Celebrating the Little Things

I made it to the end of my pre-revision revision today, and now I have a fairly chronological version of my story with something resembling plot and a hundred thousand (ish) fewer words than the previous version. Yes, I still have word count issues, but they are so much smaller than the ones I was expecting.

Some of those words are things that will go into the next book (if there is one) and some of them are just plain cuts. Some of them are strange new versions of things I already wrote, and some of them don’t fit in with the timeline I finally decided on.

One of my main characters gets arrested–surprise–and that more or less wipes out a whole series of scenes that would happen… if she weren’t in prison. And I cut out a whole lot of love scenes that are… well, mostly just mushy. That’s the biggest area where I’m overwriting. They tend to be a strange combination of “let’s cuddle” and “so, tell me about yourself.” That would be basically me talking to myself, and working out different chunks of story.

I also removed a fairly sizable chunk where I’m working on a different story. Like, contemporary murder mystery popping up right in the middle of my scifi manuscript. Don’t know how that got there.

So, now I’m debating what the next step is. I think it probably involves going over each of my main characters’ timelines, and making sure that everything is there. I have plot-grid dreams. Something to keep everything together and on track.

In the meantime, I think I’ll just celebrate being done with this part.

 

IWSG: So, Do I Still Fit In?

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts on the first Wednesday of the month. More information and the sign-up can be found here.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG will be Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter!

When I was working on my first novel–the one in my bottom desk drawer–I was working at a bookstore. I was in a writers’ group, and even though my novel wasn’t up everybody’s alley, we all got along. We had fun. It was a community, and I felt like I belonged.

Now, I’m drifting. I’m in a more mundane job, and my real-life creative community? Well, it lacks cohesion. Here and there, I run into people who write. We have a coke, we talk… the structure and routine are missing. And progress? I really don’t know. I guess you can talk about writing whether you’re getting words or not.

I’ve started thinking of going to a writers’ conference. I’m finally at a place where I might be able to afford it, and where it might actually be worth the money. And let’s be honest, the idea of going out and spending a weekend with my own kind doesn’t sound bad, either.

Hello, insecurities!

Absolutely everything, from finishing my revision (I’m not counting it out.) to what I’ll wear, and the general–and terrifying–fact that I won’t know anyone, I’ll get lost on the way to class, and I’ll probably forget my locker combination.

It’s been a long time, and I’m jittery abut the whole thought.

Anybody else in the same boat? When you’ve been away from other creatives for a while, how do you get back in?  Just close your eyes and jump, or wade in carefully? Any tips?

Juggling Timelines and Cutting with Vigor

I’m making progress on putting my manuscript into chronological order. Most of the time, it’s my own stubbornness slowing things down. Oh, yes…. I’m aware that I just cut out that whole timeline, but that scene is so good.

I’m moving things from wherever they happened to fall in the old manuscript file to their places in the new one, and labeling as I go.

I  have 169 pages left in my original disorganized chunk.

I started counting somewhere around 497.

I’m also cutting a lot of words (or at least throwing them into the cut this file. I’m not a barbarian.) And that’s a good thing, because the manuscript is over the limit, and besides, every word I cut is another word I don’t have to revise later.

I’ll have to write new chunks later, to fill in a timeline that was diverted to send a major character to prison.

I’m still on a tight word budget. Mostly, every word I write will have to be cut from somewhere else, or I’ll wind up with a series that doesn’t begin with a stand-alone. But… I’m not as hopelessly over as I was before the organization and machete-ing.

I’m getting there. Slowly.

Neighbors, Editing, and Freezing Rain

The neighbor is outside in the freezing rain, huddled in the corner, trying to suck in her nicotine fix before the real storm gets here.

Not to sound like an ABC special, or anything, but… well, I am rather enjoying being inside in the warm, instead. My fingers and toes especially like this.

So, here in the warm, I’m trying to organize the pants-er special that I’m revising. All I want is for it to be basically chronological before I keep moving on the revision.

I exported it from my writing software into Libre Office, and now, I’m cutting and pasting it back into my writing software. (This time in order, with the tangents removed.) I think I have more tangent than novel, right now. But I’m recording the pages disappearing from my Libre Office copy, so I have some small way of recording progress. I think I’m right around twenty or thirty pages down this evening.

I’ve found pieces that are so old, the main character’s appearance has completely changed.

And way, way too much on the romantic subplot. Well, I have to do something, when I can’t think of anything to write. We’ll pare it down. Add more explosions, and maybe an extra knife fight.

Did You Ever Know That You’re My…Jim Bowie?

Once upon a time, Jim Bowie was a mortal man, or so the story goes. Since then, he’s become a “folk hero” which means that separating out truth and fiction is a little tough, and mot people don’t really want to do it, in the first place. Make no mistake, I’m talking about the legend, here. A little fact, a little fiction, and a whole lot of whisky and temper.

Bowie was one of the defenders at the Alamo. That would be Texas vs. Mexico, for those of you who are just tuning in on our International Channel. Bowie and the Texans were massively outnumbered, and more than that, Bowie was sick as a dog.

He was can’t-stand-up, confined to bed, crawling around the fort on his hands and knees sick. Yellow Fever? Cholera? Late stage cirrhosis of the liver? Whatever it was, Bowie was in bad shape to begin with, and winds up giving up command.

There’s a point in the siege when things go from bad to worse. It becomes very clear that the men who stay to defend the Alamo will die. The commander (whose name was Travis, by the way) calls the guys together, and tells them the situation is bad. He gives them the chance to leave while they can.

He draws a line in the sand, and tells the men to cross it, if they are willing to die with him for their cause.

Bowie demands to be carried over that line on his stretcher.

Legend has it, anyway, and plenty of good, sensible people will defend this truth, as if they were there, themselves.

And legend also says that when they found his body, he was propped up against a wall and out of ammo, with a knife in his hand, and surrounded by the many bodies of the enemy soldiers he had killed.

There are plenty of people out there who will use circumstances to explain why they didn’t fight for their goals. I’ve seen that. Sometimes, I do that.

I have friends who don’t. I have friends who amaze me, and keep me on point, and who inspire me.

New baby in the house? Three kids? Elderly parents? Health problems? Learned English at the age of 83 and wrote a book? Became a marathon runner, despite having only one leg, and retrograde amnesia?

No excuses. They do it, anyway. They play through the pain, they fight through it, and they become that person. The one you look at, and you’re amazed that they can do it, and stunned that they can do it that well.

They look at that line in the sand, and pull themselves over it. They’re in. Even if it looks like impossible odds, even if it is impossible odds. No excuses.

And suddenly, my excuses all look so much smaller. Ridiculously small, in fact. They start to look like the kind of things that someone who didn’t want to write a novel would say, not something that someone who can’t write a novel.

And I want to write a novel.

So, suddenly, I’m over the line, and all-in, too.

Getting Back to Work is Hard to Do

Why is it that good habits are so much easier to break than bad ones?

Let me lay it out for you.

My pattern is this:1.) Get into a good writing habit. 2.) Stop to revise. 3.) Really, really stop to revise. Farewell, new words. 4.)  Fail to make revision a measurable part of my routine. 5.) Try to figure out what happened to the good habit just broke into a million pieces.

Get into a good writing habit. I’m actually pretty good at that. When I’m working on those first-draft word counts, I’ll hit a thousand words or more a day. That’s a lot. In the course of a year, it can add up to more than a quarter of a million words.

Stop to revise.  Well… that seems pretty necessary. Especially for someone who’s been known to cram twenty-seven murder scenes or  five versions of the same proposal into one book.

Really, really stop to revise.  This is where things start going wrong. The word count drops off, and I don’t really land in the next project with any kind of wits about me.

And then… well, just exactly how do you measure revision goals? What do you do to make sure you do enough? And how do you keep track?  Pretty soon, I’m not writing new words, and I’m not revising, either. I don’t switch back and forth all that well.

And that’s it. Progress is slow–or maybe just not noticeable enough–and I feel like I’m not getting anywhere.

Right now, I’m in the revision stage. I would like to finish my novel. Finish-finish. High-shine polish finished. Elegance and refinement finished.

I keep looking for that perfect balance.

Maybe the short stories I’ve promised to write are it. Something I can finish in an afternoon when I’m not revising.

Maybe short stories will be just enough to prime the pump.

We’ll see.

Suggestions and advice welcome.

That Edge-of-Your-Seat 2016 Recap and Statistics

2016 was the year I started posting regularly on ReprobateTypewriter.com.

Posting regularly was a new thing for me, and I didn’t really start until April, when I did the A-t0-Z Challenge. I’m going to be up front about it, and say that part of my discipline for finally putting my butt in my chair and doing it was that after my sister died, getting up and doing a blog post every day was more or less the only solid thing I could think of. I didn’t do it because I believed it would actually result in anything.

So, here are my results. The interesting ones, anyway. I had 758 views in 2015. In 2016, I had 5,683. In July and December of 2016, I had more views than I did in the entire year of 2015. If I follow this rate of growth out through 2017, I wind up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 43,000 views. I’m not sure if that’s a practical goal, or not. Still distancing myself from that, a little bit.

I did the StoryTime Blog Hop Four times, the A-to-Z Challenge in April, and NaNoWriMo in November. (And theoretically camp nano, but it got swallowed. Life.) Then, I did the Nano Blog Hop. I’ve also become a regular at the Insecure Writers’ Support Group. So, much more social than I have been in the past.

Oh, and look at me. I have followers. I’m not filling sold-out arenas, just yet, but there are more people following this blog than in my first school. Including the teachers.

My top pages for 2016 (not including my home page or stuff like “about me”) included a few of my short stories:

And the Storytime Blog Hop Page.

Over all, I’m happy with the results I’ve gotten. Among other things, I’ve started to see growth as something that can be measured in years, instead of centuries, and progress as being a realistic, and possible goal.

So, how has your path been?

And we made it. Happy New Year, Everybody.

Time to get back to work.

Onward, toward those goals.

I did some math, and came up with a number. Figured out what happens to the page views on this blog, if I carry last year’s growth rate through 2017. I’m too far away from that number, right now to consider it a realistic goal.

Then, again… a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed how much I’ve done since then.

I’ll keep my number to myself, but I’ll write it down, and maybe, if I remember, I’ll compare at the end of the year.

I’m heading back to my revision, and to the first of my stories for the 52 Week Writing Challenge.

You go back to your art, and your goals.

We’ll put in the work. We’ll put in more work. We’ll make the world a better place, not just for other people, but for ourselves, too.

It’ll be a good year.

Read More… BUT…

2016 was a year.

It hit me pretty hard, personally, and I think that shows in every corner of every month. I’ve taken on more than I can chew, not just because I wanted to escape, but because I wanted to say yes. I wanted to say yes to every awesome thing that came up.

So, I said yes. Actually, kind of a lot. And to more things than I probably actually had (compressed, bad year, emotion-ridden) time for. In a normal year, sure. Why not? This year… Well, it was a year.

I need to catch up. I still have a review to write, and some beta-ing to finish. Both for really brilliant, talented writers.

And then, I’m going to say no, for a while. I think. If I can remember how.

I’ll get my own writing back on track. Which it hasn’t been. Since it was more or less steam-rolled a few months ago.

And then, I’ll read more.

New Year’s Resolution #3: Get Involved

Resolution #3 is to take the time and energy to be actively involved with my creative communities. I’m a little hit-and-miss on that one. It’s hard to find my local creative community, and being quite honest, a little harder to find common ground with them. Well, I’m taking the effort. Will track them down. Will take brownies and chips. We’ll see what happens.

I’m a little better with online communities, at least in part because I can cherry pick the parts I like. No one on the internet has ever asked me to help them move, for instance. And finding people who are working on the same challenges I am is sooo much easier.

So, I’m working with some groups to get to where I want to be.

I’m taking on the 52 Week Writing Challenge (Found it on Medium.)in 2017. The challenge is to write one something every week for a year. There’s no specific something it has to be, but something. A poem or a book chapter every week. I’ve already talked about my desire to write and publish more short stories, so **surprise** I’m going to commit to writing one short story every week in 2017.

Fifty-two short stories. That means four for the A-to-Z Challenge in April, and four for the StoryTime Blog Hop. Probably one or two for my blog during the Holidays. That leaves forty-two that I can submit to magazines or contests. Which, all said and done, would probably do wonders for my career.

I’m going to hold off on committing to NaNoWriMo until closer to the date. I might be ready for a new project on November 1st and I might not.

As always, I’ll be jabbering away at the Holly’s Writing Classes Forums… Which are really one of the most supportive and stable writers’ forums I’ve come across. And keeping up with this blog (which may or may not be less solipsistic in the future. Prob’ly not.)

And I will be jumping back into my revision with both feet in the new year. Hoping to start annoying agents–and eventually, the unsuspecting public–with my work as soon as possible.

So, what challenges are you taking on for 2017? What are the best communities to push you forward? What’s made you a better writer?