That Awkward Phase Where the Book is Complete, But I am Not

When I went to a writer’s conference in October of last year, I was told that the second draft is for moving mountains. Well, I not only moved a mountain, I moved an entire continent. I am fairly certain I re-imagined my book my nearly 80-85%. It’s basically to the point where it’s just the names and inciting event are the same.
In October, I had made the decision to give up on my book. Now, looking at what I have done over the last 100 days – I am so very happy I did not. I now have a working beginning, middle, and end. My character changes over time from the events she goes through. I have a backstory now! I have imagery! I have characterization! It is so much fun seeing how much this draft has changed. It is almost as interesting as knowing I really have no control over what I write since my characters seem to take over when I start writing.
As celebration, I have printed the book out at Staples and binded with a coil – giving it a cover to keep it safe from spills and my cat – or both. The reason I do this is one – it makes me happy. And two, I hand edit my story before I edit on the computer. I find writing in margins and in between lines to be so much more helpful than staring at my computer. Also, I like flipping through the pages to see how many words are on the pages.
I start my line edit tomorrow after work. I will probably end up adding a few things to scenes I want to correct – however – I think the plot that is there is the plot that will stay (crosses fingers). I am also going to start thinking about book two because I have it set up to keep moving. So, in reality, I am not actually complete and I am just fooling myself.
I will hopefully have the line edit done by April 5th when I go to Muse and the Marketplace in Boston. There, I have time to meet with an agent. It is nice have a goal on the horizon to kick me into high gear.

Poe’s Dream-Land

Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. I have always appreciated his work, especially his poem Dream-Land. In fact, I related to it so much that I have “Haunted by ill angels only” tattooed on the back of my neck. At the time, I had spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it was I was meant to do with my life, and I knew that I would have to go on some unknown adventures on my own. Eighteen was a strange turning point in my life.
I got this particular line tattooed on my neck because, for a long time, everything that was good was tinged with something bad that had happened. I wanted to appreciate all the good while acknowledging that bad things happen and that I could overcome them. I wanted to eventually appreciate that these things had happened. I know that is vague but hopefully understandable.
I still love my tattoo even though my life has drastically changed since I was eighteen. Now, I am not as lonely, but my path is still obscure. The ill angels are not as cruel as they used to be, but they are still there.
I get told a lot “Look where you came from and where you are now”, in a sense, I think this represents what I meant when I got this tattoo. Look what happened, the good and the bad, and see what it is now. My tattoo is a little faded these days. I think I am going to leave it as it. I am not ready to renew the ink in my ill angels.

Not Giving Up on the Second Draft

I have twenty-four more days, or twenty thousand words, left before I finish the second draft of my fantasy novel Sustainable. I wrote the first draft in sprints during 2016 then I tried many times to edit the draft during 2017. I failed miserably, only slightly working on the first eight chapters.
In October 2018, I randomly joined The Write Practice and Joe Bunting’s 100 Day Book program. Seriously, I saw a webinar and signed up immediately even though I did not think about the commitment. It has been a challenging experience. However, after nearly two years of sitting on this original draft, I’ve re-worked it in a way that appeals to me and makes me happy.
The most shocking turn of events is that during October of last year, I was ready to mentally scrap this entire endeavor and start over with something else. I couldn’t start anything new knowing I had this large body of work on my plate that I did not want to go to waste. So, I had a friend read it. When she said I definitely should not give up on it, I trusted her opinion and jumped on it. I had not shared my story with anyone else before since I am a perfectionist. I am glad I finally did.
Knowing now that I need intense deadlines has helped me plan for my future. After this second draft is completed, I want to have a line edit completed before I meet with a literary agent on April 5th, starting with the first twenty pages due to the literary agent on March 4th. I know I am cutting it close. I think I can manage it. February will be very busy.
The most important fact that I have learned during these past 83 days is that I am capable of writing a substantial amount while also working full-time and being a part-time student during the first eight weeks of this challenge. I can’t tell if time speeds up or slows down when I am counting the days more closely. I just know that I appreciate them more than I did before.

#VSS365, My First Week

The last five days I have been doing #VSS365 which was a completely new and random hashtag I had seen until New Year’s Eve. I decided last minute that this would be a fun little challenge to present myself with as the new year began.
#VSS365 stands for Very Short Story 365, in which case, the name speaks for itself. We all know that Twitter only allows 140 characters. I did not know that this would be plenty to show a snippet of a scene or to at least think of an attention-grabbing scenario.
My first #VSS365 tweet was for the prompt #eat, which I had no problem with. I wrote about devouring pineapple and chicken pizza and how the date my character was with rolled their eyes. Pineapple pizza gets so much hate. I am 100% on the pineapple bandwagon. The latest was for #swing in which I described a character’s life “swinging out of control” as she spray-painted her ex-boyfriend’s car. Not very original but I didn’t want to talk about swing sets or swing dancing.
So far, the tweet I had to think about most was #knee because I couldn’t figure out a non-religious or non-sexual connotation for someone being on their knees unless they were falling to their knees. My character was bringing people to their knees because she was going to follow the monster under the bed.
I enjoy #VSS365 because it gives me something to think about that isn’t my current work in progress or work in general. It doesn’t take longer than a few minutes to come up with something and by no means does anyone expect it to be perfect. I’ve only been on Twitter since August and I only use it for an outlet for my writing. I am new to this whole social media hashtag following. For my first time taking on a Twitter challenge, I am not disappointed.
I enjoy reading tweets that other people have thought up for #VSS365 and I am trying to show as much appreciation as possible. I have to be careful since it would be detrimental to spend all day on twitter knowing I have other writing to critique, my own writing to write and a completely unrelated full-time job. I will be continuing with #VSS365. Maybe I will think of a new plot for a story through these random, short thoughts.
Does anyone else participate in #VSS365 or other hashtags challenges/games? I want to know what creative outlets I am missing out on.

New Year’s Resolutions Work, Right?

In the event that I forget to hold myself accountable, I am writing this in a blog post. I have decided to blog weekly beginning in 2019, posting every Saturday beginning January 5, 2019. The reason I have decided to blog weekly is that I want to open my mind up to more topics. I say ‘topics’ vaguely since they are to be determined.
I have always known I work well under pressure. I even remember reading in college about active procrastinators and being excited because that was me in a nutshell. Active Procrastination is working under pressure with the added bonus of an adrenaline rush to meet a deadline. I actively choose when I procrastinate (Um…I admit to my YouTube addiction). I am also highly motivated and am often praised for my hard work. I tend to think of my tasks when I am not doing them so when I am ready to get to work, I’ve laid the foundation for what I want to do.
My problem in the past with my writing is that I didn’t set any deadlines up for myself to stick too. I only just realized this when I joined The Write Practice 100 Day Book Challenge. I joined because I inherently knew I needed to be held accountable. But um, I can hold myself accountable – I just…do it intermittently like when I wrote my first draft of my book Sustainable. Now my goal is to keep doing that by finishing my second draft (more than halfway done), writing blogs and moving on to my the second yet to be titled or planned book in the series.
I actually do have a lot to talk about. I am planning and working out the details. Now I know, if I do not hold myself accountable to write my blogs, I will feel really f-ing guilty in September 2020 when my website comes up for renewal and I haven’t touched it again (been guilty of that).

I’d Go to a Writing Workshop Again

Today was an eventful day at the 2018 Boston Writing Workshops. I have never attended a workshop related to writing even though I am sure there have been plenty near me since I moved to Massachusetts. I must have inherently known they come here, I think that in the past I have been too closed off to consider even looking them up. Well, not anymore, since my new policy is to do what makes me happy. I now know that writing workshops do, indeed, fit the bill.
I think my fear was that the event would be pretentious. It wasn’t, not one bit. It was laid back, everyone was nice, and the workshops were an hour chock full of encouraging words and insightful questions. I am very glad I attended, and I hope to participate more when I go next time.
Yes, yes – the introvert didn’t just magically go away after 29 years of trying. However, I do feel that I am opening up more in my daily life. The Boston Writing Workshop gave me the opportunity to learn more about a craft I love. I also got to see that there are people in the area that care about writing as well.
One takeaway I had from today is that maybe I shouldn’t discount the possibility of pitching my novel to an agent eventually. There are a lot of nuts and bolts that comes with publishing a book and I really need to explore all my options. Since I will be participating in the 100 Day Book Challenge the second draft of my book, which will be a lot of rewriting, the dream of pitching a book might not be as far away as it seems to be.
I also learned some wisdom today about writing Sci-fi/fantasy. The meaning, and reasons behind the sci-fi/fantasy comes in the second draft. I have been consistently struggling with the meaning and reasoning behind my novel. I will keep fiddling around and see what happens.

Also, someone called me Ma’am today. No, please. Don’t.

Sixty-One Days Ago I Began Again

Exactly sixty-one days ago, I started changing the pieces of my life that I was not satisfied with at the time. I couldn’t understand why I was not feeling happy, even though I started a fantastic job in February that I love. I already had a personal trainer that I was seeing, so I was already trying to fix one problem. I had just started school again to get a certification in Project Management, which my job happily pays for because they want to cultivate their talent base.
Trying to evaluate, I knew it wasn’t my job causing the discomfort. I have been praised by leaders in my company because I am doing a great job, I am becoming respected as a young woman making a career for herself. I work in health insurance, organizing programs and grants that help people get access to better quality health care. I am happy, finally, with the work portion of my life. But there was still a nagging in the back of my mind that I could not stop. I think my previous position made me unhappy, helping mask my other issues. One of which is my health.
I realized that my own health was not up to par with what I wanted. I THOUGHT I was doing something about it with multiple days cardio and the personal trainer. One major problem that I have experienced in my life is back pain. Although I was working hard, I always took ten steps back when I had a major flare up. Then I did not ever get back on track. I also have very little self-control when it comes to food, which didn’t help when I was stressed over a flare up.
At the time, sixty-one day ago, I did not realize that cardio was one of the factors contributing to my back pain. Cardio was supposed to be good for me, help me lose weight and prevent my back pain. Then my personal trainer told me that weights were the way to go, therefore, I went. Why not? Pain sucks. Thus, one part of my life changed. Weights have not caused my back pain to come back. I thought the pain was a result of just being me, I didn’t reconcile that it was me doing it to myself since the repetitive motions were difficult on my sensitive spine. Cardio is great, but it is not great for me.
At the same time, I experienced a cosmic shift in my thoughts about my eating habits. Needing control, I started tracking everything in MyFitnessPal. According to my records, I have lost 18.2 pounds in sixty-one days. I will continue to do this, since it works for me, and in spite of being told my way of dieting would not work for others. It might not. However, I am not intuitive, therefore, I need control.
So, I’ve gotten on a dirt path with my weight training and healthy eating habits. I like being school and just made a perfect score on my first of four classes.
There is just one last missing piece: writing.
A few years ago, I wrote the entire first draft of a book. It’s not awful, I’ve recently been told. But now I need to touch it up, make it sing, and make myself happy doing it. So, I printed it at Staples and had it bound with coil, so I could feel legit. This weekend, I am going to a writing conference, which is unrelated to editing my first draft, but this will also make me feel legit (especially with the business cards I am printing).
Last, but not least, somehow, I found myself listening to a webinar on “Better Book Ideas” through The Write Practice. This is one of those situations where I have been a long-time lurker, first time participant. I am now signed up for the 100 Day Book Challenge. I do like myself a good deadline and a goal, yes? Sounds like a great idea.
I am excited about this portion of my life. I keep saying I can’t wait to see myself in six months. I think it is a mantra. Maybe I will get it tattooed somewhere as a reminder. I am hoping everyone is right about making changes can drastically change one’s life. I need it.