Serious Face Is Serious

The biggest changes in my writing happened in the year following my mother’s death. It’s been almost two and a half years now, and sometimes I still feel like my writing is suffering from that fallout.

Although suffering probably isn’t the right word. I feel that each year I improve as a writer, so my writing isn’t suffering – but my characters are. I used to be pretty nice to my characters. If I made them feel pain, it was usually short-lived. If I challenged them, usually the choices weren’t hard.

Not so much, these days. I like to think of all of the horrible ways I can make my characters suffer. Did they finally achieve something they really wanted? Turns out it’s not what it was cracked up to be. Did a big question finally get answered? Well too bad, because it results in even more questions. Did he finally get the girl? Well, then, she’s probably going to die.

Maybe it’s not just losing Mom, maybe it’s watching too much Joss Whedon that has made me this way.

In the past year, these aspects of my writing haven’t changed much. I still torture my characters. I write about the hard things and resolutions are rarely resolutions.

In 2011, I wrote two novels back to back. I learned to build worlds, develop characters, and stretch a story arc into a full length novel, and by the second novel I was doing it pretty well.

In 2012, I didn’t even finish a novel. It was the year of the short story for me. I learned how to tell a story, develop characters, and build a world using an economy of words. When you only have so many words to use, you pick them very carefully. It taught me to decide what parts are important to share and what you can leave out.

But I think the biggest change as a writer I’ve experienced in the last year is a serious shift in professionalism. I stopped treating it like a hobby, and started treating it like a career. I began to put myself out there – I created an author page on Facebook, and I began submitting my short stories.

I am now a published author.

That’s how I’ve changed as a writer. I’m no longer just a hobbyist. I have always been a writer, but now I am published. I am serious. I am focused. I am on a path to edit and submit novels next.

My writing will continue to evolve the more I do it – the more I learn about myself, the world, and the things I learn from my fellow writers – and I imagine it will continue to improve. But these changes can oftentimes be subtle. My attitude towards writing is a noticeable change. I decided when I turned thirty that it was time to get serious. In the past two years, I’ve done exactly that.

But I could not have done it without the love and support from my friends, family, and my fellow Confabulators. I had it in me to be this, but without them, the potential might never have been realized. Thank you to every last one of you reading this.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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