White Rabbit: Topaz Edition

HAPPY WRITING NEW YEAR! Er, well, yesterday.

You will not be seeing me again until December.  I can pretty much say that with certainty, given my track record of blogs and the fact that, well, you know. Nano.

Anyway, last year was generally a success. The goal was four major projects and I accomplished three major projects and one short story. And since I never write short stories, I’m counting that as a success. As well as editing one novel and completing first drafts of two others, I slapped down words on a whole bunch of projects. I had Plot Wars with two novels when I realized what I was writing was not part of those novels, but those battles have been resolved with a new direction for said two novels and thoughts for pursuing later books in the series. Over all, a fairly productive writing year.

The goal for this next writing year is going to be getting a lot of things edited and get a number of things to the point where I wouldn’t be ashamed if the public read them. I’ll likely try expanding on this next month.

So, what am I doing for Nano this year? Which project am I tackling?

Any of them that I want. I have a list of ‘active’ projects and I am allowed to add words to any of them. I am not allowed to write random scenes that aren’t part of anything and I’m strongly discouraged from jumping around chronologically. I have the Crowned Act listed on my Nano page and that is tentatively the one I will be focusing on most. However, any of my major projects are allowable, so that I end with 50k new words on my projects by the end of the month.

Anyway, this blog is wasting words I could be putting on my Nano! I had best go put my nose to the grindstone. Or. Get brunch. One of the two.

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White Rabbit: Peridot Edition

So I had three goals this month.  And.  I occurs to me that technically, I failed ALL of them!

Major Goal: Begin submitting The Cat That Wouldn’t Die to agents.
Novel is completely ready to submit, I didn’t actually submit it anywhere, I realized. I think at some point, I forgot the goal was to actually start submitting and had it recorded in my head as ‘have ready for submission this month, including all required edits and accessories.’ And I succeeded in that! I have a query letter, synopsis, fully edited novel… I just didn’t actually throw it at anyone. Threw something else at a thing, however, so I don’t actually feel failed.

Minor Goal:  38750 words, or 1250 words per day.
Ehhhh, ended up with around 30k words this last month. So, failed my word count. Most disappointed about this failure, but there were reasons. Focus became a struggle one week, another week I took easy because of my birthday, and then another week I fucked up my hand with inexplicable bruising (FUN TIMES). So, there were reasons my word count wasn’t what I wanted, though logic has nothing on Writer’s Guilt.

Most Minor Goal: Complete Phoenix and Wolf.
So, yeah, I only added about 4k to this project. And the whole thing keeps sliding sideways on me when I jump in to try and tack more words to it. Either I keep forgetting plot points I mean to bring up or it just takes off somewhere else entirely. In general, I’m feeling like this project is not really where I want it to be. There’s a lot of elements that I included, but never did as much with as I wanted to and I kept fucking ending up in the library in the story. Three fucking times, the book goes to the library AND ONLY ONE OF THESE IS PLOT SIGNIFICANT. So, long rant short, there’s a lot of edits in this book’s future, if it has a future at all.

Anyway, that was last month. Moving on to this month! Plans! Goals! Dreams!

…Yeah, I got nothing.

Tentatively going for my 38750 word goal that failed last month, but not feeling good about it since this month has started out rather weak. Not that I can’t recover and recover easily at this point, it is the third fucking day of the month. But my hopes right now are low and I have a few things I’m flipping out at. We’ll see what, if anything, comes of them when I report in next month.

And hell, maybe I’ll blog more than twice this month. THAT would be something to see, wouldn’t it?

White Rabbit: Emerald Edition

Well, we are now at the halfway point of my writing year, which means I ought to have two major projects done to be on track. I have… zero. Yup. Progress, I am not feeling so good about it. April was a difficult month because of Uncontrollable Life Things happening, following a March that was similarly not good for focus. So all of my projects, though they’ve moved places, don’t feel like actual progress that I can hold in my hand.

In fact, if anything, I feel like I’ve taken a step backwards. I mentioned, at the start of last month, that I was uncertain whether I should continue submitting Trask or put more work into it. The answer, as I knew it would be, is more work, because at the least, the novel isn’t in a place where I want to publish it. So it feels like I’m back where I was two years ago, with nothing to shop around with agents and a lot of unfinished stories staring at me.

But the writing career is not an escalator. It doesn’t go in one direction and there’s no falling off that lands you back on the ground floor where you started with nothing to show for yourself. If we’re looking for a good metaphor for a writing career, let’s go with Shoots and Ladders, only there is no end goal, just a lot of looping pathways. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years writing, learning how to put together a story, a scene, a character arc. I’m not going to lose that knowledge because I’m not throwing a subpar novel at uninterested agents. The only way I can actually lose ground is to plug my ears and ignore the flaws in my work. Or give up entirely. Waiting on a step is not the same as giving up.

Agents, you will be hearing from me again.

No, that’s not a threat. Or, well, maybe it is, eh, EH?!

White Rabbit: Diamond Edition

I have nothing good to say about my writing during the month of March.

I am suspicious that this is one of those cases where I’m being much harder on myself than I have any right or reason to be.  It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t feel good about my progress during March.

Editing has been happening, but at a much, much slower pace than I want it to be going. I want to cut a lot of words (a fifth, all told) out of my current draft of the novel.  I cut what looks like a sizable chunk from the novel and my word count doesn’t drop nearly as much as I want.  I’m almost a hundred pages in with editing and I’ve barely chipped away any of this monster novel.

For generating new material, I have too many projects.  I keep jumping from one to the other and while technically this is forward progress, I feel stagnate.  Feeling stagnate makes me want to start something new.  To shake the paradigm.  Or, it makes me want to finish something.  Unfortunately, nothing is in a place where its close to finishing.  Everything is somewhere in the murky middle and many of my projects are at a place where I want to have a moment of focus before I tackle the next bit.

Focus has not been something easy as of late.

Let’s not even talk about how submissions have been going.

 

So, whining is fine and dandy, but I’m a little sick of it.  Instead, have a game plan for what I’m going to do about all of this melancholia.

New Writing:  Time to start tracking word count more closely, including keeping an eye on the growth of different projects on a monthly basis.  Since I’ve got so many projects, it’s easy to feel like I’m getting nowhere on any of them, like I’m spinning my wheels.  And maybe I am, but I’ve been generating a lot of words, so you would think that SOME of those novels would be farther along than when I started.  I’m even sure that they are.  I just can’t see where.  So, time to keep better track.  I know that word count is not the only indicator of a book’s progress as it is really, really easy to slap down many words that have little to no impact on the final version.   I am terrible for meandering and getting distracted on my way to the final plot.  However, since I usually only have a rough idea of what my final destination is with any given work, I don’t have another good way to track progress than with word count.  We use the tools we have.

Editing:  Finish the edits I marked out for myself on the Cat novel.  This draft has some large structural changes that need to happen yet and it’s hard to really say what’s necessary and what’s not until after those shifts have been made.  Even if I don’t cut the novel down as much as I want this draft, there will be future drafts.  And, frankly, even if, in its final and ultimate form, it’s long for its genre, I don’t really care.  Because at its heart, I am proud of this novel.  It is, or will be, a novel I always wanted to read.  Even if I can’t take it the ‘traditional’ route for whatever reasons, I’ll do something with this one.  After a few (dozen?) rounds of editing.

Submissions: This is the area that I’m most unsure of right now.  I grow more displeased with Trask’s novel as time passes.  I need to have a sit down with it and reconsider a lot of what it is and what it’s doing.  More and more, I think I haven’t been as daring with the story as I need to.  The plot is fine, the characters are great, but I need to take the setting to its limits and then off the other end.  That’s what feels right and that’s feels lacking at this time.  But the question is, do I keep throwing the novel at agents in hopes that I’m wrong or do I table the hunt for now and wait until I’ve got something new to toss around?  I don’t have an answer at this time and little bandwidth to consider the question.  Maybe I’ll know better next month.

White Rabbit: Aquamarine Edition

Another month down. Eeesh, how did it get to be March already?

I completed my read through of the Cat novel! It is now fully marked upon and awaiting my tender care in shoving those changes down its digital throat. I gave myself a couple of days to get my courage in hand before that plunge, especially since the last few days of read through were a twee neurotic. But editing has begun. Updates on how far I get next month.

I have also returned to the submission to agent bandwagon and have been tossing Trask’s novel at people. Fingers crossed.

And for new words on the page…
February Total Word Count: 27543
So, only 500 words short of a thousand word per day average. Not bad, considering the last few days of the month became focused on getting through the last chunk of the novel and not putting new words down. As for what I wrote, I was actually doing pretty good at slapping new words down on Phoenix and Wolf during the month, that’s moved forward quite a bit. And… then I got distracted by a completely new idea in a totally new world with fantasy vampires that was supposed to be a quick bit of personal entertainment and took me a week of buildup before I chickened out on the sexy bits. Yup. Aaaand this week, I took off on ANOTHER brand new idea, I need to stop doing this, this has been a TERRIBLE year for new ideas springing forth instead of working on all of the older stuff I have laying around. Nyargh. BUT, at least I’m producing…? Y-yay?

And now, a short evaluation, lifted from Chuck Wendig’s blog:

a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
Dialogue is one of my strengths. I’ve always loved writing dialogue and I think I’ve got a good ear for realistic dialogue. I also can write humor pretty well.

b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
Finishing things. Not just the act of getting all of the story down on the page, but writing endings. They’re so damn important and so damn hard to write. Another weakness is knowing the scope of a project, where ‘done’ is and how many words I’ll need to get there. I have a bad tendency to use more words than I need to get there too, at least these days. Also, action.

c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
Works I consider complete: 7
3 Novels
2 Short Stories
1 Novella
1 Novelette

Of those:
1 novel is in its 3rd draft and I am seeking an agent for it
1 novel is in edits now
1 novel was lifted to a 2nd draft stage but is now a dead project
2 short stories have been examined for a 2nd draft, but second drafts have not been completed
And the novella and novelette have not been touched at all since I wrote them.

We will not get into how many ‘in progress’ things I have right now.

d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
“Never stop writing.”
Been told this a few times, by a few different teachers/adults/mentors. And it’s made all the difference in the world to a paranoid introvert kid who wanted to write but had a shaky confidence in herself. It’s not that this is really good ‘advice’ to guide a writer’s craft or ability. But it kept me tacking words on things and pondering stories and scenes through high school and college when there were a number of other distractions to take up my time. Those three words are words that I live by.

e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
“To cope with Blank Page Syndrome, when you stop writing for the night, stop in the middle of a sentence, even the middle of the word. That way, you have an automatic place to pick up when you start the next day.”
This is actually good advice for some people, it really helps them. But it absolutely KILLS scenes for me. If I leave off in the middle of a sentence, I inevitably cannot remember how I was going to end the sentence the night before and anything I put down will feel lame compared to what I thought I was going to put down. Whenever I’ve tried this method, I usually end up deleting the entire half finished sentence and starting clean at the last period. And the whole process adds a good ten to fifteen minutes just to get me writing. Just not good advice for me.

f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
The writing advice that you need varies, not just from person to person, but from point to point in a single writer’s career. What’s helpful to a raw beginner may be annoying or even damaging to a writer who is working on polishing the finer points of craft. That doesn’t make the advice useless over all, it just means that it’s not the advice needed RIGHT NOW.

So, grab what’s helping you now and run with it. When you reach a new phase in writing, re-evaluate the old advice and dump it if it has stopped being useful. There’s always more writing wisdom in the pond.

White Rabbit: Amethyst Edition

Welp, January down, now we move into February.

And how did January go? Eh, it went okay. I don’t know why I put ‘finish the read through of the Cat novel’ as my goal. I knew that was unrealistic. I had forgotten HOW unrealistic until I pulled it out and recalled that it was a monstrous, enormous nearly four hundred page document that I was planning to work with.

I did start work on the read through, though. Not until I was about halfway through January, but I’m working on reading and editing it. It’s been a very different experience than what I’m used to. The last few books I tried to edit had the opposite problem. They needed length added, I was missing scenes, I was missing entire PLOT points at times! The cat novel? Opposite problem. There’s a lot of bulk. Most of it is dialogue, some scenes, but I’ve been wandering through the writing and outlining bits to hack out. Not sure if I prefer this over ‘add in a whole scene here!’ But maybe it’ll make the actual editing go faster? …One can hope.

As for writing that’s been happening around the editing, I’ve been prodding a number of works. Some random scenes that are for fun or practice or character development. Some words added to a few projects. But very, very little focus on any given thing, just a lot of words spread across several things.

Considering that January’s been stressful, I don’t feel too bad about this. There was sickness in the household and while I managed not to get the Death Plague (ie, flu), I’ve been taking charge of dinner more often and care taking. I’m not a natural caretaker, so the stress built, along with worry, because Death Plague. And, it’s a new fiscal year, which means TAXES at work. Tensions have been higher there as well, so January was not a laid back month for me.

On another note, the other day at work, I tackled a few of our less regular clients. One was a client for whom we do reconciliation on a quarterly basis. The other does all of their reconciliation on an annual basis. Both are small companies.

Both of them got me thinking about success.

Company A, the quarterly client, runs a photography business. I went through his books and I thought “eesh! His business bank account sure is low! What terrible business practice!”

And then I realized that, wait a second, the guy is going to Iceland on his business expense. I want to go to Iceland, why don’t I get to go to Iceland? Not to mention the fact that his regular job is to photograph animals and travel around leading tours. His work is something he enjoys, even loves doing. So what if his business bank account isn’t high? He’s got enough every month for the business to get by, he doesn’t have debt, and he’s doing awesome things that are paying him. And that’s awesome!

Company B, meanwhile, I went through their books and said to myself “eesh! They really don’t bring in much money every month! What bad business!”

And then I realized that sure, they’re not bringing in very much. But their expenses weren’t high either. When it came down to it, they were bringing down double to triple every month compared to their expenses. At the start of January, they paid the owner a hefty dividend AND put a sizable down payment on a car. Then, they had regular car payments throughout the year, but even with the extra expense, they were STILL bringing in substantially more than their expenses, so by the end of the year, their bank was closing in on where they had started the year.

In this capitalistic society, success gets measured by sheer dollars, with the goal as a moving target and the answer always more, more, MORE!! Every year, more money in the bank, a bigger profit than last year, and do whatever it takes to get that. But dollar signs are just one way to measure success. It’s easy to forget, but there’s a lot to be said for the little business that’s making enough. Enough to get by. Enough to pay all the employees. Enough to leave time for things outside of the job. Or a job that doesn’t bring in the millions, but is what you love and what makes you happy.

Every writer wants to be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King. But hitting the New York Bestseller list isn’t the only measure of success. The six digit advance isn’t the measure of success. For me, my goal is to make enough money to live off of the writing alone. But you know, things aren’t bad right now either. I’m not working full time right now, so I have more time for writing and editing and other things that make me happy. That’s better than some writers ever get.

So it’s not all bad. And success comes in a lot of different forms, some more subtle than others, some with fewer dollar signs but a lot of happiness attached. It all depends.