Life Writing

Writing Romance During a Breakup

person holding red lipstick
Photo by cottonbro studio on

So, I’m working on a fairly big romance novel and honestly, it ebbs and flows. I’m currently just a bit over 30,000 words in. What’s been the most challenging thing for me is writing the sex scenes. And now, I have a new challenge: I just had to break up with my partner of 3 years.

Now, I can already hear the criticisms coming at me. Especially since, from the outside, the relationship looked good. I thought so too. His friends and my friends would see our pictures when we would see each other and talk about how happy we are together. I’m not entirely sure that’s altogether true, though. I was in love with someone else. I was in love with the man I thought he was. Not the man he actually was.

I choose hope, authenticity, and true love. I’m willing to wait for it. I’m willing to fight for it. If there’s one thing I learned through my divorce, it was that I don’t want to be stuck in a relationship where I’m not loved.


On Writing Sex Scenes and Reviewing Masks are Bullshit

So, this last week, I’ve been in the process of a big move and as a result, I haven’t finished this week’s refutation/review of Chapter 3. While it is true that I can push out something half-baked and poorly cobbled together, that’s what Kevin does and I don’t want to do that to my community. My refutation of Chapter 3 is coming out next Saturday and the refutation will resume as normal. However, I’ve also been a bit distracted with something else.

How my writing is going

Take a look, for example, at my writing stats on my Freewrite for the last week:

I’ve been stuck on writing a sex scene between my two main characters in my current novel. In fact, it was only yesterday when my word count added to the novel exceeded 200. And it’s only because I decided to shelve the sex scene and continue with the narrative.

Only problem is that the heat level of this story is supposed to be burning/melting. While I’m fully aware that I’m no longer writing this to be part of a collection/series, I’ve already started the novel with this heat rating in mind. And, like my characters, I don’t want to go off half-cocked.

I know full well that these scenes need to exist, and I’m trying to write them. But the most important thing is to get words on the page. Or, in my case, the e-ink screen.

So, why do I have to delay Masks are Bullshit?

Put simply, I had other shit to do.

Boxes to pack, cans to take to the bottle depot, I’m moving to the middle of nowhere. Partly because the job market in Alberta sucks ass. Partly because the isolation should make it easier for me to focus on my novel.

So yeah, I’m hoping to get better at writing these scenes. And, of course, I’ll rebut chapter 3 of Kevin’s shitty, shitty book next week. I also reached out to Kevin about a copy of his other book, Lacrosse is Dead, and I have yet to respond. I’m aware, I also know that he wrote back to me. I’m not ignoring this, I’m just busy.

Writing Tech

My First Month With the Hemingwrite

So, a month ago, I received one of those smart keyboards. Specifically, the Freewrite Hemingway Special Edition (a/k/a the “Hemingwrite”). Yes, that includes shipping and the 2 year warranty but no, not GST. Had to pay for that separately at the CBSA office.

At first, I was not open to the idea of the Freewrite Smart Keyboard. Mostly due to my hesitance towards products like this that have a keyboard and whether or not I can use the Dvorak keyboard layout. When I learned that I could, this definitely made the Freewrite line of products more attractive.

So, was it worth it? I think so. I think this distraction-free writing environment is helping to increase my word count. The most important thing is to get ideas out there onto the screen. That way, I can edit it.

How I’m Using My Smart Keyboard

Put simply, I’m using my Hemingwrite to draft new work. I’m using all three folders. Folder A is being used to draft a serial story I’m working on. It was originally going to be the first in a series of novels. However, I feel that this story is going to be better as serial fiction. I’m hoping to start releasing episodes next summer.

Folder B is where I’m drafting novels/novellas. Right now, I have a romance novella about two cheerleaders who fall in love with one another. I’m currently planning it, including a framework and some character details. I’m hoping to finish drafting it by end of October and work on the next novel for NaNoWriMo.

Folder C is where I’m working on short stories. Specifically, I’m working on a submission for The First Line’s winter edition. So far, it’s going really well. Though, I am thinking about also drafting blog posts in the Smart Keyboard. I also have a couple of short stories I’m working on that have yet to be finished.

Put simply, the Smart Keyboard is where I keep work that I’m actively drafting. It’s definitely not a device for editing, which I do in Scrivener. However, I find it very useful to just sit down and write. And when I commit myself to just sitting down and writing for a period of time, I feel the words flow out of me and on to that e-ink screen.

What I love about my Hemingwrite

First, the satisfying clacking of the keys. Seriously, there’s something psychologically satiating about that. This special edition was rather decadent. It has a really nice aluminium casing on the device that is supposed to develop an unique patina. It also comes with a leather carrying briefcase and a cleaning cloth. Is it pricier than their other offerings? Absolutely. However, I feel that it’s an investment in my career as a writer.

Second, the fact that I can take it anywhere without internet. As long as I know what I’m writing, I can get down to it. Makes me wish Calgary Transit’s LRT trains have those kinds of work tables you’d see on European trains. I’m also thinking that once I get my transition paid for, I can write and travel. I’d like to experience what it’s like to write in St. Pierre et Miquelon, les Îles-de-la-Madeline, or Prince Edward Island.

Having said that though, my Freewrite is definitely coming with me to Thailand, South Korea, Mexico, Spain, and the UK as I work to finish up my transition.

Social encouragement with writing

Finally… it’s actually helping me to put more words down on the screen. If you take a look at my Postbox profile, you’ll see that I have been adding about a thousand words a day over the past couple of weeks. This has been fairly consistent over the past couple of weeks since I got my Hemingwrite. Seriously, if you read my review of Sprinter, you’ll see that I recently earned the 1K words achievement. In the first two days of having my Hemingwrite, I got enough words down to push myself above the line to get the 10K words achievement.

I’m hoping that soon, I can earn the 100K words achievement, which comes with a physical badge. The profile is also helping me to build a daily drafting habit, which is definitely going to help me bring more novels to the draft stage so I can work on editing them.

What can get irritating about this Smart Keyboard

The thing that irritates me the most about my Hemingwrite is that it doesn’t work with all wi-fi networks. For example, if you have to sign in using a web browser, you can’t connect to that network. Which means I can’t use my library’s wi-fi. However, it does mean that I can use the wi-fi network at more local businesses. It does mean more patronage for them and thus, more work discovering new places to write.

I’m also not entirely sure how good the battery life is. I know that I’ve been told that the battery life should get you two months of use. However, I wonder what basis they’re using for those figures.

Also, the screen updating is rather slow. This is a slight irritation, but I would be remiss by not telling you what my experience has been. I think it might be a limitation with the e-ink screen. Having said that though, the same can be said of WordPress’ Gutenberg editor when you have a particularly long post you’re working on.

Furthermore, the shortcut configurations can be a bit convoluted.

Finally, I know I’ve hit the “Send” button accidentally one too many times. Though, I am considering setting up a system where I can draft future posts on this blog with the Freewrite. Then, I can send them to a special e-mail to have them brought into WordPress for editing.

In Conclusion: The Hemingwrite is Worth It

Put simply, if the objective is to get words on the screen to be edited later, the Hemingwrite is worth it. If you want to be an author, the most important things is to get writing. Will it suck? Absolutely. A lot of the words you’ll write will be inartful and will need editing. But if you waste a lot of time second guessing yourself, you won’t get much done. The point of drafting is to create a rough draft that you can go back and edit later.


A Review of Sprinter

A person writing at a table in a notebook/journal.

So, for the past couple of days, I’ve been using the Sprinter distraction-free writing environment by Freewrite/Astrohaus. And so far, I think it’s an okay environment to give you a semi-distraction free writing environment.

The Sprinter environment is rather simple. It’s a drafting tool with no formatting tools, no spell check, only one real way to go back and edit things (the backspace key). It is good for what it is: a way to birth your ideas into the world. Editing comes later. In this sense, Sprinter does its job.

The Good

Firstly, it’s free. And I don’t mean it in the same sense as the Danger Notes app is free, but it has ads once you finish each sprint. I mean it in the sense that it’s not only free but ad-free. You can use the environment as a completely distraction-free writing environment.

Secondly, it allows you to sign up for Postbox, which is their own syncing service. I wanted to sign up for Postbox immediately because I had recently bought a Freewrite Hemingway Special Edition Smart Typewriter. Though, that’s a bit of a mouthful so I’m just going to call it the Hemingwrite. Postbox also allows you to set up a connection between it and Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. I chose Evernote because I have over a decade’s worth of notes in there.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it gives you (to a certain degree) the space and freedom to just write. In just two days, I wound up writing 3,844 words across two projects I am working on.

Fourthly, it gets you to commit to and explore ideas because, again, you’re disincentivized to go back and fix things. For example, I thought that I wanted to give my main character strawberry blonde hair but then, I had realized that a paragraph or two before, I gave her red hair. Now, if I were on Scrivener, I could have just gone back to that paragraph and fixed it. However, because I was in Sprinter, if I wanted to go back, I would have had to delete everything I had written from that point. In short, you’re sort of incentivized to commit to what you’ve written and move on.

The Bad

Now, time to get down to the bad. And the first bad thing is that sometimes, inexplicably, you can lose your whole draft. Now, thankfully, I had the wherewithal to set up Postbox pretty quickly upon getting the membership. This included syncing to Evernote. There was a time delay between when I lost the draft and when it would be removed from Evernote, so I had to act fast. I was able to grab a fairly complete copy of what I lost, copy and paste it into Scrivener and finish the sprint.

Now, if you’re just saving this to Postbox, you’ll likely have a bad time. But, if you save it to a third party streaming service like Evernote, you’ll probably be able to recover your draft. But why should you have to be prepared like that?

The Ugly

Firstly, by default, you’re going to be using Folder A with no means of moving content between folders. Now, with any review of the Freewrite Smart Typewriter or Traveller, you’ll know that one of the things you get is a folder system that lets you sort drafts into three folders, A, B, and C. However, when you use Sprinter, everything saves into Folder A and I’m not entirely sure why.

Secondly, and this is crucial, you’re (presumably) accessing it on your computer. And this leaves you open to notifications. While it is true you can disable most (or all) notifications by creating different focuses in OS X, this doesn’t stop Facebook from pinging in your browser if you have it in another tab. It doesn’t stop the other apps you have open from showing their red dots to try to get your attention.

Also, if you want to use it as a drafting site to blog, you might find it difficult to use a more rigid template. After all, this is just a blank screen for you to put your text on. Copying and pasting don’t work in this environment.

Sprinter, in Summary

Overall, would I continue to use Sprinter? Long term, no. But until UPS sends me my new Hemingwrite, I think I’ll continue to use Sprinter to draft with the keen awareness to have Evernote at the ready to pop open just in case it eats another one of my drafts.

Also, I earned an achievement for writing my first 1,000 words through the service. I hope that the image for this achievement has a transparent background so it’ll look nice whenever I get around to setting up dark mode on this site. 🙂


Write The Truest Sentence That You Know

That sentence was once written by Ernest Hemingway. No, not the “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck” one. That is a screengrab from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Misery. But it does loop so well, no?

Now, I’m not sure I could ever write poetry. Best I could do is a limerick about a trans woman from Nantucket. But I know I have stories in me that can be told. I’m currently working on a couple of romance novels and a weird fiction story that I’m actually kinda proud of. I’m working to write them all by the end of the year.