The Writing Show Must Go On…

Sorry for missing my usual Wednesday morning post, but I was out sick from work this week and couldn’t stand staring at the computer typing my life away.

So now that the madness of NaNoWriMo has been over for a week (ten days for me), what do I focus on, writing-wise? How do I move forward from a great accomplishment instead of getting stuck right here and not seeing it through? I’ll tell you how–I keep on writing.

I’ve flirted a little bit with the marriage kit book (which is almost finished), reading through a large portion of it and researching some of the holes I still need to fill. I found all the material I had written for Some College, my memoir about the year I spent in between my junior and senior year of college, and I contacted a good high school friend for his help with an area of the book that involves some things from our high school days. Going back to my high school reunion really opened that door wide for me. I’ve even started writing out some “treatments” for “scenes” in the other story I outlined before NaNoWriMo, and began trying to develop an outline for my next book in the series that this year’s NaNoWriMo book starts.

What I’ve managed to do is to stay far away from my NaNoWriMo manuscript, Delivering Justice. I’ve given myself ten days away from it, and I am chomping at the bit to start revising it. I said I wouldn’t look at it again until the 10th, but I think it’s time to get back into it. I know a few of the issues that I’ll need to address from the beginning–passive voice, weak verbs, an adverb explosion–and I’m sure I’ll discover a plethora of other problems that I’ll need to tackle, but I’m ready to dive back into it.

I spent some time on the boards for Harlequin and discovered that Delivering Justice should  be targeted toward the Intrigue line and not the Romantic Suspense line, at least from what I’ve read and been told. I’m glad, not only because the word count is lower, meaning I don’t have to find a subplot or fluff my story out of recognition, but because it means I don’t have to tone down the suspense and play up the romance as much as I initially thought. My story doesn’t have to be contorted into something unrecognizable to fit the mold, and that makes me feel even more certain that this story is exactly what it should be.

I never heard anything back from my So You Think You Can Write entry, but I’ve reworked the beginning and I think I’ve written some really good material since the opening chapter. I’m not sure exactly where the story will fit, but I would love to finish it sometime next year.

I’ve thought of at least three other books in the series DJ starts, with two possibles. Once I have eyeballs back on the story, I’ll get an excerpt up for some critique.

How’s everyone else’s writing coming along? Anyone close to submitting/publishing? Anyone revising?

XOXO,

Erica

On (Not) Wimping Out

The past three days have been hard writing days for yours truly. I didn’t like what I wrote for Friday’s words, I wrote less than a thousand words at 10pm last night (meaning I wasted all of my morning writing hours–all four of them!), and this morning, I’m struggling again to get words on the page. With a manuscript that stands at a little more than 44,500 words, I am losing my momentum on it. The doubts are beginning to creep in: is the suspense element strong enough? Is the romance element strong enough? I haven’t gotten these characters on the same page in too many pages. When is she going to tell him she loves him? Is he going to tell her he loves her first? How are the conflicts going to be realistically resolved so they can be together (I resolved one conflict last night. Whew! Only one or two more to go)? How is this all going to end?

Other than these doubts, I’ve been dealing with minor characters trying to take over the story, awkward attempts at sensual scenes, and the ever looming realization that if I target Harlequin romantic suspense, I still have 20,000 words beyond NaNoWriMo to account for. Gah! No wonder I’m plastered to the ceiling! So. Much. Pressure!

Then I received a wonderful piece of advice from Sarah M. Anderson’s online workshop on revision (among a million other great pieces of advice in the forum). She reminded all of us that the holidays is not the time to send in a manuscript, as many editors are in and out of town, and requested manuscripts and establish author manuscripts tend to get priority. She told unpublished and unrequested authors to hold off until the new year, to use the next month to polish and revise. I had planned to do this initially, but I was fighting the impulsive side I had that wanted to hit send on this manuscript on December 5th and get the waiting started already. Hearing her words, in effect, gave me back a few weeks to get the story like I wanted.

I’m going to finish NaNoWriMo, and have all the major scenes, plot points, and resolutions/endings in the manuscript. I will continue on until the close of business November 30th, even if I have hit 50,000. But after that, I’m setting it aside until Monday December 10th. I am just going to get the things I still need to get on paper on the page, then I’ll go back and extend scenes that need to be elaborated on, fix word choices, find grammatical areas, deep clean each chapter…whatever editing tricks and tools float my boat. Then I’ll add in my chapter headings and make sure it’s properly formatted. Finally, I’ll develop my query letter and synopsis. Beginning December 10th, not now. Right now, all I need to do is get the words on the page in a fun way that keeps me motivated for at least 5,000 more words.

I’ve always had a problem ending things, of letting them be done so I can move on to the next step. I’m not a finisher. The problem is usually that fear chokes me. I am determined not to let fear choke me so close to my goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect; I have an entire month to sit with it and perfect it. Right now, it just has to get done.

Send me prayers and encouragement for better writing days and to finish NaNoWriMo strong and still proud of what I’ve accomplished.

How are you holding up this month?

XOXO

Erica

The Power of a Good Routine

One of the things that I am learning, both through NaNoWriMo and joining in chats on forums and boards for writers is that for me, consistency is a key element to my process, but not the most important. I need to make time to write, yes, but it doesn’t have to be a certain time and place. I find that the words flow best for me in a rather odd place at a time I’ve never tried before last month. I don’t write at my desk or on my futon; rather, I sit on the floor, propped against my dresser with three pillows at my back, legs stretched out in front of me. No, seriously, that is how I’m writing this book, lounging on the floor in my bedroom. Still, I have moments of clarity on particularly sticky parts on my lunch break, in the car,  while working at the day job—everywhere. As long as I have blocked off some time to write and have either my computer or a pen and paper, I can get at least a few hundred words in.

At this very moment, I am just over 41k into Delivering Justice. I’m still trying to find the best line to target. It’s a romantic suspense story. It is a little too racy for Love Inspired suspense (and no mention of faith), and I don’t know if I can make it long enough for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. I think there’s a little too much subplot and secondary characters for Intrigue. What’s a girl to do? Stop thinking about where it fits and finish my first draft, of course!

I am making myself take this one step at a time and have fun with the characters and the story. I think that’s the most important thing that I can do for the story at this point. I do read everything I write in the afternoon, and I do a little fact checking here and there if I need to. I am aware that I am not strictly adhering to the rules of NaNoWriMo anymore than I’m adhering to what I usually do to write a story, and I think this break from the norm for me is really helping me to get close to a finished first draft.

Once I’m done with this first draft, I’m AM going to adhere to a good piece of advice and focus my attention elsewhere. I want to get back to tweaking Pleasure’s Payne, and try to excavate my class reunion story, but I am going to just take a week to bask in being finished with Delivering Justice (and celebrating my anniversary  with the boyfriend on December 5th!). I’ll catch up on reviews for Harlequin Junkie, reading all the best upcoming books before I give DJ a good once over and send it out. Then I’ll get into the next project. I’ll try and forget I sent it in and put a calendar date out there for March to remind myself to follow up if I haven’t heard anything, all the while writing better and better books.

How’s NaNoWriMo going for you all? Is anyone else excited about the story they’re creating this month?  Would anyone be interested in seeing a snippet of Delivering Justice?

No NaNo…and I’m Okay with That

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, and I’m OK with that. I don’t want you to take that to mean I’m not writing; I am. It’s just that I’m choosing to focus on finishing my marriage kit book instead of heading headlong into the fiction writing frenzy of NaNoWriMo. I’ve committed myself fully to focusing on this one project and actually finishing a manuscript this year as I’ve planned.

Thanks to a new position at work sparking new life in me and conversations and news articles that have kept my interest in this project high, I have a lot written down in various places. Now I’m typing it all up, as well as expanding on ideas and trying to put it in some sort of other. I feel as if I have confirmation I’m working on the right book at the right time.

So I have decided to be fully committed to one project at a time, at least until I finish this one. I haven’t been on the blogs as much and I haven’t been working on other projects. I’m going to give something my all, for once. And so far, it seems to be the best road for me to have taken.

To NaNo or Not to NaNo…

This is the question I keep asking myself this year. The first year I attempted it, I had no internet. Last year, I was preparing to move and had a lot going on personally that prevented me from giving it my best effort. This year, writing might get in the way of…well, writing.

I’m working on the marriage kit project. I’ve actually got the beginnings of a good chapter written and a few others outlined, as interviews and such have been few and far between. I am also transcribing a backlog of interviews onto the computer and selecting quotes, scripture references, and etc. I’m concentrating solely on this project right now, but I’m starting to grow a bit bored with just one thing. I’m starting to wonder if switching gears to fiction, to NaNoWriMo for a month, might be in order.

I don’t know what I’m going to do just yet. Are you going to do NaNoWriMo? What are your reasons? How do you know when it’s time to switch gears and when you just need to buckle down & gut it out?

New (Untitled) Piece…and What I’m Working On…

There’s a new piece up on my (Untitled) page that’s really personal…it’s about my relationship with my dad from way back. Thankfully, we’re beyond that stage now, but it was a good piece and I wanted to air it out somewhere.

Lately, I’ve been going through my various journals and highlighting things I want to use and ideas I want to play with for my two non-fiction works, Some College and the Marriage Kit book. It seems I’ve written short excerpts and stream of consciousness thoughts for both works everywhere; now that I have the command center set up, I’m putting it all together. I’m also slowly but surely working my way through the Camp NaNoWriMo manuscript, and living life experiences that will go well with the NaNoWriMo 2010 manuscript. All in all, it’s been a pretty productive month for being creative.

I’ve been going through some of my floppy disks, the ones that I used with my Brother Word processor. That’s been an experience. I found some things from when I turned 15 and on that I may share on this or another blog. I still have plenty of disks to go through from my computer disk days in middle and high school, but so far I’m estatic about all the pieces I’m rediscovering, some of which have some real merit. Now to get my hands on the other notebooks I wasn’t able to bring, and to have my entire body of work here to mull over and continue.

Nothing much else never in 2blu2btruLand. How are your writing lives going?

2blu2btru

A Time for Honesty

I’m not going to “win” Camp NaNoWriMo. I am not all broken up about it, either. The point, for me, was to jump start my writing again, to commit to spending more time writing each day. It was more an exercise of butt-in-chair than actually going for the word counts. I also wanted to commit to a first draft, of spending more time writing than I did dismantling what I’d written before. I wanted to develop a routine that allowed me to reread and alter for consistency, but still keep moving the WIP forward, not getting bogged down in trying to produce a perfect draft instead of a first draft.

I have been finding the act of a NaNoWriMo style of writing to be a bit too restrictive for me. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing to give in to the impulses that arise whenever I’ve taken up the challenge. I keep wanting to switch my focus to other stories. I have these elaborate ideas for them, but I try to force myself to only work on the current project (although I do write the concept or a line or two down so I can come back to it). All of my word count must go to this project. The more I try to do that, the less healthy I think that is for me. My creative process isn’t exactly linear, and trying to write a story in a linear fashion hasn’t worked for me since my days of writing FO (another problem I have with my approach to NaNoWriMo months).

Here’s what I know to be true about myself as a writer: sometimes I have to follow the red herrings and see where they’re going, if only to know if the red herring is taking me off course with this story, but leading me to another; working on other projects can clear my head enough that a solution to a blockage with another story can get through; I’m always going to be a quality over quantity writer; it’s no use trying not to self-edit along the way, if for nothing else but consistency’s sake; my goals work better for me when they are less about word count or time spent writing, and more about committing to writing a certain scene or introducing certain characters, and; it’s OK that the way I work may not jibe with what the writing advice people say in some ways, as long as I am writing things of which I can be proud.

For the next six days, I will continue to concentrate on the Camp NaNoWriMo WIP. I will work to get all of the written material typed up and validated, as well as work on progressing to a certain point in the work before the end of camp. I will also begin prepping my next project for the official NaNoWriMo in November. I think that if nothing else, NaNoWriMo is a good way for me to start thinking intensively about projects and to have an official start day and begin setting time aside to at least get as much of the concept on paper as I already have in my head. The next NaNoWriMo project will be the one of the other choices from my Need Help in a Hurry post. Between August and November, aside from prepping for November, I’m going to be focused on whatever project is calling to me. I’ll write on it every day until I’ve gotten as much as possible worked out  and can’t get any more words to come out, then switch to the next project that gets hot. I would love to say that I’m going to see one project to a completed first draft before moving on, but that may or may not happen.

Also, I want to get Candy Apples published…and soon. If any other short stories get finished, I’ll work on getting them published as well. I think it’s time to move forward with my writing career in a way that will eventually allow me to write fulltime. I think that once I can fully focus on my writing, my output will be a lot higher (yet still of a great quality) and I will be that much closer to my dream of publishing domination. I can’t wait to be able to share these characters and stories that I love with readers the world over and have them love and care about them as well. That’s really where my motivation lies.

I just wanted to be honest about all of that. This is who I am as a writer and what I want to accomplish the next few months. What are you guys working on? What do you plan to accomplish the rest of this year? What type of writer are you? I can’t wait to hear your responses! 🙂

I’m Just a Bachelor(ette), Looking for a Partner…

I was just reading a blog post that wanted to trackback to my blog when a thought hit me like a bolt from the blue: I don’t have a writing partner.

OK, so it didn’t hit me like a bolt from the blue. I’ve been aware of my lack of a writing buddy for a very long time now. I’ve made some progress on this deficiency. Through blogging (both here and on my other blogs), I’ve met many wonderful writers and friends. The thing is, though, I don’t have anyone to critique my writing, to give me some outside perspective on it.

I’ve asked for your thoughts here (on the little snippets on my Untitled page), and I even joined a NaNoWriYear challenge with Cordelia over on Cordelia Calls It Quits, but I’m no closer to finding my writing soulmate. I haven’t found the fellow writer who I can trust not to steal my work, to tell me honestly what they think of my writing, to support me when I think I’m going crazy and to encourage me when I feel like being published is never going to happen. I haven’t found anyone who likes the genres that I write in and is willing to share as well as critique.  I haven’t found my writing accountability partner.

For now, the best writing buddy I have is this blog. Having to write down my progress is really helping me to keep working on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, even if I don’t meet the daily word count goals (which reminds me, I actually have to type up what I have so I can get my count validated). In case you were wondering, I am still chugging along on the challenge, still working hard to finally get this story down. Other stories keep trying to intrude, but I’m remaining focused. When I realize I needed to say something earlier for continuity, or find a spot on want to expand on later, I write it down in the margins near where it would go and I keep going. I’m not allowing myself to be deterred. I don’t know if I’ll have 50,000 words at the end of the month, but I’ll have far more than the dismal 10,000 I managed in November.

Anyway, if you want to get to know me better as a potential writing buddy, have some advice about finding a good writing buddy, or you just want to commiserate with me on our lack of writing buddies, feel free to comment or email me at 2blu2btru4u@gmail.com.

A Gift & A Curse

As I’m nearly the end of the first week of this Camp NaNoWriMo challenge, I’m finding the going very difficult. It’s not the writing, though. Well, it is the writing, but not in the usual way. I haven’t run out of ideas (yet), and in fact, by moving the beginning of the story to the day before the main character’s father dies in a little Prologue has really opened up the possibilities (and allowed the writing to flow). The truth is, there’s something different this time, something that wasn’t there during my first few attempts that can either really propel this book forward or drive it straight into the ground.

I’ve actually lost my stepfather.

Before, I wasn’t able to capture anything of grief, because I hadn’t really lost anyone close to me before, certainly not anyone who helped raised me. I didn’t really know what that felt like. I was bereft of all the little details of losing someone. Now, I’m not. On the one hand, that aids me in feeling the feelings and writing about them. On the other hand, I have to feel the feelings.

I can’t simply go back and look up all of what I was feeling at that time. There was a sort of radio silence at that time. I didn’t write much of anything, related to that time or otherwise. I tried to right about it, but not much came out. I tried to cry about it, but that didn’t really happen either, not right away. So, in order to relate how grief feels, I actually have to grieve. Which is affecting me in the most curious ways (I think I meant affect, but it could be effect; those always give me trouble).

Some of the things I never thought about are sneaking into the story and hitting me in the face. I reach in my head for something to say, and pull out a little snippet of memory I’d long forgotten. I won’t share what I’ve used so far (I saw a blog book tour where the author revealed all of these “secrets” about the book, and it seemed neat enough for me to want to try later…and I’m notoriously protective of my work until it’s “done”), but it’s the tiny details that are getting me.

One thing I will share. The main character is at the funeral (and subsequently the repast), looking at all of these people who have come out. Some of the people are business associates of her father’s, some are youth he mentored, and some are from a nursing home where he volunteered. Instead of being happy to see all of these people whose lives have been touched by her father, she feels angry. They’ve stolen precious moments she could have had with her father that are lost forever. She’s felt next to nothing up to this point, and when she finally feels something, it’s this anger. I did not feel this way at my stepfather’s funeral, no. But I did feel angry at another time during the visiting of relatives, and as the visiting tapered off. That feeling was so hard to process for me, so I didn’t. Now here I am trying to write about it.

It all makes me wonder how valuable first hand experience of something really is to telling the story. Did someone close to me have to die in order for me to do this story justice? Is how close the subject is hindering me more than it’s helping me? What do you all think?

Needing Help in a Hurry

Tomorrow is the official start to Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve already been on to the website, filled out my author information. I’ve got my pens and paper ready, and I’m ready to resuscitate a very rusty writing practice. The thing is, I got to that pesky novel information page and realized I still don’t know what I’m writing about.

Since the spirit of NaNoWriMo is to start and finish a novel in the allotted month, I have to start from scratch writing wise. Thanks to my trip home, there are quite a few pieces that I have that I can start over with and make a pretty great story from. There are a couple of choices for this, as I outlined in The Girl Who Couldn’t Commit.

Here are my choices. Let me know what you think I should work on. Keep in mind, now, that since I’d have to start over, some of the ones I wanted to work on, I can’t (A Blues for Zora, the one on Openfiction.com, Class Reunion, the Southern Gothic Novel)

  1. The story I told you about in Three Sides to Every Story. It’s about a woman who has recently lost a parent. In her grief, she becomes a mean, bitter recluse. She meets and befriends a man who is her polar opposite–daring, extroverted, friendly. This is the story of their friendship. At this point, it’s not a love story, but who knows?
  2. The story with the “It’s Really Not What it Looks Like” twist. Amanda is sick and needs a home health aid. Her brother catches the home health aid in a situation that looks really bad and forms a bad opinion about her, despite his obvious attraction to her. Can she prove her innocence and keep her job? It’s very harlequinesque, as you can see.
  3. That murder story I was telling you about. Maria Gonzales is a mystery writer suffering from severe writer’s block under deadline. She just can’t seem to get a good grip on this female familicidal killer. Luckily, her boyfriend Tony works at a maximum security women’s prison that houses a notorious female convicted of familicide. Maria overcomes her writer’s block and pens a bestseller. Everything is going well…until the murderess escapes.
  4.  Something absolutely new that I’ve been playing around with. I’m not sharing it yet. That is all. Well not really. I’ll just say it’s more literary than the others.

Cast your votes now. I’ll let you know what I decided to go with tomorrow!