I haven’t really had much in terms of progress this week, besides decided to write Plague Novel the Second this NaNoWriMo. I’ve also started up with my critique partner again. We’re working through the Flight novel, which is what I’ll be revising after I finish the first draft of PNtS.
As most people who know me are aware. I’m a bit of an organization spaz. So of course, even though it’s only the middle of September, I’m already trying to plan what I’m going to prepare for NaNoWriMo next month.
This is harder than it sounds.
Option 1. I took a break on my work in progress, the Touchdown Novel, to revise and resubmit the Plague Novel. This means that I could go back to the Touchdown Novel and finish it, in which case almost all of my prep is done and I’ll just have to refresh myself on the outline and keep writing from the point of about 15k words in.
However, I remember writing myself into a hole. It may be challenging to pick it up where it is at. And the idea just has no sparkle to me right now. Do I really want to spend 2 months with it?
Option 2. I could start Plague Novel Two, The Sequel. This would require a lot more prep (because I have only the scantest of baby outlines), but the characters are fresh in my head and the ideas themselves have been percolating for over a year now. What I have not done is ANY of the setting research. It would mean a lot of work for October.
And if no one wants to represent the Plague Novel, it could also be a lot of work for “nothing.” But if someone does, then I’m already ahead of the curve and could maybe use the unfinished sequel as marketing to improve the chances that someone actually buys it.
Opotion 3. I could start a completely new project, maybe one of the novels in the Tattoo Magic setting that so far is only home to a couple of short stories. Again, it would be more prep work (even more than Plague Novel 2!), but I love the setting to death and am really excited to explore it more. While I have a setting and some story ideas, I have no characters, no research done, and not even a basic outline. It’s more risk, but possibly more reward.
I know I can write. I know I will write something this November. I know that I will probably write an entire novel by the end of December. The question is… which one? I have less than two weeks to decide.
Wish me luck.
As I mentioned in my Monday post, I’m presently doing some recharging of my creative batteries. This doesn’t mean that I’m entirely inactive as a writer, though!
I’m catching up on some YA and short-story reading, preparing my talk for the CCWA (more on that in Monday’s post), and meeting with my resurrected writing group on Sunday. I’m also still trying to decide what to prep for NaNoWriMo. Right now, I’m leaning Plague Novel Sequel, though continuing or finishing the Touchdown novel is also a possibility.
I’ve recently posted about writing with depression. It’s no secret that I struggle with depression. That’s deliberate: the openness of some of my favorite authors about their own struggles is something that inspired me to get help when it was increasingly clear to me that I needed it.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that creativity and depression feed on each other. I’ve heard a variety of people, even my doctor, say that sometimes artists want the lows because it gives them something to draw on. I mean, look at all of these famous writers, musicians, and creative sorts who struggle with depression and other issues!
I think that’s bunkum. I write despite struggling with a mental illness, and it’s certainly not helpful to me.
The conventional wisdom is also that writers write every day. But is this true or another piece of bunkum? I’ve often questioned this idea, like I’m sure my dentist questions people who say they floss every day. Must someone write literally every day to be a writer? Or do writers, at least some of them, take occasional breaks to relax, recharge, and prepare for the next project?
I know I do.
This past week, I’ve been recharging. NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. I fully intend to hit the ground running and write if not a full novel, at least 50,000 words. The goal is a full novel; 50,000 words is the minimum. I want to go into October (also known as NaNoWriMo prep season) recharged and ready to kick some ass.
So right now, I’m letting ideas percolate. I’m giving myself leeway to slack off a little. Because this writing career is a marathon, not a sprint, and my brain works best with the occasional break. And I’m trying not to beat myself up too thoroughly for “not writing.”
This week I’ve been playing around with poetry. I’m not a trained poet, but there is a story I want to tell that has decided it wants to be a poem, so what else can I do. I’ll probably just end up posting that here eventually, since I don’t feel accomplished enough as a poet to try to shop that around.
I’ve also been catching up on my YA reading. I’m not really sure whether I’ll get around to doing some Book Thoughts posts, but I’ve blown through a couple of books and I still have two more to go.
I know that I should be submitting my short stories around again. I have zero in circulation right now, and six stories that could be in rotation. But between my depression and anxiety issues flaring up, the motivation to set myself up for possible disappointment just isn’t there. I’m focusing on cleaning those stories up instead. I’m also engaging in the process of writing, which is the fun part.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been maintaining this blog for two years. Two years ago, I decided to get serious about writing. Two years ago, I was about 1/3 done with the very first draft of the plague novel.
I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me for these past two years, and a preemptive thank you for supporting me in the years to come.
The stigma about depression and medication is very real. The openness with which some of my favorite YA and non-YA authors have talked about dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness is one of the reasons why I’m making this seriously personal blog post.
I’ve dealt with some amount of depression for a very long time, and counseling that I went to in my early twenties helped me learn techniques for managing it. Normally, I’m able to handle my depressed moods very well, battle the cognitive dissonance with logic, and function normally. But a variety of factors, including the recent deaths of two grandparents (one of whom I was very close to) and some other family stuff, have apparently upset my usual equilibrium.
I’ve been bouncing in and out of depressed cycles. Jared has pointed out several times before now that they have been coming more frequently and each time has seemed to be worse; meanwhile, every time I started to feel better I had convinced myself that I was finally snapping out of it. I really wanted to believe I was snapping out of it.
In retrospect, one of the things that was holding me together was submitting, revising, and resubmitting the plague novel. When I finished that, I had a huge moment of ‘what now.’ There is a whole list of things that could serve as ‘now,’ but as I was going through that list, I didn’t want to do any of them. Writing fell into the other list of things I ‘should’ do but haven’t been doing lately. This had become a theme in my life–boredom, restlessness, insomnia, and not wanting to do the things I normally find fun and exciting. Without that thing that had been taking up 2+ hours a night and weekend days it was like a giant gaping chasm of indecisive boredom opened up in front of me.
Meanwhile, I’ve run my blogging buffer ragged. Resubmitting and generally being depressed have left me without any buffer at all. Last weekend, when I should have been preparing my Monday blog post, I was dragging myself to social activities in an effort to combat my feelings of isolation and desire to further withdraw from my support structures. And Monday, I was curled up in bed feeling that familiar crushing weight on my chest, but this time considering how I would kill myself (if I wanted to go about doing that, which I did not), while thinking about how screwed up that whole line of thought was.
I want to be very clear that I didn’t actively want to kill myself. But this is a HUGE RED FLAG and a boundary that I set a long time ago. So I made an appointment with my primary care doctor and last week I spoke with her about maybe going back to counseling, since I need a referral from my PCP for my insurance to cover it. I really didn’t want to, but I made myself tell a couple of my loved ones what was going on to hold myself accountable, so I pretty much had no choice but to follow through. My doctor very firmly insisted medication because of that whole suicidal ideations issue. I’m not really sure that it’s working yet, but the act of taking action has turned this into feeling like a forever-slog until something I’m holding out against until help arrives.
And I actually wanted to make this blog post. Writing out of desire instead of out of a sense of duty is, I think, a good sign.
A thunderstorm-related power outage made it difficult to post last night (but made for a lovely reading might). I’m presently working on short stories, updating them and researching markets. I intend to submit them around again later tomorrow, or possibly Monday.
Meanwhile, the Flight novel is back in my imagination, and I intend to start revising that soon. That should take me through NaNoWriMo, when I’ll resume work on the Touchdown novel. Big plans!
Let me briefly interrupt your regularly scheduled substantive update to announce that as of yesterday, my manuscript is back to the agent who was interested in seeing a revision. My excitement knows no bounds! Ahem.
This is the sixth and last post in my series of posts (one, two, three, four, and five) about the process I engaged in to revise my manuscript. While the process is similar to the process I used the first time , this one has worked out exceptionally well for me, and I intend to use it as a general revisions process in the future.
My process culminated in the final reads–yes, there was more than one. The first read was in Scrivener, full screen, at 800% font. In essence, the font choice only fit a sentence a page. And I combed through those sentences looking for typos, words that didn’t make sense, missing punctuation, and redundant word choices. I read it aloud to myself to make sure the sentences flowed properly. This was my “typographical read” and it took me about two days.
Some people have suggested reading your work backward so that you don’t get invested in the prose. I may do that next time, because I did at points find myself just reading along. I sometimes had to go back and read a chapter again.
After I compiled my manuscript into a word processor, I checked the entire document for spelling. My word processor helpfully pointed out several places where I had missed corrections on my first final read. Doubled words are the bane of my existence. My brain apparently just refuses to recognize them. I then gave it a final, quick read to make sure that everything was in place and Scrivener hadn’t left out a chapter or included a scene I had cut.
And that was it. The entire two-plus-month-long process that overshadowed my life and ate all of my “free” time was complete.
Microrevisions are done! They’re done they’re done they’re done THEY’RE DONE! The most tedious part of revisions? Done.
And I have to say, this manuscript is looking really good. The original manuscript was 79k words. After doing major revisions, it was up to 83k words. The final result? 70,687 words. This prose is so tight, it’s bolted to the floor.
I have only three things left to do before I resubmit to the agent:
1) Typographical revision. Fixing typographical errors. I swear, self, I will cut you if you try to start revising during the typo check. TYPO FIXING ONLY.
2) Compilation. I need to compile my Scrivener document into a format the agent wants to read.
3) Final read. Making sure Scrivener didn’t bork anything. Last-minute check for typos I missed during the typo check.
The combined total of these three steps should only take the rest of the weekend. Which means that by Monday, barring unforeseen circumstances, I should have this manuscript back to the agent. And then more waiting.
But for now, I’m so excited!