I surpassed my own personal NaNo goal for this year, but there’s a big part of me that’s really irritated that I didn’t hit 50K. I think there’s a part of me that feels like if I’d just worked harder I would have. I think my bigger issue is I don’t get the winner badge on my NaNo page. And that bothers me.

I think it all comes down to the idea of “winning.” I was with some dear friends I write with on Friday and we all agreed that it’s the aspect of winning NaNo that can drive us. And then one of them mentioned that maybe not winning- not just throwing up 50K words that were only maybe decent- was the way to go.

I struggle with this.

When I write I know that I’m going to edit the crap out of it. I know that I will change lots of things after that first draft. My first draft is almost like something I do just to prove I can write a somewhat cohesive story. Not that it’s any good or something I’d ever want something other than Heather to read… Just proof that I can start at point A and get to point B. So, knowing this about the way I write, is it better to just throw up words for the sake of doing it?

I also break a pretty big rule. I edit while writing my first draft. It sometimes help me focus to go through printed pages and to edit. I especially do this if I make a hard left during my draft and I need to edit to make it match up.

So… Maybe I didn’t officially win, but I have 35K on a new story that I didn’t have before. I also edited my other MS and got it back to Eric. So. Yeah. Maybe I don’t get a Winner badge, but I am pretty happy with what I’ve done.

BOOKS!

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t read in November. That’d I’d scroll Facebook or read my Entertainment Weekly but that would be the extent of it. Then, somehow I stumbled upon Katie McGarry’s books. And my life sort of had to stop while I moved in with these folks.  If you follow me on Twitter you know this to be true.

and then later…

And at this point in my life I’ve read three in about 72 hours and have started the fourth. So, that should tell you something.

 

giphy (2)
I just want to live in these books.

The things I love about these books is that there’s just the perfect blend of imperfect characters, flawed systems, steamy romance, and just enough vulnerability from all involved. I’m a sucker for a good rescuing story. It goes back to my days of wishing someone would rescue me (I rescued myself, but doesn’t mean I couldn’t long for that someone). And my deep infatuation with Lucky Spencer and the fact that he rescued Elizabeth. These books took me back to that time in my life and I reveled in it. I wanted to just curl up and in live in these books.

Her female characters are rich and complex and have bad hair days while also dealing with extremely difficult situations (mental illness, drug addiction, etc). I really like the balance she uses with these moments where they are dealing with such insurmountable issues while dealing with normal things as well. I couldn’t pick a favorite one (mostly because I’m only on book four) because there are things that I just love about each of them.

And the boys. Ugh. I’m such a dork when it comes to well written but flawed boys. I love a boy with a good backstory. I don’t need a bad boy just one that’s complicated. And her guys are. They are complicated while also being nurturing and I just love them. There’s a richness to them that’s only there because they are flawed.

I also like that the adults in their lives are not stupid or out to get them. They are fully realized people which doesn’t always happen in YA. They also don’t always come around to liking the protagonist which I liked too. That’s truthful. You are not going to be able to please everyone all the time (something I still struggle with).

These are romances, so there’s a pattern and there are some of the typical romance tropes, but I was never bored or felt like just because I knew what might be coming like these were less-than anything but special. That’s what I was looking for. I wanted a good YA romance and I found it.

So, in short, go read these books. Seriously.

PS- I’m not gonna talk about how many times I cried because of these books.

I started that last entry with the idea talk about where some of my best writing happens, but with my attention span you can see what actually happened.

Because of my inability to pay attention to anything I find myself writing in places that are probably not the most appropriate. I learned as a teenager that one of the ways for me to get through a church service was to write. It didn’t matter how enthralling the preacher was, my mind would inevitably wander to something else. So, in about seventh grade I started taking a little notebook with me. Part of the time I’d pass notes with my friends…. and part of the time I’d write.

This past Sunday I was the last one out of the house and all I kept thinking was, “GRAB YOUR NOTEBOOK!”- no one worry, I did.

And then the unthinkable happened.

1. I seemed to have a longer attention span so I was very focused during the sermon and was able to pay attention.

2. Somehow, while paying attention, I felt a story that I’ve been thinking a lot about sort of fall into place.

I love it when that happens. I think a lot about my stories before I put anything to paper. I typically know what the focus of the story is going to be and have at least a scene or two formed in my head. This particular story I’ve wanted to write for a while, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it all work. How to get it all together and sitting in church on Sunday it just sort of melded.

Unfortunately, it is so not the story I’m 20,000 words into.

Good thing one of my goals this year is to draft two books.

It’ll come as a surprise to absolutely no one that knows me when I say that I have the attention span of a gnat. I do. It’s a problem. And all of my iDevices have only made it worse. I feel like if I’m not multi-tasking by plays that stupid Dots game (or WordBubbles) while watching TV while also checking out Twitter than I’m just not stimulated enough.

This can make writing a challenge at times. Especially when I’m just looking at a screen and thinking, “Who are these people talking to me in my head? Should I get a psyche eval? Will my insurance cover it?” I easily get distracted. I invested $15.00 into Anti-Social to prevent me from getting on my biggest time sucks when I’m supposed to be writing. I’ve used Freedom but I like Anti-Social better because I can still use the internet if I need to look up something. The problem is, I’m the only one that can turn these things on.

I’ve found that if I can commit to 30 minute blocks then I do best. A small reward for each 30  minute sprint usually helps. I really enjoy Written? Kitten! for some cute incentives. Or I’ll promise myself things like more chocolate or a five minute Twitter break… or if it’s a particularly hard day that new song on iTunes (or the ability to buy something later when you get stuck at Dots). This helps me keep moving.

It’s not that I don’t want to write, I do, but I just have to make myself focus and put the words on the paper. I’m a pseudo-pantser (as in I only sort of have an outline for my stories). I try a skeleton outline or ((I just spent 10 minutes reading an article on a little boy who is the oldest of five sisters- you know ’cause it’s relevant to what I write (no it’s not))) something like that.

I also need to be in a place where I can write and not worry about a ton of distractions. I’ve found that writing somewhere other than my house is the best place for me. If I’m at home I think about the laundry or it’s the one time my toddler doesn’t take an epically long nap. So, I write at my church a lot (it’s also where my toddler goes to preschool so it maximizes my time), or the library.

Where do you write? Do you have tricks for dealing with the distractions of life (or the internet)?

I Really Hate TItles

I do. I’m just not good at them.

This week I’ve been busy doing another read through of my MS. I’d finished my edits and needed to read through the book to make sure it all worked out. There’s this weird thing that happens with me occasionally where I just decide I’m not very good at this whole writing thing. I know that most (all?) writers have self-doubt. I imagine even the greats sometimes looked at their words and were just like, “Really? Who told you that this was any good?” I reached that during this reading. It wasn’t that I doubted my edits, I don’t, I think they make the book SO MUCH BETTER. I just doubted me. I doubted what I was doing. And sort of like writers block, I just had to push through it.

I finished the read through yesterday and sent it back to Eric with this gif.  And it expressed exactly how I felt.

Me finishing those edits.
Me finishing those edits.

I come to writing (sort of) via acting and teaching. I’m used to being under pressure and expected to perform. Writing for me is more intimate than theater (even the Top Shelf at Dad’s Garage where the house only have like 50 people). I feel extremely vulnerable putting my stories out there for people to read. People that I know are not going to love them. I don’t know of a single book that is universally loved and I know that my book won’t be the first. And that is okay. I guess all of this is to say that I feel more insecure than I did when I was acting or teaching. I remember being in front of a classroom of 20+ middle schoolers and feeling completely confident in what I was teaching them. I knew how to do that, it was something I’d trained to do. I rarely felt out of my depths in my classroom. But I do feel out of depths here.

And that’s okay too.

All that means is this is important to me. And it is. It is something I really want to do and I want to do it well. That’s why this last read through was so important. I wanted to make sure that the MS I was sending was exactly what it should have been.

One thing I learned in the theater was if you’re not just a little bit nervous than you aren’t taking it seriously. So, my nerves and self-doubt are good things.

Thank you for participating in Kati’s long and rambling confessions on self-doubt.

Things I Like This Week

I’m scurrying away on revisions and occasionally writing new words on a new story. It’s fun, if not disorienting to go between worlds, but it does make me feel pretty productive. With all of that, the things I love this week are all pretty writing related.

  1. Pens. I love pens. I love to write by hand in a notebook until it falls apart. I love the Staedtler fine liner pen the most. But, really, anything that is a fine point felt (IE Sharpie pens and few other brands) are ones I’ll gravitate to.
  2. Journals. My first absolute favorite journal was found at Powell’s in Portland. It was an Eccollo brand and sadly I’ve never found one that was quite like it again. I wrote my first ever completed book in that (well, parts of it). I just really loved it. I’m currently using a Markings notebook that I just found at Staples (and was on sale) and surprisingly I love it too. 
  3. Scrivener. Okay, this is a divisive topic, right up there with which football team you pull for here in the south (Go Dawgs!). I love Scrivener. It’s got a learning curve and I feel like to get the best use of it you have to go through the tutorial, but once you do… man. I just love the ability to write scenes, even if disconnected that I know I can move later somewhere else and make it fit. I love that it has an index card type of system that you can use to see where you’re at. And at the end you can compile it to see what it’d look like on an e-reader. All that to say, some people hate it.  
  4. Sara Bareilles. I just adore her. I adore her music and all that. I wrote my last MS while listening to Brave Enough (which was recorded at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta- one of my favorite venues). She has a new album coming out TOMORROW! And it’s a recording of her, but it’s the songs she wrote for the new musical Waitress (based on the movie with Carrie Russell and Nathan Fillion) so it’s like TWO of my favorite things combined! So ready! Get it on pre-order wherever you get music. Except CD. I don’t think you can pre-order those anymore. I don’t know. I haven’t bought a CD in years.

So, there you have it. Things I like this week. They’re pretty much my favorite things every week. But, this week you get pictures and links.

Change of Plans

Early in October I was doing everything I could to convince my friend Jennifer to do NaNoWriMo with me. Now, if anyone has an excuse not to do it, it’s Jennifer. She works, has three kids, and one of those is an infant. But, I persisted and reminded her that she could set her own goal. She didn’t have to hit the 50K that NaNo is known for.

And now it looks like I’m going to have to take my own advice.

On Wednesday my agent and I had a discussion about my current MS. It’s been through a couple of rounds of revisions, but it needs another, possibly two. So, I’ll be devoting a lot of them time I’d set aside for new words to make this MS even better. That means less time for new words*.

My new goal is 20K on the new MS and to finish the revisions on my current MS. It’s completely do-able, but my current MS has to come first. It has to be the one I devote the most time to. I want to be thoughtful and conscientious in this re-writes and edits. My characters and story deserve it.

*All of that and of course while I was eating Starbursts tonight that were totally stolen from my kids, i had a great scene for my new MS pop into my head. No worries, it was hastily jotted down on a post-it and stuck to the wall.

Story ideas are almost always written on post-its and then stuck to my formal living rooms wall.
Story ideas are almost always written on post-its and then stuck to my formal living rooms wall.