Write what you "know"...and feel.

9:52 AM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

I had a realization today about a project that I've been working on. I've had this concept in my head for a number of months and I really like it. The characters are well-rounded and interesting, the world is dynamic and beautiful, and the plot line is as tragic and complex as any I've ever created.

However, after looking at the market I decided to make a pretty big change to the story itself. I decided to take it from 3rd person point of view to 1st person point of view because that's what I saw when I looked through the shelves at bookstores. I thought that, in making this change, I would make my book more marketable and I ended up ultimately rewriting and number of months of work. But after making the switch, I found it hard to connect with the characters who had lived in my head for this long. They sounded different with the perception shift and they were essentially strangers. I hoped that with time, I could respark these deep relationships but it simply hasn't worked.

Writing to market is a fine business plan--and writing IS a business--but in an industry of creation you really do need to write what feels right. What you "know" in your gut is right for the story and your characters. I'm going back to the first bit of advice I ever got as a writer: write what you know.

My definition of "know" has been flexed but at the end of the day, this is an invaluable lesson. Time to go back to the drawing board.

Happy Writing!


I just want to sleep.

3:34 PM Nina S. Gooden 0 Comments

 I'm sure there are times in everyone's lives where it feels like nothing can or will go their way. Where depression and anxiety builds into a tangible weight in the pit of their stomach until every smile is a chore and every affirmation feels like a lie.

That's how I've felt the last couple of months. Maybe longer.

I want to say that this feeling is due to my unsuccessful job hunt but in all honest, I've been down since before this January—since before I found myself suddenly and brutally unemployed. The job I had before was a dream opportunity. Or so I thought. After being hired, the joy I found at the company was swiftly stolen by intolerable working conditions. While I adored many of the people I worked with and the clients I helped, it was here that I learned that one bad manager can ruin an entire environment. It got so unbearable that I ended up quitting a job that I loved, just to put space between me and someone who seemed deadest on undermining me at every turn.

It was a painful, heart wrenching experience but I came out of it as a stronger person and a better-rounded employee. That was important to me. Being a good employee was vital. I was able to continue to work for the company in a different capacity and I was thrilled that my expertise could still benefit the company and our contractors. Why? Because I believed in the company. I believed in our dedication authors and I worked hard every day because I believed in our unspoken mission statement.

At the time it hadn’t mattered that I was working 60 hour weeks. It hadn’t mattered that I had to take a second job—which later fired me three days before Christmas with no explanation—to make ends meet. It didn’t matter that at times I was working on projects with impossible, talentless hacks. I believed and I gave it my all.

Have you ever seen a cartoon where the character imitates a wet rag and wrings him/herself out? That was me in everything that I did. I burned the candle at both ends but damn it I got results—on time and under budget.

Even before this job, that was my work ethic. I was always the dedicated, perfect little worker bee. And ultimate…it didn’t matter for shit.

When the layoffs started, I went with everyone else. And that’s not to say that my fellow coworkers were in any way slackers. Some worked just as hard, strives for the same standards of excellence as I did. Some didn’t.

But try or not, some got the boot and some got to stay. I don’t know how they decided who to fire and who to keep. All I know is that my name was on the first list.

It’s hard to look back at the nights I went without sleep and realize they didn’t change the outcome of this truth. It’s hard to realize that with almost ten years of hard-won experience on different professional facets that I’m still unemployed after four months and literally hundreds of resumes and cover letters (each written especially or tweaked for specific jobs and companies, of course).

It’s hard to think that I had an interview today with an employed manager who called the wrong number 10 minutes late to tell me she was “running behind schedule.” A manager who—more than an hour later—still hadn’t called back as indicated or sent the promised email. An employed manager who exhibits in this short introduction many of the characteristics I have spent my entire career making sure I never portray. Sloppy. Unprofessional. Disorganized.

That manager had a job and I don’t. She had the means to pay bills every month. An action that used to fill me with a sense of accomplishment and pride. An action that now fills me with nauseating dread. I don’t want to sign into my bank account anymore for fear of the inevitable breakdown I’m bound to have (again) and she gets a paycheck every month to apparently miss interviews.

Sigh. I know that being bitter doesn’t help. That lying in bed worrying or writing tear-stained blog posts isn’t going to get me anywhere. And honestly, that’s not me. That’s never been me. I’m the annoying optimist. The one that usually needs to be “schooled” on how things work in the real world. I’m the one who believes.

And I hope with all my heart that that enthusiasm in me is not lost forever.

I know that I have to keep moving forward. Kick off the game company I’ve been working on. Continued writing—books and grant proposals. Stay active. Stay positive.

I keep telling myself that maybe this is all a blessing in disguise. That maybe it’s a chance to get out of the corporate rat race and start something new. Something great. I tell myself all these things but on days like these, they don’t help.

On days like these, all I can think about are the agents who’ve rejected my work, the potential land lords who don’t call back, the number of businesses that fail every year, and the managers who don’t appreciate their positions.

On days like this, I just want to sleep.