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.

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!

Updates and Gratitude

So I finally have a couple of days away from The Day Job, and I can get some real work done! Yay!

I’m slowly working my way through editing The Royal Sentinel chapter by chapter, (the prologue and chapter one can be read on Wattpad, and chapter two will be up on Friday!) but I’m a fair way ahead of myself and I have time, so I might only do a wee bit of that today.

Thank you so, so much to everyone who has helped get the word out about it, and The Redwood Rebel, too! It’s been a huge gamble for me to put it out for free, if only because that’s a solid six years of work for me sitting there, you know? Every single vote, comment, and share means the whole world to me, and will make a massive difference to my writing resume when I’m ready to submit other work to publication. I really do appreciate it so much!

Speaking of “other work”, that’s mostly what today is going to be for, and most of tomorrow, too! Down From The Tower is going very slowly, but it is going, and that’s what counts. I feel like I’m in a good place right now, and it’s not a particularly big project, but I would really like to pick up the pace.

I have been thinking about jumping in with Camp NaNoWriMo next month, but the pressure of word-counting doesn’t always go well for me. Plus it’s my birthday smack in the middle, and I have stock take at work the week after (Uuuuurgh….) but then again, the great thing about Camp is that I can set a lower goal than standard NaNoWriMo, soooo…?

I dunno. I’ll give it some thought. I do really need to find a way to kick myself up the arse and get working again. Once the first draft of DFTT is done, I’ll get on the first draft of The Redwood War book three, so I do really need to get a shufty on.

In the meantime (sorry to bang on) if you haven’t already, please consider voting for The Redwood Rebel and The Royal Sentinel on Wattpad? Even if you’ve already read book one before now, just please take a few minutes to scroll through the chapters and click the vote button! It’s not like AO3 where you can only leave one kudos per story, you can vote for every single chapter. Comments are great, too, but I understand that you may not have the time or the inclination. Voting is super quick and easy, though, and it makes a massive difference and boosts the story up the recommended reading list, thus making it more likely for new readers to find it!

Many thanks!