Re-Writes & Happiness

writing in class
This is my notebook for my math class.  Only there’s about twice as much novel-writing as math notes in it, because I write in class a lot.

I’m once again finding myself in the vast green land of Re-Writes.  To be honest, I think this might be my favorite part of novel-creation.  The rough draft is hard because I’m not sure where the story is supposed to be going, and then later, edits are monotonous and they just take forever.

But in between those two, there are Re-Writes.  For me, this is the sweet spot of writing.  It’s the mysterious Wood Between the Worlds, where the real story starts to take place.

Right now I’m working on a fun, snarky, YA urban-fantasy novel that I originally wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2015.  After a year and a half of very little love, it’s finally getting the attention it deserves.  Because here’s the thing: in NaNo, I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted the plot to be.  I knew very little going into that November, and just hard-core ‘Pantsed’ my way through the month (in other words, behaved like a Pantser, or one who flies by the seat of their pants when writing as opposed to outlining first).  So then on December 1st, I was left with 50,002 words of cool characters, a great voice, a fantastic world, and very rambling plot.  So now I’m taking all those things and adding characters, tension, and a real plot.  In other words, I’m doing re-writes.

And it’s amazing.  I’ve already written the rough draft, so I’m that much closer to having a complete, ready-to-share-with-the-world story.  (Or at least share with my mom.)  The fact that the rough draft is already done gives me strength and hope.

done the impossible, that makes us mighty

But also, I’m still in the writing phase (I’m creating like 10 new chapters out of nowhere), which is the best because WRITING IS FUN.  And since I’ve written the end of the story (or a version of the end), I know where this needs to go.  I know (sortof) what needs to happen.  I have the bare-bones story, and I can then add in a plot: complete with conflict, stakes, and motivation.

So, yeah.  Remember this quote?

first draft

I love this quote.  I live by this quote.

For this novel, I’ve written the rough draft.  I’ve hauled in the sand.

And now, my friends, it’s time to start building castles.

Romeo and Writing

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. Life’s been a little crazy. Anyways.

Last semester, in my Creative Writing class, we read through A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver.  This one section we read really stuck out to me:

quotation-marks

If Romeo and Juliet had made their appointments to meet, in the moonlight-swept orchard, in all the peril and sweetness of conspiracy, and then more often than not failed to meet — one or the other lagging, or afraid, or busy elsewhere — there would have been no romance, no passion, none of the drama for which we remember and celebrate them. Writing… is not so different—it is a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind. They make appointments with each other, and keep them, and something begins to happen. Or, they make appointments with each other but are casual and often fail to keep them: count on it, nothing happens.

-Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

This is So. Darn. True.  If we don’t respond when our story asks to be written, it will eventually stop asking.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll get this “text message buzz” in the middle of my chest (figuratively, not literally) when I need to write.  There’ll be this nagging voice saying “sit down and type!

And here’s the thing: the more I listen to it, the louder it gets, and the easier it is to write. And the more I ignore it, the less I am compelled to write.

There’s a big discussion in the Writing Community about the soundness of the advice “write every day.”  And while this advice is clearly not practical for everyone, the idea behind it is solid: writing should be a habit.  It should be done frequently.  It should be a priority (as much as it’s in your control to make it so).

I don’t want to be casual about my writing.  I want to treat it like it’s important.

But sometimes, I’ll run into this issue: I’ll think about writing and then go, “nah, I’m not feeling the inspiration today.  Maybe tomorrow.”  But the fault with that argument is that inspiration is fickle, unreliable.  It’s fleeting, here one day and gone the next.

I don’t need more inspiration for my writing.  I need more commitment.

I’ll leave you with another quote, this one by Lin-Manuel Miranda (via his twitter feed).

quotation-marks

And now, a daydream about inspiration. Inspiration is EXACTLY like getting a star in Super Mario Bros. Exciting, and super rare. You’re invincible for a short time. The rest of your time you’re breaking bricks, you’re navigating pitfalls, you’re living and dying. You’re doing the work. Star mode is not a substitute for skill, but if you do the work, you can maximize it when it appears. So I wish you star mode. And I wish you lots of hard work so that you know what to do with it when it strikes. That is all.”

mario

 

Happy December!

How did it get to be December 2nd already?

Ah, look at that.  The Hamilton Mixtape is out today!

mixtape.jpg

In other news, another NaNoWriMo is here and gone.  Nope, I didn’t win this year.  Didn’t even come close.  But I’m A-OK with that.  I started a story that needed to be written, and I’m so excited to see where it’s taking me.  I’m back in The Writing Mode, which is the best place to be.  I’m editing and writing and excited to start querying again after the holidays.  (Most literary agencies close up shop in December and January because it’s such a crazy time of year.)

Also, here’s another fun writerly-resource that I stumbled across: it’s called Scapple.  It’s a plotting program made by the same people who made Scrivener.  Basically, it’s a plotting tool where you can outline events or characters and connect them and move them around and add notes about them.  And like Scriviner, it has a 30 day free trial.  (30 days of use, not 30 consecutive days.)  AND I LOVE IT.  I’m too much of an anti-plotter (pantser at heart, you guys) to stick to traditional outlines.  But I’m writing a series now and I really kinda need to know what’s happening when.  So Scapple has been wonderful and freeing. (I’m not getting paid to promote it or anything.  I just think it’s super cool.)  Here’s an example of what it can look like:

Sample Scrapple.png

Here’s the actual plotting I’ve done on it:

actual plotting.jpg

I really like it.  And I really like where this story is going.  It’s like I’m getting deeper and deeper into this world, discovering the heart of this series’ story.  The different story plots are weaving together and I’m madly in love.  Gotta go do some writing.  I have one week of classes left, and then I’ll have free days and late nights for hot cocoa and good books and writing.

Happy December everyone.  Turn on some Christmas music and write some words.  You never know the power your story has to change someone’s life.

I’m Back!

Hey guys!  I’m home now, so you can count on consistent Motivational Mondays for the rest of the summer.  (Probably.)

hello 10

I had a great time, traveling and then going to summer camp.

I especially enjoyed a re-read of Since You’ve Been Gone (review here), a very light and fun summer story.

And now that I’ve had my time away, I’m ready to hunker down and get going on this story that’s in my head.  I think it’s time to set some goals.

How about a minimum of 500 words a day, 6 days a week?  For the rest of July and the first week of August.

You’ll hear about my progress every Monday.

I’m writing my story.  Go write yours.  Set little goals.  Set big goals.  Have fun.  Read great books.  Go to summer camp.  Write your story.

I’ll see you folks on Monday!

I’m Back! And “Doing The Hard Thing” Discussion.

Hello world.  Have you missed me?  It’s been two weeks, but I’m back.  The real reason I haven’t been posting is because I haven’t really been writing or editing much.

To be honest, I had hit a bit of a roadblock.  One story needs last minute edits, the second needs fairly large re-writes, and the third needs to be written.  I was at a place where I didn’t have the motivation to jump into any project.  I just wanted to sit at home and read and watch TV.

But never fear!  I’m back.  I’ve jumped back in.  I’ve written a brand-spanking-new opening scene for my first novel (it involves sneaking out of a second-story window), and I’m psyched to get the other edits finished this week.  I’m back, and I’m here to stay.

Because I’m not a dreamer.  I’m a WRITER.

Dreamers write a little for fun, but when the going gets tough, they switch to another story, try something different, or simply give up.  But Writers – Writers – push through, keep trying, and write til their fingertips are sore.  Writers will do the hard thing now because that’s what we do.

I think this whole concept is summed up pretty well in a recent VlogBrothers video:

 

So this blog post is a promise that I will keep doing the hard thing now because I want Future Me to be a published author.  And maybe this post will also be an encouragement for any of you out there who have been waiting around for the opportune moment before you get back into writing.  Don’t wait, don’t dream.  Write.

Writing What Scares Me

When I started my second novel – the one I’m wrote for NaNoWriMo – I knew that I wanted several things to be different from my first novel, The Sound of Color.

TSOC is in third person, past tense.  I knew that I wanted my NaNoNovel to be in first person.  I learned about two chapters in that it also needed to be present tense.

TSOC’s magic happens in another world (High Fantasy), while the NaNoNovel happens in our world (Urban Fantasy).

TSOC has a somewhat formal voice, and I knew my NaNoNovel was going to be more playful, lighthearted, sarcastic, etc.

But these two novels are actually a lot alike.  They’re both fantasy, and both of them have an MC who’s a teenage girl that is a lot like me.  They are both compassionate people, both have to face an Antag that isn’t a huge part of the story, both have a supporting female character and a supporting male character as best friends.

That’s fine.  That’s what these stories needed.

But as I look forward to having writing be a long-term hobby (or if I’m lucky, a job), there’s so much more I want to write about.

I want to write from a guy’s point of view.

I want to write from an old man’s point of view as he looks back on his life.

I want to write about a disabled person, a middle school girl who’s being bullied, a married couple.

I want to write about a sentient elevator that stops working to see what the people inside do.  A couch who gets stolen.  A mug that doesn’t like the smell of tea.

I want to write about an atheist, a centaur, a girl from another world who comes to ours.

Why?  Because I write to explore.  To put myself in other people’s shoes.  That’s why I want my next novel to be something that scares me.  Something foreign.  Something that I have to research.  Something that I have to work at to put myself in someone else’s mind.

I want to write a sci-fi story, a contemporary story, a story about a bookstore, a story about things that I’ve never even dreamed of.  A horror story, a romance story, a story about a guy who curses and a girl who wears high heels.

I want to write short stories, poems, novellas, books in a series, long novels and short novels and newspaper articles.  I want to write first person, omniscient, multiple 3rd-limited, second person… ALL THE POVs!

I don’t want to stay where I am.  I want to grow as a writer, to be the hoper of far-flung hopes, the dreamer of improbable dreams.  I want to write every shade of story that I can.  And yes, that’s a bit scary to think about.  But isn’t that the point?  We’ve probably all heard this quote:

If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.

So if my writing doesn’t intimidate me just a little, it’s not hard enough.  I want my writing to force me to grow as a person.

I love the sad, emotional scenes in TSOC.  Star loses someone close to her, and goes through some tremendous pain.  As a person, I’ve never felt pain like that, but as an author, I had to dive into her pain.  So maybe, hopefully, it made me more sympathetic to real people who’ve experienced that real pain.

I don’t want writing to be just a hobby, just a profession.  I want it to be an exploration of human nature, a journey to grow as a person, and a chance to think outside of my limited life experiences.  I want to write what scares me.

Priorities and NaNo Life

I would like to share a picture with you:

Graph NaNo 10-23.jpg

This, my friends, is the graph that I see daily.  The graph that rules my life right now. The graph that tells me whether I’m a successful human being or not.  (Well, not actually.)  As you can see, I’m still a little behind on my word count.  But I’m catching up a bit each day, and with Thanksgiving break here, I’m confident in my ability (through God’s grace) to reach 50,000.

So what have I learned?  Well, I think that my favorite thing about this November is that I’ve really made writing a PRIORITY.  Even if my novel stinks (which it often does), even if my characters are flat (I must have forgotten the baking powder), even if I never even attempt to publish this manuscript, I’ve still had a ton of fun with this writing challenge.  I’ve had a ton of fun making writing one of the most important things each day.  Whether it’s driving to Panera Bread for a Caramel Latte and an hour pounding out words, or taking my laptop in the car so I can write while my mom drives me somewhere, I’ve just gotten really good at fitting writing into my crazy life.  Which feels totally awesome.

So even if you’re not doing NaNo, or especially if you are, I’d love to hear ways that you keep writing a priority.  And either way, I encourage you with this: the only thing you need to do to be able to call yourself a writer is to write.

Now, since this blog post is pretty short (don’t give me a hard time, I wrote 2,500 words already today), I thought I’d end with a video of one of my favorite YouTube people.  It’s about NaNoWriMo.  How about that.

I think that it gives a pretty good representation of what us Wrimos face this month.  🙂

Disclaimer: she pronounces NaNoWriMo incorrectly.  It’s supposed to be wri like “write” and not wri like “ree.” But other than that it’s a super fun video.

Alright, guys.  Go out and write this week!