Category Archives: Dani Nicole

Phase to Phase, and the Words That Get Us Where We’re Going

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The other night, as I walked out of Barnes and Noble with a woman from my writing group I’d only met once, something profound happened to me.

The woman, whose name I’d just asked, shook my hand and smiled. “You really are a great writer.”

“Thank you,” I said, trying my best to accept the compliment gracefully and not be my normal, awkward self.

“You really will make it,” she added.

She walked away and left me contemplating what had just happened.

I played the scene in my mind the next day, tossing around the words she’d said. I really will make it. I really will.

Each word had its own weight in my heart. That woman had vocalized what keeps me writing – the idea, the belief, the chance that I’ll make it in the end.

It’s not always the feedback of others that keeps us going. It’s not always our successes that keep us trying. Sometimes, it’s just a few simple words. I can do this. I will.

The hardest part of pursuing a dream of any kind is having faith in yourself even when it seems stupid. Even when you’ve been rejected or criticized. Learning to use your setbacks as opportunities for growth and change is an essential part of the process. We must not lose those words, those mantras that keep us going as we transition from phase to phase.

Sometimes those words come from a new friend outside the bookstore, but most often they come from within. Relying on our own internal cheerleading can make the creative journey a difficult one. One that demands something from us that we are not readily willing to give.

Faith.

– Dani Nicole

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It Takes Balls to Be a Writer

Picture from borderlandswp.wordpress.com

Picture from borderlandswp.wordpress.com

The day I decided to really pursue my dream of becoming a writer was equal parts “You’re a genius” and “Oh god, what if my parents read it?” I can’t even imagine the phase erotic novelists go through, when they decide to put their reputation on the line and let loved ones read their dirty work.

Granted, I don’t write erotica. But there’s a certain amount of fear associated with going public with your writing – a fear that I had no idea existed until I received word that some of my work would be published.

This moment went about the way I imagined.

A squeal. An onslaught of text messages. A Facebook status update. Everything was wonderful and I was up in the clouds until… I realized being published means that people can actually read your work.

My writing has always been private. Since college I have joined several critique groups, but even still, my writing doesn’t make it past 10-15 sets of eyes. My pieces have never gone WORLDWIDE on the Interwebs.

This… this is a whole new level of transparency.

And that’s when I realized that writing takes balls. It’s one thing to write your heart out, it’s another thing to show it to someone.

I started to make a mistake once people congratulated me on my achievement. I started conceding my accomplishments with excuses. I said that my writing wasn’t what I normally wrote. That it was extra snarky and I didn’t know if people would like it.

But what I realized is that apologizing for expressing yourself violates the basic reason to write. It is an art form. I never heard J.K. Rowling apologize for putting witchcraft in her books. And I’m not going to apologize for what comes from me freely, whether it is something raw and gritty and transparent, or something light-hearted and sarcastic.

All of my writing is a facet of me.  And going public just means owning who you are, and what you’re capable of.

-Dani Nicole

One of Them

Image from myselfaswritten.blogspot.com

Image from myselfaswritten.blogspot.com

When I was a little girl I used to write stories and give them to my parents as presents. I’m not sure how they felt about getting paper instead of ties or necklaces, but parents usually like that sort of thing.

I guess it was pretty evident from an early age that I was a writer. It’s not really something you can just not be, when you are one. There’s a certain way you think and imagine things. Anyone can learn to write, and anyone can learn language, but I believe that some of us are simply called to it, as if it’s an irresistible force.

I was always meant to write.

And while my career goals shifted as I grew up it eventually came down to the truth that writing is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do. I have enough interests to hold a career while I write, but in the end that’s what my existence boils down to: I have to tell my stories.

Having a dream like that isn’t easy, especially when you graduate from school and stop having people that tell you to write. When you don’t have to turn anything in for a grade or read materials that are selected for you. You’re on your own.

Over the past three years I’ve been working my way into the professional writing world. My first step was to start writing and seek out writing buddies like my life depended on it. I befriended a published coworker (shout out to Jennifer August), and found myself constantly lost in conversation with her.

When I found my primary writing group, things started to become more serious. I started growing as a writer and as a person. I started soul searching and observing and constantly staying in contact with my dreams and ambitions.

But for the past few years I have rested in the safety of trusted friends.

Until last week.

I attended two new writing groups last week, making my first true effort at networking with professional writers. I brought my work and had it critiqued. And to my delight, my fellow writers acknowledged my talent and supported me. They offered me constructive feedback, and they inspired me.

What I found is that I was one of them.

I was no longer the little girl who dreamed of being a writer, but the woman who was consciously making an effort to take action toward achieving a lifetime goal.

And that was incredibly rewarding.

 

-Dani Nicole

The Beauty of the Eighteenth Draft

There comes a point in writing, soon after the super excited “I’m going to write a book” phase, that you begin to write yourself into a corner, or into an alleyway you had no intention of venturing into. And at that point when you are backed against a wall you must ask yourself, is it time to start over?

It is very difficult to run the length of the book without having the first few steps in order. I cannot let my creative mind be free when it is focused on how ineffective the beginning of my novel is. And as much as I aspire to completely turn off my inner critic when I write my first draft, sometimes it is worth listening to.

It takes a few wrong beginnings to get the right one. And isn’t that true in life? We are constantly trying, failing and starting over. Just as it takes a beautiful vulnerability to write in the first place, it takes a beautiful humility to admit that something needs work. Something needs another chance. I need another chance.

And that is the beauty of writing. It is completely your own creation and in your own control and you can start over at any point. No one can tell you that you don’t get a second chance, or a third, or a fourth.

Writers do not sit down and write a final draft. They write a first, second, third, eighteenth draft. Nothing in life is perfected on the first try.

I am beginning to think that writing has much to do with grace and persistence, and little to do with perfection.

-Dani Nicole

Lifting the Veil

Writing is like bleeding onto paper–directly translating thoughts to a print medium. People tell me they can’t write. They aren’t good with words… they can’t spell “restaurant”… they don’t know how to rhyme.

And I agree. A large part of writing is practice and study of the craft.

But the other, larger part is sheer expression… the ability to be completely transparent and let the world see what is in your own mind. When someone asks me how I feel, I give them a poem. When someone asks me what’s important to me, I give them my stories.

Words are created for expression. They are the currency of thought. I’ll give you my words for yours. I’ll read your words to create my own words.

Unsuccessful writing is writing that fails to pick up the vulnerability of the author. People want to connect deeply to characters, and that can only be done through exposé — here is my character, here are his flaws. Some of his flaws are things that I quite understand, because they are a facet of my own imperfection.

His hesitancy is my hesitancy.

And his desire to love… that’s mine too.

Our characters are not our carbon copies, but they are part of us nonetheless. They are an accumulation of thought, emotion and desire. They are a creation of what has been created in us.

And to be able to extract something from within us and put it on paper, we have to be willing to be completely exposed.

I think that is what I love about writing.

The wonderful, horrible feeling of letting someone inside your own mind, your own heart, and realizing that the reader is finding something beautiful there.

 

-Dani Nicole

Let’s Get Personal

What kind of animal would you be, if you could be any animal?

I’d be a bear. Think about it. Bears are like the honey badger, before the badger was a guy who didn’t give an F. Bears binge eat, binge sleep, kill anything they want and are never hunted. Plus they have fur that keeps them cozy and claws that keep them deadly. Bears don’t care what you, or anyone else thinks.

What do you think is your biggest weakness?

Mortality. Hands down, the fact that I can die makes me super vulnerable to well, dying.

If you could only do one thing for the rest of your life what would you do?

It would probably involve eating. See bear answer for reference.

If you were a car, what kind of car would you be?

I’d be a big truck with about a thousand wheels, zebra stripes and a bedazzled hood. Because if you’re not going to make a statement, what are you going to do? (#YOLO?)

If you could be any book character, which would you be?

I would be Katniss Everdeen’s badassery with Jane Eyre’s eloquence and Elizabeth Bennett’s ever after.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

If I could see myself in five years I would have the gift of prophecy. If I had the gift of prophecy I would probably be out and about giving people vague fortune-cookie fortunes — “Something irreversible is about to happen,” “You’ll learn in a few minutes,” and “What you lost will be found.”

-Dani Nicole

 

Tell us your favorite personality question!

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to The Paige Duke! She is thirty and flirty and thriving today.

30 things I love about Paige:

1. She loves coffee like I love coffee.

2. Fellow HP nerd.

3. I can talk about writing all day.

4. I can talk about boys all day.

5. We both get excited about words.

6. She’s an editor too.

7. I can text her pretty much any time of the day.

8. I can ask her about em and en dashes, the reason for their existence and the cause behind the torture that is known as deciphering their use. (No serial comma here 😉 )

9. She will read anything I write.

10. She will let me read anything she writes.

11. She is in my writing group!

12. She is fashionable.

13. She has a “hot husband.” (These are not my words.)

14. She has the world’s most adorable daughter.

15. She lets me babysit.

16. Her daughter likes Play-doh as much as I do.

17. Her daughter likes Hello Kitty as much as I do.

18. Did I mention coffee?

19. We both love chocolate.

20. Turtles!

21. She doesn’t judge me for eating a bunch of white chocolate pretzels.

22. She cheered me on as I dieted and lost weight.

23. She reminds me that I don’t have to do life alone!

24. She always asks me how I’m doing.

25. She always wants to talk to me.

26. She is a wonderful mother.

27. She is a wonderful wife.

28. Look up grace in the dictionary. Her picture is there.

29. She tells me I’m pretty/skinny/talented/smart when I need to hear it.

30. SHE’S MY BEST FRIEND!

 

-Dani Nicole