Tag Archives: practice

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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Refuge

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.  Bob Marley

When I was in elementary school, I played flute, but I never practiced. I played passingly and usually sat towards the end of the section because I didn’t put the effort into improving my musical skills.

The interesting thing about music or art versus writing is that often there is the idea that writers are born and not made. However, writing is a skill like any other, and to develop any skill that means you need to practice.

I’ve been working on my writing practice this year. I’ve been writing towards a novel since late January and am at sixty-two thousand words. I’m happy with my progress. When it comes to my writing, I want to practice. I want to get better.

When I write, I am a happier and more complete person than when I do not write. For example, yesterday, I was in a funky mood. A bit anxious and upset and I sat down to write and just lost myself to my characters. And when I finished, I felt better. I even went on to write more in a second session later last night.

Writing is my refuge from the world. When I am telling stories it takes me away from my problems and issues. It allows me the freedom to bring my characters to life and to share them with others.

©K. Klein 2013

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Energy & personal limits

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.  Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.  Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.  ~Theodore Geisel

I’ve been running into my personal limits lately. I looked at the last time I updated my blog and cringed. However, I need to remind myself that I only have so much energy and so much time to do everything. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. And only seven days in a week. Even Martha Stewart (or insert your mogul of choice) has to deal with those constraints.

From what I can tell, Martha Stewart doesn’t sleep – maybe she a super secret new type of vampire? A homemaking vampire that is my bet. Now the question is, what do these new vampires eat? Blood seems to messy for the perfect homemaking vampire. Oh well, that isn’t my point.

Further, I need to cut myself some slack, I am drafting a novel. I recently hit 45k in the draft. I’ve been going strong since Jan. 28th. That is a big deal. So mostly, the words I might have used in this blog have gone to the novel.

However, it isn’t just writing limits I’m noticing. For me, I have a pretty set amount of energy in which to accomplish things. For example, my introverted nature means that social interactions take more chunks out of my energy than cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry.

An interesting thing I’ve hit upon in my own limits of energy is that my social interaction energy pool overlaps with my writing energy pool. If I have a big day planned on the weekend, likely, I won’t have energy to write afterwards. Or I’ll prefer not to write beforehand and conserve myself for seeing my friends and family. This has hampered my write seven days a week goal. I am pretty happy writing six days a week.

Every writer is different. And the idea of telling writers to write everyday is that writers need to practice. My whole 2013 goal was to practice, practice, practice. And I’m overall happy with my progress. I honestly wish I could write a bit faster. But considering that I only write in chunks of time as little as a half an hour to as much as two hours a day I’m doing all right. I’m super proud of the day I wrote 4k, but I also devoted 5+ hours to that. So, time is a constraint. And practice will help me to not only improve my writing, but also help me focus, and writer faster.

Half of my slowness problem now is sitting down and concentrating on what I want to write now. Rather than doing half a dozen other things. Sometimes I have “oh shiny” moments and they come at the time I am trying to sit down and write. So the strategy is to get the water, tea, and snack before I sit down to write – instead of trying to write and then getting up every five minutes. I also have started logging out of social media so that I don’t have the temptation to check Facebook or the interwebs every two minutes.

Now that I’m aware of what makes me lose concentration, I can do those small things to help keep me focused when I sit down to write. And hopefully that means writing more words. Yay.

©K. Klein 2013

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Almost New Year’s Eve

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

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Mental & physical flexibility

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. ~Author Unknown

Last night was my first time doing yoga in a month because of being sick. And man did I feel the gap between my last yoga session and this one. I was super tight and stiff while warming up. Thankfully the instructor took us through a good warm up and I loosened up, but it reminded me why it is important to practice. Obviously, being sick is a good reason to take it easy, but hopefully I will be healthy the rest of this winter and then I shall need to stick with my practice.

Yoga, like my writing, is something that I love to do, but it doesn’t always come easily to me. It takes a long time to form a life changing habit – getting to form those grooves in the neural pathways of the brain. I still haven’t recovered my writing everyday or even near everyday habit that I broke at the end of grad school. Obviously school was important to me, but I am still upset that I haven’t gotten back on the horse, so to speak. I am writing, but not every day.

I would be astounded if I could get to doing yoga every day. Right now my goal is to practice 1-2 times weekly and once I establish that routine maybe put in another session. I don’t want to jump the gun now because I am trying to re-establish the every week yoga that I’d work on in the late summer and early autumn.

It is interesting to me to see how difficult it is to form new and good habits and so damn easy for me to fall back on already established habits. It is annoying because sometimes I know these established patterns of behavior are unproductive. (I’m looking at your anxiety freak outs). But as with all things, if I want to change myself, I have to try. And so here I am going at it one week at a time with yoga and one day at a time with writing.

©K. Klein 2012

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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

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