I seem to be on a path of alternating week. I float between “productive” and “unsuccessful”. I’m either getting a bunch of writing done or very little. While most of this week was running toward the bottom of the hill, I made a quick turn around the last couple of days. Even if I’m currently on a detour.
Facebook groups that post calls for submissions have been my dynamite for a long time. I may not have a ton of stories “in the can” but I love to see a call and challenge myself to write a story that fits in the box they’re looking for.
I had seen a publisher that was looking for stories that were both horror and Christmas themed. In the back of my mind I knew I’d scribbled down an idea for a story that would fit that mold, but I needed to flesh it out and get it written. I had forgotten about the call until someone posted on Facebook as a reminder of calls that were closing soon.
Next thing I knew – laying in bed and the wheels are turning. I scroll through the notes on my phone and found the nugget of an idea. Then, pop open a browser window. A few random searches later and I’ve got the beginnings of a whole story.
Last night I sat down and worked out a bare bones plot. Today I’ve started handwriting the actual story. I’ve got about 2 weeks to get my ducks in a row, edit, and submit.
I guess we’ll see what happens, but this idea has been brewing for a while, so hopefully the actual writing won’t take long and Neith is begging me to come back to the Bestowing party and record the discussion between her, her uncle (the King’s right-hand), and the King.
Everything I have written in the last couple of weeks has been done longhand in a wonderful notebook I received as a Christmas gift from my parents. While I don’t normally write longhand, because I type faster than I write, and my handwriting is…not great. I’ve had times in the past where I reread my notes or a story and I have to make educated guesses on a few words based on the context. Despite, knowing I might be making more work for myself when it comes to transcribing, working longhand on my novel at this time has seemed to keep the creative juices flowing at a more consistent pace.
This has been beneficial as I worked up to and have passed the section of my story that I had previously written and have decided (for the most part) to keep intact. I knew after inserting that chunk I would have to see how my main characters reacted and what actions followed. What I wasn’t ready for was a party. A literal party. Thankfully, I got an invitation.
The section I am inserting is of a very important ceremony in the lives of my elvish kingdom. Each elf is give their “job” which will be their career and their livelihood. In most cases this a joyous and exciting time for the young elves, but…my main character is a touch headstrong and had an idea of what she wanted her job to be. Now that the ceremony is over everyone is going to celebrate and party, but Neith, wants nothing to do with it. She would just like to be left alone.
At this point in my writing the party is still going on. So, as the party winds down, the my main characters are headed for a very volatile interaction. A confrontation that will drive the story forward and hopefully prove to be a catalyst for the remainder of the book.
I neglected to post last week. Which, in all reality was okay, because I didn’t have much to report. The last couple weeks haven’t been super productive as far as my writing has gone.
But I have to remember, that the goal of writing this current project whether it turns out to be a novella or a full-sized novel, is not how fast it is completed, but that I continue to move forward.
I don’t have a hard and fast due date and as I’ve mentioned before, that when I press myself into writing the words are harder to come by and the quality suffers.
The good news is that today has been productive when it comes to word count and at the moment I have a fairly solid idea of where the story is going. My next challenge is going to be keeping that momentum as I cut and paste a section I wrote on a previous iteration of this project and insert it into current attempt.
The scene I am going to insert is a pretty pivotal scene in the story I am building. It will showcase the two primary characters butting heads in a non-verbal sense. It will amplify a conflict that will drive the story forward into the middle of the book and set up a (literally) life-altering decision for Neith, my main character.
I’ve always been the kind of writer where I have characters, place them in a scenario, and feel like I am transcribing the events that they experience. The moments that happen after this inserted scene will define these characters and change them in ways I’m not 100% sure of just yet.
Each week I write here on my blog to update any of you kind enough to stop by and read on the progress of my current writing project(s). Some weeks, I hope to make a lot of progress, while other weeks (like this past one) progress will be much slower.
I had hoped to crank out another 5000 words on my fantasy novel. That didn’t happen. I managed a paltry 1100. The vast majority of that was completed yesterday in about an hour and a half. After my first hour writing I felt that I’d made decent progress, assuming I could keep up the pace I would get close to my 5000 word goal. In the next hour and a a half all progress came to a screeching halt.
Despite being very frustrated with myself and lack of (self defined) success, I was reminded that I’m still moving forward. Tabitha helped me to remember, I’m not on a deadline. As long as I’m still putting down a few words here and there or getting little bursts of output I will eventually reach my goal of having this story down.
The work of writing a novel isn’t an easy task. It’s not something that everyone can do. I will continue to remind myself of the story I need to tell and I know Tabitha will continue to sit beside me encouraging me.
This week I am going to forgo a hard and fast goal of time or word count. The reason is two-fold. First, doing so, seems to be putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Second, I am approaching a point in the story that I wrote a while back and I will need to look over that previous writing to determine what I keep and what gets re-written for this current iteration.
“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. – Jodi Picoult
This week was the story of the unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Both of which were…my brain.
If I were just taking a look at the goals I set in last week’s post, I did not succeed. I had a couple of days where the words were flowing and what I wrote felt good. Then on other days, each word was a struggle. I planned to do some writing Saturday and before I sat down I could tell it was going to fight.
My brain vs my brain.
I wanted to write considering I was just diving back into my fantasy novel and I like the bare bones plot that I have worked out, but something told me that I was going to be hyper-critical of everything I typed which would slow any progress to a crawl. On those days, when I finish my writing “sprint” I’m always frustrated and less that happy with whatever I did accomplish.
Tabitha reminded me of two things: when I write like that it’s never as good and requires more “editing” later on, and I’m not on a deadline with this project. Let the words flow when they want to.
She helps me maintain my sanity, that’s for damn sure, and reminds me to get out of my own way.
So my goals for next week are going to be more fluid.
Ideally, I’d like to crank out about 5,000 words on Neith. No time limits, no restrictions.
This week I’ll try to keep the unstoppable force from crashing headlong into the immovable object.
“…jump off the cliff and you build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury
Friday night I finished up my work on, and submitted my space octopus sci-fi/horror short story, which became titled “The Dark Reaches”. Having that completed I took the weekend off of writing projects while Tabitha and I indulged in a Read-a-thon. We both finished the book we’d been trying to complete and read another whole book.
Starting a new week I began thinking about the writing projects I have in different stages of progress.
– Three stories in process of editing. (1 of which I have an anthology to which I’d like to submit it to early in June.)
– A fantasy novella/novel idea that I’ve kind of started and have about 60% plotted.
The fantasy novel has been in the works for a long time. Too long.
I’ve decided, that beginning tonight, I am going to restart this project (which like most of my stories — don’t have actual titles until the very last minute). With parts of a couple chapters started, Neith, (as I’ve grown to call this, based solely on it being the main character’s name) will be getting a fresh start based on my recent eureka plotting moments.
The title of this weeks blog I chose because I don’t have the entirety of Neith plotted, but I have a good idea where I want the story to go. I could spend years nitpicking the plot points I’ve already worried over or I could just build my wings on the way down.
– minimum of 30 minutes each day writing
– grand total of 5000 words written
Restarting my blog, I aimed to post every Monday to get back in the swing of things. I’m three weeks in and I’m already behind.
In my defense, the reason I didn’t write and post last night was two-fold. Tabitha and I were watching a movie which will be discussed on the podcast (The Geek Awakens) we are a part of. Then after finishing the first round of edits on my story I was awake until 12:30 at night retyping all 5000 words (because it was faster than cutting and pasting).
I met my goal and got my edits completed including rewriting three decent sized chunks to better fit the movies the submission call noted for comparison.
Tabitha was a rock star and completed her edits in short order today. I’m going to begin working through her notes and tweaking what needs to be done.
I’m into the final stretch before submission. T-minus 3 days!
– Get story polished and submitted (includes coming up with a damn title)
– Refocus as I gear up to begin writing new words again next week
As I finished my blog last week I stated that my goal was to have a first round of edits completed on my “Space Octopus” story. Well, that didn’t happen. I’m about halfway through. Which isn’t bad, but not exactly where I wanted to be.
I did come to some realizations about this story. The call for submissions point to a number of classic sci-fi movies for reference. Alien, The Blob, The Thing among them. I’ve seen Alien, but neither The Blob or The Thing. Having found The Blob on a streaming service I set it up while I was working on other things. Along with my watching of that and having seen Alien as well as cursory knowledge of The Thing I made some notes about some pretty serious tweaks I need to make to the ending of my story. (Now just to make it that far in my edits…)
So, I’m going to keep this short this week as I head back to work on those edits, but I have to give a huge thank you to my amazing and thoughtful girlfriend that found me a fantastic lap desk that I can use for writing and editing. It’s what I’m typing on currently!
This week’s goal is simple as I begin to stare down the deadline for this story.
– Finish edits
– Pass off to my amazing and incredibly helpful girlfriend and alpha reader.
It has officially been one week since I restarted my blog and posted my first round of goals. And taking a look back at those goals today I realized that was able to complete both the goals I set for myself.
I wanted to write 500 words a day or for 5 hours total throughout the week. I can happily report that I totaled 4500 words which is 1000 above where I hoped to be.
Secondly, I wanted to complete a draft of a sci-fi/horror short story I hope to submit for an anthology at the end of the month. Thanks to a massive 2000 words yesterday I can check both my goals for Week 1 off the list.
Now, comes the hard(er) part.
When I edit I have a system. I double space my story, toss on some page numbers, and print a hard copy. Then with a red pen and a notebook I begin the process.
I took today off of writing or editing to give the words a moment of space. I’ve found that if I begin editing the instant I’m done writing the story is still too fresh and I’m seeing what I want the story to be, not what it actually is.
So, now, with my printed copy and my red pen, tomorrow I dive into edits.
– Complete first round of edits on my “Space Octopus” (damn I need a title) short story.
Over the last month or so I’ve been trying to make an effort to start writing more regularly again. As is typical for me I have about 397 anthology calls that I would love to write a story for, but I also have been thinking more and more about the (probably grimdark) fantasy novel/novella that has been floating around in my head for a few years.
Thanks to my incredible girlfriend for pushing the button on Amazon, I have a writing space that allows me to stretch out and work comfortably. She saw my creative wheels beginning to turn as I would randomly text her in the middle of the day as ideas attempted to form in my brain.
After setting up my desk I ended up talking with an online writing friend, Michael, about plotting and the different forms it takes for each of us. I had taken to writing “bones” of my novel on index cards and sticking them on the wall in front of my desk to help organize my thoughts. He also has become more active on his blog as he’s using it as a forum to publicly announce goals and give weekly updates to his progress.
All of these things have led me back here, to my own blog where I will update (fingers crossed) on a regular basis what I’m working on as well as both successes and failures of my weekly goals.
– Finish drafting a sci-fi horror short story that is due for submission by April 30th.
– Write 500 words a day or total 5 hours of writing.