Sometimes I Forget (NaNoWriMo 2018, #2)

The second week of NaNoWriMo is over and I am still running a couple thousand underneath the word count goal (but hey, at least I’m consistent). For the first several years when I did NaNoWriMo (this was over ten years ago), it felt like a personal failure when I couldn’t make word count. Now, well, I’m much more sanguine about the whole thing. As the title of this post suggests, sometimes I forget it’s NaNo–I’m just writing every day, and that’s great.

To me, NaNoWriMo is kind of like what writing is like normally. (Okay, it’s a little more intense, but not a lot more intense.) See, for me, when I’m being productive, writing is about goal setting. It’s about looking at a novel or a story and determining how much has to exist for the story to be complete. It’s about being productive when I can and giving myself grace when I can’t. Or, as is more often the case, when I procrastinate and forget and just don’t get it done (even though I could have).

This NaNo, I’m behind word count. In previous years, including just two years ago, when this happened, I often stopped. Two years I was behind word count consistently for the first seven days. I stopped writing on Day 8. I still think about that story sometimes. I find that I don’t mind being behind word count because I’m still generating. Since I’m writing short stories, I will cut something off, maybe before it needs to be cut off, because I’m not enjoying writing it and because it’s not coming easily. I then move on to something else that comes easier, instead of sticking where I’m not making progress. Continue reading

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Just Fine So Far (NaNoWriMo 2018, #1)

It is November 11th at about 10:30 in the morning as I write this, which means the first week of NaNoWriMo has been over for a few days and I am just now thinking about writing about how it’s going.

The post title sort of sums it up. It’s going just fine. Not spectacular, not poorly, just fine. I am below word count, but I have written every day since the beginning of the month, which is more than I can say for most of the months leading up to this one.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in one month. (More strictly, it’s to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November.) I have been a NaNo Rebel since last year, being one of the many people who aim for the word count, but work on a project that is not a new novel.

Last year, I wrote a series of short stories, including micro and flash fiction. It was rewarding for me to be able to generate a large number of complete fictions within the span of a month, and, at the end of it, there were between 5 and 10 that I thought had good enough bones and enough promise that they were worth revising to submit to market. Continue reading

Book Review: Starshine by G. S. Jennsen

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: The year is 2322. Humanity has expanded into the stars, inhabiting over 100 worlds across a third of the galaxy. Though thriving as never before, they have discovered neither alien life nor the key to utopia. Earth struggles to retain authority over far-flung planets and free-wheeling corporations while an uneasy armistice with a breakaway federation hangs by a thread as the former rebels rise in wealth and power.
Alexis Solovy is Earth Alliance royalty, her father a fallen war hero and her mother an influential military leader. But she seeks only the freedom of space and has made a fortune by reading the patterns in the chaos to discover the hidden wonders of the stars.
Nothing about her latest objective suggests the secret it conceals will turn her life— not to mention the entire galaxy—upside down. But a chance encounter with a mysterious spy leads to a discovery which will thrust Alex into the middle of a galactic power struggle and a sinister conspiracy, whether she likes it or not. (Goodreads)

Review: I knew within a few chapters I was going to enjoy this book. Sometimes I can tell, though it usually takes longer than it did for Starshine.

Starshine is a masterful weave of perspectives and narratives that chronicles, in essence, the last throes of peace in the galaxy, as various persons work against the uneasy treaty between the Earth Alliance and the Senecan Federation, from both inside and out.

The story starts immediately with a prologue I found myself returning to about 2/3 of the way through the novel, refreshing the details in my mind as the web of intrigue grew more entangled. I relished being able to tease out some of what was happening and never did I feel the author was underestimating me and being ham-handed with the hints she wove throughout.

While there are two main characters (Alex Solovy, the protagonist named in the blurb and the ‘mysterious spy’ also mentioned in the blurb), there are a number of point of view characters who play both small and large rolls. At first the number of POVs was jarring, because I hadn’t looked at how long the book was. Once I realized the length of the narrative–and the more I read–the more the POVs added additional richness to the web. At first I saw only the foundation strands, but the author gradually teased out more and more and I began to see the whole web, just as it began to unravel.

Congratulations, G.S. Jennsen, on a well-plotted novel and for characters I believe (and whom, in some cases I believe in and whom, in other cases I believe against). I didn’t realize how long this book was when I started it (and, as I was on vacation I almost moved on to something different), but I’m glad I took the plunge. Finding out late in the work that it is the first book in a trilogy that is the first in a trilogy of trilogies astonished me (how do you plot it all?). I am eager to read the next book and engage further with this universe.

Spoiler-type Warning: Sometimes when I read a book or watch a movie, I get a tightening in my stomach when something bad happens to a character I like (e.g. the hobbits get captured by Faramir in Lord of the Rings–a good example because by brain knows it works out but my gut goes no!) and I got that feeling in this book. So, good job, G.S. Jennsen. My gut cared for Caleb enough half-way through the narrative that it twisted.

The Writing Reset Button

The title for this blog post came out of nowhere, but now I worry it seems like I’m talking about some sort of button that will just reset your writing (i.e. delete it) and that’s terrifying, and I am totally not talking about that.

I’m talking about vacation. Mental, physical, emotional, whatever. A vacation from normal life such that you can sort of evaluate that life without being currently inside it.

That’s what I’m doing right now.

I’ve been fortunate enough to return to the city that I think of as home, where the people I think of as home live, and just, kind of pretend I live here for a week and a half.

It’s been fantastic.

I haven’t really thought about work (except now, calling the head of my department last night when I realized I wasn’t going to be back in the office for three more days, when I was on a walk and saw a street with the same name as a lender, and this morning when I had to redo my out-of-office email), which has been fantastic.

I haven’t written every spare moment, because, frankly, that’s absurd, but I have prioritized writing more than I do in my normal life. Several days I have taken to walk somewhere, written for an hour or so (in 30 minute chunks alternating with internet-browsing and reading), then walked somewhere else for lunch and more reading. When I come back to where I’m staying (my friends’ abodes), I read, play a little bit on my phone, and write.

In twelve days of vacation I have written over 13,000 words, which is just over 1,000 words a day. Far better than the preceding month where I wrote a grand total of about 3,000 words in 30 days. I got back into a story I hadn’t touched in a few months, and have more of a direction to where it’s going (as this story sort of developed on its own, this is a weird feeling and a necessary one at the stage the story is in).

I haven’t just written, I’ve thought about writing. It hasn’t been last thing at night thinking about writing, as in guiltily before I shut down Netflix or Youtube and crawl in bed. It’s been near the front of my thoughts, which is precisely what I was hoping for.

I thought I would be back where I live and back at work today, but [cue story about flight delay, subsequent cancellation, waiting to re-book, etc.] Long story short, my vacation has been extended by three days (effectively), so I am doing my best to use this time to my full advantage. That means, for me at least, more writing, more reading, and more looking forward to writing. Today has been an especially productive day (see, you get a blog post!), and that’s great.

The thing that remains to be done is to get back home in a few days, and see if I can maintain it. I don’t expect to write as much when I’m back to working full-time and not on vacation, but I hope to keep writing forefront. It’s about prioritization, something I hope to get better at, and something I hope this vacation has helped me with.

How do you ‘reset’ when it comes to your writing or productivity? I’d love to hear!

Moving Forward?

I am not very qualified to discuss how one moves forward with writing when it is challenging, or discouraging, or when life is overwhelming. I say this because I’ve been stuck (read: not writing) for quite a few weeks now.

When this happens, I try to look around in my life and pinpoint what is holding me up, what is keeping me from writing.

Work has been busy. The past month of work has been a lot, just in general. A big project I’ve been working on for over a year and a half (shortly after I started this job) culminated last week. I spent a lot of time at work, a lot of time thinking about work, a lot of time dreaming about work. When I wasn’t at work, I was being unproductive in a stressed out way. I didn’t really cook food and when I ran out of leftovers from what I’d cooked the week before, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and dinner until I finally cooked again.

I’ve also been submitting stories to markets (I have three that are ready, or at least that I think are ready), and got three rejections in about a week and a half. It’s discouraging, and it’s easy to start wondering whether it’s worth it.  I have thirteen submissions and eleven rejections (two I’m waiting to hearing from still). It’s not a lot, and I just started sending work out this year, so it’s not a lot at all (nothing close to the 100 Rejections goal). I’m still not in very good head-space when it comes to rejections though, so as they accrue, I find myself avoiding writing more and more.

Now comes the challenge. Acknowledging these factors, what can I do about them? Or, more accurately, what do I do about them?

I can’t assume everything will shape up once I’m not as stressed at work. That’s foolish. That means I have to do something, that I have to take an active role in making sure I write. The trouble is I’ve never been very good at that.

I have vacation coming up later this week, when I will not be at work. I tell myself I’ll use the time to write, and I hope I do. I’ll try to remember to let you know how that goes.

 

An Unexpected Hiatus

Sometimes life is unexpected. Sometimes the unexpected throws wrenches into your steadily progressing plans.

You see, at the end of February, my internet went down. After about a month and switching services, I had internet again. That’s the very short story. This was mid-late March. Of course, during that time I couldn’t submit anything to market, so somehow my little brain convinced me not to edit anything I was planning on sending to a market.

I told myself I would get back into blogging here, which obviously didn’t happen. What else happened while my internet was down was that I started working in a new story (flauting all my carefully laid plans to work on other things this year). It was exciting and I worked on this new idea everyday.

Then I got sick in the beginning of April, which threw another wrench into my life, a wrench I’m still recovering from. If there was just the first, life would have progressed as normal, but that’s not how it happened. Instead, I got vertigo.

For those of you who haven’t had vertigo, I don’t recommend it. Not that there’s really anything you can do to stop it from happening as its fairly common, and, as mine was, has no definite cause. My inner ear decided to just stop doing its job.

As a result, I was out of work for a week. I was committed to my bed for about five days. Three of those days i could open my eyes without the world spinning around me, even when I wasn’t moving. I didn’t write for about two weeks, and this was after almost a month of writing nearly every day.

I feel like I’ve lost the thread of the story I started while my internet was down, in addition to losing my blogging streak, my editing gumption, and my submission fire. I have to get back into writing (and blogging), but I’m not quite sure how.

That’s all for now. I’m still here, quieter than January, but louder than March.

Writing Progress Report – 2/15/2018

I suppose the thing about blogging is consistency, which I don’t have. One of my plans for this weekend is to work up a schedule for myself and draft some posts for later. Since I am currently writing everything and then posting it the same day, I think setting myself up for success includes pre-writing some blog posts.

Anyway, in terms of goals for this month, I’ve done okay so far.

Continue reading

January Reads

I read a fair amount (I won’t say a lot). Eventually I’d like to start posting book reviews, but I don’t usually write book reviews. I do rate books, so that’s what I’m going to post. Just monthly summaries of what I’ve read. And maybe eventually I’ll write reviews.

Books Read (or Finished)

Books Reading (started–or continued–but not finished)

February 2018 Writing Goals

It’s a new month, which means new goals and a new goal post!

This month I’m still working on “Necromancy for Beginners” (it’s with my critique partners now) and I’m starting to work on both the novel I want to finish drafting this year, Amy Zero: Agent for Heroes, along with a flash fiction story, tentatively titled “Devil’s Advocate,” and a short story I’m just calling “Holofax: Space Pirate,” mostly so I have something to call it.
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Writing Progress Report – 1/29/2018

A little later than anticipated I have another update to my writing goals. I’ve been busy being distracted by Critical Role (it’s such a wonderful show, but there is so much of it and I really need to ration my watching), and also by trying to figure out how I’m going to reach my goals this year.

Goal: January 13-19: Final edits on “The Thick of It”; begin revision of “Necromancy for Beginners”; Submit “The Thick of It” to the first market by January 19th. Continue reading