The Month of Hopeful Productivity

November is NaNoWriMo. The month where writers try to create 50,000 words by the end of the month in hopes to create or start the novel that has been in their heads. This is a month that is supposed to be full of blissful productivity, one where you know you are working towards a goal and hope to succeed in it. Usually, I go in full of hope that this will be another year that I accomplish this goal. Some years, I try my best and fail mostly because life gets in the way. Some years, my own brain gets in the way. I have failed more than I succeeded, though it’s not about actually completing the goal. The spirit of NaNoWriMo is to settle down and attempt to start that novel you have wanted to write.

My problem, aside from my immune system and work and dealing with life’s obstacles, is that there are 2 books that I have started in this month, only getting about 5,000 words out of 50,000 but split between 2 books that both seem worthy of the effort. Finally, I settled on one only to second guess my call. I promised I would write a horror novel, but I keep undermining myself and critiquing my inability to write as I go. As a “published” author, I know you’re not supposed to think your book is utter crap until after you completed it, not belittle yourself as you go. I guess that’s just part of my process.

I spend most of my time writing for other people, then by the time I settle down to get my own writing done I feel like I’m all out of words for the day. My brain doesn’t want to think anymore. It wants to watch trashy television and recharge, only to pass out on the couch then fail miserably at going to and staying asleep at night. Then, I’m just in an endless loop of comatose functioning that there doesn’t seem to be enough coffee in the world to get out of.

I’m not having a month of productivity. I’m having a month of irrational insanity that is interfering with my peak level of productivity. I have paused my streaming for the month to focus on the work that I need to get done in the morning so that I can dedicate my evenings to whichever novel I settle on. As my youngest rants on about which actor stars in what movie and random facts about the actor and when a movie was released and whether or not the rating says it’s appropriate for him. As my teenager overdoes his physical therapy so that he can get in “peak form” when guppy week starts at the end of the month. Life is tossing some lemons my way so far these past 2 months, and I’m really in no mood for lemonade.

There have been times where the beginning of the month started off slow, but by the end of it, my brain goes into overdrive and nails the deadline even if I just finish mere minutes before 11:58 on November 30th. Maybe this is just one of those times. I’m not a quitter though. I will go insane until I either succeed or fail at the end of the month. But I won’t give up.

Another Year, Another NaNoWriMo Challenge

Every year, I try to sign up for NaNoWriMo. I know that I may or may not succeed. I have succeeded more times than I have failed, but failures are still rough. Especially on those years when you put all of your sweat and tears into something, only to fall just short of your goal (last year, 30,000 words out of 50,000). I’m someone who does take those things hard, but I’m also someone who shakes it off and moves on. Maybe it was just that I chose a difficult thing to write about, like one year when a story hit too close to home that I scrapped it. Or maybe I just get myself into some knotted plot hole and I can’t get out of it. Or maybe I just run out of ideas on how to make the story go forward. Short stories are where I seem to excel. Writing longer pieces seem to trip me up.

I try to have a plan every year. I take book ideas that I have worked on and tried to figure out which one will be the “one”. This year, I have decided to again attempt a thriller of sorts. My business manager/husband thought the topic was interesting and he gave me his confidence that I could do it this year. His supportive nature allows me to keep going on this path, even when other people think it’s a joke.

As October rapidly approaches, the goal is to start doing an outline and get things planned out. I attempted this last year, but I feel as though my outline wasn’t as detailed as it should have been for the story. Then, towards the end of this when I take a weekend get away in my favorite place in the world, I intend to find a nice little spot to get some final details done before November 1 hits. My fingers are crossed that this year will be successful. And let’s hope for some workout time to indulge in my favorite “brain” food that tends to help my writing process. (Send Dunkichinos, Flaming Hot Cheetos, and Peanutbutter M&Ms my way if you see me in November.)

Challenges are meant to be overcome, and I intend to try my best to achieve my goal this year.

The Feeling of Impending Failure

Life happens. I just wish it didn’t happen right smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo. At the beginning of this, despite a strong start, I battled with an unbeatable bout of writer’s block. Then that faded into the first plague of the season hitting our house. Then it went into our furnace dying and not having heat for nearly a week. It was one thing or another that seems to be interfering with it. Admittedly, I have been my own worst enemy here. I went in hesitant about the story. Not that I don’t believe that it’s a good premise or a great way to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to my other novels. I doubt myself.

I never wrote in the horror genre because I’m not a huge horror person. I love thrillers. My favorites tend to be in the Japanese horror genre, especially “The Ring”. I have the 3 books and they were fantastic. Aside from those, I have read horror novels since I was a kid where I loved reading Lois Duncan or the “Fear Street” series. Somewhere I lost my passion for that genre. Even today, I enjoy a good psychological thriller sometimes. I don’t want to be slapped in the face with the gore of someone’s intestine being ripped apart or people’s faces being sewn to another person’s butt. I want to be scared because the movie got into my head, not haunting me with disgusting visuals.

My husband is my biggest supporter. Even as things look grim for me completing this year’s NaNoWriMo, he keeps picking me up. “You’ve beat worse writing deadlines before… like every other year you compete.” He’s the forever optimistic, always looking at the positives even as we’re bundled in our winter clothes in our house hoping that a miracle will happen. Me? I’m the forever pessimist that gets enough of a wind from him that ends up pushing me through because for a few brief moments, I feel unstoppable because of him. When I’m not cursing him for suggesting this topic and pushing me to finally write a horror. He isn’t the only one of my family and extended family pushing for a horror novel from me. They believe that I can write something that isn’t total crap. I’m not sure I do.

We have 10 days out for NaNoWriMo. Fortunately with the holiday, I’ll get at least 2 solid uninterrupted days of working on this. If I manage at least a few thousand words each day, I can absolutely do this with time to spare. I just need to push through and hope for the best. Or at least come out with some of my remaining sanity.

The Writing Process

When you work as a writer, everyone expects you to be on all the time. You’re not. At least I’m not, but the thing about writing is that you have to keep doing it anyways. Eventually something is going to stick and work, then you can run with it.  Not everything you write is going to be great. Even George RR Martin had “A Feast for Crows”. In fact, a lot of it will suck. As a writer, you may think more of your work sucks than your fans do but that’s just the nature of the job and who we are as people. Every artist struggles with that and the creative process. It’s not an easy business to be in, especially when you aren’t making any real money doing it. It’s a disheartening job. It’s a job that isn’t for the weak.

NaNoWriMo is a challenge that I attempt every year since I first discovered it. I like challenges. I love writing. It made sense. I’ve even completed it a few times, usually within the last few hours right up to the deadline. That’s how it goes. I never went in with an outline because my tendency is to just let the stories tell themselves. I think of each of my works as a living thing. I’m here to provide the guidelines, give it some bones, advise it as it goes along. Otherwise, I just let the words take off for themselves in the hopes that it comes up with something at least readable.

Then there are the walls. I hit an impressive 10,000 words over the first weekend, giving me the false impression that I was going to crush NaNoWriMo this year. That this was the year I wasn’t having an anxiety attack and working while one eye fell asleep to get those last few words in before the deadline. Then, the wall happened. My body is already craving sleep despite me being very sure that I have slept an acceptable amount. My body is shutting down in fear of failure. Because if I fail at writing, what do I have that I don’t fail at?

I’m a confident and capable person, until I’m not. I have days where I have a meltdown and want to just give up because I don’t think I’m resonating with people. I don’t care if I become rich as a writer. I’d be more than happy just making enough to help out a lot more with the bills. I want to reach people. I want to have people read something I write and think “I’ve definitely been there and I’m glad someone else has too”. I view writing as not just a way to inspire the masses but also one that will help at least someone else realize that they’re not alone. “My kid has anxiety and social development issues too. I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling.” Just hearing something like that pushes me to go forward. I love what I do.

It’s a process. My process involves eating a ton of junk food and hoping that it will kick something into gear. I’m a burst writer. I have days where I can crush 6,0000 words without batting an eye. Then I go a few days where I can barely write 1,000. Some exceedingly awesome days, I can get to 11,000 in a day without even feeling tired. Someone else’s process is to go in with a plan and an outline. I realize, maybe from all of my years “momming” one thing: Nothing goes as planned. When my friends first mention a birthing plan when having a kid, I told them they may as well throw that out the window because it’s not happening unless you’re an incredibly lucky person. Most of us aren’t. I went in with an outline and I strayed from it the first day because the theory didn’t fit the reality.

Until then, I hope that I can get through this wall and get back to creating. I’m already on shaky confidence ground writing in a genre that is way out of my comfort zone because my partner in life and my business really thought I should go for it. Here’s to hoping me and every other writer participating in this challenge makes it through.

NaNoWriMo 2017

I went into this year’s NaNoWriMo with a story that I felt passionate about and a lot of good intentions. I had my Post Its, a plan, my peanut butter M&Ms, my coffee, and my eventual last minute savior, the flaming hot Cheetos. Despite my best efforts, illnesses, work, and life (such as Thanksgiving prep and writer’s block), I ended up at the 27,000 mark on November 29. Even my husband, the ever supportive and annoyingly optimistic man who made many a Dunks run in the name of art, doubted me. Me? I thrive under pressure and seemingly eat doubt for breakfast. Or in this case, an entire bag of flaming hot Cheetos while working.

On November 30th, I woke up early, destroyed my work deadlines, and filled a carafe of coffee. I took breaks to take my son to school and other normal breaks during the day. Thanks to my new Pixel 2 XL, I was able to continue on my work whenever I had to leave my trusty Surface’s side. This was especially useful when my body cramped up from being at the computer so long, so I began walking around while typing away. Saved it to Google Drive, then went back to my computer to continue hacking away. By lunch time, I had managed to get up to about 35,0000 words. That was still a long way away from 50,000. My husband brought home lunch, giving me time to focus on work since I would be too focused on this to be of any use to anyone.

Finally, the moment I needed to happen came. Words were floating from my fingers, which at this point became cramped and numb from typing so much. At 10pm, I had hit 45,000 words. With under an hour left, I was getting close but still seemed too far off of my goal. My husband, who worked late that day called and asked if I wanted anything on his way home. “Cheetos and a Coke.” He understood. He came home with exactly what I needed. With 20 minutes left to spare, 50,000 happened. I was relieved. I submitted the 50,000 words and got my winner loot.

That is only half the battle. The next month will be full of the editing process that can take forever, which needs to be done in order to get into a contest to get a professional publisher to publish it. There is still a long journey, but at least I have come this far with the novel.

The novel is called “A Special Place for Noah”. The story is about a boy named Noah who struggles with the inability to communicate in the outside world. There is a strong focus on the parents as they navigate this journey with him. As readers of the blog and people who know my family, you can probably guess that this is very heavily influenced by my youngest son. The point of the book is to share this story so that other people who may find themselves in this position can feel a little less isolated while struggling with any sort of developmental delay in the family.

I am really excited to see this as a finished product. It was really freeing to write and I really hope that someone else feels a connection to the book.

The Time Has Finally Come

“The Science of Suicide”, my NaNoWriMo achievement of this year has finally been completed. The side bar where it says “Where to Buy My Work” has been updated for a link to a website where you can buy a physical copy of the book. The other link, which leads you to my Amazon Author Page will also have a Kindle edition that is in the process of being published as we speak. Feel free to stalk the page for the Kindle version to appear.

“The Science of Suicide” is listed as a “Juvenile Fiction”, as it was originally aimed for a younger audience. However, I do believe that people of all ages may appreciate the themes of the book. I encourage you to check it out, in addition to check out my other books for sale on the Kindle.

The book is about different thoughts about suicide and why it happens. I hope that it addresses some thoughts others may have and have some points that others might find insightful. It was meant mostly for that, and I hope that conveys as I intended.

This book would absolutely not be possible without my husband and his constant lectures of “you’re too talent to just give up”, because I constantly wanted to give up during this entire process. He has always been my number 1 supporter and I could not love him more for it. He never insulted me, he gave me incredible advice as to the flow of the book, and if he was interested in reading it, I know that I have at least accomplished something.

I hope you all check out the book. You can follow my tweets for live updates on when the book will be available on the Kindle eBook store. Thank you guys for reading! Also thank you to NaNoWriMo for giving us writers a place of encouragement to keep going even when we don’t think we can anymore.

The Editing Process Drags On

They say that the most difficult part of any writing project is the editing. They are right. It can be very hard to dissect your story, and try to piece it back together so that you can increase the flow. In fact, that is the hardest part of a book especially if you are the one solely responsible for doing the process. I actually really wish that I had my own pocket editor to help me so I don’t feel like pulling out what’s left of my hair after dealing with a tween and a toddler at the end of the day. I don’t have that luxury, as I’m not signed to a publisher nor do I have the $500 to take advantage of online services that do this for you. So, I drag on wishing that it was acceptable to drink a glass of wine alone with a toddler at 10 in the morning.

The editing process is moving at an incredibly slow pace. My problem falls within a placement of a chapter, and I can’t quite figure out where it should go. Originally, the first chapter I had written as a part of NaNoWriMo was going to be placed at the end of the novel. In theory, that was going to be an incredible idea. That was in theory. In practice, however, the way I finished the novel feels complete to me. It feels right to end it that way. In rereading the novel, the chapters flow together so well, that I would hate to ruin that flow. Now I must ponder the idea of just leaving it as is, which I don’t like the idea of at all. Starting the book with that chapter does not feel right at all.

I considered just omitting the chapter and calling it a day. That consideration didn’t last long. That chapter gives the details and answers to speculation that is an important piece of the story. But what if I don’t omit the chapter, rather piece it up into mini-chapters in between? I feared that would ruin the flow of the story as well. It is going to take some time to figure a way to keep it so readers get answers without just haphazardly placing it someplace and ruin the entire novel.

I’m sure I will figure it out. I hope, anyways. I think I just need to distance myself from it for a few days and think about it as a reader, and not as the author.