As I mentioned in my last post, I am making every effort to return to my writing. As I sat back and reflected on the draft I’d recently read, I came to a startling conclusion: it was not the first book in this fantasy series. It was the third. What I considered the first was in fact, its sequel. It’s one of those epiphanies that is less EUREKA! and more well, shit.
The good news is I have an older draft on hand, written back in 2009, which will make for an excellent start as I return to this world. The draft’s original purpose was to flesh out important historical events that continue to affect the world in the present day. It only recently occurred to me that I have a whole cast of characters who are ready for their day in the sun, so to speak. Why not tell their story from beginning to end, rather than inserted into the narrative at key moments? This might have worked if they were just names on a page. Yes, I’ve pulled names out of thin air whenever I introduced Important Historical Figure into the mix. Sometimes I think this happens more often than we realize. Or maybe it’s just me being lazy/in a rush to finish a draft. Anyway.
There’s another reason for me to write this story as opposed to the other one I’d labored over for so long. The heart of the plot lies in the forbidden love aspect. Super tripey, sure, but I have a fondness for this stuff. It works better in one version as opposed to the other. I’m also planning on tweaking the world a bit to make it less cliche. Cliches are, as we all know, a veritable death sentence for any piece of writing. Here’s to regaining my focus and my drive. I really enjoy this world I’ve created.
Hello, everyone. November has passed; for those who participated in NaNo, I hope you reached your story goal. In years past, December was often relegated to recovery from post-NaNo writing madness. Not so for me this year. I’m using this last month of an admittedly shitty 2016 to gather my bearings.
I haven’t posted an update to PANDEMONIA since October. Between feeling down about my job situation and a steady stream of rejections from positions I applied to, it’s any wonder writing fell on the wayside. I’m not sharing this looking for sympathy. It’s just how things have been. The truth is one day, I stopped feeling sad and got angry. And when I’m angry, I get decisive. Time to stop wallowing and start DOING. Yes, I can’t make jobs appear out of thin air. So, after attacking my resume for massive damage I have turned my focus on doing what I love best: writing.
I started my return by reading over my NaNo project from 2014. It was the sequel to a new adult fantasy I’ve been working on since 2005. It’s incomplete (as seems to be the case for a lot of my stuff), but there’s no denying the passion I had for it. Even in scenes where I seemed to flounder, the characters shone through. One of my favorite scenes involves a funeral. There, a character undergoes a huge transition that ultimately changes the course of where her story is headed. I’m reading it and thinking, ‘Wow, this came from ME?’ I can’t be the only one who reads their own work and doubts its origins. Even when friends compliment my writing, there’s that teeny, tiny part that doesn’t quite believe. And I should. Cause damn.
Point I’m trying to make here is once I would have killed for all this free time to write. Time for me to use it.
This year marks the first time since 2009 I am not participating in NaNoWriMo. I admit, it’s a bit weird. Then again, 2016 has shaped up to be weird for me anyway. The loss of my job in July has landed me on paths I have not tread since I first started working. I’m feeling out of sorts over it, plus other life-related matters. It’s part of why I’ve chosen not to join the writing frenzy. The other reason has to do with the quality of the content I’ve produced.
With the exception of one story, almost all drafts born from NaNo did nothing but sit in a folder. None were salvageable. Sure, I might have plucked a line or a character or two from them, but overall? Underwhelming. I’d re-read the story and identify parts where I was just writing to fulfill a word count. Now, I understand first drafts aren’t going to be good. I’ve said this to other writers struggling to get words down. First drafts, by definition, ARE going to be all over the damn place as characters and plot lines change. The thing with me is I have a set way of writing: if I suddenly have an epiphany about something, I drop EVERYTHING to make the necessary changes. My brain has trouble adjusting to the ‘fix it later’ mentality needed to complete a first draft. I’m working on overcoming this hangup. It’s prevented me from finishing so many drafts lately. I think I stop, drop, and edit out of some fear I’ll forget the tiniest detail and it will bring the whole story down. It’s stupid because I’m the only one who will notice but I obsess over it anyway. I am my own worst enemy.
Which brings me to the aspect of NaNo I miss most: the community. I really need to start branching out and looking for other readers. I’m going stir crazy on my own. Maybe join a writer’s group. I can’t let the one bad one I participated in color my perception of them all. How bad was it, you may ask? It was run by a guy who pretty much used the time to ramble about the lengthy sci fi trilogy he was working on whether you wanted to hear about it or not. Not exactly a fair exchange of ideas.
I’m still writing, of course. I’m currently working on a ghost love story as I break from updating content for PANDEMONIA as seen on Channillo. I hope to have chapter four up soon. In the meantime, if you’re participating in NaNo, good luck to you, and may we all overcome our personal writing demons to achieve our goals.
Tonight marks the final day of my vacation. As I sit here in the time before I go to bed, I reflect on the truly amazing accomplishment that has been NaNo 2014. 50K in nineteen days is sort of a big deal to me considering past NaNos often went down to the wire. Perseverance and creativity alone aren’t responsible for my success. This was just one of those books that was ready to be told. All it needed was for me to give it a chance. I’m so very glad I did. There’s a connection with these characters that is so very different from other stories I’ve penned. It’s like when you go to a pet store and an animal chooses you as its owner. It’s a wonderful feeling. I’m still working on it with the same gusto that has been with me since November 1st. I also will be making time to re-read it so I can relive all that awesome again. Because damn, there were some awesome parts.
While winning has concluded my participation in this year’s NaNo, I intend to take the experiences I’ve learned with me into 2015 and beyond. May it do the same for everyone else who has walked this journey with me.