As predicted, the holiday weekend threw my writing game for a loop. I somehow managed to hammer out a few thousand words before descending into the madness of Thanksgiving weekend and the Oregon coast--at least enough to tide (get it) me over until I could sneak away for a few hours and hammer out some quality literature.
And then we hosted Thanksgiving on Thursday, did a little holiday shopping on Friday, packed up our car, and drove to our timeshare with my immediate family and "the Grandmas." Which means our one bedroom condo was brimming with five people and not exactly the alchemic conditions for writing magic to occur.
LATE AFTERNOON FLOW
And still, and yet--I managed to sink into the writing flow on Saturday right after our brisk, brief, and VERY WET walk on Rockaway beach, while everyone was recovering near the heater and playing cards or doodling on paper towels. I wedged myself into a spot on the couch and hauled out my laptop.
THE TRUTH IS: I didn't exactly write so much as copy and paste a scene that I'd previously written into the exact place it needed to be. I then wrote around that scene to a somewhat satisfying conclusion--except I sort of hate what happened and what it has turned into and I'm just not really feeling the heavy-handed romantical intrigue that had been buzzing around in my brain for these two characters. It's not quite ripe yet, so the likelihood of me slashing and burning most of their interactions and completely rewriting them in the next draft is pretty damn high.
TO CHAPTER SIX, AND BEYOND
Six chapters in, and not gonna lie--this last chapter felt the best. I think I've figured out where I want to place the emphasis and it's not really on the romance, as I thought it might be in early chapters and in daydreaming about the characters and the plot in the last year. Romance adds some fun zest to a plot, but it's not a plot in and of itself.
However--pages and pages of interactions between these characters have given me loads more insight into who they are, and I'm feeling more confident about where they're headed.
So much so, that I'm planning to continue my "1k words a day" goal through the end of January 2022. I have my day job, the winter holidays, and editing side gigs to keep me busy, but I think there's been some validity in trying to carve out time to write every day, even when I really don't want to. And/or realizing that some days it's just not going to happen, and being okay with that. It's about embracing the days where the muse really takes me and I truly have enough time to "flow." And then some days just putting my fingers on the keys and barfing something out as a placeholder for something better.
I plan to keep on writing Rosita Ruins the Heist until the entire first draft is finished, and my guess is it will log in around 90k words or so. Between 18-20 chapters feels about right.
As of right now: I've logged 30,280 words--ACHIEVING MY REVISED GOAL. WOO HOO!! I've also got concrete plans to continue on this path through the next few months until the manuscript is complete.
THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING
The previous week it was the "atmospheric river" and this past week it was health complications that arrived to distract me from achieving my goal. Wheeee! Those health complications actually carried over from the beginning of the month when I had a medication disruption and I thought everything had righted itself. Little did I know... this last Sunday my health issues would erupt into a trip to the emergency room. Not the most ideal writing conditions.
THE GOOD NEWS?
I've somehow managed to magically stay on track with my writing goals on Rosita Ruins the Heist. Am I always writing every single day? Absolutely not. But when I am writing, I'll have bursts of logging 2-3k words, and that will make up for the days where I know that it would otherwise be difficult to sneak away and tap ANYTHING out on my keyboard.
Or when I arrive at the appointed writing time and my brain is just a pile of mush that barely manages to make any kind of electrical pulses whatsoever. Happily, I am, for the most part--getting out on a daily walk and having that solo time for my brain to ruminate on the story is crucial and essential.
As of today, I'm sitting pretty in the midst of Chapter Five during a pivotal scene between my two main characters and sort of luxuriating in the interaction and the mysteries that are unfolding as they work together towards a common (but foisted upon them) goal. Having most of the plot points together means I can really delve into my FAVORITE aspects of writing which is the personal drama and characterizations. You know, the juicy fun stuff!
THE HOLIDAYS, THOUGH
Not gonna lie, I'm a little concerned about the impending holiday weekend. I will be hosting about a dozen folks at my house on Thursday, then doing some holiday shopping on Friday, taking down the Thanksgiving decorations, and then packing my bags for a last-minute trip to the Oregon coast.
This is a super exciting development on a personal level, of course, because who doesn't love a fall excursion to the grey, surly waters of the Pacific Ocean? I'm certain it will rile up SOME kind of inspiration. I will be with my immediate family, so that decreases the chance to escape and cloister myself up to write. But we do have a separate room with a door that closes, and the pool at our timeshare is FINALLY open (in this "post-COVID" world), so there's a small chance that I could convince my spouse to take our daughter to the pool while I log a few hours on my laptop. *fingers crossed*
Mostly I'm looking forward to feasting on turkey and fresh seafood, relaxing in a hot tub overlooking Rockaway Beach, and hopefully hitting some semblance of my word goal.
As of right now: I've logged 22,584 words--with concrete plans to write more this evening. We'll see what happens from there.
DAYS OF NOTHING, DAYS OF SOMETHING
Another fairly rough week, but for seemingly entirely different reasons than the last week *sigh*. I blame the daylight savings time switch and the "atmospheric river" which foiled all my "healthy living" plans. I was faced with a busy weekend November 5-7 and ended up opting not to write the short horror story. I also ended up not getting much writing done at all. Monday at my day-job was busy but I managed to channel a thousand or so words into the book.
And then it all fell apart from there. For a time.
I also hit a chapter that I didn't love--the second chapter--because it features the main character (MC) struggling with a relative suffering from a disease that I have virtually NO experience with. It's a somewhat pivotal scene and will involve more research than I could muster together while NANOWRIMO-ing, so I started digressing into other character backstory and exposition and then ended the entire chapter with an unsatisfying flourish just to be done with the damn thing.
Before I finished Chapter Two--I started on Chapter Three of Rosita Ruins the Heist. I was taking a rainy/windy walk about midweek and a particular song lyric struck me. In fact, it inspired a whole new playlist and gave me that little visual window into the entire third chapter. Tennessee whiskey, y'all.
THE NEW PACE
It became clear, pretty quickly that I wasn't going to succeed in my goal of hammering out 2k words a day. I should have all the time and brain space in the world, but I'm just not there yet. I commend those who are! But that's not me. I have to reset to a more realistic and achievable goal for myself, in order to keep my spirits up and be able to focus on the writing rather than just vomiting out words in a frantic daze which leads to pages of helpful (as backfiller for my brain) but not entirely useful exposition.
THAT FRIDAY FEELING
I got through some fairly lengthy work and personal life challenges (that SAD started hitting hard, but I decided to hit back this year with daily walks AND Vitamin D supplements) and by Friday, I was feeling able to focus. I decided to do a little extra writing hustle, and managed to move my needle to the point where I was at least back on track to hit my newly revised 30k word goal by the end of the month by logging 1K words a day.
I made even more progress on Saturday (hello Chapter Four), but all that was derailed on Sunday when I slept very little, decided to obsess about a current event by absorbing all the available content about it--completely wasting a VALUABLE chunk of writing time where my entire family was gone and I had the house to myself.
* yet another weary sigh*
It's Day 15 and I'm proud to say that I'm 15k words in. This has not been the year for charting consistent daily progress, but I'm embracing the chaos and my newly revised 30k word goal which feels substantially more achievable and actionable. Let's gooooo (again?)!
THIS WEEK WAS A WEEK
Fairly early on the week, I distinctly remember remarking to my supervisor at my day job that this has been a "week of Mondays." And boy was it ever. Just, A LOT going on professionally and it definitely hit home on Wednesday night when I crashed out unusually early for me (10pm).
Needless to say--I didn't get ALL the writing done on Rosita Ruins the Heist this week that I truly wanted to. I started out strong on Monday with 2k words, decided to rethink and revise some of the opening sequences on Tuesday (1k), logged another 1k words on Wednesday before crashing out early, and then took last night completely off after a raucous and thought-provoking writing group meeting.
When I had some errands to perform, but wanted to keep the book in my headspace and do a little draft revising--I had Google read the text aloud to me while my hands/body were otherwise busy/occupied. I've done this before and it's actually really helpful to hear the story aloud because you quickly realize what is working and what is definitely NOT working. I'm now fully aware of all the places I want to cut when it's time to second draft. And I'm only one chapter in.
I've also just generally had a more difficult time connecting, on an emotional level, to my writing. Specifically, in the last few years. Part of the stories I tell are usually a greater reflection of things that are happening around me, or my projections of the future.
As you can guess--the future has been quite uncertain lately, and many of the things I'm feeling aren't necessarily reflected in the worlds I'm attempting to escape into. Much of the emotional weight I'm carrying right now feels heavy and dark and that's somewhat a part of the world I'm writing, but also not really?
WRITE SOMETHING ELSE
It was suggested last night by a fellow writer that maybe I just needed to give myself permission to write something that would help expel all the negative emotions that are blocking me from truly accessing my imagination and empathy--in a short story horror format. I found the idea intriguing, but just wasn't feeling up to doing much last night except watching a YouTube video series I've recently become obsessed with, and then passing out.
I've been toying with the idea of a horror anthology for a while now, and tossing out a short story (which I could include in my word count) just might be the cure to my writerly ails. I'm going to try it today and see how it goes (along with attempting some more writing on the designated Nanowrimo WIP.
It's Day 5 and I'm only 4k words in. Let's see what kind of shenanigans I can get up to this weekend. *fingers crossed*
Melinda Jasmine Crouchley, YA science fiction author and professional editor.