Nano Nay Sayers

Don’t Go Knocking my Nano

It’s that time of year again: Nanowrimo. Yes, National Novel Writing Month is in full swing again and I am deep in its trenches trying to help out my local Municipal Liaison where I can. I love Nano. It helped me write my first finished novel. It helped me make some fabulous writerly friends and learn about new opportunities for writing in my area. Why does any of that sound bad to people?

First, let me explain a little for newbies what exactly Nano is. A bunch of crazy people around the world (in the hundreds of thousands now) try to write a novely looking thing of 50,000 words in the month of November. While 50k is not quite a novel, it is a doable number for most people in 30 days. At the end of 30 days, most will have the beginnings of novel and can feel very proud for the great accomplishment.

Why would anyone want to down this crazy, fun time? Why must the nay sayers come out in full force? I get their worries, but why cram that down the throats of people who would otherwise never write a book? Here are the issues many have with Nano:

1. Too many people only write in November and then never again.

2. Too many people think that what they write in November is a shiny, finished project and try to sell their wares the second Dec. 1st hits.

3. We are goats following the herd and can’t think for ourselves.

4. If you aren’t Nanoing, we somehow won’t associate with you.

5. The writing of 50k words in one month means all the words are garbage (sorta goes along with #2)

I will start with number 1. This is true. There are some who only write in November because of the community they have surrounding them. What’s wrong with that? If that’s what they want to do, so be it. It doesn’t make them any less of a writer. A “real” writer doesn’t have to write 365 days a year, no matter what other people say.  If they aren’t in it for money, what difference does it make?  And what harm is that to these nay sayers? Some people dabble.  So what? Get over yourselves.

2. This is also unfortunately true. While it is only a small percent of all the people who participate in Nano, there are some that don’t understand the publishing industry and don’t do their homework before throwing out a very rough draft into the world.  It is sad, but to judge every single Wrimo based on this is ridiculous. No two writers are identical so why would you lump us all together because we all did a writing challenge? Not to mention, are you telling me that there aren’t people who do this that have never participated in Nano?

3. We can very much think for ourselves. We’re writing 50k words straight from our brain, aren’t we? Heck, there are some who can drag out 100k or even 150k during the 30 days. I think that requires a few unique brain cells. Nano has a great community and although writing is a solitary sport, we can commiserate with each other about the ups and downs we all go through.

4. Just because Nano doesn’t work for you or you choose not to do it, it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. We may not talk as much during November due to the insane quest to draft, draft, draft, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love people who don’t wanna Nano.

5. Um, to quote a whole bunch of famous, published authors: 1st drafts are crap. I don’t enjoy editing when I’m writing a first draft because it slows me down to the point that I would never finish and I would hate it all way too fast. If you like to edit as you write, good for you—I DON’T.  The choice of editing it all later vs. as you write just means we have two different methods. Isn’t that the beauty of being human? That we’re all different? If we all did things exactly the same way, we’d be robots and who the heck would want to read those mechanically written books?

There are probably other reasons that people hate on it and I’m good with not knowing them. People hate what they don’t understand and this is no different. Not everyone drafts the same. Some people prefer to edit as they write, most doing Nano don’t.  Being able to spew out words until we finish a first draft is the safest choice for people who have trouble finishing.  All writing is rewriting anyways, so getting the basics of the story out onto paper gives a base to start molding and shaping the story into something great.

Whether you like Nano or not, I hope we can all agree that a program that helps give new writers a place to feel safe and learn how to start a writing routine is a good thing. It’s just one of many resources out there for writers. Besides, one crazy month out of twelve really isn’t that much to deal with. Thirty days will be over before you know it! Uh, oh, I better go write!

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Writing through the Fear of Mediocrity

I have this fear. I fear I’ll end up just mediocre so I tend to not try, so that way I can never say I failed. I can never celebrate my accomplishments either. It’s a crappy state to be in. It’s why I never wrote all that seriously. If I never finish anything, I can never worry that it’s not good enough. But who wants to live that way? I found Nanowrimo at my lowest point (well, my lowest writing point we’ll say) and I thought I’d give novel writing a shot after writing screenplays…or parts of screenplays for so long.

What a breath of fresh air this cliché is not and Nanowrimo was! I didn’t finish the story I was doing but I hit my 50k and that was empowering. I made writing friends with the community that Nano has built and was spurred on to keep writing more. It still took a little time before I was writing more regularly, but it was a start.

I now have my first complete novel that I’m editing (yes, I’ve blogged this all before. Shush). The point of this is that you can’t let the worry get you down. My words will never be perfect no matter how many times I change them. I can edit until my fingers bleed and I pass out from the lack of nutrients coffee doesn’t bring and it will still have mistakes or could be changed, could be better. We are not perfect which means our beautiful babies will never be perfect either. The great thing is: everyone else is flawed too! I’ve read plenty of traditionally published books and found mistakes or an overuse of words. It seems readers don’t mind little mistakes if you have a good story to tell. That and a fun and different voice. Now, don’t start panicking that your voice isn’t different or that your story is like everyone else’s. Again, I have read published works that aren’t perfect. Just write the best story you can. If you write it, they will come. Your voice will always be different because YOU’RE the one writing. No one else can write quite like you, but that’s a motivational blog for another day.

Now, one of you needs to remind me of this often as I tend to be a little forgetful….

I like everything so I write almost anything.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I know not only am I still finding my voice in my writing, but also what topics/genres I like to cover. With movie watching, I’m a jack-of-all-trades. My reading is a little like that too. It should stand to reason that my ideas are all over the place. I seem to stick to action in my books so far, but there is a contemporary romance that is itching to go (even if I have no clue how to keep a book moving forward without action). It makes me wonder, am I an oddball writing different genres and categories?

My first completed novel is what I call YA low fantasy. There is a little paranormal activity (mind powers, not ghosts) so I guess it could also be low paranormal. Whichever you want to call it, there is a little romance and a lot more monkey bites, near death experiences, and a quest to find the friend.  Second novel that is about 56k in at the moment has monsters, deaths, human hunting rednecks, and aliens. No clue what I’m labeling that one yet. Again, action with a hint of a romance.
But what of my other ideas? What of the other little gems I truly hope to someday write? A few of them have similar lines to the two above. A few of them don’t. The next one that really really wants to bug me as of late is a contemporary love story with a teeny tiny part alien. How many other writers veer all over the map with their writing choices? I see so many stay within a certain box for their stories. They write paranormal romance or fantasy and that is it. It’s what their fans know them for. It’s what fans look for in their writing. It scares me a little knowing I’m all over the place. Will this alienate potential readers? Am I shooting myself in the foot not sticking with one category or genre (did I mention monster, human hunters has a 19 year-old MC? Not exactly YA in content either)?

Maybe I’ll eventually stick to one thing and maybe I won’t. I know not every author has one given genre and that is all they write. Look at J. K. Rowling recently. Then again, she wasn’t sure how people would take to the mystery so she used a pen name. I do have a pen name at the ready, should I need it. Time will tell since I would need to get published first to even have this worry! One step at a time, but I like to think ahead. I’m a planner like that.

Overall, I know it will be the writing that does the talking for me, not the genre. I am aiming to make my writing its best and try to worry on the other stuff later. Still, I’m a worrier. It’s what I do. I ponder random crap at silly times. Goal 1: Finish editing Circus. Goal 2: Finish drafting Monsters, Rednecks, and Zombies, Oh My! (working title). Goal 3: Query Circus to agents. Goal 4: Um, write more stuff.  Past this list, I’m trying not to think too far ahead.

What about you? Do you write in one strict genre? Two? More? I’m curious how many other writers out there dabble. Who knows, maybe there’s more of us than the traditionalists!

Genre or Wait, What is My Book?

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you will clearly see that I’m no authority on writing (or much else). I’m stumbling along as I go, writing whatever comes to mind about writing.

Today’s topic of confusion: Genre. Ah, that pesky little demon that can be as simple as romance or mystery to as complicated as Dystopian Paranormal Romance (ok, I made that one up, but I’ve seen some lengthy ones on occasion).

When writing my little circus story, I just wrote. I didn’t think about genre. I knew it was Young Adult (which surprised the heck out of me since I hadn’t written YA before) and that was about it. *Side Note: I know YA is a category before anyone hunts me down. If I ever accidentally call it a genre, I’m just being lazy. You know, like Kleenex being every facial tissue ever made? Sorta like that. Now back to the show*

With the first draftedidee draft done, I was excited and relieved. I had finished my first ever novel. I rested and celebrated. Then I hyperventilated as I thought about editing. I’d never edited something like this before. Papers for school would be edited as I wrote, but fiction is a different writing process in every way for me.

So being the good writer that I am, I did what anyone else would have done—-procrastinated by researching agents and query letters. It is here that I realized I had no clue what genre my novel fell into. It’s set in the here and now with a circus run by a man that forces people to perform for it so he can feed off of their energy and the patrons’. A whole lot of mind powers going on, but an otherwise mostly realistic world.

I began researching genre and what genres were out there. My poor little story didn’t seem to quite fit anything that I came upon. I’ve settled for low fantasy at the moment, but I can’t say I love that classification.

Have you ever done a search for genre? Eek, it’s scary and confusing. No wonder I’m still just as lost today as I was the first time I decided to christen my novel! I will list a small few of sites I found to list genres but with subgenres, the possibilities seem endless.

http://www.writing.com/main/list_items/type/genre

http://www.theguardian.com/books/list/booksgenres

http://www.ask.com/wiki/List_of_literary_genres

http://www.ask.com/wiki/Category:Novels_by_genre

So, do your homework and try to categorize as best as you can, but know that most of us are as lost as you if you don’t have an easily genrefied novel. Come as close as you can when you querying (or so I keep reading) and put most of that worry into making your book the best it possibly can be!

Happy writing.

Shake It off/Talk it out

So I had this whole post ready about my frustrations on editing (those frustrations are really still the same). I feel as if I’m standing still yet moving forward. Baby steps are in mm and it is taking me way longer than I hoped to get this book ready for the real world.

This isn’t that post. As I said, all of those feelings still apply, but as I wrote out that other post and whined on Twitter, something miraculous happened: I had an epiphany. I am still a little scared of said epiphany because this means that yet another character’s POV will be thrown into the equation, but I’m excited to see how things go from the villain’s POV.

So that brings me to my actual point: don’t forget the things that help you get to your destination. For me, this is talking things out. What looks like complaints and whining to some is me trying to wrap my head around what is wrong. Often times, the more I say something, the less it bugs me. It also helps to unburden my brain with one less worry that doesn’t need to be there.

The moral of the story: Do what you need to in order to get things to work out. If you need to take a break from a story, do it. Go read, watch tv, or harass other people until you feel like you can come back with fresh eyes. Editing a pain in your behind? Ask others for help, look at how other authors do it, or again, take a break. If whining helps you figure out your next move, do it. To hell with what other people think.

I still don’t love editing. Many of the problems I’ve been stressed about will still be there after I write these new chapters, but I hope I’ll have a slightly different perspective when I’m done with them. Either way, I’m back on my feet for the time being and headed in a forward direction. Until I’m not, I’ll just keep on trucking. So I guess that means the other moral of the story is: Don’t Quit.

Now, go write something or you know, whine about something.

The Ups and Downs

One night, this is the greatest novel ever. It’s so unique. Everyone will love it. The next, my writing is crap. Maybe I should just shelf this P.O.S.

Ah, the joys of writing and really learning that it is, in fact, hard work. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I never understood how hard it would be. This is my first finished MS. First as in first finished rough draft. The first thing I’ve ever edited and now I know why I avoided. I know, I know, the more I write and edit, the better I will get. It’s still hard. It’s hard looking at the writing and thinking,”Wow, this is really AVERAGE,” when you’re a perfectionist expecting extraordinary.

Then my girls make me laugh or smile and I wonder if maybe it all makes up for it. Those hidden gems that you hope readers will latch onto. Besides, once I get all the plot holes filled, I can nitpick to get exactly the right words. Right?

So even though it’s not perfect (and likely never will be), it’s original and it’s mine. My creepy circus. My spunky 15 year old girls. My dual POV Frankenstein. Mine. And because I had a moment the other night, I think I might put a little excerpt up. It may or may not make it to the finals, but who knows?

Everything about this thing is becoming worse the deeper in I get. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to get over the circus when everything is done or will it stick with me, too? I pull Ella’s barrette out of my pocket where it’s been tucked away. This was in her hair just days ago. The last thing to touch her. My last connection with her. The purple flower looks so innocent. I only want to put it back where it belongs.

Blog Hop!

So I got tagged for a blog hop by the fabulous Katie Teller.  Life decided to make this a day late, but better late than never, right?! Now I get to answer some questions about my WIP.  I’m sure you are dying to see the answers so here we go!

1. What is the working title of your book?

Seeing as I am coming up empty with a title, it is Untitled Circus at the moment.  I keep hoping the right title will jump out and bite me, but it appears to be playing hide and seek.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was writing a screenplay for June Camp Nanowrimo and I kept telling everyone on the Elsewhere in WI FB page for Nano to put a circus in their story. Said enough times, the circus must have gotten stuck in my head! (yes, I like my exclamation points! sue me!)

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I am undecided exactly. It is YA. There is a bit of fantasy or paranormal. Someone else suggested mystery, but I’m not sold on it.  Maybe it’s hiding with the title.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This was tough for me. I imagined original characters.  I never cast my book and imagined any actors for roles.

Both Lizzy and Ella are 15 year olds and I picture them as blondes but hair dye can fix that.  My choices are between: Chloe Moretz, Abigail Breslin, Willow Shields, and Maude Apatow.

Alex– Zac Efron, Robbie Amell, or Chace Crawford

Edmund–Matt Bomer, Chris Pine

Asher–Jeremy Renner, Alex O’Loughlin

Billy–Henry Cavill, Colin Egglesfield, Justin Long

Hep–Eli Wallach

Ophelia(red hair)–Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Jenna Dewan, ideally a young Robin Lively

Ringmaster/Puppeteer–Stuart Townsend

5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Well, I tried to get it down to one sentence, but I have two. I still need to work on it, but for now, it works.

The circus where all your nightmares come true.  While 15 year old Ella is trapped performing against her will, her best friend Lizzy bands with former circus captives to free her and bring the circus down.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

While I’m not against self-pubbing, I would like to start out traditionally and take it from there. If the time comes where I believe it is best to publish it myself, I will then go in that direction.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It was my August Camp Nano so it was just over a month to finish the story.  I won my June and August Nano’s 🙂

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not exactly sure because it is a dual POV. I’m horrible at comparing which I think comes in handy. I don’t look at the other books and wish mine was like them. I do wish I wrote like other writers, though.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.  Not only do I love that book, but she got her idea during a Nano.  She was unable to do much with her story so she sent her characters to a circus.  Although The Night Circus wasn’t technically written during Nano, it was Nano inspired.

10. What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

It is dual POV switching from 1st person to 3rd person between the two girls’ adventures.  There is snark, mind powers, quirky characters, and what’s not to love about a cursed circus?

Now that I’ve let you know all about my latest baby, here are some other people you should check out in 2 weeks when they dish about their projects.  Heck, check out their awesome blogs while you wait!

Jason Cantrell

Elise Valente

Amanda Kespohl

Sabrina the awesome