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Editing Update: Home From Camp

Note: this post is part of an on-going (and possibly never-ending…) series. To read the earlier installments, click on the following links: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that last month, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo and set myself a goal of editing 50,000 words. I had never set an editing goal before, so I wasn’t sure how it would all work out.

If you follow me on various forms of social media, you may have already seen this:

and this:

So, I mean, yes, there was some success to be had. However, I feel like the 70,030 words edited there looks and sounds waaaaaaaay more impressive than it actually is. Some of that feeling can probably be attributed to the fact that I am a gigantic hot mess—so much so that I’m pretty sure I can be seen from space. Like, there are astronauts at the ISS right now, looking down and going, “OMG! What the hell is that—Oh. It’s just MJ. Never mind.”—who would feel that way regardless of the actual results.

But here’s the thing…it doesn’t feel like I’m making much meaningful progress. I’m going through the pages, correcting errors, and culling dialogue (just…so much dialogue) and adjusting the narrative to tighten and strengthen it or whatever, but I think the book still has the same fundamental issues it had when I began.

I just have no idea what those issues are.

I cannot shake the feeling that I am writing (now editing) this book wrong. That I’m rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic or something. And I can’t even explain it to anyone without saying something like, “I think there’s something wrong with this book, but I don’t know what, and I’m worried I’m not smart enough to fix it.”

Because how can I be smart enough to fix a problem I can’t even diagnose?

So, I’m starting off May not quite sure what to do or where to go from here. I’m trying not to force things, to give my brain the space it apparently needs to get its shit together or whatever, and to trust that I will eventually figure things out because even though I don’t remember it, I most likely felt the same damn way while editing the three books that came before this one.

But I’ve never done well with inactivity.

And…during my family and friends visits last month, I was reminded (more than once) that there are three people waiting to read this book, who have already been waiting years to read this book, and who will have to keep waiting probably more years to read the book because I am taking so damn long to finish it. Which makes me feel bad because I am extremely blessed to have any people interested in reading anything I write, and who continue to be interested in reading anything I write even though it takes me so damn long to actually write anything, and it sucks that I can’t do a better job for them.

Which adds to the pressure and compounds with the inactivity and my already terrible levels of anxiety or something science-y sounding, which all means that this gigantic hot mess is just getting bigger and messier.

Which is why, despite the fact that I left Camp with a winner’s badge (and a really cute mug. I ordered a mug that, if my significant other asks, I desperately needed…) and an impressive-looking word count, I’m not feeling particularly impressed.

But at least I have a mug.

Stay safe and well, all.

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.

The One With All The Goals (2022 Edition)

Well, it’s a new year which means I’m kicking things off with a monster post with (as the title would suggest) a shit-ton of goals for 2022.

As per usual, these goals are broken up into three categories: writing, health & fitness, and other. Listed here will be the big, bold goals with a due date of December 31, 2022. Not listed here will be how these big, bold goals will be broken down into monthly, weekly, and even daily goals. So, I guess, just know I’m doing it?

I like setting goals for myself. Even if it seems like I never make much progress on them, I think it helps to have set them in the first place. I shudder to think what my day-to-day life would look like if I didn’t have them. Darkness, chaos and probably some dragons… (Name! That! Reference!)

The Writing Goals

—Edit/Revise Full Circle and send to the beta readers

So, last year I finished the first draft of this project. It’s been sitting in the metaphorical drawer since about September, which means it’s about time to print out this monster project (though at 236k words, it’s not my longest manuscript ever) and rip it to shreds.

January goal: Print this puppy out, find some red pens, and let the shredding commence.

—Complete the first draft of the Terrible Romance Sequel

Yeah…this is a carryover from last year. Though I did make some progress on it during November’s NaNoWriMo event, I didn’t finish it. So I’m going to try to do it this year.

January goal: Nothing. I need to think about some things, so this project’s on the back burner for now.

—Participate in all three NaNoWriMo sessions (April, July, and November)

I’m still doing the ML thing, so…yeah. It’s on the list. Please note how this goal states ‘participate in’ but not ‘win’…

January goal: Nothing. I won’t have much to do for NaNoWriMo until we get closer to April.

—Attempt to make some attempt at marketing at least once a month

This goal went pretty poorly last year—although there were only two months where I did absolutely nothing (like a CHAMP!), so it definitely could have gone worse. To be honest, I don’t have particularly high hopes for this year magically being better, but if it’s not on the list at all, I definitely won’t try. So here’s to trying!

January goal: Come up with an idea to try and, you know, try it.

Health & Fitness

—Stop drinking so much damn soda and drink more damn water

I tried to do this last year and ended up going in the complete opposite direction (like a CHAMP!). Now I shall attempt to correct that.

—Walk, run, or bike an average of three miles per day

This goal is slightly tweaked from years past. Some days aren’t conducive to walking three miles for whatever reason. Instead, I’m aiming for the average. Three miles a day for an entire year comes out to 1095 miles. So basically that’s the goal. 1095 miles by December 31st.

All The Rest

—Declutter

I think this goal makes the list pretty much every year, and every year I pretty much do the opposite. But this year, the significant other and I have started to bandy around another ‘D’ word…Downsize. If we go through with it, I will definitely need to declutter. But even if we don’t go through with it, I should still probably declutter. I’m not a hoarder or anything (unless you’re talking about books or notebooks or pens or post-it notes or Funko Pop! figurines or…maybe I should be quiet now.) but I’m guessing there’s still a lot with which I can and should part.

January goal: Take that bag of books that’s been sitting in my office for two months to the Free Little Libraries in the area and donate them already.

—Read a damn book at least once a month

I have NOT done well with my reading goals lately. One book a week has been too much to ask, so this year, I am scaling back and going with one book a month. You may be saying “that’s not a challenge” but you should know that I only managed to read eleven books last year. Total.

I hate how long this slump has lasted. It’s just getting sad now.

January goal: Finish reading that Janet Evanovich book I started reading at the end of last year. There’s only, like, fifty pages left to go, so I think even I can finish them by the end of the month.

So, on that note, I’m outta here. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you had a great New Years, and that 2022 is kind to you all.

Did you set any goals in 2022?

The Good, The Okay, and the Final Word (A NaNoWriMo Recap)

When last we met, I was in the midst of a two-pronged NaNoWriMo experiment.

Prong One: The Pot Luck Technique, where I worked on five different projects, following my brain/muse to whatever WIP it was inspired to work on in any given moment.

Prong Two: The Reverse NaNo Technique, where I started off the month with higher-than-average daily word count goals that got increasingly smaller as the month progressed.

Today, I shall talk about the results of this experiment.

First of all, this happened:

So yes, I earned a win. It was my fastest win ever (earned on November 19th), and I think that’s totally due to the aforementioned experiments (details to come). Because I am my region’s ML, I continued to write past the 50k mark (sticking around through the entire month is part of the deal) and ended up with a grand total of 63,596 words.

Which may sound impressive, but you should know that my wrimo buddies were absolutely crushing it this past month. One of them wrote over 235k words. In thirty days. Another had over 130k, and several ended up over the 80k mark. I bow down to their awesomeness.

Even if they made me feel like a slacker.

But seriously, they’re awesome.

Okay, so on with the post. Let’s talk about the techniques and what I thought of them.

POT LUCK TECHNIQUE

I liked this technique. It really allowed me the flexibility to follow my creativity wherever it went (even if it just went to bed). Usually in November, when I’m working on my one WIP, and have tunnel vision or whatever, I get stuck from time to time. I flounder, I stare at a blinking cursor, and basically I do all those things you never want to do when you’re trying to write 50k words in thirty days.

Having the ability to shift from one WIP to another cut down on those less-productive periods. Don’t get me wrong—they still happened, but they didn’t happen as often nor did they last as long. I had five WIPs from which to choose in three different genres, and that really appealed to my particular mindset this past month. I knew I was lacking in focus, so having options (and having so many options) definitely took some of the pressure off.

Here’s where the five WIPs ended up. The first number is the starting word count on November 1st. The second number is the word count as of midnight on November 30th.

Terrible Romance Sequel: 49,380/61,673

Adventures In Babysitting: 0/9,762

Threnody: 0/23,300

How Many Angels: 0/9,740

The Third One: 0/8,622

I think I will definitely make use of this technique again. Overall, the Pot Luck Technique gets two enthusiastic thumbs up.

THE REVERSE NANO TECHNIQUE

This technique was…fine. I was less thrilled with this and probably will not be using it again in the future.

But that is because about two weeks into this thing, I had about 80% of my word count total done because I was writing 3,000–4,000 words every day because I was trying to hit those Reverse NaNo daily goals (the first two weeks of this technique are brutal, word count wise). A fellow wrimo sent me a message pointing out how close I was to winning (a fact I had not actually noticed because I was so hyper focused on the daily word counts and not the cumulative total) and when I realized the truth of that statement, I decided to just keep the pedal to the metal and power through to the end.

Which led, as I’m sure you can imagine, to some exhaustion and maybe a wee bit of burnout. I woke up on November 6th and literally said, “Oh God. It’s only Day Six. How the hell am I going to make it through the rest of the month?!?”

So while it did lead to some not-too-shabby daily word counts, I don’t think this technique was worthwhile for me in the long run. I’m not sorry to have tried it, though. We never know what will work for us until we try it out. But yeah. This technique was a big Meh for me.

THE FINAL WORD

While I hit the 50k goal, I did not achieve my goal of completing the first draft of the Terrible Romance Sequel. (Honestly, between those two goals, I would have rather finished the draft, but that didn’t work out.) Some progress was made, however, and I may have worked through a major plot problem early on in the story—meaning I at least justified keeping it as is for now…So, not the progress I had been hoping for, but teeny tiny progress (or at least the temporary illusion of it) all the same.

I’m still not convinced that ANY of the five WIPs I worked on in November will ever amount to anything at all (I seriously don’t think I’m smart enough to pull off my concept for TRS), but it was an interesting thought experiment, if nothing else. And my brain offered up an intriguing-as-hell possibility for Threnody. I don’t know nearly enough about that project yet to know if that possibility is at all viable (and if it is, it would likely only be a part of a subplot), but it doesn’t matter right now.

The point of NaNoWriMo (for me, at least) is just to set a big, crazy goal for myself and jump down that rabbit hole of creativity and see where I end up. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Sure, I’m way happier when it works out, but there’s always something to be learned from the journey itself.

Or something possibly smart-ish sounding like that. I’m really tired.

Anyway, because I’m obsessed with the show, here’s a nice inspirational Ted Lasso gif with which to end this post:

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo last month? If so, how’d you do?

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and well, all.

The Reverse NaNo

First up, my brother’s birthday was yesterday, and as he is the coolest brother—who is and will forever be way smarter and funnier than I am—I wanted to take a moment to say…

Happy Birthday!!

Onto the rest of the post!

So, as you may remember from my last post, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month, as I often do in November.

This year, right before the start of the month, one of the wrimos (someone who participates in NaNoWriMo, in case you are unfamiliar with the term) in my region said she was going to do a reverse NaNo this year. Never having heard of it, I asked if that meant she would attempt to delete 50,000 words in November (which, frankly, sounds like something I could definitely do).

But, no. It turns out that is not what the Reverse NaNo technique is.

The Reverse NaNo—also known in some circles as The Reward System or The Downhill Method, or the Incredible Shrinking Daily Goal—was devised by a participant in 2010 as a way to take advantage of the fact that many wrimos start off the month strong. We’re fresh, we’re full of ideas, and we’re raring to go. Words flow more easily and everything is happy and shiny and bright.

And then comes the rest of November. We get tired. Ideas aren’t flowing as easily as they were before. Our brains stop with the words-putting-into-sentence doing. There are holidays and day jobs and kids and pets and neighbors who insist on putting up giant inflatable snowmen on their lawns even though it’s only November 8th and you live in Florida where there’s no damn snow so it doesn’t make any damn sense that your stupid inflatable snowman is holding a sign saying he’s freezing his ass off because (1) he doesn’t have an ass to freeze off and (2) again, it’s Florida, so if anything, his ass should be melting off, and there are also dogs somewhere (certainly NOT inside my house…) who insist on barking incessantly at the giant inflatable snowman not freezing his ass off on the neighbor’s lawn.

That incredibly generic example aside, the point is, the challenge often gets harder as we go along. For whatever reason.

So the Reverse NaNo looks to take advantage of the strong, fresh start by having higher daily word count goals that grow smaller as the month progresses. Traditionally, the daily word count goal in NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words per day. With the Reverse NaNo, your Day 1 goal is a whopping 3,346 words. But your Day 30 goal is a very manageable 1 word.

As I have lately been one of those wrimos who starts off strong and fades fast, I thought I would give the Reverse NaNo technique a try. It’s going…all right thus far. I admit I am looking forward to those smaller and smaller word count goals because I know I definitely can’t keep up this pace. These first two weeks are…a lot.

And I am just…running low on…all the things. All five WIPs have been started. I had really hoped I wouldn’t need to do that so soon into the month, but we do what we must. It’s some robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul thing or whatever.

I did, however, have an idea pop up yesterday, just out of the blue, for one of those five WIPs that made me go…

Now I’m hoping this shiny, new idea will be good for a decent amount of words, if I can figure out how to get it down on paper (or, you know, in a Word document. Whatever.). I have no idea if it’s a viable idea that will survive outside of November, but that’s December’s problem.

Still, if anyone has any spare plot lying around that they’re not using, feel free to box it on up and send it my way…

NaNo Stats

Word count goal: 50,000

Where the regular WC should be: 16,670

Where the Reverse NaNo WC should be: 28,157

Where my WC actually is: 29,327

WIP(s) getting the most love: How Many Angels and The Third One

Yeah. I don’t get it, either. Especially The Third One. I mean, the second damn book in this series isn’t even finished, but whatever. When has my brain ever done anything that could even remotely count as making sense?

All right, so on that note, I’m going back down into the word mines or at least I’m gonna crawl under my desk and take a nap.

Tune in next Wednesday for another action-packed update on my multi-faceted NaNoWriMo experiment.

Be safe and well, all.