Writing Work Day #2

After a rather odd February, March has arrived, which means consecutive Writing Work Days will be had! For a refresher, here was the progress report from last official writing work day, and here’s the last progress report (Con Nooga doesn’t count since I wasn’t actively working on something).

So, a reminder, where am I in my official plan?

3) Use notes and questions to determine what changes need to be made to the current draft of Codename: Telepathic Soulmates. Ultimate goal: reduce word count from 132,000 to around 115,000 words, if possible. Consider:

  • Does it need a total rewrite?
  • Does it need a partial rewrite?
  • A very surgical rewrite?
  • Or just a super-hard final polish?

Deadline: tentatively, Sunday, April 5th. Deadline dependent on what kind of rewrite/polish the draft really needs.

I’d decided that in order to do this, and while waiting on feedback from my two readers, that I would go ahead and sit down and read Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days book as a means to narrow my focus on Codename: Telepathic Soulmates, because before I start cranking out revisions, I want to make sure I know what I actually want for the novel. That way, if/when I get conflicting advice from my readers (which has happened long before now), I know what direction to lean towards.

So after some errands this morning, I settled down and did a few things differently:

1) I moved myself into my husband’s office. I thought it would be good to work in a place where I’m not used to messing around on the internet, or where I watch television, or read, or get sleepy. So that was was useful.

2) I usually listen to the Writing Excuses podcast during the week in my car, and this week was no different. However, this week some of the advice (episode 10.9: Where is My Story Coming From?) I wanted to hear again and take notes, so I think in the future, I’ll hold off listening to the podcast and start off my writing work days by listening to it. I know I’ve missed out on REALLY internalizing good advice because I’m not in a position to take notes when I listen, so this should be a positive change.

3) The BIG thing I wanted to do today was start character sketches. Now, mind you, I’ve already written this novel. The idea for character sketches is to make sure I understand at least my main three POV characters and make sure their character arcs through the book MAKE SENSE. Wiesner’s book starts with an introduction and then proceeds to glorify outlines. I’m not sold on that part yet, because I’m more of the Writing Excuses way of thinking, which is that outlining is a spectrum, and most writers do SOME form of outlining, but not necessarily the full-blown, rigid method we all think of when we hear the word “outlining.” But after all of that, the book settled down and talked about character sketches and things to fill in. Fortunately, I’d been informed that Scrivener’s 2.0 version offered these near-exact templates, so I started filling stuff in for my three POV characters. I’ll admit: some of this involved looking up pictures of models for my characters, and I have no shame in admitting it’s fun to look at the pretty.

But how useful was the act itself? Useful…. but not in a tangible way, not yet. In the past few weeks since my first official writing work day, my brain has settled down and I feel mostly confident that I need to do a very deliberate, very surgical rewrite. I need to make sure each scene is performing on all cylinders and doing the best it can for the overall story and themes. As a result of this, my brain’s been storming all over the place and I’ve been taking notes on things I can feather in, and I used those notes to help with the character sketches today. But sketching is different than actually breaking everything down chapter-by-chapter and making sure everything is operating at peak efficiency, you know?

So what does this mean for next week? I want to fill in what I can for the other secondary and tertiary characters in the novel to make sure I’m not missing something useful or obvious, so I think this character-sketching thing may take at least one more, if not two more weeks. Then it’s on to setting and plot, where I intend to break the book down chapter my chapter and really map it out and make sure it’s working the way I want. By then, I suspect I’ll have all of my feedback from my two readers and will have had ample time to pick their brains.

From there? Surgical rewriting, yo!

I will say, I didn’t get started as early as I wanted today due to early morning errands. That being said, I started around 11:00-11:30, and I found the day moved surprisingly slowly. Not in a “I’m bored!” way, but in a way that just surprised me. I suspect my sense of time will change depending on what I’m doing in the process, and when I get to a phase where I’m actually writing, I suspect if I’m in the groove, I’ll lose all sense of time and will need an alarm to remind me to eat. I’d tell the cat to remind me, but I don’t think he’s very dependable in such matters, unless he’s the one wanting to eat.

Today’s musical accompaniment was the following:

1) Chasing Ice Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by J. Ralph because the music is so very lovely, haunting, a Philip Glass-esque to my ears. Also, the setting is very close to my heart.
2) [Soul] or [System] by Skytown Riot: I picked up this EP at Con Nooga, and I saw them perform a few years ago when they opened for Filter. I’m officially in love with this band.
3) This Is War by Thirty Seconds to Mars because of course.

So I Run and Hide and Tear Myself Up

I came across two blog posts yesterday that I’ve been chewing on: the first by author Malinda Lo, “On Self Rejection and Writing From a Marginalized Perspective” and the second, which references the first, by Kate Elliot, “The Courage to Say Yes.” Both posts talk about self-rejection, which stood out to me like a flashing neon sign.

I’ve been self-rejecting for so long it feels like my entire life. One of the reasons it’s taken so damn long to really get up the gumption to start agent-shopping is, ultimately, self-rejection. I’m not saying I’m cured of it by any means, but over the course of the last year I’ve had to face a lot of demons down. Through therapy, I’ve learned how to pick my battles, how to fight, how to stand up for myself. I don’t always win, but the state my mind is in now versus where it was last year is completely different. Not devoid of self-rejection, but not consumed by it either. Self-rejection is no longer smothering my motivation.

I’m sharing these articles so that I have something to come back to when I need the reminder that self-rejection is something I need to fight. I’m sharing these posts for my friends who are also writers, but who might also need the reminder that self-rejection is something that needs to be fought. I’m writing it for anyone and everyone who wants to break free to find a way to be happy, for those whose self-rejection is one the biggest hurdles to overcome.

Today’s headline brought to you by Thirty Seconds to Mars from their debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars. The song, “Capricorn (A Brand New Name)” can be heard here.

Music Monday: Thirty Seconds to Mars, “Do or Die”

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know I’ve already featured Thirty Seconds to Mars, but long before I ever conceived of the Music Monday feature. Hands down, they’re one of my favorite bands. Author Karin Lowachee unintentionally unleashed their music on me with the “Beautiful Lie” video, and I’ve been absolutely hooked and enthralled ever since.

There’s two reasons I’m sharing this particular song today. The first is that this video gets to me. I mean, really gets to me. Maybe it’s because of the head-space I’ve been in this year, but I listen to this song and I watch this video and I get choked up, every time. All of the band’s videos are very cinematic, a production of sorts, but this one isn’t telling a story: it’s testimonials from the fanbase intercut with footage from concerts around the world. And it gets me EVERY. TIME. The music preceding the concert footage and after the concert footage isn’t part of the song itself, but it is part of the album LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS.

The other reason you get this song today, that you get to hear this band? Because tomorrow I get to see them perform live for the very first time, and I absolutely cannot wait. I traveled miles and miles and miles to see them perform. And while there are so many songs that I absolutely adore by this band (indeed, don’t be surprised if I continue to inflict their music on you), this song has become something of an anthem for me this year.

Enjoy.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Sound off below!

Reminder: Music Monday is about the music, not the videos. Videos are just the medium I’m using to share the music, and some videos aren’t actually videos at all. Enjoy the songs, but if YouTube forces you to watch some sort of advertisement before you can get to the music, please be patient.

Beautiful Lie

When I finally finished the very first draft of Telepathic Soulmates in 2007, I was in trouble and lots of it. The sucker needed WORK, and in order to graduate, it required an extensive rewrite. The good thing is, sometimes you don’t really understand how to write a book until you’re already finished with it, so I knew what I needed to do.

One of my biggest weaknesses was (and still is, generally speaking) setting. I had a vague, generic setting for the first draft, and I needed something to fix that. Honestly, I don’t remember if I was leaning towards what I settled on before I saw the below video, but I do know that once I saw this video, I knew my setting couldn’t be anything different.

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