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What a Rich Life Means to Me

Earlier this year, I had a profound realization, as a writer I’m not only an artist, but also a businesswoman. I’d never put two and two together. If I want to make a living as a writer, then I need to continue making that connection.

So, one of the first steps I took is to build myself a writing tracker, and make writing goals. I wrote a novel in 84.75 hours over three months, which is pretty fast considering all my other obligations and responsibilities. If I were writing full-time, I probably would have been able to write that novel in 4-5 weeks instead of 12-15 weeks.

However, now, I am only writing part-time, and I am happy with my progress. The novel I’m working on now is being a bit annoying to me. But, in drips and drabs, I am writing it. That piece of the puzzle is the part I love the most.

Another piece of the puzzle is money.

I’m working on a loose plan of trying to get my trilogy finished and polished so that I can indie publish it mid-2014. I’m not sure that is entirely realistic. However, that is why the plan is loose and I’m trying to keep it flexible.

Considering my need for control, that is a feat in and of itself. However, the plan to publish in the next 12-18 months brings me to other questions, like money. The idea that my novels will need to slow build is one that I can mentally handle. It would also give me the ability to take things slowly.

But, what happens if for whatever reason, the novel took off? This led me down the path of financial self-education. The need to understand and to be able to come to the table prepared has led me down this path.

So far, I’ve read: The Top 10 Differences Between Employees and Employees by Keith Cameron Smith and Think, Act, and Invest Like Warren Buffett: The Winning Strategy to Help Achieve Your Financial Life Goals by Larry E. Swedroe. I need to reread Swedroe’s book because there is some information on risk diversification that I haven’t fully integrated into my mind. I still don’t 100% understand it. Luckily for me, it is a short book.

I have also just started to read Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman. I’m not sure how useful the book is going to be overall, I’m only a couple of chapters into reading it. But, in those few chapters, Suze Orman has been making me think.

She tells the story of a woman who defined what rich meant to her. And so, now, here I am trying to think about what rich means to me. In some ways, this feels sort of cheesy to me, but in other ways it makes sense. If I can envision it, then I can make it happen.

What a rich life means to me:

The ability to write what I want, when I want to, and to publish it or not as I see fit. Writing is what makes life worth living for me. Telling people stories and hopefully entertaining them.

I love my friends and family. I want to enjoy them as much as possible. However, I am a happier and more fulfilled person when I am writing. This makes me a better partner, friend, sister, and daughter.

Everything else is incidental. If I can’t write, then who am I? For me, a rich life includes writing – and plenty of time in which to write.

Some things that I might want along with time to write include being able to pay all my bills. Having time and money to travel. I love seeing new places and experiencing history firsthand. I would go back to Europe every year if I could. My one good friend wants to go to Australia for 2 weeks in 2015. We’ll see if that happens. I would love to see Machu Pichu. Asia, Africa, where in the world wouldn’t I want to go?

It would be great to have some money to buy a camera. Mine died four years ago, and I just haven’t had the money to buy a new one. Rent and tuition bills kept getting in the way of that – silly responsibility. I would love to have time to invest in new creative outlets. I’m learning how to knit now. I’m almost done with my first scarf.

I have a ton of scrap-booking and jewelry making stuff in storage, but I also don’t have a lot of time to pursue those hobbies. So mostly, my free time now goes to writing and reading.

So how can I synthesize all of this together? What does a rich life mean to me?

For me, a rich life is having the time to write, play, and enjoy the company of those I love.

And for that life, I am learning how to manage theoretical money that may or may not happen.

© K. Klein 2013

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Finished the novel, finally

The end of this novel decided it wanted to drag out. And I finally wrote the last chapter. The entire thing came out to 104, 456 words. My goal was 100k. I’m glad to be about on target. I tend to write a bit thin. When I go back to take a look at it, it will probably get another 20-30k of descriptions/ details added into it. It will get a couple of months to rest before I bother to look at it again.

Later this week, I’m going to go back to my NaNoWriMo2012 novel and finish it. I hit 52k in November, but then got sick with a sinus infection and hit a wall. I finished the word count goal, but not the novel. The goal now is to add another 40-50k to finish the plot line.  Exciting stuff.

©K. Klein 2013

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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

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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

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Self doubt

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.  ~Sylvia Plath

I will admit to being a bad English major and literary nerd – I’ve never read The Bell Jar. However, this Plath quote really resonates with me now. Between being sick last week and plagued with self-doubt this week I am a mess.

My NaNoWriMo novel is at forty thousand words, which in sheer word count terms, is awesome. I think I am only about a third or a fourth of the way into the story. I feel like there is a turning point coming up that I have yet to discover; one of the great and frightening parts of pantsing. Hopefully I will discover the illustrious and mysterious turning point soon. We shall see.

I am starting to wonder, was I ever really a pure pantser? I think the answer is no. But I am not a born plotter; I am not making outline of my story before it is written. Instead, I like to have my amorphous mess and then figure out what the structure should be…I sort of reverse-engineered the first draft of novel-1. I have been scribbling down scribbling down scenes of what I want to happen before I start writing, which I find helpful. And on the bright side, definitely helps keep my word count up. Thank you Rachel Aaron. She had great advice about upping your word count her blog.

I am planning on sitting down with the half-done draft of novel-1 sequel and trying to plot out my second attempt on it. I plan to do that after I finish my NaNo novel, which is I am semi-pantsing. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out and if it works out. It is scary, but I enjoy pushing myself to try new techniques and ideas. I’ve heard about the beat sheet and story/ narrative structure. So I shall try to employ this while plotting out the high points of sequel to novel-1. Wish me luck.

P.S. On a completely unrelated note, I am super excited about Rachel Aaron’s new book, Spirit’s End. You should totally check it out!

©K. Klein 2012

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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

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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

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