NaNoWriMo

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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.

Editing Update: Missed It By That Much

When last we met, I was embarking upon another action-packed installment of Camp NaNoWriMo with an official goal of editing 50,000 words but an actual goal of just getting through the 33 pages of editing notes covering 27 chapters in my current WIP, Full Circle.

Because I didn’t care how many words it took, I just wanted to get these edits finished.

Well, as it turns out, it was a good thing I didn’t care how many words it took because I didn’t get anywhere near 50,000.

But here’s what I did do…

I came agonizingly close to finishing the vastly more important part of this goal. I started off with 33 pages of editing notes covering 27 chapters.

And I ended with just one note on part of one scene in one chapter.

This scene has been dubbed the Special Hell scene for…reasons I’m not going to get in to in this post (but any Browncoats out there may get the reference). It is, technically, a completed scene, but I can’t shake the feeling that it shouldn’t be a completed scene. Meaning that I think there needs to be something more added to it. I just haven’t been able to decide what exactly that something should be and how much of that something needs to be added.

There are other scenes in the book I’m not sure about, but those I feel are…good enough for now, for lack of a better term. Meaning that I feel all right sending them off to the beta readers as is and waiting to see what (if anything) they have to say about them. That’s most of the book right now. I feel like it’s ready for the beta round, which—if you know me—you know is a Big Damn Deal.

I don’t, however, feel the same way about the Special Hell scene. Which is why I’m still holding on to the manuscript. My current plan involves experimenting with some different possibilities to see if any of those change anything for me with the hopes of sending the manuscript out by the end of the week or possibly next week.

But we’ll see if I can up with any new reasons why I can’t let go of the book.

History would suggest I can. And will.

That’s gonna do it for me today.

What are you working on this month?

Stay safe and well, all.

Editing Update: Get It Done

Well, it’s July 6th, which means I am technically back at Camp NaNoWriMo for the second summer session. (I’m the ML for my region, so I sign up for every event.)

This is my favorite kind of camping, because it doesn’t actually involve me leaving the house and/or sleeping on the ground in the woods, surrounded by all the creepy crawly whatevers that this godforsaken swamp state has to offer. (Plus, I can still eat s’mores if I want to…)

The first camp session was in April. My goal then was to edit 50,000 words in Full Circle. I ended up with a grand total of 70,000 edited words. Of course, as Full Circle‘s word count is well over 70,000, I still had (have) a long way to go. And though it may not feel like it, I have continued to work on the edits since April. But, alas, as they’re not finished yet, my goal for July’s Camp session is exactly the same. Edit yet another 50,000 words.

This time, however, the process is a little different, because the editing is now based on the Labor-Intensive Editing Shit List. When I started working on this list, back in June, it was 44 pages long. As of July 1st, it was down to 34 pages covering 31 chapters. As of the writing of this post, it was down to 33 pages covering 27 chapters.

So while my goal on the NaNoWriMo website is listed as ‘Edit 50,000 words’ because that’s how the website works, my true goal is to just get through those 33 pages and 27 chapters, regardless of how many words it takes.

Because here’s the thing: I don’t know how many words that will take. Words will be added, words will be deleted. I still need to somehow fix the villain arc and the woefully underdeveloped subplot. That one pain-in-the-ass character is still being a pain in my ass (Seriously, dude. I let you live. What more do you want from me?). And yet, there’s somehow still more.

I may need more than 50,000. I may need less. (Though, less does seem less likely for some reason…) I may spend the entire month just making this face:

You know, like I’ve been doing since this month began. (And this year. And decade. And lifetime…)

Though progress is (slowly) being made, I keep bouncing back and forth between ‘I’ve totally got this’ and ‘I’m far too stupid to write this book’. Yesterday, I was firmly the latter. Today is feeling slightly less hopeless.

So far, anyway.

So that’s my goal: get through 33 pages of notes covering 27 chapters by the end of the month. If I make it, great. If I don’t…well, then, August will be a perfectly fine month to finish these edits. Or September or October or however much longer this project will take.

But for the purposes of logging progress (or the lack thereof…) on the NaNoWriMo website, I recorded Full Circle‘s word count before I started on Day 1 and then, at the end of each day, I noted (or will note, as the month continues) the change (if there was/is one). Here’s how it’s gone so far:

Starting Word Count: 227,006

Day One: 227,504 (+498)

Day Two: 227,486 (-18)

Day Three: 228,124 (+638)

Day Four: 228,532 (+408)

Day Five: 228,605 (+73)

Clearly, this will not be my most productive NaNoWriMo experience ever.

So far, anyway. There’s still plenty of time to change that.

What are you working on this summer?

Be safe and well, all.

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.