Thursday, February 27, 2014

Infrequent Blogging is Good News

Right? Right.

Because it means I'm using my words elsewhere. Mostly in my novel. I've been working most recently on developing more distinct voices. When I started this manuscript, the characters weren't wholly solidified in my own mind, so there wasn't a lot of differentiation since I didn't know in what ways they were different yet. Now that I have a clearer vision for that, it's actually fun to look back and be able to say, "that's not what she would say--she would say this instead."

So while editing sometimes feels like navigating a labyrinth, I'm enjoying the moments where I am beginning to see the path more clearly.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hearkening to the muse

I took on three resolutions on January 1 of this year that are daily tasks. One of them is to write something every day. Work stuff/grading comments/emails don't count. Blogs, yes. Stories, yes. Poems, yes. Narrative essays, argumentative essays, research papers, yes. Sure. Whatevs.

So I've been doing that and making lots of progress on my NaNo novel from November.

But yesterday, while I was working on another daily task, inspiration struck. I finished what I was doing, opened my laptop, and started a new story before I could forget my idea. It's an epistolary story. The characters, concept, setting, and main conflict all sprang seamlessly into existence. I don't know where it's ultimately going to go, but I'm terribly intrigued.

And I'm slightly worried about getting distracted from my novel. But maybe it's a good thing? If I'm writing every day, maybe it will be really good to have major projects to switch between while my ideas are brewing?

Anyone else have this worry of maybe having too many works in progress? Is it like yarn where there's a certain point where you shouldn't allow yourself to buy any more until you've knitted up what you have? How many current projects is a reasonable number of projects?

A) Somewhere between 1 and 10?
B) A writer is only limited by the space on her hard drive?
C) When you start forgetting who or what you're writing about, stop adding new projects?

Tell me!


P. S. I love the Don't Break the Chain printable (free!) calendars designed by Karen Kavett. My resolutions would be short-lived without this kind of accountability.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Awards Season

But not those awards. I'm talking about the American Library Association Youth Media Awards! You know, Newbery, Caldecott, Printz...all the fancy metallic award stickers you find on great books.

The ALA just announced the 2014 winners today. I always like to look over the list when it comes out because it gives me lots of great things to add to my reading list. But it's especially exciting to see a book you read and loved in the last year receive an award.

I've mentioned Rainbow Rowell here before. I read Eleanor & Park a couple of months ago and have since then devoured everything Rainbow Rowell has published so far. I started following her on Tumblr and came to admire how kind and encouraging she is to her fans all the time. Look at her Twitter page at the time I'm writing this and you will see hundreds of individual responses to fans who have reached out to congratulate her. I'm so glad to see such a lovely, kind person receive an honor today, and especially for such a powerful and compassionate book.

And now I'm off to expand my "to read" list.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

About that novel I wrote last month...

I said I'd talk more about it. So here are some things I can say about it:
  • I'm rather fond of this novel.
  • I'm rather fond of the characters in this novel.
  • I'm rather fond of the setting and plot of this novel (a mystery party on a train from New York to San Francisco).
  • This novel comes with fewer caveats than any of the other novels I've written so far. It feels right. It feels like I don't have to explain it. It is what it is, and I like what it is.
  • I just want to keep working on it. I like working on it.
  • I actually want people to read this novel. This novel is not too shy for company.
I just finished another Rainbow Rowell novel (Just finished. Ate it all up in two days. Set it down half an hour ago.). I went and rated it on Goodreads and then saw a message in my inbox about a recent Q & A session with the author, followed the link, and read the interview. One thing she said really stuck with me about the risk you take in writing things like novels for other people to read: "There's nothing safe about writing a novel; it's just too personal and too big. You have to put yourself out there."

She's right--it's a deeply personal experience. You write about the kinds of things you like, the kinds of people you like, the way you see the world, and someone could pick it up and just say "Eh...not my kind of thing," or worse, "Ugh, I can't stand this kind of drivel," and just think of how awful that would feel. It would feel like the people who don't like your work don't like a part of you. So the idea of setting your novel free, putting it out there for all the world to pick up and read or, you know, not, is kind of horrifying. It doesn't feel safe; it's horribly intimidating. But then there's also this other part in the interview:
When Attachments was first published in the UK, I flew to London to meet my editor there. (I didn't have to go, but I thought it would be so cool to see my book on the shelf in another country.) So I went to this Thai restaurant with my editor, and she told me that I didn't have to write books that everyone likes, that I shouldn't even worry about that. She said that having a writing career is about finding "your people," the people who specifically appreciate you. She said, "Your people are out there. You just have to hang in there while we find them." It was so encouraging at the time.
Finding your people. I think it's like that Lewisian description of friendship--
Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one." (The Four Loves)
I've lost count of the number of times I've experienced this kind of recognition while reading a book. The moments of "Ah! So I'm not the only one who thinks that! I'm not the only one who is like that!" This kind of mutual recognition is the force behind all fandoms in the modern world. "You love Sherlock?! I love Sherlock!" It can be a powerful, powerful thing. The idea of writing for that limited audience--your people--is comforting for those of us who are just starting out. We don't have to impress everyone. We just have to find our people.

The encouraging thing about this novel I'm working on is that I can actually imagine people beyond myself liking it. It wasn't an exercise in self discipline or a challenge to myself to see if I could even do it--to see if I was capable of writing a story, beginning to end. It was an idea I loved with characters that were right. It's a story with momentum and depth and growth. And not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think there are parts of it that are kind of hilarious.

I want to share my story with people. I am sharing my story with people. I'm cleaning up the first draft and sending it chapter by chapter to my writing group for critique (which is really intimidating, even if there's only five of them). I'm tidying the prose and picking up the pace. I'm helping get it ready to meet its people, whoever they are.

I know I haven't said a lot about what this book is about on this blog--I've been hesitant to post anything specific for fear of having to change it later. Sorry. Once I make a bit more progress on this second draft, I'm hoping to post my hook here, in case anyone's interested. The hook I wrote during NaNo is a little outdated--the whole story got a little bigger than I planned, which is an exciting problem to have. It just means I need to do a little integration and sweeping to tidy things up.

So there you have it. News from the front lines. Courage is winning the day, and anxiety is sounding a retreat. Glory, glory, hallelujah.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

All done. :)

Just to keep everyone in the loop--I finished yesterday afternoon, but I was on a road trip and didn't have abundant internet access, so thus the late update. Stats coming soon.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Wow, I owe you guys an update. It's been long, hard work this month, but I am loving this year's story. As long as it comes together in the end, and I really think it will, I think this is "the one": the one I'm going to clean up and begin pursuing publishing with. There's lots I could say about it, and I'll have more details next week about what writing it has been like, but for the time being, since I'm less than 10,000 words away from the end (and since I finally am caught up on my word count again), here's something to tide you over:

The last week of my life involved the following:
- Jury Duty
- A bat (the nocturnal mammal variety)
- Teaching (Augustine and Romeo and Juliet)
- Emergency subbing for two classes (Wesley and Formal Logic)
- Compiling and editing many many pages of Supreme Court Cases for coursepacks
- Choir practice and church
- Finishing Legend by Marie Lu
- Insomnia (*waves* hiiii!!!)
- Writing almost 20,000 words (Thanks, Mom B, for praying--I think we can call this answered prayer!)

Yep, that about sums it up. I'm on Thanksgiving Break now (no classes, but I'm working a few hours in the office through noon on Wednesday). I'm going to see if I can finish by the end of the day on Thanksgiving. :)


For those who like charts and things:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Captain's Log, Part 1

Here inscribed is the full account of mine adventures hitherto:

Day 1
*sings* Just typin’ typin’ typin’, typin’ up mah story!
2262 words, exceeded goal by 595.

Day 2
Writin’ writin’ writin’, writin’ a kind of boring travel sequence… *Lots of private rail car and New York research*
3823 total, 1561 words added, 489 words ahead.

Day 3
I have spent a surprising amount of time in the last 48 hours wandering around Midtown Manhattan using Google Maps street view. Also, Central Park. This has been a pleasant and informative day of writing.
5769 words total, 1946 words added, 768 words ahead.