Anna Shinoda

2018 Writing Update

Lately, I’ve been getting more inquires via social media about when to expect my next novel.  The answer is a little longer than 280 characters, so I thought it best to do a quick blog about it.

First off, thank you so much for reading Learning Not to Drown. A lot of heart and my own emotional journey went into that book, and I am grateful for every reader. I am especially honored that for some of you the book had a significant impact, and I appreciate every single person that has reached out to tell me so.

Now, on to what is happening with my writing.

Since 2014, I had been working on another novel. I had attempted several approaches: it was realistic fiction, then a re-telling of a fairy tale, then its own fairy tale, then that fairy tale within realistic fiction. I showed a few drafts to my agent, Jennie, then revised those several times. In summer of last year, I showed a portion of my most recent draft with an outline to Jennie. When the most recent round of feedback came back, I tried to fix it. But, I was miserable. My heart wasn’t in it, in fact, my heart hadn’t been committed to that manuscript for a while. I didn’t want to revise it again in that moment. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to revise it ever. I had nine drafts and over 500 pages of words, and I wasn’t satisfied (UGH). Part of the problem was too much story, too many characters. Part of the problem was the topic was too emotionally close. It made sense career wise to follow up Learning Not to Drown with something realistic and gritty, but looking back, I don’t think it made sense art-wise, or emotional-health-wise.

sleeping manuscript

I seriously considered all of my options for that novel. On July 17, I made the decision to put it away, at least for a considerable chunk of time. Maybe six months, maybe a year. Maybe more. Maybe forever. I was disappointed in myself for not being able to tackle it, finish it, make it something to be proud of. But when I made the decision final with an email to Jennie, I immediately knew it was right to put it down.

Three days later, Chester died. Since then, my ability to concentrate has been extremely limited. Even reading anything longer than a few pages is hard to follow, and often I flip back to re-read. Writing or revising a novel would be impossible. I was relieved I had already made the decision to put away that manuscript; that the stress of finishing it wasn’t present during the stress of everything else.

Writing has returned to being an emotional outlet for me. In my purse I carry a small notebook and my favorite pen, along with a sketch pad and a set of pencils. My thoughts come out in small bursts. Emotions and words that are swirling find a better place on paper than circulating in my head. I’ve never considered myself a poet, but I’ve always turned to writing poetry in times of great emotional upheaval. Some of those poems I’ve shared on Instagram. Others sit in the notebook, maybe with their purpose already served; maybe there is something more to do with them. I’m not sure.

The brain fog of grief had just started to lift. Then my mom passed away in November. It came back. Not as thick: death is different when it is caused by old age and is somewhat expected. I know that time will lift it, but for now small projects-or larger projects in smaller chunks- are doable and rewarding.

I have been working on a few manuscripts for much younger readers (for the little ones, ages 4-7. The publishing industry classifies them as picture books since the story is told both with illustrations and words). They are full of joy, and more importantly, to work on them fills me with joy. Bonus: Jennie feels that one of them is ready and has promise. Fingers crossed that she will find a home for it with a publisher.

I have an idea for a different novel, some days I work for a bit on that.

Some of my writing is about mental health. Some of it will be for 320 Changes Direction. I have been asked to speak a few times this year with Talinda and our amazing friend (and LP’s production manager) Jim Digby. Although I have my degree in communication studies and once thought I’d like to become a speech writer, I never imagined speaking about myself and mental health – fictionalizing my emotions was always so much safer and more comfortable. Bravery can come out of heartache.

I feel like there are a lot of projects in front of me, but somehow it’s not as overwhelming as trying to finish that one monster manuscript.

The over 500 pages worth of manuscript continues to sleep. My poetry notebook continues to fill. The new novel is starting to take shape, and my picture books have made me fall back in love with words. Not all of it is written with the intent to publish, but sometimes the best words are those written solely for the writer. Words that later come into the world because they are right and true.

 

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54 thoughts on “2018 Writing Update

  1. Good call on leaving the manuscript. I can fully empathise with the inner conflict – one voice shouts to keep pushing through until you connect the disparate pieces and find the essence again, then there’s the little whisper asking meakly to release yourself its grasp. If it does call again I hope you find the courage and resilience to finish it! I can bet there’s some beautiful in there.

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  2. Wow, quite inspiring

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. It makes total sense that you have needed to step back a bit to process your losses. I’m sorry that writing wasn’t a comfort for you for awhile. (I think that’s very normal; I’m only now getting into writing again after losing a family member this summer.) Best wishes on your new children’s book and for finding hope during a painful time!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so Ma’am for sharing.. All the very best for your future❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. maddisondoolan on said:

    Very inspiring and interesting post, such a great read hope it all goes well! maddisonjayne.blog/

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hang in there. Don’t push yourself for something your not ready for. My aunt passed away last march and shortly after my ex fiance left me which all put me into a bad state. I had a book i was half way through writing and for the longest time i couldn’t bring myself to finish it let alone write a few words. It all came out paragraphs at a time. Sometimes we all just need time to heal and possibly writing for yourself is the best way to heal. Writing is very therapeutic not only for your readers but for you as an author as well. I know that is something i have learned about myself as an author lately. Now i write more for a way to channel those negative energies into something positive. It all takes time though. Time heals and time allows us to produce something amazing and worth reading. Take your time and you will know when you are ready to move on with your books. Don’t give up on it either. That’s the worst thing you can do. Maybe it is good to take a step back for a while and go back to it later. Take on one thing at a time. I wish you luck through your journey. Keep your head up. Remember you’ve got a good support system.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Writing is an emotional outlet for me too. I’ve started up a couple of blogs in the past, but the pressure has been way to much. Hiding behind aliases just made me miserable. But this year, I just started up a blog but it’s for me and me only and I feel so much better. Best of luck on your novel and I hope it’s a great success 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Very appreciable, ma’am😉

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Amazing. I love your sincerity and openness. I also agree that we all have a way of dealing with grieve. The most important thing is not to deny the grieve. As time goes on, the pain of the grieve reduces. http://www.hephzybee.com

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I got my story–a religious fairy tale–published by Covenant Books in late
    October of last year. And I’m very pleased with how it turned out. They were great to work with and I may consider submitting a manuscript to them again in the future. May you have great success and, most importantly, happiness along your journey. If you have some time, drop me a line either on my blog or on Facebook (Surrender Group). Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. ❤️

    Liked by 4 people

  13. I totally understand your dilemma!!! “Sometimes the best words are those written solely for the writer.” This phrase summed it all up for me. Thank you for this insight and I wish you well on all of your current and future endeavors!!

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Beautifully written.

    “Not all of it is written with the intent to publish, but sometimes the best words are those written solely for the writer. Words that later come into the world because they are right and true.”

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Thank You for let us know.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Thank you for letting us know. It looks like you hand write out drafts (?)… any reason you prefer it to typing?

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Thank you for showing the battles we fight, internal and external. I maintain, believe and live “writing is healing”.
    Thank you, again.
    Donna

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Really things sometime happened and change our original plan, it maybe for good or bad but in your case i thank God that you got back yourself and your skills back.am sorry for your lost, i pray for a fresh and stronger strength for you in your career. Don’t loss hope and always remember who you are in the writing field👑

    Liked by 3 people

  19. great .. all the best😉

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Hey, sorry to hear about your mom; thanks for sharing this story with us. I published my first novel in August of 2016 and was working on my second when my grandmother passed away last year. I had very much the same experience of brain fog and, to some degree, depression. It’s good to see I’m not the only one who writes to escape.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I love how you found another path within writing to lift you up with kid’s picture books. It’s nice to find a ray of sunshine like that.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Interesting as to how a writer’s consciousness works. By the way realism is an old genre. Anand Bose from Kerala

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Just this morning, I spent several hours with a dear friend going through grief after losing her mom a few months ago. I felt honoured that she trusted me with some of her story of loss. It was clear that a journey of grief includes time where our normal activities cease, where our brain and heart works completely differently, and where we don’t feel useful nor have the ability to offer ourselves to the needs of other people and activities we normally engage. Thank you for sharing about your own grief Anna, and how you have put your manuscript to rest amid a time of grief, and how writing is consoling you in other ways. My heart goes out to you.

    Liked by 6 people

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  25. Boy can I ever feel your pain. Putting a novel together is an enormous undertaking. When you mentioned retelling a fairy tale that struck cord with me, for that is what I started working on five years ago and only now completed a few weeks ago. Get back to it. I’ve sent letters off to several agents of late, but in the mean time I put it out on Amazon self publishing and it’s selling a bit, primarily the e-book version. Here’s a link to a post that shows my first ten drafts. The stack is about the same size as yours. Keep the faith and get back to revising!

    http://billoneal.com/sevensins/2017/12/25/the-writing-process/

    Liked by 3 people

  26. I can hardly Waite to read your book. The seed was planted early. I cquickly began to relate with your grief.
    I am brand new at writing but I know quality when I read it. Congratulations for your talent and your strength.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I appreciate this very honest post. I have not read your novel, but I just put it on my reading because I like this post so much.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Sounds an amazing journey. Look forward to following your blogg.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Thank you for your post. 🙂
    It is really interesting.
    See you soon I hope!
    Jessica

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Great writing keep up the work I love to write

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I love that you are showing yourself compassion and letting writing be a healthy and loving thing for you, instead of pressing yourself to do something that feels not-right-for-now. Best wishes–

    Liked by 2 people

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  33. Do Well. Books are like sculptures. It’s a big block of stone to start with. Just chip away…

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Thank you Anna for sharing your thoughts and issues with us. As I told you on Twitter, it’s totally fine if you want to write just for yourself. Take your time to translate your emotions into words on the paper and, please, never give up on your past stories. I’m sure that you’ll be able to recognize their value once the brain fog will go away! You’re brilliant in everyone of your social posts.
    Finally this morning I was able to purchase your book and I can’t wait to receive it. It will take a little time – 1 month around – to come into my mail but I’m sure the wait will be worth it.
    We’re here to listen to you always and we’re by your side in this difficult time of your life.
    Sending strenght, love and inspiration to you!
    Hugs.
    -Silvia | http://www.andoutcomesthegirl.com

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Melissa Pinkham on said:

    Dearest Anna,

    Thank you for your update on your book and speaking engagement. Poetry is so much more of an effective way to communicate in my opinion, so keep writing.
    Your friend’s death by suicide prompted you to write about mental health in a blog and I commend you for that. But the crisis and the stigma surrounding mental health is taking away our children, brothers, sisters, friends and other family members at astonishing rates every single day. The truth is that Chester’s disease of mental health and addiction were simply just that: chronic diseases that can be managed by medication, and outside support. His family did everything they could in this stigmatize world where people can’t even mention one thing about mental health . If they mention it in conversation, people shut down and walk away. If they mention it on a Facebook post, people question if that’s the right platform. If they mention it at the dinner table, people shut down and tell others, ‘this is such an inappropriate conversation”. It’s absolutely horrific.
    Writing about mental health in a book is a start and I thank you for that . But if you’re doing speaking engagements with Chester’s wife, this can bring great impact to the community. Chester was your friend but he wasn’t your son. So start the conversation with, ” if he were my “son or daughter”, and you have a completely different story and passion for advocacy. It changes the entire conversation and commitment. Your voice is more powerful than the millions of moms that are sitting at home crying out to the world for help and support. Our voices are left unnoticed. Yours makes an impact. We encourage you with all of our motherly love to use it.
    Deep Gratitude and thanks, Melissa

    Liked by 9 people

  36. Thank you, Anna, for sharing this. It all is completely understandable and real. I thoroughly enjoy your words, whether they’re in a book, Twitter, blog, spoken, etc. Thanks for keeping in touch and I will be praying for continued healing for you and the whole family. Take care,
    Nicole

    Liked by 4 people

  37. Hello,
    Thanks a lot for giving your writing update 😊 Its great to see you continuing. I ain’t there on any kind of social media website so i didn’t knew about it. Happy to see you continuing you hobbies. Just do what you like and live the way you want to. ✨ Its your creation and you should feel great on its completion. So take your time 🙂
    Will waiting eagerly to savour your next creation. Till then being patient and giving you strength to fight through the demoms of the life 💪
    Keep smilin’ 🙃 and let the positivity be alive! ❤
    Have a great day dear ⛅

    Liked by 3 people

  38. YoMarques on said:

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I’m glad to read that you’re falling back in love with writing, and that it has helped you in this difficult time. Take as much time as you need with your next novel, we’ll be here whenever you feel like it’s ready for us to read 🙂 And I’m excited to hear about these new projects!! Wishing you the best of luck, Anna ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  39. I think the world needs more picture books as the kids now a days are hook to their screens and also, the prospect of publishing a book of poems are very exciting. I’ve been following Lang Leav and Michael Faudet and I always always loved their published poems. Whatever makes you feel great Momma Shinoda, we will wait. Take care!

    Liked by 4 people

  40. I wish you good luck for all your projects✍👍

    Liked by 5 people

  41. Jeri Lynn Platt-Vizzi on said:

    Anna, my daughter Leora died from cancer in 2003, when she was 15. People have been asking me for almost 15 years now when I’m going to ‘write that book’.
    I have a colorful life, and more than one book in me, and everyone always knew that I’m a writer- so they expected it would be that simple. It’s never that simple.
    I also have been fighting depression and ADD my whole life. Coupled with the grief of the child loss, brain fog is just part of life for me. I’m bound and determined to get those books out of my head. I write little pieces here and there. At some point they might all just fit together into one big beautiful piece of art. I’m so glad to see you following your heart where it leads you through your grief. We need to be able to heal our hearts as they need to be healed, and not as society’s time constraints would tell us.
    Coincidentally, I just tweeted you the other day to see if you had considered putting Learning Not To Drown on Audible. I have trouble with reading the written word these days. I love books so much that I have taken to listening to them now. I’m hoping to hear yours there. If you do, please speak the book in your own voice. Makes all the difference in the world.
    Since my daughter died I have been involved in grief support. I’ve always found that helping others helped me the most. I’m also very vocal of the mental health community, so when Chester died, It was amazing to see the veil being pulled back and people stepping out of the darkness. I’ve been very open about my struggles my whole life, but Chester has pushed millions literally to talk about theirs.
    A wise woman told me when I was young and I had a miscarriage that everyone is here to teach and to learn. When we are done teaching what we need to teach and learning what we need to learn, our time here is done. Some of us are only here for a short time, and we don’t know why.
    Leora, like Chester, was bigger than life. She was off-center and many times she was off the rails, but she had this quality about her that drew people in and made them want to be close to her. She was an empath, who thrived on human contact and love. Her smile was infectious, and she cared SO much about people she loved. She felt so much.
    Chester did the same thing but on a massive scale. You could see it in the way he had to have physical contact with fans, an exchange of energy, and how he would look them in the eye as if they were the only person in the room. We don’t know why these people don’t stay longer, but maybe it’s the impact that they make while they’re here that matters.
    Thank you Anna, for setting a beautiful example of how to grieve honestly, and that love really is everything.

    Liked by 12 people

  42. Thank you for posting the update! Bummer that the manuscript didn’t quite come to fruit, but kudos to you for the hard work you put in. I’d love to hear more about what it was about even if we never see it. None of my work has ever been published (yet!) so most of my joy comes from the escapism of writing, and the satisfaction as I learn more by trying. Your next piece will be your best yet and I can’t wait to read it! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

    Liked by 6 people

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