The Never Ending Day

I have been struggling with what feels like a neverending day. Every day bleeds together. The only thing that I have that makes it feel like there are different days are my classes from Monday to Thursday. However, those classes end in two weeks and then I will have even more time to spend. 

How to Separate the Days

Get up at the same time every day and have a set schedule. During a normal time, you would have a schedule full of meetings, classes, work, and errands. Usually, you might use a planner to keep all this external schedule straight. You may not have these external schedule pieces currently, so you should create your own internal schedule. 

Last summer I was working 9 to 4 Monday through Friday, which meant I had all of Friday to do whatever I wanted. It was easy to wake up and watch videos on my phone until noon, which wasted a good portion of my day. I wanted to get things done on my day off rather than waste it. So, I created a schedule, broken down by hour, and this let be to accomplish a lot. This feeling that I had on Fridays during the summer is how every day feels now. That is why a schedule and mindfully doing things can help to break up the day. 

How to Spend the Extra Time

New or old hobbies, pick them up. You have copious amounts of free time (if you are not an essential worker). Use the time to improve yourself. Read a book you have been wanting to but haven’t had the time. Bake some bread, a lot of people are doing this. Try your hand at writing, drawing, painting, and art of any kind. 

Try not to spend all your time on Netflix and other streaming services. When this quarantine is over, you will feel like you have accomplished nothing. Unless you really think binge-watching the Office for the seventh time is a good use of your life. Use this time as a springboard into a better future you. You can never have too many hobbies when times are what you have an excess of. People work their whole life to live without work and we get a taste of that before we are retired. ( I know financially it isn’t great, trust me I feel it) Make the best of the situation at hand. 

Feeling Like You Have too Much Time and Yet Like You Have Accomplished Nothing

I mentioned in the section above that you will feel like you haven’t accomplished anything if you watch too many things online. This is one of the things that I struggle with. I feel like I am constantly connected to my phone or my computer. ( much of this is because I write a lot on my computer but a lot is watching videos) I tend to watch more education videos and call it research but, on days when I don’t get a lot of words written, these videos do not feel like research and instead are a distraction. 

Sometimes, reading can feel like this as well. I love reading and I know I need to read in order to be a great writer, but I just want to write. I have set myself some tough goals for the year in writing and I feel like everything else is taking away from reaching the goals. However, reading and research will aid my books and short stories and make me an overall better writer. If I spend all my time reading I won’t write anything. If I just write then it could be bad and I will have to revise more which takes just as long and I didn’t get to enjoy reading. 

It is amazing how I have been able to fill up my time and feel the pressure the has been self-imposed. This is a good and a bad thing because the pressure can cause me to not do either because I am afraid of choosing wrong. The best choice is to do a little bit of both and just move forward. 

Make yourself a schedule. Set some goals. Go get it done and have fun with it. 

How are you separating the days? What are the hobbies that have picked up and enjoy? What are some of your quarantine goals?

Stay safe loves!

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

My First Draft Sucks :( (No this not a working title)

First drafts aren’t supposed to be gold. They are messy and that is a good thing. You have to write a lot in order to write well. This means many messy drafts and a lot of revision before you get something even close to decent. Everyone else has to go through it too. Find other writers and commiserate with them and share encouragements. 

I just completed a full draft of my short story!

I felt really good about completing it and I knew there were issues with it but I completed 90% of the story in two days. That was quite an achievement for me. So, I decided to send it to my Alpha reader. Last night her responses began to roll in. I made the mistake of reading them. She had read and commented on half of the story and has not gotten to the rest of it yet. (so I don’t know if she thinks it is at all good or not)

Don’t stunt your creativity with criticism, learn from it instead

I did exactly what you shouldn’t do. I should have left the story alone for a few more days. Instead, I stopped myself from working on my next story. I had an idea that was pressing on my mind and not letting me sleep and instead of writing it, I looked at comments that only served to discourage me and tell me that my draft was bad. 

In reality, the storyline is good, the plot is interesting, and the theme is compelling to my target audience. Where it lacks is in the literary elements,  sophistication of prose and character development. Most importantly, I told it too much as a description rather than intertwining character, plot, and scene to create a brilliant tapestry rather than three different colored rags.

How to get yourself out of a Slump

I would be lying if I said I did not have a slump yesterday and this morning when I got up to write at 6 am. However, the best way to push yourself out of a writing slump is by brainstorming or writing something. Last night I wrote an 800-word outline for a romance novel. This morning I tried to write my first chapter and I wrote 120 words and it felt flat like a generic Romance. In my mind, it seemed wonderful and fresh. As I wrote the outline I was excited about the characters. But my inciting incident has elicited no emotion from myself and definitely wouldn’t touch the reader. So, I opened up a new document, grabbed an idea from my working idea page and started to write ideas based upon it. This story may never happen but it gets me writing something. I have a writer’s block document where I write scenes for the same reason. It doesn’t matter how you do it but writing can be a quick reset for your creativity and mental state. 

Get an Alpha reader that is Strong in things you are weak on

My Alpha reader is a very literary focused reader. She reads a lot of the “great books.” These include ancient texts as well as books like East of Eden, Pride, and Prejudice, and Shakespeare. She reads broadly and has good taste in all things literary. I focus more on Science Fiction and Fantasy (although I do read many of the great books as well). This is why she is such an asset and helpful friend to send my stories to. 

She can point out the flaws in my fantasy stories from a literary point of view. This is such a benefit because it makes my stories rounded out and clean. She tells me when my stories are juvenile and where my sentence structure is too similar for the good of the flow. A word she loves to use for my stories is “chunky.” She is wonderful at seeing things that I cannot. Get yourself a brutally honest Alpha reader but make sure that you are up to being challenged. 

Don’t think about perfection when you draft or you will never get started

Finish a piece! If this means writing a short story when you consider yourself a novelist, such as me, do it. Finishing a piece will give you confidence to work on your longer pieces and invest time in yourself and your writing (remember not to dwell on comments from your readers or don’t send your short story out right away). There are other benefits to writing short stories. You can publish them in literary magazines and then use those publications in your query letters for novels. There is no right way to write. Everyone gets there by a different path. Keep drafting, keep writing, and finish the dang project. You will get there! It will probably be messy. You will need to revise and rewrite, but at least you will be able to edit it once it is on the page. Part of the reason why first drafts are not always the cleanest is the fact that you have to force yourself to write at times and this makes the dialogue simple and the characters flat. THAT IS WHAT EDITING IS FOR. You aren’t etching your story in stone. You are most likely typing it on the computer which means it is easy to revise without having to rewrite. Write it out and then write it again but better. 

Have you ever been discouraged by a critique that you asked for? How do you get yourself out of a slump? What things do you need to look for in a reader to shore up your flaws? How do you feel about drafting?

Stay safe loves!

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes

Traveling With My Sisters (An Introvert in Unknown Territories)

“I Read; I Travel; I Become” – Derick Walcott

Most of my traveling starts and ends between the covers and endpaper of my favorite books. However, there are times when it is necessary to move this corporeal body to a different location. And what does this mean? Airports. 

I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to three different continents, eleven countries, and 29 states. These trips have been beneficial as I think about writing and what I now know of the world. So, although I enjoy the comfort of my own how, I see the value of travel and enjoy where I am when I get there.

Leaving New York

My grandparents drove us to the airport early in the morning and dropped us off. We did the normal waiting in lines, getting our tickets and giving our luggage, waiting in lines, going through security, finding our gate, waiting in lines, and then, finally, boarding the giant plain. Once we were on the plane we figured we would be off within the hour. However, this was not to be the case. There was ice on the plane and a false negative in one of the door locks so we sat on the tarmac for two and a half hours before we finally took off for our 14-hour flight. 

I was getting worried at this point because our layover in South Africa was only three hours. We figured we would make up time in the air but it proved not to be enough. We landed in South Africa and as we were waiting to get off the plane we knew that the chances of our getting on the next flight were slimmer and slimmer. Once we had gotten off of the plane we had to get on a bus when we asked the lady in charge and showed her our ticket she told us we should have been on the bus that had just left. So, we got on the next one. When we reached the airport a man with a walky-talky had us run through the whole airport to try to get on the flight. We had almost run through the whole airport when we were told that the flight had left. 

A Night in the South Africa Airport

As you can guess, there was no other flight to Livingstone that day. So, we were stuck in the airport for 24 hours. We got a room in the airport hotel and they gave us meal vouchers. This was helpful because we could get showers and work on switching to African time. We ate at the same restaurant for the next three meals and had to go through security every time we wished to eat. But, the beds were comfortable and the food wasn’t bad. 

Arrival: My Parents Waving Through the Open Gate

The next day we got on our plane. It was a short flight that had been the separation between us and Zambia. We were at the very back of the plane since we had been added late and there were 24 empty seats behind us. This was not a popular flight. 

We landed in Livingstone and went to get our visa. We were at the end of the line. By the time we got to the conveyor belt all of our bags were off the belt and sitting on the floor. We picked up our bags and put them on a trolley. Then we went to the gate and saw our parents waiting there for us. They had seen our plane land and cross the tarmac. It was lovely to see them but I was completely exhausted from all of the travel and the airports. 

Airports and People

I love watching people and observing them but I do not like crowds. It is interesting though, I enjoy airports when I have other people as a buffer. My sisters were there with me and I could get them to do most of the talking because they are extroverts. Until they decided to have me talk to the guy at the desk and ask him a question we had already asked and I knew the answer to. This is where there are conflicts and stress for an introvert such as myself. 

I do, however, enjoy imagining who people are, where they are from, and why they might be in the South African airport. Overall the travel on the way to Zambia was much less “introvert exhausting” than I had worried it would be prior to my travels. This step outside of my comfort zone was well worth it and showed me that all I really need is a travel companion. 

Where Else to Get Material for Stories and Observe People than in the Real World?

I have always found humans intriguing, that is part of why psychology and personality types are so interesting to me. I love to observe how family units interact, how couples argue, and how strangers become friends. I cannot do this within my own head and that is where the real world comes into play. 

As a writer, it is wonderful to take a moment outside of my head and see new sights, smell new smells, taste new food, and meet new people, no matter how exhausting it may be. I use everything I see as material for my stories and people in my life get roles in the theatre of my mind that spills onto the page. 

Where would you like to travel in the world? What world would you go to if you could jump into a novel? What is your favorite place in the world?

Please feel free to email me any questions, stories, themes, or ideas I am grateful for all your contributions.

Email me at evilholmess@gmail.com

Give me a follow on Instagram @evi.l.holmes 

Follow me on twitter @RealEvilHolmes

-Evi. L. Holmes