A Look Back at 2015

I would have preferred to post this before the end of the year, but the last few weeks have been rough for me. Still, it’s not too late to take a quick look at the writing-related highlights of 2015.

PitheaWith the help of 2 of my sisters, I finished draft 4 of “Pithea,” which was the most intensive revision the book should ever need. We met once a week on Skype to work through any issues, and the book definitely came out stronger on the other end. We even worked on general world questions, especially those related to the fantastical elements in the story world. It was also during these meetings that the book went from a working title (“Adventures in Pithea”) to its official one.

cover1I finished the first draft of a third novel this year, titled “Too Many Irons in the Fire.” It’s not one I expect to go forward with, but it was still a complete novel draft, so it’s an accomplishment to be proud of.

I participated in my 6th year of NaNoWriMo, and won with 100,383 words, passing the 50k word mark on the 12th. I wrote 25k on the first day, but I don’t think I’ll try that again. I went to my first write-ins this year and was even in an article in the local newspaper while attending one of them. It was during NaNo that I finished the aforementioned novel draft, and I also wrote most of a second novel.

I also want to share a few gifts I received for Christmas that are writing-related.

My husband went a little overboard, but it’s hard to complain about the amazing gifts he gave me. The first was a blank journal with the motto I made up last year engraved into the clasp.
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The second gift was a desk clock with pen, and he had my name engraved into the front of it. I teared up when I saw the engraving.
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My mom gave me a t-shirt that my sister had designed. The front has a bunch of characters, towns, and other important words from “Pithea.” It also includes things related to the previously mentioned editing group my sisters and I formed for a year to whip the book into shape. The back of the shirt contains various quotes from that editing group–things one of us said while on Skype, or even during an in-person meeting, that we found particularly funny and decided to make a note of. I cried a little when I opened this present too, especially when I looked at the back.058 062

This final gift is much less emotional than the previous ones, but one that I was really excited to get. My parents-in-law found this deck of cards, which contains all sorts of different writing prompts, in varying detail. It’s called Writer Emergency Pack, and it’s billed as a way to help get unstuck if you’re having trouble with your writing. I’d say it would work for any time you wanted a quick start to a short story or writing practice too though. There are some really thought-provoking cards in there, and while I haven’t sat down and written anything with it yet, when the final work on “Pithea” is done, I’m looking forward to cleansing my palate, if you will, with some writing practice before I move on to my next big project.
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Going forward from here, I have a lot of plans. With the final draft of “Pithea” finished, I’m working on a short synopsis to use for submission. The first draft of the synopsis is done, but I’m asking for opinions from others who’ve read the book, and going to go back over it again myself after a day or two, when I have fresh eyes. Though I have a publishing company in mind to start with, of course I’ll start looking elsewhere to submit the novel too. I don’t plan to look for an agent, and in the end, if I haven’t sold the manuscript by the end of the year, I’ll probably self-publish it.

I also want to finish a quick revision of “The Triangle,” a novelette-length story I wrote several years ago. It’s completely unrelated to the world of “Pithea,” is set in the real world, and is the tale of a man struggling to keep his family together when he feels life is moving too fast and he’s losing control. I have a start on a cover design, so after I finish this revision, I plan to self-publish it. Hopefully that will happen in the next few months.

Then I’ll turn my attention to “Pursuit of Power,” a novel that runs mostly parallel to “Pithea.” I wrote it during NaNo in 2014, but have barely touched it since. It will probably be another long project, which I anticipate taking at least a year to revise. There are a lot of notes for big changes I need to make, along with normal editing that it likely needs.

I have tentative plans to write every day, meaning actual writing. For the last few years, I’ve settled for doing any kind of writing work every day, which 95% of the time means revision. I miss the actual writing, though. I usually feel like I don’t have time to write unrelated, pointless pieces when I need to spend all of my free time revising. However, the truth is, because I dislike revising so much, I don’t spend all my free time revising. Most days that I have time to do any revising, I could easily spend 10-15 minutes writing 250-500 words of writing practice before I start revising.

So my plan is to do just that. I’ll set the goal at 250 words per day and see what that looks like. Most of the time, writing from a prompt or such, it ends where my idea ends anyway, whether that’s 200 words or 750 words. My daily revision goal will still be 20 minutes on top of that. I honestly don’t know how well I’ll keep up with this, and I won’t feel like I’ve failed if it drops off. But it’s a plan for now.

To all of my fellow writers out there–whatever, whenever, and however often you write–what were your highlights for this year? What are your proud or disappointed moments from this year? And what are your plans for the coming year?

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Daily Writing Check-in: December 8, 2015

Words/Time: 25 minutes revising “Pithea.” I had a few areas of text I needed to fix after the marathon meeting on Saturday. Minor things that just needed updating based on decision we made, but I didn’t want to take the time to do during the meeting, so we could move on to other areas. Of the 4 notes I made to fix later, I checked off 2 of them today.

I did nothing yesterday or Sunday, hence not posting those days. After a full month of pressured writing, apparently I needed more of a break than I’d expected. Sunday I was actually gone all evening, but yesterday my husband convinced me to just relax and enjoy the evening. I almost skipped today too, but decided to at least get a little work done.

 

Daily Writing Check-in: December 5, 2015

Words/Time: 11 hours revising “Pithea” with my sisters, for the 61st and final meeting of the Tri-County Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. It was our 5th marathon meeting, and we spent all day (minus some other chatter, and breaks for lunch and supper) working out all of the questions, issues, and last-minute changes to my very first novel.

This means that draft 4 is officially finished! My plan now is to read through it one more time at a more even pace, since draft 4 was done in a somewhat disjointed way by 3 people who didn’t always agree, over the course of a year. I’ll read through it, not looking to line edit or rewrite, but just to enjoy it and to watch for disrupted flow or something that just doesn’t sound right.

After that…I might just be able to declare it ready.

Daily Writing Check-in: December 3, 2015

Words/Time: 45 minutes revising “Pithea.” I started with writing the letter that will probably be the last text of the book. I’m not sure about it, because it was really hard to write, being a bit out of character for the person writing it, and I’m not so good with emotional stuff. I’ll let my sisters tell me what they think at our editing session on Saturday. The rest of the time was spent putting in some details about a character’s nervous habit that I didn’t bother including until we were near the end of the draft. I found a few places to sprinkle it elsewhere in the story.

My list of things I need to do before Saturday is really shortened. I may take tomorrow off of any writing work, so I can rest from NaNo. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much chance to do that yet. And Saturday I’ll be doing writing work for probably 12 hours, so I think that should more than make up for a day off.

Daily Writing Check-in: December 2, 2015

Words/Time: 35 minutes revising “Pithea.” One character isn’t from Pithea, and he’s meant to have a slight accent. While that’s difficult to write in text, especially when the accent is vague, my sisters and I decided that we should at least make sure he chooses words differently than what seems normal for the rest of the characters. (It’s also not meant to be a particularly strong accent.) Every time he appeared in part 4, we neglected to go over his dialog in this way, so I was going through and finding some possible changes to make.

I’m putting off what I really need to do, which is to write an emotional letter that will probably be the very end of the book. I need to have it ready for Saturday, when we’re going to go over some final notes and fixes for the story. Maybe I’ll write it tomorrow… it won’t even be very long, it’s just…emotional.

December 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo is over, but I just have a few more things to say. This year was different than past NaNo experiences for me in multiple ways. It was full of a lot of highs and lows. My first write-ins, my first word crawls, a new writing buddy, and the 25k on day 1 all made this a November to remember. I also wrote a full novel and probably 2/3 of another, which was new for me. One thing I learned is that I’m better not pushing for a huge word count in a single day. If it happens, then I’m probably in the right mood for it, and great! Otherwise, I risk burning out, and I really did teeter on the edge of that during the rest of the first week.

I just have to say a huge thank you to my husband who gave me everything I needed this month–time and encouragement to work, but also a reminder that I don’t have to overachieve if it’s just not feeling right. Oh, and lots of fun and relaxation right when I needed it. And to my sister who came to the write-in with me, even though it was so far from where she lives. It was so much fun doing that, and we were even in the paper!

I keep saying that the community and mutual encouragement of the community is what makes NaNo so amazing, and it really is true! I felt a lot of that when I was having issues this month, from fellow bloggers, people in my region, and just from finding new ways to be inspired on the NaNo forums. I will always love this event and the people who are involved!

One last time for 2015, make sure to check out the final NaNoToons – 2015 December 1st
And since I apparently forgot to post any more episodes of the musical, here is episode 5. There’s one more after it, and I think it’s linked at the end of this one. I wanted to get to episode 5 specifically, because it contains my favorite out of all the songs.

Now onto the non-NaNo part of the post, today’s daily writing check-in:

Words/Time: 25 minutes organizing notes for “Pithea” in anticipation of the next (and probably last for a very long time) marathon meeting of the TCSTB. We’ve left a lot of things to work on later through the 100,000ish words of this novel, so I went through and found all of the issues, questions, or whatever, and made a list of what we needed to work on.

Writing Highs

I did something late Friday night that I want to share. The first novel draft I ever finished, “Pithea,” which I mostly wrote during NaNo 2013 has been undergoing revision for almost 2 years now. After I’d had some time alone with it, I started into a process with 2 of my sisters, wherein we’d meet every Tuesday evening on Skype and work through their notes on my revised draft. It’s more than just the writing we’ve been working on; the story is set in a fantasy-type world, and they’ve helped me work out the elements of it. As time has gone on, the story has gotten better, characters have gotten stronger, and the mechanics of the world I’ve built are clearer.

It’s been just over a year since we started these weekly editing sessions, and most of my writing time has been spent reading ahead of them and making more of my own revisions. We’re basically working from a 3rd draft, which I’ve been creating as we go. Hopefully this makes some sort of sense.

Anyway, Friday night, after I’d done my NaNo writing for the day, I sat down to get more revision done, more of “draft 3” ready so that we can work on it this coming Tuesday. And I got through the last 8 pages of the draft, which means that on Tuesday, we’ll probably finish the last pages of the draft too. Which means this revision, the most intensive one it should need, will be done!

Now there are still some things that need worked on. During our revision sessions, we passed over bigger issues that we knew would just slow us down. There were big, world-related questions that came up that we decided weren’t important to solve just yet. We will hopefully have an in-person, all-day meeting in the next month or so to hammer all of these things out. But after that, I’ll be one huge step closer to be ready to publish this thing. It’s actually scary to be so close and still have no idea what I’m doing. But it’s still better than doing nothing.

And in the time since then, other exciting things have happened. I finished the first draft of this year’s NaNoNovel, only halfway through the month. I was in the local newspaper (front page) with other area Wrimos, and the article even included a link to my blog! (See more about that here.) My region’s ML today shared the crocheted octopus she made for me, as a reward for being one of the first in our region to donate and contact her about it. And my NaNo winner’s shirt is on its way!

This weekend was definitely a high for writer-me.

Daily Challenge Check-in: October 27, 2015

Words/Time: 2761 words revising “Pithea” with two of my sisters over Skype. Also known as the 60th meeting of the Tri-County Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. We got through just over 9 pages of double-spaced text, which was all of what I had prepared. It was also more than we’ve been doing lately, so I’m really happy. There are only 16 pages of the story left to go through for this draft, which is really exciting and also scary! As long as I make some time to revise ahead of the editing group while NaNo is going on, we should be done in two weeks, three at the longest. After that, I’ll wait until I’ve had a chance to recover from NaNo, and dive into what I hope will be the last full revision. I know it will be quicker, at least. I think that’s also when I’ll be looking for another person or two to read through and give me more of an overall impression of the story (rather than detailed notes).

Now, with 4 more days until NaNoWriMo starts, I will be hitting my prep work hardcore the next few days. I haven’t even started my outline. Fortunately, I’ve done some timeline work that will make the outline a little easier to create.

Daily Challenge Check-in: October 20, 2015

Words/Time: 2242 words revising “Pithea” with two of my sisters over Skype. Also known as the 59th meeting of the Tri-County Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. We got through 7 1/3 pages of double-spaced text. Only reading 5-10 pages at a time, a week apart, has caused problems in the past when the other two in my editing group forget something that would otherwise be more easily remembered by someone reading a book normally. Tonight it was more obvious, though, as a mental map of an underground cave system was impossible to keep from last week to this week, and one of my sisters needed extra clarification about where the characters were in this cave and where other things were.  That did bring to light a few areas where wording wasn’t as clear as it could have been to make sure readers weren’t confused, though, so it worked out for the best.

Daily Challenge Check-in: October 14, 2015

Words/Time: 46 minutes and 1593 words, the latter of which was revising “Pithea” with two of my sisters over Skype. Also known as the 58th meeting of the Tri-County Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. We got through just over 5 pages of double-spaced text. We’re struggling to even find time for the meetings these days, as things are really busy for all of us right now. It wouldn’t be so bad–I wouldn’t even mind taking some weeks off until some of the craziness passes. But we’re so close to the end of the story, I want to try to squeeze in at least an hour each week. The amount we got through today was pretty much on par with what I’d expect for a shorter meeting, so I’m happy with it.

The time was spent early this morning (before I went to bed) working on the plot of my novel for NaNoWriMo. I spent a lot of that time researching. Most of it, in fact. Maybe all of it. I started looking for information on what red-hot metal would do if stabbed into a body (not a pleasant or easy topic to look up) and ended up looking at Hollywood misconceptions about how blades are made.