When I was a kid, I devoured books. I just couldn’t get enough of them. I loved getting into an author’s head and universe and having an adventure.
I’ve been critiquing a friend’s novel and I think the younger me would have just shit her pants at the privilege. Playing in another author’s world and pointing out flaws or the raddest shit ever and actively helping make a book better? It’s just amazing. I am transported to being a kid and reading Stephen King for the first time. It’s that level of amazement I feel sometimes as I’m critiquing. It’s seeing the world a new way. It’s fun and delightful.
I tend to be a very curious person and ask so many questions. My kid hates it when we’re at the zoo and the keepers are out because I just love to learn so much. “Mom, c’mon!” *hand tug, hand tug* 😀 But being in a dialogue with authors is so much fun. Every question I have, everything that doesn’t make sense, I ask my questions and find out. I like my certainty. And even if something is ambiguous in the story, I’ll ask my little questions and find out.
Anyway. I was making a cup of chai before getting back to my writing session and I realized how rad this all was. I hope your day is just as rad.
I’m not brave. I mean, it’s pretty obvious. I was that weird, quiet girl hiding behind a book growing up and I’m still that weird, quiet woman. Nothing has really changed. Maybe I’m better at hiding my inner weirdo, but she’s still totally there.
Anyway, there’s this popular little bit of self-help/stoic advice. What’s the worst that could happen and how bad could it really be? For a lot of men, the answer is, I lose my business and things are hard and weird for a while. But for women, the answer is: some man kills me or stalks me or sends me rape and death threats.
And it’s not like this is clear out of left field. It’s not like this is something that hasn’t happened. Women are killed and raped by men all the time.
And the last thing I’d like to do is bring this sort of craziness down on my family.
I know this is very unlikely. But this is one more stumbling block in my way. I can’t not think about this. But I can think about it and work through it and have some contingency plans.
Anyway, this is the thought I’ve been playing with lately. I’m working through my feelings about it and how to deal with it. And I think once I’ve either decided the risk is low enough, I’ll move forward.
I wonder how many of these stumbling blocks are of my own creation? I suppose I’ll find out as I cross them off.
Recently, I told a friend to pull a title from Amazon. I read their book and was a little o_0 over it. The title was pulled and I was both relieved and felt terrible.
My critique partner and I were talking over breakfast the other morning and LuLo came up. It was my first real effort at a novel worth publishing and it did not go through a very stringent vetting process. The ladies in my moms group, who I love and adore, were much too nice about my book and well, it sucked. Like a lot. So, I pulled it. There are so many reasons why it sucked, which I can go into at length, if you’d like, but… Anyway. My critique partner was still much too kind about it and didn’t come out and say it, but I kind of wish she would have.
It’s nice to hear your story is fun. It’s nice to hear it’s well written. But if that’s not true, you are doing the writer a disservice. High five for the cold, hard truth.
The more writing I’m doing, the more work I’m putting into it, the more I want to hear honest critiques. I don’t want to hear it’s good if it’s dog shit. I think I’m coming to a new place in my writing, where I’m feeling brave. Where I can send out queries. Where I can get the feedback I need. I’ve been doing more research on the Dunning-Kruger effect. I think I’m getting better at this and I can judge my own abilities better. Or maybe I’m still as hopelessly hopeless as I was before ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ We report. You decide. heh. or something.
In any case, I feel like I’m taking steps forward. I don’t feel as scared. I’ve written some really terrible stories. And that was that. Nothing bad happened. As far as I know. But, I don’t feel so frightened of sending my books out into the world. I’ve been working through my revision block. And now, this. Things are moving forward and I’m feeling like a new, stronger, braver person.
I’m back in Khazad-dûm. And it’s really not so bad. I outlined the Defiant Canary in my notebook and it’s really quite pleasing. It’s nice to have a path and know where I’m going and what I’m going to do.
The strangest thing about this book, I’ve made each POV switch its own chapter. I have a tendency to head-hop, but with three POV characters, it’s hard to keep it all straight. So, each is labeled with its respective owner.
Having the outline has made a world of difference. I cut out all the weird little half page POV snippets before I ran across them with a blue papermate. I can’t even tell you how demoralizing it is to be on a good clip with the revision and then finding there was all this weird work to do to get it into shape.
I think I have to have a set system for revision. I can’t just hack at it pell-mell as I usually do. I think the first step is to write down the outline and weed out all these weird half-page POV barfs. Do all the major structural stuff. Then use Suzanne Johnson’s excellent monster revision workshop. Like oh my god, take her workshop. It’s incredible. Her plotting workshop is rad af too. I think if I outlined, I wouldn’t have to take this first step of doing this structural step. But outlining is so meh in my brain. I’ve used her plotting ideas and melded them with my pantser ways to keep things organized better. Everything I’ve written since taking that workshopping class is in such better order and will be easier to revise. Anyway.
I’m feeling real good about this. I’ve been sending chapters as I revise them to my beta readers. It’s a fun story and there’s cultists and Cthulhu-esque whales and all manner of nonsense.
I think I have a real good chance of releasing this by June. That’s my plan. And then I think I’ll release Mort the month after. And then… I’m not sure. Probably The Washed Up Astronaut. Anyway. I have a ton of work all lined up. I’m looking forward to it. And I’m getting excited to see where this will take me. The more I write, the better I feel about what I’ve been writing. Anyway. I’m feeling super hopeful and excited and rad.
My favorite part of this past NaNoWriMo was the group I fell into. My local region runs an IRC chatroom and we kept showing up into December.
I’ve been home with the Entropy Machine since she was born. I’ve missed having co-workers. I mean, I know I’m doing important work and blah blah blah, but damn, I miss having grownups to talk to. (I could write another article on women’s work here, too. I probably should)
Anyway. We’ve formed a little group, encouraging each other, using a group spreadsheet to track our word counts (compliments of yours truly and my mad spreadsheet skills) and goals for the year.
It’s weird to have a group like this when it comes to writing. I’ve been flying solo for so long with my words that having a group like this is a huge privilege. They’re keeping me on track and one more reminder in the morning to get up. I set the coffee maker to go off at 5 and I know someone else is going to be in our chatroom too. Helps me to stay motivated and the word wars are just great.
That said, it’s hard to find a community of writers. It’s hard to find your place and who you need. I joined the local chapter of the Romance Writers of America and I love them. But, I need to have something a little more. The daily group has been the answer I’ve been looking for.
I wish I had some advice for finding a writing group. I suppose finding groupings of writers and spending time with them is the first step. 😂
That said, what advice do you have to find your tribe?
The best part of this year’s NaNoWriMo is the friends I’ve made. I stumbled into a great group of people and we’re still supporting each other like it’s November. It’s nice to have a like-minded group of people to bounce ideas off of.
With that in mind, I think I’m going to have an easier time of hitting goals this year. We’ve set up a critique group and what kind of support we’ll need over the coming year.
My goals for 2017:
- 500k words. I haven’t hit 500k in two years. I’m close this year, but it’s not feasible. I got sick on Christmas and I’m having a hell of a time shaking it off and as such, writing nearly 30k words by the new year sounds completely unreachable.
- Write 6 manuscripts. I wrote 4 this year, but only if you count the two half-novels as one.
- Release 6 novels. I’m planning to release them three-four weeks apart. In August. I’ve got a ton of shit to do for that.
God, that looks like a lot. The books I’ll be releasing are Le Morte de Grendel, LuLo2, LuLo3, LuLo4, The Defiant Canary and … well, I haven’t decided on the sixth title. I know I have lots of stuff listed in my writing projects page (while I’m at it, I should update that, too) but my goodness, it’s hard to decide.
I’m pretty pleased that things are getting better and better with my writing. I feel like my latest projects are much better, with better writing and crafted better. The characters feel better, the plots feel more interesting. The writing is just better to begin with. Easier to edit, less weird stuff to take out. I don’t know why I’d just leave typos galore in my earlier manuscripts. THe and SHe all over the place. Silly things that are so annoying to go through and fix now.
Anyway. This is going to be a big year for me. A big year, with big goals. I can’t wait for the new year to start and all the fun, amazing things it will bring. 🙂
That old chestnut that habits take 21 days to form? I think I believe it. I started getting up early again on the 28th of November and I have been up by 5:30 every day since then. I’ve been getting in my 2k words before 8 most days.
On top of this, I’ve also been cutting carbs, doing the 4-Hour-Body thing sort of kind of. I’m still eating some candy and flan and stuff, but I’m making better choices left and right.
My favorite new thing I’ve started doing is ten squats every time I refill my drink. I’ll schedule a half pot of decaf every night and drink that while I’m writing (with pastured half-and-half and Vietnamese cinnamon if you’re curious).
It seems to be working. My metrics for body composition (how close my ribs feel to the surface and having to tie my sweatpants to keep them up) are rocking. I can’t weigh myself and have it mean anything because by the time I get around to weighing myself, I am a half pot of coffee into the day and I’ve been drinking ice water. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I can’t really go on anything but these very relative measurements.
It’s working and I’m feeling pretty rad about it. I have a goal of six books released next year. This getting the writing done first thing in the morning is opening up the rest of the day for revision. And I’m loving it. Well, as much as I can love revision.
But it’s happening and I’m sending out each chapter as it’s completed to my friend to read. Which is also helpful because you don’t want to wait too long between each installment. And even if I don’t really feel like it, I’ll still do it because she’s doing me a solid by reading. And I’m (hopefully) doing her a solid by supplying her with free romance novels. XD