Weekly Writing Update: August pt. 3

Sunday: 1 hour revising “Outcast
Monday: none
Tuesday: 45 minutes revising “Outcast”
Wednesday: 50 minutes revising “Outcast”
Thursday: 1 hour, 6 minutes revising “Outcast”
Friday: none
Saturday: none

Most of the time this week was spent either putting revisions into the computer or writing a couple of brand new scenes. Friday and Saturday I hit a low point, and just didn’t feel like there was much point in working on it. I think I’ve shaken that off, thanks to some time spent praying, talking to my husband, and eating tacos (not all at the same time), though I think today’s writing time is going to focus on some freewriting just to shake out what’s left of the depression.

I’ve also noticed a sudden desire to go back to the writing I was doing a few years ago about the two weeks my dad was in the hospital back in September of  2016. I started writing it during NaNoWriMo that year, but it was pretty rough–maybe a little too soon. After I finish this draft of “Outcast,” maybe it will be a good change of pace for a while to work on this instead of more revision. Or maybe I’ll do both.

NaNoWriMo Day 9

The Words: 2130 written today, all on my Neo again. It’s been my favorite way to write this month.

I wasn’t really feeling the writing today, but I think I know why. I wrote the outline for this story last year, after dreaming up the idea two years ago. During NaNo2016, I was writing the real account of the time my dad spent in the hospital only 2 months before that, and it was very difficult writing. During the month, this romance was playing itself out in my head, and now and then, when I needed a break from the reality of what I was writing, I’d write out whatever scene I’d gotten to of this romance in my head.

This means that the story I am writing this year already has a few scenes written out, and because it was 2 years ago, I have polished it a bit since then, and I really like it. So when I got to one of these scenes today, it was very difficult to write it, knowing that I already had it written in a way that I liked. I knew from past experience that it was better to still write it again, rather than just leave a gap to fill it in later, because A) it would keep the current writing flowing, B) I might hit on something else this time that really belongs in the story, and C) I need the words. However, it still slowed me down and made me less motivated than normal to write.

And I’m not past it yet, so I’ll have to pick up on the same scene tomorrow.

The Story: Lorrin and the king have arrived at her new posting (the front lines during the war against Antios), and she’s just met the famous general who is pretty much her idol. He’s informed her of some pressing issues they’re having with another army that has mustered against Antios–an army from a country that is an old nemesis of the main country in this story (man, I need names for these places). Then, there is a scuffle, and someone is badly injured.

Total word count: 30,946

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2018 – November 9th

On the Eve of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts in 4 hours where I am. It has been a hard-fought month of prep for me. For one thing, I was just getting myself back to a place where I could work on my writing regularly again at the beginning of the month. I got back into the swing of posting every day to hold myself accountable to doing some form of writing work each day.

There were 3 main things I wanted to do before November came:
1. Clean my main writing space.
2. Post a synopsis for my novel, along with 2-3 other posts about NaNo, writing in general, and my other novels.
3. Make a solid outline for my NaNoNovel.

Then I got sick. And let’s see how my plans worked out?

1. I did get this done, just today. Initially, my husband and I planned to clean more around my writing space too, but today, he said, “What do you want done, bare minimum?” So now my work desk is cleaned off, so I can put aside work things and focus on writing more easily, and I have even organized various papers, notebooks, and scrapbooking things into a filing cabinet that I’ve had for a while, but was too lazy to do much with.

2. This post is a compromise for me…I had more detail I wanted to share about things I learned during my prep time this month, but some of it has actually sort of been watered down in my mind by snags that came after the exciting moments. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but that’s okay. Once I get past the first few scary days of November, and hopefully past this flu (I’m just guessing it’s the flu, but it tracks), I will still post some of the other things I wanted to share, but there’s one that will probably never be written (titled “Planners are Cheaters,” by the way).

3. And then there’s my NaNoNovel…The novel I’ve planned to write next month will delve into the mind of someone more broken and dark than any characters I’ve written about so far.  It’s not the first time I’ve planned to write something out of my comfort zone. Two years ago, I wrote 2 murder-mystery themed stories, which was a first for me. Last year, I wrote about the time my dad spent in the hospital for 3 weeks in September of that year. Writing like that was very different for me.

However, the shape and form of this novel has changed pretty drastically about 100 times since I started planning it 3 weeks ago. I have been concerned for most of those 3 weeks that I won’t be ready in time. I don’t need a long, detailed outline, sheets on every character, note cards, or any other such degree of planning. But I wasn’t even sure I would have a broad outline, and I can’t stress this enough–I am not a pantser. (I’ve tried.)

Fortunately, just yesterday, I finished a 2-page, handwritten outline. When I say “finished”…well, I got as far as I could without knowing where the writing will take me. I often (not always, but often) will write 2/3 of an outline, and then start writing, because I’m not even sure what is going to happen next, but I have good reason to believe that the actual writing will bring out the rest. This outline covers about half, maybe more, of the story. The other half(ish) of the story has a fairly solid timeline to help me know that broad plot points.

I’ve decided that I can’t post a synopsis for my story though, at least not more than the early one I already did. The story is still too much of a mystery to me, so much that I can’t even say what the true “main story” is going to be until I write it. This one’s going to be a fun one to edit, I think…

Okay, now looking ahead to tonight, and the rest of the month, I have two key things I want to say:
1. I will be starting right at midnight. I do that every year, and whether I write 500 words or 3000 words, anything I get done before going to bed is a huge mental jump start on the month!

2. I will blog every day about my experience doing NaNoWriMo. This will be the third year I’ve done this, since starting my blog (2014 and 2015). There may be those who are curious about how others get through the month (I know I am). I have also found that I really enjoy being able to look back in later years and read about my progress through the month. And since I already post here every day that I got any writing work done, as a way of staying accountable, it’s not much of a stretch.

I have not yet heard for sure whether or not we will have new NaNoToons this year, but if so, I will share those every day. (If not, maybe I’ll go back and share them from an earlier year!) I will also post episodes from the NaNoMusical throughout the month, because I still love it to pieces and can’t not try to get others to love it too!

I wish my fellow Wrimos well, and hope to hear from some of you during the month!

Are you ready for NaNo to begin? Do you plan to do the midnight sprint tonight?

My NaNoWriMo Tradition

I have participated in NaNoWriMo 7 times in the past. Though I “won” every year (wrote at least 50k words in the 30-day time limit), I would argue varying degrees of success in those wins.

Lifetime stats

Flames, on the sides of my face…

Just like each year has a different visual theme on the website, each year has a different memorable thing about it for me. Like 2012 was the year I pantsed it (rough year); 2014 was the year I blogged it (not the novel, just how the month went); 2016 was the year I barely remember (hiding in a [figurative] cave…).

One of my favorite traditions for NaNo is to buy a t-shirt to commemorate the event. In recent years, I’ve taken to pre-ordering the winner shirt. It may be a bit presumptuous of me, but now that I think about it, that may have been what pushed me to finish last year, when I was 13,000 words behind coming into day 27. I would have felt such shame having a winner’s shirt if I didn’t win.

So every year I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo, I’ve bought a shirt…except one. My very first year, 2007, I don’t think I even knew they sold shirts. Or perhaps I wasn’t quite as connected to the event. Whatever the reason, I didn’t buy one. In the last 2 years or so, I’ve wished I had one. In the online store, they have various versions of previous years’ shirts still for sale, but not back to 2007. I’ve searched online on different occasions, but never even saw an image of what it would look like.

Until a few weeks ago. I was commenting on a blog post about how a NaNo t-shirt has become my souvenir every year, and decided to search online again. And lo and behold–I found one for sale on eBay! It wasn’t my size, but still, I had new hope. A few days later I was sharing my excitement with my husband, and when I brought up the page, it was a different listing, and it was in my size! He told me to buy it right away, so I did!

2007 shirt

I feel a little silly getting so excited over a t-shirt, but not half as silly as I feel about the way I reacted when I found out that it had a hole in it the first time I wore it. (No, I didn’t cry…but I was utterly dejected.) It’s not in a helpful place like a seam either, but right on the stomach, and it’s big enough for me to suspect a fix job won’t look great. We’ve contacted the seller (it was definitely there when I put it on), but I don’t hold out a lot of hope for that working out. (For one thing, I don’t see any indication that they have any more for sale now, so even if they give us a refund, it probably won’t be able to be replaced. Though if they offer a refund, I will be content with that.)

I don’t want that to spoil the purpose of this post though. Getting a NaNo shirt every year that I participate is a tradition that I really enjoy and will continue to do.

My NaNoWriMo Tradition

I haven’t ordered the winner’s shirt for this year yet, but I may still…and if I don’t win, I will just have to edit this graphic to the regular shirt, because no matter what happens, I know I’ll get a 2017 shirt.

Do you have any NaNoWriMo traditions? Do you get some kind of souvenir when you participate?

 

 

A New Day

I’ve been ready to write this post for about a week now. It’s the first one in almost a year and a half, so I knew it had to be epic, witty, or at least insightful. But I don’t want to write that post. I do want to address it, but in simple words. Though knowing myself as I do, it still may not be short.

At the beginning of last year, I submitted my first novel to publishers, after spending several years creating it. Without knowing if that first novel would be worth publishing, I tried to move on to revising my second novel. Then, I got a job. It was a part-time weekend job at first, working as a game master at an escape room company, but quickly became more than that, with sporadic hours. These two things together pulled me away from my regular writing work, which I’d been fairly consistent with for a few years (minus short hiatuses now and then).

In August last year, I changed to full-time with my job and became a manager. That only solidified my lack of time and mental energy to do any writing. I remember hoping that November, which would bring NaNoWriMo, would help me jump-start back into my writing.

Some time during all of this, I got a couple of rejection letters for my novel, but I was so caught up in how life was going at the time, I barely registered them.

Then in September, my dad had a heart attack and subsequent 6-bypass surgery. He’s doing well now, but was very close to death for about a week (not to be too dramatic). As NaNo approached, I decided to rebel a bit and write about the time he was in the hospital, both because he had a strong desire to know what had happened, and because I thought it might be cathartic for me.

I had a difficult time with the writing, and didn’t even get all of the events written, but I did finish NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, because of my full-time job and the nature of my writing, NaNo did not help me return to my writing.

Fast forward almost a year, and I am now working 20 hours a week (approximately) at the same job, now as Director of Operations. The anniversary of my dad’s heart attack was last month, and he and my mom brought up the writing I said I was doing for NaNoWriMo last year. My dad has been trying to remember everything that happened during his 3-week hospital stay, and hopes that what I had written down would help.

It was still in “NaNo-form,” though, which means typos, things marked for deletion, and generally just hard to read. So I started going back through it, trying to put it in some semblance of a readable form, reading it along the way myself. While doing that, I started going back to other things I’ve written.

Over the course of the 3 weeks, I’ve read through just about everything I’ve written in the last 10 years, from the 2 complete novels, to partially drafted novels, to writing practice, drabbles, ideas, and even some of the fanfiction I wrote early on. I’m starting to have the itch to get back into it, and in some ways, I feel like I’ve just popped my head out of the cave I’ve been hunkered in for the last 17 months.

Going forward, I am going to work on writing as often as I can. I’m not going to pretend that I will be able to do writing work every day like I used to strive for. But even for the last week or so, I’ve already been writing out an outline for a story I’m not sure I want to write, but can’t avoid thinking about, so needed to at least get it down. That passion for just getting the words out is something I really miss, and I want to embrace it.

I think one of the things that disappoints me most about my time in the cave is that I barely remember participating in NaNoWriMo last year. I didn’t blog about it at all; I barely even finished. I enjoy going back later and reading through certain blog posts, remembering my writing journey, but 2016 NaNoWriMo is just a blank spot in my mind. I will be more deliberate this year.

My job, even at 20 hours a week, is still sporadic in the time those hours are put in. As Director of Operations, I am “on” from 9am until 11pm, 6 days a week, meaning that any time someone needs something from me, I’m generally expected to be available and respond. If I want to spend uninterrupted time with my family, I often have to schedule it.

I do enjoy my job. I design, implement, and modify escape rooms and get to be part of many other creative endeavors that our company is always working on. But I know that one of the reasons I do so well at that job is because, in my heart, I am a writer! 

i am a writer

This is from NaNoToons 2015. I don’t even remember last year’s NaNoToons…

For the approaching NaNoWriMo, I want to get back to traditional roots and write a new work of fiction. To do that, I have to sort through ideas I already have, see if any of them are ready to be expanded to a full outline, or decide to start something from scratch. Today begins NaNo prep season (I’m not sure how official that is, but October 1st always feels like the beginning of NaNo prep time to me). I am all in.