What A Feeling

Every January, I create a project priority list, in which I list my unfinished WIPs in order from highest priority to lowest. You may have seen them on various social media whatevers. I made one this year, too, but I didn’t post it anywhere (see: extended writing funk) because it didn’t really look like the lists I had made in the past, and I didn’t know how I felt about that. Or if I’d even bother attempting to do anything with said list.

The second item on the list is The Coileáin Chronicles, which encompasses my entire fantasy series. Usually I only have a single title in each slot, but right now the entire damn series is on there because I have to figure out what to do with three separate titles, how the three of them work (or don’t work) in relation to one another and the rest of the series. Which feels weird, but it’s true. They’re all pieces of a puzzle I can’t seem to fit together. The most progress I’ve made is occasionally thinking, “Yeah. I’m gonna need a plan for that” before I go on with the rest of my day.

But whatever. That’s not the point of this post. Right now, I imagine you’re all like

Anyway, this is the point of this post. (Except ‘point’ may be too strong of a word…)

Currently, the top spot on the project priority list is held by the Terrible Romance Sequel. If you’re keeping score at home, I don’t know to actually write this book either or if it can even be done. But it is more or less a standalone book, which makes it infinitely easier than figuring out what to do with the fantasy series. Plus, my lovely goddaughter (AKA, the only reason the Terrible Romance Novel exists) gave me a very gentle and kind reminder (not sarcasm. I know I am chronically sarcastic, but that was sincere) that she’s very patiently waiting to read this novel.

So it’s my main focus. (Except ‘focus’ may be too strong of a word…)

Yesterday, I opened the manuscript and started cutting parts of scenes (dialogue, mostly) that didn’t belong. Stuff that didn’t make any sense, and stuff that made even less sense than the other stuff. I didn’t write very much. I didn’t write down the word count or anything, but the amount of words I wrote probably wouldn’t have filled a haiku.

But sometime during the deleting and the barest amount of writing that could be considered writing, I had a moment where I thought, “I want to finish this novel.”

Which was immediately followed by:

And then:

And:

out of fear that I might scare off that feeling and end up back hanging out with my main man, Artax.

I don’t know what will come out of that moment. Maybe nothing. Maybe something. Maybe it’ll lead to another similar moment which will lead to another and another until I find myself awash in an avalanche of creativity and motivation or whatever.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

But, for the record, I’m pulling for the avalanche.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

What Now?

This is typically the post where I detail my goals for the new year. Usually, it’s a pretty easy post to write because my goals are, more often than not, either exactly the same or pretty damn close to being exactly the same as the goals from the year before. (I don’t accomplish a lot). Lots of copying and pasting. Not much of anything else.

This year would be no exception. I failed to achieve most of the goals I set in 2022, which is no big deal because, you know, I’m me and that’s pretty much what I do. But the end of 2022 saw me stuck in the Swamp of Sadness (you 80’s children out there may know exactly what I’m referencing, but I refuse to use a gif of it because that scene traumatized me a million years ago and is probably the reason why my characters are always so miserable. Artax and I never left that swamp) or whatever and wondering whether I should continue with writing in any way, shape, or form.

And I still don’t have an answer.

I mean, I keep thinking that I would very much like to figure out how to finish/fix my current WIPs, but just because I would like to do something doesn’t mean that (A) I can do it, (B) I should do it, or (C) it can be done in the first place. Isn’t it possible, after all, that the reason why I am having a hard time with these WIPs is that they simply can’t be written?

So I’m thinking that maybe my goal this year will be to come up with an answer. Answers? For the WIPs, for writing, for…whatever.

And maybe, if things get really crazy, I’ll even come up with a plan.

Do you set goals in January? What’s on your list this year?

How It Went

When last we met, I was…what? Two days into NaNoWriMo? I suppose I could go to all the trouble of looking at my last post to check the date, but whatever. It’s really unimportant. What’s slightly less unimportant (because, really, with all the everything going on in the world, nothing I do is remotely important in any way), is that when I last blogged, I was starting another NaNoWriMo session, which means I was embarking upon a wild creative journey of 30 days of writing with abandon in the hopes of writing 50,000 words by the month’s end.

Only…I wasn’t hoping I would write 50,000 words. In fact, I knew I wouldn’t. It’s been…not my best year this year, especially creatively speaking, so I was going into November with the understanding that I was going lose but with intention of supporting the wrimos in my region while pretty much pretending to write because my creativity has been in short supply of late.

And yeah. I lost.

But here’s the thing.

I wrote. Words. Like, actual words.

Are they good words? Hell, no. Did my characters have a really long and pointless conversation about French toast? They may have. Will that conversation along with everything else I wrote in November end up in some deleted scene file someday? Probably.

Does it matter? No.

It doesn’t matter because I wrote them. I wrote a little something every single day for thirty days.

Which means maybe, just maybe, there’s still a little spark of something somewhere in the dark and cold pit that is my dried-up well of creativity.

So while I did fall well short of the 50k mark, I feel like I maybe had a different kind of victory this month. Smaller and more personal, but a win in its own way.

Whether that will change anything for me later on down the road remains to be seen. I mean, it’s only December 7th and it already feels like that November productivity was nothing more than some weird fever dream and I will never write another word ever again. Because it’s December 7th and I haven’t written a word since November ended. Which means I probably have to think some deep and meaningful thoughts about the writing world and my place (or lack there of) in it.

Or, you know, hide under a blanket under my desk instead. Whatever.

But at least I made it through November.

Before I sign off, I want to give a shout-out and all the high fives to all my writer friends who did manage to win NaNoWriMo this year. You all are amazing and awesome and so creative and I salute your perseverance!

WAY TO GO, Y’ALL!!!

ONE LAST THING…

Knowing me the way that I do, this will very likely end up being my last post of 2022. So however you choose to celebrate this time of year, I hope that you and your families are safe, happy, and well.

Hope to see y’all again in the new year.

NaNoWriMoRama

Welp. It’s November 2nd, which means that I am once again living the NaNoWriMo life.

Some of you may be saying, “But, M.J.,…I read your last post, and you were being all not overly dramatic about your creativity being dead and buried in the garden. What gives?”

Well, I’ll tell you. Although I’m still pretty sure my creativity has been lost and/or buried at sea or whatever, I am still the ML (municipal liaison) for my region, so participating is part of the deal. But because of the aforementioned creativity outage, I just may be doing more pretending to write with abandon than actually writing. With abandon or anything else.

But look! I get this pretty, pretty badge out of the deal, so that’s pretty sweet.

I’m planning to use the Pot Luck technique I employed last year, where I jump around from one of my many WIPs to the next, chasing any wisp of a story spark I can find. Last year, I ended November with a grand total of 63,596 words spread across five WIPs. I don’t think this year will produce the same results (see: dead muse), but here are the projects on which I will, at the very least, be pretending to work, listed in priority order, from top to bottom:

Terrible Romance Sequel

My goddaughter is still waiting for this book, and I really don’t want to disappoint her any more than I already have so this WIP gets the top spot. I’m still not sure how to execute my vision for this book (or even if I can. I mean, that does remain a distinct possibility) but I recently had a conversation with a writer friend who said something about this story that made me go, “Huh.” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Maybe that’ll lead to some progress? Maybe it won’t. I don’t know, but maybe we’ll find out. Bottom line is, I’d really love to be able to finish the first draft this month.

Adventures In Babysitting

The companion novella for Full Circle. I started writing it last year during NaNoWriMo and haven’t done a whole lot with it since. (You know, except completely blow up the entire premise, but how important is a premise anyway?) This project was bumped up on the priority list a few months ago because I wanted to finish it while Full Circle was still in its WIP phase, just in case story changes needed to be made in one or the other because of how their stories ultimately played out. Then a central character in the novella decided to be a jerk and go do some jerk things and put plot lines from both stories in doubt or peril or something like that. I’d love to resolve those issues this month. If I can.

Full Circle

Yeah. This is back on the list. Well, kind of. I sent the manuscript out to three betas and have heard back from one of them (the other two are either still reading or looking into some kind of beta reader protection program where they start new lives as new people somewhere far away from me so they don’t have to tell me how much they hate(d) the story) and based on that feedback, I think I need to rethink a story arc or two. Which I suspected might be the case when I sent the story out, so it’s not a huge surprise. I do, however, have a strict policy to not make any major changes to the manuscript while betas are doing their thing, so this project’s inclusion on this list is strictly reserved for any brainstorming scenes I might decide to experiment with this month while I try to come up with possible alternatives.

Threnody

This is supposed to be the fourth book of The Coileáin Chronicles. It wasn’t supposed to exist, but it does now and so I need to figure out what to do with it. Unlike the preceding books, I don’t have any sort of plan for it, and I’m not convinced that what I’ve written so far will hold up, so I’m feeling a little (translation: a lot) lost in the weeds here. Maybe that’s a sign that it shouldn’t exist. Dunno. But maybe I’ll figure something out.

The Third One

The third intended title in my Terrible Romance Series. “But, M.J.,” you may be saying, “you haven’t even finished the second intended title in this series. How can you be working on the third one?” And I’ll tell you…I don’t know. Writers just do that sometimes. It’s funny, though. I don’t know how to execute the plan for Terrible Romance Sequel, but thanks to The Third One, I do know where the main characters in Terrible Romance Sequel end up. Or, maybe I should say, where I would like them to end up because what I plan and what takes place ain’t actually ever been similar (Name! That! Reference!)

How Many Angels

My woefully ignored attempt at literary fiction. I like to include it because it’s nice to have an option that’s so very different from anything else on this list. I’m not convinced that this story is anything worthwhile, but…what else is new, right? Also…why not include it on this list? What’s the worst that could happen? I don’t write any words for it?

So yeah. I have a plan (kind of) and projects on which I can work (kind of), but I don’t really think much of anything will come out of it. That won’t be the greatest feeling in the world, but, again, what else is new?

I will, however, be there to support my fellow wrimos as they write all the awesome things. And that is pretty cool.

Here’s to you, awesome writers!

Usually during this month, I post weekly updates as to how things are progressing or, you know, not progressing as the case may be. It’s too early to say whether I will be posting any updates of any kind this year. It’ll all depend upon what happens and how I feel about it at the time.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year/month? What are you writing? (Also, if you’re looking for buddies, I can be found using the very clever username M.J. Fifield…)

Happy November, all. See you next time.

Limbo

So…not to be dramatic or anything, but it feels as though my creativity, my writing muse, my…whatever you want to call it is dead.

Now, that may not be true. It could just be on an extended vacation or hibernating, or hastily trying to patch itself back together with chewing gum somewhere in the recesses of my mind. But, until I know for sure what the deal is, it feels as though it’s dead.

Meaning I feel as though I don’t have another book in me and that all of my currently unfinished WIPs (of which there are many. Just…so, so many. A depressingly large number, really.) will remain that way forever and ever because the well of creativity (or whatever passed for one in the past) is completely bone dry and possibly filled with concrete.

But, you know, I don’t want to be dramatic.

Needless to say (even though I’m going to say it anyway), I haven’t been writing. At all. I am living the doldrums life. I am in limbo.

Which is not a problem for me at all because I am so very calm and patient and definitely not overdramatic. I mean, it’s totally cool with me that I haven’t been writing. It doesn’t make me feel more anxious and uncomfortable in my own skin. It definitely doesn’t make me feel more and more like I don’t belong in the writing world, and I absolutely love the fact that my daily writing goals have all been replaced with a goal of just not completely self-destructing while I wait to see if I’ll ever write another word ever again.

And it’s a good thing that I’m so fine because it is what it is. There’s nothing much for me to do but wait. Keep myself busy/distracted as best I can and wait.

We’ll see what happens.

If anything.

So. Yeah. That’s what’s going on (or not going on, maybe I should say?) here.

What’s happening in your corner of the world?