Writing is Worse than Puberty

When I hit middle school, my voice habitually creaked like a poorly-lubricated door (cliché simile). It was awful. I never had a problem getting taller or growing facial hair.  I never had to deal with acne. But my voice cracked pretty often. Chicks dug it (kidding).

Along with the physical effects came other things. I ate like an Ethiopian horse, housing two lunches a day and snacking like a fiend. My mind was out of whack. Seeing yourself morph from a smooth-faced child to a hairier, manlier, somewhat-adult-like thing is startling. Thankfully, I’ve stopped growing in that sort of way, being 19. But I’m faced with a new phase.

My ability to write has taken a dive (euphemism). Since January, I’ve been unable to write. Since January, guys. When there was snow on the ground. Here in Jersey, it’s just now starting to cool down again. At the beginning of this phase, I was so full of inspiration. The only issue I had was getting words down. Neither my vision nor my excitement wavered. But after sitting down quite literally every day with nothing but a paragraph at most to show for it by the day’s end day after day, I began to become discouraged. I didn’t initially see this as a problem because it didn’t feel like a problem. Progress was slim, but I came to the keyboard excited to write. I had the whole second act of the novel plotted out thoroughly, so it’s not like I didn’t know where I wanted to take it. I was only facing a nuisance. Surely it would get better.

It didn’t. My frustration grew. The excitement to sit and write wavered because I wasn’t making progress. I sought a solution. My best friend proposed that I step away from the page for a few weeks rather than force myself to write. I stepped away. I returned just as inspired, but just as stuck. My lovely girlfriend troubleshooted the potential root causes of the block with me time and time again. Again, my spirits were lifted, but the results did not change. My author-cousin recommended that I skip around in the story and fill in the gaps later. I wrote maybe five pages by his recommendation, then hit a block.

Recently, I spoke with a mentor of mine and he suggested that I pursue another project altogether to get the creative juices flowing (cliché). His advice pushed me into a project I had considered pursuing for a month or so. Now, I have a new document with a new outline and new notes. My original story was written in an elaborate, detail-heavy style. Frankly, that’s my writing voice. That’s how I write. (Take a look for yourself here, if you’re interested). This new pursuit has me writing more directly, with a snappier pace.

And that’s where I’m at. I wrote the first chapter in about a week. It’s been 2-3 weeks since then, and the second chapter isn’t coming along.

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m just expressing my woes. I’m not. I’m letting you know what’s up, and if it sounds like it bothers me, it’s because it does. I’m at a loss. My ability to write this story disappeared over night. I don’t know how, but it did. And as I struggle to make progress on this new endeavor, I wonder if I’ve lost it all together.

Puberty was an inevitable phase. By the time I was done with it (or rather, by the time it was done with me), I was different person. At the end of this road, will creative writing be a thing of my past? Right now, it appears that this phase is something that’s out of my hands, as it’s been going strong since January.  What is this phase? Transition into adulthood? I don’t know. I became a man when I watched Braveheart for the first time, so it can’t be that.

I’m going to consider coming back to WordPress. It won’t be nearly in the same capacity as before because I am a student pursuing personal and professional endeavors, but I am going to consider it. I miss you lovely ladies and classy gents. I want to reconnect in a new way.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

A New Photography Blog Has Hit WordPress

Hello, all!

I wanted to let you know that my sister has begun her own blogging endeavor at https://nataliaspics.wordpress.com. Any who are interested in seeing her photography and art should give it a look! It’s only just launched, so there isn’t a ton of content to sift through quite yet, but at least two-months-worth has been planned and prepped thus far, with more being compiled every day! I encourage you to drop a like, a comment, or a follow if you dig what you see. I hope all is well.

~J.J.

200 Followers + Q/A Announcement!

Lovely ladies! Classy gents! Something RIDICULOUS has happened!

200 people across the globe tripped and hit their heads upon their keyboards, resulting in 200 subscribes to this blog. If you have sustained this injury and are receiving this post in your inbox or WordPress reader, I wish you a speedy recovery. Put some ice on it.

To all who have subscribed to this blog, thank you. Thank you for supporting me through everything. Thank you for your kind words, your advice, your comments. Thank you for sharing your love for writing and creativity with me. I don’t take a single one of you 200 for granted. I didn’t expect to reach this point, but it’s a cool place to be, and I cherish it immensely.

When I hit 100 followers, I did something special to commemorate it. Many of you may remember that I held a Q and A session in which I answered a bunch of your questions about me, my blog, my writing, and other nonsense in video form! I had a blast making the video, and, if the comments on that post are anything to go by, most everybody enjoyed watching it! I’d love to do another!

So, if you have any questions for me regarding myself, my blog, my writing, my likes, my dislikes, my thoughts, my attractive personality, etc., please leave them in the comments below. Serious or not, it doesn’t matter! I’ll answer em all! On camera! I may even don a suit!

My top 5 favorite posts since my last 100 follows are as follows. If you happened to miss any of them, I’d recommend checking them out, because I think they suck the least out of all of my posts!

Violence and Gore in Writing: Is There a Limit? – This post prompted me to look to literature in an effort to answer the grand question posed. The post generated a wealth of discussion in the comments section, which is why I consider the post to be such a success.

A Missed Deadline, a Hard Look – This was a difficult post to write, as I wrote it in light of the fact that I failed to reach my self-imposed deadline for the first draft of my novel in the works. In the post, I propose a game plan to help tackle the draft.

Writers, Trust Your Readers – This is a good ol’ writing post. I dig discussing writing and storytelling (that’s what my blog’s about!), so this one was a blast. +10 for Lost gifs.

Writing the Five Senses: Sight – I enjoyed writing all of the five senses posts, but this one stands out to me because I wrote it with such confidence. I really felt that I touched upon significant points.

Novel Excerpt #2, Campfires at Midnight – I’m proud of this short passage from my novel in the works. It seems to have been well-received thus far, which is cool to see!

Once again, thank you for being a part of this exciting journey.

Here’s to the next 100!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

Holy Cannoli! I Received the Liebster Award!

Ladies and gents, today is a jolly good day! During my absence from WordPress, I was nominated for an award by the kind Aussie behind Mistakes and Adventures! It’s about time that I accept it! I’ve been reading James’ blog for quite some time, and he’s been following mine for a while too. In addition to posting about his exciting travels, James also writes short stories and poetry, which is how I found him!

LiebsterAwardAccording to James, the purpose of the Liebster Award is to promote small blogs. After I answer the questions James asked me, I have to come up with my own 11 for the fine bloggers I nominate! Without further ado, let’s do this! Let us Lieb!

  1. If you had to recommend one country you’ve visited to a brand new traveler where would that be? Bonus points for also recommending somewhere within that country to visit.

It seems I must begin with a confession…I have never traveled to another country.

*gasp* “But J.J., how could you possibly be so uncultured?!”

I have no excuse for you this time, disembodied voice. I have never left the United States. I do plan on travelling in the future, though! I want to visit Bruges (literally only because the movie) and Paris to start.

Would I recommend the U.S. to those who haven’t been here? Visit New York City is all I can say. Otherwise, join me on my travels outside the US!

2. What is the main purpose of your blog?

First and foremost, the purpose of my blog is to document my journey on the road to attaining published authorship. Secondly, I aim to entertain.tenor (1).gif

3. What is the most exotic/culturally different thing that you’ve ever done to date?

Does eating this sweet bale of hay count?aBNj0jI.jpg

4. What are your plans for the future? (Travel, written word, general survival etc)

The future? I can hardly tell you what I’m having for dinner. Even still, I do have some goals! I’ll hit on those you asked about.

Travel: As I mentioned before, I want to travel to Paris. Bruges too, I guess, partly as a joke. But definitely Paris! If I don’t find myself in a well or kidnapped by the end of either trip, I’ll probably travel some more!

Written word: I want to finish writing this first novel of mine. After that…well, let me finish the darned thing first!

General survival: I want to consume meat. And water. That’s all I need.

5. Where would you like to go if you had infinite cash for two months?

Chic-fil-A.

6. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging to supplement my novel-writing! Writing is a solitary thing. I’d like to have some good company around when I pursue this published authorship goal.

7. Have you ever experienced culture shock and if so where was it?

California. 2012. My father asked the man at the deli for a Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. The deli man’s face was seized by blank confusion. Little did I know that such a sandwich was foreign outside of Jersey. I did not enjoy my breakfast that morning.

8. What was the most naive thing you ever did on the road?

I presumed that the deli man knew what a Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich was. That was naive.

9. What writing advice would you have for aspiring bloggers who might read this?

Before writing your blog, have a Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich.

10. Classic deserted island question: Can only take 3 things with you, what are they?

Taylor ham, egg, and cheese.

11. Do you have a favourite book and if so what is it? (Feel free to list a top 3 if that’s too narrow)

Taylor h—kidding (kind of).

My favorite (I corrected James’ odd Australian spelling) book is Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan, the sixth book of the Wheel of Time series.

At this point in the post, I’ve switched to using my phone. Why? Because I’m currently in a whirlpool jacuzzi with good friends. The thing is, I feel compelled to finish this post and send it out! J.J. isn’t going disappear again! As it stands, I still have to leave 11 questions for those who I am nominating for the Liebster Award! Those would be A.S. AkkalonM.L.S. Weech, and Eva Blaskovic. Given that I’m soaking in a hot tub right now with fine people, I thought it would be appropriate to involve them in the question-creation process. Thus, I present to you the questions the four of us came up with. Nominees, here are your questions!

  1. During which moment of your life do you wish your enemies could see you?
  2. If you could have dinner with one person who has died, from history or otherwise, who would it be?
  3. Tell us about a time you ratted on somebody/something.
  4. Can you speak another language?
  5. Do you have any superstitions?
  6. Renaissance or Baroque? (we wanted to be snobs)
  7. Clear mornings or thunderstorms?
  8. Hamburger or hotdog?
  9. War. What is it good for?
  10. What common food grosses you out/does not appeal to you?
  11. What’s something you learned from your grandparents?

Good luck with those. Thanks again to James for this nomination! These questions warmed me up for my upcoming Q and A.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

You Choose: Which Story Excerpt Should I Share? (#2)

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

Long ago, I posted a poll presenting you fine people with a choice as to which passage of my story-in-the-works you would like to read a sample of. The competition was heated, but the result prompted me to share this excerpt. To my surprise, it was overwhelming well received. You guys humbled me, and I still appreciate that you dedicated a few minutes to read the brief extract. Given that the last time I shared a chunk of my story was in December, I figure it’s time to give it a go once again. After all, this is the place where I share every aspect of my writing journey. This time around, both excerpts are about 1400 words long. So, if you would be so kind, please take a gander at the options below and vote as to which you would be most interested in reading. Or don’t! Low voter turnout never hurt anybody!

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Choice #1, pulled from a chapter titled, “Campfires at Midnight”

Clarence and Kairi settle down by firelight to unwind after a long day’s travel. But the night is prolonged when Kairi pulls out a bottle of uju...

Choice #2, pulled from a chapter titled, “For Cash, For Coin”

After months of labor, Kal is finally prepared to unveil the weapons he painstakingly crafted for Clarence. But what Clarence gets is not what he expected…

Here is the poll!

If you’d like some assistance in making a choice, I can help you out in the comments!

Thanks for voting!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

The Circumstances

The eleventh chapter of my novel-in-the-works is titled, “The Circumstances.” In the chapter, Clarence Cash awakes after a brush with death to find himself scatterbrained and days behind in his pursuit of a smuggler. Before he mounts his horse to continue his hunt, he evaluates his situation. He evaluates his circumstances. Much the same, I’m assessing my own.

I have not been a present blogger. Worse, I have not been a productive writer. About two months ago, I was both. I was highly interactive with all of you. I was up to date with my Reader. I was cranking out substantial posts two times a week. On the writing side, I was writing every day. I was moving with forward momentum nearly every day.

But the circumstances are different today. My course load this semester has proven far more intense than that of the first. Where I didn’t work a job during my first semester in the interest of advancing my writing (and I did!), I’ve since returned to work. Thus, my time for writing and blogging has been reduced. Not reduced to nothing, but reduced enough to make this post.

Many take breaks from WordPress because they’ve become tired or overworked or uninspired. The case is the opposite for me. I am bursting with energy and posts. I want to rock 120%. The trouble is, academics take precedent, and it’s crucial that I stay diligent for another month and a half.

I’m not putting a hold on blogging. Rather, I’m putting a hold on the promise of a post a week. I won’t have a posting schedule for two months, maximum. I hate to do things this way, but this is how I can best balance college with blogging/writing at this time. I will be around to catch some of your posts, but I can’t say I’m going to check my Reader every day, because I won’t. I hope y’all understand. It’s worth noting that there are a host of bloggers who have stopped by with blogs I want to read and follow and explore, and I intend to do so as soon as possible! After this period, I can assure you that I’ll devise a system so I can be more consistent when life moves faster. I’ll leave you with the final line from Chapter 11: The Circumstances.

“I hope you’re ready for an adventure, because I see adventure on the horizon.”

~J.J. Azar

Oh, Sunny Day! I Received the Sunshine Blogger Award!

*cue medieval fanfare horns*

Long ago, WordPress legend Vinnieh nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Me, being the fool I am, floundered as I attempted to eat my mutton, my mashed potatoes, and my assorted greens all at once. Typically, I’m able to have a full meal in one sitting, but this month has been like a kick from a wild mule. It’s about time that I officially accept this high honor. Alas, here we are. I’m back on track. What better way is there to return to the presses than by recognizing this merit? Let’s celebrate!sunshine-blogger-award.png

The rules logged by the scribe are as follows:

  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions they set you.
  • Pick another 11 bloggers.
  • Give them 11 questions

THANK YOU, Vinnieh, for your nomination and your support. Your sincere, thoughtful comments mean a whole lot to me. For those who don’t follow Vinnieh, you ought to check him out. He reviews movies with more depth and professionalism than any other critic I’ve read around these parts, which says a lot, because there are some STELLAR critics on WordPress.

Without further ado, here are the questions put forth by the Movie Man himself, along with my answers to them.

1. How often would you say you spend on your blog?

I makes my rounds about the WordPress kingdom on a daily basis. I typically take Sundays to recline with a lukewarm, medieval beverage in hand, but otherwise, I’m on top of my game (with this week being a sad exception).

2. What has blogging taught you?

Blogging has taught me about writing. Yes, a clinical answer, but ’tis the truth. I’ve grown as a writer since declaring my lordship over this plot of WordPress thanks to writers published and rising alike. Free council? What else can I ask for?

3. Amy Adams or Natalie Portman?

Amy Adams hands down. I feel like Natalie Portman is always sneering at me. I understand it (have you seen me?), but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Lois Lane all the way!

4. Walks along the beach or romantic meal inside?

Start with the meal, end with the walk. A one-stop date is no date at all.

5. Have you ever written in the nude?

Now I have.

6. What film had the biggest emotional impact on you?

Piglet’s Big Movie. Cried in the theater and all. I was 5.

7. What is your fondest memory from childhood?

My childhood was fantastic, so I couldn’t possibly decide on a fondest memory, but I do recall steering my tricycle into my garage door. I still have a scar on my knee from the pathetic incident.

8. Is there any scene you would love to recreate from a movie?

All of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off seems about right to me.

9. Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I can’t even tell you what I’m having for dinner.

10. What film have you been meaning to watch for a long time, but just haven’t got the chance to?

The Godfather. Shame, shame, I know. I’ll get to it.

11. And in the style of Stuff and That, do you think I have a nice bum?

It’s all about personality *muffled laughter.* No, in all seriousness, personality is king. I don’t know anything about any WordPresser’s bum, though! If it’s Vinnieh’s, I’d assume yes.

__

Thank you for these fine questions, Vinnieh! This Q and A process reminded me of my first Q and A some time back. Rumor has it, if I reach 200 followers (I’m climbing! :D) I’ll be doing ANOTHER video-style Q and A. Alright, now it’s time for me to pass this award on to some other, more deserving bloggers.

I nominate:

A.S. Akkalon

Books, Vertigo, and Tea

K.A. Botello

I wouldn’t be surprised if each of these bloggers has already received this award, because they certainly manage to brighten up my day with their content, whether it be for their humor, their sincerity, or their valuable insights! I implore you to check them out. The 11 questions I hereby pass onto them are as follows:

1. What is one food you could not live without? (water doesn’t count, ye sly one, ye).

2. Candy or chocolate?

3. Fruits or vegetables?

4. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

5. What movie scene never fails to make you laugh?

6. What is the best, lesser-know television show you would recommend?

7. How do you like your steak cooked?

8. What is the greatest live performance (concert or otherwise) you have witnessed in person?

9. What is your favorite song from your least-favorite genre?

10. What is your favorite movie that most people probably have never heard of?

11. Would you consider yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist?

Thanks to all for reading, thanks to Vinnieh for the nomination, and congrats to the nominees!

As always, stay classy

~J.J. Azar

I Received the Blogger Recognition Award!

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

I recently received a message via pigeon informing me that I had won the Blogger Recognition Award. I promptly returned the messenger pigeon with a note expressing my regrets, as the sender of said pigeon was obviously mistaken. Me? An award? Somebody clearly made a clerical error.

So days go by and the same pigeon descends upon my window. I attempted to shoo it away with a broom, but the bird was a persistent little bugger. To stop the incessant pecking on my window, I finally read the message tied to the winged-creature’s back. As it turns out, the award actually was intended for me. And I know the sender! Oops!

I am humbled to announce that author and blogger Eva Blaskovic chose to award me the Blogger Recognition Award. To my knowledge, she did not do so under duress. Coming from her, this is a high honor. Eva is one of the few bloggers I know who writes posts about a wide range of topics without sacrificing quality. Eva focuses on writing-related topics first and foremost, yet she has recently discussed education and cooking. She is a gem of a blogger that I cannot recommend enough to those who don’t follow her already. I extend my sincerest thanks for her consideration of my blog for this award!

Drake-and-Josh-image-drake-and-josh-36661431-500-252.gif

The note attached to the pigeon included specific instructions as to what I must do to accept this award. The instructions are as follows:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers for this award.
  • Comment on each blog to let them know you nominated them and link to the post you created.blogger-recognition-award-1

In short, this award requires me to share my origin story and dish out some wisdom I am unqualified to give.

The origin story of jjazar.wordpress.com is a simple one, nothing like Spiderman’s! I created this blog because I wanted to supplement my novel-writing with something secondary. I wanted to have a place where I could write about writing and reach out to others interested in doing the same. Little did I know I would connect with so many ambitious, fascinating people from across the globe. So I came to WordPress for the writing, but I stayed for the community.

As for two pieces of advice for new bloggers…

  1. Interact. Interact interact interact. As soon as your blog is presentable and devoid of dead tabs and preset messages, find bloggers who write about your areas of interest using your Reader. If you like what you read, like some of their posts. If you have something to say, leave some comments. And if you really like what a blogger has going, follow them! The more people you interact with, the richer your blogging experience will be. Oh, and it won’t hurt your view/like/comment/follow count. Interaction is how you grow!
  2. Treat the “Publish” button as sacred. Post regularly, but don’t post half-assed material. If you didn’t put thought into a post, keep it off your blog. Keep your standards high. Respect your readers, respect yourself, and respect your corner of the internet. It is absolutely possible to post quality material on a consistent basis (take the Comic Vault as an example), but if you can’t sustain the pace, slow it down. It’s okay 🙂

tumblr_mnqubziKKl1sqat0wo1_500.gifI hate to sound like a drill sergeant, but that second point is particularly important. A blog is a representation of yourself, so you ought to make it the best you can make it!

Inspired by Eva’s generosity in this award, I’ve nominated the following classy bloggers for the same honor:

M.L.S. Weech

Angela at Pooled Ink

Steff at Little Booky Nook

I could frankly nominate my entire list of followers, but these bloggers are of a special trio who I’ve been enjoying lately.

Thank you once again to Eva!

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar

January Writing Update and My New Deadline

Hello, lovely ladies and classy gents!

At the end of December, I laid out a game plan after I failed to meet my self-imposed first-draft deadline. Since then, I’ve done my best to make the changes pinpointed in the post. Let’s see how I fared.

A Writing Environment. Done. Despite not raising enough money to build a writing barn, I’ve located two ideal writing spots in my home. Both are comfortable. Both have outlets within range. All is well. (Thank you to the anonymous donor who contributed 18 cents to my writing barn. Maybe next year).

A Set Writing Time. Done. I’ve determined that it would serve me best to write at night, after the day’s obligations have been fulfilled. Thus, I no longer open my writing document when I know I won’t be able to write anything. It sounds like common sense, but I was previously in a rut of clicking the doc, scrolling, and abandoning it because I didn’t have a window of time during which I could work on it. This makes the time when I do open the document more precious.

Exercise. Done. I’ve been going to the gym Monday through Thursday and working out at home over the weekends. I’m committed. It’s good stuff.

Focus on Demand. NOT done. Won’t be done. Impossible. Sounds too close to drugs. I don’t do drugs.

YouTube. Kind of done. I’ve chilled out with the YouTube. With everybody losing their minds over the state of politics here in the US, I’ve withdrawn for my own sanity, cutting down on YouTube significantly. So that’s good.

BioShock. Done. I haven’t touched the thing. I can’t wait to return to it though!

Snapchat. Highly controlled. It isn’t consuming as much of my time as it once was. Trust me, I’m good 🙂

Blogging (while writing)Highly controlled. Something’s clicked in my head and I’ve applied more focus into the novel-in-the-works when it comes time to write.

Not bad, eh? Now, about the writing…

The month of January thrust an array of new things into my lap virtually all at once: a challenging semester, a triumphant return to work, a classy lady, etc. With that, I’ve adopted a disciplined mindset to adjust to all of these things. It’s the writing I’m still trying to figure out. As it stands, I’m at a crucial moment in my novel. I’m about to introduce Carmengrove, a town which serves as a major setting in this story and will serve as a major setting in stories to come. I want to ensure that I understand the town’s workings and populace before I put a word to paper. I need Carmengrove to live and breathe. And so, every time I open up the document, I find myself taking notes and building up the setting. This preparation may be stalling the writing progress as it’s measured by page count, but it’s a necessary part of the process, so I’m entirely fine with it. That’s the deal with my writing. I’m sliding back into it, and I’m more excited than ever!

Finally, I’ve locked down the new deadline for the first draft of my novel-in-the-works. The date is…

36b1d2ff2cd00f70958ecda72d0f7c56
Drum roll please!

JUNE 15, 2017.

It’s nowhere near as dynamic as the previous deadline of January 1st, 2017, but it’s my deadline! Why June 15th? Frankly, June 15th is one month after I finish my Spring semester of college. I don’t want to cram the deadline into the school year (because it worked so well last time 😉 ). I figure this date gives me plenty of time to finish up this first draft! I am being patient with myself, and I hope you’ll be patient with me.

That’s the January Writing Update for ya, folks! I hope the first month of the year treated you well.

Thank you for reading.

As always, stay classy.

~J.J. Azar