The Final Countdown

I’ve hit the final stretch which means I just want to be done already. If there were writing goblins, I would leave out whatever fruit or knick-knacks they desired to finish this for me.

I can see the end in sight, but I still have to get there. In the meantime, I’ve reached the previous Rocks Fall Everyone Dies point I’d left myself at before, so it’s a bit slower going. These are all new words, so I’ll have to go back and polish them. Just have to remind myself that I will polish them and that it’s okay for the first round to be crap.

Now more than ever I’ve got to keep my head down and focus on the words.

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! violent storms, knife fights, and angst. So much angst.

Chapters: 31 chapters out of 32 edited

Current word count: 80035 out of 90,000

How done am I?: So done.

Accountability and Stars

The way I’ve held myself accountable over the years has shifted a bit. In the very beginning, there was NaNoWriMo and its daily word count goals coupled with an awesome little graph that rose slowly, encouragingly, over the course of a month. Outside of November, I tried to replicate that beautiful graph by plunking my words into a spreadsheet and that worked for a while.

And then, almost overnight, it stopped working. I couldn’t keep up with the minimal effort it took to use the spreadsheet. And when days (or weeks) of not writing struck, it became too easy to just… not. I tried starting a new spreadsheet, but inevitably I started too many new spreadsheets and progress stalled and I stopped completely.

After that I floundered a bit. Wrote a little here, a little there. But without accountability, it was difficult to hit my self-imposed deadlines.

Then I discovered calendars. They were perfect – something I could mark at the end of the day if I’d met my goal, and each month was a built-in fresh start. Plus, they served the purpose of, well, telling you what day it was, so I always had one around anyway.

I started by just crossing off days that I’d met my goal. Then I tried writing word count goals on the days and crossing them off as I hit them. This was great for days I inevitably fell behind and also days that I got ahead. And no matter how far behind or ahead I got, I’d recalculate my goals at the start of the next month and better manage my expectations.

Of course, with editing, word count isn’t always a reliable indicator of progress. Sometimes you rewrite an entire chapter, sometimes you add in a few paragraphs, and sometimes you just edit heavily. New words written doesn’t tell you much, but chapters edited does.

So for this round of editing, I decided to mark off whenever I finished a chapter. And I decided to celebrate that with a gold star sticker. Because of course I have gold stars. Doesn’t everyone?

I also tried to project out my goals, but even adjusting for May I’m still wildly off. But that’s okay because lookit all those stars! (The other colors are for exercise-related endeavors. Those are a little… less exciting.)

And here’s the complete month of April, for comparison:

Note that I started editing this draft on April 1st, so this shows my whole editing process so far. And no, I honestly don’t remember what happened on the 8th, but it must have been pretty exciting for all those stars.

Not every writer needs daily accountability, but as someone in the slow-but-steady camp of writing, it really has helped me keep up momentum and avoid some panicking. Note – “some,” not all, panicking.

As far as the actual editing goes, I have reached that point where I kind of want my betas to read it, instead of simply dreading them reading it. I’m still in the Not Sure If This Is One Hot Mess Or Not stage (which includes such great hits as My Editor Will Regret Me and Oh God Everyone’s Made a Big Mistake and How Did I Con Anyone Into Thinking I Could Write??) and likely will stay there until I can finally take a step back and look at the proverbial forest.

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! thunderbolts and lightning (very very frightening [me]), family feuds, and questionable intents.

Chapters: 27 chapters out of 32 (or 33) edited

Current word count: 72,075 out of 90,000

Coffee’d netbooks: One ­čśŽ

Average Hours of Sleep a Night 5-6

The Nitty Gritties

The baby is sleeping better and the days are gradually lengthening. I can see an end in sight. The threads of this story are coming together, tight and snug, while at the same time the notepad I have open on my desktop continues to accumulate little changes – tone shift here, reordering a scene there, small continuity notes for the next run through – the last one before this goes to betas.

This is my favorite part. I love the nitty gritties: attending to details, tracking whose hand is where and what phase the moon is in and just when to drop that teeny tiny tidbit of important information so it’ll seem organic. I love chopping out words and smoothing sentences and fixing a character’s voice.

This WIP no longer feels like I went out to the backyard and dug up a pile of dirt and just left it there, an untidy mess, but it doesn’t feel quite right yet, either. I’m too close to it right now and don’t know what to think. Part of me is confident that this is the worst thing I have ever written. But part of me recognizes that every WIP at this point is the worst thing I have ever written. So: I don’t know. And I can’t know.

And that’s okay. Worrying about how awful this really is can come later. Right now, I need to keep my head down and write.

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! ominous weather, grievous wounds, and rooftops on fire.

Chapters: 23 chapters out of 32(?) edited

Current word count: 60,144 out of 90,000

Coffee?: Coffee.

Number of times I’ve listened to that one song while writing this book, according to just the iTunes on my netbook: 128

Random fact of the week: Undyed baby camel yarn is a smooth cream in color. Also, baby camel yarn is a thing that exists.

Write when Baby Writes

Another week, another 10,000 words closer to my goal, another seven days closer to my deadline, another notch up on the panic scale. I think we’re around abouts purple, going on plaid. Thankfully, I do my best work while panicking. It’s also good for the skin! (No, no it’s not.)

Despite a week of horrendous sleep on mine and the baby’s part, I’ve managed to continue making progress. Sometimes, it feels like, through sheer force of will alone. Well, what else is will for but to meet deadlines?

Alas, alas I feel like I’m finally in my element. Am I alone in loving the editing process? It’s so satisfying, like filling a hundred tiny holes so that you finally have a uniform, cohesive surface. If you do it right, it’s as clean and smooth as glass. Nobody can see – or even find – all the cracks you’ve filled in, all the holes repaired. It’s a process of bringing order to chaos and finally, finally seeing a real story with real characters.

Of course, this feeling will only last for another day or two, then we’ll be right back in the depths of despair, but at least the process is predictable, eh?

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! self-inflicted angst, broken promises, and more (always more) corpses.

Chapters: 16 chapters out of 35(?) edited

Current word count: 40,731 out of 100,000

Body count: 3

Excursions outside: What is this “outside” you speak of?

Cups of coffee: Let’s just… not go there.

Sunny Days Ahead

Ever since that snowfall two weeks ago, Michigan has been all sunshine and flowers. Within the space of a weekend, every tree here has burst forth with leaves or blossoms. Spring is quite literally in the air. And by spring I mean pollen.

Here’s to you, allergy-sufferers. May your antihistamines not make you drowsy.

Instead of enjoying the everything’s-not-covered-in-ice weather, I’ve been holed up working on this (semi-)final draft. But I can see the neighbor mowing his lawn from my window so it’s just like being outside. Right?

But the end is in sight and soon – so soon, but not that soon, maybe another month, honest – I will be handing this not-so-shabby draft (can we just start calling all final drafts the not-so-shabby draft from now on?) over to my handful of delightful and I-swear-I’ll-pay-you-in-wine-and-chocolate betas and then picking up a glass of lemonade while sitting and relaxing on the front porch with all the windows open and nothing to do but watch the cars go by and the fireflies wake up and –

Aah, who am I kidding. I’ll be busy working on the next book while my betas read. Who needs rest and relaxation when you can have caffeine and anxiety, amiright??┬╣

 

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! desiccated corpses, moonlit vistas, and awkward flirtations.

Chapters: 12 chapters out of 35(?) edited

Current word count: 30,116 out of 100,000

Desiccated corpses in novel: 2

Desiccated corpses in real life: 0

┬╣No really I’m fine mom, I’m just exaggerating and not drinking 10 cups of coffee a day that would be entirely too unhealthy of course

Hello, hello

Wow, babies man. Thinking you can write a book while juggling a newborn and a job must be the mark of a madman.

Add updating your blog to the mix and, well.

Hi. *waves*

No news, as they say, is good news. And in a way, it is. I’ve been steadily working on this book (one of three, the second of which is already written, go figure) and after six(ish) months I have two rewrites and I’m finally starting on the not-quite-final draft. Thus, the life of a pantser┬╣. But I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Unless that light is a train. Which, you know, might explain the tracks and that no-longer-distant rumbling.

In the spirit of optimism, and a nod towards tradition, I’m going to check in here and keep y’all updated on this last (haha), heroic push towards a (not so) final draft.

Without further ado, here’s current progress on Book One, working title Redacted, the story of a historian turned assassin turned detective who’s more than just a little tired of this shit. Now with more! relatively benign crypts, exciting exorcisms, and ever-present sand. Oh god. So much sand.

Chapters: 2 chapters out of 30 edited

Current word count: 6,222 out of 100,000

Shots of whiskey: 0

How much sand?: So much sand.

┬╣Pantser, noun: One who writes without an outline, i.e. by the seat of one’s pants.

2016 Reading Goals

My main goal for this year is not only to read more, but to read more of the kind of books I enjoy. That is: fun, adventurous fantasy. On top of that, I’d also like to broaden my horizon and read from a diverse array of authors.

To assemble my own list, I rifled through the 2015 year-end best of lists for fantasy and diverse authors, tacked on a few I’d been interested in from earlier years, and came up with the following 21 definitely-gonna-read books (in no particular order):

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (YA)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (YA)
  • Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M Lee
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  • The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn
  • The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Sons of Thesian by ME Vaughan
  • Too Like the Lightning Ada Palmer
  • The Shadowed Sun by NK Jemisin
  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (YA)
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu
  • The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyviss (YA – 2016)

My total book goal for the year is 50, so this gives me some wiggle room. I have a tendency to just pick books up randomly and on a whim as I come across them online or in the world. This way, I have the ability to still do that, but also a core reading list that will help me a) stay up to date with recent fantasy, b) diversify my reading, and c) be a ton of fun to read through.

Do you have a reading goal for 2016?

2015 Review and 2016 Goals

 

It’s reflection and introspection season, and since we had a very quiet Christmas and Solstice, I’ve been doing a lot of that. Looking back over the year, deciding what went right and what went not so right, what habits to keep and what to discard, what I need to start fresh and what I need to renew.

If I compare this year’s productivity to 2014, it was a bust. I wrote 95k worth of fresh, wholly new words, whereas in 2014 I wrote over 115k. But the amount of editing and rewriting and revising I did this year is difficult to conceptualize and force into raw numbers for direction comparison. Half of 2015 was spent working on finishing up The Impossible Contract in various ways. And the second half was spent writing the first draft of a novella, then a YA fantasy ruckus.

I didn’t write every day. I became disillusioned and overwhelmed multiple times. I seriously thought about throwing in the towel at least once. It was a rough year for me, health-wise: both mentally and physically. I am taking steps to get back on keel, but there were certainly more downs than ups and those downs took their toll.

And yet. And yet this year was amazing. I had a solid two months where I could write as much as I wanted every day, and I did. I buckled down and kept writing, even as I wrote and rewrote my self-imposed deadlines. And at the end of the day, I had a book that I was prouder of than any other, that I knew had a chance of actually making it out in the world, that was as fun and serious as I had set out to make it… and an agent.

So yeah. 2015 was pretty awesome.

As for 2016, I only have two goals: write more and read more.

What about you?

Trudging Along

20151017_163240


I’ll be writing so much more!
she said.

Having a job will give me focus again! she said.

I’ll have that 20k written within the week! she said.

Somebody has been overestimating herself again.

But hey – I may not have written much this weekend, but I finally got to go and participate in our city’s amazing Dia De Los Muertos procession. We were too late to reach the urn and put in our notes (mementos, wishes, notes about loved ones who have passed go in the urn to be burned at the end of the ceremony), but the whole experience was wonderingly cathartic.

I love the idea of a special time every year set aside specifically to honor the dead, whether they’re your long-passed ancestors or a more recent grief. There are so many cultures that do something like Dia De Los Muertos, but we don’t have anything close in the US. We think by pretending death doesn’t exist, we can make it go away. Instead, we just shuttle all those grieving to the shadows and tell them to come back when they feel better. :/

——

Here is my current progress on OIBM, a YA fantasy ruckus about magical girls, the apocalypse, and exactly whose fault it is:

Fun Recent Google Searches: Polyphemus, the cyclops from the Odyssey

Average Words Per Day This Week: 632 (oof)

Number of impenetrable underground bunkers: 1

November, November

october-32

It’s NaNoWriMo season! In years past, this month would have found me stocked up on candy corn and bursting with plot. Alas, PCOS means I really shouldn’t be eating pure sugar and the events of the last two months have conspired to drag out the draft zero process of this WIP. Instead of candy corn and plot, I have kale and 20k words to go – which, we can work with.

I may not be doing NaNo as it was intended, but by golly, that draft will be finished this month, rain or shine, job or no job –

Speaking of which, I will again enjoy full employment as of tomorrow. Hoorah! Aside from the joy of a regular paycheck and learning something new, I’m also looking forward to having a set schedule again. These past few months of (f)unemployment have been necessary in showing that, surprise surprise, I don’t manage huge gobs of free time very well. I write much better in the corners and edges of life, not right front and center. I write much more when I have a job than when I don’t, which isn’t that surprising.

So on top of having less free time, I’m looking forward to writing more. 20k will be easy peasy. I’m going to harness NaNo’s energy to get that done asap, and then lock this draft away and turn to another story that has been scratching at my thoughts: rewriting City of Wraithes into something much more exciting and awesome.

Here is my current progress on OIBM, a YA fantasy ruckus about magical girls, the apocalypse, and exactly whose fault it is:

Fun Recent Google Searches: How to do a fireman’s carry. Looks easy! I doubt it actually is – now I just need to trick a friend into letting me try it on them…

Average Words Per Day This Week: Ugh, not even gonna look this time.

Number of sinkholes introduced to the story: 1