Reflections from a Neopian Times Author
It is incredible to think that so many weeks of Neopian Times merriment have been published, and with them, an extraordinary mixture of writing and art. From new writers to seasoned professionals, the Times has seen it all. It is a diverse mixture of laughs, epic journeys, and even a twinge of suspense here and there. It does not boast for one writer and look down upon another. Instead, it provides an open venue for Neopians of all skill levels to come together and share their minds. Of course, not all writers had their starts here, but I can attest that this newspaper has changed my neo-life and beyond. Follow me as I explain my experiences from their beginnings, inspirations, rejections, and my growth alongside the Neopian Times.
When I was younger, writing had been just something to do when I was bored. Being a shy writer made it difficult for me to share my work out of fear that others would dislike it. This trend continued for many years. It had not been into my freshman year of Neouniversity that I decided to take the plunge and submit a comic called "Phosphofructokinase Diaries." I will admit, my drawing skills are not the best, but, in all honesty, it does not matter. What did matter was all the love that went into drawing my beloved Draik, haibara_chan, and making something that other Neopians could enjoy. I will always remember that warm, happy feeling I had when I received that acceptance letter. It is one of the few parchments I ever obtained that has been saved, framed, and put on top of the mantle for all to see. Once you get that first acceptance letter, you'll know what I mean. It is probably one of the best feelings to get in the world. Of course, there is no story—no nothing—without an idea. One single idea can ignite a passion for writing that will continue throughout your lifetime.
One night in "Snoozeville," as my friend Grr would say it, you might find yourself standing in line at Cafe Kreludor where a certain chill drifts through the air. You dismiss it as nothing but the Kreludorian ventilation system while continuing to shift from side to side.
This line hasn't moved in hours , you might complain, your patience slowly draining away. You feel like dried brown kelp removed from its aquatic resting place in Ye Olde Fishing Vortex. You feel a tap at your shoulder and shudder. It feels as if a specter has been watching you. Spinning around, you see nothing behind you except the cratered dusty-gray surface of Kreludor. In a panic, you turn back towards what you think is the Cafe, ready to sprint anywhere but here. You are surrounded by endless craters. Your paws instinctively clutch into your shoulders as you let out a scream that echoes for miles across the barren landscape. Your eyes snap open as you jolt up, hitting into a decorative spike you decided might look "cool" over the bed. "Ow," you whine, rubbing a sweaty paw against the sore spot.
Scary or not, ideas like that just have to be written down. Who knows when they could be useful?
What I've seen helps with writing stories is to jot down anything that really catches your attention, whether it be something you see on your travels or not. In the above example (and trust me when I say a lot of my ideas come from odd dreams) your sub-conscious provides potentially interesting stories, or at least, what might be a fascinating concept.
If I were to give tips, I'd recommend having a little journal to write down any ideas that you dream up. Even if your dream leaves you groggy (or completely freaked out), it's good to have it cataloged before it is lost! And, might I recommend the Pale Starry Notebook? They are inexpensive and easily obtained at the Neopian School Supply Store! (The previous message has been sponsored by The White Weewoos. Looking for great writing supplies? Look no further than the Neopian School Supply Store for your writing needs).
Admittedly, many of my ideas are still stored in folders and may never end up being used, but it's always good to have them somewhere, just in case! Of course, nothing is this world will be created by just an idea. Indeed, sine labore nihil.
With hard work and dedication, a story is born. From complex characters to even more complex plots, writing takes years of practice. To be honest, I'm sure even the very best writers struggle to portray their work in a logical manner while having a coherent plot.
The first step to writing anything, of course, is actually writing the story. This is a lot harder than it sounds for many of us, including me. Gathering up a large number of thoughts and condensing them into something more than that is not an easy task. My recommendation is this: if you have the coal to fuel your mind's internal furnace, keep writing. This includes writing in the middle of the night. (The White Weewoos and I would like to ask you not to do this on Neoschool nights or at times when staying up late can lead to potential consequences between you and your mom). That being said, writing really late at night may make you more prone to make errors unless your brain can function well under those circumstances. Even if you are not up late, however, there will still be errors made, grammatically or otherwise.
Unless you're a flawless writer, your drafts (first, second, third, fourth, etc.) will always have some errors in them or places that can be improved upon. It can be difficult to change your work beyond minor revisions, especially if hours of time have already gone into your creation. Admittedly, I never used to have my work edited. Not only was I afraid to have my work looked at, but I also did not see how comments from a new source could improve my writing ability.
There is always room for improvement—never forget that. Having to make a lot of edits does not mean that your writing is bad or that you should give up. It is quite the opposite, actually. An editor willing to give an honest critique is one that truly wants to help you succeed. With that being said, it is best to contemplate each major revision and to challenge your reviewer (in a peaceful way!) when you do not agree with their ideas. Seeking help from a friend and, if possible, a seasoned writer, can be one of the best ways to improve upon and ultimately create your own unique writing style. And even in the face of rejection, one can learn what works, what does not, or even what is lacking.
I'm not going to lie—rejection can be crushing at times. After painstaking hours of work, seeing that your craft may not be seen by a larger audience can be heart-wrenching. Once the immediate disappointment dissipates, however, it is best to dissect your own story and to view it as if for the first time. Criticize your own work and look for holes in your storyline. For other works such as an article, you may need to elaborate on or even add in some points that will make your argument or guidelines stronger.
Rejection is not the end of the road for many pieces, but a mere stopping block. At times, your work may be good, but cannot stand against other works in its category. If that is the case, ask others what they believe can be done to remedy this situation. For some rare instances, you might have a brilliant piece that could not be published simply because there is not enough room in the Times to publish all these works at once. It does not mean that you should stop writing or that your work is not good enough. One learns far more from their rejections—from their shortcomings—than one ever does through acceptance and victory. That being said, victory (in this case, getting published) can positively reinforce hard work and can also serve as an inspiration to continue writing works in the future.
Getting Published and Growing as a Writer
Like I've said before, all writers will grow over the course of their writing journey. Inspiration, drafting, revision, and rejection can all play a part in shaping your writing style. This process can take months, years, or even decades. All the while, your style may drastically change (just look at some of your works from your earlier days of Neoschool. I'm sure there will be some major differences between past and present). It is likely that your writing style will evolve and grow but still remain rooted by some major theme, perhaps a way of organizing your thoughts. This is not necessarily a weakness, but something to work your writing around.
All the while, I hope you enjoy your journey. According to the all-knowing White Weewoos, it is long but rewarding.