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!

Let it demand to be read

There’s a great line in The Fault in Our Stars – “Pain demands to be felt.”

What if our writing was like that?  What if the novels we wrote demanded to be read?  If readers were unable to sleep at night until they read the last page?

I’m in the middle of reading four books right now.  FOUR.

The first three did not demand to be read.

I was simply bored with the first.  Twenty pages in, it was still the setup for the main plot.  The plot that I KNEW was going to take place because I’d READ THE BACK OF THE BOOK!  So it was 100% un-suspenseful.  You know what I did with that book?

I returned it to the library.

(It was due.)

But wouldn’t that BREAK YOUR HEART as an author if you went through all the trouble of getting a book written, polished, PUBLISHED… and then have someone RETURN IT TO THE LIBRARY after 20 pages?

It would break my heart!

The second book, I’m reading for book club – so I (probably) won’t return it until I’ve read the entire thing.  But let me tell you: the first 5 pages are about a boy going to a swamp.  LEGIT, that is ALL THAT HAPPENS!  The dog chases a squirrel, the boy yells at the dog, and then gets hit by a passer-by for using language.  But he’s basically just CHILLING AT A SWAMP.  Oh, and there’s some cleverly disguised info-dumps about the world.

The third is okay.  I’ll finish it, definitely, but there’s nothing PULLING ME TOWARDS IT.

When I write, I don’t want it to be “okay.”  I want it to DEMAND TO BE READ.  At this point, I have a solid beginning – no boring setup or disguised info-dumps.  And no swamps.  But now I’m at a part where one major suspense point has been resolved, and the MC has no major obstacles in front of her.  No suspense.  No conflict.

It’s so bad that I don’t even want to write it, because there’s no mystery for ME.  No raging emotions, nothing EXCITING.  If I’m bored writing, that equals the reader ready to return the book to the library.

WHAT DO I DO???

Ashley and Kathleen, two of my favorite authors on the blog CrackinTheWIP, frequently talk about blowing things up when they’re out of ideas.  Or just want some more excitement. ie, “Hm, and have you tried making something explode yet? Perhaps a person, or a place, or some sort of fruit cart?”

Maybe I should try that.

Either way, something’s gotta change.  Some suspense must be added, some character must turn evil, some fruit cart must explode… something to make the chapter I’m on DEMAND TO BE READ.

WIP, here I come.

The Captain

Keeping a Journal

journalLet’s say it’s been a long day.  You’re tired from the chaos of work/school, your brain feels like mush, and you’ve got about thirty problems to deal with tomorrow.  Annnnnd it’s 11:30 pm.

What do you do?  You crash into bed.

What do I do?  Pull out my journal and take command of words for half and hour, until it’s 12:00 and I’ve just lost half an hour of sleep.

Why?

I’m a writer.  I write.  I enjoy writing!  For me, keeping a journal is totally worth the half hour of sleep lost.  I don’t do it every day — but when I do write in my journal, I always come away refreshed.

It’s a special type of writing.  It allows me to pour raw thoughts and scenes onto a page without ever having to worry about someone else reading it.  It will forever be un-edited, flawed, imperfect.  And that’s part of the beauty.  I can lose myself journaling, no barrier between thoughts and words, nothing holding me back from spewing forth whatever the heck’s going on.

It’s a great way to keep my brain clear.  When life’s stressful, my journal listens.  When the cute boy texts me and I’m exuberant, my journal listens.  When I just want to melt into a puddle on the floor, my journal listens.  And it never judges.  And never talks back.  Never offers advice.  Never tries to fix my problems.  So when I’m done writing, I come away empty, yet fulfilled.  I’ve gotten everything off my chest, processed everything that’s happened, given myself some insight to my day, taken a step back from my issues to maybe get a glimpse of the bigger picture.

More than that, I’ve recorded my life for my future self.  I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy going back and reading old journal entries.  It allows me to see how God’s working in my life, to laugh about that old joke, to give myself a face palm because of my stupidity back then, to grimace at my poor handwriting (that’s when I go wayyyyy back), and maybe to learn a little bit from my own past mistakes.

So that’s why I journal.  It’s freedom to express myself wholly, to record actual history instead of made-up plots, to distance myself from my problems, to commit my plans to the Lord, to make sure inside jokes go down in history… to do something I enjoy.

I’m curious: who out there keeps a journal?  Why or why not?