34 Finding Authentic?

 

Charity: loosely a multi-author podcast journal, where we talk about goals, the ups and downs of writing and where we try to warn you off of our greatest pitfalls. Hello, welcome back to loose leaf today's episode, and it's just going to be me charity Bradford. And it's going to be a follow-up to the searching for authentic that I did six months ago.

I figured it was time to kind of report on how I'm doing with my finding my boundaries saying no. And more importantly, trying to find. The real me and what it is I want from my writing,

from 

Charity: this podcast, from all the other things that I'm doing. So bear with me because as always, this will be unscripted.

So who knows what's going to come out. So six months ago, I began kind of this inner search for who I really am separate from what my friends, my family and society in general. Thinks I should be. Or if you remember podcast way back then who I thought they thought I should be because I was kind of stuck in that trap of being a people pleaser and doing what I thought I was supposed to do simply because I was supposed to do it and not finding a whole lot of happiness in that, in that journey.

So for the last six months, I've been asking those questions. Why am I doing this? And is it making me happy? I have to admit that I'm grateful for. COVID because it's made it easier to take this journey because my life has slowed down for several months, allowing me to take more time for myself to ask these questions and to kind of start this journey.

Plus people weren't asking me to do things because we weren't getting together and we weren't doing all the social stuff that, that I had been kind of. Doing in the past, which I loved, but which took up a lot of my time and kept me from doing other things. These answers have come slowly over time and I'm sure that they're going to continue to evolve.

As I continue asking the questions, where are my boundaries? Am I saying yes to something where I should have said no? So let's just. Take a couple of these areas. One at a time first with my writing, I think a year ago, I was super, super excited about some projects that I really wanted to do. One was I wanted to take my 10 years of blogging experience and kind of condense it into a writer's guide, kind of a, here's a, here's a look at the journey that I've been on.

Here's what I've learned along the way. Hopefully it would help someone. Okay. I started by copying and pasting all of my blog posts into a word document and it was over 400,000 words and totally overwhelming because most of that would not actually go into a non-fiction book. Sure. There would be some examples of things that I did such as, um, query reviews and blog posts, where we went to everybody's.

Blogs and, uh, commented on the stories that we were writing from a prompt. Those kinds of things wouldn't necessarily be helpful to anybody, but there were lessons that I learned along the way, but looking at that big, huge file of 400,000 plus words and knowing that I would have to go through and pick stuff out was overwhelming.

So. I pushed it aside and said, no, I just don't have the brain space or the time to do that. And I'm glad I did that because a year later I rediscovered blog to print and this is not an advertisement for them, but they were super easy to use. 

And 

Charity: so now I'm getting those blogs in actual books where it'll be easier for me to go through and put a check and say, I need to use this post.

And this is what I learned from this post. And I can start putting together something a little bit more organized, a little bit more professional. And I know that kind of sounds like I'm going back to the, what I think other people should do, and it might be, but I don't feel any rush to do this. I figured when it happens, it happens.

And if it does it, I'm okay with that. It's just kind of something in the back of my mind. And so by waiting and not pushing myself to finish it last year was the idea first came about. If I ever do it, it'll be a better product. So that's one thing. Uh, the other thing that I've really struggled with with my writing is this whole science fiction or romance writer thing.

I love science fiction. It's what I like to read, but I also love romance and I started out writing science fiction because that's what I love the most and years and years ago, that was pretty much all I read was science fiction, but the truth is that's not really what I'm I'm best at. And it's taken me this year to really come to grips with that because I, I have kind of.

I guess look down on the romance side of my writing, even though that's where I'm actually making money. And that's where people seem to be enjoying what I'm doing. And I kept telling myself, well, if I can, you know, am I not happy because I'm spending so much time writing romance and marketing romance that I can't do the research and really dig into the science fiction that I want to write, because I do have ideas for that genre.

And that's what I always told myself that I was all anxious and upset because I was doing romance and I wanted to do science fiction. So about halfway through last year, I had decided, okay, I'm going to finish the romance projects that I have lined up that are on deadline that are under contract. And then I will, I will stop doing that.

I'm going to put it aside until I have written in science fiction to my heart's content. And then I'll be happy. That's what I was thinking. And so I came up with the idea of, okay, I'm going to go back to the hand of Aqua. I'm going to take a Lena story and I'm going to break it up into three books the way I should have done originally.

And I started to do that, but I got caught in that trap. Once again, I was listening to other people and they were telling me, well, what you need to do is you need to make her older. And that way it'll be marketable for young adult because you know, young adults don't want to read about a younger girl.

That's what everybody says. And I was like, okay, you're right. You're right. If I want to be successful as a, as a science fiction writer, I need to write to the genre. I need to figure out the age group and I need to. Change my story so that it fits what people in that mode one. And so I did, and I started rewriting Elena as a 16 year old instead of a 12 year old at the beginning of her story.

Now this story covers seven years, seven, eight years. It covers a long time. So she grows a lot during that time. And what I found was it actually, I was getting. More anxious than I had been when I was doing the romance and I was getting angrier and more frustrated because making that one change with her age, everything else stayed the same.

It was just making her 16 instead of 12. That changed everything. You know, a 12 year old and a 16 year old are completely different. So much has happened in those four short years. That affects how they see things around them, how they react to them, come to their inner turmoil. And so I found that even though I could, I could turn this into it.

And my writers group loved the new chapters. But it wasn't the story I wanted to tell. And it meant throwing away a hundred thousand words of a book that I really liked. The hand box was not perfect. I have not marketed it because I know it's not perfect. And I know it needed a lot more work than I put into it.

However, I love that story. And that's the story I wanted to tell. So I stopped working on Elena's book because I was like, I can't do what they say I should do because it's making me angry. And so now, as I keep thinking about that, I'm like, okay, that means I need to write the story that I want to write, regardless of what anyone says.

And that brought such peace when I made that decision. And the second thing I decided was I'm actually a romance writer. I may love to read science fiction and I get. I can do some pretty good science fiction stories, but I'm not the traditional science fiction writer. It's not something that science fiction people are going to go, Oh, this is great.

So I fight because there is so much fantasy, there is so much romance. There is, you know, there's all these other elements and the hard science fiction and the hard science is not there. And I'm okay with that. And as I kind of figured out the stuff and I was okay with that, I realized I do enjoy writing the romance when I simplify it and stop trying to make it as complicated as science fiction usually is because romance is not a complicated thing, but romance is all about the emotions and the relationships and the growth.

And I like that kind of stuff. I like the emotional journey of the relationship and I like making these people real because a lot of times when you read a romance book, it's just kind of the stock character. They're very flat and you just rush through it. And you're like, eh, whatever forgettable. And I want to write romance.

That's about real people in real situations, working through real problems. And I enjoy that. So I've come to accept and appreciate. Where my strengths are. And I think that is that's a huge step forward in me being more authentic to the people I interact with is knowing and understanding that about myself.

So I still love my science fiction. And one day I'm not putting a timeline on it. I will finish rewriting Elena's book into three because it does need that it deserves that. And. I'll work on it when I feel like it. However, my main goal is going to be all of these romance ideas. I mean, when I sat down, I made my list.

I had like five, maybe six science fiction ideas. And four of those were finishing series that are already started or breaking up Elena's book into three. But when I made the list for romance, I had like 20 ideas, tons of ideas. And I think that's very telling, and I need to pay attention to that and accept that and appreciate it.

Okay. So that's kind of where I'm at with my writing. And then I also had to ask myself with this podcast, why am I doing it? Because like I said, six months ago, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted this to be and where I wanted it to go. And when I tried to do that, I was bored. So obviously that's not what I was supposed to be doing because it wasn't very interesting and I didn't enjoy it.

And shortly after that, Hillary and kale joined me and we've had so much fun. I mean, it's great for us to get together every week. Talk about what we're doing with our writing, set our goals. Talk about maybe why we haven't reached the goals that we have. And set new ones and this is great. And we've had some wonderful interviews.

The interviews are still my favorite part because I love listening to other writers journey and how they started and how they progressed to getting those books out there. However, when we moved to doing it every week, it has become really a handful because it's a lot of work and, uh, as much as I love Hillary and kale, Because I do love you guys very much.

And I would love if we just met every week and had like a little writers con fab about, okay, we could do it a little cheer Fest. I often worry that because all we do together is talk about our goals and, Oh, I didn't make my goal this time, but that's okay. I'll try again that you guys are going to lose interest because if we're not reaching our goals, That we're not really showing you what you can do.

And that's, I think the core of what I hope from this podcast is that something that I've learned or that I am learning that by sharing it with you, it will help you on your journey. And I kind of related it this way in my mind. I guess it's been two years now. I took this little test and it was talking about what kind of celebrity personality are you because.

The whole idea was what you understand who you are, then you'll know how to talk to your audience and the direction that your blog or your podcast or your whatever you're doing, your YouTube channel, whatever the direction that it should go. Took a couple of those tests. And the one that stuck in my mind was the one that related the personalities to, uh, people from Lord of the rings, as much as I wish that I was a Gandalf or even an air Gord, you know, Pretty much anybody other than who I got would be, would be great, but I am a Frodo.

And that simply means that I'm your normal everyday person along on the journey. And I'm taking people with me. I think it's taken me a little bit to get used to that. I like that idea that I'm just your friend and I'm on this journey. And I want to say, Hey, come on. If I can do it, you can do it. But sometimes I'd like to at least be Samwise Gamgee, you know, to help you carry your load a little bit.

And I think that's why with these podcasts, I love our journaling. I love our getting together and saying, Hey, this week was a mess. I didn't do any writing, but I'm going to do better next week is great. But every once in a while, I want to be able to give. Use something that will actually help you become a better writer.

And I think that's part of why I like the interviews because these other authors give good tips that I think are just motivational and that's wonderful. And I want to keep doing that. And then sometimes for instance, this week, we are going to do a collaboration interview, kind of mix with some ladies from great Britain and they have a new podcast that just started in January called the writers cookbook.

And they're very organized and it's very much a kind of a lesson oriented here's one way you 

can 

Charity: be a better writer. In this aspect. And so we're going to work with them and we're going to share that with you. And it's nine reasons that you haven't finished your work in progress. And I think it's a great thing that hopefully will help you guys.

So I thought, okay, at least on that day, I can be Sam wise and say, Hey, I'm going to help you by giving you this or by carrying your load and sharing some information with you. I like that. So with the podcast, as I said, it's, it's become a lot of work, mostly because even with Hillary and kale, It all falls on me.

If I don't text and say, Hey, when are we going to meet? We don't meet. If I don't edit it, nothing happens. You know? And while I want to do all these things to help you guys, I need to be writing and it takes so much time to get everybody together. And then we meet and we record. And even if I put up like a 30, 35 minute podcasts, where usually.

On zoom together, recording an hour to an hour and a half sometimes. And then there's all the editing and all of that stuff, um, takes away from my writing time, because on top of being an author and trying to do this podcast, I do need. To take care of my family. I need to do the laundry. I need to do the dishes.

My main goal recently has been it's time to lose all this weight that I put on. Thanks to COVID. And so I'm trying to get out and exercise. And for me, that's just a walk in the woods because that helps calm me, helps me get ready to write. And I just, I love being outside in nature. I've talked with Hillary and kale and asked them, you know, I'm like, Hey, do you want to take some of the song?

Are you. You know, good with what we're doing, you know, but basically can you take on some more responsibility and Cale super busy. He works. He's got a young family, a new baby on the way, all this other stuff. And Hillary is super busy. Her family is a lot more demanding than mine. I mean, I only have one child left at home and he's pretty self-sufficient my husband works from home now because of COVID, but he doesn't really need me for anything.

And so I have all day. That I can work on podcast stuff. I can work on writing. I can do all the things that I need to do. So I'm just in a different stage of life I think, than they are. And so I think what we're going to do is we're going to back off a little bit, and instead of posting a podcast every week, we're going to post one every other week.

And I have a feeling that may not take effect until March because we already have a. Yeah, we have the thing with the writers cookbook scheduled for this Saturday. So we'll have a podcast up next week. We are going to do our music writing prompt challenge for February and. That'll pretty much cover February.

So in March, we'll probably back off and we'll have a good journaling episode and we'll have a good music challenged because we love those. And those are super fun. And what I would like to do is start doing those live. On our Facebook group. So we have the page loose-leaf podcast on Facebook and then attached to that page is actually a smaller group that is just for writers who are actively doing stuff.

And we're really small right now. There's just 15 of us, but I'm slowly putting up units on actual writing tips and things like verb, consistency and lessons. On point of view this week, I'm starting to work on character development. They're really short. I think the longest one has been 11 minutes. Some of them are only four or five minutes.

Most of them are around that six minute length. And I'm just doing those as I have the time. And as I feel like doing them, so the units and lessons are going to go up fairly slowly, but they'll eventually all be there. And so that fills that need in me too. Help by sharing what I'm learning. So join us there, you know, go to loosely author.

You'll see the group is called the leaf pile. And eventually what I envisioned for that is setting up actual critique groups, but we've got to get enough people writing in different genres that we can match people up. What kind of a like-minded understanding because it's really hard if you're writing science fiction and the people that are critiquing you are a different genre and they don't read science fiction.

Because a lot of times you spend so much discussion on what this is a standard people who read this will get this. I don't need to explain it in great detail that it's not necessarily helpful. So we need more people in the leaf pile so that we can do a better job of matching people up. So we'll see.

That's something that I would like to do. Hopefully you guys will show up. I think that's part of my imposter syndrome is I want people to show up because I want to have a conversation. That's why it's great. Having Hillary and kale do the podcast with me because we can have a conversation. And the imposter syndrome says nobody's going to show up.

And so I have to tell myself, well, if no one shows up, that means they weren't interested. And that's okay because. Part of being authentic and learning my boundaries and learning to say no to things is allowing other people to say, I don't have time for that. Or it's not really my thing. And be happy with that and not take it personally, because I think that's part of, you know, what has kept me in that trap all these years is I take things very personally when I don't need to how's that for rambling on today.

What I want to do here at the end is I just want to share some of the things that I am I'm grateful for. First of all, I'm grateful for my imagination. Sometimes it drives me absolutely crazy. But I'm glad that I have one. I'm glad that I can use it pretty much every day in my life. I mean, I think that's why I'm a people person.

I think that's why I like people and generally give them the benefit of the doubt because in my imagination, I can look at them and go, well, maybe they're doing this because, and I create these whole backstories for real people in my life that are, you know, have nothing to do with reality, but it makes me like them more.

And, uh, that's pretty cool. It's nice to like people. I'm also grateful for the days where I sit down and the writing just flows that everything is coming easy. The ideas are there and they're coming from my brain through my fingers onto the keyboard. Those days are wonderful. And I'm so grateful for them.

I'm also grateful for the days when that doesn't happen. But I sit down and I write, anyway, those are a lot harder, but they have proven to me that I am a writer and I can be an author because I'm willing to sit down and write when I don't want to. Those words sometimes are awful and they get changed later, but it's all about that process of doing it every day.

Keeping the mindset of this is what I want for my life, but sometimes those words are better than the words that flow freely, because I'm really having to think about it. I'm really having to craft those sentences and find some kind of meaning, meaning in what I'm putting on the page. I'm grateful for the reviews I have.

I don't have tons. I think the magic wakes my first novel has finally talked to a hundred. Everything else is like, I think they're in the twenties, thirties, whatever. It's so hard to get reviews. Authors really need you to write a review when you read their book, whether you like it or not. Because I liked the bad ones as much as I liked the good ones, because Amazon's all about numbers, but I'm very grateful for the ones I have because.

They're telling me what I'm doing. Right. They help build my confidence and the ones that are specific about what they didn't like helped me become a better writer. So I love them all. And they're great. I'm grateful for the handful of people that encourage me regularly to keep writing that ask about my writing that asked about my books that ask, you know, what am I working on?

And what's the new idea, because that lets me know that someone, even if it's this little handful of people, they're connecting with what I'm doing and they enjoy it. And that to me is success. I know a lot of people 

think 

Charity: success is making the New York bestsellers list and that is definitely success, but I'm starting to realize that success can be on a much smaller level.

And sometimes those successes are more meaningful because I've noticed a lot of authors that push, push, push, push, push with this huge marketing campaign to get so many sales, so many whatever, so that they can make these lists. And it just sounds exhausting to me. I am grateful for those people who have found me who have liked my writing and have become a fan just because they found me.

And not because I. You know, plastered every social media with tons of advertisements and begged people to come read and write a review. So I'm very grateful for that. I am especially grateful for the peace that I have felt in the last month or two as I've. Looked at these things that I've talked about today.

And as I've learned to let go some of my own expectations, as well as that feeling that everyone else expects something of me, I feel like I can relax. I can be myself. I can sit here in my sweatshirt. I've got my pajama bottoms on, um, in my son's room, down in the basement and that's okay. I don't have to get all fixed up and do a song and dance in order to share what's in my heart and mind.

Finally, I am grateful for the ability that I have and that you have every day to sit down. Take a few minutes to think about what's important in your life. And then go throughout your day with that in mind, make the choices to do what makes you happy to do what is important to you and, you know, just be.

Yourself and be authentic. I know I'm not there. I know that I will continue to grow and I will continue to become stronger in my own identity, which is a wonderful thing because. I'm starting to like who I am and I'm okay if other people don't like that, which is wonderful. Let me just kind of recap. I'm going to continue doing what I like to do.

And I enjoy putting together these podcasts with my friends, Hillary and kale. I love finding people that I can interview. We have the writers cookbook coming up next week. I have a book reviewer. That I'm trying to schedule a time with. So we'll have him on sometime. We do have Damien Larkin coming back in June.

I believe because his second book is coming out in July and I'm really looking forward to that. And I'm going to continue keeping the Facebook page. I mean, I. Post on there infrequently. So it's not like there's tons of stuff going on all the time. And I hope that eventually our leaf pile will grow as I continue to post the units and the lessons on writing tips with the eventual hope that we can form critique groups, because I know one of the things that I struggled with when I started writing was I couldn't find a good writers group that fit me.

There were some that were like, 40 minutes away. Just the other side of town for me, 40 minutes was too far to go for a writers group. That was all journalists. I was writing fiction. So we didn't. We didn't match it. It wasn't something that was helpful for me. And I think a lot of people struggle with finding a good group.

And if I can help facilitate some partnerships where people can, can swap their manuscripts and get some good critiques and learn and grow and progress down this journey, 

then 

Charity: that's going to make me feel fulfilled and hopefully help them. That's kind of where I'm at on my search for being more authentic.

Yeah. It's still kind of all over the place, because I think that's the way my mind works. I'm not a super organized, I'm going down this path. This is what I'm doing now. And when I finished, I will move over here. I'm just gonna keep. Doing my thing. And hopefully it'll connect for someone with what they need and their lives right now.

And that's really all I can hope for. So until next week, when we bring you the writers cookbook, and nine reasons, you may not be able to finish your work in progress. I hope that you will keep writing or do your very best to start writing.

Charity Bradford. 

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© 2019 by Charity Bradford.