Growing Up?

So a friend of mine was just talking to me about writing, and specifically my writing. I don’t normally share things with people I know in real life; I used to be highly self-conscious about it and always wanted it to be perfect before I showed people things. 

But this friend of mine asked me why he hasn’t read anything of mine (given that a lot of what I talk about, especially during the summer, are various projects I’m working on) and I realized that I don’t have a good reason. I wouldn’t open a GDoc and let people watch me type (because I edit while writing and I’d be too weirded out), but I don’t place my self-worth on the quality of my first drafts. At least, I don’t think so. 

I’m rereading Spark, the version I wrote nearly a year ago. It’s… well. It’s got potential. I can tell where I liked writing it, the places I was having fun. I can also see the things I made up on the spot, the places where I got bored and didn’t want to research anything. It was written in fifteen days, I think? So I understand it. 

It’s not as terrible as I thought it would be–or maybe my perspective is changing. I’m interested in the plot, and that’s not because I wrote it. I’ve always had something of a knack for dialogue, and that’s really felt natural throughout. I know there are lots of things wrong with my writing (namely, my inability to describe anything), but I’m growing out of the knee-jerk “EVERYTHING I WRITE IS TERRIBLE, BURN IT ON SIGHT”. I want to publish, someday, and this feels like a step in that direction.

(Though I am describing a novel I wrote my first JulNo, Retreat, and it’s the silliest plot in the world but I have such a soft spot for it.)

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Oh, yeah. I have a blog.

(I did, for those interested, make it to about 75K for NaNo ’13. I was at school, and just had so much going on that I couldn’t write more. The first 50 were written in 3 days, though, so… cool?)

All right. Once again, I’m going to make a bunch of promises to revive this stupid thing, but who knows if I’ll follow through? Let’s say once a week, to start, and maybe more often than that. I can do book reviews or something? I mean, I do read. A lot. It goes hand-in-hand with my writing, which has been happening a lot more lately.

I have a job now, and I was at work thinking about writing (as I do) and I figured out a way to fix a plot hole in this story I’ve been writing (multiple drafts, I mean) for… about four years? I started it in either NaNo 2010 or 2011, anyway, and it’s changed so much from that first draft (I’ve been reading it, and really, sixteen-year-old me had no idea about… anything, to be honest). I’m still really fond of it, though. 

Anyway, I worked out a pretty giant plot stumbling block–I have these aliens, and up until now they hadn’t been interesting tome at all, so I hadn’t really fleshed them out. They were monolithic, with different ideas in theory but in practice they stay relatively the same. So I worked out the political shit going on with them through this series, like I did with the people, and treated that as the main story (which seems really obvious in retrospect, but I wasn’t thinking of them as characters so much as plot pieces). They’re interesting now, and I think this draft will be better for it. I’ve still got to reread the old draft (because I’m going to keep a bunch of it, I don’t want to rework an entire new plot again) but I think that if I fold this whole thing in, it’ll make the novel stronger. Also, time jumps are going to happen in-novel rather than jumping a thousand years per book. This may not be interesting to anyone but me. Ah, well. 

I’m doing JulNo this year, going for 50K but if I write more (a full draft of this novel?!) that’d be great. I have to work out an outline, but I think (?) I can get that done this Thursday and Friday, because I don’t work. I keep trying to write it out (pen and paper because I prefer it so much that way) and falling asleep in the middle of sentences, which leaves me with stuff like this: 

“figure out everyone’s story and decide what would make the most thematically. Earth is by far the least interesting; in a pinch it could be told 90% through flashbacks and you would all honestly be good.” (Typos directly from my notebook. Good job, me.)
Which, no, that’s not true even a little. I know what I was going for, but rereading it the next day I just kind of laughed because the story of what happens on Earth is super important. If I shoved it to the background the rest of the stupid thing would kind of fall apart. I think. (Now I’m reconsidering. Damn it.)
I hope everything’s going well for all of you (if there are any of you left, that is)!

NANO 13 IS A GO.

I decided yesterday that I was going for 150K, and I decided… roughly two hours ago that I was going to try to do 50K in a day (or, as it’s known on twitter, #50kkillmenow).

First novel: a coming-of-age story for girls. Second novel: a second-person story about Catholicism. Third novel: either a fantasy novel OR something about sexual assault. (I TOLD YOU I JUST DECIDED YESTERDAY.) 

I have four minutes until NaNo starts, holy crap, why did I decide to do this

On Outlining.

I’ve been discussing in the comments of my last entry my outlining process, and that got me thinking. I really am not that organized.

When I did the first draft of this novel, all the way back in NaNo 2011, I had a process. I had a detailed outline and I didn’t let myself deviate at all. That sucked. I didn’t have well-developed characters, I just had small ideas of what I wanted to do and no way to get there. As such, I had lots of storylines that I didn’t know how to tangle back together and writing it was not fun.

For this, I did the opposite. I had lots of well-developed characters and nothing else. The world, I’m making up as I go along. The plot itself, doing the same–I have an entire religious/capital punishment plotline that came about organically and I really like it. I think that’ll stay through to the second draft. 

I prefer outlining like this, to be honest. I like knowing where each character starts and ends and figuring out the middle.

In other news, I’m going to try to finish this novel tomorrow. I’ve got 65K right now; I can do 20 today and 15 tomorrow and then figure out where I’m at. The last plot threads of this section are tying together; I’m about to kill the girl who is going to ignite everything. I just need to figure out how to kill my queen, and I’ll be set.

and we were dancing, dancing like we’re made of starlight

(The title is unrelated. I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s Starlight for a long time now and I like that line.)

Anyway. I hit 50K! I didn’t write at all yesterday & then did 8K today so I’ve officially “won”. I’m… roughly halfway through? Probably? I honestly have no idea. I have too many viewpoint characters and too much that I want to do with this and each of those characters. Maybe it’ll end up being 150K instead (hopefully, hopefully not, I want to wrap this up this month and get onto the next book which is about totally different characters).

I don’t have too much to say. I got a wrist brace which has been helping a lot. It’s midnight-ish and I think I might finish the chapter I’m on, about a thousand more words, and go to bed before one. Tomorrow I’m starting my reread of Dune which is going to be great. Man, I love that book.

Yes! 50K, though! I’m really pleased. 🙂

I haven’t written anything today. I’m having problems

I haven’t written anything today. I’m having problems with my wrists, so I gave myself the day off (and tomorrow, but that’s due to circumstance rather than choice). 

Instead, I’ve been looking through old documents and stories of mine. I’ve been doing this the past couple of days; my documents folder is woefully disorganized and every time I try to fix it I get overwhelmed and click out.

The other day I found a 48,000 word document with a keysmash title that I had no recollection of writing. I tried to read it, but it in all honesty wasn’t very good and I was cringing too much to finish. That’ll be for another day when I have more willpower and figure out what I was going for with it.

Today, though – I found a 44,000 word novel and again, had no recollection of writing it. (I’m beginning to see a pattern. I’ve written a lot over the years, it seems. At least enough that I can blank out on entire novels.) I’ve never seriously edited a novel other than Retreat, so I assumed it was going to be terrible. I went into it with trepidation.

It’s… not that bad. I’m about twenty thousand words in. I can tell where I was going with it. It’s the sequel to the one that I never finished reading. As a result, the beginning didn’t make much sense and there were some weird bits that I think are related to things that happen in that unnamed novel, but overall it’s not that bad. This is a surprise – usually my first drafts are terrible. I mean, there are run-on sentences and this was during my overuse of the dash and some of my dialogue falls flat… but there are scenes that I reread a few times, just because I was so happy with the way they turned out.

I’m going to finish reading it probably tonight (or the day after tomorrow, as I have to be up at 4 am) and then think about tackling the other novel. I’m also pretty sure it’s related to my 2010 NaNo novel, which is half on paper and half typed and I never got into one document. It’s a big headache and what I’ve read isn’t very good, but I’ll figure out how to consolidate it all and start working on it.

I had such plans for this series – I have maps and mythologies and gods/goddesses and explanations for magic and I entirely forgot about it. For the past two or so years I’ve been so focused on Circuit and all its incarnations that I forgot about Uproar (the name of what I think is the first novel). I have lots of side stories for Circuit; I’ve been reading them and laughing at how different it is now than it was in its inception. But (and I completely forgot about this) I have lots and lots of side stories for Uproar, too. Other than Uproar itself, I have 34 documents in the folder, all of which are at least a couple thousand words.

I think I’m going to try to work my way through reading all of this; I’m not going to seriously work on it until I at least finish the draft of Circuit but I am going to try to organize it. Looking at all the various stories and side stories and AU things I wrote is giving me a headache. I want to be able to read it as I intended but I’m not sure where to begin. Is Uproar the first novel, or is it the thing where Leanhe is a five-year-old (which is what was so terribly written)? I know the one I’ve been reading isn’t book one; in my journal, though, I call it an “AU telling of the Rebellion”, whatever that means. 

That’s my headache of the week. Meanwhile, my wrists are killing me again so that’s enough for me.

40k!

First off, let me say that I am proud of my brain’s ability to figure out how to fix a plot hole. I wanted to wrap up several conflicts at once and I didn’t know how because I went into this part with no knowledge of what was going to happen, just a character and a rough idea of the ending. I had a religious arc, a prison arc, and a capital punishment arc, and I didn’t know what to do unless I wanted everything to take another 50K. So I thought about it and I managed to tie all three of the resolutions together using the son of the first “victim” of the war as a figurehead. It looks a little funny right now, but I think it’ll look less contrived and make more sense in later drafts. Which is awesome, because before yesterday I had no idea how to solve any of this. 😀

So, I hit 40K, and the end of part two of five. Which means I’m now onto the really, really interesting (to me) bits. Part three, Rhiannon’s arc, was originally supposed to be the beginning of this novel but I decided it was too weird to jump straight in and I wanted to tell the story of before, too, on Earth. I was thinking this part would be around 20K as well, but I’ve been thinking about all the stuff that has to happen and… probably closer to 40K. Maybe longer. Eurgh. (This novel is not looking like it’s going to be wrapped up in July if I keep my 100K word goal. My life has become a series of numbers and “how much longer can I write”s.) But to come are woman kings and lady knights and fleshed-out characters that I don’t have to think of on the spot! And… religious figureheads that don’t die in the first few minutes, a prophet that’s more of a queen of the people, and ALIENS! (Eventually, aliens. I keep promising myself that. Eventually you can write about the neat aliens that can kill everyone.)

Along with finishing part two, I did my first 10K day of the month! It doesn’t sound like a lot compared to past things I’ve done but considering I haven’t done much writing at all since my November blitz, and my wrists have been hurting this month, I’m pleased. Also, most of the 10K is usable – there are minor things that are going to have to be fixed (mainly names of people and things – this is supposed to take roughly a thousand years in the future so they wouldn’t have the same cursing conventions we do and there likely wouldn’t be a lady named “Carla”) but overall, plot-wise, I really like it. 

I keep finding myself thinking about what “future readers” will think, though, and I need to stop that. It doesn’t matter what religious overtones are going to be able to be found in it if I never write the damn thing. 

I wasn’t kidding about my wrists hurting – I only have one wrist brace that I bought a few years ago and I keep alternating it even over small bursts of writing, like this blog post. I think that’s a sign that this is enough from me. Bye, all.