Month: June 2012 Page 1 of 2

Longest. Thing. Ever.

That’s what she said. Am I right?

No really, check this out:

When I did NaNo last year, my story topped out at 53,789 words, and at the time it was the longest thing I’d ever written. Today, I surpassed that mark, with loads more to go. How great is that? Granted, that was over 50,000 words in 30 days, vs. the four months it’s taken me to get to this stage now, but that’s beside the point.

Now that I’ve passed the theoretical halfway marker – the story’s going to end when it’s going to end, I guess, but I’m aiming roughly for 100,000 words – I’m a little nervous because a lot of the second half is pretty murky in my mind. I’ve got the ending all figured out, and a couple key scenes before that building themselves up in my brain, but there are still a lot of holes. Then again, when I started writing the first half, months ago, there were a lot of holes there too, and they just seemed to fill themselves as I went along. So here’s hoping that trend will continue.

The Slump

I suppose everyone goes through it – that period of time where you just don’t want to write anything. Mine’s about one week in right now, and my not writing has really bled into my everyday life. I haven’t been all that enthusiastic about anything, frankly, and not sleeping well either. Whether that’s caused by my break from the keyboard, or is the cause, I can’t be certain, but this past week hasn’t been pretty, let me tell you.

I think a lot of it had to do with my not being too certain on the outcome of a scene that I’m in the middle of. I left it off right before the turning point because it was late and I was tired, but then I began to second-guess what I’d originally planned. I just wasn’t feeling it. So then I thought of an alternate outcome, but that felt even worse to me. Although it would be maybe more satisfying to readers in the short term, it didn’t fit with the overall story arc and would have made things a lot messier down the line. So I’ve been stewing, going back and forth between Option A and Option B, feeling impatient to get to the next bit after this scene, which I’m very, very certain about.

Then Secret Option C snuck into my head yesterday, right when I was at my lowest point and frustrated over my inability to make up my mind. Secret Option C uses elements from both Options A and B, with a completely different outcome than either of them. It feels right. And now if I can step away from the blog for a bit, I’ll get down to writing it. I’ve missed these people. I want back into their world.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

Foreshadowing and red herrings, two things that I absolutely love to write. I get irrationally gleeful when one or other other is coming together, like, *singsong* “I know what’s happening and you don’t, I know what’s happening and you don’t…”

And someday you’re going to be reading the end of Book Three and your mind is going to be totally blown and you’re going to go, “holy shit that’s from all the way back at the beginning of Book One,” and you never saw it coming. Meanwhile, all those other things you thought were coming won’t, because of all the sneaky false clues I’m laying. And then I’ll be there, all “oh, snap!” or whatever for-the-times catchphrase we’ll be using to say gotcha in 2018.

In all seriousness, while I’ve loved pretty much every moment of writing this book so far, the last couple weeks and the next couple coming up have made me positively giddy about being a writer. I’m racing to my laptop every night after putting my kids to bed, and it’s all because of my two favourite plot elements.

I love being the one who knows all the secrets.

It’s A Start

In a tiny, tiny first step towards some sort of future organization, I made a doc called “Things for Later” that I put a couple of minor ideas I didn’t want to forget – snippets of dialogue, actually – that I hope will grow to be a more comprehensive list of plot points for this series. I’m not sure how to organize it, and I may not even try, just write them down as they come to me with some sort of note at the beginning indicating where it might fall in the timeline.

It’s kind of a big deal for me, she-who-does-not-outline. And after my tremendous efforts yesterday, it’s a good way for me to take a bit of a break from the book without being entirely unproductive. I think I’ve got the next week’s worth of writing set up nicely in my head anyway, so might as well focus on something different tonight.


Or I could just play Bejeweled all night instead. Whatever.


That came about because I wrote more than 3,700 words today, which is absolutely insane for me. Looking back at last year’s NaNoWriMo stats, my best day was 100 words less than that, and I remember that as being an all-day effort. It’s not a pace I can keep up with, for sure, but if I could do it every Saturday, and the same amount again through the rest of the week, I could write a chapter a week and hopefully have my first draft done in a little under two months. And that’s a great feeling. I never actually completed my NaNo novel – I did the 50,000 words (53,000 as a matter of fact) but the conclusion remains to be written. By 50,000 words I was heartily sick of it, and still don’t feel that it’s worth the time to complete, but 50,000 words into this story and I’m falling more and more in love with it every time I sit down in front of my laptop. So that’s gotta be a good sign, right?

Retreat, Retreat!

I gave myself a mini-getaway today, taking over my parents’ vacant condo to sit on their balcony in the sunshine and write for the afternoon. I need to do this more often, even if it’s just at home. I normally write late at night, anywhere from 10pm to 1am, but doing it during the day, outside with the sun on my face and a beautiful view of the park and the river, really can’t be beat. Birds are chirping! Beez are buzzing! Golfers are cursing when they miss their second putts! Rather than jumping online when my mind needs a bit of a break, I can just gaze out over the city for a moment or two and then get back to my work, without having the interruption in my train of thought that internet distractions usually cause.

I never did think of the idea I’d lost the other day for the start of chapter 9, but I like where I’m going instead, so that’s all right, I guess. And, in keeping with my new no-wifi rule – I don’t know the password to my parents’ network anyway – I wrote 1,100 words in just over an hour, and every one of them came easily.

It’s good to be a writer today.

This Is What I Was Afraid Of

I should’ve made an outline. I should’ve used those cue cards I bought months ago to write my stray thoughts for scenes or characters on. I should’ve done SOMETHING to keep track of all the many threads of this story straight since it’s all jumbled out of order in my head.

I’m about to start chapter 9. Yay, right? Chapter 8 ended on a nice little cliffhanger, ensuring the reader will turn the page, only I don’t remember what happens next. See, these two characters, they’re supposed to meet again, and something REALLY IMPORTANT was supposed to be revealed here. And for the life of me I can’t remember what it is. I had this tight little scene plotted out weeks ago, and now where it once resided in my brain, there’s only this:

Goddammit, I say. Now I feel like I’m entering this scene without a plan for it, and it’s just going to be 1,500 words of rambling pointlessness. I’m just going to start writing anyway and hope that one of two things happens: a) I remember what my original thought was and proceed with that; b) I come up with something even more awesome.


And yet I’m willing to bet that even after this, I still won’t write out that outline or fill out those cue cards, because I’m always telling myself I’m too busy with the actual writing to take time to do the planning. I need to learn a lesson the hard way at least three times before I’ll actually change my habits.


Why Didn’t I Think Of This Four Months Ago?

Fact: When I write, I’m often distracted by other things online, switching back and forth between my doc and various browser tabs that have nothing to do with research.

Fact: My usual output is anywhere from 300 to 700 words an hour.

Fact: This week I’ve had very limited internet access because I’ve been away from home, out in the sticks, but I’ve still managed to snag the rocket stick when I wanted to write.

Fact: This afternoon I couldn’t get the rocket stick but I decided to write without it anyway, figuring I’d give up quickly after I couldn’t research some tiny point.

Fact: I actually wrote 1,300 words in an hour. That’s probably a speed record for me.

Fact: From now on when it’s time to write I’m going to turn off the wifi capability on my laptop and only turn it on in cases when I actually need to. Facebook doesn’t count as a need.

Fact: It took me about 100,000 words over two novels to discover this about my writing routine.

Fact: I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

Cuddle Up

How great is writing in bed? I’ve been away from home all week and the only way I can get into my closed-door writing routine is to do it in my bedroom. I lay under all the heavy covers, all snuggled up, with a stack of pillows behind me, and peck away. This is heaven. It’s warm, it’s cozy, it’s quiet – everything I need to get my mind into a good groove for writing.

This is Mark Twain, another bed-writer.

I’m not all that creative when it comes to location, unlike a friend of mine who will carry her hammock down to the river, set it up and write in it there. At home it’s the couch for me. But I like this bed thing. Especially since, as a night writer, when I’m done I can just close my laptop, set it on the night table, switch off the light and go right to sleep. See? Bliss.

I Got The Blues

I’m developing a serious hate-on for my first chapter. Even when I was writing it I thought it was a bit weak, but now the further I progress – and the more I read about proper first-chapter development – the more I want to rip it up (or since it’s entirely digital, select-all-delete, I guess) and start fresh. There’s way too much back story and not enough dialogue, and a lot of it comes off a bit smug, I think. Chapter two is on similarly shaky ground, although it has some elements of mystery and foreshadowing that are important to the rest of the story. Both deal with character development, I suppose – it’s not like the first 12,000 words are a recitation of the periodic table of elements or anything similiarly pointless – but when I read it back to myself, I think “boring, boring, boring” or maybe TL;DR. Which is the kiss of death for any novel, as I’ve been told over and over. I care about Callie because she lives in my head, and I’ll listen to pretty much anything she tells me, but I’m not sure, having just read the first chapter, that anyone else would. By the time you get to the end of chapter two, I think there’s definitely incentive to keep reading, but the fickle reader, short on time, might decide to move on to something else if the first ten pages don’t capture their interest.

But I have a problem, and that problem is revision.

I’ll tell you a secret – I’ve never revised anything I’ve written. Ever. I don’t do drafts. I do final products. This is how I would write papers in university: I would do all my research, get all my supporting arguments and quotes in order, then sit on it for a week or two and plan the whole thing out in my head, going over and over it until I liked the way it fit together. Then, usually a day or two before it was due, I would sit down and write the entire thing in one sitting, from beginning to end. I’d usually check it over once for spelling and grammar – I often mis-type ‘from’ as ‘form,’ for instance – and then print it and submit. The end. I graduated with a GPA of 3.78 so obviously the system works well for me – when it comes to 5,000-word papers, that is. Obviously this project is a bit bigger than that, which is why, without all the mulling and stewing and planning in my head beforehand that’s occurred with the major scenes but not the connecting ones, I’m sometimes only able to produce 500 words an hour.

So I find myself in unchartered territory here. I need to revise. I need to strip and chop and rebuild and strengthen. It’s not what I’m used to. It’s not something I imagine I’m all that proficient at – I need to find some good ‘how to revise your writing’ blog posts – but sooner or later, I need to head down that road. And with all my unfamiliarity with the process, I have no idea if I should be doing that now, while it’s especially bothering me, or just keep moving forward, and make that the first agenda on the revision task sheet. I have a feeling if I don’t deal with it soon, my feelings about chapter one are going to get worse and worse until I start to question the entire project’s worth, which won’t be good for my future as a novelist. But it seems like such a step backwards, a giving-in to the inner editor who really needs to just shut up and let me work, dammit. I am open to suggestion and wisdom and experience from all sources.

Next up in the series I may start calling My Failings As A Proper Novelist: Why I Also Don’t Write Outlines (But Should Get Over That, Already)

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