Tag Archives: Editing

Into December and Beyond

November is over, which means no more frantic writing for me (hopefully just normal writing as I try to develop the habit).

I finished my 50,000 words one day early, so I only wrote about 100 words on November 30th, just enough to finish wrapping up the story.

Now the question is, do I jump right in to editing, or do I return to the poor project I abandoned months ago? I might have some new motivation for that, since it was a kind of processing project for me for my own life, and some situations really aren’t the same as when I started (and abandoned) that project. Maybe it’ll take me in new directions.

Maybe I’ll do a combination of both. Write some, edit some, and do whatever feels more fun every day.

Plus, I do often have to challenge myself: what’s the point in editing a book if I’m not going to do anything with it? Because, to be honest, I’m not in a mental position to go out there and start pitching my books. And sure, I can always self-publish, and maybe that would be somewhat successful, but I’m just not quite feeling at that place yet. But maybe soon. I’ve got to cultivate my creative confidence a little more.

Working through the pain

I missed last week’s post because, surprise surprise, I didn’t get a lot of writing done. It’s hard to write when you’ve got family visiting.

But I’ve put myself to it the last few days of this week (it’s cathartic, writing about the things I’m feeling), and I’ve wrapped up my second piece for submission.

With the deadline coming up quickly, April 15, I now have to decide if I want to try for a third piece, along with naming my first two. I definitely need to read over them and check for spelling errors and any changes I want to make, but that’s the easy part. A third piece would mean buckling down this week and really carving out some time to write–not impossible, but difficult for me when I’ve got books and documentaries calling my name.

Not to mention I never fully fleshed out the third idea I had. But, maybe that’s something I could do quickly. And maybe that’s what will decide me.

In the meantime, here’s a little excerpt from my second piece, the main character explaining to a young boy how she ended up being the lighthouse keeper.

“When I was younger, my heart was hurt very badly. So I came here to be alone. I’ve been here ever since.”

“Don’t you get lonely?” he asked. “There aren’t many people around.”

She smiled. “Well, that’s why I came, at first. I was sad and people hurt me. Being alone wasn’t lonely, it’s what I wanted.”

“But now? Do you get lonely now?”

“I suppose I do sometimes,” she said. “But I’ve been here so long, it’s all I know how to do anymore. And no one else steps forward to do it. We can’t let the light go out.”

“Oh,” he said, screwing up his face in thought. “When I’m scared of trying something different, I think of how good it might be, and that helps me feel brave enough to try.”

“That’s a very good thought,” she said. “But I don’t stay because I’m afraid. What about all the people who come for help? Shouldn’t someone be here to take care of them?”

The boy shrugged. “Shouldn’t someone take care of you? My parents love each other lots, but my mom still complains if my dad doesn’t help out and take care of her sometimes,” he explained. “It makes sense to me. When I’m sad or scared, sometimes all I need is a hug from my mom, or a snack. But I never get better if I just stay by myself.”

That’s what I’ve been struggling with lately, isolating myself when I’m hurt. And it doesn’t get better, not truly better, if I just stay by myself. In the end, I have to open up and let someone come along side to help me heal. It’s hard and scary, especially when you’ve been hurt before. But, as Emmalyn is finding out, life is about more than finding a tolerable pain threshold.

Reigniting dead habits

While I didn’t do as much creating as I wanted to this week, three days is better than no days.

I swear, every time I had time for myself, I got the inevitable text from my brother: “COD?” Video games have consumed my free time, because it’s just so easy to agree to one more match. Then, four hours later, it’s time for bed. The struggle is real.

I did do a couple exercises from my writing book, which we nice to get me back into the creative spirit. And I did pick a project to start editing, I even read the first four chapters! I’ve decided to revisit the children’s book I wrote last year. (Was it really only last year? Or two years ago? I’m not sure…)

If you’ll recall, it deals with childhood cancer and death, so some tough stuff, but also lots of imagination, so it’s a lot of fun, too. I think so, anyway. I think a big challenge, as I read through and work on it, will be reminding myself that it is aimed toward children, and the intrigue that I might use for an adult novel might be too much for a kid’s book. I don’t have to layer on the mystery in the same way. And yet, I want to make sure that I’m not writing something boring or underestimating kids’ abilities. It might be a fine line, but one I look forward to walking.

A motivating opportunity

I’ve really let this half of my blog go, since December. Naturally, I wanted a little time off after NaNo, but what I did was let myself get out of the habit of writing and let my motivation and my creativity fall by the wayside.

But, that changed last week when I received an unexpected email.

I was contacted by a gal who works for a small publishing company that’s putting together an anthology of up and coming writer’s (they are doing a volume for each state). She had seen my blog (part of me feels a little embarrassed by that), and invited me to be submit some work for consideration. This isn’t vanity press, I’m not paying for my work to be taken, but it’s not quite traditional either, as I’m not actually getting paid (unless my work is selected, then I can get commission sales from the book, but that’s down the road). But what it is, after doing some research, is a chance to get some of my work out there, seen by others, and a chance to maybe network and see what might come of it.

So I spent the weekend whipping up a few short stories to offer up, and we’ll see where it goes. It’s not like it will be a big break for me, but, it might be a foot in the door to start something. And, it’s always nice to have someone think your work would make money.

It felt good to get back into writing. It’s one of those things that you don’t miss til you come back to it. So, I think this opportunity may also just be what I needed to dip my toes back into creativity. I’m going to pick one of my drafts to start some editing on again, and start thinking maybe about something new.

I guess even with recreating habits, it’s better late than never. And maybe this will finally be the year I make it a solid habit that sticks. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

A fresh beginning

So, obviously December didn’t really go as planned, as far as writing was concerned.

Work got in the way, and I was tired and desperate to watch as many Christmas movies as I could. January has been off to a slow start too. I hardly feel like I know what I’ve done with the last week, and get it’s gone, just the same.

But a slow start is better than nothing, and I will be intentional about returning to my editing, wrapping up the project I’ve been working on most of 2017 and choosing one of my other projects to return to.

While I’ve enjoyed a break to carelessly watch tv and soak in reading, I’m excited, too, to return to the creative process.

In the book review department, I’m hoping to meet at least the goal I met in 2017. My goal was to read 52 book, one per week. I think I had review blogs posted every week, but after counting, I know I read at least 55 books, because that’s how many I reviewed. Not bad, I’d say. (Some of the reviews won’t be posted on my blog until later in January, though.)

So, here’s to a new year full of creative opportunities. Join me in creating this year, and tell me what your project is going to be.

November: A Recap

I completely forgot to write a blog post last week. I think I remembered when I was going to bed on Monday night, and I just never got to it.

November is over (duh), and I’m proud to say I’ve got yet another first draft of a story done. The Thanksgiving week was tough but I pushed through and stayed on target. The hardest part, I think, was the last 5,000 words or so. And that always seems to be a struggle. My stories seem to fall into one of two camps: either I put off writing the end because I don’t think it’s time yet, or I have to drag it out because I didn’t plan quite enough to get my word count where I needed it to be. But that’s ok. This year, I finished. And I wrote just about every day (I missed November 30, I was done with my project and I needed a break.).

My story this year turned out to be very different than what I’d intended. While on the surface it stayed mostly the same, my characters surprised me. I didn’t mean to when I set out, but I wrote several misunderstood characters. But that made the process that much more fun, because I got to enjoy the journey of discovery as I went.

For December, I plan to try to revisit the nameless project I’ve been refining all year. Then perhaps in January I’ll be ready to dig into the hot mess that is my NaNo 2017 novel. But even if all I do this month are some writing exercises from my Writer’s Notebook, that’s ok too. I think I have earned a little break. I’ve worked hard this year.

Looking to November

Do you ever have something you have to do, and you put it off because it seems like such a monumental task, then you do it and you realize you had like 20 minutes of work left to do on it?

Yeah, that was me with the last bits of editing on my story.

When I sat down to do it, Friday, I guess it was, I was expecting to put in an hour of work, and still have more to do the rest of the weekend. I hadn’t looked at it in so long, I’d forgotten that I was nearly done. This meant the rest of my weekend was freed up to give it one more read through (though I’ll be honest, I only read the second half, the half I’ve been working on. I’m a little bored of reading the whole thing through). And it’s not awful. I like it a lot better than before. And even though I pasted all the chunks I cut into a separate word document, just in case I needed it again, I didn’t even really miss it.

With November just days away, my goal for this weekend was to wrap up this session of editing, and I accomplished that. Now, I’ll set it aside and let myself dive into a new project for a while, letting new ideas flow. Maybe after the first of the year, I’ll return to “The Town” (still just a working title, I think) and see if it’s gotten better or worse with age.

November, of course, is a special month. And for me, the easiest month for me to write. Something about the crazy and the solidarity of people all around the world doing the same thing I’m doing gives me motivation I don’t get throughout the rest of the year. It makes it the best time to get down a draft of something new. And, in case you haven’t noticed from my other posts about it, I’m excited for my project this year, even if it does seem lame that the general idea came from a dream.

It’s feeling fairly normal now to jump into a project with it only halfway planned, but I’ve enjoyed that method so far. It gives me just enough freedom to let the story lead itself (not that I can’t change things on the way, or even after the fact, as editing has shown me). But it makes the process easier, while still letting me enjoy watching the story unfold as we go. Maybe for a lot of people that doesn’t make sense, but it’s two different feelings, uncovering a plot twist during the planning stage versus uncovering one during the writing stage. It’s like being able to read a book that you wrote without knowing every detail before hand. It’s being able to make “what if?” statements, and having to wait to find out if you were right or wrong. And sometimes, you’re both.

Failing in Fall

So, my last post about writing was a glowing review of how my September writing goals were, mostly, successful. And I set myself some goals for October.

And naturally I didn’t accomplish any of them.

First, I haven’t even really looked at my editing project, despite really wanting to have it mostly wrapped up by the end of this month. I also hoped to have my November project mostly plotted out and ready to go. On that front I’ve had a little bit more success.

I’ve plotted out the first 10 or so chapters, and I’ve got a fairly good idea of where my story is going. So, for anyone who cares to know, here’s a little sneak peek.

The main character and her best friend are playing in an abandoned house as children when the best friend disappears. He’s never found, and she gets written off and put in therapy.

Fast forward 10 years, and she’s still been trying to make sense of what happened to her friend. She’s revisited the building and researched it, and seems to have found an answer. The next time she visits the house, she disappears too. When she comes to, she’s alone in the same house, but in a world that seems darker, like it’s dying. Guards find her and take her to the king, where she finds out the world is dying, because it lost its magic. Ten years ago, another person came through and promised to find a solution. They’ve been waiting ever since. She determines it must have been her friend. She sets out to find him, only to discover he’s trapped as a slave to a powerful magician. To even have a chance to save the world, she has to save her friend first.

 

I haven’t quite nailed down how it ends. It may be that the hero passes on saving the world, realizing she needs to take care of herself first, and that not every problem is hers to solve. Maybe she and her friend will save the world and become heroes. Or maybe everyone will die and the world will end. It’s still early in the planning process, truthfully, and I like to let the story tell itself, even in the planning stage.

Additionally, I really need to take some time to pick out names. I don’t want to complete yet another writing project with a placeholder for a name throughout the whole thing. Once was enough for me.

I’ve got nine days left to get myself ready for November (as though I’m ever really ready. That’s half the fun). But, I just might do it, if I can find some motivation. And turn the TV off. The whole “writing while watching” thing is perhaps the single biggest lie I tell myself in life.

A recap and a flash forward

In the beginning of September, I challenged myself to try to write at least something every day. And while I didn’t get to every day (some days were just too busy, other days I just didn’t feel up to it), I feel like I made some real progress in training myself to be more consistent. Consistency is the only way I’ll ever end up with a finished product.

I’ve made some progress in my editing–which has been challenging, because in recent weeks I’ve made it quite the task for myself with a massive rewrite of the second half of the story. But even as I’ve been working through it, slowly, it’s been very fun to uncover still more hidden pieces and hidden sides of my characters.

And while it’s felt like a massive undertaking, I do believe there is an end in sight. One or two more good days, dedicated time, I might even be ready to take it from the top once more. And that’s a pretty exciting thought.

Looking ahead to the rest of the month of October (crazy, isn’t it?!) I’ve got two things to accomplish. First, of course, is completing this rewrite. Second is prepping for NaNoWriMo in November. I’ve already got the seed of the story, if you will. So this month needs to be all about cultivating it.

The basic principle is an old building/castle directly beneath a wormhole or something that will transport a person to a different time (perhaps alternate universe?). The main character is searching for someone, a childhood best friend or crush and ends up somewhere unexpected.

Obviously I’ve got a lot of work to do, story line to develop. If you really want to know, the basis of this came from a dream I had (and that a while ago). What I remember most clearly was the longing for the person missing, and the frantic searching. So, those are the themes I’m focusing on. I’ve got a month to work out everything else. And, as I’m learning in this editing stage, I’m not likely to get it all right the first time, and that’s OK. Things will develop in the editing. As long as I’ve go the bare bones to work with, I’ll be all right.

So, here’s to October, a new month and new beginnings. I’ve got two objectives, and I think I’ve got the motivation to see them through.

Exploring dialogue again

Over the last few weeks, one of the writing exercises that has been the most fun for me was one related to dialogue, specifically expanding it.

It was a simple exercise; take a line of dialogue and rewrite it five times, each time changing the amount of details in it, the wording, ect., while keeping the meaning or theme. The dialogue provided for the prompt was, “I’ve never let you down.” Then, after the fifth rewrite, add a line of dialogue from another character.

It was really interesting to see how changing one line of dialogue exposed so much more to the story (or has the capability to, since I didn’t have a story to go with the dialogue for the exercise). But this simple technique can very easily be applied, even mentally, to sentences that feel awkward in the story, or even just parts I don’t like. By rewriting, it can open the door for additional developments, new pieces in the storyline, and just plain better dialogue. And it’s an easier route to start with than going line by line through a story asking, “how does this move the story along? Did they say this on purpose?” I’ll be honest, when I try to do that, I burn out quick. And by burn out I mean, I forget to keep doing it after a page or two. Whereas, this way, I can just read. I’ll obviously notice anything I don’t really like or that doesn’t feel right, and then I can work from there.

I’m still trying to rewrite the second half of my story. It’s messy. Part of me wants to just erase it and start completely from scratch. Part of me is horribly paranoid that I’ll erase it and then want it back immediately. So, I’m struggling through, trying to fill in what I need, and then go through to see what I don’t need and what specifically I need to adapt to new developments. It’s a little tedious, for me, and it’s been challenging to push myself to do it. This week has not been my best for self-motivation. But I’m trying, and that has to count for something.