frozen hearts

Here's What Happened to Frozen Hearts

It is difficult for me to begin this post, but, I think, all the more necessary for the challenge. Something I have been turning over in my head, yearning to share with you. It never felt like the right time. But I believe (I think, I hope) that it is now.

Perhaps some of you lovelies - the earliest of readers, those who have stayed through all of the months (and now - how shocking this is - years) that Six Impossible Things has grown - will remember Frozen Hearts. The story of a girl spun of words, a boy with a wand and a broken smile, a kingdom plagued with endless, helpless snow.

Frozen Hearts was first novel I penned, the one I had planned to self-publish nearly three years ago now.

I began this blog as a starry-eyed 13 year old with a deep-seated yearning to write, whatever it took. The whole purpose of Six Impossible Things back then was to speak of Frozen Hearts - indeed, as I scroll through my archives, I can't help but smile at the anticipation, the exhilaration, the excitement of the readers of old. Some of your names still populate the comments section and my email inbox today. Some of you have never stopped asking where Frozen Hearts went - even as its presence on the blog dwindled. Some of you, the very earliest of readers, still remember the characters. Still speak of them as old friends.

At thirteen - and then, later, fourteen - years old, my deepest goal was to self-publish Frozen Hearts. This is what I shared with all of you. This is what I worked for, far into the night around schoolwork & real life. Frozen Hearts was, to put it simply, the greatest goal.

Only then I started feeling sad for no particular reason. I began having panic attacks every day.

I was diagnosed with depression & anxiety.

I spoke of that process on the blog too. And still, all of you were here to support me. Even as Frozen Hearts was pushed further & further away from Six Impossible Things, you lovely readers stayed. And I cannot thank you enough for that.

But here is what I have not said, what you do not yet know:

I never stopped working on Frozen Hearts during that dark period. Though I did not speak of it on the blog, though I stopped updating you on my word count, the antics of the characters, how the publishing process was coming along - still, in the darkness & the sharpness, I kept penning it. Kept spilling words onto the paper.

Before my diagnoses, Frozen Hearts was a dream.

Now it was a sanctuary. A lifeline.

I often speak of the words that changed me, the ones I clung to in my lowest moments. The ones that, quite literally, saved my life. But I think I don't share Frozen Hearts enough in these terms. It is true - when people did not know how to speak to me, when no amount of positive thinking or vitamin supplements could make the clouds lift, when I woke up from nightmares not of monsters, but of panic attacks - all this time, the words were there.

When the rest of the world, it seemed, had given up on me, Frozen Hearts never left.

I am sixteen now and still learning. Still growing. I am a very different person than the wide-eyed thirteen year old who began this book and I am a different person from the one who threw herself into words to hide from all of the aching.

I have not touched Frozen Hearts' manuscript in nearly a year. And somehow, I am just fine with that.

I went back and read the book before I wrote this post, and the darkness of some passages nearly shocked me. The memories, too - so many of them, both good and bad, tied into word choice here and character there, as if an era of my life clings to this book, as if a part of my soul has bound itself to the manuscript.

Frozen Hearts was and is a huge part of me, and of Six Impossible Things. I think, perhaps, that it always will be.

But I am still growing, and this is why I have chosen to leave it behind for now. Frozen Hearts comes from a time in my life when I did not know the meaning of healing, of recovery. It afforded me a home, my only protection from a world that seemed bent on jabbing my wounds over and over and over.

But it also symbolises a time in my life when I did not know how there could possibly be any light in all of the darkness.

These days I wake up and thank the sky for the words I want to feel okay again. These days I still feel sad far too much, and my hands still tremble when anxiety overwhelms me, and I have been diagnosed a host of new disorders since the first two.

But I want to get better. I want to get better so badly that I am willing to do anything for it.

Frozen Hearts, I am realising, is a part of me that no longer needs to exist. My seasons are changing. The windows are opening. I am ready for this book to be part of a memory, a past life filled with bittersweet fondness. It is a part of me that I will always be thankful for. And it is one that I think it is time to let go of.

There are new projects afoot, coming sooner than you know. The kind that fully represent who I am now, this fleeting snapshot of a life that I will look back on in too many years and barely recognise.

But I am learning to embrace this quiet allegro, this present tense that moves too fast and not fast enough. I am learning to record the moments that I can, and then to tuck away everything else and turn to face the future. To stand unburdened with the past and unafraid of what is to come.

Frozen Hearts is in the past tense now. For me, and for all of us.

But in its wake rises so much more radiance. So much present tense.

I am excited to see what it holds. And even more: I'm excited for all of you to step into this new wonder with me.

The Struggles of Character Building

Hey guys! So I just realised we have a break the week after next, which is AWESOME. :D I don't think my family is going anywhere, so that basically means I get the whole week to chill out/write FH. The downside to that is all of next week is exams, exams, aaaand more exams. So unfortunately, I probably won't have time to get much work done in between studying. :/

But anyway! We still have a couple more days of this week, so let's enjoy that, shall we? ;) Today I wanted to talk about something that I've been noticing has been slightly affecting my perception of my writing: namely, reading.

As all of you hopefully know by now, I love to read. (I mean, how exactly can you be a writer without reading...?) But it seems that there's a trend I've been happening towards lately, and that's reading books with characters who can perfectly wield a weapon, are constantly the first ones to defeat every single antagonist, always have the best one-liners, etc, etc, etc. It's not exactly helping that my CP just sent me a manuscript with a character that perfectly fits that description, either. :P

And while I have absolutely nothing against those types of characters - to the contrary, I think they're so important in the literary world - my issue is that the MC of Frozen Hearts just does not fit that mould at all. And although I didn't really notice it until a few days ago, I've subconsciously begun seeing that as a problem.

Those of you who have met Rosalyn before will know that she is perfectly happy with her nose stuck in a book. She's an introvert. She loves hanging out with her family. She doubts herself, a lot. She's terrible under pressure. She's emotional. She's one of those people who think through their decisions for way too long rather than just choosing something already.

In other words: she's probably exactly the opposite of the character I described above.

But something I've had to realise is that that's okay. There is no way I could ever turn Rose into a kickass crack shot who can ram through ten monsters without breaking a sweat. That's just not who she is - it's not the character I wrote. It's interesting to realise this because there's one character whose personality did a complete 180 from the first draft, and I felt perfectly fine changing it. But I know that I couldn't edit Rose into someone different at this stage - she's taken on a personality all her own.

I guess another thing that's made me come to this conclusion is the realisation that I actually have not read many books with characters like Rose. Could just be that I'm not choosing the right ones, but with the exception of Cath from Fangirl, I've rarely seen any introverted MCs. Certainly not in any fantasy books - I've read a couple in the contemporary genre, but that's about it.

I think I've made the right choice in not diverting from the path I originally set for Rose, but I would love to hear your opinions. Have you ever faced a dilemma like this? What are your thoughts on changing character personalities? Any book recommendations for characters like Rosalyn? I'd love to have a discussion on this - ideas and comments are always welcome! :)

love, Topaz

The Eternal Struggle of Word Count

Ello everyone! I've talked about this a couple of times before, but it's becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on - and now, the school year is really starting to get kicked off so I wanted to touch on it again. I must admit that I'd kind of taken this summer for granted, and I'd totally forgotten that this whole unlimited time thing isn't forever. :P Unfortunately, that's coming back to bite me now, because I'm finding it harder and harder to keep up with my ultra-high standards of writing.

As you guys know, during the summer I generally wrote and edited for around two hours a day, and that worked for me. I got enough work done without getting burnt out, and I still had time to relax and enjoy my free time. (Yay! Win-win! :D) In the 8th grade I tried to log at least an hour of writing time per day, but I wasn't always able to get to that, especially towards the end of it. This year, I'm finding even less time to squeeze in precious writing - and that makes it easier and easier to fall into the routine of I skipped writing yesterday, but I'm sure one more day won't hurt! Before I know it, I've gone a whole week without writing anything except blog posts, with Frozen Hearts sitting untouched and unedited on my desktop. :/

So this year, I've realised that I need to lower my standards a little bit when it comes to the time that I'm taking to write. I know for sure that I cannot ever, ever go more than one day without editing FH. That's unacceptable - it just totally puts me out of the world and it takes me forever to get back into it.

I read a lovely article the other day where one successful writer talked about his strategy, and it was surprisingly simple - one of those why didn't I think of that? Oh yeah, because I'm an idiot type of things. ;)

His daily word count goal: 1.

That's right - as long as this author writes just one word a day, he counts it as a success.

To be honest, at first I thought this was ridiculous. But the more I contemplated it, the more it made sense to me. Having a 1-word goal sets your standards so low that when you're completely and totally rushed and don't have time to sit down for two hours and write, you still accomplish a goal. Plus, it ensures that no matter what you do, you write something every day - no excuses, no bad days, nothing. There's no excuse for not writing one word! ;)

So I've decided to use this same strategy on my own writing (with a couple of tweaks to suit myself better). From now on, I just want to sit down and edit Frozen Hearts every single day - it doesn't matter how long, whether it's for five minutes or three hours. Sometimes I'll have time to write and sometimes I won't, and I'm cool with that - but editing FH is a must.

I'm slightly excited and slightly apprehensive to see how this works out for me, but I'll keep you guys updated! I'd love to hear your writing strategies - do you write every day? What's your daily word count goal? How do you manage to find time to write amongst the many calls of life? Let's have a conversation! :)

love, Topaz