Progress Report: Wrapping Things Up for the Holidays

2018’s winding down, and so are my writing projects for the year. Looking back, I got a lot done. I finished a novel, finished 14 short stores, and have 4 other short stories in progress.

It’s been a little hard to sit down and write since doing my final read-through of Without Condition, my next novel. But looking back at those numbers, I’m starting to think my muse is simply telling me to take a break for the holidays.

I’m still writing a bit, though. I got some more ideas for my next book, and I’m writing little pieces here and there. I’m also putting my focus on one work-in-progress that I’d like to finish before the year is over.

Winter is typically the time of year I write novels. The weather and early darkness make it much easier to pause, ponder, and write a longer story. This usually happens in January (my least favorite month) and February, though. I think the dazzle of Christmas — as well as everything there is to do — makes it a little harder to sit down and write a book.

Even when I’m not writing as much, though, I’m thinking about my stories and thinking about what to write next. I used to panic when I wasn’t writing, but over the past year, I’ve gotten better about taking on my projects one at a time and when they feel right; and trusting that things will get done when they’re supposed to.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Done!

The first draft of my second book is done! After six months of work, notes, and daydreams, Without Condition currently sits at 85,000 words and 304 pages.

This one took a while to get going. I got the idea right as I got Please Give back for revisions. I wrote down a lot of notes, 90% of which ended up getting tossed as I wrote the book. I wrote new notes, made new characters and scrapped a lot of others. I wrote and wrote on some days, and stared at a blinking cursor on the others. But in the end, I got it done.

I’ll share more about the plot and when I plan to publish it in the coming months. It’s currently sitting unopened and untouched in a folder, where I plan to leave it for a month before doing a readthrough from beginning to end. But for now, it’s done. The first draft of my second book in as many years is done.

It feels good. In fact, it feels a lot like this:

ahh real monsters
barry gif
celebrate chuckee cheese
pratt happy

Progress Report: SO CLOSE

I’ve been absent from the blog because I’ve been trying to finish the first draft of my second book. I wanted to check in, say hi, and let you all know that I’m SO CLOSE. I only have three bracket notes left to write out, and then I’ll be done, done, done! *does a dance*

It’s been a longer process than I anticipated, from conception to finish. Last summer, when Please Give was out for edits and I was wondering what to write next, it took me a long time to settle on the next book. I had a lot of ideas, many of which I began to write, but then got stuck. I wrote some short stories, and started one short story that slowly grew into a novella. Even the novella got stuck.

Then this idea hit. It hit me as a short story — and hit me right as I got Please Give back for revisions. I decided to write down some notes (something I’ve been classically averse to). My notes told me this wouldn’t be a short story. It would be a novel — and it would be my next one.

I finished Please Give, opened Word, and began to write — slowly. It came to me in flashes, in passages I often forced myself to write, which was a much different experience than Please Give. I had to make myself stop writing that one. This one, I had to constantly tell myself to keep going.

I kept going — and I’d find myself surprised at how it came along. I cheered when I crossed the 50,000 word mark. I got closer and closer. There were times I thought I was close, then just had to add something else. I’m still being careful to avoid the trap of never stopping. But I see a stopping point ahead, and it feels really good.

I’ll be sure to celebrate in proper GIF form once it’s done. Thank you all for following along!

Progress Report: Inching Ever Closer

I am writing from the airport, about to head off on an anniversary trip to Montreal with my husband. I denoted this time in my writing agenda to not write — it’s a vacation and I should take a break. Still, with an hour to go before my flight boards, I decided to cheat a little and finish up the last couple paragraphs needed to finish a chapter in Book #2.

With my work this morning, I crossed the 80,000 word mark. While I still have more to write (and more to trim later on), this is the word count I see the final piece being close to. It made me smile to see 80,000 words and almost 300 pages in my master document. Back in December, I had maybe 30 pages and a lot of doubts on whether I’d be able to settle down and write this thing.

I’m somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 finished. I’m at the point where all remaining pieces are either in bracket notes, scratch notes, or outlined — no mysteries, no unresolved questions. nothing except pages I need to fill. It’s both exciting and scary. I’m a little nervous about the prospect of finishing, as I’m always nervous that my notes, thoughts, and outlines won’t turn out well once I actually write them. But overall, I’m excited. Another book — another finished book! And one that I’ve stayed excited about since thinking it up! It’s always a nice feeling.

I originally set a goal to finish a draft by today. Even in March, I suspected that wouldn’t happen. I set a new goal for the end of May, and I think I can reach that one. The finish line is getting close. This could actually happen.

It’s a good feeling.


Here’s where I was this time last year: celebrating a finished first draft of Please Give, which I finished before last year’s anniversary trip to Miami.

I did find the time to write a quick poem in Miami and post a picture of the beautiful beach.

I was also coming to terms with how it feels to have a finished draft.

Thanks for reading!

Progress Report: It’s All the Same Bug

Work on my next book is still going strong. This time last year, I was almost finished with the first full draft of Please Give. I’m maybe 2/3 finished with the next book, and hope to have a finished draft by May. I set myself a deadline of May 10, but that may be a deadline that, like Douglas Adams said, I can enjoy the whooshing sound of as it goes by.

I’m in the odd stage where I’m writing and having to contend with my original ideas changing or being dropped altogether. I already changed the title and reconsidered some of the themes. I’m also finding original scenes, moments, and ideas — ones I had before I even started writing, and ones that became my first passages — dangling on the precipice of the manuscript, waiting for the fateful keystroke that will send them to my Lost Passages folder (because I never delete anything, even drafts I hope never see the light of day).

Some of these are scenes I can’t wait to revise. I actually spent the past couple days revising one scene that was awkward when I wrote it and works much better now that I’ve written more of the story. But there are others I’m afraid to go back to and press CTRL-X, because a part of me feels like I’m letting go of a piece, a moment, or an element that I held with love for a long time — perhaps longer than necessary, but they were pieces I liked; and I grew sad when I first realized they no longer fit in the story that grew from them.

So much of writing a novel is learning to let go — and most often, what we’re letting go of are the moments that formed the novel in the first place. These are the darlings that are especially hard to kill. How can I drop pieces that inspired the story?

I can ultimately drop them, though, because the inspiration they created remains, even if the starting point does not. I’ll often go back and look at a finished piece and think, it’s so different from where it was when I first thought of it. And it is. It always is. But in many ways it isn’t. The fundamentals are still there. The idea is still there. It’s just in the form it’s supposed to be in.

It’s a cliche to use the caterpillar-cocoon-butterfly metaphor. I’m almost embarrassed to use it — I’m making myself type this with all my strength. But it’s an apt cliche because it’s true. A story crawls into existence, wraps itself in words, and emerges as something completely different from the caterpillar it started as — but at the end of the journey, it’s still the same bug. The caterpillar didn’t disappear. It just changed. And knowing that makes it a little easier to cut away the cocoon of a first draft that I’ve wrapped the story in to get it going.

I’ll be sure to post another GIF-filled entry once I’m done with the first draft of this book. I’ll do my best to not post a bunch of caterpillars and butterflies.

You can read a better use of bugs as a book-writing metaphor in my essay, My Jar of Fireflies.

And check out my progress on the book so far under its current working title, Without Condition — the title’s already changed, and probably will again until the cover’s been drawn and I can’t go back.

Thanks for reading!

Progress Report: Over 50,000 Words!

This past week, I crossed the 50,000 word mark on my next book. Achievement unlocked — I have a NaNoWriMo!

Woo hoo, I have 50,000 words!
I actually dance like this.

I call this a NaNoWriMo because the goal of NaNoWriMo — aka National Novel Writing Month — is to write 50,000+ words, or a novel, in 30 days. I always get excited when I reach this point, even though in my experience, it’s one where I can see the finish line as opposed to having crossed it.

Truth be told, my excitement increases when it doesn’t feel like the finish line. I like crossing the 50,000 word mark and knowing I’ve still got more to write. I know I’m going to be doing a lot of trimming, so having too many words is my ideal when a first draft is done.

I have more to write, but at 50,000 words, I am at least halfway done — maybe more. I’m thinking that Without Condition will reach 90,000 or 100,000 words when I finish the draft, and rest somewhere around 80,000 words by the time it’s complete. Of course, I say that now and I’ll end up with 200,000 words by the time I finish the draft.

But for now, I have over 50,000 words in the manuscript; and I’m feeling pretty good. To the next 50,000 — and soon, the next draft!

seinfeld-dance

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Progress Report: Heaps of Sand

I’ve been working steadily on my next book for the past week. It’s up to over 25,000 words, and the story seems to shape itself more with every day’s work (it also tends to shapeshift, but that’s all part of the process).

Despite this progress, it’s been hard to plow through because I’m reconciling with this being a first draft. Having completed a novel and several short stories, I figured I’d be familiar with the feeling of stumbling around an apartment looking for the light switch that comes with trying to write a first draft. I’ve even written about that feeling before.

Yet each day I open my document, start writing, and wonder why I can’t just magically have a complete story, one with all my questions answered and one without any bracket notes or paragraphs that basically summarize everything as opposed to narrating. It has all the things I see when I revisit my old drafts of Please Give. I know the words will eventually shape into the story I want. But my impatient self wonders, why can’t I have this now? I’ve done this before — I should be able to do this immediately.

But the truth is, I haven’t done this before — not with this story, at least. I think that’s what I forget when I get discouraged at my words feeling clunky or incomplete. It’s brand new to me, and I need to familiarize myself with the apartment and memorize its corners before I can just walk through and flick on the light.

I came across a quote on Twitter that helped put things in perspective for me, and helped me feel a little less discouraged at the state of writing my draft:

This is a perfect summary of the feeling I get when I write a first draft, that I’m tossing things haphazardly into Word and nothing’s making sense. But it will — and one can’t build the castle without piling in the sand first.

I want to close with my own interpretation of that feeling, inspired by one of my favorite TV shows, The Golden Girls: