Thursday, November 26, 2015

Against All Odds

I did it!

In this moment of celebration, I don't care that it may be the worst novel ever written, because the important thing is that it exists. I have pushed myself this month, sometimes beyond endurance, through late nights and packing and moves and no internet. I have written on my computer, my husband's computer, my phone, my whiteboard, and every scrap of paper I came across.
Now I am done. DONE. The novel that has existed in my head in bits and pieces since 2007 has a first draft. It exists. What an amazing feeling. Thank you, Lord, for leading me to Nanowrimo! It's amazing what a little competition can do, even if it's just with yourself. :)
So happy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Worst and the Worst and the Awful

" order to create a world and populate it and make it real, we have to believe that we’ve got something amazing on our hands.

But it’s hard to sustain that belief through the grind that is necessary to actually make the idea real.

And if it helps, remember: this is what makes you a writer. Yes, this. The sick feeling in your stomach, the weariness you feel, the utter conviction that you are the Worst and your novel is the Worst and everything is awful."

- N.K. Jemisin, author of The Fifth Season, in a Nanowrimo pep talk.

That about sums it up. 10k words to go and I have no idea what to write. I'm down to describing my setting and characters. Remind me again, why am I doing this? My story is one gigantic mess. Even my husband's computer doesn't know how many pages long this draft is. Eventually it settled on 93. As a fan of fat books, I may only be 1/2 there, especially considering what I'll probably delete. Technically, I'm on draft 8 or 9. My very first draft was so pathetic not even I could stand it. This glorious idea in my head seems to disappear when I try to get it onto paper. I never knew what a terrible fiction writer I am. Thank-you ambition and Nanowrimo.

I had no idea how much work it takes to:

1) Write 50k semi-coherent words
2) Figure out a plot
3) Describe characters and settings and rules in non-boring, non-dumptruck ways
4) Show not tell
5) Just complete the crazy thing
6) Rewrite and
7) Not just delete everything I've ever written

So this is me, facing the Chasm of Doubt, as Jemisin calls it.

Will I jump or walk away?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Netflix My Nemesis

NCIS... Twelve seasons!

Bones... Season 10

7 days left of Nanowrimo. 12k words to go. No laptop. A different country. Thanksgiving. I can do this. Suck it up, Buttercup, one more week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Things I Will Remember

I won't remember the sleep I didn't get,  but I will remember the novel I didn't write.

So wait for me, pillow, I will see you after 300 more words.

My NaNoWriMo Hacks

1) Give up Netflix. Limit Facebook and Twitter to potty breaks.

2) Know what scene I need to write next so the waterfall of my mind can be working during the mundane moments. I started doing this in college since I studied and worked full time. Just knowing what I had to write about next let me collect ideas and be working on it before I actually sat down to write.

3) Use my whiteboard if I get stuck, and my mom's classic technique, start with what you know. By the time I write down where I'm at and what I know, I usually have some ideas for what's next.

4) Lock up my inner editor, my grammar nazi, my perfectionist, and my lazy self, and give myself permission to be terrible, as long as I keep writing. Also, I may not think about how many of these words I will delete later.

5) Pat the cat. 20 seconds lowers blood pressure.

6) Tell the parts where I'm stuck to my son. He likes it if I add him in, but it helps me think of more action, less dialogue. A 6 year old doesn't care about who said what.

7) Write on my phone if necessary. Thumb typing is better than no typing. Like this blog post. Asleep daughter is paralyzing my right arm, the cat is on my stomach, and my left arm is falling asleep. But my mind is free.

8) Look for the funny everyday. I'm not a comedic writer, but much of life is a bit ridiculous, really. Did you know that Congress passed a Paperwork Reduction Act in 1980, and amended it in 1995? I only know this because I spend a lot of my life doing paperwork.

9) Think up excuses but work anyway. I'm tired. I have kids and a job. I'm moving. Then I tell myself, "Suck it up, buttercup."

Monday, November 9, 2015

No Writing is Wasted leads to the good stuff.

and other quotes from NaNoWriMo (tweets and blog)

A professional author is an amateur who didn't quit.

When you get stuck in a story, find the vein and write from there (my paraphrase)

Nanowrimo helps you get the writing factory of your life set up (my paraphrase)

What can your character do at the end that he/she couldn't at the beginning? That's character growth.

That’s why this feels hard. It matters. And how beautiful is that? Stephanie Perkins (

(Sorry that some of these aren't properly attributed. Can't find the articles fast and have no time, it's NaNoWriMo! Have to get writing...)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What I Was Created For

This article is one of the best pieces I've ever read.

We do things as children that we love, and then we forget. We let practical overcome beautiful and we live in disbelief that Jesus can provide for us. We swallow the lie that we have to look out for ourselves or no one will.

But the goal is intimacy with Christ, not performance, just being connected to the vine, because He is all we need.

When I was little, I loved to write. I am just getting back to that, and as the author says, I feel like I've found myself. I may print this and frame it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Second Day

Paraphrase of a quote on Nanowrimo's twitter:

"It's not about the idea, but the execution."

I like that because it's hard to be original, but I can focus on writing well instead.

2035 words in and more coming during Naptime Power Hour. Ha ha.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pantser or Plotter?

Some authors create detailed outlines before they begin writing a novel. Others just start writing and see what happens. Plotting it out or flying by the seat of your pants.

I had an idea for a novel and this summer I just pantsed it. I sat down and wrote a lot of words, then after editing I ended up with about 20k that I liked and only half a story line. The latter half of my novel appealed to me, but the beginning did not. After many false starts, I gave up.

Until I heard another blogger mention that she was switching from nablopomo to nanowrimo this November. I only signed up a few days ago, but there is a fun energy in joining a large community that all has a crazy goal. It has already has pushed me to spend my daughter's naptimes drawing on my whiteboard. Making connections, thinking about the sticky points, and daydreaming has led me to something of a new outline.

So I am a pantser turned plotter and we'll see how it goes. Nanowrimo starts tomorrow!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Nanowrimo 2015

Here I come! National Novel Writing Month = 50k words in 30 days. I must be insane.

Things I am already dealing with in November:

* an active volcano at my doorstep

* homeschooling

* moving my family from one country to another

* and now, apparently, 1667 words a day.

But my story is in there, I know it. I just need to develop the writing chops to get it out. All I have to do to win is finish. It doesn't have to be any good, so the pressure is off.

The question is now... when will I write?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Story Truth

From The Writer's Almanac today:

O’Brien’s most famous book, a collection of linked short stories about the war, is The Things They Carried (1990). The stories blur the line between fiction and memoir; they feature a character named “Tim O’Brien” — but O’Brien the author insists it’s a work of fiction. He wrote: “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”

Friday, August 21, 2015


There are certain songs that just make me want to write.  There are periods of quiet, but things are stirring. Listening tonight and hopefully I'll be back soon.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Writing Family

I read in a book once that the dreams of a family are often passed down from generation to generation until they finally culminate in someone who finally achieves that dream (paraphrase of something in Cradles of Eminence). Perhaps it is music or art or politics. In my mother's family, it is writing. Both of my grandparents wrote extensively, my mom wants to write, and so do I.

New computer. Check.
Better storyline. Check.
Time to write. Not so much.

But like Mumbles says in Happy Feet Two, "Every step counts."

Time to get moving again. A grain of sand every day will some day become a mountain. My husband taught me that. Little things add up.

And my new favorite quote, "It took me twenty years to become an overnight success."

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Writing about writing. Now that's the ultimate form of procrastination! I am waiting for my mom to bring me my laptop, hopefully with a fully functioning wifi connection, which my last laptop lacked. For me, a laptop is my mobile office. Not having everything in one place is driving me crazy.

Also, writing pulls me into a world separate from my family, and my young children need me to be fully present. But time is ticking down until we make a major move, and I want to finish my novel while I'm settled stilll, or I fear I never will. I want to see it play out, like a movie in my head.

I write because I enjoy it. I think perhaps that I will start over. My story, like this entry, is still very choppy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I'd hoped to have a working first draft ready for my mom to read by today, but it didn't happen. Children who need me, sickness, and life got in the way. Along with the fact that I'm not a very good writer, yet. Working out the plot and character development has involved rewrite after rewrite.

Everyone can come up with excuses, reasons, why the work didn't get done. The world wouldn't judge me for stopping, giving up.

I want to overcome, to persevere. I want to finish. Maybe not this year or the next, but before my kids are grown. It is only excuses that separate me from my goals.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Saying Good-bye

This is the teacher who opened my eyes to the world of books beyond fiction. Essays, biographies, memoirs, poetry, satire, humor, plays, Christian thought, short stories, commentaries, criticism, and more.

That I write today, am working on a novel of my own, is a tribute to him. AP Language and AP Literature were the best classes I've ever taken, in terms of making me think, really think, and examine this world in which we live.

This is his last year of teaching at my old high school. Today I said good-bye and tried to tell him how important he was in my life. Thank-you, Mr. Q.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Writing Quotes

There is something incredibly freeing for me to say that I'm going to stop. To give myself permission to fail. In an odd way, it pushes me forward. After my last post, I had an idea about how to connect my story, so I did a major edit tonight. With every draft, I end up with less and less words, but I like the story better.

The setting, secondary character arcs, and action sequences all need work, but it's there. I can see it. I now have 23,000 words, so my story is far from done. But I'm a better writer than I was 50,000 words ago, and I hope to continue improving.

After I cut out scene after scene, I wanted a treat, so I hopped on Advice to Writers for some quotes. I love quotes.This is what resonated with me tonight:

"The best advice on writing I’ve ever received was, “Rewrite it!” A lot of editors said that. They were all right. Writing is really rewriting--making the story better, clearer, truer." Robert Lipsyte

"I don't like to push forward with a story or novel unless it seems to me that the prose is strong enough to be permanent, even though I know very well that once the work is finished I will want to rewrite it. The pleasure is the rewriting. The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written. This is a koan-like statement, and I don't mean to sound needlessly obscure or mysterious, but it’s simply true. The completion of any work automatically necessitates its revisioning." Joyce Carol Oates

The Rewrite - this is definitely where I'm at right now. I'm trying to get my story down to just the good parts. One big thing I did tonight was combine some key characters to simplify my story.

"Best advice on writing I’ve ever received: Finish." Peter Mayle

Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. So true.

"The best advice on writing I’ve ever received was given to me, like so much else, by Hubert Selby, Jr.: to learn and to know that writing is not an act of the self, except perhaps as exorcism; that, in writing what is worth being written, one serves, as vessel and voice, a power greater than vessel and voice." Nick Tosches

I read somewhere else that we should write about what haunts us. That's what caught me in this quote. I've been thinking a lot lately about the tragedies that are our fault, and how hard it is to live with them afterwards. I lost track of a friend's toddler for a moment in a parking lot, caught up in my own thoughts, and he almost got hit by a car. Like screaming breaks and honking horns. Only by the grace of God am I here, writing this tonight. Things could have been so very different. There are things that can't be undone, and that haunts me.

"7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine." Margaret Atwood's 10 Rules for Writing Fiction

Don't whine. Ha ha. Maybe I should rethink this blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I'm hoping to start a small side business, so I've put my writing on hold for awhile. Part of it is less time and focusing on my family's needs, but I'm also wondering if I can actually write readable fiction. The last fiction stories I wrote were in 6th grade. It's been essays ever since. I don't have a grasp on the mechanics of fiction.

Okay, and here's the straight up truth: I feel like the story keeps trying to turn into a love story. Is there such a thing as romantic scifi? I wanted it to be more about a girl accepting herself for who she is. I was aiming for a story about friends, something with just the "good parts."

There are things I want to add to my story, but doubts keep me busy doing everything but writing. Maybe I shouldn't write it in first person present. Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe the story I want to write is boring. The more I follow writing advice, the less I seem to be writing.

How to find my way? I don't know. And I don't know what happens to my characters next. So I'm stalled.

I'm going to sleep on it, let my subconscious work on it for a few hours. Or days. But not weeks, because I'm afraid that if I pause for too long, I'll let my doubts win and I'll never start again.

I don't want to be the person who almost wrote a book.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm falling behind in my existence!

The sheer number of people out there trying to become authors discourages me. That little voice in my head says, "You're a terrible writer. You'll never be good enough." John Vorhaus sums up this feeling so well:

"I think I know where you’re at now. You’re not as productive as you want to be. Not as prolific. Not as at ease with your craft. Not yet its master, for sure. In the back of your mind you hear a panicked little voice that clamors, “I’m falling behind in my existence!” How do I know you hear that voice? Because I hear it all the time! I’ve heard it all my life. I experience it as the gap between the writer I am and the writer I want to be. I’m furiously interested in closing that gap. You are, too, I know, and here’s the thing I want to tell you. You will close the gap. I have. Not all the way. But some. And consistently more and more over time."

Draft four of my manuscript has some serious flaws. I am stalled in the face of a complete rewrite. The second half of my story works, but not the beginning. I feel like the continental railroads, wondering if the tracks really will meet in the middle.

So I turn to online advice. Show don't tell. Avoid cliches. The protagonist has to want something. All the mistakes on the "What Not To Do" lists? Yup, I've made or am making. My only triumph is that I do know how to punctuate dialogue. Thank-you, Mr. Quiring.

Another writer, Dan Blank, talks about shame and writing.What an odd pairing, but so true. As if there's a judge out there who says, "You tried and failed? How dare you!" We can't all start out as prodigies, but somehow that's the expectation, that it should be polished and easy, the first time around. I may have to work harder, but I will get somewhere, eventually. My goal is 70,000 coherent words (not perfect) by June or bust.

Best writing advice? Fail and fail and fail again. Don't stop.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fear of Criticism

I found this quote in the comments on Gretchen Rubin's blog post Why I Don't Read Reviews of My Books or Profiles of Myself:

"...we all have to find what allows us to stay proactive."

Except I read it as "productive." It is very hard to write and put it out there. Criticism is inevitable. Even one negative comment can haunt and change you.

I'm not sure my book will make it to publication, but I remind myself that my job is to keep writing and improving. If I am successful, eventually, it doesn't matter who likes my book or not, as long as I find some who do. My goal is not everyone, but enough.

I decided tonight not to read reviews or information about myself online, if things come to that.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Blurb

Have you ever read a book where the description gives away the moment that the author builds up to for half the book? All of the author's careful work now seems boring, because the reader knows what's coming. In my first draft, half of my book is about my main character trying to get in to a certain school. But if the reader already knows that she makes it, it's no longer interesting.

My main character also learns certain surprising things about 3/4 of the way into the story, at least I hope they are a surprise, but I keep thinking about the blurb. If it's not going to be a surprise, I'd rather move the information sooner so my readers aren't bored.

What I want to write about is how my main character finds herself. I want to explore the bonds that she forms and breaks and if she succeeds at belonging. Perhaps something like that could be in my blurb.

Thinking back on my last post about genre, maybe I will aim for science fiction after all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Genres & Gender

I thought that the novel I was writing, set in a fictional world, would be considered fantasy. But I looked at a list of the top 25 fantasy books and they all heavily feature magic. There are certain things I created that don't exist in our world, but no magic. Is there a non-magic subgenre of fantasy? Turns out there is, but seemingly a small one.

If fantasy is not the right category, then where else could it belong?

Not science fiction, not historical, not mystery, suspense, or thriller. Definitely not horror. Not romance. Not dystopian, although perhaps I could push it in that direction if necessary. Looking at this list, maybe what I'm aiming for is mainstream fiction, but those seem to be mostly realistic stories (The Joy Luck Club, The Da Vinci Code, Life of Pi, etc).

I also noticed when I was scanning through the top fantasy book list that all the "coming of age" stories were about boys. What happened to girls becoming women? My main character is a girl set in a group of friends. When exactly do we, of either gender, grow up? I would like to explore just what "coming of age" would look like for a girl, and what it means to be a woman.

Monday, March 23, 2015

From the Beginning


I enjoy talking excessively about whatever project is currently consuming me, so I created this blog to relieve my immediate family.

What is my big dream? To become a published novelist. I am 33 years old, and I just figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Where am I at in the process?

50,000 words into my first draft and it needs about 20k more, but I'm excited. I hope to see it through and wanted to record my journey. I can't promise success but I will do my best to be honest.

Welcome to my life as an aspiring writer.