27 January 2020

One Line at a Time

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I finally finished my read through of Uneven Lines (all 27 chapters so far), in order to get a feel for the story again and think about what needs to happen in the next chapter. The bad news is that I wanted to finish this two weeks ago.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am already falling behind on my goals for the year. Is anyone surprised? I suppose I should look on the bright side that at least I did eventually finish my first goal, right? But my plan of having Chapter 28 written by the end of January is definitely not going to happen.

I thought the end would be more clear to me. I mean, I know what needs to happen. I've known since I wrote the short story version almost nine years ago. But it has to work with everything that has happened before it. It has to be the right ending to this new version I've created.

Maybe my read through didn't go quite how I thought it would, and not just because it took longer than I'd planned. I was also editing as I went, which I really shouldn't have been doing (I blame reading On Writing by Stephen King at the same time...had to kill those adverbs...). I plan on editing once the whole third draft is done. I was really just supposed to be reading it for enjoyment. I did enjoy it somewhat. I liked reading the earlier chapters that I haven't looked at in a while, and the newer chapters that I don't have memorized yet. But I wasn't really reading. I was working.

But I digress! The next step is to do some journal writing to help me figure out the ending. I've made a list of topics I want to dive into in order to make sure I'll address everything I need to in the last two chapters. I'm hoping to write at least one journal entry a day this week, and then maybe I can actually start writing.

In the meantime, I'm just letting the ideas come to me. I try thinking about the next chapter as often as I can. I listen to songs that make me think about it while I'm on the treadmill. I fall asleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. And every so often, I'm struck with a line. It's usually dialogue, but sometimes it's narration. But no matter what it is, I grab my phone and I write it in a note. I know I probably won't use them all, but I have to consider everything in order to get this chapter right.

So for now, I'm collecting lines. I feel like eventually I'm going to be stitching them into some kind of franken-chapter. But that just might be ok. I'm not sure if this chapter will ever hit me all at once. It's going to be one step at a time, maybe one line at a time. As long as it works out in the end, it doesn't really matter.

13 January 2020

I Didn't Ask for This Epiphany

Sometimes you get hit with an epiphany about a story. Sometimes it feels amazing, like everything is falling into place. That one chapter, that one scene that you couldn't quite figure out is suddenly crystal clear in your mind. But sometimes there's another side to these epiphanies. While you just know in your gut it's the right thing to do for the story, it also means a whole lot more work to do. Sometimes that doesn't feel so amazing.

So, yes, I was very recently struck with such an epiphany. And instead of the usual, "OMG finally!" my reaction was more like, "do I have to??" Mostly because I knew that yes, I did, if I wanted this particular moment to work. And if I could snap my fingers and have it all fall into place, I would be thrilled (can I do that for the whole book, actually?). But I have to go back and rewrite. Again. And I'm not exactly looking forward to it.

I was on the treadmill, of all places, listening to a song that I've always associated with a minor character in UL, Eric. But I started to feel like the song didn't quite fit him anymore. And then I suddenly realized why. There's a moment in Chapter 27 where he stands up to a long time friend, Brian, who hasn't always been the nicest guy. He finally stops being timid and shy and stands up not only for Jordan (who Brian is also trying to hurt in this moment), but for himself. Brian's been keeping Eric down for years and it takes seeing what he does to Jordan for him to finally say, "enough."

Here's where I went wrong. I didn't actually show the moment where Eric stands up to Brian. Another character tells the story to Jordan briefly, and he talks about it with Eric for about the length of two sentences. STUPID, I know. I was rushing through the chapter. It was difficult and I just wanted it done. And it was done. Until now. Now I have to go back and change a huge chunk of it. And while I know it's what the story needs, I just don't want to. I want to be able to still say that it's done. Alas, I cannot.

I know I need to show Eric standing up to Brian. And I know Jordan needs to have a final moment/confrontation with Brian as well. I even think this moment will help lead to the conclusion of the main plot. So in the end, it should help EVERYTHING. So why am I not happy??

It could be because adding this will make Chapter 27 waaaaaaaaaaaay too long. I'm going to have to split it into two chapters, but then that will probably throw off my total chapter length. I wanted it to be 29, and now it's probably going to be 30.

Or maybe it's because I just want everything DONE. But you can't really call it done if it isn't where it needs to be. Sometimes I think I'll be working on this story forever, that it will never feel quite right. But I guess every little epiphany will eventually lead to that moment where I can say, yes, it's done, I'm done, it's perfect.

One can dream.

08 January 2020

New Year, New Plan(ner)

It's the first second Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!

It's a new year so that means it's time to start anew and try to kick my butt into gear on getting all the things done that I didn't get done last year. Sounds like a broken record, right? I feel like I get a fresh start every new year and then all that motivation just fizzles out to nothing. Well, this time, I have a plan. No, wait, I have a planner! Is there a difference? Sort of...

One of the Christmas presents I was most looking forward to (not that I just send my husband my Amazon wishlist or anything...) was a fancy planner for 2020. I really want to crack down and get organized with all of the writing and non-writing (*cough* lose weight *cough*) goals that I always have but never seem to accomplish. Well, when I finally got my hands on said planner, I loved it! It's super fancy, with monthly and weekly breakdowns, daily checklists, places to reflect, and STICKERS. I've barely begun to use it and I'm already excited. 

So how will this help me? Well, it's really easy to make BIG goals. Like, finish my novel. Lose 60 pounds. What I like about this planner is that not only do you make those big, year-long goals, but then you break it down. It has sections for 3-month goals, then monthly goals, and even weekly goals. I'm a person who likes to take things one step at a time. I can get overwhelmed real easily and that just leads to me watching a lot of TV and eating a lot of junk food. But if I can break everything down into smaller goals, then it doesn't seem as daunting. 

For example, one of my big goals is to finish Uneven Lines. So, for the yearly goal, I wrote that I want to finish the third draft and get it published, or in the process of being published (because that could take awhile). Then for my 3-month goal, I put just to finish the third draft. For January in particular, my goal is to write Chapter 28. But since even that is a huge task, my goal for this week is to actually just read through the entire draft so far. Not only to refresh myself (spent all of November doing NaNo and December doing nothing), but to get a feel of what really needs to happen in this chapter. I'm sure I'll edit a bit as I go, but this particular task doesn't seem difficult at all. It could actually be fun. 

You're supposed to reward yourself for accomplishing goals, but I can't think of any rewards that aren't food...

Then next week, my plan is to start journaling some ideas (something I've been doing with the last third of the book as I completely gutted the last draft), and then hopefully but the next week, that will lead to some writing. And hopefully at that point I'll find the writing easier. It won't be something that seems so difficult that I'll just avoid it entirely. And then maybe I can actually get it done. 

I like the way this planner breaks everything down so I don't have to figure it out all at once. I'm sure my goals will change and adapt as the year continues. I don't need to figure out my goals for later in the year right now. I can literally just focus on this week, with just a hint of an idea of what will be next.

Do you use planners? Do you break down goals into smaller ones?