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Novels and Narrations No 5

Hello, lovelies!

Thanks for tuning into another installment of Novels and Narrations, where I interview myself (*shrugs* it works) about how my writing is going, what progress I’ve made in the past month and how things are going!

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Did you participate in NaNoWriMo!?

I thought about it, but I ended up not doing it, unfortunately. While I could have definitely jumped into the fantasy romance I want to work on next, I definitely want to continue working on BLOOD PRICE, and I don’t like to jump between projects (is that weird? Perhaps that’s weird, I dunno; prolly the completionist in me). I hope to try and time things out so I can start a new book next NaNo, though (I keep finding myself in the editing phase around the second of the year, for some reason).

Makes sense. Did you get your edits back!?

I DID. Jeni is amazing. Her edit letter was so positive and I felt so supported, even though there was plenty of criticism to consider. I have a few characters to flesh out more, a timeline to really make clear, amp up the setting, rewrite the beginning and do another check to make sure the inclusivity I want in this world really translates well on the page.

So, how go the edits!

I…haven’t started yet.

*deadpan stare*

I know, I know. I’ve needed to do a little bit of background research, as I need to make sure the Nordic inspirations come through a little clearer, as well as confirm some things about my timeline. But, I also know that I haven’t worked on it as much as I should have, as I definitely could have started on edits by now. That’s something I want to work on in 2021 (making writing a priority again), but I hope to start that trend in December, as I want to really make good headway into this draft!

So, what do you need to do in order to make it a priority again?

Well, I think I need to solidify my routine. I haven’t really figured out a good routine since the pandemic hit (which is completely understandable), but I also know that I’m the type of person who needs a routine, so I need to figure that out. But also just allowing myself to not do X, Y and Z, and instead giving myself permission to put my writing first, will go a long way.

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This was definitely a shorter post (which happens when you haven’t been writing, so it’s hard to give updates on anything, oops), but I hope it was still enjoyable! I hope to have much more to update on in the next post, as I am GETTING into edits, imposter syndrome and lack of time and bad planning be damned!

Cheers.

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Writing Posts

Novels and Narrations No 4

Hello, lovelies!

Thanks for tuning into another installment of Novels and Narrations, where I interview myself (*shrugs* it works) about how my writing is going, what progress I’ve made in the past month and how things are going!

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How did your October goals go?

Honestly, writing has kinda stalemated this month, as my day job has absolutely kicked my ass. It’s my first time dealing with our busy season, as I’ve only been working here for almost a year, but damn if it isn’t truly a very busy season! Because of that and trying to stay on top of editorial work, writing has sort of taken a backseat. But, I’m also waiting on feedback for BLOOD PRICE from my editor, so it’s okay!

That sucks. How are you handling that?

Honestly? I say it’s okay, but I’ve definitely noticed a drop in my mood, since I haven’t had time to create. Writing is such a core part of me and not being able to do it for large stints at a time definitely affects that (I mean, the upcoming election and state of the world and having anxiety and depression during normal times also plays a factor, but still). I miss it.

Hmm…think you’ll try to do NaNoWriMo, then?

I actually hope to do it as part of editing BLOOD PRICE! I feel I am so close with that novel and I am really itching to incorporate some new ideas and level it up more, so I plan to work on editing, instead of working on a new draft of something (maybe next year, I’ll do a new draft). But my main goal is to finish a new draft and query it by the end of this year, so in the next two months. I’ve…even talked to my boss about taking some time off work in December, to work on my novel (!!). I’m not sure how much time, yet, but I need it. And I deserve to put writing first, for a change.

That’s exciting–I hope it works out for you! What is the focus of your edits going to be?

Making sure the worldbuilding is really fleshed out, exposition balancing, watching for repetition and checking that how I’ve presented the world is the inclusive way I want it to be. Plus, a few other minor tweaks–and, whatever my editor’s feedback is!

Oof, good luck. And about that fantasy romance…

Oh, don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about that. I think that’ll be my next project! Like I mentioned before, I got quite a bit mapped out and I already have the opening scene in my head, which is honestly all I need, to get the ball rolling. Now, I just need the more challenging stuff, like time…

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I really liked the fake interview style, so I’m going to stick with it. Is it weird to interview myself? Yes. Knowing me, is that also oddly on brand? Also yes.

What about you? Do you write? What projects are you working on? Let me know in the comments, because I want to support more writers!! Also, if you follow any bloggers who post about writing, would you mind linking them below? I really need to find more of them!

Cheers.

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Writing Posts

NaNoWriMo 2019: Sequel, Here I Come!

Hello, lovelies!

I am so excited to announce, after much deliberation and teeter-tottering, that I am going to be attempting NaNoWriMo this year!

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I won’t lie: I’ve only ever won NaNoWriMo once (back in 2015), even though I’ve signed up multiple years with the purest of intentions to actually finish the novels I set out to write (and all of them I did, just…not in November). I was hesitant to sign up this year, because it’s been a while since I tried to do a challenge like this. I’m not good at writing every day and, honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a rut since finishing edits and entering the querying trenches earlier this year, especially since I’ve been doing so much editing over the past year. I kept debating: do I take the rest of the year off writing and focus on my reading backlog that will never end or do I plunge into NaNoWriMo and write something new?

Of course, then that brought up the question of what to write, especially since I tried to start edits into a sequel novel of a different series that…well, it wasn’t going well, even when I realized I basically just need to reread the novel first and re-familiarize myself with it before I’m able to actually tackle any of those oh so desperately needed edits. When that wasn’t working, I was even more nervous about trying to get back into the writing game. If this project wasn’t working, what else was I supposed to do?

Well, I knew the answer this entire time, even if I didn’t want to admit it.

I’ve just finished and submitted a novel that I’ve spent the past two years working on and falling in love with.

But that story isn’t done.

I wanted to write the sequel.

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But I knew the advice that usually circulated with that. Don’t write the sequel to a novel that isn’t published yet, especially when you’re seeking out traditional publication. What if no one picks up your novel? What if you end up having to trunk it and “wasted” all of that time writing a sequel to something no one else is ever going to read?

It’s not bad advice, necessarily. And there for a few weeks, I found myself giving into and listening to that advice as if it were law, even though that’s where my muse was, my motivation lie, with scenes and plot threads popping up at always the most inconvenient times, walking home from work, doing dishing, fighting with my tangled hair in the shower. I couldn’t write this sequel, even though I wanted to work on nothing but, to see where this story goes and where it ends.

Well, after talking with some other writers and seeing the excitement brewing as NaNoWriMo gears up to start again, I couldn’t help it.

This year, my project is tentatively called WAR’S PROMISE, the sequel to BLOOD PRICE, a pair of books I think could be a duology, unless the muse ensnares me further and asks me to turn it into something more. Even though I’ve only written a page of the briefest blurb, detailing the overarching highlights of the main plot, I think this novel is going to be even more ambitious than BLOOD PRICE–and that novel is the most terrifying novel I’ve ever written. I’m playing with a lot of themes–like loss, hope and survival–while also considering playing with some narrative structure, interweaving narratives while building upon everything that happened in the first book and amping up the stakes to extinction-level proportions.

I really hope you all like it.

Though I’ve never been a write-every-day kind of writer, I am really going to try my damnedest to succeed in doing that this year, even if it’s only for five minutes and ten words. I miss the output I used to have when I made writing a true priority and honestly, it’ll be really refreshing to write something new again.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Add me as a buddy and let’s support one another! I can’t wait to start writing with you all on Friday!

Write on!post signature

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My Most Recent Writing Mind Suck

Writing has been a…really interesting endeavor, recently.
A lot of battling back and forth with my own mind, trying to decide whether I’m actually shit or if I’m borderline brilliant (because my brain doesn’t have any go-between, apparently). A lot of questioning whether the story I’m writing is one I should be writing at all and if I’m ever going to make a career out of my passion. A lot of days where I only get 100 words written, only to be followed up the next day with 3,000.
This afternoon, I was introduced to an interesting complication to further complicate my mind suck, of sorts.
You see, I’ve been working on my rewrite of THE RESISTANCE, tentatively titled in this new draft as THE CLEANSING. I’ve never experienced so much back and forth with a book before, so much questioning surrounding it. There’s been plenty of times where I wanted to give it up all together, to work on something else, but I kept pushing. I’m on track to finish the first draft (if it falls in the 80,000 word range) by the end of December. I’d love to just get a draft done and then I can focus on, you know, actually making this story good in the next round. That’s what the first draft is for, right? Plus, this book is also meant to solidify my writing habits again, which is another reason I don’t want to table it.
Not to mention that I tabled a different project earlier this year and that was really hard. It made me feel like a failure (which I know isn’t true). If I were to table two projects in one year, what does that mean? My confidence as a writer has already been shaky enough, as late. I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that, especially as I’m just getting into the groove of rebuilding it.
And yet.
Let me describe that glorious complication.
I got some feedback on my novel, ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE VIRTUOUS MARRIAGE QUEST. A novel that I wrote last year and have slowly been editing away. The novel that I really want to query, after this latest rounds of revisions. I’ve just been waiting on some feedback from my latest round of beta readers before I started the next round of edits. So far, ARTEMIS has received the same type of feedback, but always with the same problem.
A problem that, based on a discussion with my critique partner this afternoon, I might–finally–have a solution for.
She also might have told me that Angry Robots put out an open call for unsolicited SFF manuscripts, due by December 31st.
And my book fits exactly into what they want (I hope).
*cue glorious excitement and utter terror*
So, now I have a choice: do I switch to editing this novel and getting it ready to send to Angry Robot, as well as to query agents when most of them reopen in January (thus tabling the sci-fi novel that’s been giving me so much trouble and not meeting that self-given deadline and “not winning” NaNoWriMo)? Do I continue to work on the sci-fi manuscript and edit ARTEMIS when I get done? Or do I try to work on both projects at once, meeting my self-set deadline and not (albeit falsely) feel like a failure for tabling two books in one year, while also meeting the Angry Robot deadline?
Honestly?
After writing those choices out, my gut leans towards working on Artemis and making it shine for Angry Robots and agents.
Sure, I’d be setting aside my sci-fi novel, for now, and that makes my insides twist for reasons I’m not really sure I understand, i.e., why do I equate tabling a project to work on later as failure?* It’s something I’ve been struggling to write, beyond the point of just your typical writing struggles, I think. Whereas Artemis…Artemis, I’m passionate about. I’m excited about that story and I’m so excited to finally have a potential solution to this problem that’s been nagging at me for almost a year.
So why does switching to work on my passion project, my project that’s *just this close* to querying, make me feel so guilty?
I’m not entirely sure, at the moment, where that guilt comes from. I’m sure another blog post will show up, sometime, to try and flesh this mindset out. But I do know this: I’m excited about Artemis and where this story is heading and I’m really damn hopeful about his future. I’m ready to put in the work and see what happens next.
Cheers.
* I’d really love to get some feedback from you, if you have some time, on your thoughts about this idea. Do you have similar struggles? What are your opinions of this mindset? Any advice you have to combat it?

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The Point of Trying

Writing has been hard, lately. Admitting that and looking introspectively at the reasons why has been even harder. There is no doubt that I’m a writer. I still don’t doubt that writing is something innate within me, like a predator’s instinct or a person’s ability to breathe without thinking about it. But in the past month, the doubts have overtaken me once more, and, regrettably, painfully, proven stronger.
Sure, you love writing, but is that enough? Are your stories even worth telling? Who would care to read them? How could your words matter? You’ll probably offend everyone, anyway, with what you write, even without meaning to, even when all you want to do is write enjoyable, complex stories for readers to enjoy, no alternate agenda attached. You’d have to get published, of course, for anyone to even pick apart your work. But how could that even happen? You still have so much work ahead of you. You aren’t as far along as you thought. Querying is a dream now, instead of something to write on next week’s To-Do list. Sure, you love your stories, but is that enough? Are you enough? 
All writers–all artists, I’d argue–deal with this cruel Devil, this self-sabotaging doubt, just as we all are blessed to interact with the inspiring Muses. Unfortunately, the Devil probably shows up more often and is much more counteractive. And usually, I can push past it. Usually, I can ignore it and write anyway. I’m just too stubborn to do anything else and my characters, bless them, usually won’t shut up, so I can’t avoid writing even if I wanted to.
Usually.
But this past month has been…rough, to put things gently. Depression has weaseled itself back into my life, nowhere near the power it once held over me, but still with a surprising strength. Stress is a constant companion. Fear has been prevalent. My emotions have been everywhere and tears have been free flowing. I’m just now getting back into other things I’m passionate about, instead of sleeping too much and struggling to get out of bed: reading, writing on both blogs, freelance editing and working on my internship. I’m slowly battling, every day.
But I haven’t been writing.
Worse, I haven’t even been trying.
I tell myself I need to write. It’s NaNoWriMo, after all. And that was such a transformative experience, last year, opening my eyes to how powerful creating a writing habit could be and how possible writing every day actually was, if I gave myself permission to do so. Hell, I’ve written three books in less than a year thanks to NaNoWriMo. And I honestly have the time to do so. I may be busy, but I’m actually very lucky to not be lacking in time, which is usually one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. And that freedom of time has an expiration date as my search for a second job comes closer and closer to reality. Yet I don’t even try. I don’t even open that Word document. I find other things to preoccupy my time, come up with excuses, anything to not think about the fact that I’m avoiding writing head-on. Yet I am. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, because I’ve been afraid.
But afraid of what?
Of failing? I’ve failed thousands of times in my life but I’m still here and I’m not bloody done yet. Afraid of not being good enough? A falsity I have believed about myself in numerous aspects for too long, but something I’ve never believed, truly, when it comes to my writing, no matter how many times doubt and cruel mindtricks try to convince me otherwise. I’m damn well not about to start now, not when I’m making slow strides to believe I’m good enough in every aspect. Afraid of never getting published? Is that truly the end goal? Sure, I’d love to be well-loved and well-known author, but is it really failure if I don’t get published? Not even remotely. I write because I must, not for a paycheck. And even when–if–paychecks become involved, that isn’t the main motivation. It never was. It shouldn’t be now or ever. Afraid of writing something poorly or ill-received? You can’t edit a blank page and just because someone hates your work doesn’t mean that someone else might not only love it, but need it.
What am I truly afraid of?
Nothing. Everything. The answer changes, depending on the day and the mood and the circumstance. But the scariest idea, at this moment, is that I’ve been avoiding what I love most because of so many fears and other emotions and other aspects of my life have bled into my belief in my own writing,  tainting it and corrupting it until I scared myself away from even attempting to write at all.
I’m not certain about many things, but I am certain about the obvious: no matter what fears I have or what dreams I have, none of them matter if I don’t try. Without trying, my fears have won out, even if some of them are avoided from being experienced by not working towards what I want. Without trying, my dreams are impossible to achieve. I am the greatest advocate of my own work. I am the greatest chance my dreams have at becoming reality. I am the sole breath that creates life in my stories. I am their only hope.
The only thing that is stopping me, at this moment, is myself.
So eff-it. Eff the mind games, eff the doubt, eff the depression, eff the loneliness, eff the fears, eff the stress, eff the struggles, eff the darkness in the world, eff everything. I have stories to tell. And I’m tired of letting all of these elements, all of these emotions, dictate whether or not I should tell them. I’m tired of giving into my own demons and succumbing to my own fears. I’m taking care of myself. I’m pushing forward and I’m becoming stronger, despite what life throws at me. But the best way to take care of myself is to stop denying, stop hiding, stop avoiding and stop fearing what makes me whole and what makes me, me: the stories I have to tell and my ability to write them.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a NaNoWriMo project that’s sitting at 12,000 words that deserves my attention and my belief. And you probably have a dream that deserves your attention right now, too.
Cheers.

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Insight Into My NaNoWriMo Project Featuring Periods

Periods suck.
No, not the punctuation, my friends. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the monthly cycle that plagues vaginas and the humans that own them for over half of their life. That same phenomenon that makes a lot of people terribly uncomfortable to talk about. I can’t tell you how many random readers will stumble upon this post and won’t even read this sentence, they closed out of their browser so quickly, once they realized what this post was so forwardly about. Thanks for sticking around, btw. It’s only going to get more real.
I will never forget a really good friend of mine in college became absolutely, truly disgusted when I told him I was on my period nonchalantly, because I open up about everything and anything once I become friends with someone (or even when I don’t, apparently, as I’m blasting personal details throughout this post). And though I wasn’t offended by his repulsion, I’ve never forgotten how truly uncomfortable he was by it; something that is as natural to me as breathing.
That’s Important Point One.
My friend isn’t the only one who responds this way. In fact, more people–and entire cultures–respond negatively, consider it taboo or won’t talk about it at all because they are disgusted than people who are comfortable surrounding it. Unfortunately, I cannot find an article that I read, but I remember reading a massively long article that was published a few months ago about how many cultures still consider periods to be this unnatural and horrendous act, shunning their women during this time, keeping them in seclusion or labeling them unclean. And that shocked me that such a mindset could still be held, and held widely in some places, when it’s 2016.
That’s Important Point Two.
If you want to get real personal (which we’re about to, so don’t keep reading if you don’t want to), I absolutely abhor my periods, even though I’m not grossed out by them and I know it’s perfectly normal and okay to have them. I hate them because of what I have to go through, knowingly, without fail, every month: losing so much blood that I had to get on special birth control because I’m anemic with O- blood and it wasn’t healthy; having to alter what I wear, how I sleep and what I do for an entire week every month; the emotional mood swings that I am aware are happening yet can’t control because I’m still feeling X amount of intense emotions and those emotions are still valid, even if irrational or ridiculous and heightened by raging hormones; but worst of all, the amount of *pain* that I experience, even diluted thank to birth control, that I have to pretend doesn’t exist because I can’t pause life, despite the reality of my entire body wracking with so much pain that I can barely function, so I go to work and push forward despite the sweat, the bloating, the constant feeling like I need to puke, the daggers of pain into my stomach, vagina, back at any given time and ultimately, feeling generally disgusted with myself, my appearance, my worth, all while pretending to be totally okay.
That’s Important Point Three.
The best part? I still have people tell me that the pain I experience during this time? It isn’t real. I should get over it. I should suck it up. And stop being so hormonal. Also, can you please not talk about it or mention it because it grosses me out and it’s rather disgusting and you’re rather disgusting at this moment, so please, just stop.
That’s Important Point Four.
What’s the point of all these points, you ask? Combine them all and you get the inspiration behind my next book, which I’m starting on November 1st for NaNoWriMo. You guessed it, friends. I’ve alluded to it offhandedly a few times in blogs and mentioned it to a few friends, but just so we’re clear: my sixth book is completely, totally and utterly focused on periods. But just not periods, but looking at periods in a positive and unabashedly real light. The book, tentatively titled BLOOD PRICE, is set in a fantasy world in a different time and though I only have the bare bones figured out–I know the main character, I know the main conflict and I know almost every beat (still can’t figure out this ending)–I know for certain that you can’t read it without acknowledging and thinking about periods in the forefront of your mind.
Why am I writing a book about periods?
*cracks knuckles*
Let me tell you.
I was driving home from work one day a few months ago. This was back when I was living with my parents and commuting to work. I got off at midnight, so it took me about an hour to drive. During this particular evening, I had started my period whilst at work; always a jolly ole time. Personally, the first day and the last day of my periods are the worst for both bleeding and the pain. And during this particular drive, the pain was so intense that I was white-knuckling the steering wheel, trying different breathing patterns to hopefully help the cramps stop as the medicine was useless. Better yet? This pain had been happening all day and I worked a nine hour shift.
All I could think about was how, if I wrote, in excruciating detail, every bit of pain I felt, how some people wouldn’t believe what I was feeling at that very moment was real; how some people would want me to stay secluded in a box for a week so I don’t taint them; how some people wouldn’t want to know what I’m going through because the details are too much for them, because I am too gross. And it pissed me off. And then another wave would hit and I couldn’t think at all, about anything, aside from the pain. But I knew that I wanted to write about it. But not just a blog post or a rant on Facebook. I wanted to write something that one day, potentially, if I could do it justice, could be really meaningful, perhaps inspiring or maybe even enlightening.
By the time I parked at home, the idea for BLOOD PRICE was cemented and had won me over thoroughly and I knew, even months ago, that I would be writing it for NaNoWriMo.
I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out or what’s even going to happen within it. But I do know this: in that book, periods are as natural as they are here, but they are regarded in a positive light and in an open manner amongst all members. In that world, women are respected, believed and cherished, both during their period and off; three things I wouldn’t mind being treated not just by my family and friends (which, very luckily, I am), but by society as a whole. Do I think this book, if it were published, is going to change the entire worldview and completely alter beliefs and taboos surrounding periods that have been held for centuries? Not even the slightest.
No harm in trying though, right?
Cheers.
PS: The fact that I actually start my period tomorrow and will be on it for the beginning stages of writing this book is so apt, I’m taking it as a blessing of some sort for the writing of this story, no matter how irrational that is. It’s ironic, if nothing else.

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The Itch

I’ve been going a little stir-crazy the past few days, ever since this happened. I’ve learned that it’s important to let your work breathe, after completing a draft. Jumping right back in, regardless of how desperately you need to or how much you really want to fix that one scene that’s been nagging at you since chapter three. By letting your work breathe, you’re able to return later with a more critical eye, refreshed, and your work will only improve because of it.
I know this and I’ve managed to stay away from Artemis’s story, even though I really want to keep the ball rolling, editing through another draft before I send out the call for beta readers and critique partners. But coming off of the most impressive writing output I have ever managed to writing absolutely nothing is driving me a little bonkers.
It’s only been four days, people.
The itch to write and create that has been driving me insane–even with the distractions of family and friends this weekend–is something I wouldn’t trade for anything, however. It’s a sign of how much I’ve grown as a writer, proof of how important these stories are for me and my emotional well-being. It shows the weight I have placed on them and the adjustment I’ve made in my life in order to give writing the utmost importance, starting last year during NaNoWriMo. (Speaking of NaNoWriMo, have you seen their new T-shirts for this year? Holy shit, I’m totally going to splurge and buy one. I love them!)
I’m super proud to have grown so much, to the point where not writing for multiple days in a row causes me to feel a sort of emptiness and incompleteness that was otherwise being filled (yet, at the same time, I no longer feel guilt when life gets in the way or I choose to take a break). And while I don’t think I’m going to start writing another project until this November, working on a manuscript tentatively titled BLOOD’S PRICE, I do have another way to scratch this itch.
Editing.
And, Lord help me, I’m actually ridiculously excited to edit (if that doesn’t prove my insanity, then I can’t help you).
In the Spring, I wrote a novel–light on the science fiction, heavy on the need for gravestones–titled THE RESISTANCE, which focuses on one of the survivors of a war that no one realized was being waged until it was already over and 95% of the human population had been killed. The remaining 5%? Yeah, they are being harvested to power the droids, who are the special project of the singular man that wiped out the rest of humanity. Grayson Price wakes up to this world of extinction and has one purpose (aside from figuring out what the F is going on): reuniting with his soulmate, Rowan. As he learns about the new horrors of the world–which include total colorblindness amongst the survivors, droids, alien technology and a cracked Futurist who believes by exterminating the human race, he’s actually saving them–he knows he cannot survive it. So might as well put his efforts into something more productive.
Like not dying alone.
This story is so different from my usual niche of writing multi-POV fantasy. It was a lot of fun to write, though it had its difficult moments where my fingers dragged across the keyboard. When I finally finished it, I felt two things: stoked for how the ending turned out and the immediate desire to turn around and start editing it, as I already knew how I wanted to heighten the beginning. But I ignored that desire, knowing that this story would be better off if I let it alone for a while. Instead, I took a few weeks off, made an outline and started working on Artemis’s story.
I think it is only proper–and comes full circle–if I stave off my desire to immediately edit Artemis’s story by returning to the destitute and dark reality that Grayson is suffering through.
*pulls out red pen*
Cheers.

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Pantser vs. Plotter: Living In-Between

If you’re a writer, these terms have a lot of meaning to you. If you’re not, these terms could still have a lot of meaning to you. They are pretty simple, definition wise. A pantser is someone who likes to live on the edge, to “wing it,” to figure things out as they go. A plotter who someone who likes to know things in advance, who likes to plan and outline, before getting started.
Being the natural weirdo that I am, of course, I’m both.

*snortlaugh*

I love organization. On my computer, I have folders dedicated to each project that I’m writing and then, within those folders, numerous other meticulously-organized sub-folders: drafts, “completed works” (if there is such a thing), character profiles, outlines, notes, queries, the whole nine yards. I actually love outlines. I have an outline for every book I’ve written, which is usually some mixture including a chronological listing of major plot points, character tidbits, important notes, epiphanies during writing that I add in as I go so I don’t forget and spoilers abound. No one ever sees these outlines, but they are terribly helpful for me. The first book I wrote, the outline was almost a dozen pages in Word and so detailed, it could have been the book itself. I lived and breathed off that outline. I couldn’t imagine ever writing something without that guide to fall back on when I was stuck.
Until I did.
Crazier still, I enjoyed it.
Granted, I didn’t completely make the switch from plotter to pantser. On this latest novel, I started making an outline, like usual. I had the basic idea in my head: struggling old writer whose never been published gets approached by magical wizard-esqe being and becomes a self-aware fictional character in a story filled with tropes, with the goal of beating the trope to make a unique story being the only way Artemis (the writer) can escape from being stuck in that fictional world forever. I love this idea. I was so excited to write it, back before I started, yet I kept putting it off because I didn’t actually want to outline it. I didn’t want to figure out all the minor details or the other characters or the world. I just wanted to get started and see where it took me, but the plotter in me prevented that from happening. So, like I said, I started making a rough outline. After 30 minutes of meager details being recorded, I finally shut up the plotter side of me and gave into the pantser side.
I wrote the first chapter that day and haven’t looked back since.
As I’ve continued, I’ve adopted a mixture of pantsing and plotting that I think I’ll keep around for a while. I’ve removed the pressure of having a really detailed outline before I write a word–like my first book did–and instead just start with a basic outline; an overview of the most important plot points and anything extra is gold, but not required. And then I write and fill in the outline as I go, with new details that I’ve discovered, major trends or themes I don’t want to forget or scenes that I want to set up for later books.
Image result for Pantser
I pick both because I’m a hipster like that. Mwhahaha.

It’s rather fun, doing it this way, despite often setting off alarm bells for my OCD-esqe lifestyle. It’s been particularly enjoyable lately, as I enter into the second half of the book, where there are more elements unknown than known. I know how the book is going to end (and oh how readers are going to hate me for it) and I figured out what events need to happen between what I’ve already written and that ending, but I have no idea what order, no specifics on how it happens, no idea how my characters will respond or what surprises they’ll throw my way. The days leading up to this unknown next scene, I dragged in my writing. I dreaded figuring out what was going to happen next, despite my excitement at letting the story and my characters take the wheel.
Two days ago, I figured it out and it’s awesome (hint: it includes magical trees, rogue goblins and a freakin’ badass Spriggan). It’s so much better than anything I could have planned, so much darker than I originally thought this novel was going to be and the way things fell into place was truly magical, like everything I had written so far was written precisely to set up this scene that I had never thought about until I was actually writing it.
So if you ask me if I’m a pantser or a plotter (cough: I’m looking at you, NaNoWriMo), I’m sorry to say I can’t claim one side, but inhabit a little bit of both. And I think I’m a better writer for it.
Cheers.
 

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Conquering NaNoWriMo

I originally titled this post “Surviving” NaNoWriMo, but then something pulled me away from my computer, thus forcing me away and causing me to revisit this post for another day. Well, today is that day and I must say, I dunno what I was thinking by saying “surviving.” A writer doesn’t survive anything. Instead, they go through a very intense war that has many stages. First is the stage of deciding you’re going to war in the first place by deciding to write a novel. Some people plan and make outlines, which is a battle in itself. Then, the bloody endeavour of actually writing occurs. This is the second largest battle a writer faces and I would argue, not the hardest. Within it, the writing isn’t even the hardest part. You have to fight foes like Time Management or Other Commitments that are constantly trying to derail and interrupt the few precious minutes you prayed you’d have to use to write. Felons like Self Doubt pop up often and are actually immortal; no matter how many times you slay them, the ghosts of your own insecurities pop up repeatedly in the writing process. But, if you trudge hard and stay dedicated, the battle of writing your first draft can be won, despite these distractions and others trying to bar your way. If only you don’t think about the fact that it is only prepping you for the most difficult battle, the true test: editing the beast you just created. If you are willing to go through all of that, you don’t just survive as a writer.
You conquer.
I have conquered twice in my life and lost the war at least once. I attempted my first manuscript draft in the 7th grade and only got 100 pages in before realizing that story needed too much reworking and I wasn’t quite there yet as a writer. Then, as a freshmen in college, I started writing a new story that I had been outlining for almost two years prior. In six months, I had won my first war. Junior year, I wrote the sequel. And I had been putting off writing the third book of the trilogy for some time. Finally, I decided to try something I had never tried before: NaNoWriMo. Of course, I started late–on the 8th–but I am so happy to report that I completed it early: on November 25th, I hit 52,000 words of book three, successfully completing my first NaNoWriMo. Although the book is only roughly halfway completed (this series averages 120,000 words per manuscript), I am still so proud of this accomplishment.
http://nanowrimo.org/participants/thoughtsstaindwithink/novels/the-unicorn-s-undoing/stats
I am proud of it because I put a goal before myself and met it. Despite being in school (for this semester, at least) and working, I was able to find time almost every day to write, even on the days where I worked 14 hours. I always claimed that I couldn’t write everyday because there was never enough time, but after joining NaNoWriMo, I was so surprised on how much time I was able to find when I truly put my writing first. Some days it was 10 minutes and only a couple hundred words. Three different days I wrote for multiple hours without stopping, one day reaching almost 7,000 words. But it was an amazing feeling to write as much as I did, only faltering once the holidays hit and I came home for Thanksgiving (a telling sign in itself, that it is harder to find time to write at home than when I am living by myself). I think the work is stronger for it, because I was constantly thinking about writing and the story I was crafting, even when I wasn’t actually writing. It is almost a habit I formed and I was given a confidence that I have never had before, in knowing that I can write everyday and I can find time to make this an important aspect of my life like it should be. If anything, I will always be indebted to NaNoWriMo for that confidence, as it is something I want to carry with me in the rest of my career as a writer.

NaNoWriMo: writing a novel in a month. I didn’t write an entire novel, but I did write over 50,000 words in only a few weeks. If I can keep that up, I have a lot of time to write a lot of stories. And I have a lot of stories to write. So here’s to forming new habits and embracing the repetitive war a writer undergoes with each new project. And here’s to conquering NaNoWriMo for the first time, but definitely not the last.
Cheers,
Nicole