Who the HELL Do We Think We Are?
Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells
Competing evil queens: Charlize Theron vs. Julia Roberts. (Frankly, I think Ms. Theron easily edges Ms. Roberts out in the "fairest" category).
Competing Snow Whites: Twilight's Kristen Stewart vs. Some Actress I Don't Know.
Between the two of these, and based on the trailers, I'm more interested in Snow White and the Huntsman. However, the director of Mirror, Mirror is responsible for one of my favorite, visually stunning movies of all time, The Cell. So we'll see.
Based on these trailers, which do you think will be the winningest version of Snow White in 2012?
Because I didn't even know there was such a thing until after my first novel was published. And then I found that I was usually in the revision process when everyone else was diving into their NoWri and heading for the 50,000 word finish line, recorded in diligent little blog posts and complaining. This was before Twitter and G+ of course. And maybe even before FaceBook. Yes, it's been such a short time and so much has happened....
What hasn't changed is this: it's still a process which results in (we hope) 50,000 words of story recorded for whatever posterity you choose to reference. Well, it might be more if you've been extra busy and very very clever, not to mention a fast typist with a lot of time on your hands. (And if you are any of these, I hate you.) In A Month! (Yeah, That's a lot in not a lot of time and don't believe anyone who says otherwise.)
So now you look at your opus and you may think one of two things (right after "Thank Dog that's over" and "Go me!" --unless you missed the goal, in which case you're probably thinking that everyone else you know who capped the NaNoWriMo challenge is a cheating, rotten, untalented, goat-molesting, computer-shagging speed typist and a booger head. But I digress!) Here's the two things you may be thinking:
1) I have a novel full of awesome! I'm awesome! In fact, everything's simply wiggly-ducky-tail, kitty-whiskers, puppy-kisses, totally, fickin awesome right now! Wheeee! I'm going to get this baby published!
2) I have 50,000 words of crap. Where can I hide it?
Either way, the answer is: stop. Right now.
See, whether your NoWri is fabulous 50K or craptacular 20K (or a combination of the two), the first thing to do is realize that is is not a novel. Oh I hear some of you aspiring writers winding up the whine-o-matic about how I'm a published writer and I'm a snob and I just want to keep you down. But that's not it (well, maybe it is, but I'm sticking to my original story here!) What you have is a start. And at 50K it's a damned good start. So why stop now? There is so much more to do! (Oh, I know that sounds so mean after all you've done, but it's true!)
Yup, even if you choose to take your NoWri to the wonderland that is electronic self-publishing, you probably should do something to it first. Like... revise it. Spell check at the very least. Possibly--oh I don't know.... Finish it? Get someone else to read it before you format it for Amazon or Smashwords.
Some of you are now thinking "but it's wonderful the way it is" and I say that's the celebratory drinks talking. And the rest are thinking "Into the truck with you, Manuscript-beast!") No matter who you are, now is the time to rest a bit and get another perspective before you charge off to the next phase in your NoWri Adventure (or attempt to hide the body.)
I know some people refer to December as National Novel Revision Month and that works for some people. For others it may be National Novel FINISHING month (it probably will be for me.) Even if the NoWri is kind of smelly and broken, don't just shove it under the bed and pretend it didn't happen. There's something there. OK, so a lot of it will be crap--rough drafts are by definition craptacular and often even shittastic. A few reach the pinnacle of fucktabulous and that's really saying something in the "this stinks" department. And yet... things still get published. (I know from personal experience that wreck-alicious rough drafts--or "Draft Zero" as some say--can still turn into good books; just ask my editor. Hell ask any editor.)
Because the writer doesn't just throw it out to the public at the tender age of 50K and one month. They coddle it a little, feed it a little, pretty it up and take it out for lunch....
And then they beat the ever-loving poo out of it! They get their friends to poke it with sticks and they call it names and they lock it in the closet for a week before they look at it again.
And then they go back to work and make a better version. A complete version. A shiny, happy, lovely version. With all its subplolts intact, and its characters rounded, its plot clean and its prose sparkly--or at least not so rough and misspelled.
And then they dress it up pretty and take it out to meet the Editor....
And thus are novels born. Some won't make it. Some won't try. Some are just exercises and learning experiences and that's fine too--but you won't learn if you don't look at what you did. And there will be a few that, even after the extra polish, are still just turds. But don't make that decision in the sweat of crossing the finish line. Take a moment to savor the victory, or spit out the bitterness of defeat....
Then consider your own personal goal in having participated in NaNoWriMo: what did you want to get out of it? Did you just want to try to write that much in a month? Did you want to write a specific story? Did you want just to beat your writing chops into shape a bit? Did you want to get a good start on a longer work? (Or in my case, finish one.)
Did you get that?
That is what is important. Not 50,000 words, not "a novel" instead of short stories or poems, not how well or how much anyone else did, not what your publisher will think--or if you can get one. Did you meet your goal? Are you happier with yourself as a writer now that November is over?
While you're deciding what to do next, here are some places to think more about NaNoWriMo and what to do in December:
Jim C. Hines's blog on NaNoWriMo (gotta love Jim!)
Beth Cato's After NaNo post at Women On Writing
Holly Lisle's post on How to Revise Your Novel
Howdy folks! I'm doing Nanowrimo this year, and I thought I'd share my thoughts on how to engage with National Novel Writing Month successfully.
"But you haven't even finished successfully, Dr Peeler," readers may be thinking. "You are only halfway done!"
This is true. But what I've noticed these first two weeks is that Nanowrimo is mostly what writers do, when they're on deadline. A few thousand words a day is not much for us, especially if we write genre fiction. On Twitter, writers with contracts for 3-4 books a year (a pretty standard number for those who actually make a living writing) often talk about writing five thousand or more words per day.
And that's partly why I like Nanowrimo as a learning experience for aspiring writers. It's nice to think of writing as this wonderful enterprise where one sits in a puddle of sun, scribbling and laughing and eating bonbons. The truth is much uglier, oftentimes a bit smellier, and definitely involves other physical reactions than laughing, dread being at the top of my own list.
So here's how I get through my novels, and here's what is making Nanowrimo actually quite easy for me. I know how obnoxious that sounds, but I want everyone who wants to be a writer to think about what I'm saying. Think of me sweating, and swearing, and spending mornings, unshowered in my pajamas, frantically typing while wondering how I'm ever going to get through it all.
That's called being a writer.
And here's my top five tips on how to do it:
I don't care how you plan. I don't care if you outline (although that's my method), or storyboard, or write on cocktail napkins or tattoo your inner thighs with random plot points.
BUT YOU MUST PLAN. Writing an actual manuscript is not about vomiting out great ideas. Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Furthermore, there are no original great ideas. What there is, however, is the possibility of heartfelt execution that brings something nuanced to those tropes we've been battering about ever since humans started scrawling on the walls of their caves. So plot! Think about what you're doing! Think about how you will do it! And write something down, on something, somewhere.
2) WORK WITH YOUR OWN SCHEDULE AND HABITS.
You know yourself. No one else does. People will say, "Oh, you HAVE to write in the morning," or, "I get all my best work done at night." I don't care if you do your best work on the toilet, wearing a tea cozy on your head. If that's what works for you, that's what works for you.
That said, you do want to spend a little time thinking through your schedule. There will be days that you can't write, so you might have to make up for those days over that weekend, or the next day. There will be days that you definitely can't write in the morning. But what if you do your best writing in the morning? Maybe that's a situation in which you don't write one day, but get ahead on any other work or chores using that time, and then write the next day, knowing you have all morning. So basically, if #1 is Plan Your Novel, #2 is Attempt to Plan Your Life. Obviously, that's easier said than done, but do make an effort to figure out what works for you and how you can achieve your optimum writing time. Then, constantly reassess as things change.
3) REACH OUT TO OTHERS.
The great thing about Nanowrimo is that it introduces people to other writers in their area. Reach out to them! Attend Write-Ins if you can. If you're someone who does actually live in the middle of nowhere, and there really isn't anyone else around, reach out to your family. Someone's always working on something--taxes, PTA posters, whatever. Tell them you'd love to set aside some "working time" at a cafe, or your house, or their house, or in the middle of a stream. It doesn't matter. What matters is not feeling so alone in this endeavor. And this idea of reaching out is actually a really important part of writing, for all of us. Writing can be very solitary, and so Nanowrimo helps facilitate what other writers have to do on their own--finding people who commiserate.
4) DON'T FOCUS ON THE FIFTY.
I think that, for a lot of people, the idea of writing 50,000 words is hugely daunting. No matter how it's written, 50,000 (fifty thousand, 50k, etc) is a huge number.
That said, keep in mind that 50,000 words isn't even a "real" novel. It's a novella, at best. I'm not saying that to be a jerk, I'm saying that to remind everyone that 50k is an arbitrary number.
So that's why we shouldn't focus on the fifty. Instead, focus on more manageable goals. Focus on daily word counts, or on weekly word counts. Focus on the quarter-mark and the halfway mark. We should also reward ourselves at each milestone. Because any words written at all is a coup. Which leads me to....
5) IF YOU WROTE ANYTHING, YOU'RE A WINNER.
I don't care if you wrote 1,000 words, or 49,995. To me, it's not about "winning" Nanowrimo. As an educator, and a professor of creative writing, I think that attempting Nanowrimo can teach people so much about themselves and their real relationship to writing. The key is to self-assess, no matter how many words one accomplished. Maybe someone "wins" Nanowrimo, but they hated every minute of it, and they hate what they wrote. Such a person should think about whether he or she really wants to be a writer. Conversely, maybe someone only wrote 20,000 words this month. But if, upon assessing her progress, that person realizes that she loved every minute of the process, and she loves her book, and that 20,000 words x 5 months=100,000 words=one whole novel, I would consider such a result a much greater reward than a "winner" icon.
So those are my five rules for Nanowrimo. A sixth might be NOT to fall into the trap of snacking while writing, as down that road lies obesity, but that's another rule for another day. ;-)
If you want to add me as your Nano buddy, I'm NicolePeeler. To all, good luck with writing! And keep on trucking!
And the thing is, I got my contract very quickly. A Brush of Darkness was my first real attempt at getting published (though I hadn't really meant it to be - it was supposed to be my "learner" book. Fate is odd that way, I suppose.)
But one of the trade-offs to that is that I don't have a trunk full of additional manuscripts I can pull from. I'm writing as I go - which means contracted work comes first, even if I get struck with inspiration for something else. And clearly, every author is different. I'm a slow writer and I've got all that "Real Job" stuff to deal with, along with a couple of sproglets. So my writing time is limited...and as much as I might like to take off with one of these fabulous ideas that hits me throughout the day, I can't really justify it when I've got a deadline hanging over my head. (At least not much - sometimes I do write some things down - I've got an idea notebook I keep with me for these sorts of things. As long as I write it down, I can come back to it.)
Some days, it's hard to stay focused, particularly when the new ideas start knocking and demanding to know when it will be *their* time.
In an effort to soothe the "wanna-be ideas", I am going to attempt a small pet project in the upcoming months that I'm pretty excited about, namely in the form of a web-comic. It's strictly for fun at this point, but since I've always wanted to try my hand at writing graphic novels, it should be a good way to get my feet wet. My artist (Aimo) is actually a licensed sketch-card artist for Marvel and LucasArts, and if you're at all familiar with Bioware's Dragon Age or Mass Effect fandoms, you might have seen her work in the form of numerous character sketch cards and fan-comics.
We'll be doing an original story, though I'm not sure how many issues at this point. (Even when I think small, the story-arcs get big sometimes.) I'll post more details as we get closer to going live- Spring 2012 is our current aim. (We'll be posting it over at SadSausageDogs.com - not linking yet because it's still in development, but thought I'd throw it out there as a heads-up.)
Unless, of course, your typo isn't misspelled. This is a problem I have all the time. When I'm typing quickly, I substitute words that sound like the word I intended to type. It's like my brain is hooked on phonics. And I don't mean I have a homonym problem. I know when to use they're and their, cast and caste, etc. No, I substitute words that sound *like* the word I intended--but not exactly like it. Like so:
Yeah. I probably don't need to tell you that I intended to use "dot" there. This one's obvious too:
That doesn't make sense, unless perhaps it's spoken by some harried gardener who needs to get a yard cleaned up ASAP. And seriously--I do these ALL THE TIME. I'm currently going over the second Bloodlines book and am in awe of all the sounds-alike substitutions I did while typing the first draft. None, however, are as magnificent as this one:
This was supposed to be "fake pine," but man, I'm not going to lie. Fake pain--whatever it smells like--sounds awesome. Does it smell like Teen Spirit? Can I find a way to spin this into money-making merchandise with fake pain scented candles or cologne? That typo is so good, I kind of want to leave it in there.
Am I the only one who does this kind of thing? Is there a name for it?
Tate + Violet
Taint + Violent
See that? Isn't that AWESOME???
What other couple names from books, television shows, plays or movies can you think of are either intentionally or accidentally awesome plays on words?
In one of the more haunting issues of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman—#17 to be exact—there is a character named Richard Madoc who becomes cursed with more stories than he can possibly write down. Instead of facing writer’s block, he’s dealing with writer’s diarrhea, and he goes quite batshit as a result. It’s a fabulous issue, and completely terrifying in many respects to any author. I recommend it—as I recommend that whole series.
I have not yet achieved Richard Madoc’s level of batshit. But it does seem that I’m getting more ideas for stories than should be allowed. I’ve started several different ones in the past couple of weeks, all of them shiny and new, when I should be working on the book that’s under contract. I’ve been working on it too, of course—but the ideas keep coming. Since I’m kind of a slow writer, I get excited by 2-3,000 words per day when that’s pretty meh for most writers. (I tried writing with Nicole Peeler once. That was an exercise in humility. She wrote like 1,500 words in an hour and I only shat out 553. She is super-fly T.N.T. ) So when I wrote 3K the other day I was ecstatic, until I remembered it wasn’t on my novel, but on a short story for which I’d never be paid. Arrrgh!
No. You know what? Wheee! Writing the stories was fun, damn it! And I am still enough of a newb to find all the writing fun. I’m not sure when I’ll find time to finish the stories, since the beat of the deadline drum grows ever louder, but they do serve to help me blow off some steam when I feel temporarily stymied by events in the book. And that, more than anything, is why I refuse to get too upset by getting distracted. When a book is giving you trouble, working on alternate projects always keeps you productive.
There are days, of course, when nothing helps. On those days, there is pie.
|Spreadsheet with numbers|
We've made it to November. Whew! That means it's time for... NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month. If you've got the novel-writing itch, then scratch it with NaNoWriMo.
This year I’m an official participant because I need to finish a work-in-progress. Right now, I’m what is charitably called “in-between-contracts,” which in industry parlance means I got bupkis in terms of book contracts.
Since my last contract I’ve been fielding proposals--the first three chapters, an outline, and a synopsis--in hopes of scoring an advance before I have to write the whole manuscript. I got nibbles on three proposals with this caveat: the editors want to see the completed manuscripts. Ugh. So enough pounding my pud, time to finish one story and send it off. That’s where NaNoWriMo comes in. Do or die, brothers and sisters.
Last month, the League was frothing at the mouth (we froth well) about Write Agenda and the way they’ve dissed our buddies at Absolute Write Water Cooler, Writer Beware, and John Scalzi at SFWA. So the League smote back with what we do best, snark and more snark. Now those sneaks at Write Agenda have gone and done the unthinkable. They’ve listed four Leaguers as Recommended Authors: Jaye Wells, Kevin Hearne, Nicole Peeler, and myself. What must we do to set these guys right about our true pervie nature and threat to public morals? Post pictures of our League orgies? Then so be it.