Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why I Write

Blog posts have been scarce of late, but not as scarce as words on the page. It seems like there is a mental dam that is blocking any attempt at writing. I've tried to bust it, I've tried to not care about it, but it doesn't seem to work. I thought getting some betas for my close-to-done work would help, but I haven't heard back from them yet and it feels like a thin excuse to not be working on something else. (And although I am impatient to hear back, I am grateful that I've found people to read it at all and, as long as I haven't heard from them, I can assume they have nothing but good things to say!)

So why am I bothering, then? It isn't likely I'll ever make a living as an author. There are a thousand other, easier things I can do with my free time. I won't change the world or probably even a single person.

But today reminded me. I woke up and wasn't in the mood to get up (ah, weekends!), so I popped open the book I was reading (The Magician King by Lev Grossman) and proceeded to finish the book. It took over 3 hours, but the time flew by. It hardly seemed to matter. I didn't check my phone once to see if my ex had messaged me. I didn't feel the need to look at my facebook or Twitter or the message board I frequent. I was totally immersed, and after the last click (yes, I am a devout Kindle user) I just lay there staring at the ceiling. I felt too good to move. I had that precious feeling of being ensconced in another place, the trivialities and problems of my life irrelevant. I love that feeling. I used to get it all the time, when I had both more time to read and less ability to distinguish shoddy writing. It is rarer these days, but just as awesome as it used to be.

And I want to give people that feeling. I want people to close the cover on one of my books and sigh, and sit there or lay there for just a few moments. I want them to feel my work linger on even when the cover is closed (or the screen is turned off). I want them to shed a tear or two for the troubles of my characters. I want to immerse them in my worlds and help them cope with their own.

I don't know if I'll ever get to that point. It may be entirely out of my reach. But dammit, I am going to keep trying!

Monday, October 17, 2011

More Disappointment

So much for knuckling down. I had a small burst of productivity (2 days) and then nothing.In my defense, I've had some personal issues that have totally derailed my attention for anything. Not to get into to too much detail--this is my writing blog, after all--but my boyfriend broke up with me for legitimate reasons outside our control. We still both have strong feelings for each other and it has been quite the struggle to get myself to even focus on work, so writing was basically out of the question. I hate to use the "tortured artist" stereotype, but isn't it true that so many of us seem to feel things so strongly? I sure do, anyway.

But I am really determined to move on with my life, including my writing, so here I am promising more writing yet again. This time, however, I have a better plan than "just force it," which never works for me. I realized it was really sapping my creative energy to try to come up with new story ideas (I suck at plotting, I confess), make an outline, and then get 10k or 2k words into a draft and fizzle out.

So I decided I need to focus on the work I have that is complete and, hopefully, has publishable potential. Time to bare my poor little writer's ego to some barbs. I solicited some betas from an online forum I frequent, and the good folks there were quick to help me out. Now I have 3 different people currently reading it, and I am looking forward to getting their feedback and wrestling with the third draft.

I really think that after this draft I can seriously start shopping this one. I've put out a few feelers already, but it was more to force myself out of my comfort zone and get more familiar with the process than any real idea that it was ready. (Perhaps a poor idea on my part, as it has narrowed my submission options now, but it was made and done.)

I make no promises, since I break them so easily when it comes to writing goals, but I feel good about re-visiting Novel 1 instead of trying to come up with another one at the moment.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Knuckling Down

I have been avoiding posting for the mere fact that I am embarrassed. Embarrassed at how little I have been able to accomplish. Ashamed of my lack of creativity and drive. Seriously considering never writing again.

Yes, I wrote that right. Over the past few months I have contemplated giving up something I have been working towards for literally as long as I can remember.

Thankfully, the muse has prevailed! Or rather, she might.

I am through my writer's block enough to the point that I think I can force myself to write. That sounds unpleasant, but it is infinitely better than the crippling writer's block where I can't even think about doing that!

So starting today (soon!), my "writing hour" is at 6 PM. I will turn off my internet, shut the door to my office, and pull up a word document. I haven't finished plotting out the piece I want to start, but that's okay. Start with a scene. Any scene. Anything at all. For an hour. 5 times a week at least.

Ready, set, go!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Little Steps

I am trying to chip away at this mean old case of writer's block I've got going on. It's just not feasible to say "Alright, I'm powering through and going to write X number of words every day!" Because my mind shuts down, I don't write anything, and every passing day I get more and more discouraged.

So for now I'm just trying to think about writing every day. This sounds incredibly lame--okay, it is incredibly lame. But it's working! I've been pondering a new world for just about 5 minutes every day for the past week, and I'm finally feeling the beginnings of the stirrings of inspiration way in the back of my mind.


Now I am printing out a beat sheet and going to start a skeleton plot structure. That's all. Not going to pressure myself into starting any writing, or any real character creation or in-depth world building. Just a basic plot, and we'll see what comes after that.

It's not much, but I'll take anything at this point.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An Unexpected Inverse Relationship

Obviously I have been struggling a lot with my writing lately. Writer's block is painful for a whole host of reasons. I think the worst is the doubts that creep in--why am I doing this? Can I do this? Why should I do this if I am going months without writing? But at the same time, not writing sucks. I want to be writing, even when I am having strong aversions to actually writing.

So the natural thing to do is try to examine the root cause of the writer's block. In my case, this is something that comes and goes without rhyme or reason. In this instance I can probably pin it down to the upheaval of my personal life--moving across the country, starting a new job, getting divorced, struggling to define what I really want in life. But that's not very helpful as I can't exactly change any of those things. So I find myself pondering a connection that I have previously noted on many occasions.

The more I exercise, the less I write.

It makes no sense. It's not an issue of time management. For the past couple months I've had nothing but time, to the point where I manage to spend a surprising amount of time lying on the couch staring at the wall. So if I'm not sacrificing my writing time to work out, why do the two affect each other so much?

I can only postulate that they both somehow serve a similar purpose for me mentally. When you're out on a 4 mile run, there is plenty of time to think. To relax, let your stress melt away. And then you don't need to pour your stress into a fantastical adventure in far off lands. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I first noticed this trend in college and have seen it play out many times before.

In fact, I've been thinking about writing this post for 2 weeks, and I am sitting here finally writing it only after skipping my work out yesterday and not having worked out since Thursday. (A connection I didn't even notice until I had already started writing the post.)

So what to do about it? I love to exercise. I want to stay healthy, and I really enjoy it. But I love to write. I want to leave my mark on the world in the form of the written word.

I wish I had an answer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

May 2011 Wrap-Up

I don't even know if it is worth it to post a monthly recap. It can be summed up in this: nothing.

I would post something optimistic about June, but my heart wouldn't be in it. At this point, I just hope I can get any words.

Words written: 988.

Yup. Less than 1k words in an entire month during which I wasn't even working. I fail. I feel really pessimistic about my writing future right now.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

April 2011 Wrap-Up

Well, April didn't turn out quite like I was expecting. I had oodles of freetime, there were times when I literally spent an hour lying in bed staring at the ceiling. And yet still--no words. No nothing.

Guess going through a separation (and soon divorce) doesn't encourage those creative juices! So my total was dismal. I think that Novel 4 is done-for. It's excruciating to write, I think it's coming out boring and affected, and I haven't got any excitement to even finish it. I won't think of it as a waste of 17k words, though! I like to think that I've learned and improved from it.

On the bright side, I dug back into Novel 1, and I still think it has promise! Want to finish this overhaul and then will be querying seriously.

Words written: 2,008.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Blast From the Past

I just found an old school assignment in one of my "memory" boxes filled with odds and ends. We had to write our own obituaries--I believe it was in 6th or 7th grade. It's so funny to remember what a little silly I was, and to see how some things never change! I didn't fix any of the errors, and I just wish I could make the font show the sparkly, blue gel pen it was written with!

Nora Bailey: Author of our age

Nora Anne Bailey was born on September 7, 1987 in Madison, WI. At 7 years of age she moved to Decorah, IA where she attended elementary, middle, and high school. In 2006 [apparently I didn't do my math very well, because I was a class of 2005 grad!] she moved to Massachussetts to attended Harvard University.

After four years at Harvard, Nora began to pursue her lifelong goal: to become an author. Her first book is called Down to the Meadow and is a delightful book. After its publication, she churned out many more favorites such as: Devestation on Pine Street, Dettenburg is Dead, Living at Pine Grove [I had a thing for pine, I guess?], and Last Call for Honor. By 2014, Nora had become a well known and well loved author. She lived in the suburbs of Chicago, IL with her two cats, Literature and Creativity [puke, I'm sorry, fictional cats!]. She wrote about one or two novels a year until 2022 when she wrote her most well known book The First Word.

At the age of thirty-seven [I was a little 15 years.] she married [name redacted] and had one child, Chloe [This was before I realized it was an option to not have kids!]. Nora continued to write until the age of 76. She died at the age of 76 on July 27, 2064 in a carplane accident.

She remains one of the world’s most famous author and her books continue to captivate readers of all ages. May she rest in peace.

Ah, naive younger Nora! But still, reminds me that I really don't have any other major dreams in life except being an author, so I probably should get off my ass and get writing!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

March 2011 Wrap-Up

About the only good thing that can be said for March was that it was better than February.

Words written: 4,765.

Then again, I knew this month would be rough with moving and everything. April, on the other hand, should be a treasure trove! Of course, I'm sitting at zero right now--but that is about to change as soon as I finish this blog post!

I will be finishing up my move this week, and then I am going to have bundles of free time. And hopefully the determination to actually use that free time productively! My goal is 15,000 words. That's only 500 a day, so this isn't a big step up in terms of goals for the year, but it will be such a huge improvement over the past few months that I'll be thrilled!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Learning From the Mistakes of Others

If you haven't seen this meltdown by an indie author, I highly encourage you to check it out. (

Perfect example of why people don't always take writers seriously. Truly shocking behavior, I think we can all learn a valuable lesson from this. One, always make sure you are sending out the best possible product. Can you imagine sending a query to an agent and then quickly backpedaling with "Oh no, that was the wrong copy, please read this instead?" I'd imagine that's instant form rejection territory. And two, no matter how precious your work is to you, you can't protect it forever.

Not everyone will like your writing. Or my writing. But on the bright side, we're in good company. There is not a single author in the world that isn't disliked by somebody.

So keep doing your thing, working hard, being professional, and writing for yourself, not everyone else.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Into the ether...

I am in a rage! Well, I'm not a very angry person, so I suppose it's more like my feathers are ruffled. Either way, not happy! I actually felt like writing today, but I thought working on one of my short stories rather than my current WIP would help get the juices flowing. I went to go find it...and it's not saved in my Writing folder.

Then I have the horrible, sinking realization that I wrote the first half on my computer at work. Where I left two weeks ago. So that work is pfffft! Just gone!

It wasn't a lot. Maybe a page and a half of writing. But the idea of going back and re-doing it is more than I can handle! I do have a very, very slim hope that it is on an old USB, but since I don't really know where that USB is (in the middle of moving...), that isn't going to do me much good.

I guess it's back to the drawing board! Grumble...

Friday, March 11, 2011

February 2011 Wrap-Up

I know, I know, I'm way overdue! In my defense, I started deployment a week before the end of February, and although I'm back now (yay for PCS orders), it threw a major wrench in my schedule. Also I went through a huge debacle in my marriage--which, thankfully, seems to be back on track. So maybe now I can get back to writing! Because these totals for February--well, they're shocking.

Words written: 1,486.

Yikes. I know! And so far for March I'm doing even worse. But like I said--life has been throwing me a few curves! I am ready to knuckle down and get some work done. Especially as I have oodles of free time until May.

And on the bright side, I did get a re-read of draft 2 of Novel 1 done, made some notes, and am ready to attack draft 3!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I added a new section on the sidebar for the writing blogs that I like to read. I'm not sure if anyone will ever read this blog or care, but if they do, maybe they can stumble upon stuff that helps them too.

Reading about writing almost always inspires me to get up off my ass and write! TGFWB!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Isn't it the thing we all fear and anticipate? Don't we have such a love-hate relationship with it? Okay, maybe everyone else doesn't, but I sure do!

I told myself I wasn't going to query Novel 1 (still nameless!) until I finished draft 3, but I decided that it couldn't hurt to put out a few feelers now. What if I spend months endlessly polishing and quirking only to discover that an agent would have been interested in January? It's all part of my weird self-perception as a writer. Sometimes I think I suck so bad that I could never be published (sadly reinforced today when I read the Scribophile blog), and other times I think I'm pretty damn good and certainly a couple notches above the other unpublished writers. (Objectively, the former is more probable.)

Anyway, so I decided to send out some queries. I worked on a query letter and synopsis, I trawled the Agent Query website for agents that might be a good fit for my work. I hit "send" and logged it and knew I wouldn't hear back for weeks. To my surprise, I heard back almost immediately from most! (I sent out 5 feelers this time.) They were all form rejections.


Of course that was exactly what I was expecting, but a little part of me was hoping that I'd get some little tidbit to keep my spirits up, to feel like I could someday see my books on the shelf.

Anyway, really am going to finish draft 3 before I try to query again. Doing a readthrough of draft 2 right now, taking notes about things I want to change (on a big-ish scale, like adding new scenes or deepening a recurring theme) and am going to go back and finagle around. Then I can go back and do a line edit for stuff like "Does a comma really belong there?" and "This phrasing is awkward."

In the meantime, I'm still working on draft 1 of Novel 4. Sure, at the end of the year I'll probably have 2 full, unpublished manuscripts and nothing to do with either, but I'm not ready to give up yet!

January 2011 Wrap-Up

A few days late, but oh well!

This month was up and down for me. I did so good for the first half! I wrote at least 500 words almost every day--and the few days I missed were caught up for in the excess of other days. And then I just hit a wall. Two weeks of not a single word written. Between stress at work and at home, it just wasn't happening. I did manage to kick it into gear for the last few days, which meant I only ended up about 3000 words behind goal, but all in all I wouldn't call it a super successful month.

Words written: 11,590

So better hopes for February, of course! Although it's the 5th and I've only written about 450 words so far, I am not going to give up now.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

500 Words A Day Challenge

So today I was looking around for some good writing blogs to follow (reading about writing always gears me up to write), and I stumbled across Inkygirl. The most recent blog entry is about a daily wordcount challenge. And since I had already set myself a 500-per-day goal, there was no reason NOT to make it "official."

Of course, there are no prizes except personal accomplishment, but it is nice to have something to motivate me besides my little writing spreadsheet.

Anyway, more info can be found at Make 2011 the year!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Year in Review: 2010

Today I'm not just looking at a month wrap-up, but a whole year! And what a year it's been. From deciding to start writing again, to finishing the rough draft of Novel 1, to finishing the second draft of Novel 1, to getting ideas for Novels 4 and 5 (actually "Novel" 5 should be more properly called Series 1...), to even starting a hesitant step on the path to querydom (a truly terrifying place). I wrote more than I really considered possible. I don't have a total count, but it was probably about 100k between various drafts and projects. That may not sound like a lot, but it was.

It's good to end the year on a high note. It gives me hope for the new year stretching gloriously in front of me. I have a rather long absence coming up (6-7 weeks), and while I am still dreading it, I am also excited to use it as an intense productivity time. I'm full of ideas and words and characters that are just dying to get onto a page--the best part of writing!

So my goals for 2011 are to finish the third draft of Novel 1, which will get me to a queryable draft (still waiting on my beta to finish draft 2), finish at least one draft of Novel 4, and either draft 2 of Novel 4 or draft 1 of Novel 5. So yes, I have set for myself a goal of finishing THREE drafts. Sounds daunting when I phrase it like that, but I know that with little steps and chapters here and there, it won't be that bad. It's so doable!

As far as word count, I've set the bar at 180,000. I haven't really done the math if that will encompass all the drafts I want to do, but it seems a reasonable goal of about 500 words a day.

And so far I am ahead of schedule! So here's hoping that I can keep going full steam ahead through whatever trials, tribulations, and joys the new year will bring!