It’s the most wonderful time of the (very bad) year

It’s the most wonderful time of the (very bad) year

I don’t think I need to spend much time reminiscing over how much this year sucked; we all know about it all too well.

Instead I’m going to focus on some of the good stuff I’ve got going on.

  • The Pub podcast is coming back in the new year and we already have some recording sessions scheduled. I really missed doing the Pub so I’m excited to get back into it.
  • I took my desire to do more podcasting and the fact that current conditions mean me and my closest friends only hang out online now and squished ‘em together. We’re going to start our own nerdy lady podcast in the new year called Chaotic Nerdtral. Looking forward to to learn the editing side of podcast and share some strongly held opinions with my inner senshi in the funniest way possible.
  • I read some killer series this year including the Six of Crows duology and the Cruel Prince trilogy. I just started Shadow & Bone and I am devouring it! Can’t wait to see the Netflix adaptation this spring.
  • I got my first full request on my first finished novel! Still waiting to hear back but regardless of the response it feels like a huge milestone. And a little ward against the constant impostor syndrome.
  • I started a new project in November for NaNoWriMo and while my turtle pace means I didn’t win, I’m still having a MUCH easier time writing than I did with my first novel and I’m really happy with how it’s coming along, especially for a rough draft. I’m aiming to have it done sometime in February and ready for revisions.  
  • In more personal news, the silver lining of not being able to do a damn thing this year means I was able to save my money and pay off some debts.
  • I turned 30 and didn’t transform into a pumpkin or burst into flames.
  • We got a free RV we’ve been fixing up and we can’t wait to start doing some camping this spring! Assuming all is well with it on the short trips we’re super jazzed to plan some big trips! Ultimate destination would be taking it down to Disney World someday when I have the money for it.

All told, I have to count myself lucky. As shitty as the year has been I suffered no major losses and I know not everyone can say that. So I try not to complain. Still, looking forward to next year and hoping against hope things get better again.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone!

The Writer’s Paradox

The Writer’s Paradox

Thank goodness for the online writing community. If I didn’t have a chorus of fellow writers echoing my gripes, I would think I was a lunatic. Why is it so common that, for those who love writing, writing is so damn difficult? (I know this isn’t true for all of us, but for the subset who share my very frustrating struggle, I hope you find some comfort in this commiseration)

I think about stories all day. At work, driving, in the shower, when I lie in bed at night. I hear them in song lyrics. When I write or read something, I immediately want to create something like it. I get so excited, I want to rush of and create something! So why is the actual act of putting pen to paper so difficult? I feel like I’m physically pulling the words from me, one at time. And they’re painfully stuck. I’ve tried to figure out exactly why this is, why I’m like this. Best I can figure from listening to others complain of a similar problem is the propensity for perfection and a fear of failure. I know that my first draft of something is going to be garbled nonsense at best, especially compared to the scenes in my noggin. Like, of course I understand that. It’s logical. It’s obvious. But in the moment, I can’t make that logic work for me. I can feel how overwhelmed I am when I write, trying to get it right the first time even though I know it’s impossible, even though I know I have all the time in the world to sit back and edit, and polish, and revise it into something I love. But since my dumbo brain won’t cooperate with this knowledge, I’ve tried to find ways to trick it. I’ve made a writing space with candles, and bobbles, and soft music, and nice pens. I break big goals into tiny ones. And it really works! Once I sit down and settle in and get over that initial block, I can get a good amount of writing in. Writing I don’t hate, even!

So now my biggest obstacle is getting my dang butt in the dang chair. I start to visualize that blank page waiting for me at night and I find every reason to avoid sitting down and doing the damn thing. So, to help me this NaNoWriMo, I’ve come up with a new gimmick. I’ve always been interested in tarot. I’m not really into any of the spiritual aspect of it, (or anything if I’m being honest- no disrespect intended for anyone that is) but I really like the idea of it as a tool for introspection and journaling. I was thinking of starting to keep a tarot journal at my desk, something fun and easy I can look forward to sitting down and doing in at the end of the day. It will serve (I hope) as a clever excuse to get myself settled into my writing space. Then once I’m done with a journal entry, I’ll be ready to write! If I tell myself I just need to get a few pages down, I know what will happen. When the pressure if off, the buildup gone, I usually get way more written then I’m expecting. I know this must make me seem like a 100% complete psychopath but I’m hoping that any other writers who have my unfortunate neurocies can take some inspiration from me. Or at least some comfort in knowing you’re not crazy and you’re not alone.

I hope everyone is having a low stress and fun November, whether it be productive or not. If anyone has any of their own little tips and tricks PLEASE add them in the comments. Please. XD

Summer’s End – Fall Project Planning

Summer’s End – Fall Project Planning

The days are getting shorter as summer starts to fade. Spooky time approaches- my fave!

So I finally took the query plunge and sent my finished MS to a handful of agents. I have pretty realistic expectations- I won’t be the slightest bit surprised if I only get form rejections. But I’m thinking it’ll help inform me on the state of my novel. The way I see it, there are three options. One, my novel is actually ready and an agent requests a full. Two, my novel isn’t quite ready and I need to have some more beta readers clue me into why. Three, the novel isn’t working on a fundamental core level and I need to take what I’ve learned, shelve it, and move on to the next project.

At least there’s a couple big motivators on the horizon. Pitch Wars is coming up quick and I think I’ll throw my hat in the ring. My MS is certainly in waaaaay better shape than last time I entered. I had barely finished it in time last year. After that we’ll be coming into NaNoWriMo so of course I have to try again. I’m hoping to start getting into a rhythm on this new project in October and create some good habits before November. The new WIP is kind of a Inuyasha meets Howl’s Moving Castle type fantasy. Still working out the details. All I can do is try!

But I’m getting that itch again- I took enough time off over the summer to recharge. I want to get back into it. The motivation is back but is the discipline? (World of Warcraft is testing me but I must be strong! Haha)

I also really need to sit my but down and read Save the Cat already, especially going into a new project. I keep opening it and starting and finding an excuse to read something else. I just get so intimidated and overwhelmed. The imposter syndrome kicks in hard. I need to relax, let go, and have fun with it. Write for myself and stop worrying about making it perfect or marketable or whatever.

What’s everyone else reading, watching, playing, or writing right now??

Pitch Wars? Pitch Wars.

Pitch Wars? Pitch Wars.

Heeeeeey remember how I said I needed to ease my way back into writing regularly? Weeeeeellll, then I remembered Pitch Wars was a thing…twelve days before the deadline. So I worked nonstop, writing probably over 100 pages worth of edits, rewrites, and hole-filling in order to meet that deadline. I honestly thought there was no possible way I would have it done and presentable in time, but I did it! I gotta admit, I am wicked proud of myself. Not only for submitting to the competition but for actually finishing a book! It’s not perfect by any means; it needs some structural troubleshooting and a ton of shine, but it’s a real & complete story. I’ve never had that before. (and 93,00 words to boot!)

I really don’t believe there’s much of a shot of me being picked since this was such a last minute Hail Mary, but I think the experience is going to be a great one no matter what. I wrote successfully under a tight deadline for the first time. I had my first run-in with query letters, a synopsis, and formatting. I’m making a bunch of new friends on twitter in the writing community. Plus, I finally have a full story to share with my friends and family and get some constructive feedback. I’m a huge step closer to being ready to start an agent search and try to break into the publishing world. This is so unexpected and so exciting that I feel like it’s already a victory no matter the outcome. Still, I won’t lie- I would be over the moon times a thousand to be picked for Pitch Wars. To gain the insight of an industry professional before wading into the querying trenches – how can I even begin to assign a value to something like that?!

So, here goes nothing! Let’s see what happens next.

Add a heading

 

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Another month nearly gone.

SpookyScarySkeletons

I love this time of year- always have. Cool, gloomy weather after a long hot summer, spooky aesthetic as the nights get longer and, of course, Halloween. Halloween always promises a good time. (especially when you love costumes as much as I do) I have a handful of various Halloween parties and stuff this week that I’m looking forward to. It’ll be a nice break before NaNoWriMo next week.

I know in past blogs I probably mentioned I wasn’t planning on participating this year. I wanted to focus on revising my book one rough draft- especially since I am so tantalizingly close to completion. And I know at the end of my last post, I said work on part four was getting complicated, but I still had hopes of finishing on schedule.

Well, that all kind of went right out the window. I’m stuck in the mire with my editing. I’ve gotten so caught up in analyzing my narrative direction- questioning my characters’ motives, their emotions, their believability. I won’t say I’m losing faith in my story- I’ll never say that. But I feel like I’ve got my nose pushed so far up against it now that I can’t figure out if I’m going forward or backward. I’m lost. I need to take a big, BIG step back. I thought maybe recharging my creative batteries with other stories would help (and I think it’s starting to) so I’ve been binge watching Volton (loving it) and I just started reading Throne of Glass. I’ve also (finally) gotten the nerve up and sent what I have so far to a couple close friends whose opinions I await with both excitement and dread. I need to know if what I have is working and, if so, on what level. Even if it’s bad news, I need to know.

Meanwhile, as I was watching everyone else gear up for the November Writing challenge, I was struck by how long it’s been since I went back to plain old writing. Though my revision process has included a ton of writing as I fill holes, bridge gaps, and rewrite scenes, it’s not the blank-page, zero-direction style of writing like when you sit down to make something new. And I miss that. And if I’m going to take some time off from revision, it doesn’t seem wise to stop creating altogether. Last time I did that, it was so hard to get started again. So why not write? The timing is perfect and I love the spirit and camaraderie of NaNoWriMo, even though I’ve never “won.” 50,000 words is a heck of a lot when you really get into it. I think my record is around 30k but I’m a sloooow writer so that’s pretty good for me!

I found a cool format I want to try this year. It’s called Reverse NaNo and it seeks to combat the burn-out you get towards the middle and end of the month, capitalizing instead on a strong start. Basically you begin the month with a high daily word goal (over twice the daily target of traditional NaNo) and then every day it gets a little less. I still don’t know that this will mean a victory for me, but it definitely makes better sense with my energy levels! Here’s a link to the daily writing goals if you want to see the breakdown. 

Dice Tray
Dice Tray – 1st attempt!

In the meantime, I’m still leaning into my other hobbies as a break from the frustrations of writing. I practiced some more photography using pop vinyls as models since I didn’t have anything else to shoot. I want to be ready to take a TON of pictures at Daisho Con next month and I want them to be good! I don’t have any cosplay to work on (thankfully) so I’ve turned to making more dice bags and dice trays to scratch that crafting itch. I need to make another bag and tray for a brand new D&D campaign I’m joining next week! Super excited for that.

Overall, just trying not to get my hopes down. I think I just need to take this frustration and channel it into productive new directions. That’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see how it works in practice.

Happy Halloween everyone! I’ll check back in next month once I’m in the thick of it. And good luck to everyone else competing this year!

Life’s Too Short

Life’s Too Short

It’s been a high stress couple of weeks but I’m beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I was feeling overwhelmed to the point of depression and now I think I’m finally treading water again.

I’ve sorted my money situation, I think. I reevaluated my budget, revised my payment strategy, and I should be out of this hole I’ve dug by summer’s end. It just meant cutting back on some of the things I’m able to do this summer and delaying some cosplay and convention aspirations till next year. But that’s ok, it’s necessary, and I feel good about it. So that’s one cinder block off my chest.

I’ve made a ton of progress on my WIP. Part three ended up being about 50 pages and it’s a few solid hours of work away from being totally finished. That will put me at 150 finished pages or about 50,000 words. I have 25,000 words in the partial parts five and six to go over and add to in the coming months. It’s looking like the finished product will be around 90k. (for comparison’s sake, the first Harry Potter was 76,944 words) So that means I’m officially over half-way done and I’m honestly pretty proud. I’ve never had a writing project so close to completion. And at this pace, I know I can finish it this year. Plus I just got some positive/constructive feedback from my favorite beta reader and that put some wind back in my sails.

Now all I have to do is make it through this Sunday. Sunday is my Dad’s memorial and it has been gnawing away at me for months.

My father passed at the end of April after a long and ghastly sickness. Born with a hereditary kidney disease, my Dad’s had poor health all his life. He was in and out of hospitals since I was a baby, so it’s something I was used to- it never affected his spirit and he brushed off each incident, his personality unaffected. About five or six years ago, he moved south to be with his long-time partner (basically his second wife though they never had a ceremony) and my young half-sister. She had moved back home to be close to her own family, which made sense. I know he felt like he was abandoning my brother and I, and as hard as it was to be so far away from him, I believed he was making the best decision both for himself and his daughter.

And then he got sicker. About two years ago he got into a car accident and began behaving strangely. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was the first signs of vascular dementia- brain damage caused by the lack of blood flow and multiple mini-strokes, which were side effects of his kidney disease and the treatment involved. The only way I can describe it is… it’s like my Dad began to fade. Every time I saw him or spoke to him he was a little bit less himself. And it utterly dismantled me. My father has been a pillar in my life, an unshakeable force, a constant. I was terrified of talking to him, I dreaded visiting him. I couldn’t stand to see what was happening to him. And he only got sicker, his body failing just as quickly as his mind. He ended up in a nursing home, which was a relief in some ways, knowing he was safe and surrounded by those best suited to care for him. And it was awful. My brother and I would drive down and visit once a month, about 8 hours in the car round trip. I’d get so sick to my stomach seeing him that way, I’d barely eat the whole weekend. He had gotten so bad, he didn’t even recognize us the last time we visited. So it was almost a mercy when he passed, but still my heart feels shattered.

The way I deal with this kind of grief is to squirrel away- to be alone with the things and people I’m close to. I do not like to put my sorrow on display. I do not know how to deal with both my feelings and strangers at the same time- I’m too introverted and too awkward to do both. So planning this memorial, as simple and casual as we’re making it, has still been trying. I don’t know my dad’s partner or her family all that well- I lived mostly with my mom as a kid, so we never got super close. That makes planning the event an emotional tightrope of trying to take care of as much as I can and constantly feeling like I’m overstepping my bounds. Plus I haven’t been to many funerals (only one as an adult) and though this isn’t really a funeral, per se, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I worry that I won’t be prepared, that I won’t know what to do or say when I get there. I realize, as many have reminded me, that there isn’t much for me to do beyond receive those that want to come say hello and be myself, but still I feel lacking. So though I know logically that the event will go fine, I can’t wait for it to be over, for the relief of knowing I can move on and deal with my grief privately. I know it’s not the right way, bottling stuff up like this, but it’s my way and I can’t imagine I’ll be changing anytime soon.

And we’re almost there. I read something this week that, oddly, gave me such peace of mind: Life’s too short to give a shit. Don’t laugh- I know it’s crass but it honestly made me stop and take stock of what I was worrying about. It sounds like something my dad would say. My dad is gone; he’s at rest. All this other bologna doesn’t really matter. I know I’m doing the best I can, and that’s all that counts. Whatever happens, happens, and I need to disengage and keep on moving. It’ll be all right.

img_5759
Thanks for the insight, Geoff. I needed it this week.

Distractions, Glorious Distractions

Distractions, Glorious Distractions

Progress check in!

Managed to get at least a little writing and a fair bit of editing done. Not as much as I would have liked, of course… perhaps in no small part due to a certain distraction I may or may not have purchased for myself.

monsterhunter

Yeeeeeaaaah, kind of worth it though. A girl needs her outlets! Writing is frustration- I need to let off some steam, slay some monsters!

So, at this rate, I’m going to miss my first goal- now it’s up to me to determine by how much. Luckily I’m going out of town for a few days and I’m hoping a new environment (and some distance between me and my PS4) will help me get a little more writing done.

I’ve also spent a lot of my time nose first in a book lately, which I feel less guilty about since reading is basically training for writing.  Current read is book two of the Kingkiller Chronicles- The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. If you’re looking for a great fantasy read, I can’t recommend book one (The Name of the Wind) enough. Not that I have to; it’s usually at the top of everyone’s fantasy recommendation list. It’s like a woodsier, grittier, more medieval version of Harry Potter.

nameofthewindwisemansfear

Plus I heard they’re moving closer to production on the TV series/movie for it. Music is a huge part of the story and they’ve named Lin-Manual Miranda as one of the creative minds involved so that’s kind of amazing. Now Mr. Rothfuss just needs to get book three out. I know I’m going to be beside myself when I’m done with book two and I can’t jump right in to book three. Although I have plenty more left in my to-read pile.

Especially now that I joined a book club! I’m pretty excited about that- but I’ll save it for another post.

Happy writing everyone- wishing you all a productive week and power over all your distractions. (glorious as they may be)

P.S. – I’m kind of digging these less formal, more personal updates. Cathartic for me and keeps me updating the blog even when I have nothing of importance to say. All writing is good practice in the end.

Back at it

Back at it

Woof. What a month. Made it through the holidays and survived the big boat show at work. Needless to say, I haven’t written or edited or done much of anything bookish in weeks. But my calendar is beginning to clear and it’s time to get back at it. So I’ll consider today day one of my 2018 writing schedule and I am incredibly anxious to get going again.

I’ve tried to use this blog as a way to check in with myself, stay organized and stay motivated and… it never seems to work. But I think it’s worth trying again. No harm in it, really- if it doesn’t help and only serves to get in the way, then it’ll just go dormant again.

 So! Let’s get a rough outline going.

The big question is, as always: will this year be the year I finally finish my freakin’ manuscript for book one? I reeeeally hope so. I’m going to try my damnedest to get there. And boy am I becoming impatient to get it out there and get some people looking at it. I love writing for myself- I deeply enjoy the process and it’s a lot of fun but there reaches a point where I’ve been working with these characters and ideas for so long that I crave feedback. I wish I could post it chapter by chapter on a site like fictionpress or wattpad but I know that’ll complicate things down the line if I feel that it’s good enough to submit to a publisher. And I don’t want to count myself out just yet. I want to try. So that means I need hurry up and finish it so I can start the publication process. If that doesn’t pan out, then I can explore posting it or self-publishing or whatever.

So that brings us back to the main goal: finish the damn thing.

I have the rough draft split into six pieces and I’ve got two done with edits. I’m about half way through part three but there’s still a lot of additional writing to do as well.

Let’s aim high and try to finish a piece every month. There’s half the month left and part three is half done so that works out. If I can successfully hit those goals that means I’d more or less have a finished draft by the end of April. That’s probably a bit ambitious but I’ll give it a shot and go from there.

I’ll try to update this thing at the end of every week. Or not! We’ll see what life brings.

Good luck to everyone else going through similar struggles. Happy writing!

IMG_4527

Fear & Self-Loathing in Las Veg- Er, the Midwest

Fear & Self-Loathing in Las Veg- Er, the Midwest

Week one of keeping a progress journal and, of course, I’m a little late with my entry. But here it is, it exists! PROGRESS.

It’s almost amazing how, the more I want to write, the more difficult it seems to be to find the time, energy, and motivation to actually do it. Yes, they appear to be directly proportional. (I’ve found it’s an often bemoaned reality in the writing community, so at least I’m not alone on this)
So it goes, I get myself all hyped up to work on my book. I’ll set aside time, make a schedule, set some goals and then, when it finally comes time to put pen to paper, I find an excuse to do something else. Anything else. It’s madness.

And yet, I find myself doing the same thing when it comes to practicing on my motorcycle. I’ll tell myself tonight, after work, I’m going on a nice long ride- really push the boundaries on my comfort zone. But then there’s laundry, and dishes, and boy golly the shower could use a scrub, and gosh, look at the time! No motorcycles tonight!

And I know why I’m doing it- I’m still a bit afraid of the bike. I still don’t have a lot of trust in my fledgling abilities- even though I know the only cure for that is, duh, MORE PRACTICE. But fear is a powerful distraction. And so, it’s easy to extrapolate, to assume fear plays a large part in my procrastination with my writing. But it’s more subtle, less sensible. My fear of practicing on the bike makes perfect sense- it’s bloody dangerous! But writing? What exactly am I afraid of? Fear of failure, of confirming my own mediocrity? Something like that.

But the solution is just as straightforward. Get your butt on the bike and ride, dammit! Metaphorically speaking, of course.

I’ve been reading a lot more lately as a compromise for when I can’t bring myself to write, and I’m finding it really helps. The more I read, the more I really, REALLY want to write, and it starts to tip the scales, my excitement beginning to outweigh the fear. My productivity is on the rise!

Now, if only I could find a similar strategy for the bike…

I’mmm baaaaaack! 

I’mmm baaaaaack! 

Ooooh boy- If this was a physical journal, the dust on it would be three inches thick. To be honest, I kind of forgot this thing existed. But I’m trying to get myself reorganized and I want to get back into blogging, if not only to strengthen my writing habits. And I haven’t stopped writing. Progress on my rough draft has been crawling along. It hasn’t come quickly, but at least it hasn’t stalled. 

 I think I’ll try to start penning little weekly updates, just to keep myself accountable as I try to finish my editing. Writing for a blog that no one really reads feels a little like screaming into the void, but even that has its purpose, I think. I’d like to kick my editing into overdrive and get the lion’s share finished before November. That’ll free me up to participate in NaNoWriMo again.

 That’s the plan anyway. I just need to become a little more disciplined.