I now have a complete manuscript of my debut novel, a contemporary young adult story. Complete, of course, means that I still have another full edit to do over the summer…and then probably another one after I start to query in the fall. My first task is to incorporate the remaining comments I have from the Lighthouse critique group I’ve been going to since October. This group has been invaluable in pointing out legitimate plot holes, helping me understand reader reactions, and getting me unstuck when I couldn’t seem to move forward. I never would have finished without my peers and especially without the facilitator. In addition, some of us branched off into our own writing group, which helps me continue to find motivation through dedicated writing time and having people to bounce ideas off whose opinions I value and who know my story. Continue reading →
As this entry posts to my blog, I am wrapping up my third year at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers retreat. This is a wonderful annual event held at a Franciscan Retreat Center in Colorado Springs. The center is in the perfect location, easily accessible from Boulder but far enough that I really do feel like I am getting away. The mountains are all around, making a quick hike or trail run easy to fit in between stints of writing in one of the quiet, cozy nooks of the residence hall. It is remarkably inexpensive but the rooms are so comfortable and they feed us three delicious meals a day.
I’m back from an intense month of novel writing.
How did I do on the distraction front?
- I only logged in to Facebook three times, and each time was for a specific purpose, such as updating my notification settings to stop getting text messages from Facebook about photos my friends were posting. They were trying hard to lure me back in after I was off the site for a few weeks, but I resisted. It actually wasn’t that hard to stay off Facebook…until the last few days. Then I started fiending. I’m so embarrassed to admit that.
- I was on Twitter about every four days, scrolling aimlessly. This is more than usual, so clearly I was using it as a substitute for Facebook. However, with Twitter, I tend to scroll through my feed for 5-10 minutes, get bored, and shut it down. With Facebook, I can waste hours clicking on links, looking at groups, looking at friends’ profiles, etc. Twitter is a good substitute, for sure.
- I scrolled through my blog reading list about once a week. I started writing this post on November 25. But as soon as I started writing it, I wanted to (and did) start working on other posts as well. And I started working on a short story. I basically didn’t touch my novel the whole last week of November. But it felt great to be writing something different.
- I deleted one of my dating profiles and mostly used the other dating apps only to respond to people who messaged me. I wasted my own time actively scrolling through profiles once a week, so briefly each time. I went out on four dates.
- I cancelled my Netflix account. This wasn’t in the plan, but I realized that I hadn’t used it in almost two months, so why bother keeping it? It has often been a distraction in the past. The temptation to binge can be strong.
Today is November 1st and that means National Novel Writing Month. I signed up two years ago and didn’t get very far, but this year, I’m all in. I went to two Boulder region kick off parties, I have eleven write-ins on my calendar, and for the past eight weeks, I’ve started attending the Friday 500 and my biweekly Saturday writers group again. Plus, I’m simultaneously signed up for a novel workshop, which started two weeks ago, so I have to submit pages for that for critique. I am firmly in writing mode and have no excuses to not have a draft completed on November 30.
Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings. – Arthur Quiller-Couch
If you’ve taken a few writing classes, you’ve undoubtedly heard this piece of advice. I heard it many, many times, but didn’t really grasp its application until I started seriously working on novels and short stories a few years ago. I have since learned it well and have files and files of bits of writing that I am super proud of, and yet, for one reason or another, are fatally flawed and won’t ever make it into a finished piece. Continue reading →
This was not a very productive month. We only wrote about 3,000 words total.
Ironman was working full force on a side project and I, well, I have no excuse. I was in a massive slump from the time I got back from Spain until my birthday. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I didn’t work on my short stories or on this novel, or even do any journaling. I barely even read anything. I’ve been wasting time on the internet and mindless shows on Netflix and tossing and turning all night with self-loathing over said time-wasting. Continue reading →
Progress continues, full steam ahead! We have written 31 total scenes now, and we started doing some compilation and review work. I’ve also been doing some more research and thinking in general about this book.
Our book deals with some heavy themes, so I’ve been reading some of the most popular YA books from 2017 to get a feel for how certain topics are being handled. I haven’t read YA in such a long time. Honestly, I can’t say that I remember reading YA when I was in the target age. I seemed to skip from Anne of Green Gables and Trixie Belden when I was in middle school right to Stephen King and other very adult books in high school. Continue reading →
It has been one month since I posted about the New Year’s resolution that happened to me, so it seems to be a good time for a status update. Posting about the novel and talking to people about it helps keep me accountable and working on it, though my co-author is also doing a really good job of that too. If it were up to me, I probably would have quit already. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying writing this book, because I very much am. I believe the story line is engaging and relevant to teens, and I know we have the writing chops. I just have a strong history of failure at keeping myself working on any of my projects.
So far, we’ve written 16 scenes. By written, I mean we only have a very rough first draft, but we’ve got the basic conflict and tension in each scene, and know what purpose each serves in driving the plot forward. Some of the details of these scenes will undoubtedly change, but it feels good to have this amount of work laid out. We have 20 more scenes planned out, with copious notes and ideas for each, ready to be written as soon as we have the time. We spent hours each day on our Big Bend trip talking through plot points we were stuck on and characters we didn’t know that well. We had planned to write actual scenes during that time, but stepping away from the writing for a bit to talk out the story, to get inside our characters heads and be them for a little while, was extremely useful in terms of moving us forward. Continue reading →