Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Looking Forward to 2017

Here we are, nearly two months since last I updated you guys. NaNoWriMo came and went and there's just four days left of 2016. During the last half of this year, I've begun returning to my writing ambitions while embracing new possibilities.

First up though, how did NaNoWriMo go?

Unfortunately, I did not reach 50K this year. I enjoyed writing what I did. I'd like to eventually finish the project, but maybe have it be a shorter work. I'm actually okay with not hitting the 50K writing goal this year. While it would have been nice to keep up my winning streak, it's not all that important now is it? As long as I'm writing something, I'm fine.

So what am I writing now? A few months ago a friend and I talked about writing a screenplay together. While I don't know if that's going to actually happen at this point, that conversation got me thinking. Why don't I write a screenplay? I sat on that idea for quite a while though; that is, until last week. If you follow me on twitter you may have seen me mention a new project using #secretproject.

Why is it a secret? It's a secret because I'm writing it to see if I can. I'm writing it because I don't know if anything will ever come of it and I don't know if I particularly care if anything does. I'm writing it because I can. It's my first one. I'm learning how to format as I go. I have a basic concept down, and I'm taking my time with it. I'm enjoying the process. You know what I like best about this project though? It's very noncommittal. I just write what I want and stop at whatever ending sparks my fancy.

So What's Happening in 2017?

Well, first of all, my first two semesters will be from January-July; therefore, school comes first. I'm looking forward to it and learning things I can hopefully apply to my own writing.

Secondly, I would like to finish this screenplay hopefully early in the year. 

After July, it's my hope to return to working on Traitors & Tyrants. It's so close yet so far from being ready to query. At this point, I think part of the problem is that I'm a little afraid that I can't fix it, which is silly because I already have a plan on how to do that. But this fear isn't a new thing for me. It's the same type that has held me back from making other decisions and I know I just have to work through it. 

As for other projects? I don't know. Those are the only two I'd like to prioritize next year. Perhaps 2017 will see me really investing in a new novel for the first time in a while, but I'm not putting any pressure on that. I'm leaving 2017 pretty open and low pressure for my writing and I'm okay with that. I just want to focus on loving it again.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pre-NaNoWriMo Update

Do you know who has one of the most inspiring writing journey/story? V.E Schwab (also known as Victoria Schwab). Her article from this past July has helped me personally - a lot. I haven't been quiet about my discouragement this past year and a half, so you'll probably understand why her story has helped inspire me.

I've also been perusing some other author websites and, you know, Patrick Rothfuss took 7 years to write The Name of the Wind. I find that oddly comforting for my own writing...

So I've been in revisions with Traitors & Tyrants for about two years now. It's difficult to let myself draft a new project when I know that my writing isn't as great as it could be, simply because I've seen it better in those revisions. The only way to keep writing though, is to be okay with producing a crappy first draft sometimes, or a lot of the time.

Now, you guys know that I wanted to finish my scifi novel before NaNoWriMo. I had a word goal of about 65K for it. But the more I wrote it, I just wanted to get to it. I wanted to rush everything and just get the bones of it out on paper and out of my mind. I haven't wanted to rush it because I don't like it, but because I just want to complete something after not completing anything for a while.

So I'm projecting that my first draft will probably be around 20K... maybe 22K. I'm around 19K right now. I'm planning on finishing it in the next day or two. That thought actually relieves quite a bit of stress. When I have a bunch of things that are unfinished, I get stressed out very easily, so finishing this novel even in its very crappy state is a relief. I've wanted to write it for quite some time. I want to go back and fix it, but right now I need to just write it the crappy way I want to.

This novel has been such a release for me. I've been able to just write it and finally let go of everything else that has been holding me back from my writing. But, not to be ignored, is my NaNoWriMo project for this year and its roll in my ability to just get this scifi novel done.

I've been wanting to write a couple of projects for years now. I haven't started them because I wanted to "get them right" when I did and I just wasn't in the right mindset for them. So I knew that choosing my NaNoWriMo project this year was important. But it's important for a reason I didn't anticipate before.

Going into planning for NaNoWriMo, I decided that I wanted an idea that I was going to be able to just lose myself in. So I wrote a list of the books/concepts that I wanted to write. At the bottom of that list was an idea I'd barely found and one that I wasn't familiar with. It was new and refreshing for me and I thought about it over lunch while I was at work. I did some research. I wrote a little bit of what came to mind for it, kind of like a test. And I loved it. I was lost in it as I wrote and I knew I'd found this year's novel.

My test writing had manifested itself in the form of a journal entry for my main character so I've decided that this novel will be written as journal entries. It's an adult novel and it takes place somewhere in Africa. The main character is in her thirties. So as you can tell, it's not fantasy and it's not scifi. I'm actually not 100% certain what genre it falls into.

The most important part about it though is that I am in love with this idea and that's what I needed for 2016's NaNoWriMo project.

Monday, October 10, 2016

What's this? A Screenplay?

It's been a couple of weeks or so since last I updated this place, so here I am again. What's new? A lot actually!

Last week I received my track assignment for college. The school I'm attending breaks the school year up by each season so they can admit more students. I've been assigned to the fall/winter track, which means I'll be heading off in January for my first semester. I'll be able to register for classes mid-November and I have a very long to-do list to get ready for school.

I'm up to 15,000 words in my sci-fi novel. I haven't written much the past couple of weeks but it's definitely on my list of projects to complete. I'm still hoping to have it done by the end of October though.

As for NaNoWriMo, I'm going to do it. I thought about not doing it but... I'll be in school during the fall for the next four years. So I'm going to do it again this year and I'm going to succeed. Again. I'm thinking about just writing this novel as I go. At this moment, I don't think I'm going to outline it.

Something else has happened though - something exciting. A friend and I have decided that we are going to write a screenplay together. I say "we" but our current agreement is that I write the screenplay and he storyboards it. We've just started working on the project. We've named the main character and have a concept down but we still have a lot of ground to cover. I've never written an entire screenplay before, but I'm excited to do this.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Checking In

With my new resolution, I decided that I should probably start blogging more over here. See, here's the thing, writing for Create and Improve is fun and doesn't take a lot of effort, so why not? Plus, I'm hoping that by forcing myself to update you here more, I will be even more inclined to hold tight to my new goal.

So what's up since Tuesday? Well, I successful got up at 5:15/5:30 to write on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday I crossed over my daily 1K goal. I didn't end up writing yesterday. Some things came up and it just didn't happen. But that's okay because today is Saturday.

I've been reading articles on Publishing Crawl and found some great articles about writing for hire. I love how positive a spin they put on something I feel like is usually thought of as not as worth while. I've been meaning to submit to Paper Lantern Lit for a while now, but this article really got me going.

So today's goals:

  • Write at least 1K in new novel (hopefully more)
  • Work on resume

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just Do It

It's September and I'm looking forward to NaNoWriMo. It never fails to get me writing. This year has been a difficult writing year for me. I haven't done much writing and I haven't finished the revisions for Traitors & Tyrants yet. I can't choose which project to work on. I want to write them all but haven't found the will to force myself to commit.

Lazy right?

Looking back, my heart wasn't into NaNoWriMo last year. I don't want it to be that way again though. Even my book blogging and reading have taken a huge hit this year. I've been sporadic at best.

You know what though, this year I finally reached the point I think I always knew I'd hit.

This year I realized that I can't book blog, read, and write seriously the way I want to. Other people can, but it's a lot and is just too much for me. I realized that I have to choose between the two. I've thought about it a lot. I believe in chasing your dreams and one of my greatest dreams, the one that trumps (no pun intended) book blogging, is becoming a published novelist.

Does this mean I'm going to stop book blogging? No. But it does mean that I'm going to let it slide and stop pressuring myself into posting there. This wasn't an easy decision because I did have aspirations for my book blog, but becoming a published novelist is more important to me.

I read an article this week that said it's more work to commit to something 99% of the way than it is to commit 100%. It's called the 100% rule. Then, tonight, while I searched for articles about writing (instead of writing ironically, I know - but I was trying to find something to help me get back into it all, I wanted to see that someone else has been where I am), I came across an article written by Susan Dennard that basically communicated the same message. She wrote about how she can only work on one project at a time and has to envelop herself in it. In other words, she has to give each project 100%.

This was the final turning point for me. It was the article that helped me realize I had to take the plunge. It's been nearly three years since I've drafted a brand new novel. This year I've committed myself to working on an entirely new project this November. I need to do this. I really think this will help me get to where I want to be as a writer.

In fact, if all goes well and as planned (hah!), I will be finishing a draft for one novel this October prior to NaNoWriMo. I'm making this resolution now and I'm committing myself to it. 100%.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wandering Projects - I Am Indecisive

Unfortunately, I have the same story as usual to offer. No, I haven't done much writing lately. New ideas have been teasing me and I've written about 10K in a new story, but I haven't committed to anything lately.

To my pleasure though, I have been reading a non-fiction novel about Hatshepsut and have been learning a lot of about her and what ancient Egypt looked like. I've done additional research on the side and, with my love of ancient Egypt in hand, have been imagining a new story.

This story only exists in the pages of a notebook and I don't know if it's viable or where it's going exactly. I have thoughts and ideas, but nothing more. Mostly, this story is just for me. I want to see if I can pull something like this off. So yes, I am being cryptic on purpose. I don't want to divulge this one quite yet. I am enjoying its vibe and the way it transports me into my own little version of ancient Egypt.

On the other hand, the story I've written 10K in is science fiction and is the type of scifi that I love and don't see often. At least, that's how it is in my head. I've loved writing it and my target word goal for this project, code name: Layered, is about 60K. I'm actually hoping to draft the rest of it this July during Camp NaNoWriMo.

I've taken brief excursions into a couple of other ideas I've been wanting to write for quite some time as well but I'm not ready to commit to them quite yet.

In the mean time, I'm planning on finishing this round of edits for Traitors & Tyrants (hopefully before July). I still haven't completed them since November and it's time to get the rest of it done. I'll be reading what I have then finishing revisions for part 2. Now, I haven't done any actual writing for it, but I have been thinking about what to do with the ending. I believe I've happened upon one that neatly ties things together but that leaves the story open for a second book.

So yes, my writing has been sporadic but I've done an awful lot of brainstorming and that counts for something, right? I've been wanting to get serious about this lately though so I suppose it's time to buckle down and just do it right?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vacation to Arizona

I did something I'd never done before last month. I flew to Arizona. By myself. It was my first time on a plane and everything (thankfully) was smooth and easy. I spent a week there just taking in the area, never straying more than 3 hours from where I was staying.

Arizona has its own beauty that you just don't see on the east coast of the United States. I would go back in a heartbeat. Actually, I want to go back. So what did I do while I was there? Well, I went to visit family so we didn't do anything too crazy. We visited the local museum, an aquarium, the LDS Mesa temple, and a wildlife preserve called Out of Africa.

I arrived on a Sunday and was a bit tired so my first day was pretty low key. Besides catching up with family, my day consisted of them driving me around and showing off the landscape. It didn't take long for me to practically fall in love with a lot of the architecture on the nicer homes (which I don't have pictures of unfortunately). The flat rooftops were completely different from what I was used to seeing and I loved the change.

The sunsets in Arizona are gorgeous. I wasn't able to get a photo of one, but the sky lights up in an incredible orange-red color and it is just marvelous to behold. I would love to go back and try to capture one.

It was difficult to get good pictures inside the museum and aquarium, but they were both a lot of fun. The dinosaur area of the museum had a neat little set up with dinosaur machines that would move and they had various dinosaur sounds going off periodically. It was definitely tailored to a younger audience, but it was still pretty neat. This was the first time I'd been inside a museum that I can actually remember. The gift shop was pretty nice though and I was able to get a pair of earrings and a necklace made by a Native American tribe (the jewelry is beautiful).

The aquarium wasn't anything spectacular. Again, it was tailored to a much younger audience, but there were some neat things there. I don't think I'd ever been to one before, so this trip was filled with a lot of firsts for me. 

On my third day, we traveled about 2.5-3 hours north of where I was staying and spent the day at Out of Africa on the VIP tour (which I personally think is the only way to do it). Our guide was the owner of the wildlife park, and was a pretty a good tour host; the animals definitely recognized him (although, he was prone to go off on tangents at times, which to be honest, didn't bother me too much).

We were incredibly close to the animals and the entire experience left me with a greater appreciation for these amazing creatures. You could tell that the owner had a lot of respect for the animals as well and the enclosures (while not as big as they would be if the animals were in the wild) were pretty large. The animals looked taken care of and, as some would put it, happy.

From what I understand, Out of Africa takes in animals that for one reason or another can't be released back into the wild. For some of the big cats, that meant they were once illegal pets (an all too common story for such majestic creatures).

I've always had a huge appreciation and love for big cats, but being at Out of Africa... you just can't appreciate how big and powerful these animals are until you see them just four feet from you. There is nothing like it and there were often two fences between me and them. I can only imagine what it's like to see them in the wild without anything but open space between us. They are much larger than they look.

 (This white tiger is Chalet. Isn't she beautiful? It's a shame she can't live out her life in the wild.)

While seeing these animals was such an amazing experience, you can't help but wish such powerful and wild creatures could be released back into their natural habitats. It's sad to think that that life was stolen from them. On the semi-bright side, there was such a stark difference between the animals here and animals I've seen in the zoo. When you go to a zoo, the enclosures are so much smaller (these photos really don't show how large the enclosures are) and the animals just don't look as... alive I suppose. But here they looked healthier and just better overall. 

The last day I was there, we went to a Renaissance Festival (which was actually the original reason why I was invited to visit). I don't have any photos from it, but that was a lot of fun too. The only thing I would do differently: bring more cash for souvenirs (*sigh* bank problems before a trip are not helpful). 

Now, the seven days I was there were pretty packed but not too much (we did have plans to go see giant butterflies but they fell through). We took time to relax and had a few nights in, which was fun. Arizona is a beautiful place and the desert definitely has its own beauty. I definitely want to go there again and see the Grand Canyon (and anything else I can find that's interesting). Would I do it the same way again? Sure, but I think this would also be a great trip to have with a group of friends.

I've always wanted to travel and going to Arizona was the first step towards that. Ever since I've returned from my trip, I've wanted to go see places I've never seen more than I did before. Of course, I can't go on vacation a month after returning from one, so I've been looking around to see what local treasures I may find. 

Traveling has changed me - not in a huge way. By no means would I say this was a huge, life-changing trip, but it did change how willing I am to do new things. I want to explore new places more than before. There is so much out there and I want to see things beyond my hometown and workplace. I don't know when I'll be able to travel again, but I'm going to do it again, that much I'm sure of. One way or another.