Life in Flux

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A while back, I announced on my social media pages that I had big news coming. It turns out, life had a few surprises for me as well.

It’s hard to call the surprises bad, but this period since completing my degree (I finished my bachelors in August) has been so far off from my plans and expectations that I’ve felt disoriented. Aside from my Facebook page, my social media posting has dropped way down. It’s been months since my last update here. My writing has been all for an ongoing, part-time freelance gig with my previous employer. The coverage I thought I was going to have for my kiddos to focus on beginning my novel didn’t pan out, so time has been just as scarce as ever. As I said, it hasn’t been bad though. What I intended to be the beginning of my author career has instead become a season to focus on healing.

I’ve been through a lot. More than most people know about. I’m sure that’s the case for everybody, to some degree. My life growing up was not as happy or healthy as it might have seemed. I have deep wounds that I’ve kept carefully locked away. I’ve dealt with some, but not with all. What hasn’t been dealt with festered to the point where I was reaching for anything to numb my inner pain and escape reality. I was hobbling along, trying to run with crutches. I was making it, but it was clumsy and inefficient. It was unsustainable.

Rather than begin my novel postgraduation, I began treatments to finally overcome my past traumas. I’m nearly halfway through something called neurofeedback and am already seeing a noticeable difference. My anxiety baseline has come way down. I’m less agitated and able to better focus, remain calm, and think things through. I expect only continued improvement.

Beyond neurofeedback, I will be moving into the next treatment that was recommended for me, which is a variation of EMDR. Where neurofeedback addresses things on a psychobiological level, EMDR is a process of unlocking doors our mind has shut on damaging experiences, working through them, and letting them go. Through this, we regain access to parts of our brain that we always should’ve been able to use. I’m confident that I’m on the right path with this combination of treatments, and that I’m becoming the best, strongest version of myself.

Why am I sharing this? Because I’ve been successful enough at life to accomplish major goals, but everything I’ve done has felt exponentially more difficult than it had to because I wasn’t operating at 100%. In fact, nowhere near it. I never knew what it could be like to not be constantly fighting inside. The older I get, the more I realize I’m not the only one.

You’re not alone. You never have been. You are cared about and deeply loved no matter what your brokenness tells you. It’s time to love yourself as well. Don’t be afraid to get help. I’m so glad I did. I’m so happy I am.

So, this is my life in flux right now. All my dreams remain, and all my goals will still be realized. I believe it. I am still making progress toward my debut novel, it’s just not at the rate I anticipated. I’ll not be discouraged, however. Every season has its purpose. I’m embracing this, and I know that everything that follows will be better for it.

More writing news is to come. Bear with me, stay tuned, and know that:

I love you. I love myself. Here’s to our mental health.

Cheers.

Mission Statement and Content

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Last week I wrapped up my Writing the Graphic Novel class and it was awesome! We got to create comic strips using public domain images (since it’s a writing class, no illustrating required). It was fun exploring a different medium. It got the creative juices flowing in a new way for me. We also pitched three springboards of original story ideas to fellow classmates. Out of the three, one was selected for us to focus on. From there, we did a plot/page breakdown and went on to begin drafting our stories in full script format. I’d had a little experience writing scripts from my screenplay class last semester, but this required the additional use of narrative captions and sound effects. A variation of this course is offered by my professor through Udemy and I highly recommend it.

This week I’ll be enjoying a much-needed break with family and friends. I’m catching my breath and gearing up for my next and final class to complete my degree: Creative Writing – TV Pilot Script. As I mentioned in my previous update, I’m exposing myself to as many forms of writing as possible. I want to be ready for any opportunity and intend to write my own film adaptations for my novels (I’m reaching for the stars).

Leading up to graduation this August, I’m building a small stack of craft books that I want to gorge myself on as I transition into full-time writing. I’ll post reviews of each as I go. From the start, I’ve approached writing with a business mindset, as well as an artistic one. Story creation is my passion, but it is also how I hope to make a living. I’m doing all that I can to ensure a successful launch with a quality product. My mission statement is to inspire, encourage, and entertain. I’ll strive to achieve this through my novels while ensuring they are as good as, or better than, what you’d expect from a major publisher. Viewing this as my dream career, one that would be fulfilling and provide for my family, I’m taking it very seriously. I’m putting my entrepreneurial mind to use and building a business.

As with anything, my approach isn’t for everyone. Whether it be a creative outlet, for your own sanity, to make money, or all three, writing is a beautiful and worthwhile endeavor. It’s always been a part of my life, whether in the form of songs, poems, short stories, or (now) novels. It’s something that I cannot imagine living without. It’s perfectly fine to write as a hobby, but for me, after many years of searching for my purpose, I see writing as my calling. As such, I’m becoming more intentional with my content.

In my exploration of the craft, I wandered off my desired path. Some of my short stories featured vulgar language and content, and spiraled into something I don’t wish to add to the world: darkness. The timing of this realization couldn’t be better. I’m solidifying my voice and goals as I’m on the cusp of beginning my debut novel. Will evil and brokenness be represented? Absolutely. It wouldn’t be believable otherwise, because those things exist in our real-world experience. But, evil will not be promoted, nor will it be victorious. I believe good wins in the end. The journey toward that victory is the struggle. I want to produce something a family can enjoy together, that breeds hope in adult and young minds alike. There’s enough darkness in the world. I intend to use my fire to spread light.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more updates on my projects as they unfold and be sure to subscribe to my email list for exclusive offers and first-look opportunities to come. Meanwhile, head over to The Aspiring Author Blog and read my first post This is Thriller. Comment there and share any questions you might have, or any topics you’d like me to cover. I’ll always do my best to offer valuable content. I appreciate your time.

Updates and Publishing News

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I’ve made a decision. A big one. More on that toward the end.

I’m thrilled to announced that I am now a contributor for The Aspiring Author Blog. I’ll be sharing writing tips and info specifically surrounding the thriller genre that can also be applied universally. My posts will go live there the fourth Monday of every month. Watch for the first one on June 25th. Meanwhile, check out my introduction and interview.

I’ve officially begun my final semester with UMASS Amherst UWW. I complete my creative writing degree this August. I’m in Writing the Graphic Novel with Professor Stefan Petrucha (who also offers courses through Udemy). In about six weeks, I begin Creative Writing: TV Pilot Script. Every class I’ve chosen has added tools to my toolbox, making me a versatile writer. I’ll be ready for every opportunity, whether it be in comics, television, or film—anything that involves story creation.

Post-graduation, I plan to edit a children’s book I wrote years ago, and have it illustrated. I’ve also outlined a sci-fi short story (in the vein of Black Mirrors). I’m going to complete it and send it to various outlets in hopes of having it published. I will then begin writing my debut novel: Lost Earth.

Lost Earth is a sci-fi/adventure/thriller. It’s fully outlined and will be the first in a series. Come September, I’ll add a word count meter to my website and update it weekly, so you can track my progress.

Now for that big decision: I’ve decided to self-publish my novels. As prevalent as self-publishing is these days, you might think, That’s not so big… but for an author (especially one whom always planned on traditional publishing), it is. It’s an entirely different path, and one not chosen lightly.

For me, it comes down to timetable. Let’s say I finish my novel, revisions and all, and it’s looking amazing. I put together a stellar query, send it to the appropriate editors, and get through dozens of no’s (or more) and finally land a yes. From that point, we’re still possibly looking at two years before my work sees the light of day. Why? Well, as a new author, I’m not the priority.

There are many other factors involved, but truly, I’m ready to share these stories with you. I’m ready to build an audience. I’d have to do my own marketing either way (unless you’re a big name, that’s the way it is these days). I might as well retain full creative control of my work in the process.

Self-publishing doesn’t mean the quality of my books will suffer. I’m not skimping. I’m springing for full professional edits and book design. You’ll get what you’d expect from a big publisher, only at a better price.

So that’s everything. For now. As I approach publishing, I will need your help spreading the word. Till then, stay tuned for more writing tips and updates. Tell a friend to sign up for my newsletters. I’m excited to share this journey with you. It’s gonna be great.

Writing Works – Tips on the Craft

Writing Works
by S.A. Battaglia

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If you’re like me, you’ve had the goal of finishing a book “someday” for longer than you’d care to admit. While I believe the more you learn up-front, the smoother the process will be, it’s also true that writing a book is like having a child: the timing will never be perfect. Eventually, you just have to do it and learn what you don’t know along the way. The advantage you have with writing over child-rearing is this incredible thing called revision.

Revision is the editing phase that takes place after you’ve completed your first draft. The exception is if you feel so stuck that you want to workshop what you’ve got to move beyond it. Workshopping is an excellent solution for: you don’t know what you don’t know. Eventually you’ll learn to do what Stephen King does and commit to a writing pace that allows you to out-write your doubt.

OK, so Stephen King writes 2,000 words-a-day when he’s working on a novel—return-of-Jesus being his only exception. But guess what? Stephen King has enough money to make writing books his primary focus. Most of us can’t live like Kings yet. What we can do is figure out what’s realistic and commit to it.

Consistency is key. Whether it’s 1,000 words-a-day (what King recommends starting at), 500 words-a-day, or 250 words-a-day, find what you can do and do it. Writing every day is like working a muscle. You don’t want to jump in too hard and burnout (or pull something). Do that and you won’t stand the thought of getting back to it for so long that your story—your characters—will rust.

Start somewhere. Start today. Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect, because they never will be. But, if you see if you see it through, you just might find that conditions improve. Then even more focus can be devoted to book #2!

Pace yourself and build your word goal up over time. Eventually, the occasional TV show might not be as exciting as hitting that target for the day (that’s where I’m at. It took a while). Once you get going, don’t look back. Looking back is what the editing phase is about. Until then, let go and let it flow.

Happy writing! Cheers.

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*All information regarding Stephen King’s writing is from his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, which I highly recommend.

No Working Title by Dr. John A. King

For sexual abuse/sexual assault awareness month, I got a chance to read No Working Title: A Life in Progress by Dr. John A. King and was deeply moved by his story. It reminded me of my own. I was abused. I have friends and family who were abused. I think of their stories, and all the ones living that nightmare right now. In his poem Childhood, Dr. John A. King says:

Childhood

Violently shattered

Shards of innocence scattered

Ripples on a pond

Never to return

As accurate as that is, know that there’s hope in, through, and on the other side of abuse. There’s purpose for the broken pieces, they can be put to good use. To those who are still in it, to those who are struggling because of it, as isolating as it might feel, hear me when I say you’re not alone. ‘Cause you’re not alone.

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