Camp NaNo Log| Just Write Your Damn Novel

Fun fact: I’m a notorious rewriter.

It’s what makes getting through a first draft a slow process for me. It’s also the theme of this week’s NaNo stretch. See, I started with the first section of chapter one written. No big deal; I got to springboard off of an established beginning, and that’s usually a good thing for me. What wasn’t a good thing, was when I had the bright idea to completely change the tense and do the first re-write. I’d started in past tense and decided to put it in present (my go-to for short stories and flash fiction is present tense, and I thought it would work for a novel-length work. It Did Not.)

So the TLDR is that I’m on the third rewrite. Of the first chapter.

In total, I’ve technically written around 9,200 words. My manuscript is sitting at 4,200 usable words. I’m not sure how much of a win I’m allowed to claim for the sets of word counts, given I’ve almost hit the 11,000 word goal where I should be today in terms of total words written, but I’m incredibly far off that in terms of words that go toward my final word count.

That said, I had a good conversation this morning with my cabin members about the struggles of resisting the urge to edit and change things while working on a draft and how craving perfection out of a first draft is futile—perfection in a draft simply doesn’t exist, unless perhaps you’re some sort of wizard person. Or Stephen King (who might actually be a wizard person.)

What it all really boiled down to was being told to get back on track and write my damn book, and I can’t really disagree with this advice.

So with that, I’m cutting this post short and doing just that. Happy writing, folks.

Camp NaNo Log | Goals & Getting Started

Camp NaNo is back at it again and I’m equal parts excited and shitting myself because I have relatively attainable goals but my NaNo track record is pitiable at best. That said, I have a good cabin, an outline, and enough spite to get myself to my 30,000 word goal by the end of the month.

So, the Details

What I’m working on: My work-in-progress novel, currently titled The Triangle. I’ve mock pitched it here before, and it’s my baby. The TL;DR is that it’s an adult fantasy novel, based in Celtic myth, featuring mercenaries and pirates and a lot of familial baggage. There’s also faeries and some good, queer content.

What I want to accomplish: Reworking of chapter one into the writing style that I want it in and continuing on through the current outline chapters (there’s eight of those bad boys.) Should I hit 30k in those eight chapters, then cool. If I get to those eight chapters and I’ve not hit 30k, I’ll be adding to my outline and continuing on as chapters are fleshed out. Given it’s adult fantasy and what I know I have planned for those chapters, I’m not sure which one will be the end result, but that’s what finding out and doing are all about.

Current Stats: 1,512/30,000 words as of writing this post.

Plan B: On the off chance that Camp NaNo implodes on itself and I fail miserably, I’ll just have to do the next best thing and become a hermit living in a rock under the sea.

Shooting the Shit on Writing Slumps

Much like my reading for March my writing was… sparse. Like those cartoonish shots in the old Looney Toons shorts of the tumble weed bouncing across a water-starved desert.

Yeah, that was basically what March’s writing was like.

So, since I don’t have, well, anything to talk about as far as my writing goes, I wanted to talk about mental slumps and sickness, and how sometimes you just have to roll with the ick when it comes.

Sometimes it’s really hard to accept that for all the well-laid writing plans you have, it’s just not going to pan out. Sometimes you’re going to have moments where, while you manage to get out of bed, your trek to your writing space is dependent on whether or not you manage to shower, if your stop in the living room to sit in front of the TV is only for breakfast or for the whole day before you realize that you were supposed to do something important. Sometimes, when it’s not your brain throwing you under the bus, it’s your own body, and all the planning in the world isn’t going to change the fact that you aren’t going to get shit done until you let it pass.

I think, to an extent, I’ve allowed myself to accept the fact that these unplanned, unavoidable instances are out of my control, no matter how much I wish they weren’t. It’s frustrating, and it makes me sad and furious, but it doesn’t change the situation and trying to force it doesn’t help. I don’t say this in a defeatist way, more in a realistic way. A fact. I think if anyone had figured out how to predict and preemptively circumvent mental fuckery, it’d have been patented by now.

It was something that my partner pointed out to me previously when I playfully suggested that we go out the next day, because I was feeling better after being really sick for a decent week or so–but I wasn’t 100% healed. They told me that I had the habit of trying to be right back to normal when I felt the slightest bit better, and it would only make me feel worse because my body wasn’t done being sick yet.

Annnd, they were right. Trying to force it only made me sicker, longer. Just like trying to force myself through depressive episodes or anxious spells makes me feel worse, and my work suffers for it. I just assume it’s the Capricorn in me; I’m stubborn even when I probably shouldn’t be.

It’s always hard trying to find a balance in all of this. I plan… pretty much everything about my life, from my work, to my writing, to my blogging. What I can’t plan are the things that tend to have the most impact on all of those things. Mental and physical health makes it almost impossible to have everything that I’ve planned go through smoothly, and being behind or off track of things, especially writing things, is one of the single most frustrating things for me. I made plans for a reason. Obviously my body and brain chemistry should obey it.

So, March was a slump. A sickly, brain-foggy, slump. I didn’t get anything I wanted to get done, done, and it was honestly a miracle that the writing I do for work did get done (but hey, bills gotta get paid, right?) That said, I’m going to go into April optimistic. It’s Camp NaNo, and I have the goal of getting through 30,000 words—1,000 a day—and some blogging that I’m looking forward to in the meantime.

Here’s making April a scribble-filled month.

Writing Wrap-Up | February

February was… weird for writing. I think the fact that going into it already having fewer days to get things done, it throws things out of whack as far as productivity goes. I didn’t have the best stride this month in getting through my current WIP, but I did accomplish enough that I feel like I’m allowed to be happy about it. A list:

  • Outlined 8 chapters.
  • Wrote around 4,000 words towards the first chapter.
  • Added to necessary research relevant to world-building.
  • Figured out a snag in some of the back stories and have ironed that shit out–mostly.
  • I don’t hate what I’ve written.

Some lines I’m pleased with:

He waits in the front room of the hovel, where not even the idly crackling fire pit in the middle can bring warmth to his rain-chilled bones and the low ceiling forces him to stoop uncomfortably where he stands. Coils of short, loc’d hair running down the middle of his head drip what hasn’t soaked into his thick hair onto his forehead. His free hand wipes the drizzle away before it can find its way into bored, honey-colored eyes; the other grips a heavy, burlap satchel in leather-gloved fingers.

Goals for next month:

  • A min of 5,000 words a week.
  • Finishing the book’s outline.
  • Make a list of things to keep in mind for the first rewrite.
  • Get back into Acres of Ink.
  • Don’t panic.

My rewards for hitting my goals:

A feeling of self-accomplishment and a copy of A Clash of Kings.

Acres of Ink | For Whom it is Written

It’s the third week of Acres of Ink. You know the drill.

Who is your book for, and why will they love it?

This was actually hard to answer, namely because every time I sit down to write the answer, I can’t help but second guess thinking that it sounds silly.

But, you know what. F*ck it.

Though The Triangle is certainly for lovers of myth-based fantasy and darker adult fantasy stories, The Triangle is ultimately my love letter to people like me. It’s for the people who love fantasy fiction, who devour high-concept fantasy in particular with rich world building and intense characters, who are also the people that aren’t usually front and center or even included within the seemingly boundless realms of fantasy.

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Acres of Ink | Pitches

It’s week two of Acres of Ink, and we’re talking about pitches. Scary, I know.

Write a paragraph pitching your book and then distill it into no more than 3 sentences (basically, a blurb). Show both.

Now, I’ve never written a pitch before, and I’ve never had a finished manuscript to pitch in the first place, so I’m a little green on this one. If like me, you’re fairly clueless, just plain bad at writing pitches, or the thought of writing a pitch makes your skin crawl, Tomi Adeyemi breaks down the art of writing a successful pitch here, and that’s what helped me write my own.

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Acres of Ink | WIP Inspiration

We’re getting a two-for-the-price-of-one here with the first WIP Wednesday of the year doubling as the first Acres of Ink post! Acres of Ink is a 52-prompt writing challenge that discusses all things WIP, from characters to settings and concepts in your book, and more. You can learn more about the year-long challenge here for a full list of the prompts if you’d like to participate, and feel free to use it as an excuse to check out Acres of Ink; Kim is an amazing person and wonderfully talented.

Your motivation/inspiration for writing your book.

There was no one source of inspiration that lead to the development of my current WIP, The Triangle. It initially was a very rough idea that I jotted down in my notebook:

‘A pirate and their crew gets stranded in the Bermuda Triangle, quickly discovering that the treacherous territory where ships disappear is a gateway into the fae realm.’

And from there it sat for a bit. I worked on some other projects, but the idea wouldn’t go away and I decided to take a real crack at that random idea that quite honestly didn’t seem like it would make a lot of sense. I started with research, and it was the research that really catapulted the inspiration for the final, overall concept of TT.

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Becoming a Reader Again

There was a time where I used to be completely enraptured by reading—not just the act, but by the mere thought of a book. There was nothing that brought me pure joy like having the weight of a brand-new hardbound in my hands or cracking open an untouched spine to reach in and feel the tooth of the page beneath my fingers as I turned the first, unworn pages. And the scent. The scent of a new book was almost better than the inky words on the page, removing me from my reality for hours at a time.

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Accomplishing Goals (Sorta)

I’m not going to hit my Camp NaNo hours this year.

And I’m okay with that.

My initial NaNo target was 100 hours of work. So far, I’ve accomplished 27 of those 100 hours or about 37% of the overall goal. Statistically, that’s not a lot. I haven’t even hit 50% of that, and I don’t think that I will be able to by the end of the month unless I get my hands on a time turner or some other handy gadget that breaks the laws of physics (time is a physics thing? Right? There’s a reason I’m not a scientist.)

But despite the bleak turn out, I’m quite pleased; I got a lot of research, note-taking, planning, and plotting done in that 27 hours. My general end-result goal was that I would have the foundation for my novel laid out for deeper plotting in August and through to October, and that was something that I did accomplish.

As you know, my track record with Camp NaNo and NaNoWriMo has been abysmal. I’ve never finished one. Ever. Usually, by the halfway mark I’ve written off my project and I’ve not even tried to keep up. This year, I took my hours where I could, and I have no intention of stopping the momentum that I have with my novel. While I’ve not met and will not meet my goal this year, that in and of itself makes me optimistic about the coming months.

So… I’m not counting this as a fail. It’d be doing myself a disservice to do so.

I think with the coming months and the impending NaNoWriMo I want to participate in, I’ll definitely be changing up my strategy to ensure that I do hit my NaNo goal come November, which of course is 50,000 words.

Some lessons learned:

  • Scheduling is my friend.
  • Time spent playing around on YouTube could be spent writing or plotting.
  • Stressing gets me nowhere and I should stop doing that.

The only way to go from here is up, right?