Went from a little…

309 words today and I’m totally okay with that. I only gave myself about 15 minutes to write and made some progress nonetheless. It could be a big fat zero, so I’ll take 309.

I started an interesting writing course through Jill Jepsen’s Writing a Sacred Path website. She’s doing a Review and Renew course throughout the month of December. Everyday she’s sending prompts to help writers reflect on their practice. I spent most of my allotted writing today working on my response to Day 1’s prompt about your ideal writing life. I’m not ready to share that response, but hopefully as the course continues I’ll find a few things to share. Or, you can join me in doing the course. Check out: http://www.writingasacredpath.com/2013/11/the-renew-and-review-writing-challenge-starts-december-1.html to sign up.

I’m also joining my friend in V in a like for like event on Facebook. Author’s are getting together to share their social media sites, so we can like each other’s and build our base. If you found me through that, thanks for visiting!

Punx Not Dead

I’m 25,000 words into the second draft of my young adult novel “Punx Not Dead.” It follows a seventeen year old girl in Maine who befriends the guys in a punk band and sort of loses herself and her dreams as she gets caught up in the scene. While there are a few similarities between her and myself and some of the characters and some friends from high school the story is completely fictional. I wrote it last summer in the course of a month. Then promptly forgot about it because it wasn’t well written and had no sub plot.

Fast forward a year later. When I went to the Writing conference in June and pitched my novel to an agent,  she was interested. She asked what else I’d written. I explained Punx Not Dead and she asked to see that one, too. So, since June I’ve been trying to revive this novel. I’m now about a quarter of the way through my rewrite and it’s starting to take shape.

Thanks to the guy who counted down his days left to write (See previous blog-post) I’ve written a bunch these past two days. Yesterday I did just over 1,300 words and today 1,918. At this rate this draft should be done in early 2014. It’ll be good to read it all at once to make some revisions. I think the story is tight enough at this point that it won’t need a major rewrite before revisions and edits. And then off to the agent. Hurrah!

Just Another Excuse-Filled Blog Post

I read an incredible post by a fellow doing Nanowrimo this year. He calculated how many days he had left to live and multiplied that by writing 500 words a day and then divided that by 100,000 (his approximate novel word count) and discovered that if he made that small commitment of writing everyday for the rest of his life he’d be able to write hundred upon hundreds of novels.

Inspired, I decided that I, too, can make such a small commitment. Sometimes it won’t be 500 words and sometimes it will be more. Sometimes it won’t all go the same story, and sometimes I’ll be inspired by the novel for weeks on end. Sometimes I’ll wonder why I ever thought I could be a writer and sometimes I’ll wonder how I could ever have gone months without writing.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’d Rather Be Writing

I didn’t take a 2 and a half month hiatus on purpose. In fact, for a few weeks after the writing conference I wrote everyday. I won CampNano in July with 50,000 words of a YA Thriller. That was a fun ride. I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything with the beginning of that story, but I sometimes think about it now and then, so maybe it’s worth going back to someday.

The distraction of CampNano kept me from doing a lot of revision work, but really, I could have made the time. I avoided it like the plague because I was so tired from the pre-conference work I’d done. Writing, then rewriting, editing, and revising my first novel in just a few short months. So when I got the news an agent wanted to see the novel I’d pitched AND this other novel, panic set it and the ability to work left me angry, and uninspired.

On top of all that I’ve had some strange health issues that are still unresolved. So I took some time away from writing to focus on myself, on healing, and on learning what I really wanted. I put so much pressure on myself to finish my book, find an agent, publish publish publish, and all on such a short time frame, that I lost my love of writing. I made it something I had to do and not something I wanted to do.

I’ve still been going to weekly writing groups, but I’ve slogged through maybe a page or two of revisions and started journaling again. Until recently I just felt so eh about writing.

But then a few things happened around the same time. First, I read an article about remembering your passions. And I thought about how I’d always wanted to be a writer. Then I got an email from a writer I’d met at the conference and she invited me to join a no pressure writing group and told me about an upcoming writing retreat. Then I threw away my beat sheet and my notes for revision and committed myself to just rewriting the second novel. I discovered that I’m not good as revising until much later in the process. From now, second drafts will be written from scratch.

Giving myself permission to veer off course, a friend reaching out to check in about writing and offering to support me through it, and a gentle reminder from the universe that I love writing and can do it without putting loads of pressure on myself have all brought me back to the bright side of life.

Life After a Writing Conference

If you ever have the chance to attend a writing conference I cannot recommend them strongly enough. I learned so much and met so many new people; the networking alone is enough to spend the money and go.

Here are a few take-aways-

1. If you can swing it, do the optional classes/sessions before the conference gets into full swing. I went to a the Pitch Perfect session with Chuck Sambuchino from Writers Digest and left feeling like I had a great bag of tricks for writing and presenting a solid, yet interesting pitch.

2. Bring business cards- I did not and wish that I had. I talked to so many great people and took their cards with the express purpose of reconnecting with them once we’d left the conference. I put all the cards in one place and was able to email people one by one and check in with them a week late. This networking will help me build a great base of writing partners, writing friends, and beta readers. And the more we stay in touch the more likely we’ll be to buy and read each others’ books. But, I didn’t have a card, so my email address is swimming around lost in notebooks or on the back of a napkin that got thrown away.

3. If you have a very personal question, please wait until after the panel or speaker is through to ask it. Personal questions are best left for one on one conversations and not so great in a ballroom full of people.

4. If an agent, editor, or otherwise expert speaker says something you didn’t understand, please ask them to clarify. Please do NOT start arguing with them in the middle of their talk.

5. Be prepared, do you homework, know what you want to get out of the conference. If you are pitching to an agent or editor be sure they represent the type of work you’re pitching. Don’t ask questions that can be easily found online or that you should know if you’re trying to break into the writing business, like the difference between an editor and editing your book for submission.

6. If you’ve got a great story to tell, by all means do- but keep it brief. When you’re sitting around at the workshops, panels, and speaking sessions everyone is very friendly. I was able to practice my pitch and get feedback with lots of different people. I was also happy to be  a sounding board to people who wanted to practice their pitches. I know, as writers, we’re all in love with our books and could probably talk forever about them, but please don’t.

Now that the conference is over I’ve got a lot of work to do. I pitched to two agents and both responded with requests to see my work. One of the agents also wants to see another story I wrote last year.

Now that I’ve received feedback and gotten the request to send an older manuscript, I’m busy with the revision process. The book I pitched needs some work in the middle and end, though I think those changes will be fairly easy to make- maybe 10- 20 hours worth of work. The other manuscript needs a complete overhaul. A lot of the scenes are salvageable but the plot is changing pretty dramatically.

Oh, and did I mention I signed up for Camp Nanowriomo with my writing group, so I’ve also committed to writing a brand new story in the month of July.

I’m hoping to be finished with rewrites, revisions, and edits and ready to submit in early September. That may be a really ambitious date, especially since I haven’t done any work on either manuscript in a week. So, instead of blogging I should be writing. Well, you know, writing writing.

Holding Myself Accountable

Remember that last post about feeling underwhelmed once you finish writing something? Well, that was my life for the last three months, which is partially why you haven’t heard from me. But now I’m back (…from outer space). So here’s the run down:

!. Finished revising book

2. Sent it to writing group and friends for feedback. In the meantime I was going to read it again,  without trying to revise it, just read it through like a book.

3. Signed up for an Agent’s and Editor’s conference. 

4. About 25 pages I wanted to cry. It was not the story I wanted to tell. All that work, feeling like I was maybe close to done, Oh, the humanity!

5. Got great notes and feedback from my amazing writing friend, Candace.

6. Reevaluated story. Created quick outline of how it needed to be rewritten.

7. Started rewrite, excited about the new direction.

8. Then life happened. I started doing a lot of creative writing at work and felt tired and creatively spent at home. I didn’t make time for writing.

9. Got an email with my agent assignments. Realized I had very little time before I was supposed to pitch this story.

10. Started to have a nervous breakdown, not really, but maybe a little. 

11. Used the forums at She Writes to find an accountability partner. I was very productive during Nanowrimo when I emailed my accomplishments to my writing group everyday. With this insanely close deadline, I knew I needed to light the fire under my, ahem, laptop.

12. Found two amazing partners and have written everyday since then!

I’m now steadily developing the story I meant to write in the first 3 drafts. It’s an exciting time as I realize how much of a story there was, that I wasn’t telling. I’m so grateful for my writing group and my accountability partners. Knowing I needed to send the email every day has really made writing seem like less of an optional activity and more of something that’s nonnegotiable.

The Birth of a Novel and the PostPartum Depression That Follows

I stayed right on track this past weekend. On Friday, I took a day off from work to stage my own little writing retreat. I worked on revising my novel. On Saturday, I finished revising and wrote a few extra chapters to close out the story. I got so into the story that at one point I wrote a pivotal scene and gave myself goose bumps. I loaded everything into Scrivener. Piece by piece I saw the outline of my first novel grow. I hit compile and held my breath. 72,200 words birthed from hours upon hours of work. It was written everywhere from my couch, to my bed, to the coffee shop, to the bus, to SXSW, to my office during lunchtime. This novel has come with me from fall to winter and soon to spring. The novel has travelled to California (via email), to Maine for a funeral, to Chicago and Philadelphia for layovers. I have spent joyous and angry and sleepy and hungry emotions on this writing. It felt so good to get it compiled, like a big gulp of clear, country air.

On Sunday I should have been ecstatic to get it printed and go through it, right? Draft 2- one step closer to feeling ready to share it with the world. Some timeline updates, character tweaks, and line edits are what stand between now and submission time. But, the monster in my mind has taken over and now I can’t stand to look at it. All that work and I worry that the story that’s on paper is not what’s in my head. I bought colored Post-It notes, all ready and eager to stick them all over the draft on pages that need work, and now I’m paralyzed in my progress.

I know I need to suck it up and just get reading. I can hope the distance of the last two days away from the work will make the process easier. Does this happen to anyone else? If I can’t even get through this round of revisions, how will I ever feel “done” with this piece? Self-doubt is really the worst, because you can’t blame anyone but yourself.