Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thoughts for 2014: Goals and Resolutions

So I've been thinking about what I want in life in general. Some days I find myself randomly sitting on my bed or the couch and think, I want to be more productive. And that's as far as I go.

Laziness is the enemy of mankind.

I love having productive days. I feel better about myself and life in general when I have them. Therefore, I'm making 2014 the year in which I truly reach for my dreams.

I don't suppose any of you know the story of Ben Carson's childhood? When he was just a boy, his mother became concerned that he and his older brother were watching too much t.v. and weren't really going to go anywhere in life. She wanted them to aspire to greatness and become great, so she started making them read and write and do those things that would get them there.

I've been very inspired by this story lately (I'm planning on reading the novel soon) and have decided to change my life and cultivate those habits that will bring me the success and life I desire. This may sound silly but at one point in the past few days, I literally thought, "But this is going to be hard."

*bows head in shame at the glaring laziness*

I'm proud to say my immediate thought after that was, "Of course it is, it's supposed to be. So what?"

Okay, I'm slightly embarrassed I actually admitted that. Moving on....

This whole thing is about making and cultivating habits. Therefore, the logical step to take now would be to identify what I need to do to meet my goals.

  • Finish that Writing Children's Books course....

  • Write everyday

  • Read everyday

  • Watch less t.v.

  • Find a critique partner (still unsure how to do this)

Obviously, this isn't going to all happen over night so I'm going to break this down to something more manageable as I begin to make these habits. I find that I'm more productive in the morning than I am in the evening so that means.... yes, waking up earlier. Here's my minimum requirements for every morning.

The Morning Breakdown:

  • Write for at least 1 hour

  • Work on writing course for at least 1 hour

  • Read for at least 1.5-2 hours

I have no idea what the evenings will look like so I'm going to skip to my weekly goals. (I'll probably write blog posts and read more.)

  • Read at least 2-3 books a week

  • Write at least 6,000 words a week

This now brings me to the things I can't do at all or as much.

  • I only get four hours of TV/Games per week

  • Only use the internet for what I need

The first one should be pretty easy but when I get into a TV/gaming mood you can bet that's basically all I do unless I make myself do something different, so this is a very important one to have. As for the second one... I'm sure we can all identify with that.

And to keep me responsible, I'll be reporting my successes/failures to you every Saturday.

So what are your 2014 goals and resolutions?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why I'm Revising Before Finishing

Two days ago, I was thinking about my untitled contemporary, which we will now refer to as Untitled Contemporary until I find a name for it. And I thought about my novel quite a bit. What I have is good. But it could be better and I'm hoping these changes will make it better.

Here's the thing, I haven't actually finished Untitled Contemporary. I'm close but I'm just not there yet. With that said, Daisy has come to her acceptance too early and it's throwing everything else off and I'm becoming... a bit stuck when I try to continue. I know I could muscle through it but this is supposed to be a beautiful story and I'm worried that would make it lose some of the beauty. I'd really love to just finish it all but these new changes are going to change quite a few things.

So do I finish it first and then go back and change things? Or do I change things and let the new ending come through as the first and only ending I write? At this point, I've decided to write the parts that speak to me so I've gone back and added a new chapter (which is needed for my revising plans). I really like the changes that are coming and feel like this will make for a much more meaningful and stronger ending.

Part of me still wants to just finish it but if I finish it now, I feel like it'll be almost a wasted effort. *gasp*

I know, I said it. No writing is wasted. But do you really write an ending you know isn't going to work? Do you write an ending that isn't right just to say you finished it? I don't think so. I'm a perfectionist and these changes are going to change how Daisy feels throughout the entire novel: the things she thinks about and blames herself for.

Therefore, I'm going to revise what I have and let those revisions shape my ending. I'll give you all a glimpse of Untitled Contemporary soon. I just have to find the right part and all that jazz.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tell Them You Like It

Yesterday I confessed my own feelings of nervousness at the thought of letting anyone read my work. In connection to that, I've been thinking about a few of these debut authors.

I just finished reading Defy by Sara B. Larson last week (it was amazing) and I had commented on one of her blog posts telling her I had done so and that it was "A-M-A-Z-I-N-G." Spelt just like that. I never expected a reply back or anything of the kind. When I finish a book I really love, I eventually end up at the author's website or blog. This is especially true since I've started book blogging this past year.

So when I made this comment, it was the first time I'd visited her blog and I just wanted to let her know. Plus, commenting on blogs is always appreciated by the author. It lets them know that what they're writing is important enough to someone that they took the time to comment. Trust me, it's fantastic when someone comments on a blog post.

Back to my story now....

I went to bed and when I got up this morning I had a lovely surprise waiting for me. Miss Larson had thanked me for my comment and was glad I had liked Defy. The fact that she replied and went out of her way to find me on twitter instead of just replying to the comment was surprise enough. So I replied with a "Thank you for writing!" because I am truly grateful that she and a lot of other authors out there write and are brave enough to let me read it. Her reply?

Now that one made my morning. But this all got me thinking. I'm nervous about letting two or three people read my work. Her release date is still a month away and plenty of people are already reading hers'. I can't even imagine how nervous she probably is.

But even for people who have a few novels out there, it must be nerve racking every time. So if you're reading a book you love, take the time to let the author know. There'll be plenty of critiques out there. I mean, don't be annoying (something I always remind myself), but don't be afraid to let them know you love it. You may not get a reply but they probably saw it and I'm sure it helps.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Conficted: Someone's Reading My Novel

It's not much of a secret that I've actually written five novels before my current work in progress (WIP). And since my mother is so trustworthy and wanted to read two of my earlier novels, I let her. Apparently she really liked my first one because she printed the sequel so she could read it (with my permission of course).

But here's the thing, it's been three years since I wrote the novel she's currently reading. Yeah....

I know it isn't like its available to thousands of people but I have to admit I'm nervous. I've actually become more nervous and less open with my writing in the past year or so than I was before. I doubt it more than I ever did before.

What if she doesn't like it? She won't want to tell me. But I know she won't lie to me if I ask. My strategy? If she truly likes it, she'll seek me out and tell me herself. If she doesn't... then she probably won't say anything as long as I don't bring it up.

Back to the whole nervous and being less open part.... This whole being scared of letting people read what I write is actually impeding my mental search for a critique partner. I've been idly tossing names around every once and a while for the past few weeks. I don't want to send it to just anyone. But I want to make sure whoever I send it to will actually help me improve it.

I'm quite a ways off from this stage of the writing process; you know, since I haven't actually finished my contemporary. But the prospect of sending this novel off into someone else's hands is much scarier than it was with any of my other novels. This one is different. It's more personal to me somehow; I'm not all together certain why that is though. It's not like I've experienced anything I'm writing about.

But I believe in the story. When I sat down to write, I knew I didn't want to write another romantic contemporary where the guy swoops in and everything is all right. As some of my book blogging buddies have pointed out, just because you get the guy doesn't mean all of your problems are fixed. It just isn't realistic. And while I don't mind reading stories like that (I'm not all that picky), I didn't want to write one of those. I wanted to explore the character development. I wanted her to learn how overcome her problems. I didn't want the very sweet Adam to fix Daisy because that isn't how life generally works.

I believe in Daisy's story - more so than any other story I've written. This could be great. But letting someone read it is both scary and exciting all at the same time.

So hopefully my mother likes what she reads and hopefully I'll find a critique partner who'll be helpful and trustworthy. I can deal with criticism, I just need to know I trust them with something so dear to me.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Beyond November

If you've seen my NaNoWriMo profile, it's not much of a secret that I didn't reach my goal of 80K, but that's all right. I almost reach 60K which isn't bad. I really needed to read so I put things down for a couple of weeks and chilled. Now I'm back to the grindstone though.

I sat down to write just 1,000 words this morning and ended up with 3,000, which is fine by me. My main character, Daisy, has grown a lot since the beginning of the novel and is finally realizing a few things. It's still hard for her and there's still stuff she has to get past, but she's worked through one big thing already.

I have to admit that I'm surprised she overcame this thing so soon but I'm just letting her take me where she will. That kind of sounds funny, doesn't it? I mean, I'm the writer, I get to choose where so goes, right? Logic would dictate that but art has a life of its own. And when your in tune with it, you don't ask yourself where you're going next, you ask yourself what she/he sees and what happens to them. Then you let that event take you where it may.

I'm nearing the end of Daisy's journey but I'm starting to realize that her mom has a journey of her own. How do I potentially end a novel when that is still there? But I've been thinking about this all morning. A revelation came to light and my first thought was, "I don't want to write that." Moms are supposed to love their children unconditionally. But you know sometimes when you see people say things to their kids or just kids in general and you think, "You don't say that to them."? It ends up that Daisy's mom is one of those people.

It's kind of sad but I'm coming to realize that Daisy's mom may not get the ending I want because Daisy, in the end, is making more progress than her. Her mother's progress is a fa├žade. She's made herself believe she's made more progress than she really has. And, because of that, Daisy is going to reach the end of her journey first.

But her mom just might come around before the end. I'm interested to see how that works out. Again, I know that sounds a bit weird, but remember I'm writing this as I go.