Clarissa Johal: Friday Guest Blogger

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Guest Blogger

Please welcome my guest blogger, Victoria Grefer, author of The Herezoth Trilogy, beginning with The Crimson League.

Lessons I Learned From Writing

Looking back on my experiences as an author, from the first mystery stories I wrote in third grade to my first horrible, melodramatic novel in undergrad that will never see the light of day, to my (much better-written) Herezoth trilogy, I realize the journey has been one full of surprises, stumbles, and lessons, some of which I learned easily and some of which truly humbled me. I thought it would be nice to share a few of those lessons, to see if other writers agree or have had vastly different experiences than I have. So, here goes!

1. I LEARNED WHAT THINGS IN LIFE TRULY MATTER TO ME. I look at the themes of my first published novel in particular, and I see many threads running throughout the book: the value of sacrifice; the importance of family; the need for integrity, loyalty, mercy, and forgiveness; courage, and how I define courage; the purpose and the place of love in our lives. I reflect upon my characters and who they are, how they respond to adversity, and how I feel, personally, about those reactions, and I find myself questioning, reasserting, and developing my worldview. I believe this is one of the greatest benefits to writing, and why I continue to write.

2. PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE ARE TRUE VIRTUES. Anyone who’s published a novel could tell you, if you’re going to write a novel yourself and have it be of good quality, you’ll develop these two traits. It takes a long time to write novel—at least, it does if you’re also a full-time graduate student trying to balance both teaching and the classes you’re enrolled in at the same time (like me), or you’re working a full-time job, or you’re responsible for young children at home. And even if you’re fortunate enough to have all the time you could wish to devote to your writing, there are the roadblocks: lack of confidence, the specter of the blank page, uncertainty as to where to take the story next, urgent interruptions that demand your attention. But you know what? Writing’s worth it. It would be meaningless if it were easy. You pour your very self into your fiction, and at the end, what you have is a piece of you. That’s a beautiful thing. Finishing a novel is a true accomplishment because it’s a test of endurance. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

3. BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. Ask any writer, especially one who’s self-published, that they should have ended their novel a different way and see how she responds! My story is my story. It ends because I know that’s how it needs to, and how it should. A novel is fertile ground upon which to express yourself, your values, your doubts, your beliefs, and your fears. If you’d let people tell you that your story needs to end a different way, then you’re not being true to yourself. (That’s not to say you don’t need editors and proofreaders, or that you shouldn’t consider their suggestions. But you should never let someone rip out the heart of your story: its essense, it purpose. What constitutes that heart? Only you can know.

4. IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT THE END PRODUCT. IT’S ABOUT THE JOURNEY. I mentioned above a first novel that I’ll never publish. It’s just not good enough, not even close. The plot is stale, the characters cliché, and it’s honestly so melodramatic it’s quite humorous. It’s kind of that way on purpose, but still…. Do I regret the countless hours I spent writing and editing the work? Not at all! That novel taught me how to write. The characters, as uninteresting as others would find them, are truly dear to me, and I discovered SO much about who I am in the process of drafting that work. It was not a waste because I won’t publish it, not in any sense of the word.

So, those are just a few of the things writing’s taught me. I hope you found the post interesting, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. What has writing taught you, if you’re a writer? If you’re not, what things have taught you about yourself and developed or expanded your opinions and beliefs?

I’m a fantasy author by trade, so if you like fantasy (or you want to try something new), the first novel in my Herezoth trilogy, “The Crimson League,” will be free in e-book version for everyone on September 3-5 (through It’s the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who joins a resistance movement fighting against the noble-born sorcerer to slay the royal family. The second installment comes out in November, so this is a great chance to scoop up the first for no cost and see if you want to keep reading.

Purchase The Crimson League on

Victoria's Amazon Author Page
Victoria's Blog
Independent Author Network

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