life: February updates and March goals

It’s been a month. Seriously.

So my Whole30 was an epic failure, but that’s ok. I realized half-way that it just wasn’t the right time. I wasn’t in the right mindset, and mindset is a HUGE part of that program. I will try again, but not right now. I’m just going to focus on eliminating the foods that make me feel sluggish, sick, or throw off my digestion. Focusing on health and feeling good, rather than restriction or program rules.

Yoga happened. Not every day, but it happened. Walking, not so much. There were migraines. Lots of them, and stretching and relaxing was my main priority.

On the upside, I finished my edits for the month! With time to spare! Yay!

Edit wordcount: 13531.

I call that a good run, so I decided to film an update video to pat myself on the back. Check it out 🙂

Goals for March:

  • Finish the draft! Do it!
  • Prepare for April NaNo experiment
  • Try to complete 30 Days of Yoga Camp, because I really enjoyed that series and feel ready for a repeat.

the view from Sunday: realizations and next steps

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It’s a cold, wet, gloomy Sunday (cue Billie Holiday). Winter seems to have arrived (or what passes as winter in Miami), which means I want nothing more than to cuddle up with a book and a fresh cup of tea. No such luck.

This morning, in that lovely space between sleep and waking, I realized something that seemed so obvious, I’m a little ashamed I didn’t notice before. In the middle of what I thought were the easy chapters (quick revisions rather than full-on rewrites), I now see a glaring issue in the order of events that will require a complete overhaul of nearly 4 chapters. Luckily, they’re chapters I was planning to work on during February, but this will mean some serious attention to detail, and a much longer process than I thought. Nevertheless, what’s the point of revision if not to catch things like this? After all, no one is waiting on these revisions but me. I’m only accountable to myself, and I’m won’t skimp on editing for the sake of meeting a self-imposed deadline. Who knows? Maybe I’ll meet it after all.

January by the numbers:

  • Chapters revised: 4
  • Wordcount (new and rewritten): 12,492 (I started tracking. It keeps me grounded.)
  • 1 chapter in progress, 3 to be reviewed and outlined

writing: writing, craft, and motivational reads

I’m writing with a mission in mind: to polish one draft to a submission-ready state. I have two other drafts that are in early stages, and two stories that demand to be written, but I can’t do it all and I need to focus. Sometimes, I get bogged down in the details and forget to look beyond the manuscript to the craft of it. Every hour I spend writing is an hour I spend finding ways to improve and that’s something worth noting.
Right now, I’m building steam, but I know I can burn out fast. To keep myself going, I’ve lined up three books to read.

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I’ve read these authors before and I like their method of instruction. Sometimes I just need a push to keep going.

Are you working on a manuscript? How do you find the motivation to keep writing?

writing: the read-through of doom and editing prep

Another video on my current writing process and how I’m using the read-through to plan for the next stage: editing in rounds! Also received feedback from the first of my readers and looking forward to combining that with the changes I’m already planning :).

Are you drafting? How do you handle your edits?

writing: in the middle of things

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I am in the middle of things. I have a solid plan for the next stage of reading/editing/drafting/that mess we call writing, but I’m also in a brain storm of ideas for the next part… When I started working on Anúna (which finally has a working title! to be revealed soon!), I imagined it as a standalone, but it’s grown beyond the borders of its little plot and become something more. I now see it as a set, complete in two parts but with possible side stories that can be developed in future. The main story has evolved into something grander than my original notion, starting with a major change in the ending between drafts 2 and 3, the roots of which took hold as I neared the end of draft 4.The idea is starting to evolve and I see it becoming my next major project (to be outlined and planned for NaNo 2016, because we all know I thrive on deadlines). At this stage, I am focusing on finding readers for draft 4 and gathering feedback for the next draft. I also plan on immersing myself in all their is to know about the query process and all the ins and outs of submission. I am nothing if not a researcher and it’s time I started looking at the business side of writing more thoroughly.

So that’s the latest. Letting things simmer while I explore new possibilities and learn all the things.

and then she came back

It’s been a quiet month, but a good one. I challenged myself to rewrite chapters 11-15 and I did, writing an entirely new chapter during the process, and soaring past my initial word count goal. I like to think that the new bits add the much-needed character development that was lost after my first round of cutting and rewriting. It’s a slow, arduous process, but it’s coming together and I only lost 5 writing days this month…

Speaking of lost days—I started taking turmeric to relieve my aches and pains (TMJ and arthritis in general, plus migraines as a result). I just finished my first bottle and, I have to say, I’m really feeling a difference in my pain levels. Can’t wait to receive my next order (I should’ve ordered sooner, but I was caught up  in getting sh*t done).

There has been a lot of drama on the kitty cat front (re: poopy princess kitty). By some strange alchemy, I think I’ve managed to get the poops under control, but it was a serious trial (and error).

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Caramel Loaf does not approve.

In the meantime, I’m mentally preparing myself to do my first Whole30 in an effort to kill my sugar cravings and reset my system. My biggest challenge will be cutting out the grains. I’ve cut out dairy in the past (and seriously need to get back in the habit), but it’s bread that I’ll miss the most. I generally avoid soy because of my thyroid issues, but dairy (not milk, but yogurt and cheese), peanuts, and grains are my weakness. Wish me luck (and willpower).

round pegs and square holes, or not fitting the mold

So I’ve been wrestling with the idea of editing in passes. I finished reading the draft and reviewing beta feedback last month. I compiled a whole notebook full of notes and an ibook draft full of highlights. I identified the areas that need revising, editing, rewriting, and just plain cutting. I created timelines and established deadlines for the 6 major passes I outlined based on those notes. And then I stopped. Because the thought of working on individual aspects of the draft rather than entire chapters made me freeze. And then it hit me: I can’t edit in passes. I have an editing style. It’s long established and works for me. I edit in chapters and chunks. I edit scenes. I proofread for line edits. But I definitely can’t edit by rounds. At least, not in the way that I was planning… which is a relief, because suddenly I find that I can start working. One chapter at a time. One small assignment at a time.

i did the thing

I finished Draft 3 on Saturday… and though I know there are more edits to come (including some changes to the opening chapters), it’s such a huge relief to know that I managed to get this done despite all the complications, drama, life fiascoes, and sleepless nights. It’s done. For now. But it’s done.

I’m going to enjoy this short reprieve and look forward to getting to know some new characters in November.

changing things up, trying a new method, and the return of first drafting!

More and more, I’m finding that my best work gets done when I can sit at the computer for an extended period of time. When first drafting, I can write just about anywhere, at any time, not so with rewriting and editing (hence the extended period of time between drafts). I’ve been working on weekends and squeezing in about thirty minutes a day in the evenings after work, dishes, washing up, and all the other steps involved in the business of life. It’s worked, for the most part, but as I reach the climax of the story, there’s a speed to the writing that I just can’t get if I’m snatching thirty minutes here and there. During the last two weeks, I’ve completed most of my writing on the weekends. In a day-long binge to be exact. It’s allowed me to get into the story in a way that I just can’t manage during short sessions… So I’m going to do something radical (for me): I’m going to finish the next few chapters during weekend sessions and concentrate on other aspects of my writing during the week. Despite putting in fewer days, I’ll actually be putting in more hours and getting the same amount of work done (let’s face it, 30 minutes, 5 days a week equals 2.5 hours a week, whereas a good binge is between 5 and 8 hours and generally equals a chapter or two a weekend). It’s just another one of those things I’ve learned about myself during the last two years of working on this project.

On the flip side, I’m drafting the preliminary outline for the “sea story” and I’m not using Scrivener… I’m using Evernote. Yes, you read that right, I’m using an app to draft the next story. Why? Because I need a portable program and I can’t install Scrivener on a chromebook or iPad, so my ability to work anywhere is hampered by the need for to haul my laptop around. Like I said, I can draft anywhere, and I like being able to set up shop wherever I go. Evernote lets me organize my notes by folders to keep them tidy, and then copy and paste the final content into Scrivener when the time is right. Added perk, I can use my phone to store story snippets straight into Evernote whenever inspiration strikes, rather than struggling to dig out my notepad from the depths of my bag, or send myself an email that I promptly forget to open.

Change is good, especially if it means being able to up my productivity without sacrificing quality.

picking up old [writing] habits

I’ve been easing my way back into a regular writing routine. Looking through my progress calendar, there are a lot of gaps starting in mid-April, most of May, and the beginning of June. I started the year strong, but struggled with some life drama and other issues along the way that made writing less of a priority. Not an excuse, just a fact. I post these updates as a way to stay accountable, even if no one else is holding me to task. There are days when I just want to stop, but there’s this need that keeps me from doing that… it’s a compulsion at this point; even when I’m not writing, I’m picturing scenes in my head. If only it weren’t so hard to take what I picture and put it into words.

By my count, it takes me about a week to edit and rewrite each chapter (except, not really… at least, not if I tally up the number of days when I engaged in some form of active rewriting, but it’s a good estimate based on the average time spent on each chapter). My goal was to be done (DONE) by May. Then it was June. Things happened. Things didn’t happen. Here we are. I’ve decided to stop working towards an arbitrary date and take this “bird by bird,” as Anne Lammott says. I have four chapters left and another round of reading through the early chapters (my editing style changed midway through this draft and I find that later chapters received better treatment). At this point, I just want to get it all down.

I read somewhere that writers should read in-genre for every 2000(?) words, 20000(?) words written. Something like that. Whatever the number is, I should be reading in genre. So I’ve started making a concerted effort to read more fantasy, particularly more magical, elemental magic type fantasy. Uprooted really sparked my desire to write, as well as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy (why were these waiting on my shelf for so many years?!). The only trouble arises when all I want to do is kick back and read, but that’s what happens when you’re a total book nerd.