WELL, IT'S FRIDAY, ISN'T IT?
Yes, it is time for my atonement, the day of reckoning where I tell you of my sins and successes over the past week. I managed to accomplish quite a bit of writing, but when I look back on the week, it's been a blur. Oh yeah, we had Friday off last week but my daughter was glued to my side and I scheduled flu shots for everyone but me (it's okay, I got the jab yesterday). Saturday was brunching and house-related BS as always, and Sunday was literally the entire day consumed with watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and grabbing food in Portland afterward.
Then, the work week happened and it's been the process of closing out one textbook edit and gearing up for a few more (possibly DEs this time around). Also shopping for hosting multiple Thanksgiving dinners. Prepping Christmas cards. The whole holiday rush is upon us, at it always is this time of year. I haven't had much down time lately.
HOW'S THE WRITING THEN?
Behind? But not by too much at this point. Writing this book has been an incredible rollercoaster of flying up and down in word count depending on the day or the hour of the day. SO MUCH EMOTIONAL TURMOIL. On the 15th I was riding high because I was 2k words ahead, and now on the 18th I'm behind again. Ideally, I would be logging 2k words a day, but hitting that mark is just not always achievable. Especially when there are SO MANY DISTRACTIONS right now like watching Twitter implode and successfully skirting COVID, RSV, and the flu. LOL
I wormed my way out of one writing barrier only to smash into another wall this week and this one feels a lot more stuck than I was previously. Sort of. I set up the grounds for a scene that I could write out of order (gasp). I know the rest of the plot, so I could just Hulk smash my way into later bits that I know for certain need to happen. Not sure what's driving the lack of motivation or enthusiasm. I WAS SO READY TO WRITE THIS BOOK and now I'm just like "Ok, gotta put in my hours" with no drive or passion behind it. I hate that for me.
THE OUTLOOK IS GOOD?
Of course it is. This is me we're talking about. I'm building a revision plan in my head as I type. Part of me STRONGLY DESIRES going back to add in the bits right now, but the other part of me knows that getting the whole book on page and completing it will actually be a better use of my time. Why can't I revise and edit while writing the first draft like I really want to?
Because, Dear Reader, it's a waste of time when likely that content will be cut and reformed anyway. I know this to be true. And still, and yet, the writerly heart wants what it wants. No amount of logic can deter that.
Part of my reticence, I recently discovered, is my lack of connection to the main character. He's a Grade A-hole but likely not sympathetic ENOUGH. So, I need to go back to earlier chapters and seed in some more likable elements to ground him and build reader (and let's be honest, my own) sympathy. The good part is, I know what those things are NOW so I can just move forward like they're already in place.
I know. I don't know. Just accept it. It's the process.
A HACK? A POTENTIAL HACK?
One way that has helped me---when I am finally, blessedly in the writer flow---is using the display word count feature in Google Docs, so I get an up-to-date measurement as I write. Before I would get in the writing zone, hit the pause button to see how many words I'd logged, and have to do math only to discover I'd written like 250 words when I was thinking it was 1,000. Imagine the disappointment and heartache. Tracking word count in real time has given me a fun sense of liberation. Like catching the moment when your odometer hits 100k miles or something. It's fun to mark those milestones and watch the word count pile up without that sense of foreboding or dread. Best of all, it doesn't require me to stop what I'm doing and commit to another digital task. I simply look down, feel the surge of pride, and keep moving.
It's Day 18 and I'm 31k words into this WIP. Happily, I'm up 12k words from last week, and I've progressed three more chapters, so that's something over nothing. Just wish I could stop wrestling with stupid doubt. My bully brain is really doing a number on me lately, and that doesn't help the writing process. Like, AT ALL. Send some positive, kind vibes my way??
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?
I made it through another week, that's what. Didn't accomplish much writing over last weekend because Saturday was cleaning and Sunday was an all-day marathon of family photos, Columbia Sportswear employee store, picking up an electric piano for Audrey, and swinging by Shake Shack for dinner.
BUT THE WRITING WAS OK?
Eh, sort of? After starting out strong with SEVERAL THOUSAND WORDS in the bank, I've hit a lull in the story which required A LOT OF WALKING WITH MUSIC to wrestle my way out of. Part of the thing exciting me last week was "no real outline for what happens during the haunting" so I could use my IMAGINATION but then this week I was like "what imagination?" and putting words on the page was like playing mental Jenga. Things are on the page now but they're not necessarily in the right order.
I also need my characters to be ENEMIES at this point but I'm like BUT WHAT IF THEY JUST LOVE EACH OTHER ALREADY and that is my fatal flaw. I can't just have characters be mean or mad for too long.
Anywho, my word surplus was slowly drained over the last seven days and now I find myself in that tricky spot so many authors arrive at during this exercise...BEHIND. I told myself I didn't care about meeting word goals but it turns out I secretly do and I'm starting to get that panicky feeling because I SHOULD BE MAKING MORE PROGRESS.
How about some other fun content instead?
CHARACTER INSPO IMAGES
I DID spend a lot of time pre-Nanowrimo building out very full character profiles, complete with inspirational character images. Introducing the cast of characters in Ghost Story (Nowhere Man): from left to right Desmond Jones, Molly Starr Park, Maxwell Edison, Georgia "Georgie" Lee, and Sadie Krueller.
THAT'S NICE, BUT WHERE YOU AT?
Six chapters in and 11 days in. I'm slowly working my way out of the initial haunting weeds and learning some cool stuff about ghost hunting and...uhm...particle physics so that's great news? Ha ha. No but really, I am seeing the light at the end of this particular writing tunnel. I was STUCK and STRUGGLING during parts of this week. It's amazing what a little exercise and playlist can do for the brain.
There was a great bit I had the pleasure of writing last night with sleuthing on a Tinder-esque dating app and I probably just need to ignore the word count and "have more fun." That's easier said than done because how am I supposed to measure my success and performance and abilities if not against an arbitrary goal? By comparing myself to others? ;)
It's Day 11 and I'm 19k words into this beautiful, glorious MESSY-MESS. Yup, it's officially in hot mess territory WHICH IS FINE because it's a rough draft. I'm allowed to cut/paste content into "ghost chapters" in this part of the process. Look, gimme another week and I'll be back on track. *cracks knuckles, rolls head on neck, jumps in place and shakes out my shoulders* Let's do this.
THIS WEEK WAS A WEEK
Between my favorite holiday (Halloween) and the recovery from the holiday (both myself and my child), and then editing a big old sweaty textbook in my day job, things have been slightly busy BUT I HAVE BEEN DOING GOOD THINGS. I promised myself recently I'd try to eat healthier (Halloween candy doesn't count) and exercise so I'm back to taking daily walks EVEN IF my workload is mind boggling and I NEED TO WRITE and guess what? I'm disgusted to report that I'm still getting stuff done so my theory that cutting out exercise saves me from anything is patently false.
I sort of cheated but I already confessed to that. I started this month with a bonus 7k words but arriving at my current destination was all me this week. It helps that I wrapped up any other side projects I had going on RIGHT BEFORE Nano started so I'm not reading anything else at the moment, even though my Boo loaned me Gideon the Ninth on October 30th and I am SO TEMPTED. I handed my current draft of Rosita Ruins the Heist off to another beta reader, so I'm not EVEN thinking about any other books.
The Nowhere Man/Ghost Story has my full attention.
And as this is a first draft/rough draft, I'm allowing myself (however painful) to not worry TOO MUCH about the actual writing and instead focus on the voice (since it's first-person POV) and getting the meat of the story down on paper. There will be plenty of time later to pretty up sentences and phrasing and excise bad exposition. This is GO TIME, BABY, YEAH and decorating the prose is like adding the pretty flowers on top of the cake and you have to make the cake part first which is usually so unattractive that people wouldn't eat it without frosting.
Damn. Now I'm kind of craving cake...
Since I enjoyed posting up the synopsis last week as a teaser, I thought I'd share more pre-work. I put together multiple Pinterest boards within Pinterest boards and settled on a sort of "mood/aesthetic" which so far doesn't match the writing style or tone so much as it flows with the story and the internal world of the characters. More on that later. Maybe when you read the book? ;)
THAT'S NICE, BUT WHERE YOU AT?
Four chapters in and only four days in and I have a really good sense of where things are going. I just have to STAY THE COURSE which is so incredibly challenging for a former pantser turned plantser turned somewhat plotter. However, Molly Starr Park made some excellent decisions in the previous chapter and both Desmond and I are curious about what happens next. The only thing is, I know exactly what the next sequence will be! Ha ha!
I did not fully map out what occurs during the haunting, so this is fun mess-around break-stuff territory inside of a pretty well plotted outline so maybe that's the key? Build out the story and characters, but build in spaces for imagination and play to take over?
It's Day 4 and I'm 11k words in to this beautiful, glorious NOT-mess. Let's see what kind of shenanigans I can get up to this weekend. *fingers crossed*
It's that time of year again. Nanowrimo time! The time when I take stock of my writing goals for the year and determine how I best want to use the next 30 days of time to piece together at least 50k words of a draft. More on that later!
ESPOOKY SEASON CONTINUES
Not sure what it is this year... maybe the extended Pacific NW summer or the "post-pandemic" lull of life after making some major moves (literally, figuratively). 2022 had ALL THE THINGS --- new job, new house, new city, turning 40, sending my kid to FOR REALS school. Just, big big stuff! Some of it, very, very scary indeed.
I've been desperately watching scary movies all month long to feel the fear and nothing is hitting with the creepy vibes. So, perhaps it's time I take a turn at the helm of horror. Spooky season won't end for me on Halloween night. It will end when I'm done writing the next book: Nowhere Man: A Ghost Story!
Okay, it's a tentative title, so don't knock it? Well, all my titles are tentative until they're not. It's having a bit of an identity crisis because I refer to it mostly as Ghost Story, but Nowhere Man is really settling in with me, so we'll see. Anywho, I've done all the pre-prep planning that I could in the form of a Pinterest board and multiple playlists. Made an outline with some oomph behind it via Abbie Emmons. The whole premise has already changed from "a ghost that saves a girl's life and then falls in love with her and tries to kill her so they can be together forever" to... well, not that.
I even made character sheets for SIDE CHARACTERS because I am THAT invested. It's been a fun bit of organizing and the thing is that I got SO BORED because I finished all my prep way before November 1, that I started writing it already.
Yep, I did! We're two chapters in baby, yeah! And I love it? Desmond Jones is my POV character at the moment and he's such a superficial asshole, it's really fun to write him just snarking and silently hating on everyone and everything. I'll be switching to Molly Starr Park's POV in upcoming chapters, so that'll be a fun change-up. I like them. I'm gonna put them through the ringer, but in the end, I think it'll all be OK.
When Molly Starr Park flees to Portland to restart her life in a brand new city in a brand new job, she arrives to more than she bargained for. The Prothero-provided condo she moves into is haunted by the ghost of Desmond Jones, a former Prothero employee, and he doesn't like her. In fact, he wants her OUT. But both of their lives (well, after-life) are unraveling and despite their corporeal differences, they seem to be the only ones who can help one another.
GOALS, GOALS, GOALS
My goal is to write everyday. Surprise! It's not "produce 50k words in one month" because that doesn't feel super good to me at this point in my life. I have fumbled the last few times I NANO'd simply because I tried to meet an audacious word goal in a compressed and busy holiday season/time of the year which meant pumping out garbage (hey now, go easy, friend) to fill the quota and ending up with an over-bloated manuscript (Rosita) that I now have to trim down to a manageable size.
I mean, that's always my problem anyway (writing too much) so why not start with a rough draft where I'm writing JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT instead? How about that?
I'd rather just spend the month of November dedicating time every single day to progressing the manuscript forward, in whatever form that will take. But the idea is I have to write EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if it's just a sentence or a paragraph or maybe one or two words. I have to open that damn document and make it count.
*fingers crossed* Here goes anything at all!
I took the summer off. Sorry? Did you miss me? I'll admit, I missed this platform, but something in me needed the space, Dear Readers, and I hope that's okay.
Actually, I took the whole summer off from all sorts of responsibilities besides writing. I stopped adding books to the Little Free Library (it's still operational, but not super aesthetic or well-stocked). I finished up a freelance developmental edit, and took a few months off side-hustling for my mental health. I delved deep into my day-job to produce a health textbook (DE, CE, proofreading, writing alt-text for images, etc.) and that took up A LOT of bandwidth in my brain so I wasn't feeling super motivated for anything else.
I turned 40 and took a somewhat last minute trip to Disneyland. I kayaked A LOT. I attended county and state fairs. I went camping. I enrolled my daughter in multiple local camps. I worked on home improvement projects and/or home-related crisis's. I celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday and she started regular-ass public school for the first time.
So, a lot happened on the personal front.
WHAT ABOUT YER WRITING?
I revised Rosita Ruins the Heist like mad. The word count has ballooned to a WILD and shameful amount and has pretty much stuck there, despite at least two full-scale rewrites. I'm in third draft mode and have handed Rosita Ruins the Heist over to my close beta readers.
Beta readers. Huh. That's a thing. I have been struggling with this part of the process because I don't have too many people who I know for sure ACTUALLY want to read the rough draft of a book I wrote.
One of the best pieces of advice I've come across recently, in terms of beta readers, is to hand over your book (at least, at first) to people who you KNOW want you to succeed. And who actually want to read your writing. Although I am loved and cared for by many people in my life... on a personal level the pool of people who want to see me succeed and ACTUALLY read my writing is quite small.
I wish I could find the perfect reader who both loved my books and was able to give me objective advice but I'm floating in nebulous territory. The person I started writing the Metal Heart series for did not, in fact, like it very much and removed themselves from my beta reader list entirely. So it goes...
The current person who best fits that bill is my spouse, but he only absorbs my content if I read it to him and quiz him about it. He's great when I want to bounce completely out of context plot notes/points off of him but getting him to read an entire manuscript, especially more than once... well, it just doesn't happen.
I've joined and dropped out of so many writer's groups in the last few years, I don't even want to prevail upon those folks to read my heinously bloated 130k word manuscript until I've had a chance to get some trusted outside eyes on it and find out where the pacing is off so I can make the deep and painful cuts that I can't seem to make on my own.
So, the Grandmas in my life are my beta readers until further notice. My lovely Mom and MIL who read all three of my other completed works without complaint and who don't mind my badgering them with many, many, MANY questions. Too many, probably.
They'll have Rosita back to me by the end of the month. Then it's another round of revision, and then off to either second-round beta readers or a legit editor. SCARY. A real professional editor giving me notes? Who wants that job??
For the moment, I've moved on from Rosita, but haven't started actively writing anything else yet. I've outlined two different projects, and neither of them are Astrid. I love Astrid and her world, but there's just nothing compelling me about that story right now. Believe me, I wish it was. It's painful that I haven't completed the first freaking draft of that book yet. PAINFUL. But there are some pains we just must endure, Dear Readers.
Astrid is shelved for the time being and I won't be mentioning it in updates or making plans for that manuscript unless something changes. I figured out one possible ending, but it involves massive rewriting and taking the book in a whole new direction. I'm not ready for that.
IN HAPPIER NEWS
I found a fantastic FREE YouTube writing series created by Abbie Emmons that I've been mainlining over the last week, and I feel like when I'm EVENTUALLY ready to rewrite Astrid, I will be in a good place to restructure and interrogate the manuscript.
I'm making plans to restart some of my writing group memberships in 2023 and rejoin writing communities in the real world. I'm even toying with the idea of taking some comics writing courses. Imagine it! There's also low-key plans to table at a local, Salem-specific comic book convention in 2023 to peddle my wares but that's still in very early planning phases. I'd love to share a table with some other local indie scifi/fantasy writers.
I am VERY excited about Casualties (scifi zombies!) and Ghost Story (scifi ghost!). I've been working on outlines for both in my "not currently writing a book" downtime and I'm pleased to announce that Life Goes On will be my 2022 Nanowrimo project. More on that soon!
A rough outline of these upcoming last few months of 2022:
It might NOT surprise you to learn that after the new job, chaotic move, and being plagued with various rounds of COVID plus some vacations and side hustle work, well it might not surprise you to know that I spent two months NOT writing on my book. Literally nothing happened on Rosita Ruins the Heist between March and April.
And then, I sat my happy ass down in front of a computer and was like, you know what? You know whaaattt? What if I just wrote a few words everyday? No strings attached. No particular timeline. Just wrote a little bit, even if it's a single sentence or a whole paragraph or a whole page. Just a tiny little bit of something to advance the story forward.
What if I did that? Well, that's what happened.
AND THEN WHAT
Slowly, by not adhering to the confines of a daily word count or structured goals that felt unachievable, a chapter came together. Another one fell apart. I wrote myself into a box. I pumped the brakes and stewed for a minute, and then decided to start in media res and work from there. I finished up the big heist. I wrote the aftermath. I wrote THE ENDING.
I finished the book.
It was on a Sunday I think. It was very anti-climactic but it mattered a great deal because last year when I wrapped up the third book in the Metal Heart series and was unable to finish even drafting Astrid for an entire summer, and then when I started Rosita with such high hopes and just couldn't seem to get the ending written despite toiling with great effort through some serious life curveballs...
I started to think, somewhere in the muck and mire of the two month hiatus, that I might not ever finish another book after the initial three. Not that I didn't have more books in me, just that---with all my struggles to just be a human existing in the world---that I might not BE ABLE to write another book to completion.
I had started, somewhere in my back-brain, to accept this reality. And the other corresponding realities seemed to coalesce: I am not a traditionally published author, nobody will actually read what I write, nobody cares to suggest that maybe the world would be fine if I never finished or published another book again. And I imagine it will be fine, the world, if I didn't write anymore books. They're not world-changing or life-shattering or even, objectively THAT GOOD but... I am not the world. I'm just me. And I know for a fact that I won't be fine if I stop writing.
So I didn't, not permanently. And I won't probably ever stop.
I hit a wall somewhere in my thinking recently where I was like, when someone criticizes the thing you love or the morals and values you hold dear or the art that sustains you---the best response is just to fucking LOVE THAT THING MORE. To crow loudly and publicly about the very thing that someone would shame you for loving or being or enjoying or thinking or feeling.
Why should I give anyone the power or let them think for one second they could shame me? The world is in fucking shambles and I like what I like and I write what I write and I am who I am. There are things I can and should change about myself, absolutely. But being a writer is not one of them.
So, one day I sat down in front of the computer and I was like, "just write as much as you can RIGHT NOW." And then I did that consecutively for several days in a row until I had a completed first draft in very rough shape.
I am done. Another completed manuscript has joined the ranks. Welcome, Rosita Ruins the Heist. If that is really your true and given name. Lol just kidding. I plan for that to be the title unless somehow it is traditionally published which I highly doubt.
Right now, it's in second draft status. I did the unthinkable thing that you're absolutely not supposed to do and went IMMEDIATELY from first drafting to second drafting. There might have been a day or two where I was like, "I'm going to set this aside and finish up Astrid now." And then, I didn't. I BROKE THE RULES. I knew exactly what I wanted to change and how and had the desire and motivation to do so. And thusly, with only an extremely short break, I'm knee-deep in second draft mode.
That means adding chapters, deleting chapters, and patching together some loose scenes that were always destined to end up together. What's most helpful is that I've kept copious notes as I've written and went back through them right after I finished the book---color coding them based on what KIND of edit/revision needed to happen, and that's roughly the formula I've been following, in chronological order starting at Chapter 1. Start fixing right at the heart of it.
I can absolutely tell you though, when the second draft is done? I'm putting it away for a few weeks. It will need to be cleaned up considerably (the word count bloat is WILD, dear reader) and I just don't think a third round of editing/revising immediately after the second is within my grasp. I'll need some distance and perspective to come back and do the hard work of trimming dialogue and ensuring consistent and correct character arc, and pacing and tension.
This round of second drafting is really about building more time with the characters and getting to know them better and hammering the plot into something that makes more sense---connecting all the elements. I'm so happy to be here. I'm happy that I was actually, really, for reals able to complete a fourth novel.
Big things are on the horizon for Astrid and Casualties, my next projects for the last half of 2022. I was hoping to start the horror anthology this Fall, but I'm thinking that's going to consume my 2023 instead.
As of right now: I've logged 109,211 words. My current hope is to finish up the second drafting this month and then set it aside. I'm guessing word count will fluctuate wildly in that time (it already has). The third draft will involve making big cuts to dialogue, smoothing character arcs, and tightening pacing. Right now I'm still in the sandbox, building castles.
It's gonna be a good summer.
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?
DID YOU WATCH ME?
Do you remember the chaos of the first part of December 2021? Did you know that the chaos of the last part of December has included multiple medical procedures, attending and hosting holiday events, preparing to bring home a puppy, house hunting, AND a trip to the coast in wintery weather?
And remember how I said haters and rational people would say that I couldn't possibly write 60k words this month, THIS PARTICULAR MONTH??
WELL, I DID
I did the damn thing that no one thought could be done (I mean, I figured I could work hard and make it happen). Insert Snoop Dogg "I want to thank me, for believing in me" quote here. I've learned a ton of new things about my characters and the direction of the book. Some new ideas surfaced. Some old ideas were abandoned. I am now eleven chapters deep into this exciting new world and at the point where I'm REALLY ENJOYING spending time with these troubled, lovable goofballs.
I underwent those medical procedures which involved a ton of fasting. I survived the holidays (got a sweet-ass record player and Beatles albums). We are at the tail end of our beach trip, tomorrow we're driving to Springfield, OR to pick up our new doggo, and I'll be hosting at least one more event this weekend.
Yes, the madness forever continues. Would that I could hole up in a cabin in the woods and spend all my days writing like some forest hermit. Tis not possible, I'm afraid.
WHAT HAPPENS IN 2022?
The next phase in my evil plan is to reach the 90k threshold with Rosita Ruins the Heist by the end of January. This might be a little bit trickier as I have two editing side hustle projects to complete, the housing search continues (seemingly in vain), and I may or may not be taking a work trip depending on what my work status is (that is still TBD).
I'm also unsure if reaching 90k words will actually complete this novel. The goal is to hit 90k, but I'm starting to wonder if this draft might surpass that final word count. I'm definitely aware of where I need to trim the fat. But sometimes you just need to write the words. I find myself, most times, feeling like I'm writing things at a snail's pace within the manuscript itself. Does anyone else feel like this? I don't know why all the scenes seem bloated. There's so much bloat!
Every time I finish a chapter, I can't wait to cut it down. Create and destroy. No, that's not quite it. Create and recreate.
As of right now: I've logged 60,799 words. Reaching 90k words by the end of January is feeling a little bit shaky as I move into 2022. Stay tuned, dear readers. Things are somehow about to get EVEN MORE interesting?
A PROMISE WAS MADE
Late in November 2021, feeling good about smashing my revised Nanowrimo goal of 30k words, I decided that the only way to ensure I achieved a properly completed first draft was to continue the goal of writing 1k words a day on the manuscript through the end of January. A lofty goal, but one that seemed attainable. I'd even logged a few words over the 30k mark and had some extra padding in case I missed a few days or the holidays went sideways.
What a fool I was back then.
WELL THEN, WHAT HAPPENED?
It started to go horribly wrong fairly early--the last day of Nanowrimo even--when I knocked out a job interview. The wheels were set in motion for this opportunity to possibly coalesce into a straight up job offer (still pending).
I'd also submitted an adoption application at the Multnomah County Animal Shelter for a bull terrier named Scarf. So, the first weekend of December, I had another interview for the role of adopted dog mom and got the job. My spouse was gone for about five hours playing DnD and arrived home to quickly prep the house for the arrival of a 50 lb. dog who was deemed not appropriate for interaction with our rabbit. We had to install gates, build a crate, and purchase a few other dog related items. *phew*
Scarf met our boston, Oreo Cookie, at a neutral location and they seemed to get along fairly well outdoors. That changed a bit at the house, so we were monitoring their interactions. He was a big dumb idiot and bowled over our daughter a few times, so we were monitoring those interactions as well.
It was all going swimmingly until Scarf developed some serious sleep and territorial aggression that was a complete 180 from his previous personality. It all ended in my husband being attacked (with multiple bites) and Scarf being removed from our home by animal services because post-attack he was still highly aggressive. It was just no longer safe or reasonable to have him in a home with our seven year old. It was an extremely heartbreaking situation (we were all so excited to have him join our family) and I spent the next two days crying intermittently.
AND THEN WHAT ELSE?
At the very same time, I was getting closer to a job offer at a location south of where I live--Salem, Oregon--and my therapist declared that she wouldn't work with me on an ADHD diagnosis until I moved out of my current location (for a variety of reasons).
So, we drove down to Salem this past weekend to scout around the neighborhoods and get a "boots on the ground" lay of the land. The housing market is much more affordable than Portland, Oregon--but not THAT affordable. We are still considering our options and putting any serious efforts at moving on hold until after the holidays.
A trip to the emergency room last month kick-started a bunch of appointments with my GP and some specialists to determine what the heck is going on with my GI system. I now have an endoscopy and an imaging appointment set up for next week--both of which include TOO MUCH fasting. I've also undergone serious dietary changes which means there are more foods I cannot eat than foods that I can eat. It's hard--I love to eat. This all very much sucks.
OK, JUST GIVE ME THE TLDR
We adopted a dog that attacked my spouse and he had to be returned and I cried for two days straight. I might get a new job and move. I'm undergoing multiple medical procedures next week. Also, it's the holidays? I mean, all the other life stuff applies like hosting multiple birthday and holiday events, raising a child, decorating/wrapping gifts. Keeping our LFL stocked (AND FESTIVE). Also day-job has been WILD the last few days. Like, cut me some slack Universe?
BUT DID YOU WRITE?
I did. And I didn't. Mostly, I didn't. But the act of not-writing didn't stop me from playing around with cute graphics for Rosita. It didn't stop me from logging over a page of notes during the mental/physical health walks I tried desperately to take every day with no regard to weather conditions (bring it, PNW).
I managed to pull myself away from Reels long enough to tap out an additional 3k words last night so I'm not anywhere close to 60k right now but I'm closer than I was this time yesterday. I will write more. I am actually enjoying the dorky little chapters I'm scribbling away at right now. I am giving myself permission to just fucking enjoy it because everything else is chaos.
I also had a great writerly meetup with my buddy Giacomo who gave me the ultra GOOD suggestion on how to break my block for the ending of Astrid. The idea is one I've been batting around, but it was nice to have someone outside myself confirm and support it. I'm going to write TWO endings--a "good" ending and a "bad" ending because my head and heart have been battling.
It's lowkey a metaphor for our current times and I've been feeling low about our optimistic outlook and couldn't bring myself to write something that cast such a glowing light on humanity. Giving myself permission, and having someone else support/reinforce the idea, has given me a lot more motivation to knock it out when I'm FINALLY done with Rosita Ruins the Heist. Which means finishing Rosita. Which is, A LOT.
Honestly? It's all been a lot and in my life, it will probably ALWAYS be a lot. That's just my particular journey. BUT--I'm still here, doing the damn thing. 60k words by the end of the month. Haters will say it can't be done. Rational people will probably also say it can't be done. But I'm neither. ;)
As of right now: I've logged 37,661 words. I should be at 45k right now, so I'm operating at a serious deficit at the moment. BUT I'm gonna hit 60k by the end of the month (taking the week between Christmas and the New Year off for a trip to the coast). JUST WATCH ME.
Melinda Jasmine Crouchley, YA science fiction author and professional editor.