Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.
– Jimmy Eats World, lyrics from the Middle
So, since I finished my last novel, I went back to my NaNoWriMo2012 novel. Last November, I hit my 50k words. However, near the end of the month, I caught a gnarly sinus infection that stopped me in my tracks.
Then December hit. I have a love-hate relationship with that month. It is fun to celebrate, but it is so busy. It has both my birthday and my boyfriend’s birthday on top of Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s. Usually relatives come in from out-of-town. There is a ton of socializing.
I can’t do all that socializing and write. I would not be a happy camper and would probably burn out. So, I typically take December off of writing. When I started writing again this year, in late January, I wanted to write the sequel to a novel I finished last year.
So, with all that in mind, I am now in the middle of writing the middle of my NaNoWriMo2012. I really hate writing this part because at this point all the momentum from the beginning is lost. And I’m not close enough to the climax/ dénouement to have the energy of the end. It can be a slog to work through that part of the novel.
On the other hand, I really love this novel. My characters are awesome and they’re so different from my other novels’ characters and this world is a departure from things I’ve done before. I really think it has come alive for me. I hope that my alpha reader likes it when it comes time for him to read it.
© K. Klein 2013
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
I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them. Anne Rice
I am well into drafting novel-2 and have a bit over 18k at the moment. I am pleased with this progress. It would be nice if I could get the motivation to write for more than 1-2 hours in a day. But on the flip side, I am writing 6 days a week.
For some reason, mostly I think my social life; I can’t quite make it to writing all seven days of the week. I blame my social life because it takes up energy for me, as an introvert. And writing, though I love it, also takes up energy. So if I have a particularly social Friday or Saturday then I am probably going to not write much that day and so long as I can write six days a week I think I am ok with that. We shall see where my productivity experiment takes me.
My schedule is about to change this week due to new circumstances. And so that will affect my writing time. Although, I do know this much, I won’t be getting up at five am to write. I respect writers who do get up early and write, but I physically cannot do it.
Once, during NaNoWriMo 2011, I tried to get up two hours earlier than normal to write. I was in grad school, and looking for time to write. What happened? I spent the entire two hours drinking coffee and staring into space incoherently. It comes as no to surprise to me, as I have been a night owl since childhood, but it can be disappointing at times.
The mornings and I just do not get along. I set the alarm twenty or thirty minutes earlier than I need to get up so that I can hit the snooze button and hold the day at bay for that longer. It doesn’t help matters that I also have trouble sleeping, so that even on good days I still wake up a bit groggy. It sucks to be perpetually overdrawn on one’s sleep bank. Oh well, in the end, I am a night owl and I shall make time to get the writing done even as my schedule changes.
©K. Klein 2013
December 2012 has been particularly rough on me. December is usually rough enough; this time of the year make me miss my mom more than the rest. I have also been dealing with the loss of my grandmother, Mama, and it was weird not having her around for the usual holiday cheer. The holidays seemed to sort of pass away on a grey palette rather than their normal riot of color. My birthday is also in December and this year it depressed me to not have reached some of my goals before another year ticked off on my life.
But, December is passing away, we only have a day and a half left of it here. I am starting to feel hopeful again. (Despair may have won for a while there…) I can tell I am more hopeful, because I am writing again. I am working on those last little shining bits of novel-1 and am hoping to get it to beta readers in early 2013. It is my hope to get their feedback before I take another pass on the novel and shine it up into its Sunday clothes and bring it out into the world. (By which I mean, submitting to agents…which is admittedly a little scary for me to think about.)
I’m not too big on New Year’s resolutions since everyone seems to make them and break them. However, I really like goals. So here are some goals for 2013 (in no particular order):
- Get novel-1 to beta readers
- Write a complete first draft of novel-1’s sequel. NaNo novel 2011 is an incomplete draft of this book.
- Research agents
- Write log-line for novel-1
- Write query letter for novel-1
- Send query letter to agents in batches
- Try not to gain 30 pounds whilst querying agents.
- Finish NaNoWriMo 2012 novel
- Figure out novel-1’s genre – It takes place in a mix of the real world that has magic and a pseudo-high fantasy realm. Urban fantasy? High fantasy? I’m not 100% certain. I’m pretty sure it isn’t paranormal.
- Outline the second sequel to novel-1. Yay for trilogies. 🙂
- Keep up Yoga practice
- Write daily!
©K. Klein 2012
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
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
“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