Monday, November 11, 2019

It's That Time Again

It’s November… I’m sure you can guess what that means. LOL. I have of course signed up on the new-and-improved National Novel Writing Month website. And so far, I’m rather delighted to share that things have been going extremely well.

I wrote previously that I’ve been working on a fanfiction story (for Gilmore Girls) since the end of August. While I’ve been dedicatedly chipping away at the project, I didn’t quite make my self-imposed deadline of finishing the story by October 31st. I was tantalizingly close but when the clock rolled over to November 1, I still needed a couple days to wrap things up and put ‘the end’ to the tale.

If you can believe it, I did it! I managed to finish the whole kit-and-caboodle Sunday night (November 3) around 11pm. To add to the ‘can you believe it’ list, the final word count for the whole story is a whopping 95,177 words – the final 13,000 of those words written between November 1st and 3rd! This new fanfic is in fact the longest one I’ve written… by more than 30k words. 

Now that I’ve got the GG story completed, I’m going to be turning my attention to one of my original works. I actually struggled with the decision of which OW project I was going to focus on for NaNoWriMo 2019. I spent a good three hours the other morning evaluating the status of each project, as well as how I felt about my ability to pick up and go with it.

I’ve got three major OW projects at various stages. They are all very different kinds of projects. Of course, they’re all romance but that’s where the key similarities end.

The first project I considered is a stand-alone novel. It’s a second-chances, coming home, contemporary romance. While I’m reasonably confident about the major plot points for this story, this is the project that I lost a third of my already finished work for. In the months since I discovered the damaged files, I’ve been unable to find any way of recovering them. The last report I received, from a local IT guru, was that those particular file storage locations were damaged and unrepairable. I am still scouring all my computer hard drives looking for (even partial) cache files, as well as any that may exist in my online storage servers. Lesson learned in this case: backup, backup, backup, backup, backup. And then backup again! In the end, I decided not to spend November focused on this particular story. I will definitely be coming back to this project at a later date though.

The second project I debated focusing on for this year’s NaNo, is one that is very near and dear to my heart. One of the key foundation points of this story was inspired from my own life. This story is a paranormal romance novel featuring witches, the Tuatha de Danann, and ancient gods and goddesses. It is a stand-alone novel but there is a short story/novella length prequel I’ve also been working on that goes along with it. The major stumbling point I discovered, and the reason why I didn’t choose to work on this story this month, was that while the main conflict is entirely clear to me and I do know how the story ends, there are a number of other important plot points that I still haven’t quite clarified in my mind. Finishing this story will require a hefty amount of plot planning that I just don’t want to spend the time on right now.

Which brings me to my third option – the largest, most complicated, most involved project I’ve got going on. This one is also paranormal romance but it features were-creatures of various forms, the fae, and vampires. This project is a trilogy story arc and the three books have interweaving plot points and scenes that occur concurrently but are told from different points of view in each of the three books.

In the past couple of years, I have spent a great deal of time on planning this story. I have detailed character profiles for the three men and three women that are the focus of the books, as well as for a few important supporting characters. I have extensive timelines already developed and major plot points outlined. This is a massive project though, one I know I have no chance in Hell of finishing before the end of the year, let alone by the end of November. Which, to tell the truth, was sort of what I was hoping to do. I spent most of October telling myself to choose anything but this project to work on.


Yeah, I totally ignored my own advice and picked the third project to focus on. In the end I realized that whether or not I finished the project by the end of November or December, like I’d hoped, wasn’t nearly as important as simply writing. My head isn’t currently in the right place for either of the first two projects. I’ll get to them eventually, just not right now.

On Day 4 I pulled out my book-bible and got to back to work on my major, major, primary NaNo project. Since then the words have been pretty sparse and I've only added about 2k to my total words in November - but it's been a ridiculously busy, busy, busy week and I honestly just haven't had a lot of time to write anything. But plus side, to get back on target for finishing the 50k in a month I only have to write about 1500 words today. So I guess I'll get to that now. 

Until next time – happy writing!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

When Life Gives You Lemons, Or Some Such Thing

Before the kids got out of school in June I had started to feel as though I was hitting my head against a brick wall when trying to write. So I decided to take a break - to read more and to relax. To spend more time focused on the kids while they were home, and on Heli Dad, and on myself. It was a good summer and exactly what I needed.

When I started sitting back down at the computer on a regular basis in August, I still wasn't ready to wade back in to the projects I'd hit pause on in June. But I started writing.

I finished a fan fiction story I'd begun years ago - to the delight of many long time readers who'd still been waiting to find out how it would end. And when that was done, I still had more to write so I started another, one that had been sort of simmering on a back burner in my head for a couple years, just waiting.

I needed the break.

The full stop.

The mental rejuvenation.

I've needed this chunk of time where I've essentially just been writing for fun again. This grace period where I haven't had to worry about all the gritty details. I don't have to build the world, or create the characters... I can just let the words flow while I tell a story.

The crazy thing is that before the break, I was struggling to write 500 words a week.

In the last month I've written roughly 45,000.

And there are more. I don't sit down at the computer and wonder what to write. I know what I want to say and how I want to say it. I know where the story goes, how it ends, and how to get there.

As the words simply spill out of me for this fan fiction story, I find my mind is also working on the ideas and plot points, and all the little details that I'd been struggling with so much in the Spring. I jot down these random bits and pieces every day. I'm connecting dots that I hadn't even realized I needed to connect. In my mind, I'm finally getting all the various puzzle pieces of the story (my original works story) sorted out. I'm figuring out where and how all the disparate details fit together to create the big picture.

Somehow I simply know that when I switch back the words I need will be there. While it may not be as free flowing as this fan fiction writing has been, I won't be beating my head against that brick wall anymore either.

Writers -- have you come up against this before?

To clarify, I'm not talking about writers block. Not really. I could still write. The thing was, I was forcing it, hard, and you could tell.

So what did you do? What do yo do?

Did you keep attack the brick wall, pumping out words that sort of, but not really fit with what you wanted to say? Do you redirect? Take a break?

What do you do when your story is dammed up inside your head and you just can't find the right key to open the floodgates?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Writing Words

I don’t know if I could specify an exact period in my life when I began writing. When I look back, I was always writing something, always making up stories or journaling my days. After all, what pre-teen/teenage girl doesn’t have her secret diary where she recounts all the absolutely horrible-awesome-unbelievable-heartbreaking things that happen to her every single day???

Growing up on a farm I can remember whiling away the hours while cutting acres of grass on a little riding mower, and the whole time I would be telling myself stories – out loud of course because the mower was typically loud enough one could barely hear themself think, and it wasn’t as if there was anyone around for miles to hear me talking to myself. Sometimes, if I liked the story I came up with while mowing, I would later pull out a notebook and write it out. I still have some of those notebook-ed mowing stories in my keepsake boxes. Some are truly cringe worthy but even the most horrible of them illustrates the potential for storytelling that lived within me, even then.


But it was really when my eldest son was a baby that I thought to myself, “I’ve got all these ideas and stories just percolating in my head, why don’t I try to get them out?” At that point I was already a voracious reader, frequent book reviewer on my original blog, and had also been writing fanfiction for a couple years, so the idea of writing my own original stories was, to say the least, enticing.

So, I started typing.

Carving out time, when and where I could, to write. To allow the adventures, the dreams, the characters – the stories – out of my head. When I couldn’t sit down at the computer, or escape for a bit with my laptop, I got into the habit of packing around a notebook and pen. It wasn’t uncommon in those days to find me scribbling notes (ideas, a turn of phrase, inspired dialogue) while sitting at skating lessons or while the kids played in the McD’s play place.

There were so many ideas that rushed forward in those early years. I’ve got files and files, and files, and I’m frequently adding more as new ideas crop up. There are dozens of ideas that I’ve never gotten around to even attempting to flesh out and really develop. Then there are the ones that I did focus on. The ones I took time to see where they might lead, see what kind of story it was that was waiting to be told.

And from those, there are a handful that I’ve truly delved into and narrowed my sight on. Those stories have weeks and months, and more, of time invested in them. Time spent researching locations, myths and legends, educational course paths for various (and sundry) careers, and a wide variety of legalities aimed at specific situations. Time spent doing character development and profiles, family trees, detailed timelines, and even drawing out the floor plans for homes featured within those stories.

Then the writing.


God, the time spent writing. Hours upon days, upon weeks and months, and years. All that time getting words onto screen and paper. Time spent on revisions and rewrites.

All those words.

Because words are what make the story. You start with an idea – the heart and soul – and with words you build everything else: the bones and framework of the plot, the muscle and tissue that give it weight, and most of all, the blood and breath that gives it life. Without the words there is simply an amorphous thought waiting.

I spent the past weekend going through my writing files because I had finally decided which one of my stories to focus on this year and to finally, actually, finish. This was one of my writing goals for 2019 that I talked about in my post last month. The result of that perusal being that this week my heart hurts (more than) a bit and I’m unusually obsessed with those words. Because you see, just more than a third of the existing files for that story were damaged-corrupted-unreadable-inaccessible. The originals and the backups. One third of the chapters I’d already written – just gone. At the very least fifteen thousand words lost.

I cried, quite literally and dramatically, when I’d finished tallying things up and realized just how much was gone.


It’s not even that I can’t rewrite those missing chapters. I can and will – if the geek squad pro’s that I haul my computer and flash drives to can’t recover them. It’s the fact that while some of those chapters are just the ‘bones and muscle’ of the story, a few of them are ‘blood and breath’ parts. While I may not be able to remember every word I wrote in those chapters, I remember very clearly how I felt when I wrote them. And there’s this part of me that is terrified that if/when I rewrite those sections, I won’t be able to pull off the same level of intensity, same depth of emotion. Quite simply – I’m afraid it won’t be as good this time around.

If rewriting those chapters from scratch becomes necessary, I’ll do it. I’ll do it to the very best of my ability… but man, right now the fear of that prospect is sitting right up there with the hurt of having lost the chapters in the first place.