Category Archives: Perseverance

Onward I march….

Didn’t finish the book this weekend, so onward I march. Ever upward. Kind of like Sisyphus.

I should buy stock in Starbucks at this point…

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Solo, but never alone

Times like #RT16 are a perfect reminder that even though writing can be a very solitary activity, we’re never actually alone. I am so grateful for every one of these ladies! ?

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Great quote via Upworthy

Great quote via @upworthy and Aisha Tyler to keep in mind for myself this weekend. Gotta do ALL THE THINGS! ?

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Sing Sweet Nightingale is moving right along!

I’ve heard more than a few times that you better love writing to make it a career. Having started to make it my career, all I can say to that is YES. SO TRUE.

Even voracious, lifelong readers don’t always know what goes in to producing a single novel. Just on the editorial side. It’s intense. It’s brutally intense. So much so that you will probably end up on the verge of printing your entire book just so you can rip it up, throw the pieces into a trash can, and then burn it all. Or maybe that’s just me…

ssncoverSing Sweet Nightingale is now completely through line edits and sitting in the copyeditor’s inbox, waiting for them to go through and tell me how bad I am at commas (which I already know). After one or two copyediting passes (I’m honestly not sure), then page proof, and then, I think, galleys? That is the point in time when I’ll actually be able to hold a book that I wrote in my hands. Something with a cover and a pretty layout and my name on multiple pages and OMG. I think I might start freaking out soon. And it’s not even here yet!

While I’m waiting on revisions on another project and copyedits from Spencer Hill, I’ve been jumping between reading and working on two different contemporary projects. Mostly, though, I’ve been trying to give my brain a little bit of a break before the insanity begins again with book 2 of The Dream War Saga.

So that’s it! That’s what’s happening in my life. Preparing for more edits and also for my upcoming trip west for the Vegas Valley Book Festival! I’m especially excited about that trip because I get to see my bestie Lani and my friend Vivi Barnes, whose book Olivia Twisted is out soon! If you’re going to be in the area, I hope you’ll swing by the festival on Saturday. I will have bookmarks to sign and maybe a copy or two of Doorways to Extra Time to give away.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled programming. Otherwise known as the day job… >.<

Struggling through the hard parts is hard.

Knocking on Heavens Door (c) bschwehn

Humans are weird. Or maybe it’s just our brains that are the weird part.

Think about it for a second. We all exist in the same world. In theory, we see the same things and have access to the same information. However, show two people the same painting, make them listen to the same song, or make them read the same book and chances are they won’t be able to agree on whether or not that thing is any good. We call it subjectivity, but really it’s just strange.

The same thing applies to writing. Ask two authors what their favorite/least favorite part of the process is and chances are they’ll disagree. Even if they agree (there are only so many parts to the process), they’ll probably hold that opinion for very different reasons.

Personally, my favorite parts of the writing process (that I’ve experienced thus far) are the beginning of a new book and revising with notes from a trusted editor. When I start a new project, I get to dig into a new character’s head and figure out why they only listen to classical music and whether or not they’d go skydiving if given the chance. It’s all new and interesting and full of possibilities and the pressure is low. It’s all about inspiration and following the moment or the character wherever they want to take me. When I’m revising, the road has already been cleared, I know the characters, and I have a map telling me where I need to go. I get to fix all those problems I knew existed but couldn’t pinpoint while I was drafting and the whole book shines that much brighter when I’m done. It’s a fantastic feeling!

Not every part of the process is that blissful. Especially not for me. The worst for me is after I pass the beginning of a first draft. 99% of the time, I know where the book is going to end. I see it, sometimes in a lot of detail, so I know where these characters I’ve thrown together need to go. The problem? How the %^&* do I get them there? Once I hit the wall following the inspiration that brought me into the world of that particular story, I have to actually figure things out. I have to make sure it all makes sense. Most of all, I have to pinpoint the “moments”–the important ones in the lives of these characters that are the key turning points between points M and Z. For me, that’s the hardest part of the entire process. Slogging through the middle is like trying to find the shore when you’re stuck in a riptide (which sucks. Trust me. I’ve been there).

Of course, that’s exactly where I am with two of my current projects.

Book 2 of The Dream War Saga is about 3/5 done. I have the beginning and I have the final chapter. The middle is filled with broken bits and pieces that have to be strung together somehow. The other WIP (which I’m just calling Project 1 for now) is about 1/2 done. I have this one basically plotted, but writing it is still going to be a challenge, especially since this book is really different from any other project I’ve ever completed. At least my co-written contemporary is in the editing stage! I think I might go a little crazy if all three of my projects were stuck in the middle.

Hard or not, the middle is kind of important. It’s not like I can skip it and hope no one notices. Every job comes with pros and cons, parts that make you giddy and parts that make you want to cry, so I just have to lock my hands to my keyboard and push through. And then wait to make the sucky parts shine when I get to edit!

Does anyone else hate middles or is it just me? o.O?

Sing revision update #5

I think the end is ACTUALLY in sight this time.

Last night I managed to work through the chapter where everything collides. Lots of things happen, lots of things need to be dealt with, things, in short, are simply everywhere! Some stuff, as well. But I got through it and now I’m on the other side of the mountain, teetering as I peer into the valley at the bottom of a very sharp decline.

How fast can I wrap everything up? My goal is to have it done by Friday night. I hope. If I do, I get to read This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith, which I forgot I pre-ordered! Yay incentives! If I do that, I might also let myself have a weekend of doing nothing. I haven’t had one of those for a while.

Wish me luck! It’s time to gather up all the threads I laid out during the course of the story and try to tie off as many of them as I can. Not all of them, of course (where’s the fun in that?) but most. 😉

Not letting the stress get to you.

Don’t stress is simple, good advice. It’s also really hard to follow.

Frustrated (c) Charlie Balch

Letting things roll off my back is something I learned to do the hard way. I used to stress about everything until I reached the point where I just couldn’t handle that anymore. Looking back from that moment, I finally saw that none of those little things I’d worried myself to death over really mattered. I’d freaked myself out over nothing. A lot.

What I learned to do is pick a handful of things that are important–really, actually important. Everything else can come or go as it pleases.

Except, sometimes, it doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes, if enough little stuff clogs up your life at once you can start to freak out because all you can see if e never-ending line of things you have to do or things about to go wrong.

I had one of those moments yesterday. It wasn’t a ton of fun–I definitely could have done without it–but with a night of sleep I’m a little calmer today. But still, knowing I need to just let things unfold and actually doing it is… hard. The next few months are so jam-packed it seems like the only way to make everything work out the way I want it to is to give up sleep completely. And since that’s not happening (I am an awful person when running on too little sleep), I have to decide whether or not I can live with letting my work in certain areas slide.

Whatever happens, it’ll definitely be an interesting couple of months. Let’s hope I make it to May with sanity intact!

Goals: Not meeting them and setting them anyway

As I’ve said already, I had a winter break this year! It was like a mini-preview of what life as a full time writer will be like and I wish I could have made it last longer. I set myself a goal for the week with both a minimum acceptable level and a slightly higher “aim for” level. I needed at least 20,000 words written in the last week, but I really wanted to hit 40,000 words total in the MS which meant writing 25,000 words.

Those extra 5,000 words may not seem like a ton, but it was enough to make the goal a stretch without making it impossible. And it was enough that I didn’t make it much higher than my minimum goal. At the end of the night yesterday, I was at 36,452 words in The Dream War Saga Book 2.

What I learned from this week is that, especially when you’re writing for yourself (the remainder of TDWS isn’t yet under contract), self-guided goals and deadlines are really important to make the most of the time you have. I am amazingly good at procrastinating and wasting time with very little to show for it, so unless I know I have some sort of progress bar to meet, I tend to lollygag.

I’m actually more than a little proud of myself for even writing 21,000 words this past week considering the week contained two major holidays, a sister visiting from out of state, and friends visiting from out of town. I think I can still hit 40,000 by the end of the week (it’s harder now because I’m back at my day job and so a lot of the day is devoted to that), but at least now I know I’m capable of pushing forward on a manuscript every day and that writing full time is actually a feasible option for me.

That’s really all I have to say this morning, but I’d like to leave you with this unrelated but incredibly pretty picture:

The Path to Fulfillment (c) Annika Banfield

Happy 2013! Hope your year is starting off well!

My brain is blah.

Tired Labrador 4 (c) superburg

My brain feels like a computer that’s been left on too long: all buggy and laggy. And it’s strange, but I’m been feeling hemmed in and unusually twitchy lately. I don’t like it. It’s annoying. And it’s really hard to work through. What’s amazing to me, though, is that I have been working through it. I haven’t had any amazingly productive days where I write 10,000 words or plot out an entire series, but I’ve managed to get work done every day.

Maybe that really is the key to success in an industry like this. Being able to push yourself to create when you’re feeling anything but creative. And being productive when all you want to do is run off to some foreign destination and go sightseeing just for something new and different to do. Because, I mean, really… who doesn’t want to do that? O.o?

Maybe it is the secret, maybe it isn’t. Right now I’m going to assume it is because putting one word in front of the other is about all I’m doing right now. And I’m really hoping it all means something in the end.

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap (c) Suserl

Mind the gap.

When speaking literally it means “watch where you’re stepping, idiot. There’s a hole in front of you.” Metaporically, however, it can mean a lot of things. Including “watch where you’re stepping, idiot. There’s a hole in front of you.”

Heading into a career in writing (or, really, living as a human being) you have to be mindful of the gap between expectation an reality. This not only applies to how you expect things to be (how you expect the world to treat you or accolades you expect to receive) but also what you can expect from yourself in a certain situation. And, because it’s easier, I’m going to pick on myself as an example for this.

I’ve already talked about NaNo last year and how I wrote over 100,000 words in a month. That’s amazing, right? And because I did it once, I should be able to do it again, right? Consistently. That can be the expectation, but it isn’t necessarily the reality. It wasn’t this month, anyway. I plugged away and barely made it half that length. I have a lot of words, but no book to show for NaNo. If I let myself, I could completely beat myself up over not living up to my own standards, but where will that get me in the long run? Nowhere. Frustrated and depressed and too annoyed to work on anything. My productivity will plummet and I’ll end up even more frustrated. Not a good thing.

Taking success and failure as they come is an important life lesson. Letting stress spur you on but not cripple you is too. It’s not easy to learn, but it’s worth the time it takes. Aim high, but don’t flog yourself mercilessly if you don’t hit those goals. Always try to do better than you did last time, but don’t hate yourself if you can’t. It’s a fine line and a hard thing to balance, but it will make you a lot happier in the end.

In other news, I’m getting photography credit in a publication for some shots I took in Europe back in 2007! Does this, like, officially make me a photographer? Because that would be kinda cool. 😀