Camp NaNoWriMo: July 2017

Last year I decided that I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo again. There were a few reasons I gave at the time (word-counts stress me out, it’s mostly supposed to be for newbie writers, I have a day job that takes priority until someone wants to pay me for my writing) but honestly? This time last year I was in a very bad place and I was struggling to write anything at all.

This month I decided to get back on the proverbial horse and start writing novels again. Don’t get me wrong, my new found love for poetry has been a positive experience, but I do miss writing longer, fictional stories.

Down From The Tower is my main squeeze right now, as I’ve said previously, but I’m struggling to write more than a page a day, and I’m just not satisfied with that. I know I can do more. Time was I could knock out five pages without breaking a sweat, and ideally I’d like to get back to that. I’ve just gotten out of the habit, is all.

It’s a small project. Currently I’m calling it a stand-alone, but if it has a positive response I feel like there’s definitely room to make a series of it. I’m also only aiming for around 50K words, which is actually kind of perfect, because Camp NaNoWriMo starts in nine days.

When a fellow writing friend dropped me a line to ask if I’d be up for joining a cabin, I thought what the hell? Seriously, what do I have to lose at this point? Not much. What I have to gain, however, is that old, regular writing habit, and that’s something I really think it wouldn’t hurt to have help in re-cultivating in my life.

I’m excited, but a little nervous, too. It feels so much like I’ve been failing over and over again lately, so putting myself back out there has been difficult. I don’t want to fail again. There has to be a reason I can’t let this go, you know? There has to be a reason I’m still writing after all this time, after all the roadblocks and vastly disappointing outcomes of each project. I have to hope that I’ll get somewhere in the end if I just keep trying.

[Silence Isn’t In My Nature]

In a world that’s told me all my life to shut up

I spend my spare time stringing words together

Filling pages with what I have to say

And sending them out to strangers

Hoping that someone might listen.

That Writing Life

I’m on holiday from The Day Job this week, and since I’m feeling a rare sense of pride in my writing (The Royal Sentinel is currently #340 in Fantasy on Wattpad, so yay!) I’ve decided to use the time to take a good crack at Down From The Tower.

I’d made some good headway a few months back, but due to my main character, Mandisa, accidentally morphing way too much into Naomi, I decided to start over again. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Naomi, but I wanted to write a very different sort of leading lady this time. Mandisa is practically Naomi’s opposite in almost every way. Best way to describe it is that Mandisa is the Elle Woods to Naomi’s Katniss Everdeen. It’s a fairly hefty change of pace for me, especially when you consider that I’ve been writing Naomi almost exclusively for the last six years, but it’s been the sort of super fun challenge that makes being a writer worthwhile, I feel.

One of the things I was pulled up for doing badly on when writing The Redwood War series was the bland world-building, so I put a lot more thought and effort into that with Down From The Tower. I doubt I’ll ever be at the Brandon Sanderson level of epic world-building, but I’m proud of what I have so far. It pains me a little to compliment myself (but I’m going to power through it anyway) but I feel like my strongest area will always be writing compelling characters, and honestly that’s just fine with me. Still, I always want to improve at what I do, and I’d like to hope that I’ll be showcasing at least a little of that with this project.

Also I always felt fairly bad for having more male than female characters in The Redwood Rebel (something I was able to fix really quite easily in The Royal Sentinel) so I’m not going to fall into that same trap again this time. It’s far too easy to trip over these tropes, even as someone who is fairly thoughtful about the media I consume and put out into the world, so I’m determined to be a lot more mindful in future. Once again, I hope it’s something that shows in my work.

Down From The Tower is currently only planned to be a short novel of around 50k words, and depending on its reception, may or may not become a series in the future. It’s been a really long time since I last sank my teeth into writing a big project, the last year or so having been entirely about editing The Redwood War series, and writing poems and poetic prose. I’m nervous about it, but I’ve been doing this long enough now that I know the only way to get past that fear is to just barrel straight through it. The feedback I initially had for The Redwood Rebel really knocked me back hard, and it’s honestly taken me this long just to build myself back up to the point where I feel ready to have a pop at traditional publishing again. That’s my plan for this project, at least, so I guess we’ll just have to see where it takes me.

In the end, it may work out or it may not, but I tried giving up and I found it was much harder than trying to succeed ever was.

For now I’m just throwing down words and powering through this first draft. Once that’s done, my plan is to knuckle down with book three of The Redwood War series (working title: TDC) until I have something resembling a draft I can feel at least semi-confident to send out for beta-reading. I’ll swap and switch between the two projects until they’re done, and who knows? Maybe in a year from now I’ll just be that much closer to being the writer I want to be.

Wish me luck!

“The Royal Sentinel” and Some Lorna Stuff:

So it’s finally done! All of The Royal Sentinel is up on Wattpad to be read and/or ignored as people see fit!

I had planned to keep posting a chapter a week until it was all published, but that didn’t really work out the way I’d hoped. Frankly, I’m not a terribly patient person at the best of times, and just between us (and anyone else who should happen to stumble across my wee corner of the internet) I have very little impulse control. The long and short of that is when I get struck by the urge to do something, I do it. And today I was struck by the urge to hang it all and post the dang story, already. So there it is. Enjoy!

So what’s next? Well, your guess is as good as mine, really. Book three isn’t even nearly finished, so it’s going to be a while before that’s ready. I have another poetry collection coming out in September (or possibly August, depending on this and that) and I’m still slowly chugging along through the first draft of Down From The Tower. I also really had the strongest urge to work on Going Under recently, but that story has never had a lot of love, so we’ll see.

I have some other things in the pipes, too. Non-writing things, I mean. I’m currently working on an etsy shop to sell my homemade candles, bath salts, and soaps, as well as starting up a local floristry business. I’m also considering the possibility of setting up a proper beta-reading service, but I’m still in the pondering stage of that particular brain-baby. As well as all of this, I have to keep enough energy and concentration for The Day Job; the only work I do that actually pays my bills, after all.

I’ve been feeling my own mortality a lot lately. I got hit by a car a few weeks back, which was terrifying, and yesterday I ended up in hospital with a ruptured ovarian cyst, which was… also really quite upsetting.

Oh, it’s not all as bad as it sounds, of course! I’m fine, really, I just have been thinking a lot about the sort of life I want to be living. My creative output has been shockingly low as of late, and well, I’m not really happy about that. I just want to do stuff, you know? I want to enjoy what I do, and enjoy my life, and making things makes me happy so it seems like the logical thing to focus on.

I don’t know what’s next, precisely, but I figure I’ll just throw a bunch of projects at life and see what sticks!