Plotting and planning

Welcome to another week in the life of, well, me… Yup! I’m sitting here doing what I do weekly, blogging while I think about what I need to get done.

This is a long list.

I’ve spent the last few weeks distracted and consumed by many other things, thus sucking up my writing time. Before the turn of the calendar, I had a plan. I had time mapped out. And I stuck to it.

There there is the secret of writing, my friends. Make a plan, and stick to it. Make time to plot your book, outline your book, write your first draft, and then make the most time for the edits you’ll be doing.

Because you’ll be doing freaking edits. I bring this up a lot. I’ll keep bringing it up a ton. Why? Because no book is written in one sitting. Maybe on a rare occasion–but for the most part it’s a succession of repetitive writing and editing.

This the week I get back to this routine I worked out months ago.

Also last week, but in my writing world, I mad two major (massive) changes to my WiP–this will create a time delay. But they changes are important. They elevate my idea, raising it to a level that it deserves to be in.

My hope is that this spot–this Monday post–will transform into my actually showing you portions of said WiP within the next month or so. Feedback is welcome. Feed back is–always–welcome. ūüôā

So, to all you writers out there who stumbled upon this post–lets get to work. The world needs some words to read. And not just mine. You’re too.

Happy writing!! xxoo-A

drafts

Drafts.

I think if there was one thing I could go back and tell my younger self about writing, it would be, “write multiple drafts. Do it *before* you turn to beta readers. Trust your gut.”

This is a tough lesson. We live in a digital age where people can self publish in the wink of an eye. This can make you feel rushed. Like you should be “first draft ready.” But all that ever will do is hurt your work.

Currently, I’m writing the second draft of a novel. My biggest problem is impatience. I feel like I should have been done a month ago–but life has bulldozed me. In these moments I flinch. I think about how uncertain I can be.

I hate that feeling.

I want to chuck the other drafts–the drafts that will make my story stronger and better. SO I CAN’T CHUCK THEM! Oh, life. You are a wicked, wicked things.

And that, my lovely readers, is why I need to get off the internet and on Word. Sneak a moment here. Sneak a moment there. Suddenly they add up, and you have a finished manuscript.

Live long, and write often. We need to hear lots of great words these days. The more the better.

xxoo-a

No more excuses

Ah! My first post of the New Year. Took me long enough…

zapatoverde graphic design motion design error quit

So, 2016 didn’t much live up to the expectations of the gen pop–but you already knew this. You’ve watched the news, seen the memes, followed the feeds, read the blogs–you, my friend, are in the ‘know!’

And I respect that about you.

2016 has become the punchline–no, the *excuse* of a decade. It is the reason we are sad. It is used as the basis for what is lacking in your life, or this world. 2016 is the quote, it is the comparison, it is rational for every last thing we’ve lost control of or never had control of in the first place.

Well, it’s no longer 2016. Thus, it no longer applies.

Now, I could go into a rant (one that is political in nature) and confabulate with you on what is waiting over the next ridge–but I will not. I could grab a sandwich board and slap some paint on that baby, before draping it over my bony shoulders with a message painted in my scratch writing–but I won’t.

All of this nonsense are distractions. What is the point of this lollygagging when there is so much to do?

I shouldn’t have waited so long to come here and post, but the holidays are a big deal in my life–so I’m here now. I’m here to say, no excuses in 2017. It may not be the best year. It may be worse than the *dreaded* 2016. But it may also be the best year you’ve ever known. This is how I’m looking at it:¬†I know what I want, I’ve known since I was seven–and I’ll keep working to make it happen.

the karate kid

Time to be Daniel and Crane Kick 2017 in the face.

The only wise words I have for those reading this is, “there is no such thing as an over night success.” Remember that when you’re a slave to your craft–to your words. Hard word and dedication are the key to success. The only true failure in life is quitting (unless you’re a smoker, than it’s the opposite.)

Happy New Year, friends! And happy writing–xxoo-A

A few thoughts on 2017

I was doing really well at writing three days a week. Then it was twice… and now here I am scrambling for one post. Yes, it’s the holiday season. A little it of too many errands, topped with winter break, added to a part-time job, with holiday cheer sprinkled on top–and I’m pooped.

I haven’t written since early last week. This is very hard for me. With each passing day I grow scared that I won’t go back to it. Part of me knows I will. I really want to finish the book I’m currently working on, but I’m also laying down my 2017 writing goals.

For many years my New Year’s Eve Resolution was to NOT have a New Year’s Eve Resolution. I’ve been very successful at keeping that promise… So, I won’t say these plans are a resolution of any sort. I’ll be honest, I’m with Bono when he sings, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day,” because, realistically, not much does. But the last two years I’ve laid out general plans for things I’ve wanted to accomplish, and I’ve been mildly successful.

Why not keep going?

spongebob writing p editing revision

I want to work on short stories this year. I’ve been reading a ton of them, and will head off to read more in a moment–so it’s made me want to fold them into my portfolio. It’s part nerve racking, and exhilarating. Now, I have a new written art form to deconstruct. Something to learn about! I’m a fan of new things.

So that is what I hope to accomplish in 2017. Short story writing and publication. (On top of finding an agent for my current novel on submission or the next one…)

This hasn’t been a easy road by any means, but I still believe it’s the right one for me.

Happy Holidays, my virtual friends. I hope you are able to celebrate the season in a way that brings happiness to your world. I hope to write more posts before the end of 2016, but in case I can’t find the time–A Happy New Year to you.

xxoo-A

 

The map of me

At seven, when I began writing, I wrote because it was fun. Bad poems about ax murders and dragons (don’t judge) and adventure tales that involved hot air balloons and evil people chasing me was the bread and butter of my portfolio.

None of it was “ready,” but like I said–it was a blast. (Even the time the principle called my mothers to rat on me about a mean spirited poem I wrote centering around a girl in my class. To clarify, she’s punched me–I only wrote about wanting to hit her. I’m the classy one.)

In my teens I wrote more poetry. Filled with teen-angst and “why is the world so cruel” themes. This was in my journal. Even the story about a frog that was the wrong color. Everyone made fun of her, until she finally left home. Then, she made a friend–an albino crocodile–and together they saved everyone in her pond. (No, the crock didn’t eat anyone. She was lonely too.)

In my twenties I started to take writing more serious. I wrote a futuristic fantasy novel that had elves and talking crows. Once finish, I promptly showed it to no one. That said, I did my research, all with the intent to publish–yet I never did.

My second attempt was a romance novel. For me romance has always been a palate¬†cleanser. I read the genre when I need a break from the other genres I read. I actually love romance–for this reason. Sometimes a story only needs to be skin deep. Two people meet, they fall in love, life tears them apart–they find each other in the end. There is perfection in that formula.

This novel was rejected. I wasn’t as tenacious back than as I am now. After one rejection I quit–for a long, long time.

I still wrote. Poems. Songs. Long rants in my journal about how I felt, my love/hate relationship with the world. With life. A script about a girl in love with a guy in a band. Two scripts that were horror movies. (One I still love. The other, I love one scene from. Sadly it doesn’t translate to novel writing. It was a camera thing.) And another story (which I adore, but the premise wasn’t my idea, so I let it sit, dusty and untouched) was the story of a young boy–set in NYC in the late 70’s. Seriously, I sometimes think about this kid. If you know me, and have read some of my stuff–the kids name was Malcolm. I loved him so much, I moved him into a new world. I made him grow up. He became a wonderful man–I’m slightly in love with him.

Then I got pregnant. Lost my job. Went to yoga teacher training to help reinvent myself–and then it happened. At our graduation celebration, a yogi friend said, “What are you thinking about now, Aryn?” and before I could lock my brain down or keep my mouth shut, I said, “Writing. I wish I was writing.”

And so I did. I moved. Had a few poems published.

I wrote another book. Then I rewrote that book. And then I rewrote it five more times. Rejected. (a big whole bunch.) (YA Fantasy/Horror)

So I wrote another book. This one for someone. The first draft sits, because… I don’t know. I can’t seem to reconnect with the content. This, like the story with the boy, has some parts I adore–but there is a mind blockade. A wall of white noise. It wears me down. (Historic Fiction)

Wrote a novella. (Sci/fi YA)

Then the one I have out on query. Actually, this was written prior to the one for a friend. I sent it out–Rejected. So I reworked it. From first draft to fifth, I found a writing partner. She helped me fix it. Still rejected. (Speculative Science Fiction)

Rejected so many times I’ve learned to flinch when my email pings. I turn my ringer off now.

In October I finished the first draft of a new book. I have high hopes for this one. It’s early. I hoped to have the second draft down by now–but the hell death plague that devoured my house, and my health, made certain that wasn’t an option. (Urban Fantasy)

I haven’t been seven in a very long time, but I can tell you this with all honestly–writing is still fun. I no longer write about the mean girl, or how I wish something bad would happen to her. If there is one thing that writing has taught me is the importance of being selective–in what you write about, who you spend your time with, where you put your energy.

It shows.

I’m hoping this next book is my lucky charm. Or maybe there is an agent out there–right now–reading my query for my current piece on submission¬†who wants more. I don’t know. All I’m sure of, flinching aside, all I’ve ever known is writing. It is my expression. My soul. It is all I want.

Words.

Perfect

What is perfect?

I was having a conversation with a friend about this, about being perfect.

She said, “I have a problem with wanting to be perfect.”

I said, “There’s no such thing, my friend.”

There isn’t. There is only degrees of not sucking and what actually makes you happy.

I am not perfect. I have never been, nor will I ever be whatever this thing is known as perfect. I understand this and I also respect it. The idea of Perfect is as fictitious as Santa and the Easter Bunny. It is an unreachable goal created by our subconscious to constantly remind ourselves that low self-esteem is a way of life.

It’s not.

The land of perfect is a mirage, wrapped in wavy lines, sitting on a bed of sole searing sand. You’re feet will blister and peel–but you’ll never reach it.

There is great, beautiful, lovely, heart wrenching, mind blowing, pure ecstasy–but no perfect. There is success and failure–but still, no perfect.

Wonky, weird, strange, off-beat, eccentric, high strung, loud, quiet, shy, fat, skinny, tall, and short–that is the essence of what should be. Unique, that is perfect. Perfectly you.

Life is too short for unreachable goals.

The First Draft

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I finished my first draft! Hooray!! Yes, it took me longer than I originally anticipated. Life has a funny way of getting in the way. Between out of town guests and month long illnesses, there were many days I was unable to sit in front of the computer and get to work.

That said, I did keep tally on the days I wrote–and while I wasn’t consistent, on the days I could write I did very well. It took roughly 18 days to complete my first draft. And right there is the proof that plotting is the better way to go.

I’m sharing this for two reasons:

#1 — I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT!!

#2 — First drafts are exactly what the Terry Pratchett quote states. They’re a map for you to get from point A to point B.

I know a lot of people are working on NaNo right now, and if you’re one of those people I would like to say, ¬†good job! And remember, just finish.

It doesn’t matter who well written the first draft is, only that it’s done.

xxoo-A

The courtyard and the man.

 

I dreamt of an estate in Italy, at least that’s where my gut tells me it was. I’ve never been to Italy, but somehow I’m certain of the location. In the estate was a courtyard, and I saw me in it, wearing a violet and tangerine dress. Yes, this sounds like a terrible combination of colors, but I can assure you, it was a beautiful dress. Delicate and rich, like nothing I’ve ever own.

In the dream I loved the courtyard. There were raised gardens around the edges, and everything was made of old red bricks and gray stones. That place made me happy, but I wasn’t there anymore. I knew it wasn’t really me.

When I saw it, in my travels, I knew it was once mine. Just like I knew when I saw him, he was once mine, too. And he was perfect, and beautiful, and he made me happy.

But now he wasn’t there, and the courtyard was worn. Another woman owned it, and she didn’t like me being there. She didn’t like me remembering him. She wanted me to leave, but I couldn’t. Not without proof. Not without something tangible that showed I wasn’t insane.

When I found it, a book–leather bound, and falling apart, I knew my proof was on those brittle pages. As I reached for it–he was beside me. He reached with me, helping me pull it from the pigeon gray splintered shelf. The dry leather barely held the biding in place, and the pages were askew. One hand rested on my hip, his other on my arm.

And when he kissed me, I cried–because I knew it would never happen again. He left after that and I asked another man for help to find ‘him.’ We took a boat on¬†the Mediterranean, but he was gone, and I was alone.

I’m not even sure why I’m sharing this, but I was online and I found an image of the courtyard. As I stared at it, all I could think, was, “Who was he?”

I guess I’ll never know.

(ps-I would have posted the photo but it wouldn’t let me)

xxoo-A

Writing Class

 

Once a year I like to take a refresher course on writing. I think pausing to reflect is always a good thing, and a great way to check in with yourself. Plus, hey! You may learn something new as well, and when is that a bad thing? When I can’t afford to take a refresher course, I go to the old library and take out writing books–like, The War of Art by Steve Pressfield or On Writing, by Stephen King) but recently I discovered a site called “FutureLearn.com” that boasts a large collection of free courses. (You can purchase a certificate at the end of the course if you so choose, I choose not to do this.)

Philippa Rice drawing writing craft cute

I’m half way through their Fiction Writing course (which is just okay) but now I’m surfing the upcoming (and current) catalog can’t decide what to take next? Should I take the Intro to Forensics? Should I take the World War I in 100 stories course? Then there’s the anthropology of social media, and on about the revolution in Ireland at the beginning of the last century?

CAN I HAVE MORE HOURS IN THE DAY TO TAKE ALL THE COURSES (yet still  have time to finish my current WIP, continue querying my last MS, and still function in every day life?)

Life is unfair… but no one ever said that it was, so I guess I’ll put on my big girl pants and enroll in the forensics course. Why? Because it could come in handy in my current WIP or course!

Do you take any courses to help improve your writing?

Happy writing! xxoo-Aryn

The Laugh

happy vintage illustration batman excited

There is a man in my building, I’ll call him Mike. That is not his name, but it will do for this story. He is a short man, round in size. Actually, he’s shaped more like an egg than a basketball–but that’s not what sets him apart from the rest of those living in my urban paradise.

His hair is black, naturally straight as a spade–but he perms it. It’s his ‘thing.’ Once again–not that defining factor (even thought it probably should be.)

What sets Mike apart from the rest of my block is his laugh. He has the laugh of a 1970’s villain’s sidekick. You know the character. He’s¬†the guy who accidentally takes a rake¬†to the chest because he wasn’t paying attention and stepped on the handle as he ran away from the hero of the story. When I hear the piercing sound of his punctuated howl, I nearly always pause for Luther to say, “Warriors, come out to play-i-ay!” even though I’m not in the subway and no where close to New York City.

Testing 1, 2, 3 the warriors can you dig it movie 1970s

Once, a long time ago when I first moved into my apartment, Mike wanted to be my friend. He would joke with me, and I would smile and look interested–rarely did I know what he was talking about. He’s about eleven shy of a dozen… I would like to make it clear, this wasn’t some sort of hiccup due to language barrier, Mike is¬†just an odd man. Plus, my poker face stinks.

Now, Mike doesn’t acknowledge me at all. Not even a nod or a simple hello. It was after this courtyard dismissal I became privy to¬†the laugh (that is normally¬†mixed with techno and tighty whities.) He’s in a class all his own, and with our non-existent relationship–I have no way to record this chuckle. None that are legal anyway.

Alas, dear friends. What am I do do? As a writer I NEED to record it! I need to post the track on here!! I need to add it to my current WIP, or at least something I write in my life.

All of Mike needs to be in a book. All five-foot-five-inches of him, with his ovoid shaped frame, and even he jet black spiral perm. I see him perched on the edge of his antique folding tattered lawn chair, seated behind his Audi (it’s a mystery how he upgraded from a white battered gremlin to this luxury hatchback–but that’s a whole other post), with the car’s stereo speaker blaring, as he listens to his earbuds.

Mike is a character that belongs in a book–and not cackling under my bedroom window for many reasons. Most of which would keep me sane. The only reason I don’t slam my music and turn on my own music is that laugh you may never hear…

[This is how I find characters for my stories. Some fit in perfect, others I dissect¬†and¬†keep the part I’ve grown to love (or loath). Mike is a very real person. Almost too real. My theory as to why he’s in my life is it keeps me from being to serious all the time. Life is too short not to find a hyena¬†laugh hilarious.]