Today, let’s talk about something that all passionate writers/aspiring authors go through.

Jealousy. 
(side note:: it’s not just writers; everyone goes through this.)
Authors Sarah J. Maas and Mandy Hubbard have both written incredibly articulate posts about this; (here) and (here) and I thought I’d like to talk/rant about it too. 
You know that feeling. When you’re puttering around on twitter and your feed is positively glowing with great news from everyone else. When you scroll through blogs you follow, and someone just announced something amazing. When someone gets an agent. When someone sells a six-figure book deal. When someone happily squees over their own cover reveal and proudly displays the fan art they get from adoring readers.
And you’re there, in your polar bear pajamas and gray sweatshirt and the empty pot of coffee, half-thinking about your own unpolished manuscript and blatant anonymity…let’s just say that your heart dips a little bit. There’s a little internal sigh of disappointment.
 Every writer feels this, and the words jealousy and envy sound so conniving and evil but most of the time, it’s just this one tiny voice in your head that quietly says, “What about me?” 
It’s the small feeling you get when someone you are friends with suddenly has a writing breakthrough. An author you admire sells another solid book deal and everyone is singing praises.
Here is the thing though: you know they deserve it. They deserve every inkling of their success. Their manuscript is amazing; the author is brilliant and kind and hardworking. But hell, you work hard too and you wonder if the day will ever come when someone talks about YOUR writing and praises your characters. 
I would like to call that feeling The Want. 
The Want is like a small, baby lizard.Or perhaps a little imp, a species derivative of the Monster (what I like to call my voices of self-doubt). Yes. let’s stick with the imp. 
It’s small and nagging, but if you feed it thought and doubts and worries…you feed it flames and then it turns into the Dragon of Jealousy. Which happens all the time. Unless…
If you stick with the Dragon of Jealousy and feed it more flames and resentment and anger, then the Dragon eventually destroys you and takes over your thoughts, and ends up hurting only you. Trust me. If you don’t trust me, trust Sarah J. Maas. 
You can’t ignore it, just like you can’t ignore the Monster. 
Here’s what you do; you use it.
You turn the envy and use it to fan the flames of your ambition. You take a look at your shelves of all the successful authors you look up to and you think, this is where I will be, and the conviction alone turns into pure motivation. You take the energy of envy and jealousy and turn it into an awesome, “THIS IS SPARTA” drive that will make you an unstoppable force. You vow to yourself that you will work hard, that you will writewritewritewrite until your writing is so good, so solid and beautiful that they have zero chance of rejecting you. 
And you snap some reins on the Dragon and race it to victory. 
Because there’s something fiercely brilliant and freeing about being the underdog and the dreamer. Because at the end of the day, writing is your sport and you love writing and you love books and no one’s accomplishments can take that from you. 
You hear that?
Use The Want. It is an incredibly, incredibly powerful tool. Take another’s success and shape it into your dream and goal. 
And in the end, I may still be a completely unknown writer who is sitting in polar bear pajamas and blogging about dragons, but at least I am writing my stories, one word after another and slowly shaping my dreams into reality. 
Use The Want. 

Yay!

I hope 2014 is going to be a great year 🙂

My heart’s full of goals and dreams and wishes, but I shall leave you with two songs:

Team, by Lorde–what more can this song say? It’s about teens who are growing up, discovering that the world is not as perfect as it was portrayed, but loving their lives anyways.

My favorite line: “We live in cities…you’ll never see onscreen, not very pretty but we sure know how to run things.”

I’m changing and evolving this year. Even in the writing world–these two blog posts by Jessica Spotswood and Erin Bowman open up and are honest about the good and the bad side of the very competitive book industry, how it is not all glamor and promotion and book tours–and how sometimes, you may not live to your expectations.

But I’m happy writing. I’m love the world I’m in. I  am in love with storytelling and writing novels and creating places and emotions out of a sea of words. It may not be the shiny, instant NY Times Bestseller life that others see, but I love it. My dreams still hold steady, but I want to love the world I’m surrounded in, regardless of how imperfect it seems.

And…

It’s Time, by Imagine Dragons.

I love this song to death. And I think the words–“It’s Time to Begin…” are perfect for the New Year and for the hopes I have in me.

Any songs to define your goals this year?

You know, on any other normal New Year’s Eve I would go to sleep, or stay up to see the ball drop, or whatever. I wouldn’t feel too keen on blogging as the last hours of 2013 slide by.

But this year…is different. Important.
First of all, I’ve been blogging on this thing for a year. A year. I thought, last year when I first started up the blog, that I was doing it because…everyone else had been doing it, I guess, because it was a Publishing Key Marketing Move and I wanted something to remember my writing process by, something to look back on in the future maybe when I was successful or something. 
Right now? I’ve been blogging for a year. And I don’t have much readers, but I love blogging. I love typing my thoughts out and ranting when the times get hard and gushing when I read a lovely book. It’s like shouting into a nearly empty canyon. It’s quite liberating, actually. 
Also…I grew. I learned. A lot. A. LOT.
I remember last year, when I was tucked into my little corner, worrying my heart and brain out over TeaNovel. I had just discovered the platform of YA authors. My dreams were naive and big; I was slowly, slowly finding myself through the writing world.
In 2013, I made writing a Serious Job. I’m still a student, and during the day, I still go to school and geek out with friends. But this year, I set goals for myself. I let myself peek at a chance of publication for TeaNovel. I discovered what it meant to rewrite and rewrite a novel. I discovered what a query was and what it meant to get a literary agent. (Which I really, really hope can happen to me someday!) 
In 2013, I set a foot in the publishing business. The day after my 8th grade graduation, I flew to New York, where I attended BEA in New York City. I had never been in a more inspiring convention center, surrounded by authors with their stacks of ARCs and watching, awe-struck, as the role models I admired from afar were literally standing ten feet away. I remember the first picture I took at BEA was a random snapshot of Sarah J. Maas standing next to Susan Dennard’s autographing station and I was sort of having an internal mini-breakdown. The fangirl kind, of course. It was like seeing your favorite movie stars on the red carpet, except the carpet was blue and they weren’t swirled up in some fancy Dior gown, but cardigans and dresses and All Things Authorly. 
I also attended my first three author events; Rae Carson & CJ Redwine, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu. Rae and CJ were lovely ladies; when I approached them after the event, they both gave me great writing encouragement. Sarah…well, I did a whole post on her back in September and she is just so amazing and inspiring and kickass and so so KIND. As for Marie–I remember going up to her in the signing line and just spilling–literally ranting–everything I’ve wanted to tell her in the past 2 years. Because Legend was the book that changed my life, and I am so, so grateful that it did. 
2013 was the year many stunning sequels came out (Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas and A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard were my two favorites), and the year that stunning trilogies came to an end. (And YES, I absolutely loved the ending to Allegiant.)
In November 2013, I wrote an 80K novel from scratch, in 30 days, and by near-pantsing, I crafted a story that I am very, very excited to work on in the new year. 
I know this sounds so silly, but 2013 has, in so many ways, bridged that enormous gap between 2012 and 2014. Sure, there was a lor of angst and frustration, and there were many times I thought I was never going to get anywhere in my writing, but when I look back, I see everything. It’s been such a developmental year and I am sure I am a different person today than I was back in 2012.
I’m so glad this year happened.
And I can’t wait for 2014. Now my eye is on Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor and Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (and Sarah J. Maas’s untitled Book 3 of the Throne of Glass series!). 
As for the New Year…
In 2014, I have only two resolutions;
1. To Grow.
2. To Do Epic Shit. 
It sounds so vague, but in my heart, I know what those resolutions mean to me, very, very clearly. 
Okay. Fine. A specific resolution. 
I want to start querying agents. (Which really branches under the To Grow category, but I think announcing things give it some validity.)
Also;
I want to read more books. See more. Experience things that surprise me. 
In 2014, I want to grow, to love, and to do epic shit. 

It’s been a transformative few weeks. 

Right after NaNo, I jumped back into my old TeaNovel. I posted that lovely calendar for myself in a burst of energy. 
And then I reread TeaNovel.
It was…not as good as I expected. 
I began to see some of the flaws that I hadn’t seen before. I saw that though the pacing was good, the mood wasn’t set, and it was all a bit shallow. It didn’t have enough depth. 
And I was moaning and groaning to myself, whining that I had already rewritten TeaNovel 3 times, that I thought that I had mostly untangled knots that weren’t supposed to be there. 
I was afraid, really afraid that I would spend so much effort to do this, but in the end, it would all be for nothing. The publishing world really is fair. I believe in that strongly. 
Today I realized something. 
Now, I have to be willing to work. 

This isn’t the school world, where you write snippets of essays and turn them in for a grade, and if it was long and well-thought, it got high marks. Not to mention that the teachers are obligated to read the papers. 
The publishing world isn’t like that.
It is real. I am on the real arena, the real stage, being evaluated. In short, I have to ask myself: would someone spend potentially hours, weeks reading this? 
I was used to half-ass my way through school and get good grades. Now that I’m in high school, it’s considerably more challenging, but still I’m not walking along the edge, completely focused, my stakes hanging on the tightrope.  
But for writing, I finally realize what it means to completely devote yourself to something that you love, to be willing to put in hours and days and potentially months and years to dedicate yourself to this one story that could potentially fall short.
I have to try anyways. 
The fear is there, real and ever-present. It resembles a small house-elf, staring at me with its spiteful little eyes. “You can’t do it,” it says. “Go back and do legitimate things. You’re not good enough.”
I try to be patient with the little monster. Give it cake and listen to the sharp, brutal words. 
And I try really, really hard to take in the fear. 
It still is difficult. 
But what else can I do?
Because in moments like these, there is no choice other than to pour your heart into something like this. 
Don’t complain, Christina. You’re doing what you love and in the end, you have to work as hard as you wish for it.

Okay, so today I played at my last piano competition.

*whew* That’s out of the way.

(After a hugely stressful week, you have no idea how much joy it brings me to sit in sweats and type out a blog post.)

So after these few crazy weeks, I will have the entirety of Winter Break to study for final…and revise!!!

Yaaay!

I have tests, projects, stuffs and stuffs to do, so for this week and the next, well…I hope it passes fast.

Right now, here are my goals:

-Dec-Jan 2013/2014: Finish last edits on TeaNovel, and then start querying/sending it out.
-Rest of Jan 2014: Plan out my SuperShinyNovel.
-Feb-April 2014: 2nd draft overhaul/rewrite of SuperShinyNovel.
-Nebulous time in the summer/fall of 2014: Query SuperShinyNovel.

That makes me a tiny bit nervous to type out. But my plan is to wrap TeaNovel up, and then while I’m querying it, I’ll take my mind off of it by focusing on my current novel.

I seriously have no idea what to expect.

So yeah.

Dear NaNoWriMo 2013,

–I’m scared.

I think the writing life constantly cycles between various stages of fear and excitement. Each year I do NaNoWriMo, it gets increasingly harder–as I’m getting older and moving into higher levels of education, schoolwork gets intense, life builds up, and right after I scale a mountain an even bigger one is there for me to climb.

And it’s three days ’till NaNo and I am so, so scared.

I have barely any plot. I know my story very, very well, but only on the most instinctive level. This is the story I have been getting the first seeds of since I was in eighth grade, the story based on the things I loved most, a dream of two lands; one frozen with ice and one glittering gold with power. There will be a brutal, ancient war and otherworldly, violent, savage creatures. It all sounds very lovely in my head right now.

But ultimately, I know it might splat. My friends and family think I’m possibly crazy for even attempting. On the outside, I wear my bravado–because what else do I have? How do I rightly justify myself in the eyes of society, a girl who weaves dreams and lies for fun and stays home, eyes worryingly intent on a manmade glowing contraption, fingers clacking out her childish fantasies instead of oh, I don’t know, STUDYING, maybe? How many hours of time and energy will I have to forgo to make it through another season? Might I turn into a zombie? Very valid questions, but I have no idea.

But then people say, “You can totally, like not do this.” And that’s possible, easy even, but

No way.

I will not quit. Not doing NaNoWriMo has never been on my mind (Ask me again in two weeks, please.) I gripe and moan and complain, but in the end, I love NaNo with all my heart because it made this girl write. It made this girl believe that she COULD write a novel in a month if she wanted to. It made her believe she could write a novel. And it DID make her write novels.

I will always be eternally grateful to NaNoWriMo. Because last year, when I suddenly decided that I wanted to do NaNoWriMo, three days before the event, it made me scramble for a plot and think…and think…

And I came upon a story that I absolutely, absolutely loved. And I’m going to start querying it, this January.

I love NaNoWriMo because of its go-go-go mentality, its encouragement to chuck caution to the wind and just create something, anything. I love it because it calls for exuberance and wild chaos, beautiful crap-dumping that would later be polished to stunning prose. It allows you to make mistakes, and not give a damn about it.

And I may question myself constantly, asking myself why I’m being a nutball and deciding to do this every year, but I will never quit because I love making stories, and the idea of not participating in this when I could have will hurt me 10x more than plugging through this month-long purgatory.

And I know that in a month, I’ll be so, so glad I did this.

As I stand on the bleak shore, staring out at the choppy, formidable waves, I pray to the NaNo gods for another successful season, and I hope my stubbornness can brave me through the rough tides.

This is it. Here we go.

Love,
Christina