Hello, December – Goodbye, Nano!

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Where did November go, people? Don’t get me wrong, I am happy – but a little surprised – that December is already here. You see, I’ve been busy: for the first time, I have successfully completed the National Novel Writing Month Challenge, and I did it two days before the end-of-the-month deadline.

Was it difficult to write 50 thousand words in 28 days, you may ask?

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What do you think?

After sitting still for so long, it was wonderful to have the freedom to get up and move around again. But I have to confess: I felt a tad wobbly at first.

This is how I walked Friday evening when I finished:

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Arthritis? What arthritis?

Joking aside, I am super happy I took on the challenge, and would recommend Nanowrimo to anyone who wants to see results in a short period of time. It is an effective way to kick procrastination and writer’s block to the curb, especially if you have a writing buddy who is as determined as you are. Wendy kept me accountable, and we both finished with days to spare.

So now I have a first draft of the Calmer Girls sequel, minus a couple of concluding chapters that I will finish this month. Those chapters, along with the additions that will go in when I begin editing in January, should bring the word count up to 70 thousand plus.

The Nano website suggested I treat myself to a T-shirt showing off their logo, but I did better than that. Being Black Friday, I got Santa to order me a new camera online for Christmas, saving himself over $200 in the process.

This is me now:

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A new camera for my blog! Yes!!!

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Did you take part in Nanowrimo this year?

Have you ever challenged yourself with a creative deadline and won?

Please share your experience with me. 🙂

Writing, writing, and more writing? Write on!

 

Hi, everyone. I thought I’d pass along a quick update today about my novel and what has happened lately in my life as an author.

I am encouraged by the reception Calmer Girls has gotten in the publishing world. In particular, I am now patiently waiting on those who have expressed interest in my query, synopsis and sample chapters, and who subsequently requested the full manuscript for review. (Yay!)

Of course, my optimism is tempered with caution and awareness of the reality that these are only first steps. The road to getting traditionally published is a long, slow and arduous one for many new authors, and I am no exception. I read yesterday of a successful novelist who endured TWENTY-NINE rejections before his first book was picked up. And it ultimately made it to the New York Times best-seller list!

So now while my manuscript is out of my hands, I continue on with the sequel. In that area I have made progress, but not as much as I would like due to life getting in the way (Funny how that always seems to happen!).

designed by Elizabeth Doyle
designed by Elizabeth Doyle

For this reason, I am considering taking part in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it is called. This is a yearly internet event that takes place in November, not only nationally but all over the world. The object is to write 50,000 words of a first draft in 30 days, which means participants write an average of 1667 words a day.

Awesome? Terrifying? Doable? Impossible? You tell me.

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Will this be you?
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…or this?

If I do indeed sign up, some of my activities will no doubt have to be curtailed or relegated to the back burner. My Friday Bouquet will be suspended for the time being, and my other blog posts will be brief. I won’t be able to read others’ blogs as much as I am used to. But I shall return, my lovelies!

What do you think of such a project? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If you are, tell me all about it below. We can give each other moral support. 🙂

Explore Further:
One Wild Word: Get ready for NaNoWriMo by choosing your novel’s story question

Kristen Lamb’s Blog: 8 Elements to NAILING Your Plot and Owning NaNo

 

Completing My First Draft: Three Things I’ve Learned

 

Two weeks ago today, I had a fabulous evening.

Late on that Friday afternoon, I typed the last word of the last sentence of the last chapter of my Work In Progress. It felt wonderful! What a sense of satisfaction filled me as I raised my glass of Cabernet and toasted to my awesomeness. What an accomplishment! I spent the rest of the evening, and well into the night, celebrating, mentally patting myself on the back and grinning like an idiot.

My euphoria lasted about as long as the hangover. Over the next couple of days as planned, I reviewed a few of the writing tips and tricks I had bookmarked for my upcoming revision and editing process, and I crashed back to sober reality. I realized there was still plenty of work ahead, and instinctively I know certain areas have to be improved, rearranged, and completely rewritten, and then there’s my iPad with an app full of collected notes, jockeying to make it into the finished product as well.

But that’s okay. Every writer knows the first rough draft is exactly that: a first run, a rough copy, and yes, some of it is just plain shit. But in among the steaming heaps that stank, I knew there were jewels just waiting to be polished, the little jewels that make it all worthwhile.

Here are three chief concepts I believe every writer, who truly wants to be a writer, needs to remember.

1. No one wants to read about a Goody Two Shoes. If I expect readers to keep turning the pages, my characters have to be flawed. Whether that makes you like them, or love to hate them, depends on the types of flaws they embody – and maybe it depends on the sort of person you are, and what types of characters you are drawn to and like to read about. As important as plot may be, really, it’s all about the characters.

2. If you aren’t having any fun while you write, I don’t know how you will ever make it as a writer. A writer writes because she wants to, she has to, regardless of recognition or book sales. The fulfilment is in the process. And it’s a hard process. The best piece of advice I read about writer’s block was to put the manuscript aside and try penning a poem, or exploring another creative endeavor.

3. You have to want to write another book as soon as you’re finished the one you are now writing, The sweet possibility of a sequel keeps whispering in my ear, and that excites me. If I do write a sequel, however, it doesn’t mean the first one will depend on it. The novel I’m writing now will be able to stand alone in its own right. Then there are the flashes of inspiration for other book ideas that come during my writing, to which I can refer and develop when needed.

I’m waiting another couple of weeks to give myself more objectivity, before I start revisions. In the meantime there are plenty of good books and other reading material that beg for my attention.

Then on to the Second Draft!

Please share your thoughts with me about your Work in Progress. 🙂

 

The Creation of a Novel: a Progress Report

The Creation of a Novel – A Progress Report

Four months ago, I posted an entry to Jennifer’s Journal about how I had recently begun writing a novel. How excited I was to tell you of my ambition! And how I loved and appreciated the likes and the supportive, enthusiastic comments that post generated!

Little did I know then what lay ahead, Dear Readers and Bloggers.

Since the inception of this, my latest creative project, my path has had a few twists, turns and bumps. One of the biggest and most significant was undoubtedly when I decided, after conceiving a plot, creating the characters and developing an outline, to give up on it.

Well, I didn’t exactly give up on this first effort. I know; by now, you are probably thinking “what is this flighty, unfocused female trying to say?” No, I chose to set aside this first plot outline for consideration at a later date. I liked it, but not for right now. Instead, I began working on another, entirely different idea for a book. It is an idea that I felt more comfortable with and felt more capable writing about. So before long I had the new outline completed, new characters imagined, and I was underway.

But Life happens. I was sidetracked, and devastated, by some major personal events that demanded my attention and reflection. Into the mix was the holiday season and the traveling and socializing it required, a wedding, flare-ups of a chronic shoulder tendonitis condition, and then a bout of pneumonia. I blogged through it all, and managed to do some necessary research for the novel while the going was tough.

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Thankfully, things have settled down since last month. I got back to writing. I imagined how my characters had been waiting for me, patient yet eager to be actually doing something besides standing around, waiting quietly in the wings, looking at their watches or drumming their fingers. At last they were given something to say, and something to do. Hurray!

As of today, I would venture to guess I am one-quarter to one-third done writing the first draft. I have hopes of completing this draft by late spring, then begin the editing. It is only now I am realizing the dedication and self-discipline needed to write an entire full-length novel, especially when the only deadline you have is one you have invented for yourself. Some days I write over a thousand words, some days five hundred, and some days, none at all. (I try to keep those to a minimum). Even when I am not actually writing, I think about my book a lot. My husband and I will be watching TV or a movie at night, and I’ll suddenly realize I missed a big chunk of the story because I was lost in thoughts of my own story!

As strong and compelling as my conviction is, I still have to fight against my nemesis, procrastination. As I’m sure many of you may empathize, even though I love writing and find it rewarding, it is hard work. And it is natural sometimes to feel you are not in the ideal mood for it. But it is important to push through at those times, and demand that little extra from yourself, even if it is only a couple hundred words or so.  I have come to appreciate that writing for half an hour is better than not writing at all, so one doesn’t lose momentum and focus.

In some ways, I believe we can compare writing a book to training for and running a marathon. Here is an excerpt from  Running for Fitness by Owen Barder, to illustrate:

The marathon distance is exquisitely set to take us beyond our comfort zone, into a realm in which we confront the limitations of our bodies and our minds. We complete the marathon distance only by patient preparation and mental discipline. There are no short cuts, no easy ways out. The marathon takes us up to, and beyond, the limit of human endurance, into an unknown zone where we confront our true selves, and discover our inner strengths and limits.

Please wish me luck on my marathon of writing in the months ahead. Daunting at times? Yes. Worth the sacrifice of time, and the blood, sweat and tears? Absolutely.

Do you have any thoughts about your own experiences with writing? Is there any advice you would like to share?