Goals

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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.

Heading Upta Camp

April 1st is right around the corner, which means it’s about time for me to head upta camp (Name! That! Reference!)…

Camp NaNoWriMo, that is.

Camp NaNoWriMo, for anyone unfamiliar with this event, happens twice a year: April and July. It’s part of the NaNoWriMo organization but is different from its November counterpart in a few ways. Camp events offer participants more flexibility with their goals. You can set your word count goal to anything at all that you want. 50k, 10k, 100k. Whatever. You can also work on an already existing novel without labeling yourself a ‘rebel’. They even offer a couple of different tracks for people writing memoirs or people trying to finish those already existing projects. They even allow participants to set editing goals.

Which is what I’ll be working on next month.

I’ve participated in Camp NaNoWriMo many years, but this will be the first year where I have set an editing goal. I have no idea how it’s going to work, or even if it will work, or if it’s a remotely obtainable goal for me.

Also adding to the unknown this session is the fact that my significant other and I have some family and friends coming to visit in early April, so I won’t really be able to give Camp NaNoWriMo my full attention (or as close to my full attention as anything gets these days, anyway…) until about halfway through the month.

So I could be setting myself up to fail. I really don’t know. It’s an experiment, and it doesn’t really matter how it goes. Either way, I would be working on editing Full Circle, so I figured why the hell not give it a shot.

So, stayed tuned, I guess, for editing and Camp updates.

Provided I have some.

Hey—it could happen.

That’s going to do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by. It’s always appreciated.

Stay safe and well, all.

Editing Update: Onto Step Two

In case you’ve missed it, the theme of my year (and possibly next year and maybe even the year after that) is editing and revising a little hot mess of epic proportions I like to call Full Circle, the third book in my epic-ish fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles.

In my last post, I talked about Step One of the process. Or, you know, my process. There’s no one process that works for everyone. We’re all delightful individuals, so what works for me may not necessarily work for someone else. Which I imagine is true. I mean, it barely works for me, so I can’t imagine it working for anyone else. But whatever. That’s a different post for a different day, maybe.

But, to recap, Step One involved printing out a hard copy of the manuscript and reading it and making notes (many, many notes) about what changes need to be made. These changes could be minor fixes, such as typos and missing words, misplaced commas, etc. They could slightly more involved fixes, such as awkward word choices or over used words (seriously—my characters nod so much, it’s amazing their damn heads haven’t fallen off) or awkwardly phrased sentences or interrupted story flow. Or they could be even more involved fixes like continuity issues or characters who mysteriously disappeared who need to be found, and a whole host of other things such as dialogue that adds length but not substance to the story, and narrative that serves an overall story plot arc that no longer exists. This step involves a lot of pens and highlighters because, as a first draft, this story is a mess.

But now, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I’m moving on to Step Two. I completed the read-through last month, and now I have a 755-paged manuscript with pages that looks like this:

So now, I am hard at work (or perhaps hardly working) on Step Two. The step where I attempt to fix all of those problems I found during the read-through, as well as the problems I’ll find while attempting to fix the other problems because I missed them the first time around, and the problems that will inevitably appear because of the snowball/avalanche effect that automatically comes with making changes to a story.

I tend to start off with the smaller, easier fixes and work my way up to those requiring more brain power. I keep track of those tougher problems in my notebook in a section usually titled “Editing Shit Deemed Too Difficult To Deal With The First Time Around”, and round and round I’ll go until all the changes have been made and I end up with something resembling a second draft.

Which has served me reasonably well in the past (meaning that, eventually, I do actually finish a second draft), but this time, there are some big, labor-intensive fixes early on in the book that need to be addressed RIGHT NOW because they will determine how some later scenes will go.

Which means I am not exactly crushing it right now.

Step Two is labor-intensive and time-consuming (at least for me), and I anticipate this will take me months to complete. Because, you know, it always does.

Right now, my goal is to have it done by April, as we have some family coming to visit early on in the month, and it’s also the first Camp NaNoWriMo session of the year and my focus will be on those two things. Is this goal at all realistic? Hell, no. Not in the least. Could I surprise myself? Probably not, but it could happen.

(Narrator: It would not happen.)

If it doesn’t happen (Narrator: It won’t), I’ll revise the goal, assess where things are, and pick a new date.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Until it’s done.

So, that’s gonna do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by—it’s always appreciated!

Stay safe and well, all.