Poetry

Selfish Thinking

“Wanting you is selfish thinking
and I was taught that nothing
good or happy could ever be mine.”

It is through shivering lips and unspoken promises that I reach out to you. It isn’t just for the warmth. It isn’t just for the safety. But out of hope that your vows wouldn’t crumble under the pressure. Do we hold on? Like two souls drifting in the ocean, treading water in hopes that we can find rescue before we slip beneath the surface. Or do we part ways forever? I know what my heart needs — you. But that is selfish thinking and I was taught that nothing good or happy could ever be mine. If I let you go, then, I wouldn’t make life so difficult for you. I wouldn’t be your burden to bear.

© Sarah Doughty
2017

I need you.
It’s just that simple.

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Q&A With A Wordsmith: On Manuscript Failures

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here—LINK and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:

How many unpublished drafts and unfinished manuscripts do you have? Did the process of writing these differ from your published books?

Answer:

Imagine this scenario — a brilliant I’m a genius idea comes to mind and you begin writing. But halfway through (sometimes less, sometimes more) you lose all your steam and grasp at empty space on where the plot will go next. Or there’s just this nagging feeling that something isn’t right, yet you can’t put your finger on it. That genius feeling quickly sours into one of those Debbie Downer waw-wah sounds. 

That was me for most of my life. Without so much as brainstorming the evolution of the plot, developing characters, or anything really. I just started writing, pantsing my way through the whole thing. I truly thought, with every new attempt, that the characters would reveal themselves and that the story would carry them through to The End. But that was never the case. 

In 2014, when my health — both physical and mental — took its toll and forced me out of work, I decided to do it right. Giving myself plenty of space to rest through those wicked migraines or relax after a panic attack, I studied the craft. I read advice written by authors I knew and admired for their stories. I took diligent notes. Read up on the Snowflake Method, and much more. 

Once I felt like I had the tools necessary to actually write a manuscript from beginning to end, I began the plotting phase. The genesis of the idea was there for a few years after a dream and I knew at least where I wanted to start. 

In order to keep a digital record of the plotting process, I created a comprehensive OneNote template that allowed me to assess each aspect of the story I needed to understand and cover — which I will share in more detail in a separate series if you’d like to learn about it. 

I remembered reading this tidbit from a now defunct blog from Maggie Stiefvater. In it, she said Divine Coincidence should be rare and that a story’s characters need to go from A (the beginning) to Z (The End) through their own motivations. 

So that’s what I did. 

The brainstorming took the bulk of the plotting time. As I moved from characters to settings and back to the plot, I filled in what I could in my fresh template, and even used a fresh notebook to jot down notes, writing in any big events I already saw in my head. Then I tried to find scenes that would bring my characters from one event to the next.

I created the stepping stones my heroine needed, while still providing her arc. Once I felt the story was more or less ready, since I already knew what needed to happen with each scene, I began writing. 

That process hasn’t failed me since. 


Coming up, I’ll explain the time it takes to go from plotting to The End … for now, the editing to published as well, and give you some insights on how that has changed since Just Breathe.

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

Poetry

Alignment

“You see, I’m the lucky one.
I get to call you mine, just as I am yours.”

Sometimes, I feel like words aren’t anough. They can’t quite capture all you are. Beyond the surface and underneath. There’s so much beauty there on the inside too. And it’s hard to describe how you make me feel. You see, I’m the lucky one to have you in my life. I cannot help but wonder what sort of cosmic alignment allowed such a thing to happen, but I get to call you mine, just as I am yours. It never feels like enough, because you are so much more.

© Sarah Doughty

But I don’t mind trying
to list them all over
and over again.

Poetry

Awestruck

“Oh, but darling,
you are the one that
leaves me in awe.”

Over the years, I’ve watched you grow into this unique person. Someone wise beyond their years. Someone with depth, emotion, and empathy. Ever since I felt you growing within me, I knew you would make a remarkable creature. Something even the gods would admire. Because you are everything that is good and pure in this world and I want to keep you that way for as long as I possibly can. And in those moments with the harsh world tries to pull you down, remember that you are the one that leaves me in awe.

Happy birthday to my little one. Seven years has gone by and every day, he’s shown me just how important I am in his world. I’m the lucky one. I’m the one in awe. And when I see him embracing his creativeness, it fills me with so much happiness I feel like I could burst.

© Sarah Doughty
2017

Poetry

Freedom To Love

“Love was never
supposed to be defined.
Love is meant to be free.”

Love was never supposed to be defined by color, religion, or gender. It shouldn’t matter what they look like on the outside. Love speaks from the heart and the mind. Not someone’s genitals.

© Sarah Doughty
2017

Let me note that this does not mean I’m advocating for any illegal activity. Two consenting adults should be all that matters. Not the color of their skin, their religion, or their genitals.

Poetry

Saturn Structures

“What would it be like if I shed all those masks?
Would you still want to be here?”

My thoughts float around me like moons in orbit. Like a seemingly endless stream popping up and fading away at a moment’s notice. And like the rings surrounding Saturn, I’ve hidden myself beneath layers of masks and façades, hoping no one will see the real me beneath. But then sometimes I wonder, what would it be like if I shed those layers? Would you still want to be here?

© Sarah Doughty

Maybe, I don’t want
to know the answer.

Poetry

Warmth

“Her heart is not cold for not letting you in.”

After so long, she’s spent countless hours building those walls to protect herself. And could you blame her? After an earthquake, or a fire, or any other disaster, the task is always to rebuild. Stronger, lasting, and protected from the next. Don’t mistake her inability to knock those walls down with the inability to love. It’s much easier to build a door than it is to tear an entire building down.

© R.C. Gonzales &
Sarah Doughty
2017

Dare to make a door
for the right one.
You won’t regret it.

An impromptu collaboration with the lovely Rosie of @areadingwriter. The words in the quote © R.C. Gonzales, the rest are mine.

Poetry

Magical Being

“Do you believe in magic?
I learned long ago
that it flows through my veins.”

Do you believe in magic? I learned long ago that it flows through my veins. There must be some, right? Surviving hell takes a lot of luck and determination. Creating life is a miracle. Just like destroying it is a tragedy. Like the stars and the universe, burning bright and infinite, always reshaping into something new. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

© Sarah Doughty
2017

Magic is inherently beautiful.
And I see it every day.

Poetry

Bleakness

“All I could do was hold on to hope,
no matter how bleak my situation.”

This is my undoing. When the night seems tondrag on for an eternity. When the moon hides her weary eyes. And when I try to keep myself in the here and now. Not back in time when the monster came for me in the dead of night. Not in a time where I felt helpless, and all I could do was hold on to hope, no matter how bleak my situation became. These nights, I sit in an uncomfortable silence and wait for morning to arrive. Even though I know I’m safe, my body refuses to acknowledge it. And thus, is my undoing.

© Sarah Doughty

In the never-ending night,
I wait.
And I hope.

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Q&A With A Wordsmith: On Writerly Evolution

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad personal writerly things like my museinspiration, and process. I’ll continue to shed some light on these questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:

How did you write your first published novel and what, if anything, has changed since then?

Answer:

My first published novel was approached with equal parts immense trepidation and fierce determination. I knew that I had a story worth telling and I needed to do it right so that I could share it with the world. So I was careful, meticulous with my plot and character development and when I understood that, logically, I was ready to begin writing, I began.

However, rather than delving into my development methodology — which I plan to delve into in the future — I’m going to discuss the tools I implemented in the drafting and editing processes.

First, since I am proficient with a keyboard (hello instant messaging from around the turn of the millennium) and have experience with editing, I worried that I might run into a self-editing spiral if given the opportunity to dwell on my draft, which I had done before. So my solution was to write the draft long-hand.

Yes, you read that right.

I still divided everything into manageable scenes, as I mentioned in last week’s Q&A session but I ended up with about two reams of filled, one-sided loose-leaf paper. At the end of the day’s writing or in between scenes, depending on how the day progressed, I typed them out, leaving the majority of the glaring issues intact for a later date. 

When the draft (and the subsequent emotional outburst of happy exhilaration) was finished, I printed those scenes out, double spaced and invested in about two dozen red pens to hack, slash, refine, and perfect (it was a mess, to say the least). Upon completing that arduous task, I created a new file, compiled the same scenes I printed into one large document, and then I implemented those changes. Though I refrained from printing out the book multiple times, I did create new files with each subsequent pass of editing that came afterwards. 

I didn’t stop that process until I felt confident in the story — that I could replay it in my head as if I was watching a movie and have everything lined up just so. 

It wasn’t until I reached roughly a third of the draft from my second book, that I decided the hand-written-to-typed approach wasn’t necessary. Mostly because it felt more redundant than helpful. I’d somehow broken that dreaded cycle of editing. So I put the blank pages back on the shelf and just typed as fast as my fingers could go. 

That process of writing individual scenes separately never changed, but I still feel comfortable with skipping the pen and paper routine. 

The same holds true with the completed first draft. Rather than printing that beast, I edit the files, saving those versions individually to keep the various drafts intact. That way I can go back to check the evolution if I ever need or want to do so, while at the same time, hopefully preventing the death of a few trees in the process.


Coming up, I’ll share some thoughts about my previous book failures and elaborate on why they landed in my discard pile, so to speak.

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.