Polishing the edges

I am constantly on the lookout for ways to make this blog better. Easier to read, more accessible, interesting, pretty, etc. So naturally, when I was poking about and found the Zero to Hero challenge, I thought, “That’s for me.” So far, I’ve re-introduced myself and added a little widget to the sidebar to give visitors a little more information without obliging them to click on my About Me page. I really appreciated the widget challenge, I don’t think I would have thought of that myself.

My goal is to fill this blog with interesting and good writing, and encircle that with an informative design that doesn’t seem too cluttered or too sparse. Despite being a denizen of the internet for most of my life, I don’t have much experience in the area of web design. Also, I have a rather unfortunately biased view of my blog.

I am hoping the coming challenges from Zero to Hero help me to improve this place. I’m also open to suggestions from readers; you guys have a different view of this place and perhaps better ideas of things you’d like to see, better ways to place the information I have in the sidebar, etc. Feel free to comment on this post, or visit the Contact Me page to let me know what you think.

Who am I and why am I here?

No, I don’t mean this philosophically; despite having a post titled “Introductions” and an About Me page, I remain something of a stranger here. Let’s have a real introduction, shall we?

My name is Lukas Rowland and I am a writer. I have been making up stories for as long as I can remember. I have scribbled them out on paper, I have typed them up on my mother’s typewriter; we even had a word processor before we had a proper computer. I have always read voraciously as well, especially fantasy, and I began inventing longer stories where heroes saved the world from terrible villains.

In my high school days, I would often come home from school and run upstairs to write for long stretches at a time. I didn’t believe in planning then, I thought that stories had to grow and be discovered as I went along. This approach invariably led to me smacking into walls several chapters into a project. It didn’t help any that I was growing and learning new ways to write, something which frequently caused me to look back on my work with disgust before scrapping everything to start fresh.

It wasn’t until a year or two ago that, fed up with never finishing a story I’ve been writing for nearly fourteen years, I first plotted every chapter from start to finish of a fantasy story. I wrote up a short synopsis on index cards, and proudly wrote the date at the top when I finished the rough draft of the chapter. I was moving forward at a steady pace until I finally ran into an excuse to stop writing. Probably something ridiculous like, “I don’t have the time.”

In October, I was venting frustrations to my husband about my writing when he suggested I participate in National Novel Writing Month. I had heard of NaNoWriMo, it was always lurking there when November approached, and I always found excuses not to participate. “I have to work on my main project, I can’t bring that to NaNo. It’s not serious enough for me. I don’t have the time.” Fine excuses, right?

I decided to do it this year. I poked around in the forums, read something about Scrivener and how it had a free trial, learned a bit about it and started outlining the project that would become Climbing Yggdrasil. I got off to a great start, nearly hitting 10,000 words by the end of the first weekend. I devoured every pep talk as it came in, at long last coming to the conclusion that the only thing that kept me from feeling like a proper writer was the fact that I wasn’t making time in my life to write. The more I feel like a writer, the more confidence I have in myself.

I hit the goal on the last day; there were nine days in which I had not written a single word. I worked hard to maintain a steady lead so that if something came up and I couldn’t write, I could take a day off without falling behind. I watched the congratulatory video on the winners’ page and had tears in my eyes. I never thought I couldn’t do it, except those years I didn’t try. But it was so moving to have reached a serious writing goal.

Last month was all about bringing those 50,000 words to a proper ending. This month is about resisting the temptation to start editing. I want to keep going with this momentum I have, but I also want to divorce myself from what I’ve written.

So there you have it, my journey as a writer which has led me to come here and document my adventures. This blog exists primarily as a means to inspire myself to work harder and press on. Its secondary function is to connect me with other people interested in reading and writing, people with whom I can share experiences and words of encouragement. While I view the act of writing itself as a solitary activity, it is very nice to have validation from others going through the same process. A third purpose which I have been afraid to state up until now is to find writers to share work with and receive constructive comments, though I’m a bit far from that at the moment. One day. Soon.