Last week, I recorded an episode of Write Away podcast with Natalie Lockett. She interview me about writing Beautiful, Nanowrimo, publishing, fairy tales and more. It was a new experience for me, having never been a guest on a podcast before, and it was a lot of fun. Take a listen on iTunes, Spotify or here
A few weeks ago I posted about my #PerNoFiMo or Personal Novel Finishing Month, which I did in lieu of #NaNoWriMo this November. My intention was to finish a rough draft of my WIP and I’ve pretty much done that. So now I put it aside for a few weeks and then revisit, send it off to betas and generally make it readable! It’s probably too early to do much teasing but the working title for this one is Frozen Heart (but that might change because something about it doesn’t “grab” me the way I want it to) and you can get some idea of some of it by checking out my pinterest board. I tend to pin images that serve as inspiration for various characters and settings in the story.
Last year I posted about my first #NaNoWriMo experience. Beautiful was the result (after several years of revision and editing!). This year, I’m going to do a sort of modified #NaNoWriMo. Instead of writing 50,000 words of a rough draft, I’m going to finish the rough draft of my current WIP. It’s currently ~35,000 words, and instead of setting any hard goals for each day, I will write every day in November until it’s done. I don’t have the time to write a full novel this month, and I also don’t want to lose momentum on my current project, so wish me luck on my Personal Novel Finishing Month, or #PerNoFiMo
Writing and publishing a novel has always been something I wanted to do. It’s something that sort of happened in stages. As a kid, I had a notebook that pretty much consisted of first chapters. I would write the first chapter and then abandon it as soon as the next idea popped into my head. When I was in college I wrote a novel, based on Wuthering Heights for my senior project. There were blood, sweat, and tears involved, as well as an awesome academic advisor. I got an A- on the project, so it fulfilled its academic requirement, but I’m pretty sure it was unpublishable! Several years later, I did Nanowrimo. Having the first draft was only the beginning of a very long journey. Here’s what I’d tell myself (back then) about it, based on what I know now.
- You are not done. You are not almost done. You have the first draft. The final product will be very different.
- You will rewrite this book many times. You will lose count of how many.
- You will lose any sense of objectivity you may have once had about this book.
- Writing and keeping a long project organized becomes much easier with Scrivner.
- Other people need to read it. Lots of other people. Get beta readers, take their feedback and revise.
- Get an editor. At this point, a developmental edit will be the most helpful.
- Work on “showing rather than telling.” A lot. Most of the cliche writing advice that you read is true. But not all, so don’t accept it without question.
- Get another beta read. Revise again.
- Hire a proofreader. Hire one that copy-edits as she proofreads. You may think you’re almost done at this point, but you’re not.
- You will rewrite several scenes and make smaller changes to wording and syntax.
- You will painstakingly go through the manuscript fixing typos, commas, and capitalization.
- Then you will have some beta readers look at it again.
- You will probably need another proofread because your changes are likely to have all sorts of errors.
- At some point, while all of this is going on, you decided that indie was the way to go because traditional publishing takes so long. Try to put together a publication and marketing plan, while putting the finishing touches on your manuscript.
- Choose a cover. This is important. Even though they’re not supposed to, a lot of people use these as a way to select books.
- Work full time while doing all of this.
What I’m trying to say is that even though I’ve been a bibliophile since birth, I don’t think I knew or appreciated how much work went into writing them until I took this on. Considering the fact that it’s very hard to make a living writing fiction, most writers do this with limited hope of monetary gain. Sure we all dream JK Rowling dreams, but most have a sense of reality too. I think that I’ve started reading some books a bit differently since I began this journey. Even if I don’t like something I appreciate more the tremendous amount of work, effort, thought and passion that someone put into it.
A few years ago, I wasn’t working full time when November rolled around, so I decided I’d actually do it. I would write a novel in a month. And I did. It was grueling. At times I felt like pulling my hair out. I may have actually done so once or twice. But at the end of November I had a novel-ish thing. I won’t call it a novel- that’s giving it way too much credit, but it was the foundation on which Beautiful was built.
It took a couple of years for Beautiful to become what it is now. Well, a couple of years, several drafts, several beta-readers and two full edits. Because here’s the thing: it’s possible to write a book in a 30 day month that includes a major national holiday; but it’s (almost) impossible to write a good book! I include the parenthetical “almost” because I’m sure if I don’t someone will do it just to prove me wrong!
If anyone wants my opinion, I’d tell anyone considering NaNoWriMo to go for it. Even if you don’t wind up with 50,000 words, or a rough draft of a novel by the end of November, chances are, you’ll still have something to show for yourself. Once you have something it doesn’t matter if it’s good or not; you can make it better later on. So many people put “write a novel” on their bucket list, but never get started. NaNoWriMo is a great start. And having that start makes continuing that much easier.
I had no intention of publishing what I wrote that November. I just wanted to see if I could do it. When the end of the month rolled around I put it away for a few weeks. In January I took it out again, looked it over, and decided to try to make it a bit better. Then I put it away again, and repeated the process a few months later. Eventually I’d invested a lot of time and effort in it, and I wanted to share that with others. It felt weird to put all that work into something that would just sit on my hard drive forever.
But I haven’t participated in NaNoWriMo since. Why? Well, I’ve been working full time these past few years. Maybe some people can work full time, come home, and write a few thousand words, but I’m not one of them. During my work week, I set modest writing goals for myself. That way I can feel good about myself when I meet them, rather than be disappointed in myself if/when I fail to hit a very high target. My process changes. It’s less of a sprint and more of a marathon. I hope that at some point I’m able to try it again.
But I wish creativity and luck to all those participating this year. I can’t wait to read your work!