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.
Had a lovely chat with Megan Jessop yesterday, for her Book Publishing thesis research, about what it means to steward a Little Free Library during a global pandemic, and especially during a time where there's a coordinated and concerted effort to ban, burn, and censor books from diverse perspectives.
Feeling excited and reinvigorated to place our LFL in its new Salem, Oregon home---with a strengthened mission to not only include diverse books, but also banned and censored books.
Check out her blog post here.
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.
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.
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.
Melinda Jasmine Crouchley, YA science fiction author and professional editor.