Saturday, December 22, 2012

Social Distraction...

So it is looking more and more like I am taking the month off from writing and I am starting to feel really guilty about this!  I really want to get back to my book, I am determined to finish it, but I have hit the point where I am coming up with other ideas... ideas I may like better... ideas that seem more interesting than what I am working on (or should be working on) right now.

Or maybe the real problem is I am stuck in the middle of my story right now, and the idea of getting through it is completely overwhelming.

Anyway, because I am a master at procrastination, I have instead focused on starting to really use twitter and goodreads (because that is productive... well at least it's fun).  These sites are awesome for readers and writers.  I have to say, I am shocked at how interactive readers and writers are with each other, and how ready everyone is to give advice.  It's really kind of amazing.  Everyone is very supportive and constantly promoting each others books.  I can't even count how many books I've heard about because someone was tweeting about it, or reviewed it on goodreads.

My kindle is now full and my gift cards are now empty.  I can't wait to start reading... but maybe I should start writing first.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Thoughts on NaNo

Okay, so it's like a week late, but NaNo is done... and I FINISHED!  Well, I finished my 50,000 word deadline, not my novel.  In fact, I am maybe 40% done with my novel, which means I will have a TON of editing to do.  Or I will be writing more than one book.  Either way, I haven't done a thing since I finished on November 29th (I actually finished EARLY, now there's something completely unusual for me!)

I took a week off (mostly) on purpose.  NaNo was, for lack of a better word, intense.  It was a month full of mini-deadlines, as any night I didn't write my 1,667 words, I knew it would need to be made-up.  It would have been so easy to let the words pile up and then quit, but I am pretty excited I made it through the month, and even more so, that I actually enjoyed the month!  A month of being "forced," to write was just what I needed.  Even better, a month with a free pass not to worry about editing at all, well that was the best.  Well, it was the best while I was doing it, now it's going to be a nightmare!

Truth is, I literally haven't read a single word I wrote last month.  In fact, I'm a little scared to read anything I wrote last month.  Whether what I wrote was good or not, (probably mostly not good) the month was worth it.  I loved writing my story and I am really hoping to finish it soon.  However, the idea is daunting.  I think it will be harder to get myself motivated to write now, than it was during NaNo.  Not only do I need to finish the story, but I know how much editing is awaiting me.  Which is probably why I haven't picked up my story since November 29th.

All in all, I am glad I did NaNo, but I did learn a few things about my writing.

1.  I really should try to outline before I write.  Yeah, I know some people like to be "pantsers," and write as they go (Disclosure: I did not make up the term, "pantsers."  They actually use this on the NaNo forum and it made me laugh every time.)  Anyway, I should not be one of those people.  It resulted in the beginning of my story being WAY too long and I haven't even gotten to the meat of the action.  This is only going to make editing that much more fun;

2.  I really need to outline my characters.  My book has 2 main characters, but 7-8 fairly prominent supporting characters.  That's a lot.  Next time I really need to come up with sheets that have notes on what each character looks like and their background story.  It would be easier than going back to see what name I chose.  (I had to do this more than once- seriously, it was like naming a child, I had the hardest time deciding on names and then I couldn't remember what I had finally chosen.  Not that I've forgotten my kid's names.  Well...);

3.  I need to find some writing buddies.  I think one of the greatest things about NaNo is the community of writers (this year 300,000) who are going through the same things you are, at the same time.  It helped keep me motivated to know other people were working on their books at the same time; and

4.  Social media is a complete distraction.  In some ways it is amazing.  The YA community has a strong presence on social media, probably not surprising as the readers are all young and into technology.  Authors, bloggers and book lovers interact a ton, especially on twitter.  Twitter is a TIME SUCK.  I'm not exaggerating.  I could get lost on it and I often did.  While it's important to make connections throughout the whole process, I think it's easy to get distracted as well.  So I think I will be setting "work hours," where I block out social media (there are actually apps that do this!)

So now that NaNo is done... now what?  I am trying to make a game plan for what to do next.  Here are my options:

1.  Continue like it's NaNo and get my story done first and then worry about editing;

2.  Stop where I am and go back to start editing to make things clearer from here on out;

3.  Put this story away for now and come back to it at another point (I keep taking notes on ideas for other stories... which keep trying to seduce me away from finishing what I've started); or

4.  Put off making any decisions and just passively not write for awhile.

Okay, I'm not really considering option 4, but I can see how easy it would be to fall into that one.  Truth is, I have like a million things I want to read that I put off all last month.  Some books, but some were blog posts by authors talking about "how they write," and giving a lot of tips on technical aspects (wish these were posted before NaNo!)  Additionally, one author I really liked recommended any new writers read a book on writing novels before starting to write.  So I'm trying to figure out if it would be helpful to read this and then continue, or just continue.

In the end, I will probably do a combination of 1 & 2.  I think I'll go back to take a few notes on my characters so I can have a more cohesive second half of the book, but not worry about major editing until I'm done.  In the future, I am definitely going to outline though, I hate the idea of being that organized (it's contrary to everything about me) but, I think it's going to only help me keep on track.

So here's hoping that December will be a successful month... even though it's already the 10th and I haven't started writing!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Greetings From the Middle

Well it has been awhile since I have been able to write a post on this blog.  It seems my free time has been limited, and whatever I do have, is taken by actually, you know, writing.

We are more than half-way through the month, which means I am now starting to look at my progress and worrying about:

  1. Whether I am going to hit the 50,000 word goal (currently at 32,762);
  2. Whether everything I've written is complete crap (answer: yes, probably); and
  3. What comes next (can I actually keep writing this story to the end and get through the process of editing it enough so that it is readable?).

I first heard about NaNoWriMo on twitter.  Some authors and book bloggers were talking about whether they were participating, and the pros and cons of the theory behind it.  The cons seemed to argue it was an artificial way to write a book- that you can't just force writing.  The pros argue it is freeing.  I tend to agree with both sides.  If you are just writing words (quantity not quality) then are you really accomplishing anything?  On the other hand, giving yourself the freedom to just write, not edit or worry too much about content, but just spend a few hours every day writing whatever you want, well it can be a catalyst for something great.  I know this because I stare at the list of authors and books I have read who got their start by taking the NaNoWriMo challenge.  I think they must have had the very same thoughts I've had, or any amateur writer has, and yet look what they accomplished.

I have found this process interesting, and for the most part, fun.  At the beginning, like most people, I was so excited about starting that I didn't really over-think things much.  I didn't bother with an outline (probably- definitely- a mistake), I didn't spend much time getting to know my characters (I meant to, but the November 1st date just really snuck up on me) and I didn't really know how my story was going to end (or really what was going to happen in the middle).  Like that matters, right?  

With all those things missing it is no surprise I am now having problems continuing (hence my procrastination writing this blog post).  However, in the spirit of NaNo, I am not going to really worry too much about how I need to develop my characters more, or that my story needs to definitely be tightened.  Instead, I will just continue trying to meet my daily word count goal (I missed the last two days and it is killing me) and comfort myself in knowing that once December rolls around I will be able to go back and worry about quality over quantity.

I am still determined to "win" this thing!  It just means I now have to write about 1,724 words a day for the next ten days.  No problem, right?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Work Free Friday...

Well we finished out our first week of NaNoWriMo (well technically a little more than a week) and when we hit the weekend, I got my first taste of distraction.  I just could not bring myself to focus and sit down and write.  It wasn't like I didn't have ideas in my head to write about.  In fact, I was still working on a scene I had been looking forward to writing, but which hadn't really gone as well as I had hoped.  (Yeah I know it is technically editing which is sort of contrary to the whole purpose of NaNo, but whatever, I break some of the rules- it's how I roll :) )

Rather, it was just like I couldn't bring myself to sit down and actually write.  I sat down to start my work and here is what I did instead:

1.  Checked Facebook

2.  Checked Twitter

3.  Checked my Email

4.  Checked Twitter again (this is seriously going to be my downfall, I mean there is always something new posted and all I have to do is click on some link and I'm distracted and going down the dangerous path which is the twitter time suck.  Its addictive.  Even the distraction free screen on scrivener doesn't keep me from getting on twitter.)

Finally, I gave up getting any work done on Friday.  It was late, and I knew whatever I wound up writing I would likely delete on Saturday, so instead I decided to take the night off.  I spent the rest of the night reading parts of books I've already read.  Which is weird, right?  The thing is, I was trying to figure out why I like certain books so much, why I would spend the little time I have rereading stories over and over again, and I think it comes down to the characters.  There are some characters you either identify with or you just love.  Of course this is a very subjective thing, but I was thinking what it is about these characters that I like so much.  What causes me to identify with them or have crushes on them and I came up with some common features, most of which I value in the people I know and love, or wish I possessed.  (Disclaimer: this may have just been my way to justify reading instead of writing, but whatever, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

The point is, by the time Saturday rolled around, I was ready to sit down and write.  For one thing, I felt kind of guilty about not writing at all on Friday.  For another, I am extremely competitive and I wanted to stay on track with my word count.  I wound up writing 4,957 words, which was more than what I needed to make up for my slacker Friday.

What is probably more exciting to me is the rest of my book outline came to me.  I had a general idea of the story I was going to write, but I was missing a lot of what happened in the middle and the end.  It sounds weird when I say that, but I was literally writing with the hopes the rest of the story would just come to me eventually.  Saturday, while working on my beginning, my middle and end plots finally came to me.  Now I just have to figure out how to exactly reach those points (little things), but at least I have a much better idea of where my characters are going (big sigh of relief).  

Which got me thinking about what I've already written.  I expect the beginning of my story may be too long.  I mean I was just spewing verbal diarrhea hoping I could come up with an interesting enough story to keep my attention so I could reach 50,000 words.  And as I hadn't really managed to think of a complete story ahead of time, I was winging it until the story came to me.  Excellent plan, but probably not the best way for me to come up with a cohesive story.  Plus, if I detail the middle and end of my story the way they should be, I will be left with an extremely long book.

Which basically leaves me with two options:

1.  Edit the crap out of my story (necessary regardless); or

2.  Break this up into several books.

I am not sure how you determine whether to write a stand along book or instead write a series.  Part of  me thinks this is kind of presumptuous.  Ok a huge part of me thinks worrying about that is presumptuous.  Whatever.  Instead of worrying about it, or even thinking too far ahead about whether I can even come up with enough to fill one book, much less several books, I am going to just continue what I'm doing.  Writing without worrying (well at least not worrying much).  Hopefully, the rest will work itself out later.

Day 11 Stats:

Wrote Today: 1,770 words

Total Written: 23,002 words 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Toddler Birthday Party Nightmares... and Day 7 recap...

So I must have tried to start my blog entry last night a half a dozen times but my brain was just fried and it showed in my writing.  I wasn't making a lot of sense.  So instead I went to bed early with the thought I would write my blog post while Terror 1 was at school and Terror 2 was napping.  Which means I have like thirty minutes to do this.  So this may just be a lot of me spewing verbal diarrhea and not a whole lot of making sense.

I mostly blame the fact that The Commissioner has been out of town so it has just been the three of us for the week.  Which means I don't have much time to do anything non-chore related until after the girls are asleep at night.  Usually, I have a few hours during the day while Terror 1 is at her preschool but that time has been filled with errands lately, not the least being our planning of Terror 1's birthday party.

She's turning three next week.  We've never done a birthday party but now that she's in "school," and has all these friends who do them, she is aware she has been missing out.  So we are going ahead and planning out a birthday party.  Of course just having a simple thing at home wouldn't be enough so now we are going all out and having 20 of her closest friends to a little party at a local zoo.  Seriously?  She's 3 and probably won't remember any of this.  And 20 kids?  What were we thinking.  But the biggest headache has been the gift bags.  Any parent will tell you that the gift bags are such a waste.  They are filled with crap that gets lost or broken within a day, but if you don't have them, your party will be considered a failure by every toddler in the area.  I only wish I was joking.

We had such plans to get organized and not have to resort to buying the usual crap from Party City or wherever.  Except as I've said, I'm all great when it comes to planning, but poor when it comes to execution.  So we are a week out with no time to order anything and I'm going to be making a second trip to Party City this weekend (don't ask.)  I've already bought gift bags, erasers with zoo animals and stickers... I'm still going to buy animal crackers... not sure what else we will put in these bags.  It just seems very random.  And I should probably order a cake soon.  Ugh.  I hate planning birthday parties!

So that was my rant on all things not writing related which have been the focus of the week.  As for writing, well I managed to have a pretty good day yesterday considering how exhausted I was (although I haven't read anything I've written from yesterday so I'm not sure how much of that will need to be erased!)

I wound up writing 2,022 words, which brings my total to 14,438 words.

I haven't started on today's writing, but the Commissioner will be home today!  So as long as we don't wind up getting distracted with birthday planning, I'm hoping for a productive evening.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6 Recap

So like most people, I've been glued to my TV, twitter feed and Facebook watching as the election results came in, and ultimately called for Obama.  I can't even express how much I love election days.  And the fact that my candidate is the one who won tonight doesn't hurt.  Listening to his speech tonight literally gave me chills.  I teared up.

Anyway, all that is explanation as to why I'm posting late tonight, and why I am going to keep this extremely short.  After all this excitement, I am ready to go to bed.  However, before I do that, I just wanted to post my recap of today's work.

I was, happily, able to meet my daily word count, and in fact exceeded it.  Today I wrote 2,112 words, which brings my overall total to 12,416 words.  And tomorrow, I get to write a scene I am really excited about! :)

Now, I'm going to go to bed with a smile on my face.  Obama was reelected (most important) and I met my word count (important to me).  It was a good night.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Eve...

So like many people tonight, I am distracted.  I have been distracted all day, and I will likely be distracted all tomorrow.  I love and hate election day.  Of course it is a whole lot more fun when your  guy is the one who is victorious, but there is something about exercising your right to vote.  Sometimes I think it is very reaffirming.  Sometimes I wish I could take that right away from people.  I'm only half joking.

Anyway, tomorrow I will be taking Terror #2 with me to go vote.  Well I hope to, we'll see.  In true us fashion, The Commissioner left today on a week long business trip.  With my license.  In his wallet.  So I am now without my ID.  I flipped out, but thank goodness for google, it doesn't look like a drivers license is necessary.  This kind of surprised me, but whatever.

Election day is a favorite in our household, but this year it will be different.  I don't think Terror #1 will let me watch as the results start coming in, as the only way she would care what happens tomorrow is if Mickey Mouse was running.  But I will be checking my phone early and often.  Which probably means my productivity will be down a bit.

Today, however, went pretty well.  I took a big step today and I posted a status update on Facebook telling everyone I was participating in NaNo.  That is basically how I told my mom I was doing this.  I had resisted making it public for various reasons.  Not the least being I am "friends," with some people who I don't think would be very supportive.  Which begs the question, why am I "friends" with them.  It's a good question, which I don't have the brain power to think about now.  I was also nervous about announcing it because I know there will be some friends who are extremely supportive about my attempting this.  So supportive, they will want to read what I'm writing.  And that is a whole other can of freak out.  Actually letting someone read what I'm writing?  I mean, I'm having fun writing this, but that doesn't mean anything I'm writing is any good.  So to let anyone actually read what I'm doing is a whole other step that I'm not quite ready to tackle.  Of course, thats down the line.  First I need to write  my book (and hopefully complete NaNo).

Day 5 Recap:

2,388 words written today, which makes my total word count for the 5 days 10,304.  That amazes me.  I am officially 1/5 of the way through my goal.  A good day.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekend Recap...

Okay, I am exhausted.  That is my disclaimer for what ramblings are sure to follow (as well as typos and poor grammar).  Between the fact I actually went out Saturday night (hooray for babysitters) and the fact my kids don't believe in time changes (boo early wakeup calls), we got little sleep.  So I'm going to keep this short, but I wanted to document my progress for the weekend.

Saturday was almost a complete bust.  I had no time to write all day with both kids home and The Commissioner around to distract me.  Then we went out to the movies for a belated anniversary celebration.  Which sounds lame, until you see the cinema we went to.  It's freaking AMAZING.  We reserved seats for Flight, which was great but seriously the movie was second to the fact we had LEATHER RECLINERS.  WHAT???  AND WE GOT TO ORDER FOOD AND GROWN-UP DRINKS... all from the comfort of our chairs.  Even during the movie!  I never wanted to get up.  It was so comfortable and the food was actually really good!  No crappy movie theater food for me- gourmet all the way!  On top of that, the movie was good and, oh yeah, WAYNE GRETZKY was there!  Somehow we missed TMZ interviewing him about the NHL mess, but we did see him!

Anyway, I did wind up writing a little bit when we got home from the movies, but not much.  Because we came home and Terror 1 had manipulated our babysitter into staying up.  It was 10:00.  She's supposed to be asleep by 8:30.  On top of that, when we checked on Terror 2, The Commissioner noticed her pjs were on BACKWARDS.  How do you do that?  They have feet on them.  It should be self-explanatory.  I really worry about who we entrusted our kids with, but my desire to have a night out will win out in the future I'm sure.  In the end, everyone was in one piece so I can't ask for much more than that.  Clearly.

When I got up today I knew I needed to make up for my progress on Saturday, and I did.  Tonight was good.  I figured out a few story ideas I was worrying about, and I really really tried hard not to edit what I have already written.  I managed to add 3,449 words today.  NaNo has a nifty stat tracker and it basically says I'll hit the 50,000 goal by November 25 if I keep this up.  It also has a graph tracking my productivity for the day.  I could do without that as it clearly shows my Saturday slacking.  HA!

Point is, four days in and I'm still on target to finish, and I still love doing this.  Here's hoping the rest of the week is productive.  I'm a little nervous as The Commissioner will be out of town so I'm on my own with the terrors.  On the other hand, once they go to bed I'll have extra time to write.  So we'll see!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Guilty Pleasure...

Ask anyone who knows me and they will ultimately talk about my love of all things YA.  The Commissioner loves to tease me about my love of YA books, t.v. shows and movies.  Seriously, my kindle could be mistaken for a teenager's reading list, well not completely but you get the point.  Anyway, in doing NaNo I've been thinking about why I like YA so much, and the more I think about it, the less I "guilty" I feel about it.

Young adults, new adults or whatever you call them (I seriously don't get the categories publishers have come up with) are completely passionate people.  They are ruled by their emotions, they are often obsessed with love and relationships and they don't yet have the weight of the world on their shoulders.   Yes, I know some YA books address very serious issues that YA's face, but mostly, the books are focused on true love, or sparkly vampires or high school.  And there is just a part of me who loves living vicariously through these characters.  I mean who wouldn't love to be the focus of a vampire's attentions, or the bad boy at school or whoever your particular character interest happens to be.  Or wake up one day and find out that you have magical powers (I really would like this even now. Seriously.)

Also, a lot of YA is unapologetically shiny and hopeful.  It deals with things like first loves, crushes and best friends.  It often focuses on characters who have their whole lives in front of them and it more often than not has a happy ending.  What's not to like about that?  Anyway, one of the NaNo experts gave the advice that you should write what you would want to read, so it should come as no surprise that I am writing YA.  I hope it turns out to be something I would want to read- even if there aren't any sparkly vampires in my story.

Day 2 Recap:  I have written 4,467 words, which is 1,133 words over my deadline for the night.

(Confession: even though you aren't supposed to, I couldn't help but edit my prior work a little bit.  I tried really hard not to, but I went back to check something I had written and I just kept thinking I MUST DELETE. I MUST DELETE. I MUST DELETE.  So I gave in, but only a little.  I know the goal is not to come out of this month with a finished product, but rather a good start that you can hopefully salvage with intensive editing.  I have to admit though, it is really hard not to stop and edit!)

I am hoping to continue my writing over the weekend but as Terror #1 won't be in school I'm guessing that will cut into my productivity.  Also, The Commissioner and I will be going out for a belated Anniversary celebration as we finally found a babysitter.  So we're going to go see Flight at a fancy schmancy movie theater that serves dinner.  Both time efficient and fun.  Still, I hope to fit in some writing time.  I have a feeling that I am writing too much "pre-story," but so far I like the direction the story is headed.  We'll see how I feel about it in a month!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1- Recap

Even though I actually wrote a post on this blog earlier, I thought I should update it now that I am done for the night.

So the helpful people at NaNoWriMo have basically figured out in order to complete your goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month, you need to write approximately 1,667 words a day.  I, like most overachieving newbies I imagine, exceeded that goal and wrote 2,566 words.  I really want to erase about 2,500 words so I am not sure it really counts.  I'm trying to take the helpful advice sent out by the NaNo folks to tell my inner editor to take a hike, but the thing is, it's all very satisfying to reach or exceed a word count goal, but it does not mean much if the words are total crap!

This all sounds overly pessimistic.  The truth is I loved every minute of it.  I loved actually writing.  I have wanted to do this for so long and this "competition" gave me the very excuse to at least try.  I still have no clue where my story is going, but overall I am happy.  I have words on paper.  2,566 words to be exact.  I am actually writing a story.  I may even have a finished product at some point.  Something I can look at, and even if nothing else happens, I can say I accomplished my goal, for even just this little time, I was a writer.  So I can't help but be excited.

To recap, I more than met my first goal of 1,667 words (even if I had to physically restrain myself from pushing the delete button) and I am ready to start day 2.  All it took was a couple cups of coffee, some good music (I'm listening to Of Monsters and Men right now) and a few pieces of candy from my kids' Halloween stash.  Don't judge.

Heres hoping everyone else had a good first day and that tomorrow is successful too!  Happy writing.

PS- I have to also send out a HUGE congrats to E on her admission to graduate school.  So excited for you!  xoxo

NaNoWriMo- Day 1

OMG its November 1st and NaNoWriMo has officially started... which means I am already behind!  I had such good intentions, I really did.  I was going to start writing at midnight in order to kick-off NaNo on a productive note and, well, Halloween got in the way.

I have two young kids.  Terror #1 is 3 years old and Terror #2 is 7 months.  So Terror #1 was completely bonkers most of the night on a sugar high (as well as an excitement high) from a Halloween party at school and trick-or-treating with one of her little friends.  By the time we got her down to sleep, I was literally about 30 minutes away from falling asleep myself.  Which means by the time the clock struck midnight and the excitement of NaNo began, I was asleep.  Sigh.

However, today is still November 1st, and still technically the first day of NaNoWriMo, so I will be getting my word count in for the day.  (On a side note, writing a novel with word count deadlines, way less sexy than the idea of writing a book!)  Of course, I need to fit this in during the kiddos naps and/or after bedtime, but I am determined, I will be getting in my 1,667 words for the day.  Which means I better stop writing on this Blog and start writing my, wait for it, NOVEL!

Happy writing.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Let the Second Guessing Begin!

We are now a little more than a day away from the start of NaNoWriMo.  At this point, I was hoping to have started my character outlines and have a general story outline ready.  Instead, I basically took the last three days to play with my kids, celebrate my birthday (and try out my new Keurig- addicting!) and stalk Facebook and Twitter for all things Hurricane Sandy related.  Basically anything other than making a decision as to what I'm going to write about.

Then, I had a middle of the night brainstorm.  I came up with an idea on a subject that is by no means original, but I think could be a take on it which is original.  At least, I could not find any books similar enough to make me nervous.  In fact, the only two I did find that were close, were books I have on my Amazon Wish List- but have not read yet.  So basically, I am going to wait on buying them to make sure I do not get influenced by what that author did.

So back to my amazingly original idea.  The problem with middle of the night brainstorms is either you really did come up with a good idea, or in the haze of sleep deprivation, you came up with absolute crap that just sounded good at the time.  So I jotted down a few notes and sent them off to E to help figure out whether my idea was workable, or whether I needed to start thinking about this after drinking at least 2 cups of coffee.  Added bonus, by waiting on E's response, I bought myself a little longer to procrastinate actually making a decision.  I really do have a thing for deadlines.  Sigh.

So now that I have my "subject," what's the next step?  NaNo floods your e-mail, Facebook and twitter with all kinds of helpful information, but there is just no way to keep up with everything.  Instead, I think I am going to take the next day and try to map out a few key things I want to happen in my story, and start getting to know my main characters.  Of course, there is always the chance I wind up hating everything about my idea and decide to start over... so, let the second guessing begin!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board

So I have been mulling over a story option to use for NaNo, and just when I thought I knew which way I was leaning, I went on Amazon (FYI: I blame my procrastination on my awesome sisters-in-law who gave me a GC to help support my addiction... just saying.)  Anyway, I was reading a summary of a book I was considering and it was almost exactly the story I was thinking of writing.  Which makes me wonder, is this just a freaky coincidence, or did I previously read the description and just forgot?

My biggest concern is to make my book original.  Obviously, no one wants to copy another author's work.  But further, I really don't want my story to be even close to another author's work, for fear I would be constantly comparing the two, and finding mine lacking.  So the question is, how do you take a common theme and make it yours?  By way of example, there are a lot of people who have written about vampires (disclaimer: I've probably read a lot of those books!)  The trick is, to make it different from say Twilight.  Is there really a way to address these common themes in original ways, or are we all doomed to be a sort of fan fiction ripping off other author's ideas?

I am not really sure what the answer is, I just know I am holding out hope I can come up with an idea of how to address what is probably not a unique topic in a new and creative way.  I know the best way to do that is to come up with my own characters who are well developed and who readers can relate to (or at least characters who I relate to as I may be the only one to read this!)  Which means, I am basically back to the drawing board.

I have two potential story lines I am considering, but both have complications for me to consider.  One story I have developed a little more in my head but it involves me writing scenes I am not sure I am comfortable with yet (i.e., romance).  The second story is less developed but which I am a little more drawn to, but it involves a type of character who was previously addressed by a writer who I love.  I think I am leaning towards the latter at this point, but it is obviously a HUGE concern of mine to write about a character who was previously addressed by a writer I respect, even tangentially.  I mean, I love how she did it in her book, so the question is how can I do it differently?  The one positive with this storyline; however, is that this character was not her main character, but it was a significant one.

Of course, in the end, I am just hoping to come up with something uniquely mine, even if I am the only one who will read it.  So I think I will brainstorm a little more and hope to come up with my brilliant original idea, or at least my original take on a more common idea.  One way I will be doing this is by using the worksheets sent out by the NaNo contributors.  I find it amazing how many published authors, including quite a few authors whose books I have read, have taken the time to send out advice to aspiring writers.  I can honestly say, in the few days I've been working on this, I have already learned so much.  There are also a few writers who have their own blogs which I follow (i.e., stalk).  Most of these authors have written at some point about their writing process.  Again, this advice has been invaluable to me even at these beginning stages.  I have quite a few of the pages bookmarked for further review.  

As for coming up with my final plan, well I have three days until NaNo starts, so knowing me, I won't have made a final decision until the last possible second.  Here's hoping it is the right decision!

So over this weekend I have:

  1. Found out my brilliant original idea, is actually not so original;
  2. Scrapped said unoriginal idea;
  3. Got distracted on Amazon adding quite a few new books to my already overloaded wish list;
  4. Took time out to celebrate my 35th birthday (more like freak out over the idea I could possibly be that old);
  5. Come up with a game plan to make a decision on a new storyline; and
  6. Write this blog entry to procrastinate actually making said decision :)
If anyone who writes (or is attempting NaNo) is actually reading this blog, I am wondering how you address the concern that your storyline was likely already done.  You know the saying, there are no new ideas only new takes on those ideas... or maybe I made that up.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm Supposed To Know What I'm Writing About?

I am a procrastinator by nature.  I have good intentions, but poor execution.  So now that I decided I want to write, I needed to find something to help keep me motivated.  In stalking, I mean following, a few of my favorite authors and book bloggers, I learned about a "competition," called NaNo in support of National Novel Writing Month, which happens to start on November 1st.  Perfect!  Basically, you pledge to finish a novel in 30 days- how hard can that be?!?!  Ha!  There are all kinds of word count competitions and "write-ins" to help keep you motivated, as well as virtual moral support from other writers "competing."  They also encourage you to find a critique partner.  

This sounded great to me- just enough pressure to help keep me motivated, interaction with other aspiring writers in the area, but nothing too intrusive to my already hectic life.  As much as I want to do this, it is just not realistic at this point to think I can write all day long, my kids are young and do not believe in quiet time.  So I will need to fit any writing in during naps and/or after bedtime.  It is a good thing I gave up cleaning years ago!  I am hoping even with these restrictions, I will be able to meet my goal of just completing my story.  Basically, the competition is set up so that anyone who hits 50,000 words, "wins."  You don't have to actually complete your book- and in fact, it will definitely need massive revisions.  It is just a way to get started without worrying too much about the editing process.

So I happily signed up and started filling out my "author" profile, which was kind of neat.  However, step two was to name your novel, as well as fill in some information regarding what you are going to write.  Say what?  I have to actually know what I want to write about?  I mean, how do you decide your subject matter?  Or even your genre for that matter?  I am still not exactly sure of the difference between YA and New Adult.  

Sounds kind of obvious, but for a first time writer, I have NO CLUE how to actually start the process of choosing a subject for my book.  So here is what I did:
  1. Went to Target and bought some awesome new notebooks and pens;
  2. Complained to E that I have no clue what I am doing;
  3. Started jotting notes to at least 7 or 8 different ideas, all of which seem really stupid upon further review;
  4. Skimmed the forums posted on the NaNo blog and learned a lot of the participants have been getting ready since last year, or at least since they started mailing reminders in early October;
  5. Complained to The Commissioner that I have no clue what I am doing;
  6. Checked my e-mail, twitter and Facebook a million times; 
  7. Bought a few new books for my kindle (hey, it should be considered research for my writing now); and
  8. Completed a tour of Scrivener (which I think I am going have to redo several times to have any hope of understanding how to use this program- not as self-explanatory and user friendly as I was hoping- but seriously cool.)
Basically, everything other than actually brainstorming an idea (including writing this blog).  So while sitting down for dinner, (mind you with a 3 year old and a 7 month old also at the table), I mentioned to The Commissioner my biggest concern is that when I start to write, I'll find that my obviously brilliant and original idea for a book, was actually already the basis of another author's story, and not different enough from what I'm doing so that half-way through I'll lose steam and have to start over.  I then proceeded to give him a few ideas of what I was thinking of writing about.

This is a mistake in that The Commissioner does not have the same interests as I do when it comes to reading.  I mean to say he barely reads.  I do not understand this at all, but I've accepted that he has other endearing qualities to make up for it.  In turn, he teases me endlessly about my love of all things YA.  Anytime he sees me reading, his first question will always be, "Reading Twilight again?"  But he did come up with something useful in that he encourages me to just pick a subject and not worry about what is going to happen down the line, especially if the goal is just to actually complete my first novel. (Although, in my head, I am already a huge success and having fun going on book tours with E across the country.  Ha!)  

In the NaNo forums, one other piece of advice given that sticks with me is that there are no new ideas, just new ways to look at them.  Each author will bring new things to the table because we are each unique.

By the end of the night, I actually have my ideas down to two topics from the eight or so I was considering.  I think I will need to sketch them out a little in my new serious writer notebooks before I make a final decision.  Mostly, because I have no clue how to outline on Scrivener.  I am sure there is a way, but I only have maybe five more days before I am supposedly starting to write my first novel.  So I think I will keep it simple and just try to sketch outlines by hand in my notebooks and see which story I am more drawn to (i.e., which one is going to keep my interest for more than a week!)    

Ok, well one day into this and I am already freaked out- sounds about right!  Good thing I bought some new books on my kindle to distract me- I'm off to read "Twilight" again.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

No Turning Back...

That was the subject line of my e-mail to my best friend, (who I will refer to as "E," for now on), wherein I announced I was going to be a writer.  This was not the first time I have made a job announcement to her as I am a former lawyer, who was at one point thinking of going into teaching, but wound up as a stay-at-home mom trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Yeah, try making that resume!  Like I said, this is not my first time making a decision regarding, "what I want to be when I grow up," but this is the first time I would truly like it to work out.  So after deciding, I immediately announced it to E, so it would seem more "real."  She is my accountability person after all.

Her response was amazing.  Honestly, I have told two people, my husband and E, and both were like 'well yeah, sounds about right.'  It's like I'm the last to figure this out!  (On a side note, I am going to refer to my husband for now on as "The Commissioner."  I am doing this for several reasons.  Mostly, I just hate saying "my husband."  It just sounds funny to me.  Seriously, when we are out in public meeting people and he introduces me as his "wife," I want to start laughing.  So the best I can do is "The Commissioner."  This is fitting for us as we are currently obsessed with Fantasy Football and the television show "The League."  However, I'm not going to tell him this is his title as it will go straight to his head and I'll never hear the end of it.)

So back to my decision to be a writer.  Writers are often asked when they knew they wanted to be a writer and I am always impressed when they answer from the age of [insert some ridiculously young age.]  I decided to "be" a writer at age 34 after one too many glasses of wine.  More like, after one too many glasses of wine, I admitted to The Commissioner I had always wanted to be a writer, but never had the guts to try.  His response was what got me- he was 100 percent positive it was a good decision- that I could actually be a writer.

So I did what any rational person does after making a life altering decision during happy hour, nothing. After a few days of this, I was sick of listening to the doubts in my head and I took my next step.  I told him again, in a serious discussion.  It went something like, "remember when we were talking about how I wanted to be a writer?  Well I think I'm going to go ahead and actually do it."  And his response was something like, "okay, I thought we already discussed this?"

So one new laptop (hey, my old one died- don't judge), and a million nerves later, here I am, ready to be a writer.   Of course, as I mentioned, I am all about big ideas and not so much on execution.  So I am really hoping I stick with this, that it works out, if for no other reason than it would be awesome to see something I have written- even if I am the only one who sees it.

So here are the steps I've taken:

  1. Told The Commissioner;
  2. Admitted to myself (and to The Commissioner) I was not kidding;
  3. Told E (I need to be accountable to someone else); 
  4. Bought a new MacBook Pro (I love it so much I am practically cheating on The Commissioner); 
  5. Started using twitter again to stalk... I mean talk to a bunch of my favorite YA authors, book bloggers and other industry people;
  6. Signed up for NaNo (because as a procrastinator the idea of being challenged to write for 30 days may actually force me to write for 30 days);
  7. Start this blog (because if I am going to do something- might as well document my attempt so I can look back on this later.  Hopefully, with my book in hand.); and
  8. Publish this first entry... so there is truly no turning back.