Saturday, October 24, 2015

Recommitment Again...

Since last I wrote here, I've been thinking about writing and NaNoWriMo more and more. I've been taking photography classes for the past five weeks and taking steps toward fulfilling this dream of mine (to be able to take nice photos), has me thinking about a lot of stuff. It's given me a refreshed perspective on writing and my desires for it as well.

Let's just go over one thing for a moment. I've never flown anywhere. I've traveled up and down the east coast of the United States more than once now, but I've never flown anywhere. To my great excitement, I'm planning a trip to the west coast to visit an aunt. This pending experience has shed a different light on quite a few things for me. Perhaps it's cheesy to say, but I find myself considering things like a trip through Europe (through the same school I'm taking photography classes) as a real possibility. Now, will it actually happen? I don't know. Let's remember that I have yet to board my first plane.

Of course, I'm contemplating other non-travel-related things as well but we won't go into that.

With this new outlook, there's a somewhat familiar focus entering my life. I've been book blogging for almost three years, but things have been quiet on that front for the past week or two. Life is busy and it's coming to a point where I have to ask myself what is most important to me. Do I want to book blog seriously or occasionally? I don't have an actual answer for that yet, but I do have an answer about my photography and writing.

Yes, I want to dump some more time into practicing and improving my photography. Will I ever take pictures professionally? I have no idea, but I know that it's something I enjoy doing so, at the very least, it'll remain a pleasant hobby. If that's all that comes of it, then that's okay with me right now.

As for writing...

Writing is a constant battle of ups and downs. The last five months have consisted of a huge low and, curiously enough (or perhaps not so curiously), writing last week's blog entry was almost therapeutic. I've found that since I've written it, I've had a more positive outlook on Traitors & Tyrants. I've been more invigorated to start writing again and am ready to get back to it.

Now, that isn't to say I didn't write at all in the last five months. I did do some writing, but not very much and what writing I did (not blogging related) wasn't all that serious. I wrote in scenes, which is typically a totally unproductive way for me to write. I work in chronological order and find it virtually impossible to write seriously any other way. When I write in pieces, I tend to think of them as things I can cast aside at any time, unimportant even if they are related to a novel I intend to write at some point.

So what's my point here?

I've basically been a dry well for the past five months. I've used every excuse in the book and have flat out avoided Traitors & Tyrants. With everything that's going on in my life right now (and the perspective offered by my photography classes), I've been thoughtfully contemplating what my real priorities are in life and what I need to do to meet those goals.

I am recommitting not just to Traitors & Tyrants, but also to this painful, yet miraculous process we all call writing. It isn't entirely uncommon for me to go for months without working on a novel. It has happened before. What makes this past year's dry spell so different is the reason behind it. I wasn't just not writing because I didn't feel like it or because I was busy. I wasn't writing because I was, for lack of a better word, wounded in a way. I'm sure that sounds dramatic, but there isn't an easy way to describe it without going into great detail (which I did last week).

Now to get back on track.

Yes, I am recommitting myself to my writing because it is something that I love and have wanted to pursue with all my heart for quite some time now. Sometimes life just throws you a curve ball and there's nothing you can do but to ride it out. The important part is not to let it throw you off course for too long. Get back on that horse. Keep going.

All right, now that you've allowed me to beat that horse until it's good and dead (after all, the last three or so blog posts have been about more or less the same thing), allow me to give you can update.

Have I started planning for Traitors & Tyrants?

Like a good little procrastinator, I haven't done a single thing to prepare for NaNoWriMo. I intended to read Traitors & Tyrants today but that didn't happen. I will be settling in to do some reading tomorrow and will hopefully be finishing it by mid week. I'll have my notepad ready and pen poised for notes. There's a lot to do but I'm going to make the most of November.

I'm currently planning on taking two days off in an effort to help me get some serious extra writing time in this November as well as contemplating getting up earlier in the morning. (Hah, that's unlikely but good intentions right?)

Am I worried by my last minute preparations?

No. The fresher the novel is in my memory, the better. I need to clear up some inconsistencies and plot holes, so I don't consider the fact that I'm reading the novel the week before as detrimental. Since I basically know what I need to do, planning shouldn't be too difficult. (Look, now I've cursed myself.)

That's about it for now though. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why I'm Breaking the Rules this November

It's that time of year again. It's two weeks before National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins and writers everywhere are preparing or eagerly awaiting November 1st. Before October, I knew exactly what book I was planning on writing for NaNoWriMo. Then I was talking to my mother about NaNoWriMo (and how excited I was about writing it), one thing led to another and she had me thinking about using November to finish Traitors & Tyrants. In the end, I decided she had given me some good counsel.

I've put a lot of thought into my decision. I've been working on Traitors & Tyrants for two years; the prospect of working on a different project was refreshing and I spent a month trying to extract myself from that world. Quite frankly, the idea of working on Traitors & Tyrants was unappealing. As I've mentioned earlier, after loosing a lot of edits that were painstakingly added, I had to rush to complete at least half of them so I could finish my Writing Children's Books diploma. After submitting the manuscript to complete the course, I sent it off to my critique partners and decided I needed to take a break.

Now that I've lost my momentum, I've asked myself more than once if that was the right decision. I believe it was and I don't regret it, but getting back on the horse is a lot harder than it sounds. I'm still feeling the affects of losing so much work and its been difficult to begin preparing for NaNoWriMo. I'm two weeks from November 1st and haven't made a single move to prepare for it.

So why keep working on Traitors & Tyrants? After all, Stephanie, you seem to have lost all of your love for it.

Sometimes I feel like that. Sometimes I don't. But something my mom said keeps coming back to me. She read my first NaNoWriMo novel and has been a fan and a source of encouragement for my writing ever since. I count myself lucky to have someone like that in my life - especially a mother like that. As only a mother can, she basically told me to either decide that I'm done with Traitors & Tyrants for good and move on, or stick with it. How could I not ask myself that question after that? Was I done with Traitors & Tyrants? Was it time to close that chapter of my writing life and to move on to something else? Or was it time to see this one through to the end?

I've remarked more than once that I believed this novel could be the one. I've written novel after novel and, out of all of them, I believed that this could be the one I would begin to query - the one I would seek for publication. I still believe that it could make it. I also believe I could let this one sit in a folder I'll never open again if I let it. It'd be easy. In a lot of ways though, it almost feels like by turning my back on Traitors & Tyrants, I'm giving up writing for publication. After all, I've spent two years writing this and only this. Sure, there have been times when I wrote pieces of other stories. In the end though, a scene for Traitors & Tyrants always slips into my mind and I simply have to write it.

Throughout the past two years, I've thought about quitting. I thought I had passed those pivotal moments for this novel, and maybe they were, but I think this might be the decision that matters the most. I don't love it quite like I used to because I know that after losing those edits, the words will never come out quite the same way. I've lost that version forever and I loved that version.

It's been 5 months - almost half a year - since that one moment and I still feel the sorrow it caused. 5 months since I hurriedly patched up the novel so I could close it and not have to look at it again for a while. 5 months since I effectively turned my back on a story I had believed in for so long. These days, I am reminded of its flaws more than I am its virtues. I am reminded that those flaws had been fixed (or half fixed) before that fateful day 5 months ago.

That isn't good for the soul.

Therefore, I keep asking myself if I want to make this my NaNoWriMo project this November. Do I want to commit to it again? In the end, I decided it wasn't time to give up. I've come so far; it would be a shame to give up now when I still can't get my head completely out of the darn thing. NaNoWriMo has a history of helping me complete novels in an amount of time that is seemingly impossible every other month of the year. It has helped me conquer quite a few writing hurtles.

I know myself. I know that, when it comes to my writing, I work best under a deadline. So I'm taking the plunge. I'm going to go back and edit Traitors & Tyrants once more and, hopefully, find my love for it again.