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?

04 December 2019

Better Late than Never

It's the first 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! 

HEY! SO! I wouldn't necessarily say I forgot to write my post for today. It's more like, I forgot that it was the first Wednesday of the month. In my defense, I have been very busy lately. Between NaNo and Thanksgiving and thinking about Christmas, and working full time, and my sister-in-law is getting married this Saturday, and I had to go to the dentist...I've been a little preoccupied. I didn't even blog at all last month besides my IWSG post because I was too busy with NaNo. 

But when I was browsing Facebook on my lunch break at work and I saw the IWSG's post for today, well...I may have lost it for a second. But I'm writing it now! 

I guess that's the thing I'm most insecure about right now. Because I am in no way insecure about my NaNo project! Because...that's right...

I WON!!! I actually wrote 50,000 words in the month of November. Sexy Fluff #1 is going well, although it's definitely not done yet. But 50k!!! I still can't believe I actually did it. It was actually a really nice break to not only work on something different, but something that was a lot lighter than my usual stuff AND had that first draft freedom. If the words sucked, I didn't care! I just kept going. 

So I guess the big question is...now what? I still have to finish SF#1, but I really should bring my focus back to UL. I've only got two chapter rewrites to go and it'll be done! Of course, one of those chapters will be particularly difficult, but I'm hoping working on SF will in some way help? By just shaking things up and by also writing a few perfectly normal sex scenes will at least help get the jitters out for the one I have to write for UL. We'll see when I actually try. I've been too busy to write the past few days! But I loved writing every day during NaNo. I'd really like to stick with that. 

I think my main focus should be on finishing UL, and maybe one day a week working on Sexy Fluff. But what will probably end up happening is that I'll just go wherever the inspiration takes me. 

06 November 2019

The Thing I Said I Wouldn't Do...

It's the first 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!

Before I get to my nonsense, I think I'll start with this month's optional question, which is: 

What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

I feel like I've researched a lot of questionable things for different stories. I think I've mentioned before how I know way too much about age of consent laws, so that's definitely up there. Recently, I started some research for a story that included googling "can you break someone's hand by squeezing it" and "is strangling someone considered attempted murder?" (Turns out it's not, BTW, and the way I picture it happening in the story will only be a misdemeanor, which surprised me).  I've also got a new story idea that I know will require lots of things that will probably get me on some watch list, including bombs/explosions, computer hacking, bullet wounds, and methods of torture. Should be a fun time! 

So if you follow any of my Twitter or Instagram posts, this won't be a surprise, but remember my last blog post, where I said I came up with a new story idea? A sexy fluff idea? And I gave a very vague statement about not even considering doing NaNoWriMo for it? 

Well, PLOT TWIST! I changed my mind at the last minute, decided to write the damn thing for NaNo, and I'm already over 10,000 words in. I...don't know how this happened. Oh, right! Because I'm crazy. But! I am not insecure!

There is so much about writing this story that is so refreshing. First of all, it's a MUCH lighter story than what I'm used to writing (sexy fluff, after all). Plus, it's a first draft, so the usual pressure I put on myself to make everything perfect isn't there. If it sucks...who cares?? Just keep writing! Plus long rambling sentences and endless dialogue are welcome for NaNo since you want to get to those 50,000 words! 

And so far, I've been beating the daily word goal EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's so weird but I love it. Ok, I know I need to get back to UL and tackle Chapter 28 (the second to last chapter!) but I'm taking a break from it while I do NaNo. I thought of it this way: usually it takes me months to do a chapter rewrite. And I spend a lot of that time not doing any writing at all. So I figured, what will it hurt to take one month off, and also potentially write an entire novel in that time? 

I also got ANOTHER story idea, most likely for my potential pen name, from a dream of all places. Right now I'm calling it Sexy Fluff #2, although it involves a lot more action, whereas SF #1 is a pretty straightforward romance. I so don't need it right now because I have to finish UL of course, and then I'll have Sexy Fluff #1 to edit/rewrite once NaNo is over. It's a long line of ideas. I guess I'll just take them one at a time. 

21 October 2019

A Very Good Bad Idea

So...I got this crazy idea...

It all started when I finished Chapter 27. [Holds for applause]. Yes, finally! But I'll talk about that more another time. Once I finished the chapter, I wanted to give myself a break by writing something fun and easy. Now, I don't know if it was because of the book I just finished reading, or knowing what I have to write for the next chapter (and I need some no pressure practice), or just because this idea was in my head, I decided to write some SEXY FLUFF.

You know sexy fluff, right? Just something that's like, cute lovey dovey with a moderate amount of sex and a dash of angst. I don't read a lot of romance novels, but the ones I typically read are like this. The thing I started writing actually happens between Books 2 & 3 in my series, and no one will ever read it besides me, so I could just do whatever I want with it.

But I realized something as I was writing. The words were flowing rather easily. Now, I wasn't trying very hard to make the words perfect like I usually do, but I was writing PAGES. And so fast! I was just staring at the screen wondering, what is this sorcery??

My story ideas are usually ridiculously complicated. UL has taken me over 8 years and I'm still not done. Even Shiny New Story, while a lot lighter than UL, is still pretty complicated. Since the fluff was coming along at such a rapid pace, I wondered, am I doing this all wrong? Should I just be writing sexy fluff all the time??

That's when the idea hit. What if I *did* try writing sexy fluff? It's not my usual style, but I could totally do it. And I would have fun doing it. I even thought, hey, what if I wrote my fluff under a pen name?? Then my super complicated novels could be under my real name. And since it was a Saturday night, I was home alone, and I'd had a few cocktails...naturally I started researching romance novel tropes and brainstorming my pen name.

Half of my brain was like, I AM SO DOING THIS, while the other half said, PUMP THE BRAKES, SISTER. But I could not shake off this idea of, what if I could bust out sexy fluff novel after sexy fluff novel and ACTUALLY MAKE MONEY DOING IT?? The only downside being, for the love of God and all that is holy, I really need to finish Uneven Lines. I can't be distracted by all the shiny.

But then I thought, what if I just spent one day a week working on fluff? Or, I could use it for those times I'm feeling blocked, or just feeling depressed because the writing isn't happening. Maybe the fluff could fuel my work on UL when it's stalled (as it typically is). I even came up with an idea for a book! (Eeek!) I liked the idea of enemies to lovers, so my brain just kept thinking and thinking and suddenly I've got a full fledged plot, about a couple of former high school rivals who then become work rivals years later which naturally leads to sexytimes. And now I can't stop thinking about it *facepalm*.

I know I shouldn't do this, but part of me thinks it's a good idea. If I can find the right balance between these projects, anyway, where I'm still devoting most of my time to UL. Part of me just wants to see how fast I could bust out a fluff novel (don't NaNo @ me).

So...will I do it? I don't know. I'll probably write this first fluff story at some point, at least. But like SNS, I'm putting it on a back burner. Or, more accurately, in a glass case labeled TO BE USED IN CASE OF WRITER'S BLOCK.

BTW, I decided for my pen name I would use initials. My middle name is Anne, but for some reason I didn't want to use S.A. So I thought of S.J. (I got that exactly where you think I got it). Then I started thinking about a fake last name. First I thought of S.J. Adams, which gave me a chuckle. But then I thought of S.J. Gray, which sounds totally fake but I also like. Feel free to vote or suggest something new! Or talk me out of it!!!

07 October 2019

In the Pie of the Beholder

If you're like me (crazy), you like to sneak symbolism and themes and all that literary nonsense (that you swore writers never did on purpose when you read Lord of the Flies in sophomore year) into your books. You think it gives your story more depth, and gives the reader more to think about. Or you just worry your book would be a massive trash pile without it. Either way, is it possible to have too much symbolism? When is enough enough?

Ok, so A LOT of tiny little details in UL are totally planned. I've got symbolism, parallel lines, parallel characters. You name it, I probably have it. So when I come across something that doesn't have some sort of double meaning, I wonder if it should.

Chapter 1 ends with Jordan eating an entire pie in one sitting. I have no worries about the act itself, it really works, it has different layers and whatnot. The thing that keeps nagging at my brain is the type of pie. This is some serious literature here, right?? When the type of pie you wrote doesn't feel quite right...

Ok, so since the dawn of time, aka, when I started writing this book, the pie in question has ALWAYS been key lime. HOWEVER...I had absolutely no reason for making it a key lime pie. There is no double meaning, no symbolism. If I ever publish this book and someone asked me, "why key lime??" I wouldn't have an answer. So I wonder if I should have a more symbolic flavor of pie (words I didn't ever think I'd be saying).

I've thought of a few. There's cherry, which could totally have some sexual symbolism (I think...?). Plus red is a color I use symbolically throughout the book, so diving into a cherry pie and making a mess of it would seem more meaningful.

Then there's apple pie. My obvious thought is the whole apple/forbidden fruit idea, which would totally work in the book itself. But I also know I'm throwing in a lot of Garden of Eden themed symbols in Book 3, so this could also connect to that.

But then I also wonder...does it really matter? Should I just keep it key lime because that's what it's always been? Or because I already have enough symbolism in my book? Do I really need ANOTHER THING??? I also think eating a whole key lime pie in one sitting would be way more doable than an apple or cherry pie, but I also don't have a teenage boy's metabolism.

So what do you think? Does the pie really matter? Or am I overthinking this way too much? Or are you all just hungry now??