April begins

The last time I blogged was an entire month ago. I don’t think I’ve ever let the blog go silent for that long, but to be honest, I just didn’t have the energy to say anything at all.

It’s been…an interesting month, I guess you would say. I started back at University and the reading workload was huge. I mean, I was swamped. I’ve finally managed to catch up, but I still don’t feel like I know enough yet. My first assignment is due in 16 days, and I am still gathering information, and wondering if I will ever get to the point where I feel caught up.

March’s main goal was to read Sun-Touched and make a revision plan for it. I read the novel! And I didn’t even cringe too much. It’s a good story but it needs plenty of work. World building is where I fall down, again, so I am doing a lot of thinking about how I can do that – not only for Sun-Touched, but also for my novella. I am planning a second in the same setting, so I really need to bring the town to life.

Between my study brain, and being faced with yet more revision, I felt a bit swamped. I didn’t write the short story that I had hoped to. I got about 1k in and canned it. Aside from that attempt I wrote nothing in March. I did play a lot of Guild Wars 2 though. I’m deep in love with it again, though am well aware that it’s escapism for me. It really helps to switch my brain off from the study stuff which seems to overtake every waking thought if I let it.

Which I guess means I am back to a place of needing to find balance. I’ve been reminded yet again that I need breaks between revision and revision (even revisions of different stories). I am sure there is a sweet spot, but I haven’t found it just yet, and the reality is that there is always going to be more revision to do than first drafting, because every story needs more than one revision. I”ll continue to mull on it anyway – maybe I need a grand story that is written just for me, and I give myself a week of free writing on it between rounds of revision? That could work. I might give it a try.

Anyway, the beginning of April sees me in a better head space. The supplements I am taking seem to be giving me the boost I needed to get out of a depressive state, and I am actually getting stuff done again which feels really good (even if none of it is writing related! lol).

I sat down this morning and said to myself – “time to quit stalling, write something”. So I am now partway through a children’s story. Totally weird that is what’s coming up, but whatever, right. Words are words! I will take them and run with the idea.

Let’s hope April is a tad more productive for me than March was! Hope you all had a lovely easter :-)

Another Month Done

I am still getting my head around the fact that it’s March already. I always seem to forget that Feb is a short month – in any event, I managed to get through the revision of my novella, which was my primary goal. Yippee!

University has officially started for the year and I’m struggling to get my head back in the study game. The readings for the first two weeks are ridiculous (6 chapters of the text PLUS articles!) but thankfully it evens out a bit after that (1 chapter a week).

So, with that in mind, I’m taking the next week or so off from revision and am going to spend the time catching up on the other things that need my attention – I have books to read, stories to give feedback on, and study to do. My next major project is also revision (Sun-Touched, my darling, I’m finally getting back to you!) and I feel like it’s important to take a breather between projects. I’m hoping to write a new short story as well, which should be really fun.

Some of my writing buddies are reading my novella this month, so I’m feeling a little nervous and excited about hearing back from them. Feels like a while since I’ve had a critique done, but I guess you get that when you’re working on longer stories.

Right, that’s it for me for now! What have you got planned for March?

First draft, complete

Well. I’ve been in hiding from the world for a week or so (more or less), so it’s old news to some, but I finished the first draft of Shell and Bone on Friday last week. Am really happy with the way it panned out – loved the surprise my antagonist threw at me in the second to last scene – and feel like everything kind of slipped into place.

Lessons learned? Outlining really does help, even if I have to write a few thousand words before I can really get a feel for the characters. I had a false start in two parts for this novella, hit the wall at around 13K and had to take out about 3.5K words and change a couple other things before I could get stuck back into it. I’m really pleased I took the time to do that, as it has made a stronger story which will need less revision.

I haven’t had the time to read it through since then and probably won’t for a little bit as I have other things to do.

As for my other goals, I’ve been reading Perdido Street Station and am at 75% now (from 30%). It’s a very big book, but I am pleased with my progress. Really enjoying it too, ¬†though I am looking forward to a couple quick reads once I am finished this. I had another false start with the Artists Way, but am doing my morning pages still.

I haven’t yet begun my read through of Sun-Touched, and am still figuring out the best way to do this. It’s my next big task (reading, then making a plan for revision), and I am both excited to get stuck into it, and nervous about it as well.

In the meantime I am rewriting a short story and hoping to have that off my plate in the near future. Until it’s out the door though, it’s my primary writing focus.

How is January treating you so far?

What’s in store for 2013

I love this period over the end of one year and the beginning of the next. I love the buzz that happens when people talk about their fresh starts, hopes and dreams for the new year. It echoes the way I feel and just makes it all so much better!

Obviously, after a pretty rough year last year I am hoping for a little bit of an easier time in 2013. Whether that happens or not is yet to be seen. No-one can predict these things.

This year, for me, is a lot about finishing things. I didn’t even realize this until I sat down just now and looked over the list I was posting to the blog. My other list is a lot bigger, and filled with each step required to achieve the goal – but I won’t bore you with all of that here. I am going to keep it really simple.

I want to finish Sun-Touched and submit it. It’s currently a finished first draft, and I’m really looking forward to diving back into that world and fleshing it out more, and then sending it out into the world.

I also want to finish writing Shell and Bone, get that ready and submit that as well. As for any other writing? Well, it’s purely a bonus. I am quite sure I won’t be able to resist starting something new, but these two projects are my main squeezes this year as far as I can tell.

I have a couple books that I am going to finish this year if it kills me. The first of which is Perdido Street Station. A friend recommended it to me YEARS ago. I started reading it at the beginning of 2011, and I am only about 30% through. It’s so long. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read, but there just never seemed to be a good time to finish it off. The quick reads have won out in the last couple years. Mindless books. Well, it’s time. As soon as I finish the book I am currently reading, I am switching back to Perdido until it’s done.

I also have The Artists Way sitting around. I read the intro and first chapter and that was as far as I got. Several of my good writers friends recommend it though, so this year I am finally going to work through it. I think its a good time to do that, as I really need to work on finding some balance in my life and making sure that I get time out from the every day grind to work on my creativity.

Another recommendation has been Writing The Other. I started reading this last year too, but started skipping exercises and forced myself to put the book down. It’s all very well and good reading books on writing, but the real learning happens when you put those things into practice. I decided that until I had time to do that, I was going to set the book aside.

I have a lot of learning to do. And I expect (hope) that this year will be a year of great growth. I am now able to admit that I’m a lazy writer, and I want to change that. I waste a lot of time on mindless, stupid crap, and I don’t want to do that anymore. It’s time to stop letting that little voice in my head demotivate me. Time to push past my ‘play it safe’ barrier, time to stop waiting for someone else to tell me to fix something and just get on and do it myself, because I shouldn’t rely on other people to tell me whats wrong*. Most of the time I know what’s wrong. I do. I’m just being lazy because I’m exhausted all the time.

Well, screw exhaustion. It’s not going to beat me this year. I’ve just finished reading 2k to 10k and I’m totally ready to get on the bandwagon and outline and write, and actually make the most of the extremely limited time I do have. I want to see Sun-Touched heading towards publication of some kind or another. I want to write other novels, and edit those novels and see them out in the world too. And it’s only going to happen if I put the hard work in.

So, that’s me. Really. One novel, one novella. A bunch of reading and learning and everything else that goes along with this writers gig. There are a lot of other things I am working towards, but I think they can be summed up in the words balance, and harmony. That’s what I’m hoping, for me, and our family.

*I know my writing buddies are there to help, they are amazing writers and their input is fantastic – but think how much more valuable their feedback will be to me if what I’m giving them is free of the same old things that keep cropping up? I’m pretty certain they are getting tired of seeing the same basic issues ;-) I know I would be! Time to do them, and myself, a favour.¬†

Plans, they keep a-changing

I’ve made a lot of plans this year, and it seems like every time I’ve been on track with one of them, something has cropped up that means I veer off in another direction, or get jolted off course altogether.

And that’s life, isn’t it?

This was meant to be the year of the novel, but it wasn’t. Apparently it was actually the year of the novella, which in some ways makes sense. Making that leap from short fiction to long can be difficult, making that leap when your family is in chaos and stress levels are through the roof is just ridiculous.

However, I DID finish writing my novel Sun-Touched, and it’s at the top of my list for revision come the new year, but Surplus to Requirements simply did not get further than about 5k into the rewrite. I couldn’t get past those opening scenes, and then the nudge to write Burn came along so I ran with that. Sometimes you have to run with things.

My writing group has been a great help in my sanity this year, and in keeping me moving forward. Even though we’ve all been busy, just knowing that these other writers give a damn and are there when I need a boost, or need to be challenged or cajoled does a great deal in keeping one foot moving in front of the other.

I think I am slowly learning to be okay about the fact that just about anything can derail a writing plan – the important lesson this year has been that no matter what else is going on in my life, writing will be there when I recover enough from life to get back to it. I can’t count the number of times this year I’ve been sure the muse has abandoned me forever, only to find that the moment my stress level has dropped below that line where I can begin to think of other things, the ideas are there, waiting for me.

And I do have ideas, good ones. I’m just starting to rough draft a new short story, as well as planning for a new novella to launch into come December. They’re both set in New Zealand, which is exciting for me, and I’m looking forward to tapping into some of my personal history, my heritage and experiences of life in NZ and using them creatively in fiction.

What have you all got lined up for the last few weeks of the year?

Day-dreaming

You know how I said I was taking a holiday? Well, we did go away for a few days, but my brain hasn’t stopped working, other than to fail at combining sentences and finding the right word for things.

As we drove to Rotorua my mind was turning over ideas and options for the novella I’ll be writing in December. I saw a lake at the bottom of a waterfall that sparked my imagination, and then the mist as we climbed into the hills, and then once we were at my inlaws I collapsed on the bed for a bit and more things connected. Over the next few days a whole town emerged with snippets of my personal history intertwined and I began to get really excited about writing in a New Zealand setting.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I often don’t place my stories. They aren’t grounded anywhere in particular, and I’ve actively avoided writing about NZ for a long time. I’m totally ready to embrace my country and my heritage in my writing though and I’m excited to see how it all turns out.

Of course, I still need a character, and a story line, but I am sure those will come. The MC is beginning to talk to me, and I know that as we get to know each other I’ll be able to piece her story together – whether I can make it fit into a novella is another matter entirely, but I’ll do the best I can.

And so October is almost done. November will see much planning, for both the novella, as well as the rewrite of Sun-Touched. I think it’s going to be really interesting, seeing if I can work on the outlines for both at the same time. They are quite different – one being urban fantasy, and the other science fiction – but at the story level, there are bound to be things they have in common.

What have you got in store for the new month? How many of you are doing NaNo this year?

Oh that familiar siren song of a shiny new idea…

Okay, maybe not a NEW idea, because Saving Tomorrow has been around and in the works for probably two years now. I started writing it once (beginning of last year? all the months are blurring together), but it never sat right and I struggled with several aspects of the story, including the fact that unwittingly I’d created something kind of abhorrent and which could easily be taken the wrong way. So it’s been back on the drawing board indefinitely.

Until now. I’ve been reading some books, different to my normal reads, and I think I know what I want to do with it. The issues I had haven’t been resolved, but I’ve pushed a few thoughts around and realized what it needs, and how I need to write it in order to make it sit right for me. It still has kinks to work out, big time, but I know I can resolve those, and now that I’m kind of a planner, everything (well mostly) will be laid out in advance and I will know that I have a story that works before I kick start draft one, again.

I’m really excited about this again, folks, but there is so much to do before I can get started on it! Burn still needs it’s final round before I kick it out the door, and then there is Sun-Touched to revise. I adore that novel and I want to make it shine and find a home for it. And then, after that (and the novella in between that I am trying hard not to think about!) it will be time for Saving Tomorrow. I figure I have a good six months to nail the plot down and smooth out the many rough edges. But still, six months is a very long time.

Damn that whole ‘finishing’ thing I’m trying to work on. Truth is, I’m never going to get anything published if I don’t knuckle down and finish what I’ve started though, so I guess it’s onwards with these revisions!

What’s tempting you right now? Anyone with a new shiny?