Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Month: January 2016

How To Take 15 Years To Write A Novel

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Before I could even hold a pen, I was dictating stories to my grandmother which she would lovingly write down for me as I let my imagination soar. I was the weird kid who got excited whenever we were assigned an essay or paper. I loved English class and was constantly sent to the Young Writer’s Conference throughout grade school. When the boring subjects came up (read: math), I busied myself by scribbling out stories, scripts, and poetry instead of taking notes and by college, I had perfected the art of feigning attention.

I knew that no matter what else I did with my life, writing would always be a part of it. I would hold down a “real” job and release books and music on the side if that was the only way. Making money was never the end-goal; making art was.

A shortage of ideas has never been an issue, yet here I am at nearly 30 years old and just now preparing my first novel for release. A novel which I have been writing since I was a teenager.

So, what is the secret to drawing out the progress of your first book as long as possible?

It’s a culmination of things, really. Almost an artform unto itself.

How To Take 15 Years To Write Your Novel

To start with, you should develop a voice in your head that tells you that no one would ever want to read anything you create and reminds you that you’ll never make any money at it. Be sure that this voice uses key words like “stupid”, “unoriginal”, and “pipe-dream” often. Also, be sure it is coming from a place of “logic”. If done right, this will result in many hiatuses while you focus on more realistic goals that are devoid of any of that pesky passion. Be careful that you don’t allow it to completely drown out the voice of hope inside you. You need that spark to really burn bright on occasion.

Next, you need to create a set of priorities and conditions that makes it nearly impossible to find the time to write. For example, you absolutely cannot write unless the house is spotless and you must write in the morning, and ideally only on weekends. Make sure you put the needs of as many other people as possible ahead of your own and say yes to each and every invite or request you receive. It would be selfish to take the time to do what you love, after all.

It also helps if you find a million other hobbies to take up the time you could spend working on your book. Tell yourself that all these new skills and interests will help you create richer characters and really dive into them. Learn as much as you can about your new passion and give it up as soon as you find a shiny new activity to latch onto.

why write when there's so many new things to learn?!

Writing, schmiting. I should totally learn how to knit this week!

Likewise, you should absolutely chase down each and every plot bunny that comes your way. Of course you can write 6 novels, 18 short stories, and a book of poetry at the same time! The sky is the limit my friend! Bounce around from one project to the other depending on your mood when you finally find the time to put words on the page. You’ll get them all done eventually! Make sure you keep everything, no matter how terrible it is, just in case.

Finally, you should create needlessly complicated systems for writing and editing your book. If you’re struggling with this step, give my method a try. Sort through all of your rambling drafts and random scenes and see if there’s a common theme that keeps popping up. Chances are, you’ve rewritten the same story (or parts of it) about 30 times. Gather these up. Then, pour over your stack of papers and mark your favorite parts. Once you have completed this step, the real fun begins.

Create an entirely new plot using these pieces. Assign a letter or number to each of these snippets and then decide the order in which they should appear. Then you can create your rough draft. Type these up, filling in the gaps as you go. If you’re at a loss, simply type in a quick summary of what needs to happen or a few key words. Don’t worry if your protagonist’s name changes throughout this draft. You’re going to create a list of characters consisting of their current name(s) and their “final” names for use in the next step.

Now, you get to rewrite the whole thing again, making sure to change names where necessary and correct any other inconsistencies. Smooth it out and complete the scenes you didn’t finish the first time around. Once this is done, give it a read and decide you hate it. Step away for as long as you need. When you come back, read it again and decide you love it. Get out that red pen and start marking it up. It’s time for another round of edits! Continue in this fashion until it’s finally something you aren’t ashamed of.

Congratulations! You have just written a book in the slowest possible fashion! Give yourself a huge pat on the back!

Now that you’ve done it the hard way, I’m sure you’ve learned some important lessons to make the next project go a little smoother. Take what you’ve learned and get to work on the next one! Time waits for no one. Quit messing around and do what you love!

 

 

 

 

 

Life Between The Scenes

A few of you may have noticed my tagline, “Life Between The Scenes”, up there under my logo and found yourself wondering what the heck it even means.

more than behind the scenes, life between the scenes

In writing, we leave out all the unimportant bits. If it’s not compelling or essential to the overall plot, it doesn’t belong. Hours spent in front of the television or curled up with a book may be alluded to, but never written in detail. You don’t see your favorite character brushing their teeth all too often, nor do you see the days where nothing spectacular happens. What you get are the extremes. You see the highlights and the low-lights, but nothing in between.

Often times, you’ll see a series of three asterisks in between paragraphs to denote the passage of time or a change in perspective and it’s a tactic I use often. In fact, when I’m drafting a new piece, I’ll often use something like ***stuff happens here*** and move on until that “stuff” comes to me. Not only did these things help me come up with my tagline, but they were also critical in my decision to use an asterisk in my logo.

So, what then do I mean by “life between the scenes”?

To me, it’s about slowing down and appreciating the ordinary experiences of everyday life. It means taking the time to enjoy good food, good conversation, and hours spent doing nothing. It’s about learning to equally love the good, the bad, and the in-between. It’s about being present and living more fully.

It is also a nice summary of what to expect from this blog. This is more than a glimpse behind the scenes. These are the moments that exist between the big projects. These are the 3 AM thoughts and the afternoon daydreams. These are the lessons learned along the way. It may not always be the most exciting, but it is always real.

Now that we’re a few posts in and have most of the preliminary stuff out of the way, I am excited to see where this journey takes us. The road that brought me here has been long and winding, and the road ahead is sure to bring more curves. This is a quest with no real ending, and one that I am delighted to share with you all.

 

What’s In A Name?

I was in college before I was finally able to convince people to call me by my real name.

Let that sink in for a moment. It took 18 years before anyone called me by my actual name. In fact, to this day there are still quite a few people who still prefer not to use it and many, many more who for one reason or another can’t pronounce it, despite it being a very common monicker.

Brandyn Blaze, name

I suspect it’s because Brandon is a traditionally male name and people just can’t wrap their head around it belonging to a woman. The fact that I choose to spell it with a “Y” in place of the “O” probably doesn’t help matters, nor does the fact that the majority of my family still refers to me as “Brandy”, but I digress.

Typically, when I tell people my name their first response is some remark about how my parents must have been expecting a boy. To a degree, this is true, although had I been a boy, my name would have been Nicholas. In fact, the baby book my mother started during her pregnancy says Nicholas through most of the beginning. When I came out without the parts they had anticipated, it was decided that they would call me Brandy. Feeling that Brandy was too short of a name for when I was in trouble, they chose Brandon as my full name.

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to stand out. I also knew that I wanted to do something creative with my life. I wanted to write, sing, act, paint…the idea of a traditional job never crossed my mind. The closest thing to a “real” job I considered was opening up a record shop and a bar and grill, both of which would mostly exist to give me a place to showcase my music.  When I was around 13 years old, I decided I needed a cooler name and christened myself Brandyn Blaze.

At the time, I just thought it sounded cool, but it quickly became a part of who I am. Now, I find that there are many good reasons to use a stage name or pen name. One is brand recognition. Like crafting the perfect title for your work, giving yourself a memorable name that reflects what you are about helps you stand out.

Another great thing, particularly for us ladies, is that it cuts down on the confusion if your legal name changes. Currently, my partner and I are not married, but we will be in a matter of months. If I was already into my writing career I’d find myself faced with the issue of continuing to write under my maiden name or using my new last name, which could result in the loss of readers if they didn’t realize it had changed.

There is also the issue of anonymity. While most of us dream of being well-known to some degree, there are times when you still want your privacy. I prefer to keep my personal life and my career separate in some areas. This was more of a concern with my other blog, where I often wrote about my family. One day, my child will be a teenager and I don’t want her embarrassed by having her name out there, and of course there are safety concerns.

Beyond that however, is the fact that it lessens the chance that someone will immediately make the connection between who her mother is “in real life” and who she is in the public eye. Personally, I have nothing to hide, but for the sake of my family’s privacy, a “working name” seems appropriate.

With all that taken into account, I’ve worked hard to build a name that I can be proud of.  I am Brandyn Blaze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Blog For A New Year

Every year we watch the clock change with excitement, welcoming a new 12-month cycle. We make our lists of resolutions, determined that this year is the year we lose the weight, quit smoking, get organized, or whatever it is we’ve been putting off. Of course, we go in with the best of intentions, but for most of us, we lose track and fall short of our goals.

Maybe we fail because of fear. Maybe we fail because we’re not entirely ready to take on whatever change we’ve set out to make. Maybe we fail because we’ve set our sights on a big-picture goal without first mapping out the small steps we need to take to get there. Whatever the reason, we don’t quite get there and instead of reassessing our situation and giving it another try, we give up. We tell ourselves, “There’s always next year.” We sell ourselves short.

failure, goals, success

Most of us by February.

This year, however, I am determined to stay motivated. My secret? My focus is on completing goals that I have already been actively working on.

Number one on my list? This blog.

I have been working on this for quite awhile now. With my first novel nearing it’s completion (yay, editing!), I knew I needed a place to connect with my readers. While I have loved writing for my first blog, Life, Motherhood, And The Pursuit Of Happiness, and will continue to publish posts there, it was beginning to feel a little constrictive. Here, I have a space that’s totally my own to talk about things that may not fit within the “mom blog” niche, because let’s face it, motherhood is only a fraction of what I am about. I am also a writer, a musician, a poet, a thinker, a dreamer, a (soon to be) wife, a sister, a friend, a daughter…you get the drift. This blog is a site where I can be unrestrained.

It is also a place where I can share the latest news on my various projects and goals, which brings us to the rest of my aspirations for the upcoming year.

This is the year that I finally become a published author. This is the year I finally…after 10 years of commitment…marry the father of my child. This is the year I finally shed the last of my inhibitions and become the person I’ve always known I could be. This is the year I finally begin to live.

freedom, chasing goals, dreams, live

I can’t wait to share this new chapter of my life with you and hopefully provide not only entertainment, but some useful insight as well as I figure this thing out.

For those of you who have followed me from my old blog, thank you for your support, and for those of you who are new to my ramblings, thank you for joining us! And to all of you, I hope this year is full of love and growth and happiness!

The only thing in our way, is ourselves. Let’s make this one count!

 

 

 

 

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