I decided quite abruptly that I’ll be attempting NaNoWRiMo again this year. That means 50K words in a month. All right, so I’ve been successful before. Great. I can do it again, right?
Easier said than done, of course. For instance, this year, I don’t have any ideas for a novel. Actually, that’s a lie. I have a lot of novel ideas, however they are all for YA novels and at the moment, I am done thinking about YA novels. I want to try writing literary fiction. I simply have no idea how to do that.
What do I have? A title and a cover.
Yes, I created a cover for a book that only has a title, but that’s because the NaNo website claims that participants have a better shot of “winning” (writing 50K words in the month of November) if they upload a cover to the website. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I like designing book covers, so that’s what I did. Honestly, the cover is beautiful. I’d pick up that book and give it a read without knowing what it was about, wouldn’t you?
So I have a few weeks to come up with some kind of plot. I have a few tendrils of one sliding around, but nothing concrete. Nothing that might jump-start 50K words in 30 days. I have a story line that I’ve wanted to explore for a while. I have another story line that could be interesting and tie in to the first. And I have a third story line to tie in as well.
However, I’m not certain narrator-wise how to deal with it. I’m leaning to third-person narration, somewhat limited. But I don’t want just to have three characters without any connections, unless the connection comes through the story lines. I was thinking of using three sisters, but that won’t necessarily work. And I also don’t have sisters. Which isn’t a huge problem, but there are also a lot of sisters books out there written by women who have sisters. But I want it to be women-focused.
I guess I have more than a few tendrils. I guess I just need to take those tendrils and figure out the whatever that they are all a part of. I guess I just need to write.
Last week was a really hard week for me.
I got sick for the second time in a month. While it wasn’t the awful flu that took me out a few days while on vacation in Walt Disney World, it was still not much better. An acute upper respiratory infection plus two ear infections. I’ve never had a cough this bad before that I can remember. It’s all-encompassing and worse when I sit up which made sitting and concentrating at a desk all week incredibly difficult.
I took off work Tuesday and left early on Wednesday. I made it through all of Thursday, just barely, and my emotional well-being deteriorated due to some things that happened at work that I wish I could go into but have done so privately enough to keep myself from doing so in a public forum. I went to urgent care where I got my diagnosis, four medications, and a doctor’s note to miss again on Friday. Then I went to sleep.
Despite being off work on Friday, I still took care of some things at home because I care about my job, knew I left some things open, and because I’m good at my job. But that apparently wasn’t enough and I had a minor breakdown about my job late Friday night into early Saturday morning that only succeeded in making me even sicker.
Sometimes there are things that you can’t control in the moment. I can’t control my job right now. I love my job. I love where I work. There are just some aspects about it that are making it difficult to remember all the things I love about it. I don’t want to look for another job. It’s an additional stress I don’t want in my life right now. Right now I’ve marked that the part of my life that is my job – a bit part considering that working 40 hours a week is pretty much the overarching feature of my job for the majority I’m awake – isn’t controllable at the moment. I can’t immediately change or fix or better that situation.
So my sickness, low moments, and frustration forced me to ask, what can I control right now?
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It comes and goes but most of the time I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. I’m stuck. The story is there but it won’t come out. I try to force it and nothing happens. Write, I say. Just write. Whatever comes out, let it out. Just let the words come out even if they are awful and nonsensical and don’t get me anywhere.
The worst of it is, I know where I want this novel to go. I have it planned out. I have a very loose outline that tells me that, barring any unforeseen character actions, I have 10 scenes left to write at about 1,500 words each. That’s 15,000 words which puts me at my ultimate word count goal of about 75,000 words. I wrote 50,000 words in one month last November and I can’t write 15,000 words right now.
Maybe I’m looking at it too clinically. Maybe I’m being too pragmatic. As I’ve said before, I’ve never been the type of writer to outline. Outlines make me feel claustrophobic, boxed in. Outlines kill my writing. That’s what I did here, I know it. But I thought I had to. I want to finish this book. I thought if I just gave myself a deadline – March 31 according to my day planner – then I’d be able to complete the draft. I need to complete this draft.
I’m tired of feeling stuck. Stuck not only in my writing but in my life. I know that plans don’t ever go the way we anticipate them to, but I guess I thought I’d be published by now. I thought that I’d have an agent and a book deal and a book on the shelves at the local bookstore and library. I’m tired of writing and failing again and again.
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I want to do National Novel Writing Month this year. I’ve only successfully completely NaNoWRiMo once, in college, with a romance novel that I probably should at some point at least dust off and reread. Since then, I’ve tried twice and made it about a week or a less each of those two times.
This year is the first in many where I’ve not been in the middle of a novel when November rolled around, so it would appear as though 2015 is a really great year to put myself to the test.
The biggest hurdle I have this year isn’t the time restraint or the word count or anything like that, no, it’s the idea. I don’t have an idea. Oh, sure, I have about a half dozen ideas for YA novels but I really, really need to take a break from that. I need to write something else. Anything else. But ideas for something that isn’t YA just aren’t coming. I’ve even started considering how to turn one of my YA ideas into a non-YA novel, and I think it’s possible, but I’m not sure.
I’m a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ writer, which means I don’t outline or anything like that. NaNo isn’t really good for writers like me. NaNo requires at least a little bit of planning. Like at least having an idea. It might not be a really big one, but it’s usually an opening scene or an opening line or a conflict or at the very least a character. I don’t know if I have any of that right now, outside of YA.
Going into November 1 with the intent to hit 50K by the end of the month on a barely-there idea for a story doesn’t sound like it’s going to be much of a success.
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I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Everything points to the fact that I could have had this novel finished by April 1 and now April 1 is tomorrow and I’m not going to have it done.
The editing is done. By hand, at least. I have one chapter edited that still needs to be transferred to the computer. I’m still missing two scenes and need to finish two other scenes. And for the last month I simply haven’t done it. I don’t even have any excuses. I’ve had the time. I know what to write. It’s not like I have to invent the scenes or figure out where they go. I know all of this.
I just haven’t written them.
That’s not entirely true. I started the “Grand Canyon scene” and have two pages filled in my Moleskine, written over two different writing sessions. I also started to finish the awkward car scene this morning (fittingly) in the car via Google Voice which is always hilarious. (A good example is that I said “geocache” and it translated it to “AG of hash”.)
(Update: After writing and scheduling this post, I hunkered down and crunched out the rest of the awkward car scene in the car again. Still have to edit away Google Voice’s hilarious translation, but that at least leaves me with 1 1/2 or 2/12 scenes left, depending on what I end up with…)
But that’s it. I need to write less than 3,000 words and I’m coming up relatively empty.
So I ask again: what is wrong with me?
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