Dear Novel, I Still Like You

To paraphrase Shakespeare, the outline’s the thing!

Yeah, I’m outlining the remainder of Part One of my huge rewrite, and it’s a VERY EXCELLENT IDEA. I went into this thinking “I’ll just start over and see what happens” and that might not’ve been the BEST decision ever. I’m at the point where I need to marry my new material to my old material. I realized I CAN still use some of the scenes I’ve already written, and that I’m trying to make THIS story better, not write a completely different one. So that was an encouraging realization!

I’ve only been working on this outline for a couple days, and I almost have it sorted enough to start writing/revising again. I’m excited! I can do this!

I STILL LIKE THIS NOVEL!!!!!!

This Writing Thing

Well, September is upon us! I’m slowly pecking away at the novel rewrite, and—as usual—being frustrated and encouraged in turn. I’m finally beginning to get a vision of how I want it to go, but there’s so many decisions and possibilities it gets pretty confusing. But I’m gonna push through!!

I keep having to re-realize that, for right now, I can’t worry about:

… whether or not it’s too long

… whether or not there will be a market for it WHEN I finally finish

… whether or not my writing is perfect

… whether or not I’m being as creative as I aspire to be

… whether or not I’m ever going to make it past the first few chapters

I can, however, focus on:

— Plot!

— Characterization!

— Pacing!

— Structure!

— Doing the best I can with where I am right now

— Enjoying the freedom that comes with re-imagining the story

— Working on it EVERY DAY

At least I have something to semi-distract me from compulsively checking my email every two minutes and the miniature heart attacks brought on by seeing a reply to one of my queries in my inbox.

Yeah…

This writing thing, I tell ya.

Never, Ever, Ever Give Up!

This morning, I started writing at 7:30, and didn’t stop until I finished the scene I was working on. It felt GREAT. I’m making it my goal to get in the habit of writing first thing every day, because if I don’t keep working on this novel rewrite, you know what?

It’s never ever ever going to get done.

And that’s unacceptable.

The last few months, I’ve been really discouraged on the writing front—the glacial querying process, the feeling of ramming my head against a brick wall with this novel, the fear that I’m never going to get to the next step. But I’ve come so far since I started getting really serious about writing in 2005. I’ve written six complete novels and three incomplete ones, and I’ve REwritten a few of them, too. I’ve written query letters and synopsises (synopsi? however you spell it, they’re awful!!) and read up on the publishing industry—I’ve even gotten feedback from some pretty awesome agents.

And all that aside, even though it’s frustrating beyond imagining sometimes, I love writing. I always have.

I’m not going to give up. I’m going to keep plugging away at this novel, and when I finish it I’m going to write another one.

I am writer! Here me RAWRRRRRR!!!

Down the Rabbit Hole

Phew, well it’s been a little while since my last post…

I’ve been musing about stories and writing and re-writing, and I have a lot of profound thoughts floating around in my head, but they never quite seem to make it to paper. 🙂 I’ll give it a shot.

I love stories that matter and mean something, that make you think and feel, that earn their triumphs or tragedies in a satisfying way. I love being swept up into fictional worlds and getting so lost in the story that I don’t quite know what to do with myself when I reach the end. I love beautiful prose, the sound of words, the flow of language, perfectly crafted sentences and paragraphs.

Writing is so interesting to me. It’s always changing. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the known universe. Re-writing is my arch-nemises, and yet at the same time it’s not. The most difficult thing, I think, is allowing myself to re-imagine a story, to break away from what I’ve already written and be able to see it from a different angle. That’s where I’m at in my current re-write. I’m slowly leaving the keep-the-same-basic-scenes-and-reword-them-a-little frame of mind and tentatively making RE-writing my way of thinking. It’s truly remarkable to be able to recreate something, to shape a story into what it was meant to be in the first place, something you couldn’t quite see in the beginning. It’s a long, slow, hard process, something I’m having to relearn every single time I go to revise anything.

I’ve been working on this rewrite since April, and I don’t have very much to show for it. I’ve written a lot—over 20,000 words, in fact—but most of it has ended up in my “Deleted Scenes” folder. As of yesterday, I have two chapters that I’m fairly happy with. Two. But I’m slowly sinking into the world of this novel, and I’m beginning to see, if not a light at the end of the tunnel, a rabbit hole I can tumble down and explore for a while.

And that’s a good thing.

I think I’m going to go explore.

Puzzles

This rewrite feels like I’m trying to do a 2,000 piece puzzle, but I’ve only got 200 pieces and I lost the box so I can’t refer to the picture on the top and therefore have no clue what this thing is supposed to look like when it’s done.

Yeah. It’s kinda like that.

Where the novel currently is and where I want it to actually be are two separate universes at this moment. Here’s some of the changes I’m grappling with:

1. The Beginning. In the longest and most helpful rejection letter I’ve ever received, the question was posed: does this novel start in the right place? In this new draft I began the novel earlier in the timeline, and I feel like I might be trapped in the (new) first three chapters for all of eternity at this point.

2. Characterization. I’m basically trying to give my MC a spine. And some spunk. She’s getting a personality makeover, and she needs it!!

3. Relationships. I’m not too far into this aspect of the story yet, but there’s a massive balancing act to do here. My MC’s relationship with her mother is complicated and something I’m tweaking a little/trying to figure out in this new draft. There’s also a massive love square (that’s a love triangle with an extra side, haha) to navigate as the story progresses.

4. Plot. Although I’m not making a lot of earth-shattering plot alterations, I am changing it here and there, and I want to be consistent across the board and not change it so much that I lose the overall vision/feel of the original. I still want to be able to recognize this story!!

5. Length. I’m hoping to make this draft at least 10K shorter than the previous one. Yeah.

6. The Ending. I haven’t figured out if I’m going to change the original ending or not. I can’t decide.

So that’s that.

Delicious Chocolate Cookie

So I’m sitting in the office with the lights turned off and the fan on and the AC cranked up and I’m drinking iced tea and I just finished eating a delicious chocolate cookie. All completely necessary information, I know. But hey, it’s hot out, and I gotta stay cool and hydrated, and who WOULDN’T want a delicious chocolate cookie? See, it all makes sense.

At any rate, on to the big writing news of the week!

***drumroll***

I started that huge novel rewrite!! It’s for a novel I first wrote back in 2006 for NaNoWriMo, and I feel like it’s a story that needs telling and I want to try again and see if I can get it right this time! There’s an enormously long way to go, and a lot of big decisions I’ve gotta make along the way, but I have a good start so far and I’m pretty excited about it.

As for that short story, I’ve decided to leave it alone for a while. Writing is so weird. Sometimes things just need more time to gel, and I think that’s where this story is. I do think I’ll try again someday, but for now it needs to retreat into the subconscious and see if it can find a plot and some character development. Um, yeah…

I finished reading Dark Lord of Derkhelm earlier this week, and I just loved it. I’m always so impressed/amazed/inspired by Diana Wynne Jones. She wrote so many books during her lifetime and they’re all so witty and strange and wonderful. She’s a FANTASTIC storyteller. Dark Lord is just about up there with Fire and Hemlock and Howl’s Moving Castle for me. I’ve read a ton of her books, but not all of them yet, which I need to remedy. I aspire to be as creative and productive as Diana!

And speaking of productive, I think I might go work on that novel revision for a while……

Cheers, and stay cool out there!!

P.S. Why is the tea all gone??

Wordcounts and Doctor Who and Batman, oh my!!

Well, mostly good things to report over here!

My read-through went super good—I slashed and dashed as many words as humanly possible and got ye olde novel down to……………… 88,819 words. Not quite the 85K I was hoping for, but at least it’s under 89K. You know. Ish.

I’m currently researching agents (I’ve been doing it on and off for a while now), honing my query letter and so on, and all that editing paid off—I revised and condensed that query, hooray!

Still working on getting my Scrivener compile feature up and running again (the tech support people are super helpful). Just got a general Scrivener update email today and it said that a couple of recent Doctor Who episodes were actually penned in Scrivener, which of course made my little geeky heart go pitter pat. 😀

Gonna poke at my novel a little more and make sure it’s EXACTLY perfect, and then it’s off to the query mobile, batman!!