Writer In Progress

One writer's quest to find her voice and become a published author

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Moving

I doubt anyone reads this thing, but on the off-chance that someone does, I’m posting a link to my new blog: http://quix689.wordpress.com/

I realized a bit late that Tumblr’s more for short blurbs and not long, rambling posts like I write, so I moved all of my posts over to WordPress.

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First round of deletions: complete

I’ve been working on editing the first novel I wrote for NaNo, Tilt Your Head and Smile. At first I was just going to do what I usually do when I edit, which is go through a hard copy and make notes on what I want to delete, what I want to expand on, things like that. I usually try to do big picture editing first, though sometimes I can’t help but fix typos when I see them.

I’m still doing that, but I have also decided to start playing with the program yWriter. It’s a free program created by a fellow Wrimo, and it’s really cool. It lets you keep track of all the scenes in your novel and which characters are in how many scenes and which point of view that scene is told from and all that stuff. It seemed to detailed for me to use when I first wrote the novel, but now that I’m in the editing phase, I’m finding it helpful.

Tonight I finished rereading my first draft. I also now have the entire thing copied into yWriter, and I have made my first round of deletions. I have added a couple lines of dialogue or reflection to certain areas, but for the most part, I’ve just deleted passages that were repetitive or stupid. I knew I would lose a lot of words that way, but I was not prepared for just how many I would lose. My novel went from 103,000 to 79,877.

Yup. I deleted 23,000 words from my novel. That’s almost a quarter of my novel, gone, and I haven’t even fixed all the scenes that are in third person but should be in first (which is about half of my novel).

This is going to take more work than I originally though, I think. I don’t really want to rewrite the entire thing, but I will if that’s the only way. My next step is to sit down and figure out what I want the overall plot to be. It’s litfic, so the plot’s a lot looser than in other genres, but I still need to work on it. That’s my goal for tomorrow: figure out which characters to keep and which parts of the plot to keep and expand on and which parts need to be deleted.

Filed under nanowrimo tilt your head and smile ywriter editing

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My (incomplete) 2012 book list

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I will be participating in the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge. I’ve decided to post my reading list. This list isn’t complete yet, and it’s subject to change at any time (especially since I don’t own all books on this list and might chose to substitute one of them for something cheaper), but this is what I have so far, so I figured I might as well go with it.

I’m hoping to read 26 fiction books and 26 nonfiction books. Here’s my fiction list:

  1. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
  2. Death Masks by Jim Butcher
  3. Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
  4. Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
  5. Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
  6. White Night by Jim Butcher
  7. Small Favor by Jim Butcher
  8. Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
  9. Changes by Jim Butcher
  10.  Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
  11. Side Jobs by Jim Butcher
  12. White road by Lynn Flewelling
  13. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  14. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  15. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  16. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  17. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  18. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  19. Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
  20. Thin is the New Happy by Valerie Frankel
  21. Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
  22. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
  23. The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

 

And here’s my nonfiction list:

 

  1. Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson
  2. Harmful to Minors  by Judith Levine
  3. Forbidden Bodies by Shelley Bovey
  4. Fat!so? by Marilyn Wann
  5. Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher
  6. Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Elliot
  7. Erotic Innocence by James R. Kincaid
  8. On Writing by Stephen King
  9. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace
  10. How to Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen
  11. Lapsing Into a Comma by Bill Walsh
  12. The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch
  13. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  14. The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens
  15. God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
  16. The Quotable Atheist by Jack Huberman
  17. The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
  18. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
  19. He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut by Jessica Valenti
  20. The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
  21. When Sex Goes to School by Kristin Luker

Filed under 52books

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"I’m going to make this moment mine…"

A friend of mine recently posted a question on her blog asking two very interesting questions: Why do you write? Who do you write for?

Those are two questions I’ve never really stopped to think about before, though part of my answer is quite similiar to hers. The main reason I write is because other people don’t write about what I’m interested in. There are many books out there that interest me, of course, but there are very few characters that I can relate to all the time. Most novels feature strong characters, characters that speak up for themselves or who say what they feel even if it makes them unpopular. I understand this, and most of my favorite books have such characters as their protagonists.

But I really want to see in books are characters who are afraid to speak. Characters who don’t have any friends. I’m tired of reading about “social outcasts” who have a best friend they share everything with. I can’t relate to that. I made small talk with people in my classes sometimes, but after middle school I rarely hung out with anyone. I was only invited to one party, and I spent the whole time in the corner by myself because I was too afraid to talk to the people I knew there. I ate by myself most of ninth grade, and two other years I ate with people I barely knew because it was better than being by myself. Even now, when I hang out in the NaNoLanta chatroom, I’m usually one of the ones who lurks and just enjoys reading what other people are talking about because I’m afraid to put myself out there. I was invited to a fellow Wrimo’s party last weekend and didn’t go because I had a mini panic attack outside their apartment and couldn’t bring myself to go inside.

I want to read about a character like that. I’ve read stories about people who say the wrong things in social situations. I want to read about someone who is so afraid of saying the wrong thing that she doesn’t say anything. I haven’t found a book like that. That’s why I write them. Most people try not to write characters who are too much like they are. I aim for that because that is what I would want to read. So, in a way, I agree with Chomsky when she says that she writes for herself.

But I also want to write for others, which is where Chomsky and I differ. She doesn’t care about being published. I want to. Of course, I don’t want to get published so badly that I sacrifice what I find interesting to match what other people want. I, too, find myself unable to change my writing to make other people happy. I will listen to suggestions, of course, and I will change things when I agree that the other person was right, but I can’t really change my style to make others happy.

I’ve found that I can’t write short stories unless they have some sort of deeper meaning. I find them boring otherwise. I wrote a short story for my first college writing class that was an allegory for teen pregnancy and double standards. My teacher told me she would rather I write about a girl who got pregnant, that I shouldn’t use fiction for something like that, that an essay would have been better. I didn’t listen. My next story I wrote more like what she was looking for, but I refused to take a story that was close to me and turn it into something that I would find boring to read about.

And I have to believe that I’m not the only one who would rather have read my story than a story about a girl who got pregnant and had her boyfriend ditch her. I have to believe that I’m not the only one who has that much trouble talking to people. I have to believe that others out there feel how I feel, at least to some degree.

And that is part of why I want to get published. If I would benefit from reading more stories about people like me, then maybe my stories could help other people if they read them, too. Maybe it would help them feel not so alone.

The other reason I want to get published is because it would be really awesome if I could make enough money from my writing that I wouldn’t have to work. I know that’s highly unlikely, but it can still be a dream. As I’ve made abundantly clear in this post, I’m horrible at talking to people. That makes finding a job I would even half enjoy next to impossible. Writing would allow me to work from home and not have to deal with people face-to-face on a regular basis.
Hell, at this point I’d settle just for getting a book published, even if it didn’t earn me enough money to quit my job. At least it would be something I could be proud of. Everyone else I went to high school with has a cool job or his/her own apartment (or both). I don’t have either, and I would be okay with that if I could point to a book on a shelf in a bookstore and say, “Hey, I wrote that.”

Filed under nanowrimo writing shyness fear publishing

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My BFS List

At the end of NaNo each year, a new set of forums show up on the site called “December and Beyond.” One of those forums is The Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together. Here, Wrimos can make a list of things they hope to accomplish in the following year. Here’s mind:

-Find a job that doesn’t make me want to murder all those around me.

- Finish the novel I wrote for 50k weekend

-Edit both novels that I finished this NaNo

-Win Script Frenzy

-Win both sessions of Camp NaNo

-Keep a blog going for an entire year, writing at least once a week (if not more)

-Build up a portfolio so I can actually apply for writing jobs

-Read 52 books in 52 weeks

That last one isn’t on my list on the site, but I’m adding it anyway. I saw the link to the challenge on the site, and I thought it sounded like a great idea. I haven’t been reading as much as I used to, and that needs to change. I have a huge stack of unread books on my bookshelf, and I’m probably going to get more for Christmas. I need to start reading again.

In addition to making my “to read” pile smaller, reading more will help improve my writing. The fiction books will help me figure out how best to write the stories I have planned in my head (and how to fix the stories I already have on paper), and the nonfiction books will help me think of new topics to write about to build my portfolio.

My original plan was to read 26 nonfiction books and 26 fiction books. Since my to read list currently consists of 22 fiction books and only 8 nonfiction books, I’m thinking that might not actually happen. Still, I’m going to see how close to that I can get. I used to be up to date on things that were happening in the world. I used to be informed. I want to get to that point again.

The week starts on Sunday. That means that each week (either Saturday or Sunday) I will post a review of the book I have just finished. This should help keep me accountable and provide me a chance to practice writing some book reviews.

Filed under nanowrimo reading writing camp nanowrimo screnzy BFS list

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"Time, where did you go?"

The last TGIO party for NaNo was tonight. I got a couple of posters, some stickers, On Writing by Stephen King, and a book cover to be designed by one of the MLs. It was a great night. I’m just sad that it means that this is all over.

I had a great month. I met or exceeded all of my goals for myself:

  • I wanted to finish a novel. I finished “Tilt Your Head and Smile” and even managed to finish draft two of “Learning to Lie” - finally!
  • I wanted to write every day. When I set that goal, I thought I would be lucky to at least write 500 a day. Then I wanted to at least hit goal every day. I ended up writing at least 2k a day. Several days were over 15k, bringing my average word count to 7.4k a day.
  • I wanted to hit 75k total. I ended up writing 222,545 words last month, in four different stories. It was amazing. I never thought I could write that much so fast.
  • I wanted to be more active in the NaNo community. I went out for drinks with one of the MLs. I hung out in a hotel with WriMos from all over the continent. I was invited to a fellow wrimo’s party. I ended up not going because I had a minor freak out that night instead, but I was still invited.

It’s exciting. People know me. I’m still one of the more quiet ones, but I’m starting to get out there a bit more. I have people cheering for me to do well. I have people who are happy to see my enter the chat. I was included in a race among several Overachievers. It has been my most exciting month in a long time. I’m sad to see it end.

In other news, I was Facebook stalking people today and learned that one of the guys I went to high school with (he was co-editor of the paper with me and was a year behind me) is now teaching Spanish at our high school. That’s so weird. That more than anything else has made me feel like a complete failure. He’s managed to become a teacher already. And what have I accomplished? I’m a school photographer and a columnist for a magazine that can’t pay for articles.

I’m actually really excited about the columnist thing. I’m going to be writing a column called “Unpopular Culture” for the magazine Wildflower. I will have two columns a month and will write an article for the paper issue that comes out four times a year. I’m excited. I’ve already started coming up with a list of topics to write about.

My goal for the upcoming year is to build up a portfolio so I can try to get a paying gig as a writer. I also want to edit at least one of my novels so that I can try to sell it. I can handle rejection letters. I just want to start trying to get something out there. If I can become a published writer, I can handle all the other crap in my life.

Filed under nanowrimo overachiever writing

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"I don’t think you know that I believe in you…"

I haven’t updated since NaNo started. I’ve been too busy working on my stories. This is my first year as an overachiever. Well, last year I was an accidental overachiever, but I didn’t overachieve by that much (67k total).

This year is different. I knew that I couldn’t finish a novel at 50k, and I knew that if I focused and wrote, I could write more than 50k in a month. So I set my goal to 75k or a finished novel, whichever I would be able to do in a month.

Then on the first day of NaNo I participated in a challenge set forth by another overachiever, and I set a Day One Ridiculous Goal (DORG) for myself of 15k. I thought I was crazy, but I also figured that it wouldn’t hurt to try. I thought I would get as close as I could and then just be proud of that. Instead, I wrote 19k. I could have written more if I hadn’t been at a write-in and needed to drive home before midnight. Next year I am defniitely aiming for 20k on the first day.

I hit 50k a little bit after noon on day 6. I hit 100k on day 14. I finished my first novel (Tilt Your Head and Smile) at 103k exactly. I am currently working on a fanfiction piece I just started and my NaNo from last year, which still needs to be finished. I am also participating in 50k weekend, during which time I will be starting a new story, whose plot I have only started to sketch out. I might be pantsing that more than I usually like, but that’s okay. It’ll be part of the challenge.

I’m sitting at 143k right now. I’m hoping to hit 150k tonight, but I will definitely do it by tomorrow at the latest. If I succeed in the 50k weekend challenge (the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after Thanksgiving), I will have a total word count of over 200k for this month. That is more than I ever thought I could possibly do. I am so proud of myself, and that is a feeling I have not felt in a really long time.

Thank you, National Novel Writing Month, for giving me a little bit of confidence back, even if it’s for something that most people don’t really understand.

Filed under nanowrimo 50k weekend overachiever

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"And when I think about it, I just can’t think about it…"

I’m so excited! NaNoWriMo starts in a week! Six days, seven hours, and forty-seven minutes to be precise. I’m so excited! I have my outline and various lists of things to include somewhere within that outline. I want it to be November so I can hurry up and write!

There are two kickoff parties this weekend that I might be attending. I’m definitely gong to the one Sunday night. The one on Saturday coincides with my sister’s Halloween party, but I’m not sure that she really wanted me there anyway, so I may just ditch that and meet some more Wrimos.

I have spoken with my boss, and she has agreed to give me November 1 off - assuming no one calls out sick and no schools get added on at the last minute, both of which are fairly common occurrences. Still, I’m hopeful that I will get to keep that day off. If that is the case, I am raising my Day One Ridiculous Goal to 15k instead of 10k.

One of the Atlanta MLs is hosting a midnight kickoff party at her place, and I hope to attend. It goes until 3 am, so I’m really hoping no one calls out sick at the last minute - I usually have to wake up around 5:30 for work, and two hours of sleep would not be good. Maybe I should just count on getting a lot of sleep Monday afternoon while I can, just in case. :)

Filed under nanowrimo

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Good things come to those who plan…

I had several hours of break at work today. During one such break, I went across the street to Zaxby’s for lunch and started to plan my novel. I knew if I stayed at the school I would have to take a bunch of faculty pictures, and this way was so much more productive.

I had already made a long list of items to include in my novel, but they were in no real order except for the first two chapters. I am now proud to announce that I have a completed outline for Tilt Your Head and Smile!

I have 30 chapters, one for each day of the month. If I can make each one at least 2500 words, I should be able to reach my 75k goal easily. I’m really excited, and I wish NaNo started tomorrow. Still, two weeks from today I will hopefully be at the first write-in of the month, and that is enough for me for now. :)

Filed under nanowrimo outlining