A brief update, some future plans, and thoughts on editing novels.

Confession time: It’s been quite a few months since I’ve posted here.

In part my absence is due to laziness, in part because of my second blog which I’ll talk about it in a bit, but mostly because I haven’t been writing. I didn’t exactly fall of the planet, or give up on my goal of being published. Instead I’ve been grappling with editing.

PSA:  So for anyone interested, my secondary blog is HERE, and it’s a bit more personal. I’ve been posting reviews of books, shops and the like, as well as my feelings about my nerd loves, and rants. Why am I telling you this? Well, this blog has played host to a few rants in the past, and a few book reviews I believe, both of which will now be appearing on my other blog. If you’re into that sort of thing check it out. If not, I’m not heartbroken. Wrampage, will remain a writing oriented blog. Onward.

A Word on Editing

For some writers, editing is kryptonite. I’ve also found that editing seems to be where many writers lose their non-writing friends and family. I can’t fathom a guess as to how many times I’ve heard people ask when the book will be done? I’ve tried explaining the process, the plot holes that need plugging, the wayward characters who need a map, the inconsistencies vast enough they’d confuse Moffat. But honestly, if you’re not a writer, and you’ve never edited something, you just won’t get it. Sorry. It’s not about seeing the words “the end” on the page. They’ve been there for many months now. It’s the stuff that comes before that phrase which worries me.

I suspect that some of the trouble arises in the unsubstantial definition of “editing”. Sure I’m editing when I fix misspellings, or punctuation, but am I still editing when I create an entirely new character to add to the story after I’ve written it? What if I delete a character? Change POV? Add/subtract whole plot lines?

Where do we draw the line between writing and editing?

In the case of my current novel, the process has been messy. The first draft was written over the course of three months, back in June-August of 2011, to the tune of 147,000 words. It was the first novel I’d ever written start to finish, and I had no idea what I was doing. Fast forward three years to today and I’ve add characters, combined others, completely changed the focus of the original plot, and added in a plethora of new subplots. As it stands, that one novel, is now the first book in an arc of 9 books within a series of 21.

But it’s taken nearly three years of “editing” to figure out who my characters are, what they’re really doing, and what they want. Many months of world building, and systems of keeping my information organized before I converted to Scrivener(=god). But to the people who know that I wrote a book three years ago, what exactly have I been doing? Nobody knows.

Being a writer, creating a world, and making people care, are all hard things to do, let alone to do well. If you’re in the middle of editing right now, firstly, I apologize because it’s supremely hard, but secondly, I’d like to let you in on a little nugget.

Writing is easy. You throw every trick you’ve got at the page, and at some point after far too much caffeine and rambling, you declare the project complete. It’s easy. One word after another. But editing, is were you take that brainchild of chaos and sleepless nights, and you mold it into something that makes sense. You give it purpose, meaning. Editing is where you test your problem solving abilities, not just your spelling. The shifting words, and restless characters and meandering plot can come together to provoke feeling from readers and writers alike. When you write a book, you give life to a world, but when you edit, you teach that world how to live.

 

Peace.

Accomplishments of 2013

For better or worse, the year is over and whether or not we accomplished our goals, or neglected them 9 out of 12 months, this is the moment when we fess up to what we really did in 2013. At various points this year I tried Milwordy (writing 1 Million words in a year- 3 times, reading 40 books in the year, editing some books.)

Here’s what I actually did.

-wrote-

Wrote 223,000 words

Started a really cool YA Fantasy/SciFi series that blows my own mind.

-edited-

Finished the 2nd rewrite of my first book ever (which probably has three more to go but holy fuck it’s starting to look like a real book now.) >_<

Edited, reorganized/started rewriting my third book ever. (conveniently ignores the second book I ever wrote because wow is it terrible. Haha.)

-read-

Read 38 books.

Finally figured out how to effectively use my Goodreads account. >_<

-personal accomplishments-

Got married to my fiance of 7 years.

Found a job I love that leave me lots of time to write and read to my heart’s content.

In going back through my old Milwordy blog, and personal diaries to calculate my word count for the year I came across this thing I wrote on my very first Milwordy blog post back in February.

I want to look back on the year and say “Damn, I accomplished so much more than I thought I ever could.”

Welp, Dear 11ish months ago self, you did. Congrats. Here’s to 2014 and surprising yourself.

Happy Scribbling.

Midnight Musings – Taking inspiration from dreams and nightmares

This morning I woke up shaking. My heart raced in my chest and a cold sweat seeped through my blankets. I lay beneath the covers, only my eyes visible to the room, terrified, both of what I’d just seen and the strange noises that occur in ones home that are never a problem until you’re alone in the dark.

Minutes passed and still I couldn’t shake the fear that lodged itself in my stomach. I wanted to sleep again, my eyes heavy, but with just the barest of blinks I could see the terrors, and the hear the screaming.

There was no way I could go back to sleep.

So I did the next best, most logical thing. I pulled my laptop onto my bed and wrote about it.

No matter who  you are or where you come from, everyone dreams and whether good or bad, dreams can provide some great inspiration for creative individuals everywhere. Certainly artists and writers tend to benefit the most from dreams and nightmares, though I would wager that while artists can capture one individual scene particularly well, it’s harder for them to capture a story through one image. Writers on the other hand can transcribe large chunks of a dream and then use our super powers of deduction to come up with a reasonable plot and some wayward characters to follow.

This method of taking stories based on dreams and nightmares is certainly not a new one, what with some of the great writers having done just that. Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Stephenie Meyer (just kidding, I’m pretty sure, when she said Twilight was a dream that she had, she meant a wet one). In any case it’s clear that this resource can spawn some really interesting creations.

I’ve currently got a handful of terrifying pages whose plot is quickly solidifying in my mind, but it led me to wonder about the rest of you.

How often do you find inspiration in your sleep?

Any full books come out of those midnight ramblings?

Please leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Scribbles.

The best laid plans – When life gets in the way of writing.

We’ve all been there. The day you woke up ready to write and your kid is sick, or your computer breaks down. Maybe you had errands to run that took way longer than expected, or your pipes freeze and suddenly everything else is more important or more pressing than writing. It happens. You can’t beat yourself up for it. Expect the unexpected and all that.

So today I’d like to share my unexpected. Being of the mid twenties age, I’m at the lovely time in my life when my wisdom teeth have reared their ugly heads. Or actually they haven’t. They’re still festering away in my gums making snide remarks at inappropriate times, and just like any other rude house guest, they have overstayed their welcome in my face.

I’ve known that they would have to come out for quite some time now. What I didn’t expect was going into  my consultation this afternoon and having it end with, “Come back tomorrow morning and we’ll take care of them then.”

 

… Sigh.

 

I had hoped that when the time came to get them removed, I’d have a little bit of time to write more in the days before hand. Time to get ahead on my goals so that I wouldn’t be completely behind when I regained feeling in my face and could think without the Vicodin making me feel like a five year old on meth. Rest assured this is not an exaggeration. The last time I had to take Vicodin for a kidney infection, I spent a week watching the first two seasons of My Little Pony on repeat. Sometimes I would even be surprised by the endings, regardless of whether or not I had just watched the episode an hour earlier.

Clearly this doesn’t speak well to my ability for the next day or two in terms of my writing, and unfortunately that means I’m gonna be behind at least for a little while.

And basically I’m here to tell you that it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes we can’t or don’t write for reasons that we could have controlled. And then there are times like this where you cut your losses and say, “I’ll get back on track in a day or two. Until then, I’m gonna go back to Ponyville.”

 

Happy scribbling.

Finishing books and finding new stories.

For the past several months I’ve been working hard at completing the first book in a series I’m currently writing and I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times that I wanted to just take a break and working on something else.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know where the stories was going, or that it wasn’t any good, I was simply drained from having done so much work on it for so long. I’d been working within the series and specifically on that book for seven straight months without a break and it’s been back and forth across my desk for a year and a half now.Though I didn’t work on it consistently throughout that time of course. I wrote 1 complete novel and got about half way through 5 others in that time. But with my college schedule and life at hand, it took nearly 2 years for that book to reach it’s completion. Just in time for me to submit it to the Break though novel of the year Award hosted by Amazon, actually. 

Now, everyone varies I suppose, on how long it takes them to get an idea, to the point where they are ready to submit it to agents, or contests or publishing houses, so I don’t feel bad about this novel’s shelf life, however, I’d like to address something that will probably bother each of us writers and some point in our careers. 

Knowing when your book is done. Not just written, but edited and revised and pieced together as well as you could manage. I say this because, while I submitted my book to the Amazon contest, and while I think it will stand up fairly well on it’s own, I can still think of things I’d like to improve. I could spent another seven months, taking things out, adding them back in again, and still wind up with the same story I have right now. 

It’s hard to let your stories stand on their own two feet when you’ve held them in your hand for months, even years at a time. But if you don’t let go, your first book might be your last. You might forgo all the great novel ideas you’ve ever had, just because this one, could be a little bit better. 

Well fuck that. 

That’s what I’m here to say today. Don’t let your book consume you. If you find yourself changing the verbs of the same sentence ten times in a week, let go of it. Get out something new and just write. Yes, you want your books to be successful and for others to enjoy reading them, but there comes a point when editing and revising just become counter productive. So let your work out into the world and start on something new. 

It took me exactly 20 months to get from start to finish with this novel but, to put that in perspective, I spent 3 months writing the first draft, 5 months ignoring it, 1 month rereading revising,3 months ignoring, 1 month revising, and then 7 months fixing flaws in the series as a whole (9 planned books) editing, rewriting the entire book once, and editing twice more over. Over all the book saw 12 months of work, and 7 revision of both parts or the document as a whole. The first draft was 124k, the final was 54k. (This was the first book I ever wrote.)

To put that in an even better perspective. The book I’m currently working on was one of those that I got about half way through in the past year and a half. It has seen two weeks of work. One writing (where I wrote 32k, 12 of which was in the first day), and one week of plotting out the second half of the novel. I’ve got about 50k left to go according to my outline and I think It will be completely written before the month is up and edited before March is over. (This is the fifth I’ve started.)

This should serve as proof to those of you who are your first book that no, not all books are created equal. And now that I’ve gone through the whole process with one book, I’ve got a much better idea of my voice, and my own abilities. Make it through your first book ladies and gents and your well on your way to getting the hang of it. 

 

Happy Scribbling to you all and a lovely 1am too.

How to write. A tale of cash flows and story woes.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails recently for writing classes. Classes on character development, hole proofing your plot, revising your novel, creating a best seller, etc. The thing is, they’re a load of crap. For 300 bucks we can perfect your novel. For five easy payments of 24.99 you can have the magical secrets of great writing. For your soul and hard earned cash we can trick you, the poor, naive writers of the world, into thinking that a novel is so easily quantifiable that one ridiculous class can change your future.

I mean honestly. If these assholes had the secret ingredient to producing novels that would make you as rich as Rowling, or as famous as Steven King, don’t you think they’d be out there, cashing in on their novels instead of widening the pool of writers with a million  perfect manuscripts? 

I find it all rather infuriating. Everything included in all the various how to write books and classes of the world, can, with a few dedicated hours on Google, be found and learned for free. There is tons of advice about how to plot, how to create memorable characters, how to edit and publish, that no matter who you are and how you want to do it, you’ll find something, eventually, that works for you. 

Now aside from all the lovely articles out there on hundreds of thousands of various blogs and writing forums of the internet, you could always just go to your local library. If you really need guidance about writing, or editing, or whatever, libraries are the perfect place to not get sucked into this cashing sucking machine that takes advantage of inexperienced writers. 

Now you may be thinking to yourself, hold up, wait a minute. Just because you pay for one of these classes instead of spending hours skimming web pages doesn’t mean you’ve been duped. And yeah, as much as I hate paying for anything I don’t have to, that is true. If you want someone to give you all their tips and tricks, whether they work for you or not, fine. You’re not a bad person or a bad writer for having a go at it. But let me just make one more point. 

The biggest reason why I personally think writing courses are a load of shit is that no matter what they tell you, you will never be able to write a successful or meaningful book just by following their instructions. Why? Because these class teach all of the things you need to know about writing except the most important thing. Heart. The soul of your story isn’t in a bullet pointed list. It’s not in the dictionary or a grammar guide. The single most important part of your work, is you. 

 

If you want to write stories, and you like reading, but you have no idea what your doing and need someone to tell you where to start, I personally don’t think you’re gonna make it. 

 

If you need to write stories, and you love reading and you had no idea what you were doing and didn’t care and followed your heart to write a tale that meant something to you, and once you finished, took the time to learn about perfect grammar and spell checking, and cleaning up your dialogue and cutting out some of the fat from your world… Well, the most important thing for your story is already there. And no one else could have given that spark to your writing.

 

You can learn how to write. But you can’t learn passion or love for telling a tale. 

 

So save you cash and just write. Please. Just write. All you need is your thirst for the story and some paper. 

 

Happy scribbling. 

Finding daily motivation

This is a picture heavy post. You’ve been warned.

So I’m an odd sort of lady. I tend to waffle between being, super calm/carefree and being an emotionally over charged wreck. If my shoe lace breaks then the world is ending. If I find a chocolate on my desk, it’s Christmas. I probably need medication now that I think about it, but regardless…

At the beginning of November, I decided to try a new method of journaling. To try and keep my mood swings in check, I’d start each day with a page of wisdom. The date would go in the top corner, and my only rule was that I had to spend at least five minutes thinking about it before I filled the page. As an added bonus, I colored them with a pack of highlighters. So when you get to this pictures near the bottom of this post don’t be surprised if they burn your eyes.

Some days I found quotes from other writers, but most days I just made it up as I went along. Stickers? Sure. Drawings? Why not. Whatever I thought would get me through the day and keep my focused on the task at hand, I wrote down.

I’ll be the first to admit that some day went better than others, but for the most part, this idea turned out to have some pretty cool consequences. Like I’ve got about 30 pages of things the motivate me personally to look back at any time I’m feeling like a Doctor Who marathon should take precedence over my novel.

If you struggle to keep your goals in check on a daily basis, or you find that you’re easily swayed by the thought of tumblr/youtube/facebook/netflix/etc. binge, then you might want to try adding this to your routine.

I should also add, that this was a two part process. The first page of the day was always colorful and creative. But the second page was just important. Opposite my cheerleading pages, was a list of goals for the day and a list of obstacles. If I knew I’d be seeing friends, it’s an obstacle. Didn’t get enough sleep last night? Well your naps, might get in the way of what you planned to do for the day. A lot of the time, I was just over ambitious.

But I will say that these pages helped me to increase my output of everything for the month.

Since December 4th, I have read 6 books (The Heroes of Olympus anyone?),  written 8 blog posts, worked out 15 of 30 days(currently the 30th), and managed to completely edit one of my novels from beginning to end. I’ve also still managed to watch an obscene amount of tv…Though I don’t think that’s an accomplishment. A great deal of other time went into planning a number of other projects too, and I dare say I wouldn’t have been as productive without my journals egging me on each day, reminding me of good days.

If you don’t think this is for you, keep doing whatever you’re doing. If your interested, feel free to take a look at my motivation pages for the month.  ^__^