Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NaNo-ing Character Arcs...and a Pep Talk

To read the full Stephanie Perkins pep talk at NaNoWriMo's website, go here.

Since today is Veterans Day, I've decided to kick off this post by saying "Thank You" to all the veterans out there. There are no classes today, so MiniBeast is home with me. I rolled out of bed a little early to get a head start on motherly and household things, as well as writing, so here it goes.

I crossed the 13k threshold on my NaNoWriMo project last night. Or was it this morning? It depends on which side of midnight it was before I hit the bed. I can't remember exactly. While writing last night, I got to a stuck point, didn't know how to proceed, and thereafter in the flurry of post-it note that followed, I lost track of time. 

To break out of the stuck point, and to generate some usable words, I took out some sticky notes in different colors and began breaking down the story in my head by mapping everyone's character arc. 

Lemme just say that I didn't realize at first how many characters are in the book. Another thing I didn't realize was just how many words this would generate. About 2k so far, just for the arcs once I transferred all of it to my story file. 

I still need to map two more main characters, which I plan to do today. I'm going to get those out of the way first thing since those characters are the main reason I'm stuck.

In the process of jotting down all the character arcs, I managed to come up with a suitable ending for the novel, and there are a lot of other little detail oriented bits I was able to elaborate on and connect to other characters arcs. It was a little like playing connect the dots, I guess, only with multiple character scenarios. 

Another thing while breaking the book down by individual arcs, I was also able to look at every character's core purpose for being in the story, both the main players and the tertiary folks, to better justify why each person is being included in the book. If someone's reason for being there is/was looking kind of thin, I could easily beef it up and knit in more connections to the other characters. I've beefed up two characters so far, and both times, doing so added another layer of complexity to the story. Cool beans. I'll take it. 

So that's what cooking over here. Today's meme blog graphic thing comes from yesterday's NaNoWriMo pep talk. I loved it so much I had to share the good news. To read the Stephanie Perkins pep talk in full, you can find it right here on the NaNoWriMo website.

That's all for now. I'll post again when things get interesting. In the meantime, keep writing...and happy wishes! ♥ 

Monday, November 09, 2015

Everyday I'm NaNo-ing...

I'm around the 10k mark on my NaNo project, and I'm pretty happy with it so far. I'm pantsing the hell out of this story, no apologies, there, but I can honestly say I'm not sure where I'm going with it. At some point I'm going to need to figure out a possible ending, otherwise I won't know when it's finished.

For the overall gist of NaNo, I'm about 8k behind schedule. I told myself when I signed up, I wasn't going to worry about it, so I won't. Twice since I've started this story, the program I'm using for writing has tossed my words. Big chunks of words. Ouch.

As much as I love this program when it works, I've already started looking for different software. I hate the spyware keylogging crap Microsoft Office has brought on board since their subscription service, so I no longer use it. Straight up, I don't feel safe using Word for writing now. I realize how paranoid that sounds, but last year when I was trying to wrap up my vampire novel, I started getting Facebook and Google ads relative to what I'd been writing about. Too creepy for me. There has to be an alternative.

I have a computer running an older, paid-for (non subscription) version of Word, and I've considered hauling that computer to Dr. Bulldog for an overhaul and a new keyboard (it has keys missing) and just start using that computer offline for my writing. When I finish a piece, I can simply transfer my data to the laptop that has comp access in order to make submissions.

But that's a worry for another day. Right now I'm choosing not to worry about anything. The bottle of Merlot helps.

If you're NaNo-ing this year, I hope it's going well. I'll update again when something interesting happens. Until next time, keep writing...and happy wishes. ♥

Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween and NaNoWriMo Eve

LOL. Me.

Happy Halloween and NaNoWriMo Eve! 

Everyone in my house loves Halloween. It's my favorite holiday, so for us it starts on October 1st. Sometimes we even let Halloween run well into November, if the decorations left up aren't too obnoxious (or dusty). Pumpkins, turkeys,'s all the same, really.

However, as November approaches, my focus has already shifted to NaNoWriMo. I signed up this year, and I've already added a BS cover to my account to commemorate the occassion.

Since signing up, I've been working on getting my character's histories straight and all that jazz. I created a Scrivener file to work in, and I've been toying with scene ideas to prepare. I'm not going to drive myself crazy over it, though. This is one of those story ideas that has been lingering around a while (at least five years), and I consider this NaNo a test to see if I can make something happen with it.

It's not like one more unrevised, unfinished story is going to hurt me at this point. At this very moment, I have two completed, unrevised novel drafts on this computer, plus several short stories that need to be edited. I also recently compiled all the core Werekind books into a single Vol. 1 Omnibus edition. All it needs is the formatting fixed, and a set of print and digital edition covers.

Anyway, I figure this will be as good a way as any to get words on the page. We'll see what happens. If you'd liked to be a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo site, send me a request. My username there is lastdimtwilight. In the meantime, Happy Halloween! ΡΌ 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Creative Forgiveness

Over the course of the past two weeks, I've written and deleted several blog posts I intended to use. Lame, I know. The posts were nothing serious or controversial, just frilly everyday life stuff, but I'd start writing, get half way through a post then hit the delete button. I guess because the posts didn't seem relevant or worth bothering with by the time I realized where they were going. I'm aware of how batty that is. It's just a blog after all, a place for random thoughts, and I keep deleting mine. But whatever...

It's nearing the end of October, and the blog hasn't been updated since the 10th. Hear that roar? That's the tide of guilt sweeping me away for not blogging. That's what I get for overthinking and censoring myself. Probably my worst two habits in action, but what can I do?

It's been a tough year for me creatively. Even a re-release of an old story felt like a major accomplishment, and I know it's because I put way too much pressure on myself. I have to stop with the pressure and the guilt. If I'm going to write and publish/self-publish my work, I've got to end it with the long suffering self struggle. It's throwing off my chi. I love to write. I should be enjoying what I'm doing, not dreading opening a file every time I sit down at the computer.

The Elizabeth Gilbert quotes for Big Magic have been added to my post today, because they've made a profound impression on me. I've written two novels this year, and both are still sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to get back to the revisions. In fact, I'm already working on a third book. However, looking at those past drafts is a lot like facing unscalable mountains. How do I get over those books?  How do I "perfect them" enough to kick them out the door? There isn't a minute that goes by when I'm not thinking about how I should be wrapping up those books. It's daunting. Why can't I seem to finish them?

All my first drafts are messes. I've aways been upfront and honest about that. So, what's the hangup? Better yet, why am I putting this kind of miserable pressure on myself?

I settled in to work on one of my drafts today, and again, I hesitated to open the files. I've even been thinking about shelving them indefinitely. But I really don't want to do that. I love both the ideas behind these books. I love the characters. I don't want to abandon them mid-stream.

I couldn't seem to focus on revisions today, so this afternoon, on a whim, I pulled an old story out of storage and started reading it. I've always liked this particular story, but it was rejected by one of my former publishers. Well, it was sort of rejected. I actually got a revise and resubmit request for it, but after reading through the editor's comments, I decided to take an R and be done with it.

Rereading through that story today, the editor's comments were still cringeworthy, but not for the reasons I remember. The editor's frustration with the story was apparent, and that frustration seemed to escalate throughout the piece. No wonder I tossed that story into a shoebox and abandoned it. After about four chapters, I had to stop reading the comments and ask myself why the editor bothered to keep leaving commentary this many pages in if they weren't invested and had no plan to take the story without massive rewrites.

As I said, it was a rewrite and revise request, but I'm sure that the majority of editors would've just axed me after the first chapter and dusted their hands. In this case, the entire story from beginning to end had been redmarked. I can't remember any other editor doing that before. Not for a piece they didn't plan to accept.

I know my story has legs. It just needs work. I think the editor saw that too. That's the point. The story itself isn't as terrible as I once thought it was. After I received that R&R, I thought the story had an incurable disease that killed it dead, but instead, it just has story rickets. It needs Vitamin TLC to get it to a healthy state. I can work with this.

Another important thing that I noticed, and this is a big one: I no longer agree with everything the editor said about the story or my writing. I can't tell you how huge that is, or what kind of growth that means for a writer. For the most part, I take an editor's word as golden. I have a certificate in copyediting, but when it comes right down to it, I'm a storyteller not a grammar geek. In this case, time and experience has given me a new perspective.  The story does need work, and the editor was definitely on track with the story's major problems. However, some of the things this editor pointed out to me, I'd politely ignore, because those suggestions are not what would be best for my story.

That's a pretty big deal. That one realization allowed me to forgive myself for writing and submitting such a shitty story over two years ago...a story that isn't even as shitty as I thought it was. That's liberating.

Now I just have to face those novel revisions. Before I open those files again, I'm going to take five before I settle into my desk chair and say this to myself: Cora, I forgive you for writing a horrible draft. You said you'd show up to write it, and so you did. Now, on to phase two. Muse, wherever you are, could you please put down your knitting and let's get on with it? I'm ready to see what happens next.

I feel better just from writing that down. Like Ms. Gilbert said in her book, Big Magic, "I didn't promise the universe I would be a good writer. I just said I'd be a writer." I totally support that logic. It takes loads of stress off the process, and as far as I'm concerned, the less stressful the process is, the better. ♥

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Nothing to Fear but Procrastination

A couple of days ago, I blogged about the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Well, this afternoon I was doing a search for book quotes I could share on my blog, when I came across a set of podcasts related to Big Magic. How cool is that?

You can listen to the podcasts for free here:  The link goes to the author's official website. On her page, there are links to the podcasts on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher Radio. Again, the podcasts are totally free.

Today, the quote "All procrastination is fear" resonates with me. I stayed up until about 5 in the morning working on my novel. I slept for a few hours, then woke up again around 9. I've had plenty to time to open my wip and get cracking, but I'm at the point where I'm having to cut and rearrange parts of the manuscript, which always makes me super nervous. Even though I have a backup, I still feel like I'm going to screw things up beyond repair. Revisions do this to me. They always have. So, instead of diving in head first, I've been procrastinating most of the day, checking my Facebook, watching YouTube videos. and all that jazz to avoid go back to my book.

It's now 4pm, the house is quiet, hubby grilled so there's no dinner to cook, I'm fresh out of excuses. It's time to stop tap dancing around the problem and get back to work. Still I'm hesitating. Why? Because I'm afraid I'll make the wrong snip here or there. I'll mess it up. I'll have to backtrack, or worse; I'll have to start over. Sigh.

I've gotta stop doing this to myself. Elizabeth Gilbert is right: all procrastination is fear, and I desperately need to break the habit. ♥

The Point of No Return

Okay. So, I've reached the point of no return with the project of doom. It's 4:40 in the morning, and I just made my first cuts in the novel. This is always the worst for me. Just thinking about it makes me nervous. There is nothing ever so alarming as taking a draft that you've already written, rewritten, and are still rewriting, and you have to cut into it yet again.

I will say that this is much, much easier to do in Scrivener than it is in Word. I'm not having to endlessly scroll and hope I caught everything. It's also easier to see if I missed something. (I always do.) However, no matter how easy the slicing and dicing has become, every cut still affects my word count. It can't be all sunshine and rainbows, I guess.

As it stands, I'll probably have to go back in after everything is resectioned and bring the book back up to wordcount. C'est la vie. Even with that on the horizon, I think this one is going to be "the draft." The pre-proofread final draft. (Something like that.) The way the story is shaping up so far, I can tell this version is going to gel into a more cohesive story. Yay me.

In the meantime, I'm going to try not to panic. There are still a lot of changes left to make. That said, one big cut a night is enough for me. I'm off to bed for now. (Before I screw something up.) No more revising for me until I've had a few hours of sleep. Night, night, everyone. ♥

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Currently Reading :: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was on Facebook a couple of days ago, when I came across the lovely Sommer Marsden talking about a fabulous new book she'd read called Big Magic, by author Elizabeth Gilbert. Well, I never pass up a fervent, "you must read this" book recommendation from good friends, so I dashed over to Amazon and bought a copy for my Kindle Fire.

Big Magic is about having the courage to live a creative life, and so far, I am loving this book. The tone, well, really everything about the book so far, resonates with my personality. The author says she imagines ideas are free wandering spirits that come looking for people who are the best possible vessel to bring them into existence. If we're not receptive to the ideas, they go away to find someone else. That's a very clever way to look at it. From that point on, the author had me reeled in. Last night, I stayed up til two in the morning reading this book, and I'm looking forward to reading more tonight.

Big Magic was roughly $12 for the Kindle version, and isn't part of the Kindle Unlimited program. The physical book in hard cover costs just a few dollars more, around $13.50, estimated. If I had more patience, I'd have bought a print copy, but... I'm weak. I have zero patience when it comes to waiting for books, so I nabbed the Kindle version. By the way, I did pay for this book out of pocket, and receive nothing in exchange for passing on the good word.

To check out the book's listing online, or to buy a copy for yourself, you can find Big Magic on Amazon here: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Not an affiliate link.) Happy reading! ☺