JANUARY 2022 ENDED MUCH AS IT BEGAN
Pure, unadulterated chaos, dear readers. CHA-OS. I'm glad that, even before this month started I realized that the audacious goal of reaching 90k words (30k words for the month) on Rosita Ruins the Heist was just that---audacious, and I eventually determined it would be easier on my spirit if I just resigned myself to half that goal. And what do you know, I was able to achieve it and feel some semblance of productive.
DO YOU THINK I MADE IT?
I did. I DID. You didn't doubt me, did you? I wrapped up my DE mid-month and had a lovely debrief meeting with a new writer friend (hello Anders!) and that inspired me to WRITE MORE and ACHIEVE GOALS. Writers are such gorgeous, gorgeous people because we inspire and motivate one another in our work that is largely solitary and thankless and at times can feel so brutal and unrewarding.
But when we get to talk shop and validate one another and be passionate about our craft and celebrate genuine works of art? That's THE BEST PART. I wish there was more of that for the silent majority of the writing community that hasn't yet been published or heaped with praise from the outside world.
THEN BAD STUFF
Anywho... it wasn't all sunshine and roses. We did experience a COVID-related death in our extended family and that grief and mourning is sure to resonate throughout the upcoming months. We'd known about her illness for a few weeks and unfortunately, her body wasn't able to fight it, even if her spirit was willing. She was an incredibly supportive and compassionate person, and she did not tolerate bullshit nor did she bullshit you. A very amazing soul to have in your corner, and she was in the corner of everyone she loved. She will be fiercely missed.
AND NOW A LITTLE BIT OF GOOD STUFF
The sunshine and rosy part, though? We did actually have an offer accepted on a house. That is both scary and very frightening. The Salem, Oregon housing market ended up becoming quite volatile as soon as we started our search in earnest (lucky us) and there was plenty of heartache and frustration and depression and malaise.
This was actually only the second home we put a legitimate offer on, so scoring it so quickly and having everything finalized/closed and moving in within the next 30 days feels like some kind of dream. A fever dream, for the amount of money we're paying.
But the upswing is that it's an adorable 1944 bungalow in a nice neighborhood close to work and in a good school and also close to downtown. The house itself is deceptively large (2200 sq ft.) and has these quirky retro elements, and is a solid/not in a horrendous state of disrepair house that is affordable given the market/supply of houses in Salem. We were incredibly lucky and fortunate to get it (our realtor, Ron Brister, was THE BEST) and I'm going to keep that in mind every time I go to make the ungodly mortgage payment. WHY is home buying so heinously expensive?
WHAT ABOUT NEXT MONTH?
I am shooting for another 15k words for February 2022, which would land me at 90k, but that might be asking a lot given that we'll likely be packing up our home over the next few weeks and doing things like home inspections and appraisals and signing paperwork and eating Top Ramen for the rest of our lives. That last one's a joke. Maybe.
It will also require me to make DECISIONS about the current chapter I'm on and my brain feels like it's already hitting peak decision making because of home buying/packing and all that jazz... so it's going to be a bit brutal. I'll re-assess where I'm at near the middle of February and see if I'm truly at the halfway point. 15k words might not seem like much, but working a new full-time job + conducting a CE + packing/moving + all the other life stuff... I'm just going to be limping by on fumes over the next 30 days.
As of right now: I've logged 75,706 words. The current hope is to hit 90k by end of February. I'm not sure if that will actually take us to the completion of the manuscript, so I might need to bump that up to 100k, which means it will carry over into March. That's fine. Five months to write the rough draft of a book isn't THAT much time, is it?
2022 IS HERE
Quicker than the blink of an eye--2022 has arrived and with it all the chaos that I predicted. Completing a DE, ending one job, beginning another, and through it all, house hunting. Also, that puppy I talked about earlier (Dunkin Donut: half Boston Terrier, half French Bulldog). He is the source of much joy and near constant cleaning. He loves socks (just to cuddle, not to chew?) and eating napkins/tissue paper and torturing our older Boston Terrier, Oreo Cookie. He is PURE CHAOS personified.
So, what's the possibility/reality that I got ANYTHING written on Rosita Ruins the Heist in the interim? Slim to none? Well, you're wrong again. When will you learn not to discount my Herculean efforts to do all the things? Perhaps today.
BUT, ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE IT?
Sadly, that remains to be seen. I don't have any clever week-long excursions to the beach where I can stash myself away in a room with a door that locks and shut out the world.
I had one long weekend, this past weekend, but that proved to be the transitional time between jobs and also involved a day of house hunting and then a day of cleaning and then a day where I sat in various poses in front of my laptop with the cursed cursor blinking and very few words happening. Oh let me tell you, the first part of that day was pure torturous agony.
I wrote. I WROTE SOME STUFF. It's... not great, that bit of writing. But it was finally SOMETHING after two solid weeks of nothing and it is FINALLY moving the plot along, and happily giving me insight into a character that had heretofore been shrouded in mystery. Intrigue! Motivation! Character development! Action Adventure!
WHERE YOU GONNA BE COME END OF JANUARY?
Honestly? Not at 90k words. I can tell you that, straight up. While last month I had the confidence of a known-quantity job and copious amounts of PTO, this month I have basically one week left and it will only be the second week of a new job.
No PTO in sight.
I'm going to hedge my bets and say that I can comfortably meet HALF the original goal for January, and net about 10k more words before the end of the month. And then I'll probably shoot for something like that for February, as well. Ideally, I would be cranking out the rough draft in three months but I'm realizing that's just not feasible in the middle of a global pandemic while acclimating to a new job AND house hunting.
I'll give myself four, possibly five months for Rosita. BUT I will get to the end and it will be glorious.
The constant shuttling down to Salem has inspired me to consider purchasing a travel writing device that would allow me to continue writing without internet, and not attempting to do so on a Google Doc on my phone because I'm trying to be a PROFESSIONAL. lol
I love my little baby laptops but they aren't great for actually getting work done in a moving vehicle (who knew?) and I want to get work done during the wasted hours in the ugly space between Portland and Salem (that particular stretch of I-5 is most aesthetically unpleasing).
I just need something that is basically a Kindle with a keyboard. My only wish is that this device were like $200 cheaper and then I would be able to reasonably afford it. $500 is A LOT and I don't think I'll be able to purchase it before it's rendered obsolete in my life, I think.
THEN AGAIN, the allure of distraction free writing... the temptation to shut out the world on the digital level... readers, I am INTERESTED.
As of right now: I've logged 65,327 words. Reaching 75k words by the end of January is the more reasonable, manageable goal here that won't make me feel like a total failure at my earlier efforts. Some things in life are unpredictable and so we adjust, adjust, adjust.
I mean, all the things I'm currently experiencing are 100% entirely predictable and chaos of my own making but I am going to ignore that for right now. What I need is MORE TIME IN THE DAY. That's all. That's what I keep telling myself and it always makes me feel better. How about you?
After the major highlights of 2020 (and you know, the bitter dregs of a global pandemic), I'll readily admit that 2021 had big shoes to fill in terms of life achievements and the highs/lows really cancelled one another out so it was neither the best nor the worst year of my life. It was definitely a catalyst to a whole mess of needed change.
You'll see how that unfolds over the next few months. ;)
Spring 2021 saw the publication of the final book in the Metal Heart trilogy, Iron Curtain. It died a quiet death and I'm guessing from the lack of response from those who did read it, that it didn't quite hit the mark in terms of wrapping up the trilogy. I guess, eventually, I will go back to the books and re-edit/re-release them.
Mostly, I got to a point where I just wanted the trilogy DONE so I could move on to something else. Which didn't end up being Astrid vs. the Asteroid like I'd predicted and hoped.
Actually, 2021 sort of sucked in the first half, not gonna lie. I FINALLY got vaxxed (whee!), self-published a book (whee!), got fired from a job I hated (whee?), moped around on unemployment and DID NOT write ANYTHING (wait, what?), got another job that paid more than my last one (well, alright!), started my editing side hustle in earnest (Okay then!), was invited to a writing group (yay creative friends!), wrote 60k words of a NEW book (well, that's more like it!), and got a puppy (omg! A PUPPY!).
By the end of the year things were definitely looking up but also REALLY chaotic and the first half of 2022 is going to be sorting through some amount of mess. But, that's an entirely different story...
So, what's on the writing docket for 2022?
Resolution #1: Finish Drafting Rosita Ruins the Heist (Winter 2022), Revise (Spring/Summer 2022)
My lovely little heist book about a memory stealing bank robber. I'm sitting pretty at 60k words at the moment, with plans to hit 90k by the end of January 2022 and keep on rolling until the book is finished. I've already made notes about what to chop (cut, cut, cut, and SAVE THOSE SCENES), and what to alter (SO MUCH), and I'm feeling pretty good.
Not gonna lie, it's a whole lot easier to write a single stand-alone book than to try and plot out three books and do I regret writing a freaking trilogy my first time out the gate? A little bit, yeah. But it also means that I'm hitting a way better stride and feeling more confident in my storytelling abilities for everything else that has come after.
Perhaps it's false confidence. How the hell am I supposed to know? I just feel the drive/pull to create.
Resolution #2: Finish and MAYBE Publish Astrid vs. the Asteroid (Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall 2022??)
Or maybe shop this one around to an agent/publisher? I'm sort of on the fence with the best approach to Astrid. I was asked to submit a whole MS way back in 2019 at a writing conference, but it's been SO LONG, and I just don't really feel like I know where the publishing industry is at anymore, as a whole. I've read rumors on the Twitters it's steering away from YA in general and unless someone is gushingly enthusiastic about it--I'm not sure I want anyone else to have it. I am very selfish that way.
I'm excited by the prospects of writing two endings (the good and the bad), and I've been considering doing some blind tests on beta readers to see which one really resonates. That could be fun! Who wants to sign up to beta read?
But first, it does need to be completed, which is the goal for Winter/Spring 2022. Then revised. Then beta read (blind testing both good and bad endings, tho). AND THEN, once I've decided it's fate, I will be hiring a DE/Copyeditor before self-publishing. I might even hold off on self-publishing if I decide to submit to the Library Writers Project for 2023. Who knows?
Resolution #3: Draft Untitled Horror Novel (Fall/Nanowrimo 2022)
I have a handful of different horror novel ideas, and it's about time one of them floated to the surface and saw the light of day. My biggest beef with most haunted house stories is that they take place in these GIANT labyrinthine mansions with endless spooky corridors with doors that open to giant dusty rooms. They're almost always situated on huge sprawling estates with tunnels and trapdoors and haunted greenhouses or something. I say thee nay! Give me seedy, creepy little houses in a neighborhood littered with needles and condom wrappers and graffiti and poverty. I want a story set where the bus line ends and drug dealers hang out on the street corners and everything smells like weed.
Those are all the writing goals fit to print at the moment. As always, they are probably loftier than their practical and realistic application. I will be lucky if I can finish Rosita, finish and polish (and publish?) Astrid, and maybe draft another MS in late fall. I'm still committed to my goal of publishing at least one book a year.
Rosita is destined for 2023.
Horror novel is destined for 2024 (with a possible horror anthology sprinkled somewhere before or after).
And that's, of course, not counting any of the other goals I have for my editing gigs and we can't forget the writing workshops and critiques and social media marketing, blog posts, eventually putting out that newsletter I keep teasing/talking about, plus thinking about converting some of the books to audio...
There is always a lot to do. But without the writing first... none of that other stuff matters as much.
Melinda Jasmine Crouchley, YA science fiction author and professional editor.