Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year Stuff

Now Playing: THE LORD OF THE RINGS SOUNDTRACK by Howard Shore
Just Read: SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK--Great book! Very fun story, and loved all the cat references. Having just visited the Biltmore, I loved the details.
Reading Now: THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill

It's a brand new year! A chance to set and achieve a ton of new writing goals, and I have plenty.

But I'm only going to set vague ones, in the hopes of having a greater chance of achieving them. In brief, they are: Write more. Edit more. Read more. Submit more.

I'll only get specific with one idea: to write and submit at least one story per month the way I did back in my Write1Sub1 days. That worked really well for me, left a lot of time for editing, and was doable. So, I'd like to bring it back. Additionally, I'd like to read 50 new books this year. The most I've ever read was 40, but I think 50 is a good goal. Also, I have a shelf of fiction magazines I'd like to read and recycle--hope to make some progress there in 2019.

This past year was a great one in a thousand ways, but as far as my writing goals, I maybe fell a bit short. I wrote four new stories and finished NaNoWriMo with a new 50K word manuscript (that's now about 60K). So, I did a good amount of writing, just not as much as I would like. I'm not beating myself up about it--I was a senior in grad school most of the year, starting a new job giving anesthesia during the rest of the year. But now that it's 2019, it's time to get more of a routine and figure out how to fit everything I'd like to write into my schedule.

I hope everyone has a blessed and productive 2019!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

December Lethargy

Now Playing: ANNA MOLLY by Incubus
Just Read: GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn--A ridiculous story, but I enjoyed it. The writing in particular was great. She does a phenomenal job of making me dislike everyone in the whole book.
Reading Now: SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK by Robert Beatty

You're reading the blog of a 2018 NaNoWriMo Winnerrrrrrr!!!

That's right, I was able to pound out 50,000 words in the month of November. Got my certificate and everything. Took me right up until the last day, and I had to manage over 5000 words on the 30th, but I did it, and it was worth the work.

So why did it take me over two weeks to post about it? Because I was exhausted, that's why.

50K in a month is a lot, but honestly it's not unfathomable. It's less than 2K per day average, which is what (I hear) the pros do when they write full-time. I don't write full-time, of course--I write on my days off and sometimes squeeze in a few words on the other days. So NaNo was a lot, but as I get better and better, and closer to being a professional, such output should hopefully come easier.

And, I'm recovered now. I needed to take a step back and reassess where my story was going. I also needed to do some reading, which got neglected in favor of writing. But I'm back and have managed about 3000 words so far this month, edited one story for the Writers of the Future Contest, and started brainstorming for January's story. I'm also trying to decide what my 2019 writing goals should be. More submissions, definitely.

As usual, the time for basking in the glory of a victory is short. Time to get back to work.

Monday, November 19, 2018

NaNo Update

Now Playing: BARRACUDA by Heart
Just Read: THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH--Loved this. Ken Follett has really catapulted himself to the top of my list of favorite authors, after reading The Century Trilogy and now starting in on the Kingsbridge Trilogy. Such a slow-pace, high-build, well-plotted work.
Reading Now: GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn

I'm behind.

Not irrevocably so, but pretty behind. By the end of today, in order to be on track to finish 50,000 words in the month of November, I should be at 31,673. I'm at about 21,000. Ten thousand words in one day? That's a challenge. I could probably do it, too, but I doubt I will.

With Thanksgiving this week, traveling to family and enjoying time with them, I expect I'll be pretty far behind still by next weekend. I have eleven days to write about 30,000 more words. That's a lot!

I've got a good plan that extends to about seven chapters right now. I think that if I wrote all the prose in the plan, I would be close to 50K, about halfway through the novel. So there's a great amount of work ahead of me. I really want to hit that 50K mark, but honestly I really am more excited about the story itself. Which is the important part. Still, 50K . . . . So enticing.

Anyway, enough idle writing--back to the story!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Long-Awaited Sequel?

Now Playing: THE ARRIVAL AT TATOOINE AND THE FLAG PARADE By John Williams

I've probably done more writing-related activity today than I've done in a long time, maybe ever. I was really excited about participating in NaNoWriMo this year. It would be my first since 2013, when I wrote a novel called Star Born. I wanted to use this November to write the sequel.

But first I needed to refresh myself. I wrote Star Born a long time ago, and though I remembered a lot of it and thought about it frequently, I wasn't as up-to-date as I thought I should be when starting its sequel. So I printed out a copy and took a pen to it, editing feverishly over the course of as few days as I could manage. I did it in about two.

But reading it with a pen and a critical eye turned out to be the quick part. It took much longer to go through the word document and type in the changes I made. Plus, I made a bunch of notes about details that needed to be added earlier in the novel, so it took forever going back and forth, adding paragraphs and details here and there, and being as careful as I could not to add something that created a plot hole somewhere else.

But I had the day off today and was determined to finish it. I edited 162 pages today, I'm guessing about 45K words. I'm happy with how it turned out. I think it needs one more read--a polish--before it's ready to be queried. However, I'm definitely ready to write the sequel.

Having spent the first day of NaNoWriMo editing, I'm a bit behind. Fortunately, it runs 24 hours for the whole month. So I'm going to publish this post, open Star Born 2, and start it.

I'll try to post regular updates throughout the month . . . but if Nano 2018 is anything like 2013, I'll see you in December.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

An Old Idea, Finally Being Written

Now Playing: MY LIFE FOR HIRE by A Day to Remember
Just Read: THE RUNAWAY JURY by John Grisham--Another good one by a great author. He does a terrific job of keeping my interest, not giving too much away, and keeping the ending just out of sight. Worth studying!
Reading Now: THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett

A while ago, I had this idea for a story about a robot. It struck me that it could really be a great story. I don't always think this about my works in progress--I usually think a story could be competent, sometimes even good. But I'd like to think I can honestly examine my own work, and not a lot of it reaches that top tier of being worthy of the description "great."

But I really had high hopes for this one. It was a story I loved watching over and over again in my imagination. I saw moments that tugged at my heart strings, suspense and tension, and a good sense of adventure. I read a lot of Writers of the Future stories, because I'm always trying to win that contest, and I thought this robot story, perhaps more than any other story I'd ever written, had a chance to soar to the top.

I'm always hoping my submissions are climbing up the ladder at WotF, but never more than this previous quarter. I received an email saying my story had passed the first read and would now be read by head judges. I was ecstatic. I'd never received such an email before, though I had won six Honorable Mentions.

Ultimately, I received another, my seventh. I feel as though that's a lot, and I'd like to think it means I'm on the cusp of breaking through into the "Finalist" arena, maybe even winning.

So this week, now that I've gotten started with my new day job career as a nurse anesthetist, I started writing the robot story. Today I got in over 3000 words. It isn't finished, but I like where it's going, and I'm way ahead of my usual schedule for submission for WotF. I'm hoping to finish it, let it sit, then edit it until it's as close to perfect as I can get it for submission for this quarter, ending December 31. I hope hope hope I can nail this one.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Getting Back To It

Now Playing: A JOURNEY IN THE DARK by Howard Shore
Just Read: CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff--Loved this book! Absolutely fantastic writing throughout; really on the best written books I've read in a long time. Really enjoyed the language and characterization of the supporting cast.
Reading Now: THE RUNAWAY JURY by John Grisham

Just wrote my first new words since finishing graduate school. It was a good feeling, but it wasn't much--a few hundred words that came to me (at the risk of sounding cliche) in the shower. I was thinking about how John Grisham always writes about law adventures because he's a lawyer--maybe I should write about anesthetics. So I did.

Getting back to it after a long absence is hard. I've done it before, always because of time constraints of one type or another. Each time requires a bit of a transitional period to get the metaphorical dust off. I usually start with some editing and lots of thinking, which I did today.

I was thinking about where to send stories I've already written but haven't had the time to shop around. My mom wanted me to clean out my old desk back home, and in it I found a Writers of the Future Honorable Mention certificate--that makes seven for me, which I consider to be good, but what I really want is a win. A few of those stories that earned Honorable Mentions haven't been to other magazines; today I was brainstorming where would be best, and doing some mild editing to that end.

In short, it's back to work. It is work, and I have to remember that and not sit around and wait for the fabled muse to bless me. I'm going to set a writing goal tomorrow, and see if I can meet it. Wish me luck. Or better yet--tell me to get to it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Onward!

Now Playing: SKYRIM by Jeremy Soule
Just Read: A WALK ACROSS THE SUN by Corban Addison--I wish some of these characters were a little more active (things kept happening TO them), but overall I enjoyed this book.
Reading Now: CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff

Well, it's been a long road, but grad school is over and I've successfully passed boards! I'm going to be a nurse anesthetist! The final six months of school flew by, and the last few weeks especially have been a whirlwind. But I'm finally on this side of it, and it feels so good.

At the beginning of school we had a talk about time-energy commitment. The idea is that some things require a lot of time to accomplish, while others take a lot of energy. An undertaking like anesthesia school takes both. And you only have a finite amount to give to the things you want to accomplish.

I was happy to agree to this commitment, but it came with certain sacrifices. Writing fiction was mine--I used to write one story per week. The glory days! That was in the Write1Sub1 era, maybe like 2012. I dropped down and pretty consistently wrote one story per month until school started, but my productivity kept decreasing as school went on and became more and more all-consuming.

But now it's done! And one thing that never stopped the whole time was the influx of ideas. I have a notes app on my phone with almost 400 new story ideas. That's a lot of writing ahead of me. Now that I've got some time, I'm hoping to tackle a few of them, maybe even in a rush over the next month. An explosion of pent-up fiction! Let's get started.