Your mind is free. (Writing updates!)

When I finished my novel in early July, I found myself thinking, what now?

I’m still not doing anything with the novel… yet. Soon, though.

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As for updates on the “what now?” – After two years of writing this first novel, I’m accustomed to working on and off 24/7. It feels natural. I didn’t feel imprisoned within that cycle of self-imposed deadlines; I don’t want to leave.

For a brief moment in early July, I entertained the notion of finding some sort of paying part-time, work-from-home situation. It was a sensible idea, but… I’m going to keep writing. Sometimes, the sensible idea is to do what doesn’t make sense to others. (All of the time, in fact, as long as it makes sense to you.)

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I’m writing poetry. The poems I’m writing at the moment are coming out a little dark and disquieted, not so much in terms of content, but more in terms of mood. It’s not the happiest place, but it’s not a terrible place, either. The strange poems I’m writing right now are some of my favorites of all that I’ve written. I’m going with the mood, because that’s how it works, writing poems.

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I’d had what I thought was a solid idea for my next novel, but these new poems give me pause for thought. A couple of characters have emerged from them. What if I were to take these characters and their worlds and create a prose narrative around them?

Or I could just continue writing the poems in this unexpected series, letting a story unfold, poem as medium. I’d write the poems and work on my new novel at the same time.

Or I could continue the series of poems and also continue preliminary work on the new novel idea I’d already had.

Or I could merge the two, weaving their narratives together. That would be interesting.

I’m intrigued by all of these possibilities.

 

This bird landed on the ledge of our kitchen window. He’s a big guy, about 12″ tall, and we see him around a lot. (21 August 2018)

 

 

 

There’s a method to my madness. (Writing updates!)

I come bearing something other than June Favorites today, I’m afraid! I hope to be able to put that list together for Thursday… next week Tuesday, at the latest.

It’s taken me two years to get to this particular writing update: I’ve wrapped it up.

I finished the novel yesterday. I’m happy with it, so it’s done. It’s so done, I had the printed manuscript spiral-bound, because hell if I’m going to deal with putting hundreds of pieces of paper back together in the right order in the event of mishap.

I ended up with 38 chapters and 455 pages, 461 if you include the section break and other such non-text pages.

 

Printed (double-sided) and spiral-bound. (02 July 2018)

 

(I’m not planning to mail this behemoth hard-copy anywhere, by the way. This is just for my own purposes.)

How long it took: Out of curiosity, I went through my past agendas and files and found that Day 1 of the actual writing was July 7, 2016. It took just about two years (minus five days) to complete. I quit my job on March 18 and from there spent three months and one week in prep-mode, so in total, it took 2 years and 3.5 months.

How it went down: It turned out that Draft One was actually Draft Zero. It was that rough, in my opinion. By the end of my first run-through, I’d realized that I’d been working on a first draft, not a second draft.

Of course, I then went back and did a second run-through (“third draft”). And in the last week, I ran through it again, quickly, a third time over the rough draft, just to place chapter breaks where they needed to be (things got pushed around during the editing/re-writing/cleaning-up).

In my scan-through of the text that last time I still caught a couple of minor editing errors (two, exactly) and a few inconsistencies. That last round was really a polishing round, and I’m so glad that I took the time to do it.

Inconsistencies were a big concern throughout, mainly technical details such as capitalizing certain terms when used the same way throughout the work.

Take-away: The “find” function has been invaluable. Have I said that before? Probably.

After two years of hammering away at this thing, it feels strange to not have to work on the writing part of it!

What’s next: From now, I’m focusing on writing an abstract, cover letters, etc. as I prepare to release it out into the wilds. Maybe someone will want it, right?

Once it’s out there and I’m in wait-mode, I’m going to start prep for my next project.

This first-novel endeavor has been a priceless learning process. Thanks to you all again for hanging with me on this journey.

Quantifiable. (Writing updates!)

Have I mentioned that I’m finding this second-draft business to be incredibly satisfying? Just thought I’d state that again, because it can’t be overstated.

This is my 4th writing update since starting work on Round 2. Make that the 6th update, if you want to count my two “office updates” posts, the latest of which was really all about my plants.

I’m still feeling good about my non-deadline deadline. I’m still enjoying polishing, re-writing, and deleting, cutting any gratuitous scenes (there’s been at least one) and any fluff (to which I lovingly refer as “sentimental bullshit”) that doesn’t serve any purpose. Just as importantly, I’m finding and fixing inconsistencies. The “replace all” option in “find” has been invaluable.

Here’s a quick look at the quantifiable changes I’ve made to the manuscript since completing the rough draft at the end of November:

Word-count: I’ve written 1,888 more words. Current word-count: 86,478 (up from 84,590)

Page-count: I have 29 more pages. Current page-count: 427 (up from 398)

To note: Many of the additional pages came not from writing more words, but from restructuring existing text. I’ve broken up paragraphs, moved lines, created new section breaks, etc. That sort of thing pushes down everything that follows, adding to the page-count.

My increased word-count is mostly the result of polishing through deep edits and re-writes, fleshing out original text in some places as well as adding to areas that needed more. I haven’t changed the story at all.

Current status: I’m on page 299 as of today. As it stands, I have 128 pages to go. It’s inevitable that the word/page-count will look different when it’s all said and done, though!

Commemorative pic: I’ll have you know that I spent the earlier part of this afternoon trying and failing to take a selfie with Nenette, as she’s my near-constant companion here in my office. At this point, she’s reached ninja-level abilities to escape having her picture taken. My plants can’t escape, though. I ended up taking this selfie with Barclay, my first office plant. [insert heart emoji here]

 

(April 2018 Writing Updates from Crazy Plant Lady)

 

And that would conclude this writing update! I hope you’re all having a great week so far.

First-novel problems: stabbing in the dark. (Writing updates!)

Callaghan said that I look like a teenage boy in this pic, and I guess I can see it. I’m ragged and bare-faced, and my hair is a casualty of my indecision dragging itself out. (I can’t decide what I want to say when I go to get my hair cut, so I just haven’t gone to get it cut.) Then, of course, I filtered the image to make it look even more terrible, because why not. This is the opposite of the way you normally see me. This is my grungy Gen-X writer’s self-portrait.

 

The joy of having a bluetooth selfie stick/tripod: I can glance up at the camera and capture myself looking the way I’m feeling, good or bad.

 

Second draft progress: It’s been wild… wild, but going well. I’m past the half-way point. I’ve been mostly nonplussed. Some chapters I’ve encountered have been so rough, they were like mere templates. Others were already so polished, I glided over them. Some I’d thought were good, then found them to be problematic, and conversely, I’ve come across chapters I’d loathed, then loved upon second reading. The whole thing has been a crap-shoot.

Bottom line, I’m a better writer now than when I started, so deep edits and re-writes have been in order. Have I said all of this before? Writing this first novel has amounted to on-the-job training, self-motivated, self-taught, and hesitant. I leaped out of my comfort zone with this prose project, but I kept one foot in. Poetry. My comfort zone is poetry.

I’m happy with my progress, I’d say, even while knowing that the result will never be “perfect” in my eyes. Is it ever, for anyone? I’d bet that no writer feels that their work is perfect. At the core of it all, I love what I’m doing, and I’m grateful for that.

 

Novel progress: 2nd draft. (Writing updates!)

It’s been over a month since my last writing update post!

Work on the second draft of my novel continues, and I’m having to remind myself every day to be patient with this process. This part is truly fun and exciting, as I’ve said before. I want to enjoy it without stressing over the passage of time. It’s a weird clash: Hurry up. But enjoy it. Hurry up. But enjoy it. Hurry up….

Do you know that feeling? When your own impatience threatens your fun?

Earnest intentions to discipline myself have led to naught. Bizarre and unexpected things keep happening. Last week Sunday, I concocted an ambitious plan to start out the week’s writing, but the very next day, my plan was literally derailed by a tortoise. You can’t plan for these things. I couldn’t have seen the tortoise train coming, because it came out of nowhere.

(That would be a story for another time.)

Neither could I make this stuff up if I tried. Mark Twain’s words come to mind: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

That being said, there’s also an element of difficulty to this second-draft business, which balances out the fun element. It’s an old difficulty that carried over from the first draft to the second. I’m not complaining. We can’t have too much fun, now, can we?

Challenges are good. Moreover, challenges are necessary.

 

Favorite light: early-morning daylight. Beverage of choice: water.

 

Overall, work on the second draft is going well… just not as quickly as I’d hoped. I have to be patient with myself. The work will be done when I love it.

Mini writing update and SEASON’S GREETINGS!

Writing update: simply put, things in the world of writing over here have been phenomenal since I’ve fallen into the unexpected state of euphoria that is the second draft. Yes, the second draft, I’m finding, is like a state of mind. As I think I’ve said before, it’s also a lot of actual re-writing, and it’s more than fun. It’s all I want to do. I’ve yet to crack open any of the books I’ve been waiting to read. If it wasn’t for the gym, I’d never leave the house.

I spent the first few hours of this morning writing, and then I went outside and took a bunch of selfies for my post next Tuesday because our houseguests are arriving on Sunday and today is my last chance to mug for the camera (the whirlwind starts tomorrow with cleaning and baking and such), so I’m later here than I wanted to be.

My plan to do some cardio in the garage today has been derailed on account of the probability that I injured my toe yesterday afternoon. Guess how? Getting into the shower, of course. I stepped over the metal threshold while I was lost in thought, and my left foot didn’t quite clear it. Not to brag, but it was a most epic of toe-stubbings. I actually smacked the front of all my toes against the threshold, but only the second-biggest one looks, literally, bent out of shape and brilliant with several of the wrong colors for a toe. I’m avoiding walking around today due to discomfort, so the only workout I’m getting is in my fingers as I write. PITY. (Not!)

But I digress. Returning to the writing update… I’m not holding myself to a hard deadline for this second draft, I’ve decided. I’ll get through it as quickly as I can while taking the time that I need. Let’s just say that I’m shooting for the end of January, but I won’t be concerned if it takes longer. I’m enjoying this part immensely, and frankly, I think I’ll be a little sad when it ends.

Seasoned novelists: do you experience this second-draft euphoria, too?

 

Nenette and the poinsettia, 2017

 

With love and thanks to all of you for being here! I hope this finds you well as we head into the end-of-year festivities. This is my last post before Christmas, but I’ll see you before New Year’s!

Writing and writing space updates! (REVISED office tour.)

Writing updates, in brief: I’ve been working through my second draft, mostly polishing, but also doing more extensive re-writing where I see the need. I’m loving this part. There’s nothing like a good chunk of time to clear your vision. 18 months later, I can really see this manuscript, and I’m going to town with it, just having fun. It’s exciting.

Office updates: I’ve got a bunch of pics to share for those of you with a penchant for seeing other people’s spaces. I get you. I’m one of you.

Main changes I made to my office since “office tour May 2017”: I snagged my old desk from its spot in the guest bedroom, added two small console/bookcase things to fit in the corner behind the desk, and acquired three more houseplants.

I loved sitting on the floor at my old German trunk, but the anti-ergonomic nature of that set-up became apparent. It was a matter of time, I suppose. I enjoyed it while I could! The books came up off the floor at the same time that I did (enter the small console/bookshelf things behind the desk). In the process of minimalizing, I removed the wall clock and the Luche Libre poster, and the only thing left hanging behind the door is my pair of boxing gloves (covered in dust, since I never use them).

About the houseplants: I’m up to five. I haven’t decided whether this counts as a minimalism fail. Does it? It doesn’t feel like it does. It feels like the energy within my ring of plants encourages my creativity. I would like to add one or two more, in fact.

Here’s the view from my window:

 

view to the front yard

 

…and here’s the interior:

 

looking in from the doorway

 

I keep the room neutral and plain. Only the plants add color.

 

where I write (same as before, except at an actual desk)

 

Nenette often naps on the futon. I can easily see her when I look up from my screen.

 

view from the desk, left of center – Nenette on the futon

 

Here’s a better pic of Nenette:

 

Nenette napping on the futon

 

To the right of the futon:

 

3 plants (Holder, Icarus, Barclay)

 

Behind my desk, right side:

 

another plant (Linden)

 

Behind my desk, left side:

 

another plant (Jerome)

 

Back of the door:

 

boxing gloves I love, but never use

 

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed this. I love peeking into other people’s offices, so this was fun to do.