: Ha. And by 'ha', I mean 'hahahaha'. Patience, grasshopper.
Future authorial plans/ambitions?
Natalie: I tend to write more for fun, I really enjoy writing. I have some ideas that I think could work but it will need work. A lot of it. I've got no idea whether there is a chance of being published in the very distant future, but if it happens, I won't say no! It's not my top priority, I think actually getting my finger out of my arse and actually writing is more important!
When did you start writing?
Lexie: I discovered fanfiction.net when I was 11. And I swear that 3-day "incubation period" between the time you're allowed to create an account and actually post stories were the longest days of my then-life. I guess the ironic thing is that while I wrote fanfiction, between the ages of 11 and 14, I wrote a lot and I wrote every day. Where that discipline went is anyone's guess. There's a hefty reward out for its retrieval, though.
Natalie: One word: fanfiction.net. I spent my teen years and earlier writing Harry Potter fan fiction, and I absolutely loved it. I mostly wrote shipping fan fiction (canon shipping like Ronmione), not going to lie, and no I'm not linking any of it. It's embarrassing. Since then, I've always written in my spare time.
When did you become serious about it?
Lexie: At 16, my best friend and I started a ridiculously ambitious collaborative high-fantasy story, and that moment marked:
· my transition from fanfiction/(really bad) poetry to (really bad) original work
· the moment I realized writing out of order was fun (which would impair my storytelling abilities for a loooooong while).So I'm going with that particular moment in time. Nothing like some Norse mythology to kick off a writing frenzy and make sure I abandon story structuring for like three years.
Natalie: I'm not sure how serious I am now, but I've gotten more into it in the last few years. Mostly due to my co-bloggers love for writing, she inspired me to continue to write. Also taking part in NaNoWriMo once or twice has sparked up that passion for creative writing again. I also think that starting university and getting more involved into the bookish community has encouraged my ambition.
Do you write all year? Do you write every day?
Lexie: Yes, and no. I've become unfortunately prone to reserving the majority of my aforementioned writing frenzy for April/July/November (which, as you might know, coincide with NaNoWriMo). Which is an awful habit, because that's when I have the least time. So I've decided to quit said habit cold turkey, and now I'm attempting to write year-round again. As for every day... ha. Ha ha. Hahaha. (The answer is yes... if I have more pressing things to do.)
Natalie: Ha, definitely not every day. I've got too many things to do to be able to write everyday. If I was paid to write, then absolutely I would! Maybe every now and then, and if I'm not doing uni work, I'm getting stuff written down. Summer is a big window opportunity for me to get as much done as possible.
What was your first proper writing project?
Lexie: Because I was an incredibly original 17 year-old, my first novel-reminiscent story was titled Reborn. It was about rock bands and serial killers and cross-country travel. Because those obviously go together. Originally, Reborn was meant to be the first in a duology. I say meant to be, because eventually it transpired that it was actually... really, really bad. And #2 never saw the light of day. So there's that. In the end, however, all the drafts of Reborn comprised 500,000 words, and there's a distinctive learning curve, and I love it for that reason alone.
Natalie: Probably my first ever attempt which was my first NaNoWriMo. It's a story called The Year of the Fall and it's a contemporary story that has been unfinished for many years. I'll get there... If you're interested in checking it out when I finally upload something, it's about the downfall of fame and the relationship between a guy and his hatred for the spotlight. Also including a relationship with him and a normal girl like us, an introvert who doesn't like people looking at her. It's contemporary, so of course there's romance.
I'm considering sharing it on my WattPad and FictionPress at some point, which I hope will give me a nudge to get it finished.
What novels have you completed?
Lexie: Following Reborn, my first non-mortifying project was a story called The Ever End, and it's my favorite. You aren't supposed to pick a favorite novel any more than you're supposed to pick a favorite child, but I'm a bias personified, and The Ever End is my favorite child. It's a paranormal story which follows a college student who is murdered and resurrected in a bizarre ritual, and I've managed to work a collegiate secret society in there, and I made it All Of My Favorite Things.
Following The Ever End, I mostly worked on a high fantasy project titled The Wellspring, only to discover that high fantasy is hard. (Shocker, I know.) I've also discovered that this first draft of this first book in an intended series is something like 200,000 words long. No biggie.
Natalie: None. Not finished a thing. Thanks for reminding me.
Natalie: None. Not finished a thing. Thanks for reminding me.
What are you currently working on?
Lexie: Because The Ever End is my favorite child, I'm currently working on a second draft. (Which will bear a ~3% similarity to the first. Because I like change and I'm not afraid of it. Roar.)
Natalie: Only one has a title, but I including that, I have 4 ideas for stories. One is half written, one is in the planning stage and the other two are just ideas written down. I'm a lot better at making up stories than I am at writing them. If I could do it as a job, I would.
What is your writing comfort zone? What genres do you favor?
Lexie: These warrant two different answers from me. In both reading and writing, my comfort zone would be Paranormal - ominous, foreboding, creeptastic goings-on set in the present day. The more contemplative and metaphorical, the better. But the genre that I tend to hold in the highest esteem is Fantasy.
Natalie: I'd say I'd feel comfortable writing either Contemporary or just going into the deep end and trying Paranormal. But I'm not talking real hardcore paranormal, more like Lux series-type paranormal. I have some ideas in mind for one or two, and they're really fun to put together. We'll see!
Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?
Lexie: Did my 350 thus-far mentions give it away? Yes, I LOVE NaNoWriMo. I've had quite a few duels with NaNoWriMo and its Camps, and I've won them all. I then bottled the essence of NaNoWriMo and sell it for the low, low price of your soul.
Natalie: I have done in the past, but due to procrastination, I've never won. I've not really done well with it, I'm more of a mood-writer. Being pressured with a deadline of specific words a day doesn't help when you're also studying at uni and running a book blog, as well as other commitments. I'll try again in the future but not sure when.
What is your biggest weakness as a writer?
Lexie: Possibly the same as my biggest weaknesses as an orange-coffee-art-book hybrid human. Crippling self-doubt. An inception of a massive idea of grandiose scopes and an entire lack of follow-through. Run-on sentences. A fear of editing. (And bracket abuse.)
Natalie: My lazy arse not finding the time or the energy to do any writing. Also, self-doubt and wondering whether I'm wasting my own time.
What is your biggest strength as a writer?
Lexie: Clearly it's the novel titles. (I mean, a story about a library titled The Library. Come on. Applaud my ingenuity.) In all seriousness, the reason we have beta readers and critique partners is because we can't be wholly objective about our own work. So I'm not sure we have an accurate idea about what our strengths and weaknesses are. If I had to choose, though, I'd
Natalie: Imagination. I can really think of a lot of ideas, characters and become inspired. I recon I could make money being an 'ideas/story/character thinker-upper'. And this is why I'm not a good writer.
What is your beta-reading/critique-partner/writing-buddy situation?
Lexie: I'm one of the fortunate souls who actually has real-life friends who double as writing buddies. During the drafting process, this becomes a combo of friend/fellow-procrastinator/writing-buddy/critique-partner/idea-machine/coffee-supplier. My lovely co-blogger and my best friends Stefan and Ivana are the foremost of said multitaskers, but I frequently talk a posse of other friends into joining in, so I've amassed quite a team.
To whom it may concern, here's how this is accomplished:
· Step 1: talk about writing incessantly until they agree to write when you write and buddy with you.
· Step 2: see: step 1.
As far as buddy-reading, I've recently become a buddy reader to the lovely Bee @ Quite The Novel Idea and Cait @ Paper Fury. And soon I'll be that endlessly annoying unpublished writer who brags about all the endlessly talented published writers that she knows. The beta-acquiring process is slightly different than the buddy-acquiring process. It goes like this:
· Step 1: imply that beta is your favorite letter in the Greek alphabet.
· Step 2: beg.
· Step 3: offer cake.
Foolproof.Natalie: I just go onto messenger and ask my co-blogger. She's super smart, and as an aspiring writer and reader of writing books, I 100% trust her thoughts and opinions. Lexie always helps me out with writing, and she's also very encouraging, so I know I can rely on her. D'awww.
Planner or pantser?
Lexie: I'm a religious planner. (Really. I could form a religion around it.) While plotting and planning and structuring don't sound like fun to anyone whose mind isn't made up of files and folders (mine isn't; mine is a jungle) - they're my idea of a college party. I've been to college parties which were less fun, actually. (Can you tell I'm an introvert yet?)
Natalie: Panster. I just write whatever comes to mind, I'm not very organised. I wish I was, but I'm one of those people who will buy a diary and then write only on the first page.
I do have quite a few notebooks that are filled with notes, but I only look in there when I've forgotten a name or something. A lot of the story is already in my head so I just go with the flow. This is also likely why I'm not getting very far.
Tools of the trade?
Lexie: Eve. Ry. Thing! Scrivener is my salvation and my muse and my deity, and I will swear by it forever and ever. But also Evernote. Physical notebooks. Post-its. Gumwraps. A whiteboard. A corkboard. My bedroom wall. Papers. Folders. Staplers. Markers. Pens. Lucky pens.
I know - it doesn't SOUND organized enough for a planner. AND IT ISN'T. I am a creature of caveats and contrasts.
Natalie: Laptop, pens, notebook and my brain. Can't forget a cup of tea and a snack! Also music, preferably soundtracks (Harry Potter probably), to get the creative juices flowing.
Favorite writing-craft books?
Lexie: On the subject on caveats - here's one. While I love writing-craft books, I don't consider them at all essential for crafting a good story. I just happen to be very interested in the writing process - everyone's and anyone's writing process - so I tend to enjoy them.
· Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces is 33% psychology, 33% writing craft, 33% philosophy (the remaining 1% is left for your interpretation). And it's therefore 100% my favorite.
· Blake Snyder's Save The Cat gave me my first insight into story structuring.
· And recently I've read and enjoyed The Voice by James Scott Bell - whose whole writing-craft book series is actually quite good.Natalie: Ha, I have 1. Creative Writing for Dummies that I've not read yet. The shame.
How frequently do you question your emotional stability due to writing?
Lexie: There's really no question about it. I've said my farewell to my stability long ago.
Natalie: I question everything when it comes to me and my writing.
What's your stance on writer's blocks?
Natalie: Music, going out for a walk, and I find going for a coffee at a coffee shop. People watching is a huge help. Oh, I also get a lot of my ideas when I'm driving. Not sure why, but it happens.
Our Pinterest boards are mostly writing-oriented, and we are utter Pinterest noobs on top of it. Feel free to add us and make us feel less alone (and more like we know what we're doing).
*eternally craving more writing buddies*
Additional writerly places
None! Or rather, we both have a Wattpad and FictionPress account, but they are as blank as our list of published works. (Self-deprecation is the height of humor. Go with it.) Natalie is considering posting one of her stories soon and working towards finishing it "live" on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Lexie mostly uses her accounts to
stalk follow other accounts.
And that would be that, pumpkins! We have dawdled long enough. World domination awaits! But feel free to use these questions, or create your own, and link your own replies back to us. In case it needs overstating, we're interested in everyone's writing strategies. And if you identify with any of these dubious strategies of our own, leave us a comment below and let us know.
'WHAT ARE YOU WRITING', 'WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING' AND OTHER WRITERLY QUESTIONS
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub