post-January writing update :)

‘allo there dear readers and fellow writerly types! How was your January? Because mine was pretty productive… at least, that’s what my writing calendar says. I started keeping a writing calendar last year–just bought a cheap desk calendar from the Target $1 bins and started noting every time I wrote, even if it was just a 10 minute quickie. It’s a great motivator and makes me accountable to myself… kind of like logging work hours with visual appeal and stickers (!).

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February is coming along well. Reminding myself that I’m doing this for me and only me at this stage keeps the self-doubt to a healthy minimum, so I’m not turning into a puddle of anxiety on days when I don’t have the time or energy to write (again, calendar shows those instances aren’t as often as I fear). At this pace, I should be finishing up the draft sometime within the next 2-3 months. My revision has evolved into a major rewrite with plenty of new characters and plot elements. My world-building is all the better for these changes and I find myself learning more about existing characters’ motivations and personas. Of course, I worry that I’m going in too many directions, but outlining each chapter helps me stay on target even when surprises turn up.

On a side note, I’m also working on a chapter for a potential future academic publication on writing. It’s a collaboration and I was invited to write a piece on editing and revision… because I do an awful lot of that on a daily basis (and not just for my writing). It’s forced me to really consider how revision works, which has proven useful for my current project.

Here’s looking to mad writing and strong plots.

writer’s guilt (or what happens when I’m too hard on myself)

I feel guilty when I don’t write… which only makes the whole writer’s block thing that much worse. I’m stuck. I’m berating myself because I’m stuck. I become even more entrenched… I’m not even stuck plotwise. I know where it’s going and the rewrite is making my narrative that much stronger, but I’m emotionally drained and tired. Just sooo tired all the time lately. Ugh, I hate thinking about it because then I feel even guiltier. Then there’s this sense that I should be doing what Writer X is doing and waking three hours early to write before going to work and la di da. It’s not the way I work… and I know it’s not healthy to compare, but it doesn’t mean I don’t fall into that trap.

Part of it stems from the fact that we’ve acquired a writer at work. Now, I never ever tell anyone I work with about my writing (with one exception) because I don’t want to mix work with what I do outside of work. I’m strictly about keeping these two worlds separate. I have enough nosy stalkers as it is. But this is a person who is ALWAYS writing . ALWAYS. For HOURS. ALL DAY! And I can’t do that. Whether it’s lack of drive or lack of concentration, I’ve never been able to spend all day in front of a screen or notebook working on a single task. I’m dedicated, but my body just can’t handle being that dedicated.

This person’s fervor makes me feel lesser. Like I’m not doing enough. But then I start to think about it and realize that she also doesn’t work an 8 hour job or seem to do anything other than write. As far as I can tell, she has no other obligations. She’s made this a full-time job of her own… which brings me back to the need to stop comparing and move past the guilt. I’m trying to balance too much as it is and feeling bad about not meeting some vague ideal is not helping.

Anyone else feel guilty when not writing? I often find myself wishing I had a local writer’s group to meet with (for that extra push), but most of the writers in my area are memoirists with a will of their own.

has it really been a year?

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OMG! It’s almost November! Which means… NaNo time! Again! Yes! I’m exclaiming too much!

Okay. That’s enough of that.

So here’s the plan…

I’m doing NaNo… sort of. I’m really just using it as a way to stay focused on my rewriting. The idea of having a deadline, even a self-imposed one, works for me. I will only validate if I finish the entire round of rewrites that I assigned myself in September (when I really got back to working on Anúna). My rewriting process is slow and messy, so a complete draft seems a worthy goal to me. My main focus is working on plot, pacing, and characterization. Right now, I’m somewhere between chapters 9 and 10, and have cut about 5000 words from the original draft–which leaves a good 40000 words that remain untouched and untamed.

My next goal will be to work on individual scenes and get down to the sentence-level unruliness before finding a beta or CP willing to exchange ideas.

If I feel brave enough, I might attend some of my local write-ins (I’m more of an antisocial, solitary type, but I’m trying to be more open).

Want to be my writing buddy? Find me here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/emperatrix

in which I flirt with total madness – a (re)writing update

It’s almost October, which means… dun dun dun… NaNoWriMo is right around the corner! Which REALLY means, I’ve been working on Anúna for a year (I also may have hit on a potential title, but that’s a story for another day).

A YEAR.

Just let that sink in.

Though, in all honesty, I shelved it for well over 6 months while working on Cassiel, but a year is a year. That’s a lot of time spent in front of a screen/in my head developing this project. And it’s still in a fairly rough, messy, first draft state. There are days when opening my printed copy just makes my chest hurt… there’s a little twinge every time I think about having to rewrite/rethink/redraft another chapter. Writing is hard, lonely work, but re-writing just feels ten times more soul-crushing. This is when I see what I’ve written and think Gah! What was I thinking? (Though there are some moments when I’m skipping along going Tra-la-la, I’m a literary genius. Admittedly, these are few and far between–there is a lot more anguish than happy skipping.)

I love writing. There are stories inside me that need telling. But there are some days when I really question my sanity. Days when I come home from work and the last thing I want to do is open my laptop and stare at a screen for another 2-3 hours before going to bed.

It’s hard.

It’s hard to write and even harder when I don’t.

I really am my own worst enemy in this. No one can make me feel as guilty as I can when I don’t write because, when all is said and done, I’m the only person who really cares whether or not I meet my goal. I’m the only one who can own this thing.

What I’m really having a hard time with is balancing writing and everything else. I can’t write for hours at a time. I physically can’t do it. There are only so many hours I can take in front of a screen, cramped up into whatever position I curl myself into, trying to make my fingers go as fast as my thoughts, before I feel mentally and physically exhausted. It just doesn’t work for me. There are too many demands on me–from work, family, Didymus (the cat rules all)–and no matter how well I manage my time, there just isn’t enough. I would love to be able to shell out more than a couple thousand words a day (and those are the good days), but I’m more of a write-in-bursts sort of person. I guess it works for me right now, but there I still have this uncomfortable feeling that I should be doing more… it’s a terribly cycle of trying too hard and tearing myself apart because I didn’t try as hard as I should.

So what I’m saying is… I have no answers… but I don’t think anyone really has it all figured out. It’s a messy business. I’ll just keep shuffling along.

For now, I’m off to do some more research on Celtic mythology. Research counts as writing, right?

Camp NaNoWrimo FTW!

I did it! I actually reached my 80k word goal! That’s the Good News…

The Bad News is that I’m still not finished.

Yep, I was right when I said predicted that this draft wouldn’t be complete when I reached my goal. Re-outlining the ending certainly helped me get it going at a better pace, but I still see another 3-4 chapters to finish, which might mean anywhere from 15-20,000 more words given my average chapter lengths for this draft. All in all, I feel much better about it than I did last week. See 🙂 staying positive after all.

*Goodness, I just compiled and saw that it’s really 337 pages long! Thank you, Scrivener, for keeping all that text in an orderly fashion.*

that is it. 80k reached.
that is it. 80k reached.

 

Cassiel, rewrite draft 1/part 2 (total word goal)

 

About Cassiel (or the best summary I could come up with for the moment)

With her family and fortune gone, sixteen-year-old Cassiel Loriett is placed under the guardianship of the exacting Mrs. Maywoods, but there is more to her family’s fate than Cassiel knows and the only way to learn the truth is to solve the mystery herself. Willing to do whatever it takes to find out what really led to the loss of her father’s fortune and her mother’s unexpected death, Cassiel runs away with little more than her father’s journal a couple of clues, but first she has to stay away from Mrs. Maywoods and her brother, Mr. Stellworthy, who seems to take a strange interest in Cassiel’s position as the Maywoods’s erstwhile ward.

Finding herself on a quest, Cassiel ends up the unlikely resident of Walstone House–a derelict manor house run by Stephen Frye, and his cousins Christabella and Nathan Walstone, and owned by their reclusive grandfather, Pierce Walstone. Finding a friend and ally in Stephen, Cassiel sets on a journey that might mean losing it all, or finding herslf along the way.

A YA historical mystery set in late Victorian England.

A re-write in progress…

Follow my Cassiel writing updates here: http://things-she-said.org/tag/cassiel/

a look at June in pictures

June proved to be an eventful month, what with there being birthday cakes and presents and all. But there were also books! And trips! And chairs!!!
Here’s a look at some of the best things that happened in June (sans the birthday stuff, for that silliness see this post)

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OMG! I got a book signed by Neil Gaiman. The joy and joyness cannot be contained! Also, the book is beautiful.
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See! There he is in all his mad-haired, creative genius glory!
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I also had a rare beach outing. It was really a momentary excursion, but there were dolphins and seashells.
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And I got chairs and only had to spend $40 on the gas to pick them up. The kitteh is more than pleased. He purrs with pleasure every time he climbs on them.

July is proving to be a busy month… much busier than I anticipated. I’m doing what I call Camp NaNo part 2, in the hopes that giving myself a deadline means that I will finish Cassiel within the month. It’s starting to grow out of control again. I need to reign my creative juices in… I’m wordy to a fault. There must be a project that I can complete in less than 100k. This is not a good thing. Really, I need to focus on action and cut out the extraneous stuff. I’ve let myself go with setting and inner thoughts. I need action!!! ACTION!

So that is that. If it’s a bit quiet around here, it probably means I’m being a stern taskmaster and making myself stick to writing… turns out, I also got in a bit over my head and have to frantically rework some of my work-related writing for publication. My fingers may very well go on strike after all this.

Why did I do this to myself?

I’m writing. I am. But I’ve reached a major transition in the thing that is Cassiel and feel that I’ve worked myself into a pile of mush. This story is finished. I know where it’s going because I’ve already written it, but in rewriting, I have gone in totally different directions. My characters have changed. Oh, they’re still the same characters, but their voices have changed just as much as my writing has changed. It’s both exciting and disheartening to see my story taking such a turn. And now I’m trying to find the inspiration to just finish already. I want it done. Now. Ugh!!! I need a new project. I need to get away from this mess. I need to write.