Tag Archives: Writing

A Small, Mental Quandary

Writing this latest book has been….really different, especially from the last one I just finished a few weeks ago. Before, I was hitting every word count goal I made each day and usually surpassing it, averaging between 2,000 and 3,000 words each day. Sure, I had the harrowing experience of knowing exactly what was wrong with the book and exactly what I need to change about it the entire time of writing it, but I still made really good progress and was particularly excited about the ending chapters, giving me hope for the entire book as a whole.

This book, I’m struggling to meet the bare minimum word count every day. I do. I push myself and make sure I make it and sometimes go a couple hundred words over, but it’s not nearly as impressive as how I wrote the second book in the Artemis quintet.

I’m not exactly sure how to read that, if I need to read into it at all.

Part of me fears that this book is just horrible and everything is wrong with it (beyond the usual happenings of a shitty first draft) and that’s why I’m struggling to write it. Another part of me wonders that, because I’ve increased my writing output so much this year, writing five to six times a week on a consistent basis since February, if I’m not potentially burning out (though I really don’t feel that is the case, in my gut).

But mostly, I’m not sure why I’m not cranking out the word count left and right with this one.

Don’t get me wrong: a thousand words a day is nothing short to balk at. And I do think the pace might increase once I get my characters out of this maze and into the next hurdle they have to endure–that one, I know is going to be really fun to write and explore. I recognize that, though I also can’t help but get hung up on the fact that I’m not writing as quickly as I usually do.

Honestly, I’m probably just overthinking the fact that I’m writing less and comparing myself too much to other writers, authors and even my own past works. I don’t want to give up on this novel (again). And I have no intentions to, because I know I can make this story something really special. I think, instead of focusing so much on how much I’m writing or how quickly I’m writing, I just need to be happy that I’m finding time every day to write and I’m making progress on this novel and am still well on pace to finishing a draft by the end of June. Once I get a draft written and can look at all the flaws together, then I can decide if this is a book worth editing or a story I truly need to give up on.

But not before. Not with this book.

Cheers.

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A Pointless Fear

I started writing the first draft* of a fantasy standalone novel called BLOOD PRICE last week. I’m pretty excited about it’s progress, considering I have 20,000 solid words down that, once upon a time, I thought were complete rubbish, and still over two months to get the rest of the words written, so I’m pretty ahead in my writing game at the moment. I’m really excited about the idea. Though I’m not sure if it’s the most original idea I’ve ever had, I do think it has a nice blend of originality and marketability that gives this idea a lot of promise; so much so–in my mind, anyway–that I’m actually really excited to get this book written, edited, beta read and then edited again, so I can actually send it out into the trenches and see how it does.

A foolish, brave part of me believes, on my good days, that this idea, this book, will be the one that helps me find an agent to partner up with me during my career.

It’s a really promising thought and helps keep me going during those days where I feel like everything I write is shit and I’m not ever going to go anywhere.

And yet, I find myself having another thread of thoughts which have the exact opposite effect: inspiring fear and worry where, honestly, I shouldn’t be feeling them.

I’m an aspiring author, but a definite writer. There’s no doubt that I have the chops to be a writer. I’m writing the first draft of my seventh book. Of course I’m a writer. Now, am I good enough writer to actually get anything that I write published? That remains to be seen. It’s probably not surprising, though, that I daydream about becoming an author all of the time. All the time. With the confidence I feel at the promise of this novel, it’s impossible not to continue dreaming about getting an agent because of this novel and then this novel getting published. But, of course, I don’t stop thinking there and I start thinking about my career as an author, finally getting started after over a decade of chasing it.

And I grow terrified.

Because, say that does happen. Say I finish this draft, take it through the necessary rounds of edits in order to get it up to snuff and query it. I get an agent. It gets published. But even before then, while my book is on submission, my agent asks me question. A simple one, but one that, in this made up, fantasy scenario, has me terrified.

What are you writing next?

At this moment in time, I have no idea how I would answer that.

I have a trilogy that I know will never get published traditionally, because everything about it is saturated for the traditional market. I have a quintet where I have the first book written and polished, the second book drafted and the other three I still need to outline, let alone write. It’s a series I plan to write to completion, even though it has been rejected before due to marketability concerns. So, even after getting an agent, it may not be the project they want my main focus to be, as I’ll probably do the hybrid author thing and self-publish that series. I have an idea for a sci-fi duology that is pretty rough and I’m not sure I can even make it good enough to actually write it.

Other than that, I have no other ideas floating around in my head.

In my made-up scenario, I’d have to answer with, Nothing, at the moment, which then, of course, results in me being a one-book-author who is dropped by their agent and oops, there goes the dream you’ve always wanted.

I hope you’re laughing, at this point. Or at least shaking your head.

Because, wow, Nicole, can you overthink any more?

There’s a lot of problems with that fear. One, there is so much, “if this, then that,” going on, that almost all of it is pointless to worry about, because there are too many unknowns within the scenario to really concern myself with, especially considering the first step to jumpstart any of this being possible, is a book that doesn’t even have a finished first draft yet. But the underlying fear is that I’ll somehow stop coming up with ideas and stories to write about.

*snorts*

I know, right?

When that fear takes me fully, I almost believe that’s even possible, even when I already have evidence stacked against that. Most noteable: the fact that I am currently working on my seventh book since I started writing seriously, at 15. Seven books in 10 years isn’t too shabby, if I do say so myself. And when I first started this journey, I couldn’t imagine completing that first draft of my first book, let alone the entire trilogy. The quintet I was working on wasn’t even a thought. Neither was the sci-fi I shelved or the book I’m working on now, that I’m seriously so jazzed about. Not to mention the fact that, last year, I joined a short story blog project that has resulted in, already, 12 short stories from yours truly. I write a new one every month; something I never thought I could do, yet here I am, writing at least 12 short stories a year. All of those come from prompts, but there are at least two that I wouldn’t mind thinking about a little bit more and trying to see if I can coax a novel out of them.

And you’re telling me, brain, that you’re nervous that I’m going to run out of ideas once my career “officially” starts, even though I’ve been at it for ten years, already?

Brain, hush.

I’m just getting started.

Cheers.

* I’ve mentioned this a couple of times, but this draft is technically the third, if you count the first time I tried to write it and then I deleted that draft and started over, before shelving the book. So no, I didn’t write over 20,000 new words in one week, I’m sorry to report. But it’s tiring to continue referencing this as the book I shelved but I’m now working on again, so first draft it is!


Looking At It Differently

So, I read a thread on Twitter the other day from author C.L. Polk. It discussed the delicate balance of readers interacting with the authors they admire; about how a reader saying, “I can’t wait for your next book,” could actually have negative consequences. Sorta like the same consequences a reader can inflict when they begin to guilt trip an author through social media, especially when they say things like, “Why aren’t you writing!?” in a comment after an author tweets about their latest enter-any-other-aspect-about-life-that-isn’t-writing here.

It’s a point of view I’ve never really considered.

Not the guilt tripping one.

The “I can’t wait for your next book” one.

I’ve been pretty lucky to interact with quite a few of my favorite authors. I met a few at WorldCon a couple of years ago. Especially ever since I started my book review blog, I’ve definitely interacted with authors online more, usually on Twitter. Some really awesome conversations have come out of that. I won’t lie: I get pretty starstruck whenever I’m able to talk to an author who I admire, virtually or otherwise. I’ve said some pretty embarrassing things before, as one is apt to do, when talking with an idol. (Gosh, you can imagine if I’d had the opportunity to meet Tolkien? I’m pretty sure he’d have to learn another language, just to try and understand my fangirling ((not that learning another one would be an issue for him, but you get where I’m coming from))).

That said, I never considered how me talking with an author and saying something like, “I loved your book! I can’t wait for the next one!” might not be seen as encouraging, like my intentions are.

It could actually be just as guilt tripping as someone who blatantly calls out an author for not spending every moment of their life writing, but instead, actually having a life, as well.

I put myself in the role of the author, thinking of Polk’s examples and discussion in her thread. Here I am, having written a book that some people enjoy. Sometimes, they reach out to me and tell me so. But instead of getting elated that they are excited for the next book, I instead feel guilty. Because I haven’t been having a great writing week. Or the deadline is looming and I’m probably going to miss it. Or I’ve been spending a lot of time playing X new favorite video game instead of going over my word count goals for the week. Or I’ve been spending more time with my family than usual, instead of writing. Or I’ve suffering heavily through imposter syndrome. Suddenly, I feel this enormous pressure to not only live up to these new expectations, but also this fear that I’m going to disappoint my readers, because not only do they like my work, but they are waiting for more. Right now.

Thinking of it this way, even though I’m nowhere near close to being published, I can totally see myself doing this; reacting this way.

I think it’s really easy to not think of authors as people but instead see them as celebrities, putting them on pedestals where we idolize their creative prowess, and thus forgetting that they have needs, lives and wants beyond writing the next book we’re waiting for. And they should. They’re people. They’re human. They deserve to have lives, too, and not be guilt tripped as such. And to not be afraid to talk about those other aspects on social media, lest their readers moan about how the sequel isn’t out yet.

I do admit, however, that, depending on the day and my mood, hearing a reader tell me they are excited for my next book to come out would be a huge mood lifter. Perhaps I just read a negative review and it’s encouraging to know someone out there still wants to read more of my work. Or that comment was just the kick in the pants I needed to stop wasting time on Twitter and instead get back to writing.

I can see it both ways, now. Before, I’d never considered how that could be negative and harmful comment, despite the purest intentions. It’s something I’m going to be more conscious of, even though I have no idea how these authors online are feeling at any given moment, so I’m not sure how my comments are going to be received. But I don’t think it hurts to try and be more conscientious, and reminded that just because I intend a comment one way, doesn’t mean it’s always going to be receive in the same manner.

Cheers.


Lying Numbers and Cheating Thoughts

I started writing a new book this week and I’m already 13,000 words in, after two days of working on it.

Before you start cursing my name and wonder what sacrifices I’ve made in order for the Muse to be so kind to me, let me clear something up real quick.

Hardly any of those words are new.

You see, I started working on this novel last year. I actually wrote almost 40,000 words before I ended up shelving it, just not feeling where the novel was going. In my head, I thought the novel was shit.

I’m really excited to report that, after reading through the first six chapters in the past two days, making tweaks here and there, I’m actually completely in love with this book and I’m struggling to figure out what I hated about it so much last time, that got me to the point where I shelved it. I even almost started crying, because I have already put Natanni through so much shit and I’ve only gone through the first 10,000 words.

I really hope this feeling continues, because at this rate, I’m going to reach the point where I got stuck last time by early next week, if not the end of this week, and I’m nervous that I’m going to get stuck again. But I’m so in love with the project right now and I want to finish this draft so badly, I think my stubbornness will win out and I’ll have a completed draft by June.

If, you know, I stop beating myself up, first.

You see, I use WriteTrack to track my progress and I made a plan to start yesterday and finish by June 31st. Following that plan, writing Sundays through Thursdays, I had to write roughly 1,400 words a day to meet my (minimum) word count goal of 80,000 by the 31st of June. I assumed, based off the memories and feelings I had, that I was going to scrap most of the draft that I’d shelved. I wasn’t expecting to like the first six chapters, i.e., 13,000 words.

So right now, it looks like I’ve written 13,000 words in the span of two days, rocketing past my daily word goal counts, already 1/8th of the way done.

And I feel like I’m cheating.

I know, I know.

That’s stupid.

I’m not cheating, even though I didn’t write those words from nothing in the past two days. Instead, I’m discovering the words I thought were shit before actually deserve to stay–for the first draft, anyway. I’m sure there will be some intense editing and fine-tuning in future drafts, so some, if not a lot, of the words I’m in love with now might disappear. But just because I actually like what I wrote before and plan on saving it doesn’t mean that I’m cheating in counting both of those days as successful word count goal days. I’m still working on this project and I’m just really lucky to have some surprising headway towards my goal of 80,000. And it’ll be nice to look back at all of that really fast progress once I am back to writing for the first time, instead of reading through old material and deciding if it’s good enough to stay or not.

Because once I hit that point, I know I’m not going to be averaging over 10,000 words every two days.

So how about I stop beating myself up and instead get excited about the fact that I’m actually falling in love with this story again, eh?

Cheers.


My Fears Over My Next Book Project

As you might have gathered from reading this post, I’m about to start my second project for the year of 2018. My goal is four completed writing projects for this year, whether that’s writing a first draft of a book or editing a previous project. To do that, I’ve got three months dedicated for each project. The first project was a success, finishing the first draft of my second book in a quintet, with three days to spare. Over the weekend, it was time to decide what I wanted to work on next.

Though I know what I’m going to work on now, it was a struggle.

First was trying to decide whether I wanted to edit or write something new. If I went the editing route, I had a couple of different options. I could edit the first book in my quintet one more time, before querying it more widely. I could edit the first book in the trilogy that I wrote, the first completed series I’ve ever finished–and first book ever written. I know it could use a long of editing, especially since I’ve written five books since then and I like to believe I’ve grown as a writer because of that.

Part of me wanted to go back and start editing my trilogy. Though I’ve moved on to other ideas and projects, a part of me misses those characters and that story. I still want their story told. Yet I was hesitant to start working on it again, as much as I miss it. Because I know it’s something that’s not going to get published–traditionally, at least. There are too many tropes–and the main subverting does not happening until the end of the third book–and it centers around vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters. All saturated markets in traditional publishing. Not so much in self-publishing, however. Even so, working on that trilogy felt like a potential waste of time, almost, with that knowledge in place?

With the first book in Artemis’s series, I only need to do some minimal editing, yet I’m also hesitant about querying it again, based off the feedback I got over my only rejection regarding the plot. I do plan to query it again, but I’m worried the market just isn’t right for it, right now. So part of me wants to wait.

And I also really want to write something new.

Well, new…ish.

You see, even as I debated–so much so, that I asked my boyfriend for advice–I knew what I wanted to work on: my shelved novel from last year, Blood Price. It creates a new mythology about the purpose of periods and I am just so jazzed about the concept. Out of all the ideas I have right now, I think it might be the most unique and, potentially, the strongest contender for helping me find an agent. Obviously, that’s something I’d like to work towards, so, logically, it feels like the novel I should be working on, next. I still wouldn’t be looking at querying this novel until at least early next year, at the earliest, if you count writing the first draft, editing that, a beta reader round and the edits based off that feedback. But I’d really like to work on this novel and actually finish the first draft.

So why did I go through all this back and forth?

Honestly?

I’m scared to write it.

I love the idea. And my main character, Natanni. I don’t know her fully yet, but what I do know is her strength, her unwavering support for her people and her ability to persevere. She inspires me already, without even writing her first story. After I shelved this novel last year, I came up with some new ideas that I’m really excited about and I think this could just be so much fun to write. None of that is what scares me. Although it’s set in a fantasy world, it’s in a tribal setting. As a white woman, I don’t believe I have the knowledge, experience or culture to accurately write about that setting, even if it’s a fantasy tribe. I’m scared to attempt it and completely misrepresent an entire culture.

Yet I still really want to write this story.

So.

Here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to write it. I’m going to do my research, look into the groups of people and tribes who will influence the tribe I am creating within this book. I’m talking about a lot of research. I know a lot of that research will be done after writing the first draft, as well (I do that with most of my books; it just works better for me). And, when I finally get to the point where I’m ready for beta readers, I’ll search for a sensitivity reader, who is from or an descendant of that culture. And I’ll listen to what they have to say and then edit accordingly.

I’m still nervous to write this story, even though the idea originated because I wanted to write about a world where periods weren’t taboo or shameful, but instead talked about openly and even played an integral role into society. As a woman, I know I’m completely and totally qualified to write that narrative. But as the outline and the story has evolved, now it incorporates major elements, like tribal culture, where I am in no way qualified to write about that. So I’m going to do everything in my power to write the tribes of my story with that awareness in mind and do my best to learn about a culture that I don’t share, but want to write about it as well as I can, especially as an outsider.

And if turns out that isn’t something I can do? That this story, after everything, needs to be shelved, because I cannot write about that culture without my privileges and prejudices tainting it?

Then so be it.

But for now? I’m going to chase it and see if I can do this story that won’t stop bothering me justice.

Cheers.


Book Six: Or, Perhaps My Most Important Book to Date

Last night, I finished writing another book.

*panic flails*

*throws confetti*

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It’s my sixth ever completed book, which is mind blowing to me in its own right. It’s the second book in a quintet I plan on writing. And though this might seem like a silly claim, at this moment right now, I think it’s the most important book I’ve written to date.

Here’s why.

It’s the first draft I’ve actually been able to finish of a new book in over a year. I went on a crazy writing spree in 2016, writing three and a half books (finished the second and then the entire third book of a trilogy, a standalone and then the first book of this series). I killed it that year. Then, last year, I tried to rewrite the standalone, after realizing that the first attempt completely sucked, and then also attempted a brand new novel, shelving both of them after roughly 50 pages. I didn’t finish anything new last year. I was actually getting worried that I couldn’t, that I’d somehow lost the ability to complete a new novel.

So finishing this draft at 84,000 words and 165 pages?

Yeah, that felt damn good.

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Two, it was really neat to write the sequel to something again. After the trilogy, I haven’t tried to write another series, so that was really fun. It’s a very different experience, writing a sequel compared to writing the first book or a standalone. I’m not sure which I prefer, but it was really neat to continue Artemis’s story and see what challenges he had to deal with in this second story.

(Spoiler alert: he goes through some shit.)

Three, this book proved I could set a deadline and make it. My goal, on January 1st, was to have a finished first draft of a book by March 31st. As you can see, I hit that two days early. And that’s including the roadblocks life decided to throw at me, like getting hit with the super flu, so I had to push back my starting date by a little over two weeks, not starting to write anything until February 1st. Or random days where my writing routine got screwed up and I missed writing entirely. Or not hitting my word count goal for the day and falling behind early on.

Despite all of that, I was able to make both my word count goal and my deadline. And that included quite a few sessions where I was updating my word count in WriteTrack every 100 words and literally forcing myself to keep writing, to just make the minimum goal for that day. But also days where, two hours later, I’d update my word count and see that I blew past it by thousands of words.

But most importantly, I think, is the fact that this was the hardest book for me to write.

Because for the first time ever, I realized how shit it was while I was writing it.

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I think it’s reality check was bound to happen eventually. You see, the first trilogy I wrote? I thought it was great, after just the first draft. Even looking at the first drafts alone, I was just so dang stoked because this series was awesome and I couldn’t believe I wrote it. These books were gold.

Since then, I think I’ve grown up a little bit more. Or maybe that’s not even the right thing to call it; more like I’ve lost a little bit of my nativity and I’ve learned a lot more about what elements are required (usually) for a great book and a great story. And I’ve realized that, for me personally, as a writer? My first drafts usually are missing a lot of those elements. It’s through the editing process where I truly find the story and am able to craft it to the point where it’s finally something worth reading–and maybe, perhaps, worth falling in love with. That’s totally okay. I don’t mind the work I have to do, editing wise, to make these stories great.

It was just weird to write with that reality in mind for the first time.

I’m a little bummed, how many writing sessions I had where all I could think about, was how much I needed to change already; how I could already tell that what I was writing was probably going to get deleted, next round; how shit this book is, right now. That realization attempted to derail me, but I was stubborn. I had a goal and a deadline and I was fucking making it. So I kept writing and I pushed forward, updating an editing plan document alongside it as I went. And I finished the book.

The neatest part?

Even though there is still so much work to do with this book, every time I wrote this week, I was excited. I loved the ending and the way it came together, even though it was missing some key elements I know I’ll have to incorporate next time.

That’s why I think this book was so important. It proved that I can write another one, even if it is a sequel. It proved my ability to prioritize writing, to meet a deadline, to push past distractions, complications, hiccups, life. This book reminded me that first drafts, for me, are about finishing them, no matter how shit it is at the end or how aware I am about that fact. Because I have a finished draft. I have a finished book.

And it can only improve from here.

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I’ll be taking the weekend off to see family and friends over Easter and watch a little March Madness. Next week, I’m not sure what I’ll work on next. Will I launch straight into outlining a new standalone (hint: the book I shelved last year but I know I can salvage it)? Will I go back and try my hand at editing the first book of my trilogy, now that I’ve learned so much? Will I brainstorm something completely new?

I’m not sure yet.

All I know is that I want to work on and complete four different projects this year. I’ve already knocked the first one out of the park. April through June is my time for the next one.

I’m jazzed to see what it’ll turn out to be.

Cheers.


Huh, Would You Look At That?

As everyone does with their dreams, sometimes (read: all the time), I question whether I have the chops to actually achieve it. If I have the talent, the drive, the passion, the work ethic, the stubbornness, to pursue writing and my dream of being a published author (hint: I do, but it’s easy for my brain to convince me otherwise. Yay, overthinking!).

Usually, I’m able to swallow those doubts, shove them into a dark place I hope to never discover again, even though they always resurface eventually, and I push forward and continue on. I realized something, though, the other day, that will hopefully make these recurrences happen a lot less frequently, so I can continue chasing my dreams without interruption.

I write.

A lot.

That might seem like a dumb statement or like that’s not important or perhaps even obvious. But I didn’t realize to exactly what extent that I truly incorporate writing, almost every single day.

Let’s just look at an average week, based on what it’s been like for this year, and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve been writing, on average, 2,000 words a day for five days a week, so 10,000 words in my new book. Then, I usually write three blog posts for this blog, all of them averaging another 1,000ish words, so there’s another 3,000 words. Plus my book review over at Erlebnisse, so that’s another 700 words right there. Then, emails. You’d think that wasn’t a lot, but between responding to work emails, catching up on personal emails, not to mention the few email chains I have to stay connected with Twitter friends (and each of those is easily 1,500 words, because hey, each of us are writers and we have a lot to say to one another), that’s a lot of words. Those email chains alone, I prolly have roughly four or five of those going, so let’s say another 10,000 words, just for shits and grins.

All in all, on an average week, I’d probably say I write at least 30,000 words before you even start thinking about social media sites, random letters I get to respond to, texts, etc.

That’s a lot of words.

And aside from the work emails, practically all of that is not only voluntary, but unconscious, on my part. What I mean is, I write that much because I can’t imagine doing anything else. I write books because I love it. Same with blogging. Email chains to stay in touch with out-of-state friends make sense to me, even though it’s weird to other people. I like writing book reviews to help authors out, make connections and rave/rant over a book I’d just read.

Looking at all that, how can I ever, even when the overthinking is strong, question my passion for writing or my desire to chase my dream focused on it?

Cheers.