NaNoWriMo 2019 Week 1

Hello world! Hello writers and readers! Hello NaNo people!

Week 1…wow…all the writing…

When I turn on my iPad (that’s what I write on) or open a notebook I’m terrified nothing will come out. I’m not terrified I won’t write anything good. I’m terrified of writing NOTHING. So, naturally, like a weirdo, I do what I most fear because part of my brain has convinced itself that the writing won’t happen no matter what I do or no matter how hard I try so why even bother?

Gross thinking, right?

Anyway, this week has been a real struggle because it’s so easy for me to find excuses to not write (school, homework, chores, etc.). But at the same time I’ve actually been doing pretty well keeping up with my word count even though I didn’t write at all on Tuesday. If I treat the writing like a homework assignment I feel better about writing.

Here’s what I need to remember:

1) Writing is supposed to be fun.

2) Nanowrimo is supposed to be fun.

If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong. And stressing out about not having any ideas is not a good way to write.

3) There are resources I can use to get ideas. Writing sprints with topics, for example. Watching live-streams on YouTube of people writing and talking about their writing.

4) You don’t have to do this alone.

Just because writing is a solo activity doesn’t mean you need to ignore the writing community. I’m a very shy person and I don’t like participating in chats and groups but I do have writer friends who I love talking to and resources outside myself that I can use to grow and cultivate my creativity.

Things I’ve learned during week 1:

1) Start the writing day with a new blank page.

I hate having lots of word documents for one project. But if I start with a fresh blank page every day I’m less tempted to distract myself with re-reading what I wrote or doing a quick grammar check that turns into a long procrastination session.

2) Make a list.

I’m one of those writers who loves to edit as I draft. I use the excuse of, “If I re-read what I last wrote I’ll remember where I left off and what I wanted to write when I stopped.” That logic has led me to revise the first chapter of my novel 10 times and the last chapter only 3 times. Not useful.

So one thing I started doing this week was remember WITHOUT LOOKING at what I wrote the day before and made a list of things that I wanted to add to that section/scene. I can add those things later when I start the second draft.

3) Work on other things.

I know this sounds counterproductive but whenever I can’t find the “motivation” to work on my NaNo project I skim through some of my other WIPs and add a paragraph here or there. Because the urge to edit is still there. And I can treat it as a warm up to drafting.

I got 1000 words in for the plot of Book 5 and then wrote my daily word count for Havoc’s Moon.

Some people would count that extra 1000 words as part of their word count in NaNoWriMo but because I am determined to get to 50,000 words on just Havoc’s Moon, I don’t count any other writing towards my word count on NaNo.

Happy Writing all you lovely people! Keep being awesome!

Until next week!

#gowrite

October 2019 Stats

Word Count:

10,186

Best Day:

1581 words

Days I Didn’t Write:

10

New Poems:

Zero

Submissions:

Zero

Accepted/Rejected:

Zero…wait…maybe 1 rejection.

Project Notes:

There were so many things that I wanted to this month and barely any of them happened. I wanted to get at least 10,000 words of my nanowrimo project written so that I’d have a cushion for the holiday at the end of the month where I will be visiting my in-laws.

But I was so focused on planning how I was going to write in November and how I was going to prep for nanowrimo that, with schoolwork, I actually got none of that done.

This is why I don’t Bullet Journal or do Hobonichi or carry around a gigantic planner of doom. I end up spending all of my time working on the structure I don’t actually use it to write or make my writing life easier.

So the lesson learned here is just go with the flow and don’t worry about writing next month, next week, or tomorrow even. When it comes to getting words down on the page just worry about today. Easier said than done, I know.

But I did write more days this month, which I am super proud of. I don’t think I’ll be able to realistically write every day but I do feel more calm and centered when I express myself creatively. Writing helps me remember what it feels like to be a real human being.

As you can see, no new poems, no new magazine submissions. I might have gotten another rejection but that also might have been a carryover memory from September. I think I’m going to stop worrying about magazine hunting and sending my poetry out until January. Make it a New Year’s Resolution thing.

I did relaunch Lupercalia this month. I cut it in half and put the poems into two shiny, new chapbooks. New cover art, new ISBNs, new descriptions and metadata. I’ll make a blog post about the hows and whys later.

Overall, October was both productive and not productive. I did things but not the things I wanted. Such is life. Moving on.

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Pumpkin, why are you in the ocean?

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

September 2019 Stats

Word Count:

10,269

Best Day:

2,900 words 9/25/19

Days I didn’t write:

17 😦

New Poems:

1

Submissions:

2 Rejections

Project Notes:

The good news: I wrote a new poem for the first time in what feels like months!

The not really bad news but I choose to feel bad about it anyway: another month of bad writing. I mean literally bad writing. I have zero inspiration, zero motivation, and zero cares. That’s not good. So I’m adjusting my thinking and my priorities.

Read about some of that here.

I’m also going to be participating in Preptober and Nanowrimo this year. (Even though next week I have 3 exams in one day 0_0)

I’m trying really hard to think about what kind of writer I want to be now that I’m a student.

I’m also thinking about re-launching one of my poetry collections. I might make a separate blog post about that or just take everything down and then put it up again.

I can’t believe it’s already the 3rd of October.

#beawesome #gowrite

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Thoughts on Deadlines and Why I Can’t Meet Them

A personal accounting of one of the more complicated aspects of a self-publishing author’s life: deadlines.

Alright, here’s the deal.

I can’t meet my own deadlines.

“Oh, but because it’s your schedule you get to make the rules and you’re in charge!” (If my cats cared this is what they might say.)

No. I’m not in charge. Because the minute the second I think I can meet a deadline something happens and I can’t.

This time, for example, I wanted to self-publish a short story collection on Halloween this year. It was going to be full of creepy, speculative fiction and I was going to have an absolute fucking blast writing it.

I made the decision to do this back in August when neither Regina nor any of my faeries were being particularly talkative and I thought I needed a “fresh” project so that I would keep writing every day and still feel productive.

Can you guess what happened?

I didn’t write a damn thing. I only have 2 short stories. That is not acceptable. Because now I’m faced with two paths: 1) scramble like hell and write 4 new things now and maybe they won’t be good and maybe they won’t make sense but by G-O-D they’ll be there, some of my other responsibilities may fall to the wayside but I am determined. Or 2) scrap the deadline and let the stories happen when they happen.

I’ve tried to form thoughts about being a self-publishing person and keeping a schedule and so far, but it’s time to take a close look once again.

Back in December 2018 I published a novella called Dead Girl Moon. It was meant to be a front runner to Havoc’s Moon, which was supposed to be published in March or April of 2019. That didn’t happen. I rearranged my schedule and changed my deadlines. I wrote for April Camp Nanowrimo and July Camp Nanowrimo and the book still didn’t happen. Another other novellas happened but then it rebelled and split in two (magical literary mitosis y’all) and I ran out of brain power to edit them down and add plot filler to make them whole and not nonsensical (well…nonsense will still happen but you know what I mean).

And then I started school and my writing hit the brick wall of academia (not for the first time) and since no progress was being made I scrapped my schedule yet again. But I thought: surely I can write a short story a week still. Surely my brain can manage that much. If I have all of September and the first half of October to write one measly little short story a week I can still meet my deadline. 6 weeks=6 stories and I’ve surpassed my quota. I win!

Can you guess what happened?

I haven’t written a complete short story yet. I have 2 drafts of stories I worked on back in March and April that I didn’t finish then and haven’t finished now.

The goals are not being met.

More importantly, the writing isn’t happening.

And now I have to figure out why.

So, here’s what I’ve come up with.

1) I have to write something every day. 10 words. 100 words. A 3 word poem. 1000 words. Whatever. I have to write every day or else I go crazy.

This is different from putting your ass in the chair and turning out pages for your holy WORK IN PROGRESS every day.

This is about expression and practicing. Like meditation, do a little every day and you’ll feel better. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes, 3 minutes.

Because I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write I wasn’t writing at all. That is bad. That is harmful. That leads to insecurities like imposter syndrome and self-loathing.

So I need to write every day but I cannot compartmentalize myself and say, “Today I am going to write a poem.” Or, “Today I am going to catch up with Regina.”

When I get the urge to write or a little idea fragment pops into my head I need to stop what I’m doing and write it down even when I’m in class or talking to a friend or whatever. I need to pay attention to my inner writing voice and let the ideas flow.

If I go the rest of the year without writing Havoc’s Moon, I’ll be okay as long as I’m still writing.

2) Life shit gets in the way of writing. Family drama, Biology tests, Chemistry labs, whatever. All the things that are *gasp* more important than writing right now.

(Digression: It’s not that I want to make writing my “full-time” job or be a “professional” writer. I want writing to be THE MOST IMPORTANT in my life. I’ve had to come (by trial and error) to the realization that writing is not and never will be the most important thing in my life. It’s in the top 5 (…okay it’s #6 on the list…the cats are #5) but it’s not THE MOST important. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be dedicated or passionate about writing. There was a time when writing was the only thing that made me happy and I ate, breathed, and shat poetry. But then I changed my life, made my situation better and found things other than poetry that I could love. That’s when I thought proper time management would let me do the things I wanted to do. And when I couldn’t keep to a schedule I felt like I wasn’t dedicated enough. Especially when I was such a “strong” writer before. But those are incorrect thoughts because there’s no ONE right way to write. And people are allowed to change and evolve.)

So I need to not add writing to the list of things going “wrong.”

Writing has always been the healing factor, the savior. Not the stressor.

That means I need to get rid of deadlines completely. And schedules. And plans.

When I have a project finished, I will publish it. Beyond that I can’t plan anymore. I can’t predict when I will have time today to write let alone plan out Nanowrimo next month (which I still want to try even though I have Thanksgiving with my in-laws this year and studying for final exams).

So no schedule. No deadlines. No nothing beyond write something every day. Maybe after school or during the summer I can try to build a frame for my viscera but not right now. Right now I just need to ooze around on the table and try not to get dehydrated.

3) Grow as I writer.

But not get caught up in the world of the “side hustle” or the “authorpreneur.” That’s what got me in trouble in the first place. I would watch YouTube/AuthorTube videos of people who have fans and followers and newsletters and for some silly reason I thought, “Well, they’re successful. I need to be like them.”

No. I don’t need to be like them. Even though they’re really cool and shiny.

Writing is not my day job.

My day job was sticking people with needles. My future job will be sticking people with needles and then looking at what I pull out under a microscope. Right now my job is raking pine needles.

I will still eat if I don’t publish a book. They might not. They have to do the marketing and the newsletter writing and the promotions and all that stuff that makes my brain hurt.

I want to learn the marketing stuff because I find it interesting. I don’t want to spend hours on social media begging for people to read my books.

But when I say grow as a writer, I want to do things that make my writing better. Like with anything in academia, there’s this stigma/stereotype that once you “get” an MFA you’ve made it (and I’m going to talk a lot about all that later) or that you’ve learned all the things you possibly could about writing and you are now the best ever.

That’s not true. Some of my classmates’ writing sucked. Sometimes my writing sucks. I do my best not to show you the stuff that sucks but reading is SUBJECTIVE and you, the reader, can like or hate whatever you want. Some of my classmates who I think their writing sucks went on to get book deals. The chick who wrote 50 Shades of Grey is super rich now. Whatever.

Some of it is skill and artistry, some of it is personal preference, but the things that define what make writing “good” are not universal or quantifiable. I mean, spelling and grammar are kind of a necessity but beyond that it’s all up to the reader.

I’m going to stop getting off topic now.

What I want to make clear is: I’ve let myself get distracted by all the shiny things in the self-publishing world that are related to writing but are not writing. In my distracted state, coupled with all my other not-writing responsibilities, I’ve let my writing slip, and not just the word count. I’ve been writing shitty, unusable stuff. And that’s good because all that stuff needs to come out but I also want to get serious about writing again.

Just writing.

So I’m saying “fuck off” to everything else (except you, dear reader, you’re awesome) and only focusing on writing words. Showing up to the page and getting 10, 50, 500 words a day until I feel like I’m back on solid ground.

To anyone waiting for more of The Slaughter Chronicles: I love you and I’m sorry you have to wait longer.

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August 2019 Stats

Word Count:

12,610

Days I Didn’t Write:

18

New Poems:

1…I wrote 1 new poem *YAY*

Submissions:

4 sent out!

Zero accepted or rejected.

Project Notes:

So again, I did not do as much writing as I wanted to do this month (I really hope this isn’t going to be a trend). But I have a very good reason: I have started school again. After earning a BA and an MFA I’m going back to school to earn a BS in Laboratory Science. Chemistry is WAY too intense for it’s own good but it’s going to be literally ALL of my future job so I need to know it inside out. *sigh*

I did, however, focus on more of my poetry this month so it wasn’t all a waste*.

I haven’t added to any of The Slaughter Chronicles or The Heart of the Forest Cycle Drafts but I have done lots of brainstorming and have some awesome new artwork from Robin E. Vuchnick in the works.

I’m also putting thoughts towards writing another poetry collection that I will self-publish in 2021 or 2022 depending on how many poems I want in it. Lupercalia has about 50 ( I think…is it terrible that I don’t know how many poems are in my own poetry collection? ) so I’d like to publish something with 75. For me, 75 is a magic number when it comes to poetry. But I also have a chapbook sized idea that I want to focus on as well and I haven’t decided if that should be a separate thing or part of a bigger collection.

I think the most important thing I can take away from August is to stop being so fucking indecisive and write my fucking books.

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*Note: none of it is a waste. You do what you can WHEN you can. My goal is to write every day because I want to, not because someone else told me I needed to. Always go at your own pace and don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t met your goals yet.

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Pretend You Don’t Know

When you’re editing your manuscript, read it though, at least once, as if you know NOTHING about your story.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own heads when we write, especially during the first draft. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want to catch errors and inconsistencies you have to not only get critical, you have to suspend your own imagination and forget–temporarily–everything you know about your own story.

Crazy talk, I know.

But doing that changes your perspective and can give you insights you might not otherwise have.

But one of the hardest lessons I learned in my college poetry classes was not to make internal references or “inside jokes.” I might get the reference but someone who doesn’t know me sure as shit won’t.

The same thing applies to fiction. Readers can’t read minds. You might write something that makes total sense to you either because you get the joke or you know what’s going to happen three chapters or three books down the road.

Your readers don’t know these things. They might get confused. They might stop reading.

It also shows you things that you might take for granted. For example: does everyone know werewolves are bothered by silver? Does everyone know what necromancy is?

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to spell out every little detail, dumb your writing down, or waste pages with info dumps but it is important to be mindful of what expectations you are putting on your reader and if those expectations help or hinder your story.

Looking at your manuscript this way doesn’t just help fill plot holes. It can show you ways to enhance your narrative structure.

Here’s an example from my own experiences:

I love prologues.

I know AuthorTubers and many a podcast host tell you to avoid prologues like the plague. But I’m one of those weird people who love reading prologues so I thought, “Fuck it, I’m gonna write a prologue and it’s going to be my MC, Regina, reporting on the death of another character. And it’s going to be awesome.”

Well, I gave the manuscript to one of my beta readers and she didn’t like it. She has no idea who was talking and no idea who these characters were. Because there was no context. I knew what was going on because I have the WHOLE STORY in my head. She didn’t. And it didn’t work for her.

Then another beta reader said the same thing. And I was sad…because I made the thing and would have to change the thing.

If one beta reader has an opinion you can take it with a pinch of salt. But if more than one person has the same problem, the problem doesn’t come from their interpretations or expectations, it comes from your writing.

And I thought, “Well, what if I make it an INTERLUDE instead?”

And that works so much better because by the time this character needs to die you, the reader, know a little bit more about the world and can follow along with the MC and learn the WHY and HOW without getting confused.

So now, whenever I’m editing I always make a plan to read through whatever I’m working on as if I have no idea what’s going on. This helps me get into the mind of a reader and I can think about what kinds of things I, as a reader, would want to know.

I recommend that at least once you read through your manuscript and pretend you have no idea what’s going on. See what happens.

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In the Voice of My Poetry

My poetry is about finding lost things.

If drinking makes you sick, don’t drink.

Find a clean puddle and dip your cup in that; drink the moon on the water.

My grandmother never wanted my grandfather to leave (he was an alcoholic). She had one sister who thought she was prettier than everyone else. Her grave has dead plants on it. And pink marble.

My poetry is about falling across the road as a bloody smear and making a new boundary, a new border.

My poetry is about an imaginary map.

I was born alone.

Wild roses are my favorite.

My poetry is about rotting and returning to the earth.

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This post is inspired by Bhanu Kapil’s Blog

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