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NaNoWriMo 2017 Aftermath

It is December first, and NaNoWriMo is over. Now we are all celebrating our victories, or licking our wounds. I am doing both.

For the second time in nine years I’ve failed NaNoWriMo, but boy did I come close. 4365 words from my goal, and I just could not go on. My brain, and my fingers, just gave out. I had been pushing all day long, and I managed to write 7284 words in one day, but I just couldn’t get those last four thousand words.

This was an incredible month, and I learned more about myself, and my novel, than I would have any other time. I threw away chapters, and rewrote a whole synopsis. I got stuck on the novel and went over to write some short stories for the day. I gave up on the original idea I thought I’d write because it just didn’t work. And I got that much closer to finishing book two and three of the new series.

Why did I fail? Well, I had a slow start. I fell into my stride about half way through the month, and finally found what I needed to say. That drove the story forward, and the words piled up. Had I found that story, and my perseverance, a couple weeks sooner I wouldn’t have had that epic writing day at the end.

However, that day writing 7k words was pretty exciting. That shows me that it’s possible, and if I keep pushing myself, and my endurance, some day I might be able to do writing days like that regularly.

I can make excuses about being distracted by life, children getting the flu, and feeling down the first week of this month, but ultimately they are all excuses. The truth is we all have those things happen. Life is not fair, life does not care if you’re trying to write every night. It simply is, and sometimes you have a bad day and you have to write anyway.

So I’m going to be brutally honest with myself, and you, and show exactly why I failed this years writing challenge.

First, for me I know that if I don’t write for a few days it is really difficult for me to keep writing. If I take a week off it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. If something stressful is going on it’s that much worse.

So here is a chart showing how many words I’ve written every year for the last five years.

I have one month left in 2017, and I am 83,000 words behind my worst year out of the last five. And 48,000 of those words were written in one month. THAT, dear reader, is why I lost NaNoWriMo. Not because the kids were sick and we had to take them to the hospital. Not because I lost the story. Not because I had a couple bad days, or didn’t get enough sleep. It’s because I haven’t written that much this year anyway.

It’s not easy to look at this chart. Writing has been an incredibly important thing for me for as long as I can remember, and it’s upsetting to see how little care I put into my writing this year. Yes, I’ve written 65,000 words just on my new series, but that’s half as much as I wrote on the Witch’s Curse books each year when I was working to get them finished. And the question is why? Why did I give up? Why didn’t I push myself? Why did I choose video games over writing? Or a movie? Or a craft?

I’ve been asking myself that a lot these days. What do I want out of my life? Out of day job? Out of my writing? And I think that’s why I’ve been writing less. I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to focus on, because I wasn’t sure if it could get me the one thing I wanted more than anything.

Gregg, my boyfriend, started his own business this year. He works harder than ever, but he’s happier then he’s ever been. And he’s his own boss. No one to be accountable to accept himself (and maybe his audience) and….well no management to look over his shoulder, count the beans, and make sure he’s “doing his job right.” He’s accountable to himself, his art, and fans he’s gathering. And he’s so happy!

That’s what I want for myself, I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Writing seems to be the thing that I’m best at, but I’m still pretty horrible at marketing. I know that because I’ve tried a LOT of marketing this year with maybe okay results. But we live, we learn, and we try something new, right?

The world is a strange place. We have adages like “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” and “fake it till you make it” but no one tells you that someone has to weed the yard. Someone has to fix the plumbing. Someone has to pick up the trash. They probably didn’t want that for their life’s work either, but there they are. Supporting their family and doing a job so they can have a home, and set the table every night. But when you believe those adages and you aren’t doing what you love as a job you start to feel like you’re not good enough. And so here I was, feeling like I wasn’t good enough. Wondering if I should just give up and let writing be a hobby, like video games or crafts, instead of just working my butt of for the next novel, and trying to make a living on it.

And the truth is I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make enough so that I can stop working for someone else. I don’t know if I will ever get a book out that strikes a cord with readers. I don’t know…if I’m good enough. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. I love to write, and I’m going to keep doing it.

So, this NaNoWriMo I learned to stop wallowing in my own self pity, and wondering what if, and just enjoy writing the story again.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Starting tomorrow. Today was a day for reflection.

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Posted by on December 2, 2017 in On Writing

 

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5min- Publishing

It’s been a wild ride this year. I’m getting ready to publish my fourth real book. When I say “real” I just mean that it has more than 50k words in it and qualifies as a full novel. Most of the books I have up are short stories and novellas with the three main books that are full novels.

But I looked today and I have actually published 40 short stories. Not all separately, some are in anthologies. But, dang, that’s a lot of short stories.

Trying to figure out what I should be doing with those short stories. They don’t sell a lot of copies, but I give them away a lot. I get some reviews, and a lot of comments from people that read them. I am considering giving them away as a Patreon reward, or a reward for subscribers to my newsletters. Or both, maybe?

It’s the little things, though. Setting up the publishing details. Starting to do the print book set up. Considering where/how I might advertise it when I finally get it done. But! it’s at the editors now and I’m all set to go from here.

Of all 46 stories I’ve written over the years, and publishing so many books, I am so happy that I’ve continued on this journey. It isn’t always easy, it’s a lot of time, energy, and sometimes tears getting out all of those words. But the stories are worth it. Having the books on my shelf, or having something to show to others, or even the audio books, are all worth the trouble it took to get here.

And that’s my five.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in On Writing

 

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5min – Word Counts

It’s August, and I thought it was time to take a look at my writing for the year. It’s easier now, right after I’ve finished a big writing project, (YAY, completed book one in Half Blood Sorceress Series) to look back and see what I’ve been doing.

I keep stats of every days writing, and I keep track of actual story word count separate from things like blogs, newsletters, and other writing media that I do. I don’t keep track of every word I write, because I love social media, but I do keep track of things that matter to me.

So how does this year stack up to previous years? Well, it’s now the 8th month of the year and I have only written 50,000 words. For the past four years I have written about 230k each year, which includes the NaNoWriMo 50k write in Nov. So if I manage to get through NaNo this year I’ll be a lot closer to my usual yearly goal, but still much farther behind then usual.

Why did this happen?

If we take a look at my monthly word count for just this year we see that I started okay in January, then in February everything went down hill, and didn’t pick up again till July. That’s because I was going through a bunch of changes at the end of last year, beginning of this year. Mostly moving to a much more involved, and stress filled job. I couldn’t write at work like I use to and had to make sure I took time out at home to actually write. I also had to make sure I made time with Gregg, who now works from home.

Overall, it feels like I’ve finally sorted that all out, and I’m able to work on my next novel with a bit more confidence, but still, I shouldn’t take my writing for granted.

And that’s my five.

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in On Writing

 

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5min – The goal is right there!

It’s 3:30 in the morning and I just finished editing a few more chapters of Dragons’s Flame. That leaves one more chapter, and the epilogue, to finish. Once I’m done I can send it off to the editor. I almost finished it tonight, almost, but when I started editing the final chapter my brain started rebelling.

Writing is so much different than editing. For writing it’s often helpful to be slightly tired because then it’s easier to let go of that editor trying to fix things all the time, and just write. Sometimes I write my best words while slightly tired at the end of the night. Other times I write the worst. I think it depends on how sleepy I am. Just slightly sleepy with a cup of coffee, great. Ready to fall over on the keyboard? Not so much.

I’m so happy with how the novel has come out. It is currently 49,500 words long. After editing this last chapter I’m pretty sure it will be 50k. That’s perfect. I wasn’t trying to hit that number, but it is a nice number in instead. And the second book is already 40k words long and only about half finished so it will likely be longer. That’s about how the Witch’s Trilogy worked out as well.

Last month, and this month so far, has been the best writing months I’ve had all year. I think this five minute writing page has helped a lot. It’s gotten me to get out of my head, and get onto the paper. It’s also been very good at getting me to write instead of just thinking about writing.

But that’s my five.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2017 in On Writing

 

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A Year in Writing

Well… It’s the new year and time to go over my stats for writing, as I have for the last four years. And boy is it an eye opener.

yearly-writingFirst, I wrote 20,000 words less than last year. Admittedly, last year was a fantastic year and I wrote 15k more than any other year. I also lost about 12k just by loosing NaNoWriMo this year. I took another huge dip around the time I switched jobs. Clearly major changes have made huge differences in my writing.

But all these numbers forced me to go back and really look at what I’ve accomplished over the last four years, not just in amount of words written, but what I’ve published.

I started publishing in 2012 with three short stories and a novella. Not bad for my first year. 2013 followed with 16 short stories, a novella, and a short novel. 2014 saw a single publication, and a short story at that. I had to go back to my stats for that year and find out if that was true. After two years of writing, and publishing tons of short stories suddenly…NOTHING! But there was a reason behind it. In 2014 I published one short story, and I wrote the majority of the three Witch’s Trilogy novels.

In 2015 I started actually publishing the Witch’s Trilogy. Two novels, and one little short story.

yearly-writing2And 2016, the year that we just finished? I finished the Witch’s trilogy, publishing Witch’s Stand in April, then added a short story prequel in May. I also published two more short stories in my Illicit Gain’s series (Mirror and Scarab Necklace) bringing the total to three short stories and a novel for 2016. What else did I do for 2016? I started on my next novel series. Of the 230k words I wrote this year the majority of them went to “Half-Blood Sorceress”.

When I first saw that list of publications, and how many of them happened in 2013 I was a little shocked. Then I remembered that a lot of the short stories I finished, and published, for that year were already half finished when I started writing them. That while it was a big publishing year it wasn’t a big writing year, I was just finishing words of half completed projects, not taking on as many new challenges.

Even though 2016 saw less writing over all, it was still a productive year. I completed the trilogy, found a new job, and started on a new series that I have already put down 78,400 words in just a few months.

I’m working to get the first two published in 2017. I do not know if that is possible because of editing and cover design, but at the very least they will be written. But since I’m focusing on Half-Blood Sorceress it means I might not publish anything else this year, just like 2014. And I think I’m okay with that.

The Witch’s Trilogy is good because I took the time I needed to write the books. I didn’t rush it, and I’m not going to rush Half-Blood Sorceress either. I want the series to be good, and go on. I have five books planned, after all, and I want to finish all of them.

Learning to write faster was a great help in 2015. It pushed me through, got Witch’s Trilogy finished, and helped me complete something. I need to find that fire again. That’s what I’ll be working on for 2017. Writing, finding the passion for the writing, and making it the priority again.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in On Writing

 

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Numbers

This is a data post. Some of you have found the numbers interesting. For me the numbers are more about accountability to myself. If I’m doing better than last year I am hopeful. If not then I think I need to get my butt in gear and work harder.

graphSo here is the graph of each month for the last four years.

So far, this year, I have written 131k. May and June were my best months so far. That’s because I started writing The Half Blood Sorceress novels in May. Every time I start a new story, especially a series like this, the words just flow so fast and so free that I end up with three thousand words in less then a couple hours. I love it! That is always my favorite part of writing, the first bloom of an idea.

June was the month I had in between jobs where all I did was write, so of course I wrote a lot that month. A little bit less than May, which I was surprised about. Still, I wrote more in May and June than any other month except NaNoWriMo.

Then July I started the new job and my writing tanked. Not entirely surprising. I was physically and emotionally exhausted for the first few weeks of training. Then I started easing into the new job and had to figure out scheduling. Now I’m back into the swing of things with writing and balancing everything else and….my schedule is changing this weekend.

I’ve got a month and a half to figure out how to balance my schedule and writing with the rest of my life before this years NaNoWriMo. I really don’t want this to be the first year I fail NaNo in five years. I haven’t even figured out which project to write for this years NaNo. Will I do book two and three of The Half Blood Sorceress, or will I do a few more books in The Eternal Tapestry?

On average, after all of this, I wrote about 5-600 words a day. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but enough to chip away at the next series and get them ready for publishing.
As for the Bradbury Challenge which I started at the beginning of the year…I’ve completed ten short stories this year. That’s a little more than one short story a month. The trouble with short stories I’ve found is I keep getting shiny new object syndrome. I start working on a short story, then loose interest and go onto the next one. I have quite a number of short stories started but never completed, and a couple that I completed but decided to completely rewrite because they were terrible. But that doesn’t stop Shiny Syndrome from happening.

I love all the stories I come up with, even though I can see that a lot of them are terrible ideas. The terrible ones usually sit in an unaccessed file waiting for a day when they might jump-start a new idea. But then there are all of the stories that are good, publishable stories that I want to put out there some day, but fail to complete for whatever reason. I think I need to find a way to conquer my Shiny Syndrome in order to do that.

Worse, I have a lot of novels also slowly being worked on. Several of them are over 10k words. I have over 740k words written, and only 360k published. That’s a huge gap of incomplete works that I need to finish.

So….the next month and a half will go to figuring out my schedule, and hopefully finishing some of these short stories. NoNoWriMo is going to completing a novel or two in either the Eternal Tapestry world, or the Half Blood Sorceress series. Either way it’s 50k words into a new series and that will help me get the novels finished, and published, in the coming year.

I’ve got a long way to go, and I want to get back to writing 2k a day so that I can eventually get all the stories out of my head and onto the page. Of course then I’ll just have to dream up some new stories, won’t I?

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Personal Notes

 

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What a week

My new job started this week. It’s been a lot of fun. We’re just doing training right now, but it’s been a blast. There are 18 people in the class, with the trainer, and a couple of people that come in and out to help depending on the needs. We do a lot of discussions, drawing graphs and pictures, and just lots of learning. Everyone is so nice, and happy. Even the couple of people who are going through some tough times right now, they are still smiles while in class.

It feels good to be somewhere with lots of people who are just friendly. I’m sure eventually I’ll come across someone who isn’t so nice, but, ya know what, I’m just going to enjoy things as they are.

The writing… that’s another story. I’ve write 1400 words since starting the new job, which isn’t a lot. The first few days were spent adjusting to schedules, and sleeping because it was so emotionally and mentally draining. (Friday was also kind of draining. It was the first time on the phones, and really scary at first.) I also have to commute a bit farther (20 miles instead of two blocks, lol) but it’s really not that bad. By end of the week I started getting to where I was looking forward to an hour of writing in the evening.

I want to have an hour before work, and at least an hour in the evening, where I write. I think I can start training myself to do that. The morning session is the harder part, I have always had trouble writing in the morning. But I’m going to need to be able to do this in order to keep up my output.

I think this is going to work. Writing and having a full time job, saving money so that I can eventually have a house… yep, I’m on my way.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2016 in Updates

 

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