Thursday, December 26, 2013

Good News, Bad News, and Lots of Words

The good news: Contracted just passed 100k words. 

That means that I finally reached my NaNoWriMo goal, which was to add 50k to this wip. It also makes me look back and laugh at when I thought it would be a quick and simple short story.

That also means that Contracted is the most words I've written on one project in the least amount of time. 

The other good news: My rewrites for Part I of the The Book just ended at 32,431 words. I think I may have added more to this section instead of cutting -- but whatever the wordcount difference, I managed to resolve some serious plot and character problems. I now have a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the book.

The rest of The Book which was originally 100k to begin with.

Now for the bad news:

Contracted just passed 100k words and still has more to go. Part I rewrites on The Book are nearly at 33k. 

The bad news is that I CAN'T WRITE ANYTHING SHORT.

I am the person that people roll their eyes at when they talk about bloated fantasy epics.

100k isn't so bad. At least Contracted is 100k of people doing things and stuff, instead of 100k of them sitting around getting nowhere with the plot (*cough*The Book*cough) and/or describing food (*ahem*A Song of Ice and Fire*hemhem*). The thing is that there's still quite a lot more plot to go. My scenes tend to average about 1,500 words. At this rate, 125k as a projected final wordcount is not unreasonable.

I confess -- I like long books. As long as the bloat doesn't feel like bloat, I will happily read it. I have the stamina to read a long book.

Many people don't. I know I shouldn't be worrying about potential future readers right now, but it's hard not to when I see the wordcount climbing day after day. I don't want my wordcount worries to keep me from writing what feels right and what's best for the story...but I can't help the anxiety. I have the stamina to read a long book...but do I have the stamina and faith to write a long book? I don't know.

So far, I have worked steadily onward and upward on Contracted. I've written a lot of things that I would normally hesitate to broach in another project, especially a YA wip. I've relished the freedom that comes with writing amoral, grey-moral characters and dark fantasy.

The thing that's finally triggering my doubts is a number.

What do you think about long books vs. short books? Which do you prefer to read, and/or which do you prefer to write? What's the longest (or shortest) thing you've ever written?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

College Writer Blog Tag!

College Writer Tag
I was nominated for the College Writer Tag by Patrice of Whimsically Yours, whose blog you should totally read. There are owls all over it, if that makes you more inclined to do so. (I like owls.)

Oddly, I don't seem to know as many college bloggers as I knew high school bloggers. Several of the blogs I used to follow in my age group dropped off the map during college. Luckily, this hasn't been the case for everyone!

The Questions:

What year are you?

I'm a senior. Ack. It's senior project and senior recital year. It's also "finishing up all the gen eds I didn't take before" year. I should have done the gen eds back in freshman or sophomore year, when I still thought that every class was a life or death matter. I recently got my grades in, and they were a lot better than I had expected. I really want to go on to grad school. I want to focus my studies in the area that I know I am interested in and good at. Unfortunately, I still have to take classes that fulfill my service learning and social sciences requirements.

What's your major(s)/minor(s)?

My major is Theatre, and my minors are Music and Spanish. My senior project will combine my music and theatre interests.

What types of writing do you do?

Right now, I am working on a fantasy wip, Contracted. It's around 95k right now. I'm also making extensive revisions to a YA high fantasy wip, known on this blog as The Book.

And I'm really...excited. About both of them. I did a mini-victory dance last night when I finally figured out how to solve a plot problem and what to rename a few characters. This is the wip that went through the wringer with a CP. I took some time off, plotted out some rewrites, and am now making major changes. And it's fun.

As for types of writing, I usually go for fantasy, horror, and supernatural. Though I have been known to attempt YA contemporary. I almost always write novel-length projects. That, or poetry. I have won a few contests. However, I'm in a "I hate all my poetry that I have ever written" phase, so it'll be a while before I write more.

What are your plans after college, both career-wise and writing-wise?

The usual response I hear after answering this question: "Well good luck finding a job/Hope you like working in fast food/Have fun living in a cardboard box/So what will you do for money, then?" Those and similar responses are all things that people have said to me, and they are never ok, nor are they clever or funny. 

I want to work in theatre. More specifically, Shakespearean theatre.

First, though, I want to apply to grad school. If that doesn't work out, I want to audition at theaters and get a job somewhere. 

I will definitely be writing the whole time. I hope to one day have a book published. Hopefully more.

What is one thing you've learned about writing while in college?

Your life experiences will change you and your writing in surprising ways. You will not be the same, and neither will your writing. And you know what? That's ok. That can actually be a very good thing. Sometimes it can be hard to accept, though.


I nominate...Brooke at Paper Mountain and Alyssa at I Am Writer - Hear Me Roar! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Last Wednesday Before Break

I like the new What's Up Wednesday banner -- winter wonderland edition. What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Jaime Morrow.What I'm reading
I'm wrapping up Proxy and Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder. The first is for fun, the second was for class. I'm also frantically reading my history textbook as I study for my exam in...let's see...an hour. Gulp.
What I'm writing
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FQk5nW3hna8/UqdR_lnXq7I/AAAAAAAAH6U/FYdWXK0EjCE/s1600/WUW+Winter+Holly+1.gifEven after NaNoWriMo is over, it's hard to get out of the NaNo mood. I wrote a post about dealing with NaNo burnout. I wrote a review of MILA 2.0. Other reviews are in the works, but have been put on hold while I handle finals. I had to write a manifesto proposing a new aesthetic movement in theatre for one of those finals. Ack. And that was just one part of a three-part final.
I have also been trying to get back to writing normally as I work on Contracted. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not "done" with it just because NaNo is over...and that I can break the NaNo "rules" when I write...
What else I'm up to
Exams. Ugh. I finish my last one and go home today. This must be what they mean when they say "senioritis." I've never approached exams kicking and screaming like this before, even when I have been far less prepared. I am being asked to think about too many things. I have also been blatantly procrastinating and wasting time on the NaNo forums.
What inspires me right now
Pentatonix is helping me get into the Christmas spirit...which has thus far been eluding me. In particular, this:

If that doesn't make you feel at least a little Christmasy, your name might be Scrooge. ;)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dealing With NaNo Burnout

As happy as I am with my word count for NaNo 2013, there's still a "but." The same thing happened last year -- I'm suffering from NaNo burnout.

It's not as bad this year because I'm not sick as a dog like I was last year. Still, I'm definitely feeling the burnout factor. I opened up Contracted the other day, noodled a few plot notes, wrote a beginning of a scene and tried halfheartedly to continue it, but stopped. I could have pushed through and written more -- like I had to do for NaNo -- but, just, ugh. 

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/dumbledoresarmyroleplay/images/5/5d/Red_Ugh_Gif.gif

Part of the issue is that the motivation offered by NaNo is gone. I now have to self-motivate. I'm still very much invested in this wip, but I have no tangible goal to work towards. Perhaps this is why so many people quit writing -- with no reward in sight, they aren't as motivated to continue. Perhaps this is why NaNo is so helpful: it stresses finishing, and it gives you a reward when you do. 

(I'm glad that NaNo doesn't offer a participation prize, banner, or award. Participating is its own reward. Finishing -- which so many writers struggle with -- is different.)

I want to let Contracted marinate in my mind-juice for a week or two. I'm not worried about being burned out on it (or on writing) permanently. I would still like to offer some humble suggestions for dealing with NaNoWriMo burnout, such as:

1. It is ok not to write. 

No. Really. I mean it. Give yourself a break. If the idea of pulling up your wip makes you want to scratch out your eyeballs and/or sob in despair, then don't force yourself to write just for the sake of doing it. That was what November was for. Set a timeline on your break: "I'm not going to look at this wip for a week." Or two. Or maybe even for all of December. Make December your "break month" if you have to.

2. Write something else.

If the idea of working on your NaNo wip fills you with dread, but you still want to write something, pick something else to work on. Start a new thing. Finish an old thing. Write some poetry, short stories, one-act plays, reviews, or blog posts (ah, the inevitable post-NaNo blogposts).

3. Play a creative game.

Play a role-playing game. Maybe it's a video game; maybe it's online or a tabletop game with friends. There are multiple gaming threads on the NaNo site: here, here, and here. 

To those of you whose eyebrows just shot up in scorn -- you know who you are -- my writing and plotting skills have improved drastically since I started gaming. Games run on conflict. They are basically a testing ground for any story arc you want to try out. You can always reload, start a new game, or scrap something. If you're playing a video game with a preexisting plot, then study how the writers built the world, the characters, and the plot. Play a game and learn how to "introduce a little anarchy" to your writing.

4. Edit something.

Editing is different enough from the writing skill required to NaNo that I don't find myself shuddering in horror at the prospect. In fact, diving back into something old and familiar sounds like a comforting break. And it still counts as work. You can edit your NaNo novel, I suppose, but I would prefer to return to something else.

5. Read.

Now that you have time to read instead of frantically writing, sit down with that book you've been meaning to get around to. You don't have to rush through it, either. Just enjoy it. Presumably you were introduced to writing through books. If you're bitter, exhausted, or burnt out on your own wip, sit down with someone else's book and remember what it's like to love a story.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cheerfully Losing NaNoWriMo

My final word count for NaNoWriMo 2013 was 38,644. Well, technically it was 39,948, but I didn't get the chance to add in my last few words written before the site closed.

It's 11,356 words shy of the 50,000-word goal, but I don't mind. November is not really the ideal month to write a novel in, particularly with my schedule. I am extremely pleased with what I've accomplished during that time. Especially compared to last year, my first NaNo attempt.

Last year, I began Mask, a YA contemporary novel about the captain of a high school girls' fencing team. There was much drama, but it would all have worked out OK in the end -- if I'd gotten to the end. Alas, I stopped at about 17k. This first NaNo taught me a lot, and I'm sure I have the beginnings of a good story somewhere in there. 

But I was never really meant to finish Mask, and I didn't expect to. It was a bad, stressful time. For one, I was sick a lot and tired all the time. I also hadn't been able to write much of anything without being stricken by an overwhelming disgust and hatred for what I'd written, where it was going, what I was going to write next, or any of it. That, or I'd just be too apathetic to attempt to write -- or I would try to write and fall asleep at the computer. 

NaNo 2012 was my last-ditch attempt to recover something that I had used to enjoy, by starting something completely new. Even though life got in the way of finishing, it renewed my faith in writing and reminded me why I enjoy the storymaking process.

On to NaNo 2013.

I decided to do NaNo because I wanted to finish a current wip. After last year, I knew that a completely new NaNo novel would be unmanageable with my schedule, and I didn't want to drive myself crazy. While reaching 50k would be ideal, I was also realistic. I judge my success this year based on what I wrote last year. 38,644 - 16,442 = 22,202 more words than I managed in 2012. So when I say I'm "cheerfully losing NaNoWriMo," what I mean to say is that I won it on my own terms.

Contracted isn't finished. Finishing the first draft may take a while. I can't believe that I originally thought it would be a short story...then a long story...then a novella...and it's now sitting at just over 80k, a genuine novel-in-progress. 

I started it around the beginning of 2013. 80k in a year is the fastest I've written any of my wips. I really love this one and I have high hopes for its future. And I really really really need to finish it soon because I can't read Throne of Glass until I do. I've put a self-imposed moratorium on all books containing assassins and/or fairy tale retellings. (I've been compensating by reading a lot of sci-fi, post-apocalypse, dystopian, and MG.)

In conclusion, I am pleased with what I accomplished this November.