Yes I’m Crazy: CampNaNoWriMo

So, I may have lost my mind. I blame the baby. After all of my bitching and complaining that I don’t have enough time to do things, I went and signed up for CampNaNoWriMo. I’m going from writing zero words per day to getting down at least 1,667 words a day. Crazy, see?

I’m currently on day 4 and so far, so good. But it’s always good at this point, right? Everything is new and shiny and filled with possibility. I suspect sometime next week I’ll hit a brick wall and realize everything I wrote before makes no sense and will need to be redone. I’m hoping that’s not the case, but since I’m pretty much pantsing this thing, it’s highly probable.

Thankfully, I’ve had this novel idea bouncing around in my head since last year. The tentative title is A Discordant Mirror and I at least have some key scenes laid out in my head. Now, it’s just a matter of stringing them together. Because it’s totally that easy, right?

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Goal Setting: Am I My Own Worst Enemy?

For some people, the process of setting goals inspires them, motivates them, helps them strive to be better people. For me, goals are intimidating, creepy-crawly things that I run away from as soon as they’ve settled into their scabrous bodies.

This is not to be confused with my daily to-do lists, which I seem to manage okay.

I’m talking about long-term goals. I may be able to “Write 500 words on a short story” for a day, but if I try to section bits and pieces of a larger project to complete, I freeze up. For instance, I’ve been meaning to edit a novel for the past couple of months. I’ve only made it a few chapters in. What the hell? I want to finish this book because I want to start querying it. I have another novel idea brewing that I’d like to get words down for at some point before I pop a human out of me.

So what’s stopping me? It seems there’s always something else I need to be doing. Finishing a short story, doing critiques, writing blog posts, reading slush. There’s always something else that has a due date of right now.

I would set a hard due date for myself on the novel revisions, but I know they’re self-imposed. Am I rambling or does this make sense to anyone else? All I know is it’s a continuous struggle and I’m getting tired of not moving forward because of a million other commitments and priorities.

Normally, I try to offer a word of advice on this here blog, but today, I’m frustrated with myself. How do you do it? How do you enforce a novel deadline on yourself? I know it’s as simple as picking a manageable date and sticking to a schedule. But I want to know, how do you do it?

The Short Story-Novel Balance

The title of this post would imply that I’m able to balance both short story writing and novel writing at the same time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. New short story ideas are so bright and shiny, I must write them RIGHT NOW! Of course, that puts my novel on hold and prevents me from achieving my long-term goals. Cue the sound of my depression creeping back…

So, now that I’ve wrapped up a short story for an anthology, no more bright and new short stories for me. Nope. I’m done. If I get an idea, I’m jotting it down or making a brief outline but THAT’S IT until my novel draft is done.

You know I started this novel for NaNoWriMo last year? Yeah. Pretty sad. And I just now reached 64k. Granted, I had to backtrack and dump about 30k a few months ago to add a new POV character, but still. I can’t help but think, “I should be done with this by now,” every time I open up Scrivener to write.

Alas, it won’t get done unless I, to quote a certain captain, “Make it so.” That’s why I’m putting a moratorium on new short stories and even revisions of drafts I’ve already written. Apparently, I can’t be trusted with working on multiple creative projects.

I’d like to have the novel draft done by November 27. If I write 1,000 words a day from now until then, I should reach 100k. I might not need all of those words, but I’d like to allot for them anyway. Once the draft is completed, I’ll worry about revising the handful of short stories I have sitting on my hard drive as drafts at the moment, maybe pen a new short or two, then dive into structural and plot revisions. I hope I can clear plot problems up in one go and then tackle the details, but there’s no way of knowing until I start.

In other words, I’m getting serious, yo!

I Dismembered My Novel

It’s a graphic truth, but I just ripped apart my novel. Not that little pruning one does when trying to save that golden prose or avoid the hard truth about scenes that don’t work. No, I’m talking about cutting off its arms and legs, slitting its belly and letting the guts drop out.

The draft was at about 60k and I just cut it back to 37k. Ouch. Big time, ouch.

Why on earth did I do this? Well, I discovered having just one POV character throughout a whole book was limiting. There were all sorts of scenes I wanted the reader to see that the main character just couldn’t be there to witness. So now, one of the supporting character is a POV character, the action is split between them, and I’m finding all new opportunities to slip in fun scenes that would have never made it in the book in its original incarnation. Like a moment where a woman ponders the finer art of burning down a building. And another where my main character witnesses a bizarre ritual complete with glow-y symbols, made-up chants, and puppetmastery.

Now, I’m just wondering how you query a book with two main characters? Pick one? Eek! I have research to do eventually. But for now, I must write and flesh out this story that I’ve been working on entirely too long.

Hey, maybe I can finish it, revise it, and start querying before the end of the year? Is that asking too much?

A Novel Break and Hitting the Halfway Point

I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend. Mine was spent hanging out with family, eating copious amounts of food, and watching people get drunk. It’s hilarious until it’s awkward.

I’m finally getting back into my novel WIP and it’s starting to fly. I’ve hit the middle–or what I wanted to be the middle–at 40k. I had to reread everything I wrote so far to get back in writing mode and to reacquaint myself with the style and tone. There are many, many rough spots, so I jotted down some notes for future reference. Revision Me will be displeased, but Draft Me is happy because under all the flaws and incoherent thoughts and poor transitions, there’s a real bonafide story in there.

Though I did stop working on the WIP at about the halfway point six months ago, it’s sort of energizing now because it’s all downhill from here. The draft is halfway done already. And the upcoming chapters are some of the most exciting. In fact, the scene I’m working on right now is a major part of the inspiration for this novel. I know every day won’t be as great as this in terms of enthusiasm towards new words, but I’m sure going to embrace them when they come.

My only concern is that my novel will be too short. If it keeps up at the current pace, it might only be about 60k, which is a bit too short for sci-fi. But who knows, maybe another subplot will present itself. I know of a few spots in the beginning of the novel that need bulking up, so maybe I’m worried about nothing.

What I’m curious about is how you all work with word counts? I know each genre has specific requirements. Is it instinctive finding the right length for your story or do you have to perform much fiddling to get it expanded or whittled down to just the right word count?