Wedding Bells and Missed Deadlines

Hey Everyone!

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Washington and it keeps getting busier. This coming Saturday is my cousins wedding – and it’s at my Aunt and Uncles house. I dont think I’ve mentioned, but I live with them. So I’ve been helping out with making paper flowers and paper butterflies – don’t worry, all of them will show up on my Instagram page as well as my Facebook page. I realize now that I’ve been using my Facebook page wrong, but I will be working on that as well.

Still waiting on a job interview, so I’ve been busying myself with wedding stuff and working on the writing for the first Book Arts video which will be on YouTube by the end of the year. It takes a lot of work to do just the writing, and I’m attempting to get all of it done by the end of October so that I can have a month to work on the video editing. I have never done any large scale video editing, so this will be interesting.

This week since I’ve been working so hard on the first draft of my new book arts project, I thought I would share one of the poems that I wrote for it. This project is focused around letter writing and creating an archive. There’s a lot going on in my head, but I will spend a couple of posts going more in depth to it as I have more drafts done.

The poem I am going to share is in it’s roughest form. I have never liked writing poems much – mainly because I have never liked reading poetry – but I do believe that it has it’s purposes and that it is a good thing to have when working in multi-modal writing. Letters and poems go really well together because their form isn’t that different.

______________________________________________

For You

I loved a messy heart
One where the beat
Didn’t go on for herself
But for the people around her

I loved a damaged heart
Where the soul is beautiful
But the body is a shrine
Damaged and weathered by time
Eroded by contempt and misplaced trust

I love a whole heart
It matched my own
I fell head over heels
In the most corny of ways

For the messy heart
For the damaged heart
For the whole heart
For you

____________________________________________

As I said before, it’s pretty rough, I’m rrying my best and this whole project is getting my head in a twist because it’s all based around love letters and I never have been someone that in touch with their own emotions.

I was supposed to be done with the first draft today…. that isn’t happening. The stress is real.

I am very excited to announce that the first book review will go live this Friday. I have been so busy lately that when I have time that I actually don’t want to spend it reading. I have been watching a lot of anime, Fraizer, and animated movies (a lot of Shrek in particular) – but I am on track to finish Dark Visions by L.J. Smith by Thursday.

I know that there is a lot of stigma around reading YA novels and series as an adult, but I think that there is a lot to get out of a lot of authors, no matter what kind of audience they are aiming for. Case in point: I do plan to read and do reviews on the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. There are like 25+ books and I am a sucker for them even though they are meant for elementary school kids (and they’re still coming out). So when I get to those books, know that there will be a lot of reviews coming out fast since I can read about one a day. But this discussion is for another blog post.

It has been about 3 months since I started the blog, and I would love a little bit of feedback from you guys. What do you find interesting? What do you find is lacking? What would make this writing blog more interesting? Do I need to put more of my own work out? What would make this most beneficial?

Thank you so much guys and remember that my first Chap book Laments is still available. And my next one is getting pushed out until sometime next winter. I am focusing on these book art projects since they are my graduate school application pieces. But I do still have 40 copies of Laments available. Just go to the tab for chapbooks on my webpage and it will help you from there. they are $12 a piece and I’m getting good feedback on them.

Okay guys! I’ll be talking to you again on Friday with the Dark Visions review.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

My first photography project. Bound by Knowledge. It was a lot. This project is something that I think I’ve posted a picture of before, but I owe these guys since they did some weird stuff for me.

Birthday Crashes

Hey Everyone,

The last two weeks has been a bit of a ride. My last day at my job was the 13th – and I had to work 9 days in a row before leaving, and then my sister had her 24th birthday yesterday. So my time has been pretty thin lately and I’m looking forward to working on some writing this week while working on more job apps.

It is already September – which is crazy! And there is a lot that is coming up for me personally as well as for the writing communities.

In November we have camp NaNoWriMo which is something that I talked about before in July. I have every intention of participating this November and have already started working on my outlines and setting up my game plan for what I need to get done. 50,000 words in a month is a lot and requires a solid game plan to get things down on paper.

Another thing that is coming towards the end of the year are Book Art Videos. One of the things that I am working on for my MFA application are book art pieces. I have two pieces that I am working on and I am going to be designing and creating books for these two pieces. I’m still working out the details of how I want to make the videos, if I want to do a series for each book that shows the steps to each one or if I want to do just one longer video….. I’m still working on that.

I’m really looking forward to the book art pieces, but it does cause a lot of anxiety because it means that the writing for the first needs to be done by the end of the month, the book made in October, the second writing done by the end of November, and then the book made by the end of December. January is all about video editing for the final book because Feb. 1st is the deadline for Fall 2020 applicants. It’s not stressful at all.

Finally, one of the things that I am going to be working on this week is a review of the novel planner that I bought as well as a typewriter that I just bought that should be coming later today. I’m very excited to get the chance to use the typewriter that I have bought cause I think that it will help a lot with the making of my books as well as give me something to else to write on. Sometimes if handwriting is working, typing something can be helpful and vice versa. Adding a typewriter to the mix is going to be a lot of fun.

If you haven’t already, please, please, please follow me on Instagram at writers.block.blog and also like my page on Facebook @TheWritersBlockBlogger or you can just search my name, Amanda Cook and it should take you to the page. Also, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to get notified when new posts become available.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Happy Birthday to my big sister, Morgan! She turned 24 yesterday and is still one of the kindest people that I know. Life wouldn’t be the same without you.

Making Time To _________

Hey Everyone!

Been a very hectic week and I have gotten nothing done. It’s very hard to feel like a writer when you don’t have time to practice – and it’s something that makes blogging a lot harder too. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels here a bit because I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to show different styles of writing or even talk about a lot of the things that I wanted to.

Remember that book that I was going to review for you guys that I posted on Instagram about – yeah, I’ve read about 50 pages of it… that was three weeks ago.

People always say that if something is important then you will make time for it. Is that really true though? Can you always make time for something that you want to do?

This is a small list of the things that keep me from making time to write:

  • WORK
  • Sleep (or the want to sleep)
  • WORK
  • Family
  • WORK
  • Friends
  • WORK
  • Being tired
  • WORK
  • Not having Ace anymore
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • WORK WORK WORK

These are in no specific order, but there is an underlying cause to why I am not the best person at sticking to my guns about trying to write 500 words a day.

This brings up another question – is something like writing worth tearing down part of your life? What about family? What if you aren’t becoming the person you always wanted to be? What if you aren’t even someone that you like right now? Is that worth a gamble? Is that worth starting over?

Is it worth it if you aren’t happy?

I came to the startling realization this week that I have been really unhappy for a fairly long time. My job was only part of it. I allowed myself to be taken advantage of and allowed myself to be manipulated into doing things for others. This week it became painfully evident how little I meant to one of the managers that I work with. I cleaned up a mess with a customer that never should have been a problem to begin with, but this manager sat in lobby and didn’t help for a second while I got screamed at for thirty minutes for something that was his fault. I protected my crew and my customers at the expense of being torn apart from my intelligence to my physical appearance.

So what was stopping me from seeing what was happening? I believe it was because I thought that I was helping a store that needed my help. I bend over backwards for the people I work with only to have it thrown back in my face because they aren’t pleased with how I handle something.

What did this leave me with? A tired disposition all the time, no energy to give to the items or people that need it, and a broken look at the people who I dedicated four years to.

Was destroying part of my life completely worth gaining back happiness? Absolutely.

My job had been my life – and it wasn’t even the thing that I wanted to do. It was just a filler until I got the job I go to school for. Meaning the real thing that had been tearing me down and holding me back, was me.

I allowed myself to not have the energy to write by working more than neccisary

I opened myself up to being unhappy by giving everything to a job where I wouldn’t receive the same. I often gave more energy than our GM.

Sometimes there are things that you have to change in order to get what you want out of life. I wasn’t and am not getting that out of my job that I hold now. I don’t have another job lined up after the 13th as of yet, but I am looking.

Tear apart other sections of your life if it means that you can rebuild them to look and act the way that you want them to be and become the kind of writer, sister, brother – whatever you want – that you need to be.

I really hope that there is never a need to quit your job in order to make time to do things, but for me it was a necessity. I haven’t worked on grad school stuff in 3 weeks because of not having any energy. That’s messing with my future. Don’t let anyone take a hold of your future. If it’s in writing, then grab it. If it’s school, don’t let yourself become trapped in what you’re doing because it’s more convenient for them.

You all probably think that I’m a people pleaser, but I’m not. I just hate to disappoint people. It gives me severe anxiety. Especially when I’m working with family.

Making time for anything sucks. Sometimes it’s even harder for writing since it takes so long and rarely makes the impact that you want it to. So what? Do you quit? Do you become a full time writer? What do you do? I have no idea. I’m still trying to figure it out. I’ll probably never get it right, but at least I’m finally doing something to take charge of my future.

If you haven’t already, please, please, please follow me on Instagram at writers.block.blog and also like my page on Facebook @TheWritersBlockBlogger or you can just search my name, Amanda Cook and it should take you to the page. Also, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to get notified when new posts become available.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

People push you forward by being available to help with projects that require some of their time – sometimes quite a bit of time. The only person really holding you back is yourself…… right?

Book Arts

Hey Everyone!

So, sorry about last week. I just needed a small break from everything to get my head back on straight and take care of a couple of things that I needed to.

But this week I wanted to focus on something that I have always had a lot of fun doing and a lot of fun planning. Book arts is any kind of book that was made for a purpose of showcasing a set of works or a single one.

My chapbook, Laments, is considered a form of book art because I designed it from beginning to end.

Book arts can be very complicated and also very simple. Behind the Veil – which you can see all the pictures of on the website – is perhaps one of the most time consuming and complex books that I have made to date. It took approximately 150 hours to put together and countless others writing and revising.

Simple books like Laments and The Bonds That Bind Us have more thought into the layout and cover than they do to embellishments. What will make them easiest to read while still allowing for people to get the meaning behind it. Sometimes that requires a juxtaposition, like using bright colors and beautiful patterns on the cover of a book about loss, or more of a personal one like a train that a grandparent made as the cover to a book about the things nearest and dearest to our hearts. There are no rules about what you can and can’t do because it all has to do with what you want it to mean.

I became obsessed about this process when I was in my first year of undergrad and a teacher wanted us to make something that was meaningful, but could also be creative in a class about human rights. My peers helped with the concept, but I was allowed to make the piece one hundred percent fiction and the way that I wanted to. Everything about it was meant to be meaningful to the story and to the way that people read the pamphlet. That’s what book art is – at least to me.

This year has been a big year for me. I graduated, have been looking for a new job, and most importantly, I’ve been working on my application to grad school. I am looking to stay local, but my program requires a lot of prep work as most programs do.

Book arts has been heavy on my mind lately because it is something that I have decided to showcase in my admissions application. So, basically right now I am working on two creative pieces and also two separate books to showcase their meaning and to capture how I make them. Sometimes the way that they are made are just as important to the way that they are presented.

I’m most certain that I will be doing another post on book arts, but for now, I think this will have to do. I am still in the early planning stages and revising of these pieces. Probably the hardest part about this is trying to edit and expand these pieces that I had set aside for awhile without feeling like I’ve ruined them.

If anyone is interested in updates, just let me know and I can try and give them as I have anything to report. I have been procrastinating hardcore this week so I barely have anything done.

If you haven’t already, please, please, please follow me on Instagram at writers.block.blog and also like my page on Facebook @TheWritersBlockBlogger or you can just search my name, Amanda Cook and it should take you to the page. Also, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to get notified when new posts become available.

Till the next chapter-

Amanda

This is the first look at the cover image on The Bonds That Bind Us. The release date on this might be later than anticipated, but it will still be an interesting piece. More to come on this in the coming months.

Writing Prompts

Hey Everyone!

So, this week has been super tough for my family and I. Last Tuesday we put down Ace and I have been struggling with a lot of mental health issues since. Our house feels very empty and really quiet at times. It is also a struggle for Emma, our poodle, who is trying to figure out where her friend went.

Oddly enough, I have been having a hard time writing when normally this would be the best time for me to. No words have been coming. That’s why I’ve been doing some writing prompt writing this week.

There is a lot of negative stigma around writing prompts that I don’t quite understand. I’ve written a lot with the help of a writing prompt. Some people need a place to start – and that’s what prompts do.

Some people think that it is “cheating” or that “the idea isn’t original”, but that’s the problem with the time that we live in. There are almost no “new” ideas. All ideas are riffs off of other books you’ve read, movies you’ve watched, and plays you’ve seen.

It’s gotten to the point where it’s about how you play your version. What version of the story do you want to tell. What do you want to do to the characters that may be a little bit different than what the last author did.

I, for one, am all about writing prompts. I’ve made a few pieces that were published where I gained inspiration from writing prompts. That’s all that prompts are: inspiration, not story telling.

Dialogue prompts are some of my favorite prompts because those truly are open ended and you can go almost anywhere with them. If you are looking for any kind of prompt, I always recommend Pinterest. There are so many writing tips and prompts on there that you will get lost in them. I have wasted many hours scrolling through and looking at the different prompts.

Finally, for people who feel that prompts are “cheating”… It takes talent, time, and dedication to write any kind of creative piece, even if it came from a prompt. Don’t discredit someone because they had to get their inspiration from a sentence long prompt. If they took the time to write something that is different, but uses the prompt for a starting point, they still wrote it. In the end, the idea is still theirs, they just interpreted a sentence a little different than others would.

I will say that there are times when prompts are not good. When you write a story and base the whole thing off of said prompt and only go by what it says, you are diluting the talent that you have and restraining yourself with bonds that you don’t need. Just use the prompt to start – then let the words carry you. To be honest, it’s harder to follow a prompt to the last detail than it is to let your mind wander. Also – if a prompt is too detailed, stay away from it. The more detailed it is, the more you will feel restrained.

Sorry that this week is a little short, any kind of writing has been a bit difficult including this. Please remember to check out my Chapbook, Laments, which is under the chapbook link on the website. I have a lot of copies left and it is a pretty fast read, just a little bit of a different read.

If you haven’t already, please, please, please follow me on Instagram at writers.block.blog and also like my page on Facebook @TheWritersBlockBlogger or you can just search my name, Amanda Cook and it should take you to the page. Also, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to get notified when new posts become available.

Till the next chapter –

Amanda

This is the last picture of Ace that I took – and it’ll also probably be the last one that I post on here for awhile. He was just enjoying his time in the sun.

Novel Planners

Hey guys!

Been a really tough week, all the people in my house got sick with everything from respiratory infections to pink eye – not a good week. Then, to top it all off, on Saturday Ace somehow got hurt and it just escalated on Sunday. Today I have to take him to the vet to make sure that he checks out okay. I’ll keep you guys updated on how he’s doing.

Then of course there’s work and my covering the opening manager’s shifts for six days. I haven’t slept much and am seriously reconsidering my job situation.

Today I mainly wanted to talk about Novel Planners.

A novel planner is exactly what it sounds like. I have been really looking into one (or several) to help focus my writing goals and keep me moving forward. There are three that I’m going to try, but I haven’t picked which one I want to start with.

Well Storied

https://www.well-storied.com/the-novel-planner

What’s cool about this one is that it is available in PDF as well as in a bound book. It gives places to write down story ideas, do character sketches, and keep track of achievements – even if they’re small. That’s something that I like about this one a lot. It has room to be able to grow and provide a lot of different things.

If I were to do this one, I would definitely buy the PDF version because then I would be able to add more pages to a section that I need to be bigger as well as just to have access to one week at a time since that is how my life works at the moment. There is also a section for a reading list – and lets face it, if I don’t have 300 slots, it’s not big enough.

All in all, this seems like a really well rounded planner that would work to focus a reader/writer and allow them to set their own goals based on what they think that they need. I could see this being a very useful tool.

Plot Factory

https://plotfactory.com/

This planner is good for anyone who is more into technology than having a paper copy. Everything is completely online – and that comes with some really cool perks. I’m more old fashioned and like paper, pencil, and for people to leave me alone, but sometimes there are perks to using an online option.

Plot Factory seems more like an actual writing app. You can use it wherever you want and it can also be accessed on your phone or other mobile devices. Things that are included in this are things like:

  • Character lists
  • Universe Notebook
  • Object Notebook

There are so many things that would be useful to someone who is writing an intense world building fiction piece because you have the ability to have details be connected within several pieces of fiction if you would like.

For someone like me who isn’t able to write (or really wanting to write) that kind of fiction, there are a lot of features that I wouldn’t use because they wouldn’t really work or apply to what I am writing about.

The Writing Kylie

https://thewritingkylie.com/the-novel-planner-workbook

Not going to lie, this one is pretty cool. It gives you space to do things from beginning to end and gives a checklist of how things should be done if you want to publish the traditional way. That was the coolest thing about this book. The rest of it is fairly similar to Well Storied, except this one is only available in book form.

Final Thoughts

I really like what all of these planners have to offer. They give a lot of room for detail because nobody needs to know more about your book than you. All three of the planners allow you to build your story from the ground up and create the novel that you always wanted to.

As always, I think that there are some things about planners that take away spontaneous moments in writing. The kind of moments where the story changes in 2.5 seconds because of a thought that occurred or the way that the writer is feeling in the moment. I love those moments because that’s where the story then surprises the writer and they’re sitting there like – “I wonder what’s going to happen next!”.

I will let you guys know which one I decide to use and I’ll post updates on my Instagram about how it is going.

If you haven’t already, please, please, please follow me on Instagram at writers.block.blog and also like my page on Facebook @TheWritersBlockBlogger or you can just search my name, Amanda Cook and it should take you to the page. Also, if you haven’t already, please subscribe to get notified when new posts become available.

Thanks guys!

Till the next chapter-

Amanda

My first photography project. Was a pain in the butt, but got some nice results.

From One Writer To Another

This week, instead of talking about something writing related, I just thought that I would share my June 2019 “From One Writer to Another” personal memoir. I promise that we will go over that that is, but for now, here it is:

From One Writer To Another:

That sounds very poetic doesn’t it? Like it will be an essay that will captivate my audience and be somewhat of an important piece. The truth of it is, this piece will probably mean more to me than it will to you. It will show you things about me that I’m not proud of and then some of the things that I am. I don’t know if this will disappoint, but this is what I have.

One of the most common questions I ask people as a writer is “Did you like it?”. As a new writer I am obsessed with what people think about my writing because I am looking for validation. Looking to know that what I am doing is right. I started writing much later than most of you. I always has a passion for reading and writing when I was young, but once I started college, I fell into the “practicality rut” that many of us do. Do something practical. Something that will guarantee that you make a decent income that you can live off of. Do something you could probably hate for the rest of your life because, hey, it’s practical.

That was something that I was told growing up all the time. I heard it so often that I started repeating it like an internal mantra. I didn’t see the irony in the fact that it was always followed by “you can be whatever you want.” I struggle with this a lot because what if those things didn’t line up? What if I don’t want to be a doctor, lawyer, or teach high school? For me it was the latter. I was told to be a teacher because I’d be good at it. To work at a high school because they didn’t require you to get much more than a bachelor’s to do that.

I strategically set myself up to fail with my choice in major. I hated what I was doing. I found my core classes difficult and it felt like I was drowning in a bathtub. I put myself there. I chose this path, but I was drowning in the shallow water because I was depressed with the life I was trying to lead.

I was losing interest in something that had been a goal. I had just wanted out. Many people have told me that if you love what your job, it will never feel like you have worked a day in your life. For some reason if I had continued the path that I had chosen, I knew that I would wake up everyday dreading what comes next. I had no excitement for my projected future.

The point of this essay is not to bore or inspire you with my story. I don’t think that you need to know much about me to know what I am all about – and honestly, I don’t think that some of you would care. You can tell what my interests are by my tattoos and you don’t have to listen to me talk or write for long to know how I feel about something.

A writing practice is something I had never heard of before a few months ago. It had never occurred to me that writing was something that needed practice. It does now. To some of you, just for a moment, I sounded naive and ignorant about what it means to be a writer. Like I have no idea what it means to produce a piece of creative writing, which I might add, is one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do in my life. Creative writing is like nothing I’ve ever had to do because it’s almost like you are laying a part of your soul bare instead of the facts and research that are involved in classes. If someone doesn’t like your writing, it hurts more than any bad grade ever could.

I am okay as coming off naive and ignorant. I feel that there is something empowering to say that I am still figuring out what I’m doing, that I don’t have to define myself by what it is that I am writing. Calling myself a writer feels foreign and strange, but it’s a feeling I’m beginning to enjoy. Calling myself an artist is… surreal.

Throughout the last few months, I have made many friends who, like me are writers. I have read more creative pieces in the last six months than in my entire schooling career and I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. I love that I am able to read someone’s work and give feedback on something that could possibly make them feel more confident in their own work. Here’s where the bad part starts. I judge their work.

Bleh! That is such a terrible thing to do, but it is something that is almost as common as human nature and it’s like a competition. If I think my writing is better, then I win. If I think, holy hell that was amazing, I start to lose confidence in myself and my abilities. Everything in life is a competition and this is one competition that nobody wants to lose.

How depressing is that. Not terribly long ago, my friend showed me an image that simply said, “If you are an artist and your friends are artists, they are not competition; they’re your inspiration. Support them.” I have found nothing to be truer. Listening to friends read their work to me over the last few months was what inspired me to write this. They inspire me all the time to be better and to try new things – to be as weird as I want to be. But there is always that internal struggle of “did they do better than me?” That is such a lonely and depressing way to go about your work.

Here are a few author facts that I found quite inspiring:

  • JK Rowling was 36 when Harry Potter was published.
  • Bram Stoker didn’t get The Snake’s Pass published until he was 43. (This was his first book, it’s not connected to Dracula.)
  • Anna Sewell didn’t get Black Beauty published until she was 57.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien was 45 when The Hobbit was published and didn’t finish the Lord of The Rings trilogy until he was 63.

Success comes to people in different time and nothing is a competition. If you have a friend who publishes a book long before you, then celebrate with them, ask for their feedback and enjoy their success with them because more likely than not, you inspired and contributed to their success. That, to me, is more satisfying than getting caught up in the competition that doesn’t really exist.

So now that I have rambled on for a long time, from one writer to another… Did you like it?

June 2019

Thank you for reading.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

My aunt has her own embroidery business that she runs by herself and she also is the printing press for all of my chapbooks. This personal memoir appears in what will be my third chapbook, “The Bonds That Bind Us” which will hopefully be coming out in November.