good morning, cyberspace!
You might have noticed there was no post last week.
Aha. Yeah. This was due to many things, but the majority of it was that Easter weekend was a whole lot busier than I had bothered to anticipate for, which left little to no time for writing my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, let alone blogging. So I just . . . didn’t blog.
. . . oops?
But honestly, taking a little break was probably the best thing to have happened to me all month, you guys. The first two weeks of Camp NaNoWriMo were a complete disaster (more on that to come, of course), and I just seriously needed to take some time off and breathe a little bit. And due to my unexpected absence last week, I feel a whole lot more refreshed and ready to take on both the writing and blogging worlds once again.
So let’s talk about what’s been happening this month, shall we? I think there’s quite a bit we need to go over.
— THE GREAT NANOWRIMO RECAP —
First up–and most importantly, as any writer will attest–Camp NaNoWriMo.
If there was one thing I could describe the first two weeks of Camp NaNoWriMo as, it would be false start. Looking back, I guess I should have expected this. I’ve always struggled with finding an idea and sticking with it–something that might be hard to believe, considering that I’ve been working on everlost since November of 2016–so I don’t know why I expected this time around to be any different. However, I went into the beginning of April with the mindset that I would somehow–miraculously–begin writing a brand new story without any kind of hiccups whatsoever.
And hoo, boy, was I WRONG.
Now, I don’t want to spend the entirety of this post himming and hawing over all my writerly struggles. I’ve talked about that well enough in the past (and will probably talk about it even more in the future), and for this recap I’d really like to focus on the more positive end of the spectrum. But I don’t think this post would be complete without telling you all that I encountered some very serious obstacles in the beginning of the month.
First–and quite possibly the most frustrating obstacle of them all–was Ed’s voice. Now, I know you all don’t know who Ed is quite yet, but don’t worry. You’ll get to meet him in person soon enough. (*nervous laughter*) For now, all you need to know is that Ed is the MC of my new pet project, SK, and for the first two weeks of Camp NaNo, he was a mute.
I’m beginning to notice a trend in my stories lately, and it’s that all new main characters I try to write are completely, utterly voiceless. I think I only have everlost to blame for this, because each and every MC in that story was uncharacteristically vocal. But while those guys chattered–and continue to chatter, mind you–my ears off at any given hour of any given day, pulling words out of Ed’s brain was like trying to pick a string of steak meat out from between two teeth with nothing but a straggly fingernail for aid.
Or, in other words, it was simply impossible, okay? But please note how I said was. It was impossible. Not so much anymore.
At the end of Week 2, Ed finally decided to open up to me, and I am not at all ashamed to say that this little miracle had virtually nothing to do with me. I solely have my mom, dad, brother, and sister to thank for this, because if it weren’t for them and their extremely unique and off-the-wall-yet-somehow-relevant questions, I’m 100% certain that Ed would still be sulking in the corner with his arms folded like prison bars across his chest, glaring at me from beneath the rim of his ratty old baseball cap. But because of the amazing little family that I’ve been blessed with, I finally have a character that talks to me (no more sulking in the corner for this little guy! [well. sometimes he still sulks. he’s an angry fellow, Ed. . .]), and one that I’m actually excited to write about every day. His voice is still on the vague side of things, of course, but with every page I can feel it growing, which means that by the time this story is in its third or fourth draft, I’m confident he’ll be practically dripping off the page like the most creative kind of ooze.
My second obstacle sort of ties in with the whole Ed-won’t-talk-to-me thing–I had no energy or drive to write.
I’m pretty sure anyone who’s struggled with getting a character to talk to them can attest to this (unless they are some sort of magical unicorn who can write a character who refuses to talk to them? how on earth do you do it?? please teach me your ways. . .). When a character won’t talk to me–especially a main character, who I’m supposed to be filtering all of my setting and description and thoughts through–I have the hardest time forcing myself to sit down and write. Characters drive a story for me, both when reading and writing, so when my main character feels like a stale chunk of unsalted cardboard??? TIS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO WRITE, SIR. Which meant that the majority of the first two weeks of Camp saw me face-smashing the keyboard whilst eating copious amounts of chocolate, burning the words I DID manage to write in the holiest of fires, and basically choosing to binge read Emma by Jane Austen instead of writing.
Seriously. There were three very specific days in which I wrote nothing just so I could read Emma all day. It was a problem.
Which probably led to my THIRD predicament of the month, which was that I ended up having to reduce my goal.
I know, I know. Reducing my camp goal kind of feels like premature failure, or even quitting. But by the beginning of Week 3, I could feel it deep within my soul that the goal I had set at the beginning of the month just wasn’t working for me anymore. And since Camp NaNoWriMo is always flaunting how to make your goals work for you, and not the other way around, I felt it was well within my right to lower my goal to something a little more achievable, yet still something I would have to stretch for. So while I started the month out with a goal of 35,000 words, I’m ending it with a goal of 27,500. Which I will admit is very obscure but whatever. IT’S FINE, GUYS. I’M FINE.
As I’m writing this (the Tuesday that I didn’t post anything. Mwahahahaha.), I still don’t know if I’m going to achieve this goal. But I do know that as of right now, I’m right on top of my goal and determined to finish it. I have 5 chapters of SK already written out–and a sixth one in development!–and while a lot of the words I’ve managed to get down have been multiple rewrites of the first few chapters (curse you, Ed, for not talking to me for two weeks), I’m hoping to get a solid 8 chapters drafted before the month is out. Who knows how many chapters this thing will eventually turn out to be, but for right now, 8 chapters in one crazy, hectic month sounds pretty good to me.
But now that we’ve talked about some of the difficulties I’ve faced this month, let’s talk about some of the more happy things I’ve discovered within this manuscript! Such as. . .
- The characters! . . . I absolutely ADORE the cast I’ve been creating for the past 30 days, you guys. I mean, yes, they seem a little bit like cardboard right now, and YES, Ed was an absolute grump for the first portion of the month, but other than that?? They are continuously winning my heart, and I am so so excited to introduce them all to you guys soon!
- On Friday the 19th, I wrote a line which made me laugh for the very first time while writing this story, and it was absolute pure MAGIC, my friends.
- The setting of this story is SO much fun to write. We’re about to leave the old world, though, which means that I have to leave my precious setting behind. Kinda bummed about this, I’m not gonna lie, but I think we’ll have to return to it again later, so. That should tithe me over.
- I discovered something very interesting about a specific character behind a yellow door. Hopefully I’ll be able to reveal more about this later, but as for right now, this is all you’re getting. XD
- I haven’t gotten to write any scenes including my villain quite yet, but I DO have a scene where he’s visible, and he’s exactly the sort of smug little punk that I wanted him to be. So the excitement levels are very !!!!!!! right now.
- After rewriting the beginning of this book approximately 3,000 times, I do believe I’ve finally gotten it semi-right, and I am Very Pleased with how the story is taking off.
There’s not a whole lot I can squeal about without giving away major spoilers–even though I really, really, REALLY want to squeal about a few things in particular–but rest assured that I am loving this project more than ever and cannot WAIT to share more of it with you guys in the very-distant-and-unforeseeable-future!
In a nutshell, this WriMo month was crazy, hectic, and one giant whirlwind of immense proportions. While the beginning of the month was a horrific, monstrous battle, the end of it saw a most glorious victory–and many, many words–that I shall treasure forever.
Or, you know, that I’ll treasure until it’s time to hack them all up with my bloody hatchet of editing, but shh. For right now they feel treasured.
LET THEM FEEL TREASURED, PEASANTS.
. . . FINAL CAMP NANOWRIMO STATS . . .
35,000 25,700 words
TOTAL WORDS WRITTEN: 28,710
^^ I’m super close to 30,000 words, guys!!!! As soon as I get this published, I’m gonna go see if I can’t hit 30k. I’ll keep you all posted. *crosses fingers*
— APRIL IN REVIEW —
Aside from NaNoWriMo, this month has been–for lack of a better word–insane. I’ve been job hunting (*insert intense screaming here*), blogging (though I’ll let you guys decide how well I’ve been doing at that. aha.), reading many books that were NOT on my TBR, writing my new book, obviously, and also just trying to survive this month without getting any spoilers for Avengers: End Game. (I am SERIOUSLY excited about the new Avengers, guys. And if you so much as peep a single word about that movie, I WILL CURSE YOU WITH THE LEGS OF A THOUSAND GNARLED TOADS. So don’t tell me anything about it. I haven’t seen it yet. *brandishes pitchfork aggressively*) I’ve also been getting hit over the head with some massive plot bunnies, which has definitely been interesting. I’ve started journaling–both for everyday life and also for my writing–as well, and I’m really hoping it sticks this time.
To be honest, I’m kind of in shock when it comes to this past month. So much has been happening, yet so little has changed, and I’m just super excited for what’s to come later this year. Some of the more interesting highlights of the month include:
- My mom and I planted watermelons, and they started sprouting up almost immediately and were so cute and just!!!!!! PLANTS. I love plants….
the watermelons then started dropping off like flies but shhh. happy thoughts.
- I pondered making a writing podcast. Quickly decided this would be a terrible idea and stopped to knit a bunny instead.
- ONE OF OUR OUTDOOR CATS HAD KITTENS, AND I JUST!!!!!!!!!!! They are literally the cutest little kitten fluffs, and I am a very smitten kitten. (BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! SEE WHAT I DID THERE??? DO YA??? DO YA??? #notsorry)
- I finished my fourth ever beta read this month, and HOLY GUACAMOLE. I’m not sure how I know so many talented people. It’s crazy. And also Madeline is an absolutely fantastic writer and I HIGHLY recommend checking out her blog if you haven’t already! She’s the sweetest bean and writes the most DELICIOUS settings in her stories. (seriously. don’t read her books on an empty stomach. I always managed to start reading right before lunch, and I quickly regretted it every single time.)
- I somehow managed to publish four blog posts this month? Technically I missed a week, but GUYS. Four blog posts during Camp NaNoWriMo–and, might I add,
fourthree blog posts that were NOT entirely Camp NaNoWriMo related/were somewhat readable–is a LOT for me, and I am just a proud bloggerly bean over here. Although technically I did completely fall off the face of the blogosphere as far as responding to comments and reading other blogs is concerned, but SHHHH. I’m getting back in the swing of things.
- I started writing a short story for some random reason? It has nothing to do with my WIP and will probably be a HUGE time suck as far as my writing is concerned, but I’m really enjoying it so far, so. . .yeah. Someone needs to stage an intervention, please.
- I also binge read Jane Austen’s Emma in like four days, so I mean that was fun.
Actually, speaking of books, let’s talk about some of the books I read this month!
— THE BOOKS OF APRIL —
. . . EMMA by Jane Austen . . .
Ignoring that somewhat grotesque cover, THIS BOOK WAS SO SO GOOD, GUYS. Even better–dare I say it–than the movie, which is pretty impressive coming from me.
Because I seriously love that movie, okay.
But I must confess that Mr. Knightley–while somewhat likeable in movie Emma–is quite possibly my absolute favorite character of ever in the book. He’s funny, sarcastic, TOTALLY jealous of Mr. Churchill, and has some of the best lines in the entire novel. I laughed a lot while reading this book for many, many reasons, but mostly because of Mr. Knightley. His snark level is perfection.
If you’ve somehow managed to go through life without reading this book as I did, I 100% recommend trying it out. I know some people don’t really like Emma as a protagonist, which I understand, but personally I love her. Her character arc is difficult, yes, but I think she learns and grows a lot from who she was at the start of the novel, which is truly what a story is all about.
. . . THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows . . .
All right. I’ll be honest, here, folks: I preferred the movie over the book.
OKAY, OKAY, I KNOW. I know. It’s blasphemous to say such a thing as this. HOWEVER–and this is a giant however–I seriously love that movie with an unnatural passion. Not only is it about writing and books and book clubs (ASDFGHJKL!!!!), but it also has the sweetest/saddest storyline and is just SUCH a wonderful movie. My mom and I watched it together for the first time a few months ago, and I actually re-watched it this month (because writerly inspiration. obviously. ahem.), and I loved it just as much the second time around.
But, in all fairness, I still really did enjoy the book. There was a bit of a disconnect between me and the characters due to the epistolary format, but I still felt really immersed in the story and absolutely fell in love with the characters I loved in my beloved movie. Isola, for example, is complete perfection, and I would give my left leg to become her someday. And technically I already have a bird, so I’m halfway there, apparently.
All in all, I liked the book, loved the movie, and highly recommend them both to anyone who loves writing, reading, cute little islands in the middle of nowhere, book clubs, pig farmers, and crazy ladies with parrots.
. . . THE MENTAL GAME OF WRITING: HOW TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES, STAY CREATIVE AND PRODUCTIVE, AND FREE YOUR MIND FOR SUCCESS by James Scott Bell . . .
So this book is quite possibly the most exciting one I read this month. Excluding Emma, of course. Because EMMA.
Ahem. Anyway. I’m not really sure what all I can say about this book, because everything I can think of to mention has already been spelled out in the title. This book is a huge conglomeration of many things, but at the heart and soul of it, it’s a guide to helping writers free up the mental clutter they have swarming up in their mind meats. It talks about all of the many emotions we writers go through, the obstacles and struggles we face, how to become our most productive selves when it comes to our writing, and SO much more. It’s a relatively small book (I won’t deny it–I was a little shocked by the size when I got it through the mail a couple years ago [yes, I procrastinated reading this. don’t judge me]), but it is packed with SO MUCH information and helpful tips and inspiring quotes from other writers. I 100% recommend this to every writer. It’s not exactly a “how to write” type of guide, but if you’re struggling with motivation or writer’s block or finding time to write, this book will probably be a massive help to you, as it was for me.
A bit of a side note, however: the first time I started reading this was a couple years ago, and I put it down because something about the author’s tone when it came to referencing some kinds of authors (particularly those who weren’t trying to write to make a chunk of money off their writing) ruffled my feathers slightly. However, on this second read through, I felt a lot more confident with staying true to the kind of person and writer I am, and also realized I may have misconstrued some of the author’s meanings, so I was able to overlook most, if not all, of the tiny little remarks that had previously made me question everything. So if you can just look past that–or even not see it at all–then this truly is a magnificent book for writers, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
And with that, my friends, I think we’ve pretty much summed up April. This month–like every other, so it would seem–has been a whirlwind, and I’m kind of in shock that I’ve accomplished as much as I have. The NaNoWriMo months always seem to be the most hectic, but somehow I managed to take a step away from the keys for a little while in each day and actually do something non-writing related, which was really refreshing. Hopefully this is something that I can carry forward into May, when I begin working on my Alpha edits for everlost and continue first drafting SK–which will all be detailed further in the next episode of WIP IT!, hopefully coming out soon!
But for now, as we let this happy little month slip away from us and welcome Spring in with arms wide open, I just have one final thing to say:
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!
For all my writers out there who participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this month: how did you do on your goals? Did you crush them like a Thwomp, or did you stumble a little bit and couldn’t recover? Either way, tell me about your Camp experience, and I’ll either squeal with you or commiserate, because I can certainly relate to both sides of the coin, here.
And for all my writers out there who DON’T participate in Camp NaNoWriMo: how’s your WIP coming along? (assuming you’re working on a WIP right now. . .) What sorts of stories have you been writing? Are you writing ALL OF THE WORDS, or has your brain just needed a bit of a break from the rabbit-hole of storytelling?
And for those of you who read my blog but aren’t writers: what sorts of new and awesome things have you been doing this month? Have you been taking time to stop and smell the tulips, or do you prefer to watch the flowers blow away in a frigid wind as you stay locked up indoors, safely bundled up with a cup of hot chocolate and a good movie?
and most importantly, for every single person out there in the great and terrible comment section. . .
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH?
Let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down below! And as always, until next time. . .