Reflecting On A Chaotic Win

Camp NaNoWriMo has come to a close for the year 2017, sadly. They always go by so quickly, each time making me realize I am way too close to the cold months, holiday madness, and the big November NaNoWriMo. (Which, as of right now, I have absolutely no idea what I’m working on during that month.)

Camp NaNo 2017 Winner

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2017 WINNER!!!

I can officially say I made goal for Camp NaNo in July. It was not a pretty win, but I did make it.

If anyone recalls from my post last Tuesday, I had lowered my goal — on what I thought was the last possible day before validating began — down to a mere 55 pages compared to my hope of 146 at the beginning of July. If you also recall from that post, I had started working daily on the editing for Fated to Darkness with a writing buddy and had made it half way to my original goal with six days left to Camp yet. So yes, I had technically already passed goal and could have stopped but I did wish to see if I could hit my original before the month ended.

I found out a couple days later through my email that Camp NaNo no longer has a cut off date for goal changing. That meant I could officially bump my goal back up so that I would have to keep working every day. (I was going to keep working anyways, but this just gave it a little more motivation. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this change though.)

Truthfully I didn’t bump by goal back up until the 30th, once I determined how much I could manage to get through on the last day of Camp. I didn’t jump to my original 146 pages, but I did jump pretty close to it.

At first I thought I could manage the whole 146, but then I told myself I better be a little bit more safe than sorry. (I’m glad I was.) I was on Chapter 9, and I wanted to get through at least Chapter 10 by the end. Well, turns out Chapter 10 was twenty-some pages long. I told myself I would cut that chapter in half for my final page goal of the month. It ended up evening out to 135 pages, which isn’t bad considering where I sat a week and a half ago at a mere 23 pages.

And yes, I made goal. I validated around nine o’clock Monday night. 31 days, 135 pages, 10.5 pages (including the prologue), and many, many concordance pages. It was probably more like roughly two weeks instead of 31 days after my complete fallout in the middle of the month, but I still did it.

I say I was glad I didn’t tell myself to do the whole 146 pages because my plans for Monday were tweaked after I woke up in excruciating pain that morning. It took me longer than I planned for to get myself up and moving to be able to edit yesterday. I’m still in pain and my movement is limited.

So despite all the hardships and roller coaster rides of July, I can say I put another winner’s certificate in my belt. It didn’t go at ALL how I had planned for the month to go, but I learned one important lesson. Or maybe two…

Perseverance is everything.

If you can push through and keep showing up every single day no matter what, then anything is possible to accomplish. You just have to have enough dare and nerve to do it, and keep doing it.

Secondly, never give up.

No matter how bleak, daunting, far off, or foolish a goal or dream looks, never give up on it when it means something to you. It can be attained with enough effort and perseverance.

Two weeks ago I wanted to give up, and two weeks ago now I learned to simply show up and persevere.

Now I’m one-fifth of the way through the first part of this phase of editing for Fated to Darkness. One milestone down, many more to come to add to my accomplishments list as I watch it grow. Camp NaNo may be over for the year, but I will find a way to keep making myself show up everyday to work.

This month may have been a chaotic mess, but it was in no way a fail even with all the faltering I did. Now’s the time to put what I learned to use outside of the madness that is NaNo:

To stop dreaming so much in the big picture and look at the stepping stones along the way. To stop making the ginormous goals and simply just show up day after day to do some work, even if it isn’t as much as I wanted it to be.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be.

Bring on August, and bring on the simple daily editing goal.

Progress Is Progress

Hello, world. Somehow I have once again managed to find my way to the surface to post. Truthfully, I had every intention of posting at the beginning of this month and keeping up with it this time. I even had all my Writer’s Guide topics laid out for each week this month! That’s a miracle!

Unfortunately that didn’t go to plan in the slightest, and I’m not really sure what happened that screwed every intention I had.

My last post — nearly a month ago now — was right before Camp NaNo began, and I had talked about getting ready for that, and I possibly also ranted about work… *Looks off innocently*

I suppose I could account part of my “falling off the blog wagon” incident to work and how much of a hell situation is was a month ago, but that has smoothed over for the most part again about two weeks ago. Maybe I was just so burned out and fed up with life and work that I no longer cared. Or maybe I was just so bummed and mad at myself because I wasn’t working on my Camp project that I figured I had absolutely nothing to talk about. Maybe all of the above and then some. Who knows with me, I’m not going to try to find the source of my absence, it’d be pointless.

(I do know there was more than one time I remembered I needed a blog post, and by the end of the day I had totally forgotten again and it was too late to do it. That happens a lot anymore. I need to start setting myself an alarm to write my posts so I stop forgetting.)

So while the first two and a half weeks of this month were a complete bust in Camp NaNo and life, I seem to have finally managed to pull some semblance of productivity and motivation back together. Perhaps this time the pieces of my life are a little more well glued together. A feat I can credit to some friends of mine.

Camp NaNo 2017

For the first three weeks of July, there were truthfully only two days in which I edited and worked on my concordance for Fated to Darkness. Those days were Day 1 and 2.  After that it was all down hill from there.

My original goal was to work up through Chapter 11, which was roughly 146 pages or so.

At first I wanted to work on it and kept telling myself I should work on it, but it just didn’t happen between work and other obligations. After that first week, when I had fallen so far behind in only managing to do 23 pages, I started to give up.

In the beginning it came across as I was going to have to lower my goal, to what I didn’t know, but I was going to have to lower it below 100 pages because the rest of my month was so booked with work, camping, and other obligations, that I was never going to have any free time at all to edit. (Or so I thought.) Then that notion began to spiral into not caring if I won for the month or not, which lead to wanting to just delete my entire Camp project for the first time ever because I was so frustrated with myself. I couldn’t figure out why I had tanked so hard this Camp.

On the last possible day before validation began I dropped my goal to 55 pages, which was only two more chapters from where I fell off the Camp wagon. A couple hours after that, I dropped my goal even lower to only 38 pages: one more chapter.

I hated myself for it. I hated how pathetically small that number looked, when I had such high hopes and plans for how I could finish the minor editing and concordance work before November started. I could see all those plans and hopes washing away down the drain each time I sighed heavily and officially dropped my goal.

But I’ve come to realize that I dream too big for the war I fight inside my own head every single day. I’ve come to finally see that those dreams carry me away on an euphoric high way up into the pristine white clouds and sunshine for a little bit, then the storm clouds roll back in at the slightest diversion to those dreams, snuffing the sun out, and the high is gone. The storm takes my motivation and hopes with it; and Mother Nature always wins in the end.

I also realized something else though. If I cannot find the willpower strong enough to hold myself accountable to my goals and dreams, then I do need help to do so. I don’t mean just encouragement, I mean the kind of help that stands at your side as your shadow, doing exactly what you do so that you aren’t doing it alone anymore. It’s easier to motivate yourself when you have someone in your corner consistently cheering you on and helping you build castles from sand.

And that is what happened finally.

Five days ago the black clouds began to clear, and with help — and much grumbling and resistance at first — I got myself to once more sit down and try to edit. I only expected to work for an hour, if that if I could keep myself focused, and instead I ended up working for two hours. Perhaps I didn’t feel very accomplished in the end, perhaps I didn’t feel the excitement to be working again yet, and I didn’t believe at the time that “some progress is better than no progress”, but that was because again I was still dreaming too big.

I’ve been looking at the long run goal for so long instead of looking at the stepping stones that lead me there. I’ve been looking at the completed concordance, and all 43 chapters (including Prologue and Epilogue) read through, slightly edited, noted for paper edits, and all the work for Phase 2 of this stage where I take all my messy notes and organize them to the concordance, and every word of every page in the Word doc that is overwhelming.

I’m psyching myself out when I stare at the project as a whole.

Yes I have a long, long way to go in this novel yet, but don’t they always tell you to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination? Isn’t it easier to see how far you’ve come when you break the journey into parts, like traveling cross country, state to state, city to city.

If I stop thinking about the goals, if I stop making the goals, then I finally stop stressing about making par, about getting to the page or chapter or word count I so-called need to.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big.

Yes, I want to finish this stage before November, but I don’t have to plan out doing this many chapters and pages every single month. All I truthfully have to do is show up and work, and before I know it…I’ll be farther than I thought I would be. Then suddenly I won’t be worrying so much about par, wondering if I’ll make my goal for the month.

I read somewhere that it is more motivating to make a list of all the things you accomplish, instead of a list of all the things you want to accomplish and never get to cross off half. Watch the positive list grow and grow to build yourself up, and if you so wish, make that goal list anyways and watch it grow smaller and smaller compared to your accomplishment list on steroids so long as you show up to work. At some point the positive one will come to outweigh the ever-growing, daunting list.

So right now I have no true monthly goals anymore. My only intention is to be through this stage of editing before November, and at the rate I’m going now without the stress of meeting quotas, I might even be there before October.

Right now it’s just work for one hour a day at the very least with a friend to help hold myself accountable. (Most days I’m finding I do more than an hour.) It doesn’t matter how many pages I get done, or if I make it through the chapter or not, just work. The hope is the more I do it, the easier it will get, the more habit it will become until I can hold myself to it every day without issue. And the more I work, the further I get every single day.

A week ago I thought I wouldn’t make goal for Camp. A week ago I wrestled with myself over deleting my Camp project and giving up entirely. A week ago I didn’t care. It’s amazing how one week, one day, one conversation can change everything.

Now I here I sit making sure I edit every single day with a writing buddy for at least that one hour. Now here I sit somehow managing to get through almost a chapter a day without even realizing how much progress I’m making. Now here I sit truly wondering if I ever needed to drop my Camp goal at all from just four days of work.

I am over halfway to my original goal of 146 pages, and there is still six days left to Camp NaNo. I am 23 pages away from being one-sixth of the way through my entire book. I am 23 pages away from breaking triple digits in page numbers. I am three chapters away from breaking double digits in chapters.

When I look at it that way, in bits and pieces, only then do I see just how far I’ve gotten already. When I look at how many pages are being added to my concordance, how many notes are being organized and recorded to make the paper edits that much easier, I see just how far I’m getting finally.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be. Remember that fellow authors, writers, poets, and dreamers. Always remember that and the storm clouds will clear the way for sunshine once more.

Gearing Up For Camp NaNo

The Evil Day Job and writing don’t always mix nicely, especially when you work in soul-sucking retail. Sometimes it seems impossible to be able to unplug from work and find time, or energy, to write once you make it home — hopefully in one piece. And other times…it really is impossible.

I am going to hate myself for saying this, but I have begun to associate this work week as a third Christmas. (Easter is the second Christmas when it comes to retail, and actually Back to School could be the third mini Christmas instead, so maybe this is like my fourth Christmas.) Essentially this week is Hell Week when my boss decided it’s a great time to take an eight day vacation — for what I swear is the third time in only a couple months, throw myself and the two other managers under the bus more than once, and leave all of us to pick up her slack the final week before the biggest boss visit of our store’s life.

Thanks, bitch! NOT! I don’t care what’s going on in your life right now, you should definitely be here for this.

I do not get paid enough for this amount of stress, frustration, and responsibility now sitting on my shoulders. I should also not be going into overtime this week, but guess what? All three of us managers left to deal with this bullshit are probably going into overtime, even when we’re technically not allowed.

You know it’s time to find a new job when you’ve got to the point that you really just don’t care anymore. You do what you get done and the rest… “Well, fuck it. It is what is anymore. I don’t care.”

I get it though. You’re the general manager and you’ve adopted an “I can do whatever the hell I want” attitude because of it. Whatever though. I don’t care anymore. I’ll look for a new job unless things start shaping up as fair again, or I’ll leave and laugh while I watch you scramble to fill an already shorthanded position.

Well no wonder I’m going into overtime then when I’m not supposed to!

*Rolls eyes* Idiot…

I shall forego a longer rant about work though and move onto writing. If there’s one thing overtime kills, it’s free time at home and the energy to do anything once you get home. It also doesn’t help when you work so many messed up shifts that you have to choose between eating, sleeping, or getting things done once you finally do get home.

The bad thing about all this happening right now is that it’s the week before Camp NaNo starts for me. By the time Saturday rolls around I’m going to be so fed up and exhausted that I’m going to need all of Saturday just to recover some sanity and motivation — maybe longer than that at this rate, which means I only have Sunday left in my request off days to get a head start on Camp.

I should have taken the first three days of July off for Camp, but then again, even if I did, my boss would be taking away the approved third day just like she took away one of my approved days — approved in FEBRUARY — this week because her life took precedent over mine.

I did not do it for you, bitch, I did it for the two other managers getting stuck with your bullshit too. Don’t you dare thank me for it, or I might just have the balls to finally say to your face I didn’t do it for you. (The other two managers know straight up I did it for them.)

Despite how much hell this week is going to be I did manage to start my Camp NaNo  project on Sunday. For the first time in two months I finally picked up some of my writing and got to work. Since I’m using Camp to work on the concordance and some minor editing of Fated to Darkness, I wanted to get a head start so I could play around with the best way to go about this project.

I’m glad I did get a head start because I spent a good hour and a half just organizing pages in my concordance and figuring out what sections/categories needed added yet, and making lists for what to include in certain categories (like character sheets, and chapter summary information for easy access to arranging plot lines, and so forth).

By the time I did call it quits Sunday night since I had to be at work early Monday morning, I had a better basis for how to do things, started a rough note notebook to keep track of things for said pages above, had managed to get through the Prologue of my story with the minor editing, and created a reference and question Word doc I can consult and use when I begin the major editing.

My hope is by making this Word doc I’ll better be able to organize the notes I left myself in my rough draft. I’ll be able to use it to answer questions of past events or miscellaneous things, or note that I need a character name, or a chapter title, or that this section needs more editing, or that I need to watch my “telling words” in this section, or this scene needs more description, etc. etc. etc.. By transferring and noting where those references and questions are in my rough draft, I should be able to eliminate lots of unnecessary words and some pages so I’m not printing — or paying — as much when I start paper editing the book. (I plan to put the Word doc on a flash drive and take it to an office supply store to print it instead of using all my own paper and ink.)

I think it’s going to work based on how things started out for me, and my hope is to get up to at least Chapter 11, which is about 146 pages, by the end of July. If I want to stick to my original goal of getting through the whole book by November, that gives me four months, and there’s about 40 some chapters in this book. Roughly ten chapters a month, not too bad — I don’t think. By doing it this way I can use the minimal free time of November and December to organize the rough notes I’m putting in the notebook into my concordance, and also print my reference Word doc and the actual book.

(Wait, what free time in November? That’s NaNoWriMo! And the start of the holiday!)

The more I think about this, the scarier it is to see how far I’ve really come. At the same time it’s exciting. It’s hard to believe I’ve really come this far.

Now if only I can figure out how to regain energy and motivation in the face of work’s hell to keep pushing forward this week — I would like to get through Chapter 1 before Camp starts — and in the future at this rate… Music only helps so much sometimes. I need another way. Like maybe taping the logo of my company — or maybe my boss’ face — on my target and practice shooting my bow at it. Bet you I’d hit a bull’s eye…

How do you unplug from work to shake off it’s exhaustion and frustration to be able to focus on writing and/or editing once you’re home?

Now What?

On Sunday I finished the first draft of Fated to Darkness and since then…I have felt like a lost puppy. I’ve sat on my desk chair spinning in a circle because I haven’t known what to work on. I’m so used to working on FtD for so long now that it feels weird to not be working on it, to not be pushing for that end scene yet.

I feel so lost.

There’s still a very palpable sense of grappling for straws on the reality of completing this novel right now. The “now what?” feeling as I try to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s been five days since I finished the novel, but I’m still staring somewhat dumbfounded at the binder that holds my concordance for FtD and at my other WiPs with an “aaaaahhhh….” kind of expression. I could almost just flip a coin to try to figure out what I’m doing.

Granted, there are many, many things I could be doing now.

For starters I could get back to working on Clockwork Heart like I wanted to use part of Camp for. I could use the rest of the year, or however long it takes, to work on that novella/novel. Or I could go back to the very first novel I ever started writing, Breaking Point, and continue that. (The more I look at that novel though the more I need to do some outlining and brainstorming and probably a title change too. To what though I have no idea…sort of.) I could even start outlining Shapeshifter Wings and start work on that. Then there’s the option of starting one of the plentiful, new novel ideas kicking around in my head — like Alice in Court, or Book 2 to The Dark Heir series, or the horse ranch storyline that’s been kicking around up there since I was little that actually has a title and subtitle already.

Or, I could forgo novel work for the time being and start on some short stories. I could write the sequel to The Black Lake, or redo that story altogether to make it better then do the sequel. Or expand and fix up The Beast. I could also poke around at Seductress and see if it leads me anywhere beyond the vague storyline and grand ball scene it has.

On the other hand, I could refocus my efforts to editing instead of writing. I don’t mean editing Fated to Darkness. No no. That is going to sit and wait until I can come back with fresher eyes. I mean that I could take this time now and focus on re-editing, polishing, and maybe expanding Rivers of Black more. The thought has crossed my mind to try to publish the story, but I’m not going to explore that spurt of consciousness any further yet. I don’t want to think about publishing right now…

The fact I have finished the first draft of Fated to Darkness doesn’t mean it’s not going to be touched at all until I’m ready to edit though. I won’t let it collect dust for a couple months. I still have a binder concordance I need to flesh out and finish, and there are multiple notes within my book that I need to find a way to organize and put together in a notebook or something so that as I go along and edit and answer the questions I left myself I’ll be able to avoid plot holes or errors.

There’s still quite a lot of work to do on FtD before I get to the true editing phase. So while I spend the rest of the year — I’m hoping to be done before December, because…holiday — finishing the concordance and finding a way to organize those notes and questions to myself, I am going to be working on something else as well. I would like an entire month of letting FtD sit completely ready for edits before I do dive into full on scrutiny paper edits, but until then there’s lots left to do.

My tentative plan right now as I start to get the ball rolling again is to get working on the concordance and an organization technique for the notes/questions I left. In doing that, I will be reading through my entire novel, which also means that while I’m reading I can minimally fix light edits. Say a missed word, or the wrong version of a word, missing quotation marks, and so forth. The things that won’t require me stopping for an hour on one paragraph to make it sound the best it can possibly be. Doing this will make the paper edits a little less daunting in red marks.

That’s the plan for Fated to Darkness from here till December. *Prays I can be ready by then*

Because I don’t want to lose the next six or seven months with no writing to show for it — well, that wouldn’t have happened anyways because of July’s Camp NaNo and November’s NaNo — I am going to work on something alongside the next stage of FtD. I believe that “now what?” feeling is going to be geared toward writing Clockwork Heart and trying to finish that story this year, as well as re-editing Rivers of Black.

Actually, my original goal of May was to re-edit Rivers of Black finally since I kind of failed on that one last year. Perhaps that will actually happen now that FtD is done. Then again, I had expected Clockwork Heart to only be a short story and already be done by this time too, but…

Yeah, the universe hasn’t been kind to me this year in more ways than one.

But that’s the plan for now. I guess I’ll see how it works out, though I don’t have many expectations for it. I’ve learned better at this point. The hardest part I think is going to be finding a balance between these three projects now when my life is already so screwy and unpredictable.

Or, maybe, the hardest part is going to be finding the heart that says it’s worth it again…

Declaring A Win And A Completion

Camp NaNo 2017 Winner

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2017 WINNER!!!

That’s right. I managed to pull off the win on the very last day of Camp. As predicted, after the long work week I had, I totally blew getting anything done on Saturday. So come Sunday I was up and writing from the moment I woke up to get that final 5,669 words I needed. Come to think of it, I didn’t even stop to eat until I had validated, which by that point was definitely dinner time. Whoops…

But I pulled off the win! Hooray! *Throws confetti*

30 days, 30,058 words (30,053 after validating), 65 pages, and 4.5 chapters plus a blurb.

It may not have been a pretty win this month, but it’s a win. And guess what else?

That’s right, baby.

Fated to Darkness is FINISHED!!!

SQUUEEEEE!!!

Excuse me while I scream, cry, laugh, and essentially freak out internally for a little bit again.

I can’t believe I’m finally typing those words. I’m in shock. It’s a dream come true. (Or, well, the beginning of a dream come true.) I actually did it. I actually finished my first full length novel after almost three years of working on it with NaNoWriMo’s and spare time.

And this isn’t just any novel to me. This is the first book of the series that is my heart and soul. The storyline that has been kicking around in my head since I was a little girl. The characters that have literally grown up with me in my head. They’ve been waiting for this to happen for as long as I’ve been waiting for it to happen.

I finally did it.

Book 1 of The Dark Heir chronicles is complete.

I’m still in shock, and I’m definitely still freaking out internally. *Happy dances*

This whole month, this whole book, has been a roller coaster. I started out this Camp with the intentions of having Fated to Darkness finished within the first week so I could spend the rest of the month working on Clockwork Heart. (Obviously I didn’t get to work on Clockwork Heart at all.) But I was both excited and scared out of my mind to finish this novel.

I struggled to get through the end of this book for many reasons ranging from frustration to hesitance, but I made it and I managed to type these words for the first time in my life:

end book 1

When I got to those words — which I’m not going to leave them in come edits, I just wanted to be able to write them, lol — I had to stop and just stare at my Word doc while I tried to process the fact that I actually did it.

It was quite an interesting day of writing on Sunday to get to that point. Because I was so frustrated with Chapter 41, I left it off with my lengthy ranting note to redo the chapter. I didn’t try to pick up from where I had stopped, but I did jump ahead just a little to the end of the chapter where I knew how it was going to go down to the smallest detail.

Once I got to that part the words just started flowing again full force. The end of Chapter 41 went down without a hitch — though it could use a bit more bang — and I went onto writing the Epilogue. (That was another word I had to stare at whenever I typed it because I couldn’t believe I was seeing it.) I thought the Epilogue was going to be a bit difficult to write because I have to be very careful in what I reveal in it. (No I’m not going to tell you why. Mwahaha!) Surprisingly it didn’t give me the issues I thought it was going to, and it even ended up setting up the Prologue for Book 2!

Of course once I got to writing the words “End Book 1” I realized I was about 150 words short of hitting goal for Camp.

Go. Figure.

I was not going to write a 150 words of something new or another WiP, and I realized the blurb I made years ago for Fated to Darkness needed some tweaking and kind of sucked. So you know what I did? Yep, I took that final little spurt of words and wrote another blurb!

Gods I hate blurbs…

This one wasn’t that bad to write though, shockingly.

It got me to the NaNo win so that’s all I cared about. I just can’t believe I’m going to be setting this novel aside now for awhile so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. I miss my characters already. I miss Kailyn, and Matt, and Gods…I even miss Ciara, the evil bitch. It feels really weird to not be working on their novel. I feel lost.

Granted, I’m not putting it away completely yet, there’s still a few things I need to do with it before I’m ready to begin editing — which I plan to be the start of next year — but I still miss them already.

But alas, the explanation of that headache stuff I need to do, as well as my next plans, can wait a couple days. After all, I’m still celebrating my win and the completion of my first full length novel.

Camp may not have gone the way I had planned for it to go last month, but it will definitely be one that goes down in my history books. I did it, baby! Now excuse me while I go celebrate some more and squeal in happiness.

Final Days and Final Chapters

This is it.

In more ways than one.

The final days of Camp NaNo are here. Only three days left to write to get the win. Now is the time to push hard and commit yourself to losing sleep if you still have a long way to go. (I’m not the only one who does that, right?) Now is definitely the time to panic and make a mad dash for the finish line as you curse to yourself for procrastinating so much earlier in the month.

My brain to me: If you hadn’t procrastinated so much and stuck to your self-imposed day off work goals, do you realize how many words you could have had by this time? Do you realize how far you’d be in Clockwork Heart too?

*Dead stare* Unfortunately my brain has a point. I really did slack this month on Camp. If I had stuck to my self-imposed 5k word goal days on the days I have off work, I would have had 60k alone just from those days already, 70k by the 30th. And that wouldn’t be including my word sprint days or any words I wrote on work days.

Sixty thousand words! If I had just held myself more accountable throughout the month, and stopped hesitating and being so unsure about finishing the novel. But no, I essentially screwed myself this month.

The funny thing is… Okay, maybe it’s not funny, but more like a distant sobbing moment of yelling at myself. Anywho, I’ve said throughout this month I had hoped for a repeat of last year’s Camp NaNo in April where I did 61k in a month. My Facebook “On this day blah-blah years ago…” throwback post ended up showing me my win status from last year’s Camp NaNo in April today, when I did that 61k.

I looked at it and just started sobbing internally, wishing I could have done that again. I validated two days early last year, with that 61k, and somehow managed 128 pages and completed six and a half chapters, plus starting a new one.

I’m nowhere close to that this year.

I wonder if part of my reluctance this month to write was not just because I was going to finish the novel and that both scared and excited me, but also because I hate splitting my NaNo project into two separate novels. It’s weird to me to do that. I don’t know why, I’m just strange like that, and a bit of an OCD nit picker.

Even though I didn’t get to up my goal at all this month, I’m more than likely still going to run into the issue of needing a thousand to two thousand words of…something to hit goal.

Maybe…

I don’t know for sure. Right now the only thing I know for sure is I want to rip my hair out on this final chapter. It’s…ugh. I don’t even have words anymore except a fluent, colorful string of curses and some screaming.

The chapter is worse than sucking now.

It still feels fake and forced, and there’s still no bang to it or tension like I envisioned. The scene in my head is not flowing out through the fingertips in the slightest. It’s maddening, it’s infuriating. I’m so damn frustrated over this chapter that I was inches away from deleting it to start over Wednesday night.

And I don’t do that. I don’t delete to start over. That’s what editing is for.

Believe it or not on top of the this total hell week of work — no it has not gotten any better at all, let’s just say that by Wednesday I had more hours on the clock than my boss, and I’ve still got one more shift tonight — I did manage to do some writing Wednesday night with a friend, about a thousand words I think. And…

Well, the writing went something like this:

-*Is writing*
-*On the final chapter of Book 1*
-*Nothing is going according to plan or how I can see it in my head*
-*Mentally starts to throttle both my main characters*
-*Whole chapter feels forced, fake, and non-directional; hate every bit of what I’m writing*
-*Keeps writing anyways because that’s what you do*
-*Starts to think I’m finding the groove finally and getting on track*

Five minutes later….

-*One main character says something they shouldn’t, and AREN’T, supposed to make known*
-*Starts swearing like a sailor*
-*Bashes head off wall*
-*Throttles characters even more*
-*Stops writing and leaves lengthy ranting note to rewrite the whole damn thing because I give up on this chapter because it royally sucks monkey balls*

Yeah…

I’m that frustrated with Chapter 41.

Never before have I been this fed up and frustrated with a chapter. Never before have I wanted to delete something so badly and start over with it. Never before have I said I’m skipping the chapter and moving on to the next one because I don’t do that.

But guess what?

That’s exactly what I’m doing for the first time.

I don’t know why this chapter is so hard to write, but it is driving me insane. Is it because it’s the final chapter of the book? The big cliffhanger ending and the final show down? Is it because I know if the ending is no good then no one will want to read Book 2? Is it because I need it to be perfect because it’s the end of the first book?

Whatever the reason is for this chapter being so damn hard I am still ripping my hair out and screaming over it. It’s a miracle I didn’t throw something (like my laptop) Wednesday night when I got to the point of giving up on it. I was ranting up a storm.

One friend offered to take a look at the chapter and give me any pointers or opinions, and surprisingly — after a lot of hesitating — I finally agreed. I mean, I’ve never showed a whole chapter of Fated to Darkness to anyone before. This story is my heart and soul, this series is my heart and soul of writing. I was terrified out of my mind to show it to someone, especially completely unedited, and especially because it sucks monkey balls in my eyes.

But perhaps that was part of my problem. I’m so close to it and in knowing what it should be, that I can’t see what it really is. So eventually I agreed and sent the chapter to her for a fresh set of eyes. To my complete and utter dumbfounded shock, they actually liked it. That for a first draft they found it pretty good, and with coherent thought.

I was…speechless.

Hell, I’m still speechless over that.

Granted, they didn’t know the full context of the rest of the book since this was the very end, so it’s hard to give more specific pointers or opinions, but just the fact that they said they liked it and it was pretty good for a very first draft with no editing yet blew me away. I will admit it lessened my frustration and doubt a little. It lifted my confidence just enough that I debated on continuing to write the chapter as it was with my character’s blunder to see where it went, but I haven’t. I’m reluctant to let that train continue because I know she was not supposed to let known what she did.

It can’t happen. Just can’t.

So that leaves me back at square one on wondering what to do about the chapter.

Another friend suggested two things: Either keep writing and see where it leads me, or stop and write another version of it where the screw up moment doesn’t happen.

Writing a second version of a chapter is something I’ve never done before. I’ve always been reluctant too because I think that makes for a double headache in the editing phase, and I also believe that if your second version happens in the middle of the book, it can royally mess with details all throughout the rest of the book. That was a maze of confusion and editing nightmares that I did not want.

If I end up rewriting and changing some things in edits later, fine, I’ll deal with the out of place or missing details then, but I’ve never wanted the hair pulling of multiple options to edit with.

However, for the fact this is the final chapter of the novel and a second version wouldn’t affect anything more than the Epilogue perhaps, I’m toying with the idea of writing a second version just to see what happens. There’s a chance the second version and first version could both have the parts I need combined to be what I’m looking for. I think I’m starting to lean toward writing a second version just to see where it takes me.

Even if it’s complete and utter shit too at least it’s words written for Camp and provides me with more options or ideas for when I come back to it in edits. I mean, once I finish the chapter it will sit for a long time before I reach it again, and by then I might have fresh eyes on the crap I wrote and not find it as big a pile of crap as I think it is now.

Who knows, and I won’t know until I get to that point.

She also gave me another piece of advice that I think I need to print and frame and hang where I can see it every day:

BoCFoK!

Butt on Chair, Fingers on Keyboard.

(Read the link, it’s like a mini pep talk. Which is exactly why I need to print and frame it. Thank you, P.T.)

Right now though I still need 5,669 words to hit goal for Camp, with only three days left and one more work shift to go. So I better put my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard as soon as I can. I’m hoping that final 5.7k of words will entail only Fated to Darkness, but I’m not sure the characters will manage that, and I don’t want to be dragging things out just to make that happen. On the other hand, I still don’t know what I can finish with if I need more words because I’m reluctant to do a thousand or so of Clockwork Heart this late in the month.

I think what I’m going to do is skip forward and write the Epilogue to see how that goes, and to put some distance between myself and Chapter 41. Depending how many words are left at that point I’ll go back and try to write a second version of that last chapter. At the very least I’ll skip the hard part of the chapter right now and write the very end of it, because I know exactly how that part goes down. I’ve known how those final pages end since the very beginning of this novel. I can at least write that part without issue I know, and then find a way to tie it all together in edits.

But as soon as I finish the Epilogue and that little bit, I have officially finished the first draft of Fated to Darkness, Book 1 of The Dark Heir chronicles.

I’m oh so close…

Now I’m just praying the Epilogue doesn’t give me as much trouble as Chapter 41 has, because I know it’s going to be a bit tricky to write as well. Cross your fingers for me and wish me luck for smooth sailing on the Epilogue because this is it.

This is the final days of NaNo, and this is the final chapters of Fated to Darkness. If my next post isn’t a declaration of a win and the completion of this novel, then my dear followers, do smack me.

Five More Days

Five more days.

There’s just five more days left to the first Camp NaNoWriMo of 2017.

Remember on Friday I had said I had a huge writing sprint of 8.2k words and had caught up to par and even surpassed it again, even finishing the chapter I was on? Remember that I was excited and confident that I’m oh so close to the end now?

Heh, yeah, I’m not excited anymore. And I’m no longer at par. Once again I’m 2k below, and my odds of getting any word count added until possibly Saturday or Friday night is slim to nothing.

*Sigh*

It’s been a rough weekend, and yesterday started five days of work hell. (Our assistant manager is on vacation which leaves three of us to run the store, and more hours than I want because of NaNo.) What makes it even worse is all the shifts I got are the long ass early afternoon till close. The shifts I don’t ever get a damn thing done at home with. Why I get all the closing shifts and the other keyholder gets all the openings is beyond me. I don’t see how that’s fair but whatever.

I am ending up with one opening shift instead of five straight days of closing, only because they needed to switch shifts with me due to previous commitments that were overlooked. But switching the shift also leaves me with even more hours, as well as two long ass back to back close and open shifts that always kill me.

So, yeah, I’m not expecting to get any words written until Friday or Saturday, which then leaves me three days — not even — to write 6,811 words.

I know it’s doable for me if I can do 8k in a day, but I also know from experience by Friday I am going to be so worn out that my motivation and energy to write is probably going to be non-existent. Which means Saturday will pretty much be a bust day more than likely, and I’ll have to write all that on Sunday.

And did I mention there might have to be some other things I do that weekend to help get ready because there are only three free weekends before the camping season starts for me.

In other words, I’m starting to worry, and stress — more than I already am over too much shit, and panic.

Five more days, and 6,811 more words.

And four more work days of hell. If they’re anything like how yesterday’s shift went, I am done.

It’s not just the stress and frustration dragging me down on writing again either. I started the final chapter to Fated to Darkness on Sunday — not the Epilogue, but the final number chapter — and I could see it in my head as this tension-filled, edge of the seat, drama and action extravaganza. I could see it perfectly right after I had finished Chapter 40 last week, when I was on a roll.

I should have said fuck sleep and kept going when I was on the roll last week.

This chapter is…sucking now.

It feels like I’m pulling teeth and everything feels almost…fake. There’s no real tension to it, I can’t even tell where the damn dialogue is going. I’m essentially drowning in this chapter and not getting where I wanted it to be. It doesn’t have an ounce of the bang I wanted, and I want to rip my hair out and throw it across the room.

Quite honestly, I want to just skip it and go write the Epilogue, but I don’t do that.

Maybe it’s the last few horrible days getting to me that has stunted how the chapter was supposed to go. Maybe I’m writing crap because my emotions are crap right now.

I don’t know, but the frustration and lack of excitement to it now is certainly not helping the fact I’m running out of time to get the NaNo win.

I’ll be glad when this week is over. I think I’ll be glad when NaNo is over, too, and I don’t normally say that. And I’m about ten seconds away from just hitting delete on his post instead of publish. Am I just ranting instead of talking about NaNo and writing because I’m fed up and have no one to talk to?

Gaining Momentum

We are officially in the home stretch of April’s Camp NaNo madness. Only nine days left. Yesterday the site officially announced that validating had begun, and to those who don’t follow NaNoWriMo that means that there’s no more changing your goal. It is set in stone now so if you’re slacking, you better light a fire under your butt and work like mad to come out with that win.

Validating is essentially the proof that you did the work throughout the month. If you’re using Camp to write it means you have to copy and paste every single word you wrote that month into the little box they provide and click validate so it can compute the number of words to prove you haven’t lied on your word count.

(Which is exactly why I write everything for NaNo in a separate Word doc. It makes it that much easier to copy and paste at the end, and that much easier to update your word count during the month.)

Then if validating accepts your progress as a win… Voila! You get a nice big winner badge, banner, gold star, and goodies! Not to mention the satisfaction that you made it! That might be the best part about the win.

(I’m not quite sure how validating works for anyone who’s used Camp to edit by page numbers, or an X-number of hours put into working on writing-related projects that month. That part is still really knew to me and I’ve never used it.)

So with only nine days left to the madness, where am I sitting at now?

On Tuesday’s post I was sorely failing in all accounts for NaNo. I was below par by 5k and I had blown every single day off I had in a four day stretch for writing.

Before I went to bed Tuesday I forced myself to write. I had a little help from a friend who wrote with me, and I also had a little bit of motivation in the form of a snail-mail letter bribe if I hit 2k before I went to bed, and that eventually got me going. Needless to say, I ended up making the 2k before I crashed around 4am.

Wednesday was my final day off, and my last chance to get some serious words written. Of course, it’s also my Shard day, and I had a couple errands and menial chores I needed to run as well. Unfortunately. That meant my writing didn’t start till late afternoon again, but once I got started…

There was literally no stopping me. The apocalypse could have started and I would not have stopped writing. I was on fire, the words were just rolling right off my fingers, bleeding over the keyboard. You would have had to pry me away with a crowbar, kicking and screaming bloody murder, to get me to stop writing.

At the start of Wednesday I didn’t think I was going to catch up to par, I was still 4k below once midnight hit that evening, even with the 2k I did the night before. I expected at the most to get maybe another 2k or so and then that would be it.

So boy was I blown away when my final numbers showed I had managed to write 8.2k in twenty-four hours by the time I crashed for bed Wednesday night — which was again somewhere around 4am.

Not only did I catch up to par, I passed it by 1.2k again. I’m still caught up to par right now, and I haven’t done any writing since late Wednesday night thanks to work and exhaustion. (Granted once midnight hits I will drop 800 words below par again, but I have a nice, free, undisturbed night tomorrow after work, and I am going to use it.)

You know the best part about my 8.2k frenzy?

Chapter 40 is finished.

I am one chapter closer to the end of Fated to Darkness.

I’m on the final chapter, and after that is completed all that is left to write is a short Epilogue. The first draft of Fated to Darkness will finally be completed after almost three years.

I have no words. None.

The range of emotions coursing through me over that fact are unreal.

I will finish this novel this month. I won’t get to bump my goal up any now because I struggled so much in the beginning of the month, and I won’t be getting to write anything in Clockwork Heart for the month more than likely — at the very most it might be one or two thousand words, if that. I’m not going to have a 60k month like I did last year in April, but I will be finishing this novel, and right now that is all I can ask for.

Nine days left. Only 8,750 more words to validate.

April’s win, here I come. My momentum and motivation are back, baby, and I can see the end of the novel that much closer within my reach.

Could’ve, Should’ve…Didn’t

How do you write a blog post when you have absolutely nothing writing related to talk about?

The answer is I don’t know, but I guess I’ll figure it out as I go because that’s exactly what I’m doing right now.

You would think that because I’ve had the last four straight days off work that I should have a ton of words written and be done with Fated to Darkness and have moved onto Clockwork Heart. You would think that I should have done 20k or more in these past four days and be close to goal, or upping it.

But no. You would be wrong.

Very, very wrong.

Four straight days off. FOUR! And I haven’t written a single word.

Why? Why, me? Why do you do this to yourself?

It’s Camp NaNo. You are supposed to be WRITING.

(Yes, I am yelling at myself.)

*Sigh*

In my defense — or maybe this is my excuse, which, *slaps self*, bad me! — it has been a fairly busy four days. Saturday was spent catching up on everything I didn’t finish the beginning of that week thanks to holiday madness. Sunday was Easter of course which meant spending time with family and apparently it also meant coming home sick that night with a splitting migraine. Monday was a friend’s birthday so that meant I had to spend time with them, and I was still feeling a bit iffy that morning. And today…

I don’t know what happened to all of today. I think I pretty much screwed my own morning and afternoon. The evening was spent at the hair dresser where I got my first ever coloring. (I got highlights, and it’s amazing how stunned every single hairdresser was I had never done any coloring with my hair before. I was like a star. LOL) But let me just say… AHH! I love it!

*Clears throat*

Anywho, as I was saying…

My four days off were pretty much screwed. I know I should have had writing time in every single one of them, but it just…didn’t happen. (Well, except maybe for Easter.) I guess I really am just making up excuses now, because I know I should have been writing Saturday night after I finished things and settled down, and if I had been up a bit early on Easter I could have written something before leaving and ending up sick the rest of the night. Monday I could have done some writing before I went to bed, and today I should have done some before my hair appointment.

I could have, I should have on all accounts, and I…didn’t.

I’ve pretty much completely failed at Camp NaNo this time around.

You know what the really scary and disappointing bit to this is though?

Facebook does those “on this day so-and-so years ago” memory posts and do you know how many words I had last year in April on the 11th?

40,131 words. Forty thousand, one hundred and thirty-one words.

In just over a week I had managed 40k last year.

This year?

*Snorts*

I’ve just barely broken 13k and we’re almost three full weeks into this month. It’s half over already! And I’m below par by 5k, about to be 6k at midnight. I haven’t written a word in a week.

Like…

What the hell happened to me?

Did I just completely and utterly fall apart this time around, or… ??????

Like… GAH!

I don’t even know anymore.

The good news is I have one more day off before I go back to work, which means if I really light a fire under my ass, I can pull off probably 8k words easily, especially if I write a lot before I crash tonight too. And I’m pretty sure there’s someone who can light the match for me… The same person who is already glaring at me from the virtual world, and threatening me playfully in a way that I can’t tell if its bluffing or not — and I’m not sure I want to find out, and who also may or may not be ready to chase me with a sword as my Muse instead of the ever so popular…

writing muse

Okay, well, maybe not chase me. That would defeat the purpose of sitting and writing, but the gun in that photo might turn into a sword instead pretty soon. Or a whip. Or… Yeah, I’m going to stop imagining what she might have the capability of pulling out to make me write. I really can’t tell if she’s bluffing. LOL.

The bad news is as of right now my “At This Rate You Will Finish On” date is May 12th, I need an average of 1.3k words a day to win on time, I won’t be bumping my goal up anymore this month like I had hoped, and after this last day off I will essentially be screwed the rest of the month because our assistant manager will be going on vacation now, which again means more flipping hours I don’t want right now.

Go. Figure.

Nothing like a closing in deadline and running out of time to make me write, right?!

…..

Gods I hope so. This novel was supposed to be done in the first week of NaNo.

Sleepless Tangents And The 100 Word Trick

!DUE TO A LACK OF SLEEP, THIS BLOG POST HAS BEEN CANCELLED!

Just kidding. No it hasn’t. A friend dropped that line to my exhausted self when I had no idea how to start this post and I had to use it.

For real though, I am running on less than two hours of sleep as I write this so I’m going to warn you readers now: There is a high possibility very little of this will be coherent enough to understand, or not wander off on a tangent because I am too exhausted to focus.

The lack of sleep was totally worth it this time. Do you ever get so caught up in a book or plot or scene that when it’s coupled with music you just…can’t? Like, there’s not even any words that can describe the feeling. It’s just powerful and emotional and Oh.My.Gods. All you can do is swear, squeal, mutter incomplete sentences, and die while you cry internally at the amazingness that is the plot/scene/book.

Yeah. That was totally me all last night. I would have said screw sleep and stayed up all night — despite the looming long ass early work shift — if a friend and I had kept going in the roleplay because it was just that good.

I just couldn’t stop. Still can’t. I didn’t want it to end. I read back through every reply again before I finally did crash just so I could picture it again in my head. It gives me chills, it makes the heart clench and stop in emotion, makes your breath hitch in your chest. I would have kept reading it over and over if I didn’t put my phone down. Hell, I left the same song playing on repeat the entire plot because it just made it so much more powerful and deep. Actually, I’m still listening to the song on repeat, and it’s been two days straight now. The only time I haven’t been hearing it is in my sleep and at work. Not even gonna lie, I am listening non-stop. (My household wants to strangle me by now for singing it and blasting it so much.) I’m listening to it right now, but with earphones. It’s better with earphones.

It’s just… UGH. I CAN’T. CAN’T EVEN. HOLY DAMN.

See what I mean? Total incomplete sentences because I can’t put the feelings into words when I mesh the plot and song together. Unless you want a long stream of curse words and one word answers, mixed in with some squealing and screaming. All I have to do is think about it and…nope. Can’t even.

So, yeah, the less than two hours of sleep was totally worth it. No regrets. I wish it didn’t have to end, but alas, all plots must end to some degree. Sadly. Ah, well, I’m sure there will be another soon enough that I’ll be slack-jawed and addicted to again. They’re like a drug. A wonderful drug that I can’t get enough of.

Hello, I’m Daelyn and I am addicted to stories.

I’m an author, I’m supposed to be addicted to stories.

Alas though, it is Camp NaNo and the stories I’m supposed to be creating right now are novels, not co-written freaking amazing roleplays. (Though they can give you soooooo many plot bunnies you can actually USE in the REAL story. I’ve lost track of how many things I have planned and resolved to use in the real book from roleplaying it. It’s an insane number. Roleplaying with your characters is seriously an author’s greatest gift of ideas, it is so damn helpful.)

And I’m getting off track. Already. Again. I mean…

Which track was I even on to begin with?

I have no idea.

The first week of Camp NaNo is just about over and I’m still just under 10k. I’m kinda upset with myself for not being further, for not having finished Fated to Darkness already this month. My motivation is seriously waning and struggling this month. Which is weird, because normally I’m excited times a million on the first NaNo of the new year.

I mean, some unforeseen stress hasn’t helped matters, and the fact Easter is right around the corner and work is getting crazy because of it doesn’t help either. But… I don’t know. Something just still seems off with me this month for Camp. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Part of me thinks it has to do with finishing this novel. One minute I’m excited and squealing that I’m so close! Then the next I’m almost scared to be finishing it so I think I start dragging my feet. I mean, this novel has taken up two and half years of my life writing it. It’s going to be…weird to be done writing the first draft. Weird is going to be an understatement of the century. I’m going to miss it. As a friend explained to me, maybe I don’t want to stop interacting with the characters.

In a way I think she’s right. Granted, I know there is going to be a Book 2 and I’ll see them all again for that adventure, but… This series is my heart and soul so I think I’m hesitant to finish it and have to let it sit while I work on Clockwork Heart. (I DO want to release something this year, and that is my most logical WiP to complete and release. It’s also a fun story to write.) I don’t have to let FtD sit completely untouched because I do need to work out the notes I need to print with it too when it comes to editing, and all the other concordance notes I want to finish too before I get to the major editing. But…that’s just not the same as writing it.

I’ll get myself moving on it somehow. I must. I would like a bigger goal than 30k for the month, and I would like a decent amount of words added to Clockwork Heart by the end of the month.

The last two days have sucked in writing though. I haven’t touched FtD the past two days. Or… Wait, did I add at least some words to it Tuesday night after I did my other blog post? I feel like I did, but… Oh hell, I can’t think straight to remember that. I mean, I did do some writing the past two days. I haven’t blown it off completely. I did my Shard and I posted to the #ThursThreads challenge again this week.

I kinda really liked what I came up with for the flash fiction challenge this week. I took it my normal dark direction, but I broke the glass ceiling of normal statistics for serial killers, and I also took it to a slightly sexual route, not even straight sexual. And I don’t normally ever write anything sexual, let alone LGBTQ+ sexual.

Was that too much information?

Oh hell, what do I care? I don’t follow the normal stigma. I like open and honest and brave people who aren’t afraid of themselves, who shed their masks and are willing to speak out despite the societal norm. It’s oppressing enough as it is to not lend my voice to the growing volume of acceptance. Change starts with one and grows.

Wow… This blog post really is all over the place. Not to mention shit just got deep.

And this post has had next to nothing to do with Camp NaNo progress, hasn’t it? I should rectify that a bit here…if I don’t end up wandering off on another tangent of thought. (I did warn you folks at the start of this post.)

So week one of Camp NaNo is coming to a close today and I am just under 10k words. I have two more work shifts before I have a day off again, but at least these next two are short shifts. They are also closing shifts which means, thank the Gods, I can sleep. Glorious sleep.

Hopefully since these next two shifts are short and closing I’ll be able to get some writing in without being exhausted or worrying about needing to be up early and if I should be sleeping instead of writing. I truly debated on just saying screw it and staying up all night last night to write, but I had a feeling my brain was going to kick me in the ass if I did that so for once I listened to logic.

It still kicked me in the ass.

Should’ve had that Monster earlier to wake me up…

I wish I had the energy to write tonight — I’m getting antsy from not writing for Camp — since I don’t have to be up early tomorrow, but I’m not sure how well that’ll work out this time. Then again, if I just start writing it might just keep flowing and I’ll forget how exhausted I am as I get caught up in it. Or, you know, I’ll write something so incoherent that I’ll fall off my chair laughing and wonder what the fuck just ran through my head.

Both of which I’ve done before.

Although that reminds me of another piece of advice a friend gave me yesterday: It’s easier to tell yourself “write a hundred words” than it is to tell yourself “I have to write”.

I never realized how true that was until I tried it, and I’m now calling it the 100 Word Trick.

The hundred words comes almost easily, and once you get that hundred words, if you’re lucky, it just keeps flowing and the next thing you know you have a thousand words, or two thousand, or five thousand.

The other trick she just taught me in regards to the 100 Word Trick: Start that hundred words of writing in a brand spanking new pristine white Word doc.

Why?

I asked the same question, and the logic she gave me I cannot dispute.

What’s less daunting? Going from 0 to 100 words, or going from 259,658 to 259,758?

Makes sense when you look at it that way, don’t it? Having a word tracker with charts and visuals like NaNo does helps make it seem less daunting too because you can see your progress in more than just rising numbers. You see jumps in a bar graph and your estimated win date going down, not to mention your “words left to write” number gets smaller too.

So perhaps I really should just drag my zombie ass off to my Word doc and start writing that hundred words. See where it leads me. Some words are better than no words, some progress is better than none.

After all, “you might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”