writing: February update


If you’re new to the blog, Hi! If you’re not, you’ll know I’m in the middle of revising Draft 6 of my main writing project. My goal is to finish this draft by April, but my slightly more realistic goal is May…

In February, I revised Chapters 20-23, or 9,981 words. As usual, life has a way of getting in the way, but it didn’t stop me from meeting my goal 🙂 🙂 🙂

What I’ve learned so far:

This draft has shown me that I get as much work done if I schedule two solid, 4-5 hour weekend writing sessions, as when I squeeze in 30 minute to 1 hour sessions after during the weekdays. These shorter sessions also have a way of breaking up my thoughts and making me lose focus, resulting in the mess I made of the last two drafts (sigh). Adjusting my schedule has allowed me to focus on those weekend sessions, and use the weekdays to review chapters and consider revisions. This also grants me more head-space and allows me to enjoy my evenings after work, rather than strain my eyes for another hour. v. good.


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).

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).

chipping away: writing and small assignments

Met my first draft milestone! Only one week behind (but not bad, especially since I flaked out during the first week in February and did NOTHING). Just completed Ch. 8, which was my February goal for the first third of the draft rewrite. Chapters 9 through 11 are going to be a doozy, but here’s hoping that I meet my next small assignment goal by the end of March (rework 9 through 11 and get through 15, if all goes well). My large goal is to have a complete draft by the end of April, though I gave myself some room to revisit chapters and revise details. My self-imposed deadline is June 20th (my birthday, when I will take a well-deserved break from life in general).

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.

the view from sunday: back to basics

One of my friends gave me a William Blake tarot deck for my birthday. It’s a tarot for self-deprecating creative types (e.g. me). It’s more of a tool for self-reflection than divination (and I’m still learning how to interpret the spreads), but it’s pretty spot on.

My dilemmas are definitely in the cards… and some possible solutions as well. I read today’s spread as a need to celebrate what I’ve accomplished and get back to what I do best by relying on methods tried-and-true. The biggest hurdle is letting go of the fear that it’s all meaningless drivel and just enjoy the writing, even when working to craft a strong scene.

Part of getting back to basics is getting back to those old habits I wrote about earlier, so I’ve started counting days and words. Even if it’s a small dent in the overall project, keeping score of my daily word count helps me see the work I’ve accomplished in a way that is more significant than just using the calendar method. Both methods help, but I really need to see those numbers adding up to spur me on. I also tallied up the total number of days I’ve spent writing; as of today, that total is 95 days and counting. My original goal was to finish the draft within three months, but I did not anticipate the mass revision I was about to engage in, nor did I expect the various derailments along the way. So I’m going to celebrate what I’ve accomplished and look forward to a finished draft.

I’m also going to celebrate my professional writing, which is a huge part of what I do on the job. I will celebrate the reviews I’ve written, the article that was just accepted, and the book that is about to go to print.

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.

taking it as it goes

It’s been a bad week for writing. Have been in a blue mood and didn’t make much progress as a result. Revised half a chapter and wrote up some notes to work with, but that’s been it. I’m not too far off target for the month, but I wish I could say I had the drive for it. C’est la vie (or, at least, ma vie). I may or may not write today, and that’s ok. I’ll get back to it tomorrow and feel better for it.

a well-documented journey

Two years ago, I started relying on a desk calendar to track the number of days I work on my writing. I note down when I start and end a chapter,  or whether I’m writing, editing, or transcribing material. It helps me stay accountable and reveals patterns and interesting little life bits that are of no interest to anyone but me. It’s especially useful on days when I’m feeling particularly doubtful about my progress. I’m now three chapters away from finishing my read-through/note-taking/manual rewrite of Anúna draft two. Though it feels like I’ve been working on this draft for ages, the calendar reveals that I only started working on it in mid-August, having taken a month off after completing the second draft in July. That’s a lot less than I expected, though there were several gaps in my writing. For one, I was still adjusting to a new semester at a new library, so there were days when I had little energy left to write. Then there was my grandfather’s passing in September; it was difficult to get back into the story after something like that. Still, it’s not so terrible as I thought and shows that I’ve been much more productive than I give myself credit for at times. As with most writers, it’s incredibly easy for me to not see the forest for the trees. I get so caught up in the little things–like whether or not I took a week off writing and why it was such a terrible thing–that I forget to see how much I’ve really accomplished.

welcome May

May is here! And lots of changes with it–I’ll be speaking at a conference, starting a new job, figuring out a new schedule, and more.

What’s new? Well, I’ll tell you what’s not new… I did not reach my Camp NaNo goal. Not even close. Not that I really expected to, even after lowering my initial word goal of 20k, and later deciding to call it done if I finished Draft 2. Nope. The song remains the same. Still rewriting. Draft 2 is turning into a highly unmanageable little beast that just keeps growing, and with all the stuff happening in the coming weeks, I can’t see it being finished by the end of May. Still, it’s the driving desire for reader feedback that keeps me going. I know I need it before moving on to the next round of editing and I want to see it through before then.

I did, however, manage to acquire a nice little head cold. Right now, I’m doped up on just about every home remedy, cough concoction, and herbal tisane claiming to dislodge the germ colony invading my system. *sigh and cough*

the latest… and a progress report

So, dear reader, remember how I was being all vague and shifty? The moment of truth has arrived… For the last few months I was anxiously awaiting news on a job that I applied and interviewed for… and I got it! I wanted to tell everyone at work before posting about the offer, so now I can stop with the cagey antics. 

Can I just say… ain’t no job interview like an academic job interview. The process is harrowing, mind-blowing, nerve-wracking, *insert additional hyperbolic descriptors here*. But really, it is a process like no other. Academics like their folks well-rounded and they’ll stick you in all kinds of social and professional situations to see what you’re really like. Luckily, I’m pretty comfortable talking to people I’ve just met, but it’s still draining after nearly 8 hours of being chatty. Right now, I’m just trying to process all the changes that are coming my way. However, if any library students want to know more about what its like to interview for an academic library position, feel free to leave a comment or email me. I’m happy to divulge.

In other news… my NaNoThon Saturday was completely hijacked by my mother. Just when I was settling in to write–all my notes, floor plans (yes, there are floor plans now), and chapter outlines were spread in their proper order–my mom called as asked if I was ready to go out. Needless to say, my day of writing was at an end. On the bright side, I did need a break and it helped me admit that my rewrite needs rewriting. The ideas were there… but at this point I’m writing for quality not quantity. If I’m going to take this seriously, I have to put in the effort to craft a narrative that satisfies me as a writer and reader… not just toss a bunch of words together to reach a word count. It’s a setback, but better to face it now that the flaws are in sight. The only major drawback–my rewrites are splattered all over the page like some cryptic code. I’ve had to number the pages and draw arrows to tell myself how to read it all.