A Pre Nano Apology

I’m not here to rehash my NaNoWriMo plans, only to say that this will be my fourth year participating and I’m going to do something I’ve never done before.  Every year prior, I’ve made an effort to stay caught up on blogging, only to fall hopelessly behind when my word count dipped or real life intervened.

This year, I intend to try this a slightly different way.  I’m going to excuse myself from blogging for the month of November, essentially give myself permission not to do it.  Because I’m rebelling this year, I have a sizable chunk of my draft that is in pretty good shape.  I know that the whole point of Nano is to allow yourself to write a Shitty First Draft, and though I fully expect that a lot of what I write will suck as per usual, I would like to see that ratio of suck to salvageable be smaller this year.

So this is my announcement:  I will still be on and around the interwebs during November, but expect this blog to basically fall by the wayside until the month ends.  In the event of a miracle, I may do a post or two catching up on things–or in the event of anything important happening, I may post–but otherwise, don’t expect any new updates from me until my marathon writing binge is over.

After that I’ll be back to your regularly scheduled blogging.  I hope to have more content to upload, and new things to blog about come December.

For those of you doing Nano, how are you balancing your writing and blogging time?  For those of you who aren’t, how are you going to be spending the dreary month of November?  Is anything exciting coming up?

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But then again . . .

And just when I write a post talking about how I want to switch cities, I find several awesome writing jobs I’m qualified for in the area.  This is not helping me with my decision-making at all.

Oh well.  There are worse problems to have.

Just sent off a few applications and keeping my fingers crossed.

Sorry for the flip-flopping.  I don’t quite know what to make of all this.

An Unexpected Trip

My life has been kind of crazy hectic for the past week or so.  I’ve been looking for full time work in Iowa City for a variety of reasons–namely, the majority of my school friends and my boyfriend are still there, and I really want to be anywhere but my home town at this point in time.

Don’t get me wrong.  If I had what I’m lovingly referring to as a big girl job–being a full time writer in one form or another, or at least working forty hours a week somewhere I don’t hate–I would be content with sticking around the Chicago area.  Because I’m having a supremely difficult time locating and snaring said big girl job, I’ve decided it may be time to consider other avenues.  Though I am working part time right now and thrilled about it, I know that what is expected of me is holiday/seasonal personnel only.  I may be lucky enough to get more hours after New Years’ Day, but it’s not a guarantee.

I need a guarantee.  Or at least, as much of a guarantee as I can get.  I’m not planning to quit my part time job, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep looking elsewhere.

Where does Iowa City come in you may ask?  Well, for one thing, I was able to update my list of marketable skills in preparation for applying for a job through the university.  The only problem was that I needed to take a five minute typing test so that I could even apply for most of the jobs I had my eye on.  Stupidly, I thought whether I’d be able to add the typing test onto my list of skills hinged more on me passing the test than on actually being able to find a place to take it.

How wrong I was.

After calling three community colleges, the library, my old high school, and every temp agency in the phone book, I found exactly zero places in my city that offered a five minute timed test.  Cue me coming back from a work shift last Thursday, eating and packing frantically, then driving to Iowa City that night.  In the rain.

While I was there, I did manage to get in the typing test, which I aced with a score of 70 WPM and four mistakes.  I also interviewed for another job, which I’m still waiting to hear back from regarding whether I’ll be given a second interview.  I was told no for another position, and am waiting to hear back on a few others.  Even though I got to visit my boyfriend and a bunch of my friends, it was a very stressful few days.

Sadly, I don’t think the stress is over yet.  I’ve been imagining these nightmare/awesome scenarios in which I hear that I’m wanted for an interview and have to drive four hours back, only to be offered a position and have to move in a weekend.  In November.  In the middle of NaNoWriMo.

Yes, I’m aware that this wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  I would love to find full time work and go back to the town and the people I love so much.  The only thing I’m worried about is the timing of it all.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

 

Beginning Again

Well, not exactly.  I’ve done a lot of work in the past year, from rewriting most of The Recruited to drastically cutting back Between Two Lives so I could turn it in for honors credit.  But Facing the Music, my YA contemporary, is my first shot in nearly a year at working on something new on my own terms.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not neglecting the other two stories.  Several agents still have all or parts of The Recruited, and I’m not quite done with it yet.  And, like I mentioned in my last post, I’m planning to add to Between Two Lives for National Novel Writing Month this year.  But there’s something promising about Facing the Music.

For one thing, it’s entirely new, both in terms of drafting and editing.  God knows I worked hard to find a beginning I liked, much less one that works or doesn’t with regards to other readers.  When I write first drafts, I’m usually crossing my fingers, writing things down, and hoping for the best.  While that draft sits for a month or so post completion, it’s always a total mystery to me whether I’m even going to like what I have.

Here’s the big news for all of you guys.  I like this story.  A lot.  Even in rough, unpolished form, I think it has potential.  It’s entirely unlike anything I’ve written before, and that scared me when I was actually doing the writing.  But now that I’m reading back through my first draft, I keep coming across these little gems, scenes or moments or lines that I love.  It’s when I’m finding those with more regularity than I’m thinking, “This is crap,” that I know I’ve got something.

That’s not to say FtM doesn’t have a lot of work ahead of it.  I know it does.  I’m a terminal over-writer, over describing and analyzing and generally putting in a lot of extra crap that doesn’t need to be there.  My big job in this first pass through of edits is to cut out all the stuff that doesn’t need to be there so I can begin fleshing out the stuff that stays.

It’s a time-consuming job, especially since I’m apt to spend five minutes or so per page, but even as I chip away at this manuscript, there’s something else I’m realizing.

I know so much more about what I’m doing this time around than I did editing The Recruited OR Between Two Lives.  When I started editing TR, I still thought fixing my book meant adjusting a few things here and there.  Thank God I had a lot of excellent editors who helped me see otherwise, or I might have made a colossal fool of myself before I even started querying.

If working on TR taught me how to rewrite for consistency and go for the big changes, then BTL taught me how to cut.  It taught me how to be concise, to say things simply and without over-writing them.  These are both valuable skills that I am going to apply to Facing the Music as I continue to work my way through what will no doubt be several rounds of edits.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m still going to utilize my betas and any outside resources I have available to me, but it’s nice to know I don’t entirely need to rely on others to show me the way.

For the first time I have some idea of where I’m going with this story, even if it’s probably subject to change.  I have to say it’s a refreshing change after all the headaches writing the first draft caused me.

 

Annual NaNoWriMo Report

November is only a month away, which means National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner.  The forums have been rebooted, and novelists all over the world are updating their profiles and dreaming about 50,000.  As for me, well, let’s just say that seeing the biggest writing marathon of the year looming around the corner has gotten me pretty excited.

I’m participating for the fourth year, and hoping for my fourth win.  This year, just like last, I fall into the rebel camp.  Oh, I’m still writing a novel, but it’s going to be a slightly modified challenge than the expected ‘just get 50,000 words down on the page.’

Last year I added almost exactly 50,000 words to the first draft of my honors thesis Between Two Lives.  About half of those 50k ended up being cut for length requirements and to improve the story.  My goal for this year is to expand Between Two Lives into an actual novel, using a mixture of rewritten and improved old material and a lot of new material.  Though I loved getting to do a creative honors thesis, there were a lot of topics and characters I didn’t have the chance to full develop because of the strict length requirement.  This November, I intend to build a complete first draft.

Since I’m not sure how much writing this is going to entail, I may be working on short story prompts as well, though those are only a fallback if I need to meet word count.  We’ll see.  Just like any other Nano, I have a feeling this one’s going to be something of a free for all.  🙂

I’ve completed my modified outline for BTL, so right now it’s a matter of waiting to start.

I’ll be updating again in a few days, if only to talk about the editing process for Facing the Music and how it’s finally underway.  Until then, I hope all of you are enjoying your fall.  And if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, stop by and link me to your profile or let me know what your plans are!