Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Days in: 26
Words written: 48,390
On target? Yes! (I should be finished today!)
Working hard today to make sure that I finished those last few words so I can "win" NaNo. Although the story is coming along better than I thought (I was going crazy about 3,000 words ago) it's nowhere near what I thought it was going to turn out to be. Apparently the characters didn't like what I had planned for them and made their own story.
On the other hand, it was a lot more fun to write a story in which I wasn't quite sure where it was going. Because of this, I think I'm going to try out the same tactics for the next one I write. Instead of coming out with a fancy, VERY detailed outline of nearly every character action, I'll just do character bios and let them do their thing... it certainly makes the writing process almost as exciting as the reading process :)
More next week!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Days in: 21
Words written: 41,690
On target? Ahead!
Ok, this is going to be a short entry since we're getting down to the wire here in NaNoWriMo and although I'm fabulously ahead of schedule, there's still much writing to be done before my last writing days (which is next Wednesday). That means I only have four more days, including today, to write 8,310 words... at least. I don't think my story will be finished by then. Although with the way things have been going, I don't have a clue anymore.
See, I've read about how other authors say that their characters suddenly stand up for themselves, take over and decide their own fate. I've never had that happen. Until now. Usually before I write a story I have a loose outline in place that keeps me on the track I planned (literally from first action to last action) that way my mind can't wander, writer's block stays a safe distance away and I can stay on track throughout the whole book. Of course I leave some actions open for a slight change, but nothing major. I always know what to expect from my characters. I don't let them run amok.
Fast forward to my brilliant decision to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo and what used to be such an organized process has all gone to hell. I didn't write any outline before beginning my story, just character bios. But I still had specific things in mind that my characters were supposed to do and they're not doing them! (For those of you that haven't written a novel before... or even tried... I may sound like I've gone off the deep end here, but I swear, there's nothing I can do!)
So, the perfect tidy little ending that I had in mind is no longer possible... at least I'm pretty sure it's not. But I'm kind of liking this new twist. Perhaps instead of trying to maintain a difficult hold on where this novel is going, I'll just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Days in: 7
Words written: 10,028
On target: amazingly, yes
Well, the first week of NaNoWriMo is nearly done and despite the fact that I've only actually written THREE of these past seven days, I'm still on target to have 50,000 words by November 30th. I'm honestly a little shocked that I've written 10,000+ words in just three measly days. My novel is coming along at an unusually rapid pace and it's a little scary, exhilerating and unbelievable all at once.
The problem I'm having (and knew I was going to have before even beginning this monstrosity) is that I don't write on the weekends. Perhaps some day not long from now when I can be a full-time stay at home writer I'll write for a few hours every day. But until then, weekends are mine! I'll also be going out of town for a wedding one day and then there's Thanksgiving and the day after. So instead of the 30 days that most NaNoWriMo participants are counting on, I get 17. Yup, that's right, almost HALF of the time everyone else is taking to write 50,000 words. So the very obvious strategy I've devised is that I need to write double every day.
It's quite simple, really. You need to write 1167 words a day to reach the 50,000 mark in 30 days. I need to write 2942-ish in order to make the same mark in 17 days. Eesh. Well, at least I'm still caught up. Though we are only a week in...
Lots of work to do, but the deadline is keeping me going!!
More next week (and hopefully I'll be able to report that I'm still caught up---maybe even ahead of schedule...)
Friday, October 31, 2008
Current tuneage: All I Have To Do Is Dream - The Everly Brothers
So last week I was just finishing up a short story and debating on whether or not to cut it back 700 words so I could send it in to a short story contest. Honestly, I still haven't decided. Clearly it didn't make the 10/27 deadline, but I still have several weeks for the Dec. 1st deadline. So while I'm pondering that...
I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year!! For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, it's National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November. (I believe this year is the 10th anniversary). Starting at midnight tonight over 100,000 writers from all over the country begin writing a novel. The goal is that by midnight on November 30th you have 50,000 words written (or 175 pages). That's 1167 words a day to stay on par... I can do that, right?
It's something I actually heard about last year, but didn't have the opportunity to participate since I'd already begun novel #3. But this year, I figure what better way to get started on novel #4!? So this week I've been preparing all my material, character bios, plot outline, etc. so that I will be ready!
I'm really hoping the dicipline it's going to take to complete NaNoWriMo successfully will help me in my future deadline endeavors...
wish me luck!!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Happy Friday!! Well, this week has gone by surprisingly fast. I've FINALLY finished my short story and have almost finished editing it. There are a few contests I'd like to enter it in and one of them that I just found has a 10/27 deadline! The other has a Dec. 1st deadline and a word count limit. That's what I seem to be struggling with right now. I really like the story the way it is. Could I cut it down to 1500 words? (it's currently at around 2200) Probably. But I'm trying to decide if it's worth it just to be able to send it into this contest. Or if I just write another one that's under 1500 words. Such a dilemma.
On another note, I sent in my final follow up query letter. This particular agency has had my novel (1st) since the end of March and they are the only ones that haven't responded. It's a little sad to think this is the last chance for that novel (at least for now). I'll assume that it's either not good enough for publishing or needs some serious work before it will be ready. Either way, I think it's time to move on. There are a lot more story ideas brewing around in my head and I don't have the time or emotional capacity to get hung up on one story. On a similar note, I was reading an agent's blog a few weeks ago and she mentioned how she never likes to hear that it's a writer's first novel. She knows how rare it is for those to get published and it's not typically until a 4th or 5th novel that the writer has figured out the formula well enough to make a really great book (or at least one that's going to be able to sell).
Check out the link to that blog post here: http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2008/07/how-much-to-tell.html#links
So with that in mind, I'll keep writing, not holding my breath and being patient while I get better at writing. I have all the time in the world...
In the meantime, I'll keep writing!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Well, I apologize for the massive hiatus. I was just reading a literary agent's blog and she happened to mention that she always tells her clients to never start a blog... and neglect to update it. So I felt horribly guilty and here I am.
Lots has happened since I last blogged... eek... almost three months ago. My husband accepted a new position back in Indiana, so we're getting ready for some pretty big changes! Tyson is getting bigger by the day. I took him to the vet just the other day and he weighs 86 pounds now--and he's only 8.5 months old!!
On the writing side of things, I went through kind of a funk. I went through a similar one about this time last year and I'm beginning to wonder if it's just when I happen to finish a novel or the time of year. Because as soon as fall weather starts I'm back in full writing mode--like there aren't enough hours in the day to get the story from my brain to the computer screen.
So that's been going good. I'm still trying to squeeze in time to edit my second novel. Much longer on that and I'm going to start thinking I have an editing phobia. I believe in a previous post I discussed wanting to work on short stories for contests and literary journal publication and I'm nearly done with one of the short stories. Writer's Digest is having a pretty big contest with a Dec. 1 deadline, so that's what I'm working towards right now.
I was just counting the other day and I think I have 4-5 projects I'm working on right now. I actually think this is a good thing because as soon as I get stuck on one of them (regardless of the reason) I open up another one and start working on it. I guess it's really just another way of beating writer's block, but whatever works, right?
Well, I think that's about all for now. I promise, I'll be better about writing more frequently. I'm not sure I can handle the daily thing (surprisingly I don't think I have enough to say to do that) but at least once a week.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Alrighty, well after a week and a half hiatus, I'm back. I've been in a weird funk (are there other kinds?) for nearly two weeks and it was getting to where I couldn't get anything done. For whatever reason, the mood has passed and I feel incredibly refreshed.
I'm still working on several projects at once. I haven't seem to found the time to begin editing novel #2 yet, which is frustrating. But I realize that it's going to take a lot of work and I'd prefer to wait until I can give it the attention it deserves as opposed to rushing through it just to finish it. Novel #3 and my first short story are getting the most attention right now. I'm doing a lot more pre-work with both of them than I ever have before and hopefully will reap the benefits down the road.
I'm pretty excited about both of these projects and hopefully they will continue to go as smoothly as them seem to be now!
More later :)
Friday, July 18, 2008
Ok, so I know I've been bad for the last week and I haven't blogged. Blame it on the weather...or my mood... or something else I have little control over. Either way, I'm here now and that's all that matters, right?
So there are a few blogs (mostly writing/agent/editor blogs) that I read daily. And one entry yesterday really caught my attention. It was about rewriting and drafting a novel (which I'm in the process of doing for one of my novels). I struggle with this step in the writing process, because although I generally get pretty excited about it (I am improving it and deleting things - which is always fun) but on the other hand it's A LOT of work. Well this particular blogger made the statement that the only way to edit your own work was to print it out.
Now, I've heard this statement made before. Particularly just before I began editing my first novel. I rolled my eyes, thinking that these people obviously were crazy to think I was going to print off 250+ pages and read through them with my little red pen. Isn't just reading it on the computer and editing it as you go SOOOOO much easier?? Why yes, I think so.
I got to thinking yesterday that perhaps these "crazy" people may have something with the whole idea. Several months after finishing my first novel (having edited it 3 times) I thought it was ready to go. Several months after that I began thinking that maybe it wasn't quite as polished as it possibly could have been. Could this be thanks to me having edited it on my computer instead of printing it off and making notes for separate problems in different colored pens? Who knows. Once it's been seen by my entire list of agents (and we're getting close) I will probably sit it down for another round of editing (yes, by printing it out first) and see what I come up with.
In the meantime, I'll take the advice of those who have been in the biz significantly longer than me and try it their way with novel number 2. I figure I don't have much to lose. :)
Friday, July 11, 2008
Well, I finally got a response back from the agent that requested the full manuscript on exclusive. It was a no (clearly, or there would be a lot more exclamation points in this post), but she was nice enough to comment on why she wasn't going to ask to represent it. Several of the comments she made have been made by other agents which is good because it lets me know that there's one aspect of the novel that I definitely need to work on. (It's much harder when one agent says they loved "X" about my novel and another says I need to work on "X". When two or more agents say that something needs to be worked on, I generally take their advice!)
So needless to say, it's not exactly the news I'd been hoping for. But then again, I think being a writer has made me somewhat of a realist if not a pessimist. It really just makes it easier to take the rejections and to convince myself to keep pushing on. The longer this goes on, the thicker my skin gets. And from everything I've heard about the publishing industry, if you don't have thick skin, you'll never survive.
On a slightly happier note, I've finally found some time these past few days to work on my short story. I got stuck a little bit ago and came to the realization that perhaps even short stories need to be outlined in advance. I suppose I could have gone on without an outline, but I believe it would have just created more (and unecessary) editing work down the road. If I have a clear idea of where the story is headed, it makes it easier for me to write. Even if I stray off that path, I at least have a direction.
Work has been pretty stressful this week, so it's always nice when my writing is going smoothly. It makes taking other things a little easier... not to mention it's FRIDAY!!
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
It's times when I have very little to do that I actually find it harder to begin writing. It's times like this I've considered giving up typing my stories (temporarily... or at least the first draft) and hand writing them, or even investing in some sort of word processor. Instant access to the internet only gives room for more distractions ("okay, just one more check of the email before I start to work..." "just one more game of solitaire...").
So my conclusion today is this: the more work I actually have to do, the more I get done.
That being said, I'm off to be productive. I hate to admit it, but this blog has the occasional tendency to be one of those "just one more" things to do before I get to writing...
Monday, July 7, 2008
So I obviously haven't written anything (blog, stories or otherwise) in several days. For the first few days of my vacation my mind felt free. I allowed myself to be unconcerned with work or schedules of any kind. I focused on relaxing and tried not to brainstorm or plot unconsciously (you'd be surprised how often that happens).
But a funny thing happened sometime Saturday afternoon. Despite the fully relaxed mood I was in, my mind started to wander. I started hearing character voices in my head (also happens to me frequently... and I promise that's normal too... ask any writer). I could literally hear parts of the story I'm working on playing out in my head. This is one way I know that what I'm writing has the serious potential for being successful. If I just can't get the story or the characters out of my head, I know they'll stick with me for the duration of writing that piece. If they stop talking to me, I've gone off down a road that doesn't make sense and I need to turn around and start again.
So needless to say, though I've been itching to write for the past few days, certain other projects that require immediate attention have taken up most of my day today, leaving me still unfulfilled and probably a little bit crazier than yesterday. Hopefully tomorrow my schedule will be a little clearer and I'll finally get to pour out everything that's been building up over the past few days.
A quote I was sent today coincides well with everything I've been talking about/thinking about, so I'll leave you with that.
"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently." -Henry Ford
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Well, I tried yesterday to use the new writing techniques that I'd read about the night before. I wasn't able to successfully immerse myself in the writing, but I do believe these strategies will work for me in the future. Part of the reason I think I'm struggling lately is I'm still in the after-writing stage. I just finished the second novel less than three weeks ago and I'm mentally exhausted and drained from that. It usually only takes me a few weeks to fuel back up, so I'm hoping that once the anticipation of the holiday weekend is over, I'll be back to being good and focused on Monday.
I did finally finish compiling my list of literary magazines that are potential fits for my short story, so perhaps that will encourage me to be extra productive next week.
Happy Fourth of July weekend everyone!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
So, I was reading two interesting articles last night. They actually have quite a bit to do with one another.
The first talked about the left and right sides of the brain and how writers actually need to utilize both sides in order to sucessfully write. By "successfully" I don't mean they are able to finish something, I mean that what they've written is good because they've written it both creatively and logically. By using both parts of the brain, the writer is able to plan out where the story is going through either outlining or freewriting (logically) and also come up with a creative story (obviously creative). For a long time, I thought it was necessary to shut off the part of my brain that told me that logically what I was writing didn't make sense - the inner critic. But as it turns out, the inner critic (as long as you don't let her take over) is incredibly useful during the writing process.
The second article discussed the need for writers to write unconsciously. This particular author compared it to Alice's little adventure down the rabbit hole. It is only when a writer is able to detach himself from the act of writing that he/she will actually be able to accomplish great writing. As I was discussing above, the inner critic is often what causes writers to pause in what they're writing, even if they're on a roll. They stop and reread what they've written, critique it, change it, rewrite it, or maybe even get frustrated and stop altogether. Part of this idea of allowing yourself to "fall down the rabbit hole" is really just letting yourself write without thinking. It's only when you later read what you wrote and realize that you don't actually remember writing it that you've successfully allowed your subconcious to take over writing.
During my writing slots today, I'm going to try and employ both of these ideas and see where it gets me. As always, some days are harder than others to even make myself write, but hopefully with the excitement of trying out a new idea, I'll get quite a bit done.
Monday, June 30, 2008
So I got another request for a partial this weekend. No matter how many requests I've received (21) or how many have then been rejected (17) I still get childishly excited every time one comes in. Like dancing-around-in-my-chair-and-singing kind of excited. Full requests often require a mini dance marathon around whatever room I was in when I got the good news.
That's really about all I have for the day, but I felt the excitement was worth posting. Vacation time is looming, so there will be fewer posts than usual this week.
Friday, June 27, 2008
With all of these projects going on at once, staying organized is my number one priority. With the first novel, I know exactly who I've sent queries to, who has partials or fulls, how long they've had them, when I expect to hear back from them, who's declined representation and why (if there was a reason). I'll know the same information for the second and third novel as well as the short story (except for the short story it will be which literary magazines it was sent to).
So I have literally become O B S E S S E D with Excel spreadsheets. I have one that helps me keep track of ALL of my projects at once. I would be totally lost without it!
Ok, well I'm too distracted with the short story I'm writing at this moment to write more, but I'll be back on Monday.
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Well, it's been awhile since I've written anything and I blame it on a few other projects I've been trying to work on as well (did I mention I was a multi-tasker?) But I'm back and fully focused on my main three projects.
Quick update: an agent that I sent a partial to LAST June finally responded. She wrote back a personalized letter (which I'm sorry to say isn't always the case) that said what she liked about the first three chapters, what she didn't like and even her favorite line. It's always hard to add another rejection to the pile, but I try and remind myself that she merely wasn't the right agent for this particular book. If she's not enthusiastic enough to represent me or my novel then we probably aren't a good match. I'd much rather wait around for the right agent who just loves what I write and is sure she can sell it to a publisher than get an agent quickly who is only half interested (or not at all) just to say I got an agent. Thankfully, this wasn't even one of the partials that I was still counting on, so I still have two partials and one full out. **fingers crossed**
My third novel which I'm in the middle of outlining is kind of at a standstill. I think there's always a few months in between finishing one book and starting a second one where I really don't feel like taking those first few steps. I'm still learning, so all I have is my experience from finishing my first one and starting my second, but there was about a 4-5 month period where I really didn't do much writing. The interesting thing about this break is that, while I'm not really into writing another novel right this second, I'm fairly involved in writing this short story. I've decided not to bother with the outlining. After all, we're talking about an average of 7,000 words (depending on which literary magazines I'm going to send it to) and that seems like so little when compared with the average of 80,000 that I've been writing for the novels. So I'm going to give it a go. I suppose if I get stuck or confused or lost (which is entirely possible) then I'll start an outline.
In the meantime, it's getting ready to rain outside and I can't think of a better kind of day to get a lot of writing done. If only I could sit on a screened-in porch with a laptop and watch the storm come in... now that would make for a perfect day :)
Friday, June 20, 2008
Sometimes all it takes to get a story rolling in my head is one line. Let me just give you an idea of what I'm working on for this short story:
"That's the problem with dead people, you know. Sometimes they just don't stay dead."
My favorite part about a line like this is the multitude of directions it can be taken. I have half a dozen ideas swimming around in my head already and am pretty excited about trying out several of them. In some of my upcoming postings, perhaps I'll share a few so you all can tell me what you think.
In the meantime, have a fabulous weekend!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I have to admit, I feel very uninspired today. I can't seem to focus on anything in particular and it's frustrating me. Some days are certainly harder than others and this one seems to be one of those.
Hopefully I'll have more to write tomorrow...
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
So I talked a little bit yesterday about how I've begun outlining for my third novel. In the meantime, I'm researching for my second novel before I begin writing the second draft. I have stacks of books at home on forensics, how detectives and police forces work, and the nature of sociopaths and serial killers among general research on how best to rewrite a novel. Every night I try to skim through at least one of these books, highlighting and dog-earing pages so that when it actually comes time to rewrite I can locate the information I need as quickly as possible. Occasionally another idea to add or change to that novel comes to my head and I'll add it to the ongoing list.
So that's two projects I'm working on.
I've also recently decided that it couldn't hurt to try and publish a short story in a journal. It's supposed to look good in a query letter and it gives me yet another thing to do while waiting to rewrite the second novel, to hear back from agencies that have my first novel and for more ideas to come to me for the third novel. As if I don't have enough going on already.
Project count: 3.
But, my passion is clearly writing and the more I write the better I seem to feel. I've always enjoyed reading more than one book at a time, so why am I surprised to find that I equally enjoy working on more than one writing project at at a time? If nothing else, it keeps me on my toes and improves my writing, which, in the end, is all that matters.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Today I started outlining my next novel. Before I actually started writing novels I swore I would never outline. It was too organized too neat and perfect for the creative type. So I just began writing... and writing... and rewriting when I'd go off on some crazy tangent... So I started taking notes in a separate document. Just to keep my thoughts straight and to jot down ideas when they came to me for later chapters. Pretty soon the list grew and I decided to organize the list... and so was born the outline.
I'm sure my outlines look nothing like what your teachers and professors taught you to do in school. In fact, I think if anyone other than myself looked at one of my outlines (especially some of my previous teachers and professors) they'd run screaming. To the outsider they look disorganized, jumbled, uneven and overwhelming. To me, they've become a godsend. I'm able to go back and change small details without having to rewrite nearly as much. Of course, rewriting still needs to be done. And I have another document specifically for large things I'm probably going to change during one of many proof rounds once the initial draft is complete. But when an entire part of your storyline changes halfway through writing the novel, the outline makes it much easier to organize and make sure you keep on track. Even if that track goes down a different path than the one you originally intended.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I've been thinking a lot lately about what kind of genre I'd really like to stick to. The first novel I wrote would probably be considered commercial fiction or chick lit, the second is a little closer to mystery, but still commercial... probably not quite enough suspense to be called "mystery". Taking into consideration the fact that only two agencies so far have requested to read the whole manuscript, I guess I shouldn't be getting ahead of myself. I would certainly be happy regardless of the genre I became published in, however, once published do I box myself in to that one category or do I write what I want to write and let it be categorized where it may?
I try to keep thoughts like these out of my head during the writing process. I'm sure it only hinders whatever creativity is magically flowing at the time, but it's hard. I do tend to find that the busier I am, the more strictly I have to keep to a schedule, the more productive I am. It's when things are slow that these negative, non-productive thoughts tend to accumulate.
So one of my experiments this week is to try and keep myself to a stricter schedule. Hopefully this way, I'll able to get more done in less time.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Fridays always seem to find me anxious and not nearly as focused as I'd like to be. My brain feels like it's already checked out for the weekend, so why should the rest of me be any more productive? Most of those writing books will tell you to keep a schedule, writing so many hours or so many pages or X number of words a day. And while I agree that writing daily certainly makes writing easier, I think it's pretty tough for the creative-type to keep to silly schedules. At least for me. I prefer to write as much as I can. Some days that means I get multiple chapters done. Others, it might only be a few sentences or none at all. I'm sure as soon as I'm lucky enough to be inducted into the world of published authors I'll have to push myself a little harder to meet deadlines, but for now it's not a concern. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the luxury of being able to take as long as I like to complete a project.
"We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action." - Frank Tibolt
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Today was one of those days I woke up thinking it was Friday... only to have it still be Thursday. That's just never a good way to start a morning. Luckily, by the time I'd made it to work, I remembered that I already had an inkling of an idea for my next book. That meant I wouldn't have to spend the morning brainstorming for ideas. Because let me tell you a secret: I hate brainstorming. I know, I know. I write for a living and for pleasure, brainstorming should be my thing. It's not.
So I begin the process all over again. Each time I start out writing a new project it's like having to open myself up and let all of my emotions spill onto the paper (or the screen, if you want to be literal). It's utterly exhausting, frustrating and tedious. But exciting all the same. Really, there are no words to describe what it feels like. Even for a writer.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Updates? Well, for those of you following the developing story on my hand, it's not broken (whew!) In fact, the ugly colors are nearly gone and I've spent the last two and a half days typing furiously with little or no pain.
Thanks in part to not having worked on it since last Wednesday, much of the furious typing went towards finishing novel #2! The first draft was officially finished yesterday and it's absolutely killing me that I have to restrain myself from beginning the rewriting process. But in the meantime, I'll keep myself busy with my new blog and perhaps a short story or two.
My first novel is still being shopped around to different agents. Two agencies have partials (just a few sample chapters) and another just requested the full manuscript on an exclusive basis (!)
More to come soon!