Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween and NaNoWriMo Eve

LOL. Me.

Happy Halloween and NaNoWriMo Eve! 

Everyone in my house loves Halloween. It's my favorite holiday, so for us it starts on October 1st. Sometimes we even let Halloween run well into November, if the decorations left up aren't too obnoxious (or dusty). Pumpkins, turkeys, skeletons...it's all the same, really.

However, as November approaches, my focus has already shifted to NaNoWriMo. I signed up this year, and I've already added a BS cover to my account to commemorate the occassion.

Since signing up, I've been working on getting my character's histories straight and all that jazz. I created a Scrivener file to work in, and I've been toying with scene ideas to prepare. I'm not going to drive myself crazy over it, though. This is one of those story ideas that has been lingering around a while (at least five years), and I consider this NaNo a test to see if I can make something happen with it.

It's not like one more unrevised, unfinished story is going to hurt me at this point. At this very moment, I have two completed, unrevised novel drafts on this computer, plus several short stories that need to be edited. I also recently compiled all the core Werekind books into a single Vol. 1 Omnibus edition. All it needs is the formatting fixed, and a set of print and digital edition covers.

Anyway, I figure this will be as good a way as any to get words on the page. We'll see what happens. If you'd liked to be a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo site, send me a request. My username there is lastdimtwilight. In the meantime, Happy Halloween! Ѽ 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Creative Forgiveness

Over the course of the past two weeks, I've written and deleted several blog posts I intended to use. Lame, I know. The posts were nothing serious or controversial, just frilly everyday life stuff, but I'd start writing, get half way through a post then hit the delete button. I guess because the posts didn't seem relevant or worth bothering with by the time I realized where they were going. I'm aware of how batty that is. It's just a blog after all, a place for random thoughts, and I keep deleting mine. But whatever...

It's nearing the end of October, and the blog hasn't been updated since the 10th. Hear that roar? That's the tide of guilt sweeping me away for not blogging. That's what I get for overthinking and censoring myself. Probably my worst two habits in action, but what can I do?

It's been a tough year for me creatively. Even a re-release of an old story felt like a major accomplishment, and I know it's because I put way too much pressure on myself. I have to stop with the pressure and the guilt. If I'm going to write and publish/self-publish my work, I've got to end it with the long suffering self struggle. It's throwing off my chi. I love to write. I should be enjoying what I'm doing, not dreading opening a file every time I sit down at the computer.

The Elizabeth Gilbert quotes for Big Magic have been added to my post today, because they've made a profound impression on me. I've written two novels this year, and both are still sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to get back to the revisions. In fact, I'm already working on a third book. However, looking at those past drafts is a lot like facing unscalable mountains. How do I get over those books?  How do I "perfect them" enough to kick them out the door? There isn't a minute that goes by when I'm not thinking about how I should be wrapping up those books. It's daunting. Why can't I seem to finish them?

All my first drafts are messes. I've aways been upfront and honest about that. So, what's the hangup? Better yet, why am I putting this kind of miserable pressure on myself?

I settled in to work on one of my drafts today, and again, I hesitated to open the files. I've even been thinking about shelving them indefinitely. But I really don't want to do that. I love both the ideas behind these books. I love the characters. I don't want to abandon them mid-stream.

I couldn't seem to focus on revisions today, so this afternoon, on a whim, I pulled an old story out of storage and started reading it. I've always liked this particular story, but it was rejected by one of my former publishers. Well, it was sort of rejected. I actually got a revise and resubmit request for it, but after reading through the editor's comments, I decided to take an R and be done with it.

Rereading through that story today, the editor's comments were still cringeworthy, but not for the reasons I remember. The editor's frustration with the story was apparent, and that frustration seemed to escalate throughout the piece. No wonder I tossed that story into a shoebox and abandoned it. After about four chapters, I had to stop reading the comments and ask myself why the editor bothered to keep leaving commentary this many pages in if they weren't invested and had no plan to take the story without massive rewrites.

As I said, it was a rewrite and revise request, but I'm sure that the majority of editors would've just axed me after the first chapter and dusted their hands. In this case, the entire story from beginning to end had been redmarked. I can't remember any other editor doing that before. Not for a piece they didn't plan to accept.

I know my story has legs. It just needs work. I think the editor saw that too. That's the point. The story itself isn't as terrible as I once thought it was. After I received that R&R, I thought the story had an incurable disease that killed it dead, but instead, it just has story rickets. It needs Vitamin TLC to get it to a healthy state. I can work with this.

Another important thing that I noticed, and this is a big one: I no longer agree with everything the editor said about the story or my writing. I can't tell you how huge that is, or what kind of growth that means for a writer. For the most part, I take an editor's word as golden. I have a certificate in copyediting, but when it comes right down to it, I'm a storyteller not a grammar geek. In this case, time and experience has given me a new perspective.  The story does need work, and the editor was definitely on track with the story's major problems. However, some of the things this editor pointed out to me, I'd politely ignore, because those suggestions are not what would be best for my story.

That's a pretty big deal. That one realization allowed me to forgive myself for writing and submitting such a shitty story over two years ago...a story that isn't even as shitty as I thought it was. That's liberating.

Now I just have to face those novel revisions. Before I open those files again, I'm going to take five before I settle into my desk chair and say this to myself: Cora, I forgive you for writing a horrible draft. You said you'd show up to write it, and so you did. Now, on to phase two. Muse, wherever you are, could you please put down your knitting and let's get on with it? I'm ready to see what happens next.

I feel better just from writing that down. Like Ms. Gilbert said in her book, Big Magic, "I didn't promise the universe I would be a good writer. I just said I'd be a writer." I totally support that logic. It takes loads of stress off the process, and as far as I'm concerned, the less stressful the process is, the better. ♥

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Nothing to Fear but Procrastination

A couple of days ago, I blogged about the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Well, this afternoon I was doing a search for book quotes I could share on my blog, when I came across a set of podcasts related to Big Magic. How cool is that?

You can listen to the podcasts for free here: http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/magic-lessons/  The link goes to the author's official website. On her page, there are links to the podcasts on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher Radio. Again, the podcasts are totally free.

Today, the quote "All procrastination is fear" resonates with me. I stayed up until about 5 in the morning working on my novel. I slept for a few hours, then woke up again around 9. I've had plenty to time to open my wip and get cracking, but I'm at the point where I'm having to cut and rearrange parts of the manuscript, which always makes me super nervous. Even though I have a backup, I still feel like I'm going to screw things up beyond repair. Revisions do this to me. They always have. So, instead of diving in head first, I've been procrastinating most of the day, checking my Facebook, watching YouTube videos. and all that jazz to avoid go back to my book.

It's now 4pm, the house is quiet, hubby grilled so there's no dinner to cook, I'm fresh out of excuses. It's time to stop tap dancing around the problem and get back to work. Still I'm hesitating. Why? Because I'm afraid I'll make the wrong snip here or there. I'll mess it up. I'll have to backtrack, or worse; I'll have to start over. Sigh.

I've gotta stop doing this to myself. Elizabeth Gilbert is right: all procrastination is fear, and I desperately need to break the habit. ♥

The Point of No Return

Okay. So, I've reached the point of no return with the project of doom. It's 4:40 in the morning, and I just made my first cuts in the novel. This is always the worst for me. Just thinking about it makes me nervous. There is nothing ever so alarming as taking a draft that you've already written, rewritten, and are still rewriting, and you have to cut into it yet again.

I will say that this is much, much easier to do in Scrivener than it is in Word. I'm not having to endlessly scroll and hope I caught everything. It's also easier to see if I missed something. (I always do.) However, no matter how easy the slicing and dicing has become, every cut still affects my word count. It can't be all sunshine and rainbows, I guess.

As it stands, I'll probably have to go back in after everything is resectioned and bring the book back up to wordcount. C'est la vie. Even with that on the horizon, I think this one is going to be "the draft." The pre-proofread final draft. (Something like that.) The way the story is shaping up so far, I can tell this version is going to gel into a more cohesive story. Yay me.

In the meantime, I'm going to try not to panic. There are still a lot of changes left to make. That said, one big cut a night is enough for me. I'm off to bed for now. (Before I screw something up.) No more revising for me until I've had a few hours of sleep. Night, night, everyone. ♥

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Currently Reading :: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was on Facebook a couple of days ago, when I came across the lovely Sommer Marsden talking about a fabulous new book she'd read called Big Magic, by author Elizabeth Gilbert. Well, I never pass up a fervent, "you must read this" book recommendation from good friends, so I dashed over to Amazon and bought a copy for my Kindle Fire.

Big Magic is about having the courage to live a creative life, and so far, I am loving this book. The tone, well, really everything about the book so far, resonates with my personality. The author says she imagines ideas are free wandering spirits that come looking for people who are the best possible vessel to bring them into existence. If we're not receptive to the ideas, they go away to find someone else. That's a very clever way to look at it. From that point on, the author had me reeled in. Last night, I stayed up til two in the morning reading this book, and I'm looking forward to reading more tonight.

Big Magic was roughly $12 for the Kindle version, and isn't part of the Kindle Unlimited program. The physical book in hard cover costs just a few dollars more, around $13.50, estimated. If I had more patience, I'd have bought a print copy, but... I'm weak. I have zero patience when it comes to waiting for books, so I nabbed the Kindle version. By the way, I did pay for this book out of pocket, and receive nothing in exchange for passing on the good word.

To check out the book's listing online, or to buy a copy for yourself, you can find Big Magic on Amazon here: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Not an affiliate link.) Happy reading! ☺

Monday, October 05, 2015

Post Craziness Writing and Revising

Today felt almost normal after about a week of spontaneous craziness going on in my world. I even managed to get in a little work on the revisions. I can't remember what day I last opened my files, but when I settled in to start working, I couldn't remember what project folder I'd saved the last two scenes I'd been working on. Yikes!

After digging through a couple of folders, I finally found what I was looking for. Crisis averted. Now I just need to finish polishing what's there and move on to the next chapter...which seems to be taking forever.  

I have an abundance of pet news, which is why I've been absent and not very writerly for the past...oh, probably, two weeks. Squeaky Mama gave birth in our bushes. We brought her inside. She took her kitten back outside. It's been a back and forth battle ever since. Her kitten's eyes are open now, and the little meepit has been stumbling around and trying to follow her mam everywhere. That has kept us all on our toes lately.

Then, if you follow me on FB or Twitter you probably already know, someone dumped off six doxy puppies down the road from us. Cue insane laughter here. The pups found their way to our yard, and not knowing what else to do, we took them in. We had no cardboard boxes, nothing, to put them in, so I gated off the dining room with Mini's old baby gates, and tossed one of JakeDog and SassiePup's old dog beds in there. For a few days our house was puppy madness. Lots of towel washing, floor mopping, puppy scrapping, etc. Jake and Sassie were besides themselves over these pups. JakeDog has abandonment issues, and Sassie is easily stressed, so I had to separate the pups from our dogs. SassiePup was extremely unhappy with me about this. She is my office guardian and lap buddy. Wherever I go in the house, she is right there with me. So, I had to put a gate up across my office door so I could keep her with me in here during the day.

CharlieCat, who is a rescue/stray himself, wasn't happy at all with the puppies. He saw them and decided to have his dinner on the patio. I kept a cozy cat bed in the laundry room on the deep freezer for him to sleep in. Still he's just now feeling comfortable about going into the dining room. It's been a big adjustment for him as well.

Anyway, hubby and I got in touch with the Humane Society, and they took all six doxy pups. We took their towels, toys, a dog bed and Jake's crate and donated all of it, plus some cash to buy dog food and vaccines. We were going to drop by the store for the dog food on the way to the shelter, but they were on a tight schedule and we had to rush. The Human Society was gearing up for a large adoption event, and we thought that was where the pups were going, but it turns out they're all presently being fostered, two pups in three different homes, until they're old enough to be spayed and neutered. Then they'll be up for adoption. I'm so excited about that!  Whoever adopts the little nippers will have a fully vetted, adorable pupkin right from the start. That's more than hubby and I could've hoped to provide for them.

All's well that ends well, as the saying goes. We've pretty much managed to get the house back in order. Now I just need to get my writing back on schedule. Wish me luck. I swear, it's never a dull moment around here.☺