Intelligence Test

Are you ready for some nonsense? Sometimes you need a little to get you through the day. This is the test I took back in 2014. The goal is to get creative. So, let me know how you would answer these questions below:

  1. What can you catch on your tongue?

A galaxy. Catch a galaxy on your tongue. Feel the fizzle and bursts of the stars and the sour black holes. Catch a galaxy and clench it tight. Smile and see it shine through your teeth. Hold it out for all to see. the beauty and elegance there on your tongue. Just be careful not to swallow.

2. How do you wash your hair?

Run outside and roll in the grass to comb out your tangles. Then, get up and grab some leaves to scrub out the filth. Run back inside and pour apple juice on your hair singing “Oh Susana!” the entire time. Finally, dry with your own underwear. Make sure to wear it on your head for the entire world to see.

3. Can you inflate a balloon?

Of course I can! You grab a balloon and fart in it until it inflates. With the inflated balloon run up to a stranger and pop it! When you smell your own fart, wave the stink away while saying to the stranger: “Eww, you just farted!” Then grab a new balloon to do it again.

4. What can you do with a hen?

You can teach it to drive. Let it sit lower than the steering wheel and run over everyone in town. Then tell it it’s doing a great job! Go to the store and show it all the eggs saying that each one belongs to it. Watch it get so protective that it won’t let anyone do anything with the eggs.

5. What can’t you do with an egg?

You can’t light it on fire or toss it in a forest to watch it burn. Take an egg and teach it to whistle. Throw it on a trampoline and bounce it until it cracks. You can’t hatch the egg into a dinosaur or even grow it to be a cornstalk. Just make sure you don’t show it to the hen.

6. What can you do with an ax?

Use it as a pogo stick! Ride it like a unicycle! Use it to chop a femur. Care for it like it was your baby. Go and take care of the protective chicken at the grocery store. Why do you ax?

My Affair

I curl up in your arms every night.
You hold me tight, warm touch like firelight.
And carry me safely into my dreams.
But daylight comes quickly to waken me,
And the other screams his jealous protest.
To be in your arms I wish to stay, but
I’m caught by the other that gets me during day.
I’m torn from you, how I’ll miss your sweet love.
Your comforting touch and warm-filled hugs.
With this other I work and press, never to stop.
Such nagging and complaining, a timed scream.
I long for the night, for our affair again.
To sleep in your covers until the dawn.
When that alarm clock pulls me from my loving bed.

In 10 Years.

Do you remember those “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” questions? Or maybe they were the “where do you see yourself in 5, 7, or 15 years?” You get them in school, in interviews, and even from family. It’s made to make you ponder your future, what you want out of life, and where you’re going/how to get there. I’ll be honest. I hated those questions, because you don’t know what’s going to happen in a 10 year or 5 year or even a year timeframe. I mean, another 2020 could happen and no one predicted that! Whenever I was asked those questions, I vaguely answered. In school it was always: “Yeah, maybe I’ll be working toward vet school” or “I’ll probably be working with animals, in college, living on my own, etc. etc. etc.” But I always kept in mind that the future isn’t set in stone and just because I said I was going to become a veterinarian for most of my childhood/teen life, it doesn’t mean that I actually am going to become a veterinarian. Because I didn’t. And I’m not going too. I’ve got a whole new goal for the next ten years and if you’ve been keeping up with my website posts, you already know what it is. So, let’s not focus on the 10 years forward right now, but instead, let’s look at the 10 year back.

Where were you 10 years ago? 2011? If we look back at the exact month of August, I would be getting ready for my senior year of high school–getting ready for band camp (and I really loved band camp)! I was still writing my story (I drew pictures of one of my villains all over my planar with little hearts right next to him). I went to my dad’s every other weekend. Went to youth group every Wednesday. Things were alright. And you know what? I do remember, during one if my years high school (not sure which one), I had to answer the question: “where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I ended up writing my answer in a poem format. I don’t remember the actual poem, but it was something along the lines of cleaning kennels in a vet clinic while working toward a doctrine in veterinary medicine. My biggest regret about that poem isn’t that I’m not working toward a doctrine, but because I didn’t listen to my teacher. My teacher back then had pulled me aside and suggested that I submit my poem to the school paper/creative magazine and I didn’t do it. Back then, I wasn’t pushing so hard to become a writer. I didn’t think that was what I wanted to do. But, sometimes other people see your talent and the road you should take before you do.

Going back to the question at hand. Do you remember where you were 10 years ago? If you do, do you think the you then would be proud of the you now? Did you meet the expectations of the “see yourself in 10 years” question? Or did you achieve something better? Something worse? I honestly don’t think the me from 10 years ago would be thrilled with me now. I know in some ways, she’d be disappointed. However, I think all that would change when she realizes how much growth I’ve gone through since then.

That’s what really matters, right? The growth. There’s probably some things you would do now that your you from ten years ago would never consider doing. Ten years ago, I wasn’t someone to speak out, lead, or confront someone, but I’ve been growing quite a bit in that lately. Then there’s my writings. If you compare my novel now to it ten years ago, you’d be surprised how far it’s come.

I dare you to take a look at your growth. Maybe you’re not at the place you wanted to be ten years ago, but you’ve certainly come a long way somehow. Knowing where you were ten years ago, where do you hope to be in the next ten years?

Cheetah’s Adventure pt. 2

“Alright, Cheetah. Where are we going?” The two of us are standing in the middle of my hallway. We lost Candra a long time ago, but Cheetah’s being quite paranoid. He’s led us this way, that way, and the other place just to make sure Candra didn’t tag along where Cheetah wanted to go.

Cheetah gives me a big toothy grin. “Close your eyes–and no peeking!”

A small sigh escapes my throat, but I close my eyes anyway. Cheetah then takes my hand. “You’ve been working too hard,” he states as he starts pulling me along. “We’re not going to do anything big, but I think a revisit to some of your favorite daydreams would do you some good!”

Now I’m intrigued. I have a lot of favorite daydreams. “Okay?”

“Keep your eyes closed!” The air suddenly shifts. There’s a breeze with wildflower scent where the hallway was still air. The tiles beneath my feet shift to the crunch of grasses and the buzzing of bees and dragonflies dance in the air. Sunlight glides on my skin like the hug of a campfire. I can tell we’re in an open field and it brings a smile to my face. Trouble was, I have a lot of daydreams that occur in open fields, so I can’t narrow down where we are.

“Cheetah–?”

“Don’t open your eyes yet!” Cheetah squeezes my hand in excitement. “Wait until we get to the top of the hill. Oh! Watch your step!” He says after I trip on a rock. “Where do you think we are?”

“Well, gee, Cheetah. I don’t know. I can think of at least five of my story ideas that have fields. Not to mention there’s a bunch of fantasy stories, games, books, and movies I’ve seen that have fields in them. It’s kinda hard to narrow it down.”

Cheetah laughs. “Good! Then you have no idea where we are! Are you ready to find out?”

The wind picked up, telling me we reached the top of the hill. “Where are we, Cheetah?”

“Open your eyes!”

The hill is layered with green and golden grasses. We stand on a dirt path with thousands of footfall treads stamped upon it. Yet, it’s what lays in the distance that brings a smile to my face. Our path leads to an open drawbridge. Sturdy stonework walls guard a wattle and daub town within. I’d recognize those red roofs anywhere and in the further distance is a magnificent castle–or at least as magnificent as 1998 gaming graphics can make it.

“Hyrule.” We’re standing in Hyrule Field in the 1998 version of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. I look at Cheetah and my smile stretches my face. He’s dressed himself up in Link’s blue tunic. “You wanted to come to Hyrule?”

“Yeah!” Cheetah’s flicking his tail in his excitement. “You remember all the daydreams you had here? All the hours you spent playing this game without actually following the storyline?” He places his hands on his hips and nods toward his outfit. “I’m the Midnight Knight from those daydreams!”

Blush rises to my cheeks. I had forgotten about that. There were a lot of video games I played without actually following the story. I’d create one in my head and run around the map like I was following that story. The Midnight Knight that Cheetah was talking about was about this game’s main character: Link, having multiple personas depending on the tunic he wore. Everyone knows Link wears green, but I’d switch him to the blue tunic–like Cheetah’s wearing–to ‘turn him into’ the Midnight Knight. In my mind, no one knew who the Midknight Knight was. Kinda like a Superman verses Clark Kent kinda deal. I glanced up toward the sunny sky. “Cheetah, you realize the Midnight Knight only came out at night, right?”

“Yeah, but the Castle Town Market isn’t open at night!” He grabs my hand and starts pulling me toward the drawbridge down the hill. “Come on! I want to play some of the market games! And maybe we could try to sneak into the castle and see Zelda herself!”

I laugh. “We gotta stop at the Temple of Time too!”

Before we even reach the market, Cheetah’s diverting us again. There’s a small room in the guardhouse, just inside the drawbridge, that’s full of clay pots. Cheetah has to smash every single one before we can even move on. The market is as busy as I imagined it being. Like an American Renaissance Festival, there’s people everywhere. Crowds gather around the market stalls, twins converse beneath a tree, a guy runs around with a bag of his belongings on his back, and a couple–completely enthralled with each other–dance near the fountain. Medieval settings like this were always my favorite. Seeing the characters, the buildings, and remembering all the adventures I had here, makes me think of how I built my stories. I wonder what things are similar and what are different? Candra would know.

“Are you sure it was a good idea to leave Candra behind?” I look at Cheetah, but he’s trying to find all the buildings that had minigames.

Cheetah shrugs and a smirk slides on his face. “Yeah, he’ll be fine.”

Cheetah’s tone suggests he’s just saying that to say it. I think he’s just enjoying not having Candra around for once. My moon man could always be a little strict at times, but that’s just because he means well. My mouth is fully loaded to give Cheetah a lecture about how he and Candra are meant to get along, but a different building catches my eye. “Oh my goodness.” I stop in my tracks and a smile widens my face. At the edge of the square stands a building with a large, happy drama mask over the doorway. “The Happy Mask shop!” I grab Cheetah by the arm. “We have to go inside!”

The Happy Mask Shop is definitely one of my favorite shops in Ocarina of Time. Like how I made Link have multiple personas while wearing different tunics, he also had multiple personas with the different masks on. Not to mention, the Happy Mask Salesman is a creepy dude that starts out the game’s sequel: Majora’s Mask.

Cheetah doesn’t fight me when pull him into the shop and just like I remember, the Happy Mask Salesman is behind the counter with his squinty eyes and ever pleasant smile. His hair is perfectly combed and he wears purple and gold like he’s some kind of royalty. He’s a good character, but there are a lot of fan theories about him in Majora’s Mask. Not to mention, I have a fanfic about him that’s based off the Ben Drowned Creepypasta.

As soon as we walk in the door, the Happy Mask Salesman give a delighted and quiet, chuckling hum. It sends shivers down my spine all because I remember how things go in my fanfic. Cheetah pushes right past me. “OH! I like that one!” He points to the Keaton mask. “Aw, but can I have that one!” He points to the Bunny Hood. “Will it make me faster?! I wanna go faster!”

The Happy Mask Salesman hums again. “Each mask has it’s own story. The Keaton Mask is 15 rupees, but the Bunny Hood is 50.”

Cheetah deflates and he bears his empty pockets. I start laughing. “You wanted to play the minigames in town and you didn’t bring any rupees?”

Cheetah flattens his ears. “I just assumed everything would be free for us since we’re in your head.”

I huffed. “Sorry, Cheetah, I’m short on cash here too.”

Determination slaps itself on Cheetah’s face and he tightens his fists. “Then we’ll just have to make our own rupees! I got a couple from those pots earlier, but we can get more by killing bad guys, right?”

I nod.

“Great!” Cheetah snatches my hand. “Come on! Let’s go get rupees! I know where we can go!”

“W-wait! Cheetah!” I don’t have time to protest. He’s already pulling me out the door faster than I can go. “We better not be going to a dungeon!”

“We’re going somewhere I saw you gathering rupees a couple days ago!” Cheetah’s already dragged me halfway across the market. “Hold on tight!”

To the Tearful Eye

To the Tearful Eye,
I know how you cry.
In the dark and all alone.
Throughout life, troubles are sewn.
They catch you off guard and at your peak.
They’ll break you and convince you you’re nothing but weak.
You can listen to them–every word that they say,
And let the Darkness swallow you away.
But let your Light shine in the days ahead.
Keep trudging through the burdens and dread.
A time will come when life gets better.
And you’ll be smiling through all kinds of weather.
Keep your head up and your eyes on your goal.
Don’t worry about others and the drama they toll.
Do your work and do it well,
And that will be all there is to tell.
You have great worth, you better believe it.
No matter the dream, you can achieve it.
So, let your tears fall to the floor,
And when you rise, let them be no more.
When troubles come, may hope be your guide.
This is my prayer for the tearful eye.

Cheetah’s Adventure pt. 1

“Hey! Nikki! I got an idea!!!”

Fright nearly makes me lose my skin when Cheetah comes running up so fast. The gust built by his speed scatters the papers on my desk. I take a deep breath. I just organized these. Those papers were for the 401k, that paper pertained to my story, and I think this other one can be recycled? “Cheeath, not now, I’m busy.”

“But I have an idea!!!” Cheetah’s bouncing like a little kid. “You’ve been wondering what to write for a web post this week. Use this!” He pulls a picture out of his fur, the one I made as the cover photo for this web post. “Let’s go on an adventure!”

“Uh…Hm…” I remember what prompted that photo when I made it. It was a good idea, but I shake my head. “I can’t type it up right now. I’m busy.” I motion to all the paperwork scattered across my desk. “I’ve got to get this stuff figured out.”

“But that’s booooriiiing!” Cheetah deflates. “Come on! When are you going to have time again to type a post like this up? I wanna go on an adventure!”

“Go with Candra.”

“Candra’s a killjoy.” Cheetah crossed his arms and bitterly lashes his tail. “Besides, I thought it would be fun if we went together instead! Come on! Just you and me! It’ll be like old times!”

“If it were like old times, Candra would be coming along.”

“Alright, then, it’ll be better than old times!”

I can’t help but chuckle. It’s not hard to admit that I’d much rather be typing up a web post than working with all this anxiety-filled paperwork. 401k, loan stuff, a peek at a job hunting website…yeah…I’d MUCH rather being writing up a post. “Alright,” I sigh. “What did you have in mind?”

Cheetah gives off a chirping squeal and he dances in excitement. “I know just the place we can go! And I’ve got an outfit ready and everything! You’re going to need your queen’s gear and sword. I’ll go change and we can head out! You’re gonna love–”

Knocking echoes off my door, cutting Cheetah off. “Hey, is everything okay in there?” It was Candra. “I thought I heard a scream–or squeal–or something.”

“Uh–” I’m trying to think of what to say when suddenly Cheetah steps in front of me, waving his arms to keep me quiet. His ears fall back and his eyes grow round with pleading like Puss N’ Boots from Shrek instead a cheetah version. I sigh. He really doesn’t want Candra to come, but I know if I don’t say something quick, Candra will open the door and get suspicious. Although, it’s likely he’ll get suspicious anyway if he found Cheetah interrupting me while I do adult stuff. I grab Cheetah’s paw and motion for him to follow. We can lose Candra if we slip through a couple doors of my imagination.

A jump through Hogwarts, Narnia, and a couple of my own words and I’m satisfied we lost him. Cheetah’s beaming with excitement and it’s hard to keep him contained. The more excited he gets, the faster he gets and I have a hard time keeping up. We pause in a blank slate of imagination. Candra never comes to these areas unless I’m with him. I nod to myself and look at Cheetah. “I think we lost him.”

He’s snickering with delight. “Think Candra will be mad?”

Oh, I know it. Candra may be a ‘killjoy,’ but he loves adventure like any of my characters. “As long as no one rats us out.” Besides, if he does find out, I’ll just explain to him that Cheetah wanted it to be just us.

Cheetah huffs and innocently waves his hand. “He wouldn’t want to come anyway.”

I roll my eyes. “I hope you’re right.”

“Come on!” Cheetah takes my hand and flashes me a toothy grin. “Before he shows up!”

I chuckle. “Alright, lead the way.”

Writing Prompt: Thief of Slumber

What keeps you from a good night’s sleep?

A lingering whisper creeps into your mind. Your worst fears paint it’s breath. A scenario. A situation. A “what if” that could happen. You’re not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not enough to be a precious life. The monster isn’t under your bed or in the closet. It’s hidden deep inside your mind. Sweet whispers quicken your fear. Your ribs rattle and you toss and turn. There’s no way out. No hope of dawn. Or sleep to ease your terror. You’re a fool! You’re a fraud! You’re behind in every area! The monster is relentless, cruel, and unforgiving. It doesn’t care if your day was good or bad. It doesn’t care your degree or place in life. It will crush hope where it can! Like a lion stalking it’s prey, it creeps upon you, but it’s mighty roar is a stealthy whisper. A single whisper to take root and hold and in the shadows it festers to grow. Grow into your mind and every part of your life until you’re too exhausted to fight. To see you crumble is it’s desire. To swallow you whole that you can’t get away and you allow the monster to win the day.

But it’s whispers are lies and nothing more. It’s only weapon to even the score. You are stronger. You are beautiful. And more importantly, you have soul. A light within the monster fears. There’s no need to shed any tears. When you shine bright and guard your heart. You’ll find that the monster was only the Dark.

Character Interviews

Part of being a writer is crafting characters. It’s one of my favorite parts of story building. As a fiction fantasy writer, you can get away with most anything as long you can find a way to make it make sense. You could build a character who’s knowledgeable beyond their years. Or a character who has a devastating backstory he doesn’t like to talk about. Or even create a new species. When I first started writing, I didn’t craft characters like most people do. I didn’t plan out where they came from, what they wanted in life, or even what their favorite food was. I just started writing and my characters built themselves as I went. Not having a plan at the beginning is one way to make writing more exciting, because you’re the first to see those surprises and plot twists. However, when you learn something about a character midway through the book, you end up having to go back to the beginning to update it–which I had to do a lot. One way to try and avoid going back and changing scenes is to craft all your characters before you even start writing. You’ll still run into some hiccups because you can’t predict everything your characters do, but you’ll have a good start.

Remember that Miitomo app I talked about several weeks ago? Well, that app ended up helping me build some of my characters. Not only could I make physical Miis of my characters, but it gave me a chance to interview them by answering several questions for them (433 questions total). I’ve done interviews before for my sci-fi novel, but it always took me a while since I would type it all out in a screenplay format and I would only ask questions pertaining to the plot of the story and how the character view different things in the story. Miitomo made it a lot easier getting to know the nitty gritty of my characters: favorite color, favorite five letter word, animal, etc. Little things that contribute to who they are and what they want from life.

If you’re a writer and you haven’t interviewed your characters, I highly recommend it. Go to a little coffee shop or café with your laptop/journal/etc. and act like they’re sitting right across from you. You could even invite them into your room and ask their opinions about everything hanging on your walls. I firmly believe that the better you know your characters, the better you’ll be able to write your story because you’ll be able to see it from everyone’s perspective.

To give you a little example, I’d like to introduce you to the main character of my completed novel by sharing some of the interview I got from him using Miitomo. His name is Justin, he’s an 18-year-old human, and he can be rather stubborn…

“Alright, Justin, this has a been a long time coming. Glad we can finally sit down and talk.” He only bobs his head at me with his arms crossed. It’s written all over his expression: he does not want to do this. I take a deep breath and hope I can get him to bear with me. “Let’s get right into it: what is one of your current aspirations?”
Justin’s bobbing head slows to a single nod and his expression softens a bit. He was probably expecting a tougher question. “I want to do good for my country.”
“That’s a little vague. Care to elaborate?”
He shifts in discomfort, but his tone is firm. “I’m going to prove that I’m more than the son of an alchemist. That I have worth.”
“I have no doubt about that.” I nod. “Tell me something that’s surprised you the most lately.”
Justin’s brow furrows and I can guess every thing that goes through his mind. “Too many things.”
“Still vague. Can you elaborate?”
He frowns. “Let me put it this way: I’ve lived with my bitter father at home for 18 years. Now, I’m finally in training and live in the barracks at a castle. You’d be surprised by a lot too.”
I chuckle. “I see. Next question: What do you feel the need to apologize for?”
He tightens his arms upon his chest and looks away. “I try not to apologize.”
That’s a lie if I ever heard one, but I won’t push him. “What’s one thing you’ve always wanted in life?” I smile. “Except proving your worth.”
The line of Justin’s frown deepens and he still won’t look at me. I can tell he’s thinking of his home life…his father. It takes him a while to even respond and his words don’t surprise me. “I’d rather not say.”
“You’re not one for talking about yourself, are you?” The look of annoyance he gives me makes me laugh. “Yeah, you get that from me!” I clear my throat and move one. “What’s one luxurious experience would you like to try at least once?”
Justin actually laughs. “I live in a castle now! I think that’s about as luxurious as it’s going to get for me!”
“You live in the barracks as a trainee.”
He grins. “Still a castle, though.”
I roll my eyes. “Alright, what’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?”
“You wrote the book. You know.”
I sigh. “Come on, Justin. Work with me.”
Now he rolls his eyes. “At this point, I’d have to say the time my best friend and I went after that rabid dog that was living in the alleys of Castle Town. We were just kids, but we thought we could be heroes by saving the city from it.
“What happened?”
“We found it.” Justin shrugs and the tint of guilt and embarrassment finds his cheeks. “Both of us snuck out at night and we found it behind the church. We didn’t plan on how we were going to kill it and we didn’t bring anything with us. So, my friend started throwing rocks at it, but he missed and ended up breaking the church’s window. Next thing I know: the dog is chasing the both of us down the alleys. We split at a crossroads and the dog ended up following me. I tried climbing on crates to avoid it and end up ripping my pants. It would’ve bit me if my friend hadn’t arrived in time with the city soldiers. They put the dog down and we got scolded and escorted back to our homes.” Justin shakes his head and looks away again. “My father was furious, but he was more angry at the fact that I snuck out and ripped my pants. He didn’t care what happened with the dog.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Justin.”
He shrugs.
“I’ve got one last question for you.” I smile in attempt to lighten his spirits. “What’s your favorite color?”
He stares at me. “Really?”
“Of course! Everyone has to have a favorite color! It’s the go-to question!”
Justin chuckles and shakes his head. “Well, it used to be blue, but lately it’s been yellow.”
“How come?”
He smirks. “You wrote the book. You know.”



D&D Writing Prompt: The Woods

I just got this really cool D&D writing prompt journal for my birthday (came from a good friend of mine). Don’t be surprised if a bunch end up on this site.

Prompt: You stand at the edge of a dark wood that is rumored to haunted with dangers unseen. How do you feel? What memories do you recollect? Disclaimer: everything written below is fiction.

This wood is where it happened. These primeval, black trees. They sit at the back of my family’s farm. We were told to never go near them. It’s too dangerous! That’s why the fence line was built twenty feet away. Yet, no one told us why. Why was it dangerous? Why did we need steer clear? The curiosity was too much for my brother and I. He was older and always looking out for me, his little sister. But, that day, I should’ve been looking out for him.

We stood at the edge of the wood like I am right now. We just wanted a peek. Just a glimpse as to why it was so dangerous. Then, the melody slipped past our ears. A smooth and slow song. “Come to me. Come to me.” Like a lullaby, it drew me in. It reminded me of my mother’s voice and a sense a serenity calmed me. I found myself taking a step into the wood.

The crunching of dead twigs shot start through my heart and I broke free of the enticing song. I backed away into the safety of the sunlight. I wanted to run. Whatever had come over me chilled terror to the deepest parts of my heart, but I couldn’t leave my brother.

I’ll never forget his face. He had never made that face before. His pupils were dilated and longing ached his expression. He didn’t hesitate to walk into the woods.

I had never screamed so loud. I tried to stop him. I tried to pull him back, but he fought me. He didn’t even look at me as he shoved me down. He just kept going toward the wood and he disappeared into the dark.

The village wrote him off as dead. It was just too dangerous for anyone to even think about going after him, but I never gave up. Ten, long years have passed. Ten, long years of training, work, and research. I dedicatedly everything I am to this moment. It won’t entice me. I know the song. I know how to beat it. It may not be the only thing in the wood, but it’s the only thing I’m after. It’s not fear or a song that drives my first step into the wood, but my crusade to behead the thing that took my brother.

Feature image taken from the cover of my Dungeon & Dragons Writing Prompt book: The World Builder’s Journal of Legendary Adventures.

The Weight of Patience

Last week, I met with a friend of mine who I asked to take a look at my novel. Her dream job is to become an editor for fantasy books, so naturally, she’s gonna be someone with eyes for the page. Not to mention, she reads a lot, so she knows the market better than I do. We met up because she finally got through the entirety of my novel. To my great relief, she loved the story. She loved the plot, some of the characters, and all the twists I threw in it. She had a lot of great things to say, but she also had a lot of suggestions for improvement.

She had a couple, to start, and there were all reasonable like these two character names are too similar, more culture should be protected, and more woman should be featured because of X reason. Most of it was things that I didn’t think of because I know my book, it’s characters, their background, and I can’t see it from a first time reader’s perspective. Excited and encouraged that I was excepting her feedback, my friend kept going. I ended up having a page full of notes and by the end of the night I had this heavy sigh in the back of my mind. I started to wonder if it’d ever end.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my friend’s feedback. I’ve been thinking more into it over the past week and how I can implement these changes. However, in the moment of writing down all her suggestions, I couldn’t help but wonder if the improvements would ever end. I thought my story was at a great place. I’ve been working on it since 2009! If it’s not good now, when will it ever be?! The scratches of frustration got me that night, followed by the suffocating fog that my dream is just too big. I mean, if my novel isn’t ready now, when will it ever be? Turns out the answer to that question is rather simple:

It’s ready when it’s published.

Not now, not after another round of edits, not even when you get representation. Your novel will be ready when it hits the presses. Just think about it. There’s always room for improvement. My novel still has to go through the basic grammar edits because I often use too many fragmented sentences (I’m getting better at it though). You have to keep making improvements and keep learning to really get the most out of your novel. Even when you sign with an agent, you’ll still go through a lot editing phases. The agency will suggest edits, the publisher might suggest edits, and that takes time. It’s a daunting task, but the dream won’t come true if you don’t make the effort.

After I healed from the frustration and took a deep breath out of the fog, I took a look at my novel again. I started with the easiest thing I could agree with from my friend’s feedback and went from there. And you know what? It’s reminding me about why I like writing so much. You’re in a world with your characters and working on portraying them in a way everyone would love them like you do (or hate them like you do. It depends on the character). Honestly, since I’ve been working on other stories, it’s been a while since I cracked open my novel. With a fresh set of eyes, I’ve found places that even I want to improve.

So, yeah. The improvements continue and the waiting lengthens. Frustrating and hopelessness will knock on the door of your mind, but you’ve got to be careful to not let them in. It may take me another 12 years to get my novel published, but I believe it’ll happen someday. I just have to be patient and persevere.

I’ll admit: I always considered myself a patient person, but lately, I’ve been having to learn how to handle it’s weight all over again. It’s a heavy weight sometimes, especially if you’re waiting for something you really want. Yet, with each step of perseverance, it doesn’t feel that bad. My novel may get represented next year or in 12 years, but I’ll wait however long it takes and I’ll keep improving while I do.