Tag Archives: flow

Patience & Story

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

For a writer, I have remarkably little patience.  Often in my life – patience is a virtue that I do not possess. At the moment, I’m near the end of the novel I’m drafting. I have another 10-15k to write, but I’ve been hovering. Not writing. Waiting.

I’m starting to get impatient with myself. I need to be setting words to paper, now, or so it feels like to me. However, at the same time, I’m awed by the possibilities that are in front of me as I near the end of this novel. And largely, I write intuitively, letting the story take me on the journey – me following where it leads.

So, when something doesn’t feel right or ready it is difficult to surmount that feeling because my subconscious is telling me to wait. Be patient. However, when does this stuck feeling become inertia? I’m still trying to learn the balance between moving forward for motions sake versus slowing down and feeling the story.

Writers write every day. I hear this continually. I’m practicing, but even in my best weeks, I’m writing 5-6 days week. Not seven days a week. Does that make me less of a writer? I don’t know. Probably not. I’m still practicing writing. Hell, even in the weeks that I only write 2-3 days that week, I’m still thinking about the novel. Or dreaming about it. The story is on my mind.

I also must admit, I’m at the stage in the story where I’m dreaming about a new novel. Characters from other stories and worlds are seductively dancing through my head. Write me – they cry at me. I have to ignore them, for now, so that I can finish the mad dash of this novel. I know the ending is in me. It is just taking its time gestating. And hopefully it will come out sooner rather than later.

© K. Klein 2013

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

Drafting

Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own. Carol Burnett

My blog has been accusing me of neglect, since it has been several weeks since I last updated it and now it is April 8th and the last time I updated was in the middle of March. This time the silence has not been me hiding from my feelings.

I’ve been busy in my new schedule and I’ve also been putting a lot of time and energy into my novel’s first draft. Thus far, I’ve written 88,000 words in 71.8 hours over the course of ten or eleven weeks. I’m pretty proud of myself. And I definitely see that if I did this full-time I’d have the potential to be faster than I am now when I am writing in between adult commitments in my life.

Last week, I hit a snag, but I overcame it and wrote 5k on Sunday. So overall, the writing life is treating me well. And I’m plugging away. My characters are making trouble for as we speak and doing things I never expected them to do. But if the story surprises me, then hopefully it will surprise my alpha reader brother and beta readers too. And maybe someday some readers who don’t know me personally.

© K. Klein 2013

2 Comments

Filed under writing

Impatience

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood.  I’d type a little faster.  ~Isaac Asimov

No news on the personal front. Sigh. It makes me more impatient the longer I have to wait. Oh well. I just have to take a deep breath and know that the news will come when I least expect it.

The lack of news and my impatience over it makes me wonder, how in the name of heck did I ever decide to become a writer? In an odd sort of way, writing does require a decent level of patience. I have to sit down and type out the words. Then I have to put them out there. And then I have to write some more.

I’ve been reading a lot of Dean Wesley Smith’s blog and his series on Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. It is really interesting. I don’t know if I agree with it all, but I definitely find it informative. I like that he makes me think.

One of the things that he talks about is Heinlein’s rules for writing:

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

Now I’m not sure that I entirely agree with this set of rules. However, it seems solid enough and a good place to start. For me, in my process, “editorial order” is my brother. He is my first reader and helps me to see my writing through a reader’s eyes. I don’t take that one literally.  At the same time, I think it is good advice not to polish for so long that nothing is ever done.

Further, I can see my own pitfalls in this list. Right now I am getting back on the writing bandwagon. And I know I can finish. However, I am stuck on numbers four and five. I’m not going to lie, I’m scared. There is a pit in my stomach when I think about moving forward.

I know that I can’t stay in stasis forever, but there seems to be a precipice in my mind when it comes to making the jump to get published. Part of it is my personal impatience. No matter what route I take – indie or traditional – I will have to wait for a response. There is that tinge of impatience again…instant gratification would be wonderful. Or possibly horrible.

And oddly enough, I am terrified of failure, but success frightens me even more. Tonight is making me think about the enigma of writing. Why should anybody care about what I have to say? Who says anybody does?

So far as I know, no one does. And yet, I cannot stop writing. The stories come and I write them down. I finish one and write another. Perhaps I could be an Emily Dickinson, but what fun would that be? I will get there eventually. I just need to give myself permission to jump off that metaphorical cliff. Who knows? It might be fun.

©K. Klein 2013

4 Comments

Filed under writing

What should I write next?

During NaNoWriMo I got sick, twice. The only reason I finished at all this year is because I hit 50k before I got sick the second time and had averaged 2k a day. A couple of days in the beginning I had 5k days. That is awesome. I am proud of myself for finishing and doing it early. However, I had hoped to keep writing during that last week. I am also a bit bummed because I didn’t get a chance to have a 10k  day and I hoped I would have one during NaNo.

Sadly a sinus infection took me down and I am just getting better this week; antibiotics and modern medicine rock. However, this leaves me in a conundrum. What do I write now? Hitting 50k in my 2012 NaNo novel didn’t get to all the plot points. I am somewhere in the middle. I think I have another 50k of story left to write.

However, I am working on finishing the edits of novel-1. I finished my personal edits, but am still in the process of reading it to my brother. Which is another layer of edits, before I feel comfortable sharing it with more beta readers. So I am about 2/3-3/4 of the way done reading it to my brother.

That won’t take up most of my writing time. But it will take a small chunk of it. My brother has made some valid critiques that I want to address before letting other betas see it. So that leaves me with some options. I can work on finishing my 2012 NaNo novel or I can take my half-finished first draft of novel-1’s sequel and try to map it out and plan to write an entire first draft. Or I could work on a ghostly short-story for a Welsh magazine my friend mentioned to me is taking submissions.

Unfortunately for me, all of these projects sound interesting and compelling. I don’t know which to finish first. I think likely, the last pass of the novel-1 edits will happen. But that is more editing than writing and I am feeling the need to write after being sick for so long. Too many options; I suppose it is better than having no ideas. But I am definitely feeling a little indecisive.

©K. Klein 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under nanowrimo, writing

Shitty First Drafts & NaNoWriMo

“Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts” ~Anne Lamott

If you haven’t read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I highly recommend it. It is a book that discusses craft and other writing related things. But what I took out of it the most is that it is ok to write messy, shitty, plot hole ridden first drafts. I spent a long time paralyzed by the idea that I had to write a perfect first draft. It also helped me realize that it is ok to be a kind of crazy writer and that I am not alone. Sometimes writing is such a hermit activity it is easy to think that I am the only one who feels this way.

In any case, I cannot tell you the amount of tyranny that my inner critic ruled my writing life with…that voice, which is helpful during edits and rewrites, is downright stifling when I am just trying to get the story on the page. Part of the initial resistance this NaNoWriMo has been my need to stuff the inner-critic back in its box. He had his mustache-twirling tyrannical joy fest when we edited my pre-NaNo novel. And now it is time for some quiet time in the box. Really. And I don’t feel bad about being mean to him; he is a tyrant after all. (And he was mean to me first.)

Shitty first drafts coupled with NaNoWriMo have allowed me to complete several first drafts now. This November I am rediscovering the joy and the pains of writing a first draft from scratch. Last NaNo, I ventured to write a sequel so I didn’t have to root around as much in my world-building. I am building this new world from scratch. It is terrifying and so much fun at the same time.

I am also learning new things about my craft and my style. I have read Rachel Aaron’s awesome blog post about going from 2k to 10k a day. I haven’t hit 10k in a day yet, but I have hit 5k two days in a row. Just by jotting down the basic events of what I wanted to write for that day. I really enjoyed how she explained her triangle of enthusiasm, knowledge, and time. Check out her post for more information.

In the great pantser vs. plotter debate, I always thought of myself as more of a panster. But I think that is somewhat of a lie; I always hit writer’s block when I don’t know where I am going with the story. I think that I am more of a mental planner. Like I have an idea of where the story is going in my head. A rough outline I guess. So now here I am jotting down brief pre-writing session lists. I am not quite to a full outline stage of planning. Perhaps I am a pantser with plotter tendencies? I don’t know entirely. Although even the greatest planners do get sidetracked from their outlines and plans sometimes – so I don’t think anyone is purely one or the other.

So what do you think? Are you meticulous in your first draft? Do you write shitty first drafts? Are you a plotter or a punster? Or both?

P.S. I am super happy the election is over!

P.P.S. Sorry it has been a while since I blogged, I caught a stupid cold.

©K. Klein 2012

2 Comments

Filed under inner critic, nanowrimo, writing

Come have a cup of tea with me

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.  ~Author Unknown

I have all sorts of odds and ends on my mind at the moment. So join me for a virtual tea time if you please. If you don’t drink tea – feel free to have a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or whatever warm beverage you fancy. Not to brag, but I do make a mean cup of hot chocolate.

The dominant thought on my mind is that I finished my rewrite last night. Part of me can’t believe it. I don’t quite want to let go. I do still need to read about half of the book to my brother for final polishing. But for the most part, aside from the tinkering, this draft is done. This is the first novel that I have rewritten completely. I have finished several first drafts, but this is the first one that I felt compelled to bring to the next stage of the writing process.

I found it interesting to learn about my rewrite and revision process. I found it different from my first draft process. During the first draft I tend to write by the seat of my pants – letting the characters and story take me where they will. I also try to shut the editor off so that I can just sit down and write.

I reverse-engineered my novel throughout the planning stage of the rewrite. I reread the first draft and figured out what plot points made sense; added in scenes and chapters where I found plot holes. Then I sat down to rewrite and revise the novel. Much of the beginning included writing chapters from scratch because I lost the thread of a character arc in the first half of the first draft.

It is interesting to see how it turned out. My first draft was 65000 words, which is a bit anemic for a novel. I am a rare underwriter. I get the bones out and then fill in the rest later. My second draft is 20k longer at 86000 words. In the second draft, I filled in physical descriptions and fleshed out character arcs and characterizations. Slowly, but surely I am sharing the baby novel with my beta readers.

I am proud of myself for reaching this new milestone in my writing journey and process. I hope that the next time I do a revision that I won’t have to write more than half of it by hand before typing it up. Who knows? We shall see.

The other thing on my mind at the moment is NaNoWriMo. The New Idea is knocking at my brain and it wants me to write it. I have two and a half days where I cannot write in the new novel. Gah. Anticipation is a good thing. I sort of lack the patience though. I want to write now and not wait.

On the bright side, this does give me a chance to catch up on some reading. My dad recently bought a tablet, and I borrowed a copy of Pride & Prejudice from the library to read it on his tablet. I own a paper copy, but it is buried in my boxes in storage. So I am rereading it for the third or fourth time. I love Jane Austen. Reading is a great way to refill my creative well. And it is soothing; my anxiety has been a bit high today.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Do you prefer tea, coffee, or hot chocolate? Any new books you’re curling up with that you’d recommend? I always love to check out new and interesting books. Not that my to be read pile isn’t a couple miles high. But I always love to hear about new authors and great books.

©K. Klein 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under anxiety, nanowrimo, reading, writing

Movies in my mind

My characters and stories are incredibly visual to me. When the writing is flowing I can see the story in my mind and part of my job is to transcribe those images into the ethereal nature of words. Finding the right amount of description is a challenge for me. Often, my brother’s biggest complaints about my writing are him wanting more description.

However, I tend to err on the side of caution and begin by under-describing rather being too detailed. These days readers don’t want pages upon pages of minutes details; some writers can get away with it. Most cannot – and so I try to balance my own images with the needs of my readers. Part of the reason I write is so that my world can come alive through sharing it with others.

One difficult piece of description for me is the spatial aspect of it. When describing a room – where are the things in the room in relation to one another? Where are the people in relation to the things and each other?

For example, I love old houses with parlors. So how does that look to my mind? Or yours?

The parlor felt rich done in earth tones. A fireplace stood on the far wall away from the door; flames danced merrily within its confines. In front of the fireplace sat two comfy chairs with a table in between. Nearby the large picturesque window was a couch. Across the room from the couch was a large antique wooden desk with a hardback chair; the desk top had clutter of papers and books.

This is a rather rough description. Considering I did it kind of on the fly it isn’t too bad, but it still feels a bit stiff. What if we added in some people?

Miss Andrews walked into the parlor and sat on the cream couch near the large window. Mr. Saunders greeted her from the desk across the room; she returned his greeting. However, she did not wish to chat and instead took in the room. She enjoyed the view of the fire as it danced merrily within the fireplace. Her sister sat in one of the chairs in front of the fire, but didn’t say anything. Miss Andrews walked over to her and they chatted quietly as Mr. Saunders cleared the clutter away from his desk.

I like this better; it feels a little less stiff now that there are people populating the room. However, it still doesn’t feel to me like it has come alive. Perhaps adding in a bit of Miss Andrews’ emotions will help to set the scene.

Wiping away tears, Miss Andrews entered the parlor. She walked past the desk and Mr. Saunders greeted her; she returned the favor. Mr. Saunders not noticing her distress continued to clear the clutter away from his desk. Not wishing to speak she walked over to the cream couch and perched upon it. From there she enjoyed the view of the fire – it danced merrily. Her sister sat in one of the comfortable chairs before the fire; she turned and asked after Miss Andrews’ day. Miss Andrews walked over to her sister and whispered her discontent.

Of the three descriptions, I think the last one is the richest. It has layers of things, people, and emotions. I could probably stand to go over it again and throw in brief physical descriptions of Mr. Saunders, Miss Andrews and her sister. However, I tend to prefer not to give too much description of my characters. People tend to imagine them how they want even when description is provided.

How do you handle descriptions when you write? Does it take multiple drafts for you to get your vision across? I think my final description could still use some work. What would you add? Or take away?

©K. Klein 2012

Leave a comment

Filed under nanowrimo, writing