Friday, May 15, 2015

Writing, College, Change, and Selling My Soul to the Devil

(I'll explain that title, I promise.)

I've been silent on this blog for several months now, and I feel that I owe you a bit of an explanation: I'm soaking up my last few weeks in West Africa.

Yes, you did read that correctly—the four awful letters of "last."  Come June, I'll be leaving Liberia and venturing out on my own into the great uncivilized wilderness of America's higher education system.  The college in question is Abilene Christian University, a school in Abilene Texas.  While I'm not fond of Texas, it's a wonderful college.

What does this mean for my writing and my blog, you ask?  (Okay, maybe you're not asking that.  But I'm going to tell you anyway.)

Regardless of what happens, I'm going to keep writing.  The going has been slow, admittedly; my current project has been languishing at nine thousand words since last November, and the outline is hardly faring better.

However, I have big hopes for what I can accomplish this summer and this fall.

My fantasy epic, A Swiftly Moving River, is still tugging on my heart.  A third draft is in order, as soon as I can get to it.  It's one of the most important stories I've ever written, and I'm determined to beat it into shape.

My current writing project is something I'm really excited about.  Chromeheads, a science fantasy time travel murder mystery, recently won Second Place at Kingdom Pen's "Begin Your Novel" contest.  I've got something really, really cool on my hands, and I can't wait to dive into it in earnest.  (The last time I worked on it was a ten thousand word vomit during the last week of NaNoWriMo.)  Plus, I have motivation: I need to have it at least partially done for this year's OYAN Summer Workshop.

And finally, I have a memoir I wrote last November.  I honestly don't know what to do with it.  It's forty thousand messy words, an outpouring of my heart, an examination of how Liberia's Ebola outbreak affected me, as a missionary kid.  It's bittersweet and raw.  It desperately needs a revision.  But after that?  I have no idea.

Moving on from writing—I'm also hoping to get things done with this blog.  It's in need of some upkeep; I used to average several posts a week, and now, I'm lucky if I write one post a month.

Some of it is uncertainty on where to take this blog.  Back when I was young and—let's face it—a bit of a know-it-all, I wrote authoritatively about writing, giving tips, tricks, and tools of the trade.  But the older I get, the less I feel like I really know about writing.  How authoritatively can I write, when I'm struggling to patch holes in my novel that should have been fixed two years ago?

I'm a better writer than I was two years ago, but I'm a humbler teacher.  I know that I know less than I thought I knew, if that makes sense.

The core of what I want to do is the same: to have this blog be a place where we can come learn together through the bumps I've found on my own writing path.  And, of course, so I can chat with you guys about my writing projects, and your own.

But I think that's going to take some change.  I'm not going to be a "Teenage Writer" much longer. And, while I want to keep the informal feel of this blog, I also want to smooth over the rougher edges that come with being an amateur blogger.

So my idea is to begin to set up a new site, with an actual domain.  I'm not sure when this will happen, honestly, but it's buried somewhere on my to-do list.  I'll keep you posted; this blog won't just disappear!  And I'll try to keep it updated in the meantime.

Finally, a little bit of round-up.  I may be offering editing and critiquing services in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled.  I'll post as soon as I know for sure.  In the meantime, I've added a poll on the sidebar about it—would you take advantage of such services if I offered them at a reasonable price?  (And it's totally okay if you say no.  Writing is hardly lucrative work, and most of us are dead broke.)

One last thing.  I'm probably going to put up one or two discreet advertisements.  I apologize for selling my soul to the devil.

Till next time, guys.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on these changes; leave a comment or shoot me an email.  Adieu!


Hannah Joy said...

Jake! I haven't posted in a (really) long while! :-P I feel a little bad. But I have faithfully read every post on here (I get them sent to my email, and for some reason I guess I just don't comment when it goes to my email) and have loved it all. Excited to see the new things you're brewing, and SUPER excited for both novels you mentioned in this post.

Congrats on going to college, but sorry you have to leave Africa! That must be really hard! But...well, Jeremiah 29:11! (Also, Jeremiah 6:16 is popping into my head, so maybe give that one a read too).

Anyway, in a nutshell, always glad to see a post on here, and I'm looking forward to whatever else you're going to be doing!

Hannah Joy said...

(I mean posted a comment! haha sorry that was confusing)

Sarah said...

Texas is an awesome state, in my opinion. Of course, as it's the only state besides Virginia where I remember living, I may be a bit biased. I hope you enjoy college (even if you are sad about leaving Liberia, which I can understand).

You should try to publish your memoir, once you've revised it. Your idea of starting a writers' site sounds cool; I'll definitely join if you do.

As for critiquing and editing services, well, it depends on the price, but I'd probably pay you for that if I was going to publish a novel. (Interestingly, you're the second person I know who's trying to set up a business like that- Dmitri Pendragon, another Underground elf, recently started his own proofreading and line editing business, Red Pendragon. (

Keturah Lamb said...

What are you majoring in college?

I just finished a sci-fi novella.

T.D. said...

Ahhh, I'm getting a little verklempt reading this - as I'm at the stage of life too, but not quite so drastic (only moving 20 minutes and two cities away, not two continents and hundreds of miles). It will be great to see where the Lord takes you from here and what He does through your life, your time at college, and all of your writing - we all can see how mightily He has gifted you in that area. Please keep us all updated, and you will certainly be in my prayers.
The transition/reality of college is terrifying. And unbearably exciting as well. It's so crazy that we all met when we were barely in our teen years, and here we all are near to stepping out of them.
I'm particularly excited to read your Liberia/Ebola memoir, once that comes into the public eye.
Thank you for the update, and keep us all posted.

Blue said...

Nice to hear from you again, Jake.

Well, here's to change (raises cup of tea, drinks). I'm not terribly fond of change, to be frank, but I understand the need of it.

Glad to hear you will keep writing. I hope you will keep us updated with excerpts, yes? (please?) I'd like to hear more about this sci-fi tale.

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