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.

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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. 

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.

not an excuse, just an understanding

I’ll fess up… I don’t think I’m going to be meeting my NaNoWriMo Rebel goal. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just find that in rewriting, I’m also re-imagining a lot of significant plot points and events that need more work than I foresaw when I started this journey. There are so many factors that are different this time around–last year, I was living at home and could get away with letting someone else do the cooking and chores, now it’s all on me. I also don’t have the extra time at work to focus on editing during my lunch; whereas, last year, I was getting an extra hour of writing a day by writing during my lunch hour. I also just don’t rewrite as fast as I write. My rewriting process is much slower than my writing… there’s more note taking and planning involved; it’s necessary, but it slows me down. Again, I’m finding that I’m okay with this. I’m not in this to “win;” more and more, I’m in this to produce something worth one day sharing with an agent. It’s early still, but I doubt I’ll get more than two more rewritten chapters before the end of the month. I’ll happen… it just might have to continue into December.

I am enjoying the process though 🙂 I’m seeing the story from a whole new angle and making it so much better (I think). Motivations and details are finally starting to come together. I’m kind of excited and eager to be able to read the whole thing through and fine-tune it.

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

The sense of an ending

At this very moment… yes, right now… Cassiel rewrite draft 1 is complete at a whopping 104,108 words. That’s… er… that’s a lot more than I intended to write.  I started this rewrite as a revision, but the story took on a whole new life and got away from me. It’s much better than the first version, I have to say, but it is essentially a whole new FIRST draft of a new old story. *sigh* I’m going to walk away from this for a few months. I’m going back to revising Anúna (any betas interested in reading an urban fantasy *hint hint wink wink*). My goal is a nice, in-depth revision and read through while Cassiel marinades in my brain. Get ready for manic revision blogging!

How did I write so much? Oh, the edits to be done...
How did I write so much? Oh, the edits to be done…

Now, to print it on the cheap…

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.

Adventures in re-writing, part 4

Writer’s Block struck this month. Between family medical dramas and too much writing at work, the idea of squeezing in time to write before or after work was a joke. Not only have I been dealing with too many life issues, professional writing tends to put me in a frame of mind that creeps into my creative writing and leads to some terribly dry prose. It was not a good place. But I’ve managed to break past it! Today, I had a major breakthrough in my writing (well, major for me) and finally got through one of the most important transitions in Cassiel–getting Cassiel out of London and on her adventure!

So how did I do it? I tried to find inspiration in other places. I turned to research. I became obsessed with train schedules and sweated the small stuff. I also made time to get away from the house and took my writing outside–to Starbucks, to the boy’s house, and to work. Sometimes, a change of scenery (both mental and physical) is all it takes. Sometimes, you need a bigger push. I’m hoping to steer clear of those times that require a greater push.

I’m still making good time and will try to continue to do so in order to meet my goal of 50K by June 20. With today’s sessions, I have just over 35K words. It was a good day 🙂

Cassiel, rewrite draft 1

About Cassiel

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/