in the spirit, life, NaNoWriMo, Scrivener, writing

Week One wrap up

The first week of November was a strange thing. It was full of highs and lows, and everything in between. I spent the first few days drunk on words. Gleeful, excited and desperate for just a few more minutes to write, just a few, I promise, I can quit any time.

Naturally, it wasn’t long until reality hit home. I have three kids, a husband, a household to run. /sigh

Then Tuesday rolled around and there were 7 kids in my house for the bulk of the day, I got maybe 63 words written, and it knocked my confidence big time. Apparently, I’m still recovering from the years stress as it doesn’t take much to make me stumble. I began to think that I just couldn’t do this. It was ridiculous for me to try to write while home schooling. Totally nuts. Why was I bothering?

I held onto the fact that Wed night I could head to the library for a bit, until I realized it was Guy Fawkes night and town would be swarming with crowds. I decided to brave it anyway, no matter how far I had to park from the library. It started to rain, and I felt no guilt at all when I gleefully thought perhaps the fireworks display would be postponed. Unfortunately, the rain wasn’t just rain, it turned into hail, thunder and lightening. Fireworks were cancelled, but there were several buildings with collapsed ceilings, hail so thick it looked like snow, and I decided it was probably wisest to stay home…

Thursday is normally home schooling stuff, but I managed to get a few words out, and then Friday morning I felt myself getting back into the swing of it – unfortunately, I think it took me until yesterday to really realize what was going on.

I am out of practice. This is the first new draft I’ve written this year, and I’ve lost the art of sneaking in words. I’ve not been writing while cooking dinner, or giving myself 10 minute sprints every day. I can’t write 500 words in ten minutes right now, and I can’t switch my focus as fast as I used to be able to. There was a time that I could be writing, yet have a million distractions and never lose my momentum.

I also realized that for most of my academic writing this year I’ve made a concerted effort to do said writing out of the house, away from the kids, because it’s super hard to write essays with a million distractions. They are out of the practice too.

IMG_20141107_113424371So I’m going to go a little easier on all of us. Try to remember that I used to do this, and that it wasn’t frustrating, and that I will get back to that place – it just takes practice, for me, and for the kids. We’re all still finding our new normal, and it will take time.

And in the meantime, any words I do get are an absolute joy. Writing makes everything better, so even when I am feeling crappy, grumpy, tired, over it, like there is no point, I should still write.

Highlights of the week include – the many awesome, varied, amazing friends, who’ve helped bolster me and remind me that I’m awesome too.

Our epic bush walk with the home schooling group. Being 100% out of range of all technology (other than my camera) was good for my soul. Pushing myself, using all my muscles, feeling the strength in my body was amazing. We’ll be looking for more long tramps to do in the very near future. I need to get back to the things that feed me.

A friend giving me an awesomely funny one star review for In The Spirit along the lines of “I loved this book, but it was too short and I want more!”, to which I decided that I could totally expand my current work in progress to be a novel – I don’t want to annoy too many readers ๐Ÿ˜‰

Also, Scrivener is behaving itself and we’re getting along nicely so far. Still early days though.

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NaNoWriMo, Uncategorized, writing

NaNo? yeah, nah…kinda?

November is almost upon us, and with it, the madness of NaNoWriMo. The internet is being flooded with posts for and against, and writers everywhere are taking sides in the yearly debate of whether you can write a decent novel in a month, or whether you can call yourself a writer if you only write in November/during these challenges etc etc.

I don’t really care to get involved in that. There are pros and cons, and every writer is different. Personally, I can’t, at this point, fathom writing that many words in a month though I have done it before, and I may well do it again in the future.

IMG_20141022_134554147
This is Xanthe. She’s about 15 now and sleeps ~20 hrs a day. Mainly she wakes up to yawn (like this), have some smooches and eat/drink. She is one of the most beautiful cats I’ve seen ๐Ÿ™‚

What I DO care about, is how much fun it is to write alongside others. So, this November I will be working on the second novella in the Witches of Kotahi Bay series (aka: the book that comes after In the Spirit, but doesn’t have a title yet). I’m thinking it’ll top out around the 20K mark, and it will be an absolute blast to write – made more fun by participating in a bunch of word sprints over twitter and facebook, and experiencing the joy that is writing alongside some of my favourite writer friends.

Bring it!!! COME ON. I want it to be Nov 1st!!!

I’m spending the last few days of October trying to pin down a few more plot points, but I already have half the book written in my head and I am so very much looking forward to having a new adventure with Alyssa, her best friend Kelly, Mrs Nolan and the new guy who has moved in down the road. I’m also crushing on kittens right now, so I think I’ll give Alyssa one to keep her company.

So, if you’re writing in November, you won’t find me signed up on the NaNo site, but you will find me online. I’ve got some writing sprints locked down for every Tuesday and Wednesday (probably in the am), but I’m up for writing sprints just about whenever – hit me up at @JCHart

 

life, NaNoWriMo, writing

Winning!

2014-Winner-Facebook-CoverI am officially a winner of CampNanoWriMo! Woo!

I actually finished off back on June 19th, but it’s been a busy week and I couldn’t ‘confirm’ the win until just yesterday.

It feels surprisingly good, like perhaps I’m getting better at this whole goal setting thing. I’ve already sent it out to some readers and feedback so far has been good – this novella will be published towards the end of the year, and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

It’s a rather more ‘fun’ read than a lot of my work, so I’m looking forward to showing you all a lighter side of me ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can do funny! No-one dies! Well, not really… Okay, not going to say any more because it’s just a novella and I don’t want to give too much away just yet.

Can’t wait ๐Ÿ™‚ This story had me laughing out loud as I rewrote it, and I really hope that those who read it will do the same. More on that at a later date.

Hope you’re all having a good month! Not long until August is upon us now ๐Ÿ™‚

authors, life, NaNoWriMo, writing

Camp Update, and an unexpected rant.

Well, it’s now halfway through the month and for the first time in ages, I am on track. Actually, I’m ahead of schedule!

I know, I’m a little shocked myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

My editing muscles are well and truly flexed at this point, seeing as that is mostly what I’ve been spending my writing time on this year. I feel like I’ve fallen into a rhythm with it and this makes me happy, but also nervous. I’m making great progress (and, if I wasn’t studying, or editing for others as well, I would be done my own novella by now, and onto the next), but at the same time I’m wary of the ease… I am not sure I trust myself, and there is an underlying sense that I can’t be doing a good enough job.

I think this is tied into the myth that writers must bleed for their art, they must SUFFER in order to create great stories. I don’t really buy into that belief – after all, so much of the first draft at least feels like I’m riding a rollercoaster and I LOVE rollercoasters. It’s like getting a shot of adrenaline or being able to feel every ounce of the worlds wonder, it’s blissful, intoxicating. Better than almost any other high.

But just because I don’t buy into all those myths about what it takes to be a writer – you must drink a lot of coffee and/or alcohol, you must stay up into the wee hours of the morning bleeding words into your preferred writing tool, you must be crazy/have a muse/talk to yourself/get intense bouts of writers block/spend three days finding the right word to describe a situation, you must struggle with your words, and suffer for your art, you have to be a starving artist, and in general, it seems the belief is that the more you struggle (not just with those words, but with life in general) the more emotion, impact and weight will be present in your story – it doesn’t mean that somewhere under the surface I feel like they might be true.

Because maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

Well, I call bullshit.

Yeah, some writers drink coffee and load up on booze or drugs, but that’s not a prerequisite. Not all writers have muses, or mental health problems, and not all writers are night owls who forsake human contact. Not all writers bleed, or struggle, or live entirely inside their head – hell, I am far too rooted in the real world, in my legit every day problems and getting the kids fed, educated, and geared up for a life following their own passions to possibly indulge (yes, I said it) in the myth of being a writer. While there are some truths in those myths, they are not the foundation, core, or bottom line of being a writer. Yes, sometimes it’s a struggle, but there is always that joy in words, in making things better, in crafting a world and putting it on the page to share with others. I don’t have time to wail about the challenges, or indulge in writers block or adopt a struggling artist persona.

I have time to write.

I put words on a page. I make those words better, and in the near future I will publish those words. And that makes me a writer, not any of the other stuff.

And I’m not going to buy into those myths on any level. Not anymore. I’m doing just fine.

This wasn’t going to be a blog post about writer myths or struggling for your art, it was just going to be a quick update to say – hey, look! I’m actually doing stuff and it’s going really well! As is the case with blog posts though, these things seem to morph.

By all means, enjoy the things you enjoy, struggle with the things you struggle with, but I would kind of like it if people quit buying into this writer mythology, it’s not glamorous to be depressed or to abuse our bodies by consuming too much alcohol/coffee/drugs/depriving it of much needed sleep. It’s not aiding our creation.ย Wouldn’t it be better if we could be happy, thriving, and loving our work? I know that’s the ideal I’m going to be working towards from now on.

*For the record, I know lots of wonderful writers who don’t buy into the ‘writer’ myth. They are awesome people, and write awesome stories, and they don’t need to have dramatic lives or desperate struggles in order to do so. These people are far more productive than many ‘struggling writer’s because they use their energy to actually do the thing we’re all meant to love so much. Write.

NaNoWriMo, writing

I keep saying I’m not going to, but…

2014-Participant-Twitter-Header-2Yup. I did it again. Despite flopping big time at the April CampNano, and NaNoWriMo last year, I’ve gone and signed up for the July round of camping.

I know, I know…

But this time it’s different, I swear. This time they have personalized cabins!!! A large part of my dropping out in April was due to the fact that my cabin was pretty quiet and I wasn’t getting any kind of ‘fun’ vibe going on. They’ve finally implemented a system where you can hand pick your cabin mates, and let me tell you – it’s going to be a joy writing alongside these peeps. I’m really looking forward to it.

Of course, back in April I also didn’t have anything that I desperately wanted to work on, which wasย problematic. This July, however, I have a plan! I’ve got a Christmas themed novella that needs revising, and I am going to take this month to knock it into shape – I’m super excited because I’m planning on releasing this in time for Christmas this year! Fun! Yay!

Now, there is every chance that once again I will fail – but right now, anything that helps me move forward is an opportunity I’m going to take. At least with camp you can adjust your goals, and there is a lot less pressure than November. Anyway, it’s July, and I have writing to do! Might as well try and ‘win’ something else while I’m at it ๐Ÿ˜‰

life, NaNoWriMo, writing

December – what???

Really, where is this year going???? I’m totally running out of weeks and days. I’m fresh out of months already!

With November behind us, and many people recovering from the ordeal of NaNo (check out Richard’s post NaNo wrap up for more on that), I’m still editing away at a reasonable pace. Not quite as fast as I’d like – I had a cold for like two weeks, and this week has mostly been about wrapping up loose ends in the real world: school stuff, Brownies stuff, dance class stuff – ย but despite those things, I’m hopeful that by the end of the month I’ll be sitting right where I want to be.

And where is that? Well, halfway through the edits of Sun-Touched. The next three months (counting this one) are all about the editing for me, because I’m really wanting to get a good chunk of it cleared away before I go back to Uni at the end of February. Sun-Touched will be done end of Jan, and then it’s time for The Way the Sky Curves to get a look in. I want things I can sub next year while I study! FUN TIMES!

I can’t believe that we only have three weeks left of 2013… In no time at all I’ll be doing my yearly wrap up and looking ahead to some new goals, though I think they will all but write themselves ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hope December is off to a good start for you all, and that you’re feeling festive enough. I’m looking forward to BBQs, long summer evenings, and enjoying time with friends and family.

NaNoWriMo, writing

Failing at NaNo and why that’s fine by me

I’m guest posting over at Kiwi Writers today about why I’m failing NaNo and fine with it. In that post I mentioned that at day 4 I realized I didn’t want to be writing a new draft.

So what am I doing instead?

Finally settling down to edit Sun-Touched, that’s what. This novel has been sitting around for long enough and I am well and truly ready to get it out into the world. Once the fog of my last assignment had cleared and I realized that I was finished with study for the year, it hit me that the main barrier to revision I’ve had in 2013 has been study, so, now that study is done it’s time to get back to it.

I’m going to be spending the next couple months kicking this into shape, and then hopefully I’ll have time to edit The Way the Sky Curves afterwards. ย It would be amazing to get to March next year and have two things I can shop around while I complete my final year of study.

Part of me really wanted to write this new novel, but if I keep focusing on drafts, I’m going to get to the end of next year and not feel like I am any further towards my goals. It’s kind of scary, but also incredibly amazing to be working on getting things ready to submit. Am certainly feeling no regret whatsoever for ditching NaNo ๐Ÿ˜‰

For those of you still cranking out the wordcount – you rock! Keep up the good work. And for those who, like me, have falling off the NaNo wagon – don’t beat yourself up over it, just keep writing ๐Ÿ™‚

NaNoWriMo, writing

It has begun!

Oh hell, I did it again. I must have written another blog post with that title before* because I now have the Mortal Kombat song in my head. I’m going to have to see if I can find the soundtrack on Spotify. Good memories.

Okay, I couldn’t seem to find it on Spotify, but I found it on youtube, so win. I know I still have the CD around somewhere.

Right! Enough getting off topic already!

November has started! And with it NaNoWriMo.

I spent most of the morning setting Ivy up, as I read about the Young Writers Program, and suggested she give it a shot. To my utter surprise, she jumped right in! We’ve set a word goal of 10,000 words. I’ve never seen her so willing to sit down and write as she was yesterday (well, I lie, this morning she rushed through the list of things she needs to do in the morning so that she could get to the computer and start. She just proudly informed me that she wrote Chapter Two in big letters). She wrote just over a thousand words yesterday, which is definitely the most she’s ever written, and seeing the joy and excitement in her eyes has made me so thrilled for her.

I remember what that was like, discovering joy in writing, and I feel really blessed to witness it now.

Anyway, eventually, after a million interruptions, I finally found my flow and managed to clock 1735 words for the first day. While I don’t think I’ll make it all the way to 50,000 words, it’s nice to make the suggested daily goal ๐Ÿ™‚

I was looking forward to sharing NaNo with a bunch of my writing friends, but it feels a little more special knowing I get to share it with my big girl ๐Ÿ™‚

Right, I better get back into it!

 

*haha yes, I did! Gosh that was a while back.ย 

authors, NaNoWriMo, writing

FREEDOM!!!!!!!! And other things

So, I’ve just handed in my last assignment for the year and I couldn’t be happier. Okay, MAYBE if you handed me a million dollars, or a six figure publishing contract, then I could be happier, but for now, for today, I’m pretty freaking happy. I’m free (until March).

This last month has been a creative black hole and I’m thrilled to be leaving it behind. With freedom, comes NaNoWriMo, which I’ll be participating in (though probably not winning). You can find me here if we’re not already buddies. I really enjoy the good spirits, word sprints and enthusiasm of writing alongside others, so am looking forward to spending the month writing my little heart out and watching a bunch of other writers achieve their goals and whatnot.

I’m going to be working on book three in the series I’m writing. It’s currently titled ‘By Souldust and Starlight’, and I’m really looking forward to leaping into it. This is the story that sparked the entire series, and it’s going to be MAJORLY fun to write. Let’s hope my characters are ready, because I have not had nearly as much time to plan as I’d have liked!

Other lovely things I’d like to note while we’re here are a couple of book releases that have happened in the last couple days.

First off the block is Heartwood by Freya Robertson, who is a wonderful NZ writer friend. An epic fantasy of truly epic proportions, this is her debut fantasy release, though she’s had a bunch of romance novels published in the last few years. It’s published through Angry Robot, who are awesome, and you should totally check it out! The second book is due out early next year, too, so you won’t have long to wait for a sequel!

And secondly (lastly) an anthology close to my own heart. Even if I didn’t have a story in it (but I do!! The Dead Way, it’s awesome, you should read it) I’d be pimping this one because it’s all in the name of a charity to get kids reading! That’s right, all profits from Baby Teeth go to Duffy Books in Homes, and who doesn’t want to get kids reading?

Also, those are my baby teeth on the cover, and I don’t think I’m ever going to stop being thrilled with my weirdest claim to fame yet. You can say that you know a woman whose teeth are stringed up on a necklace of the cover of a book. I guess that makes this a bit of a fitting post for Halloween after all ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m so happy right now ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope you’re all ready to get stuck into November, because October is past it’s prime and I am SO ready to move on! Roll on November 1st!