WIP Wednesday

Writing Process

It’s August, which means that I am teetering on the edge of panic mode, which means that I will be traveling at lightning speed for the next…sixteen weeks. In two months I will be publishing my first novel in exactly one year and even though I’ve already accomplished so much in the past twelve months, suddenly it feels like there is still so much left to do.

Book 1 is OFFICIALLY DONE! YES! FINALLY! It has been copy edited and now all that’s left to do is format this baby, approve the final covert art, and hit publish! EEK! EEK again! That’s actually feigned excitement because the truth is, at this point I am completely numb. I’ve already written almost 400,000 words in this series and even though I know I’ll be nervous once I actually send the first book to reviewers, I also have this euphoric defiance about the whole thing and am too exhausted to care whether people hate it or not. But I’m sure this feeling is only temporary and as soon as the first reviews roll in I’ll either be crying with joy and relief or crying in absolute horror.

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The final read-through for book 2 feels like it has literally taken MONTHS and…I’m still not quite done. In fact, I’m only about half way, which is a sure sign that this past month I accidentally fell into some kind of wormhole where time works in reverse. But since August is all about reaching maximum speed and defying the laws of physics I will, I REPEAT, I WILL get this read-through finished by the end of next week and then it will be off for it’s final copy edit.

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I’ve had to push back edits for book 3 several times over the past two months but hopefully I’ll get notes back from my beta reader soon and I can get to work on the next draft. If all goes well I should have the fourth draft done by September and the fifth draft done by October, which means a late fall release date is still possible!

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As for the last book in the series, I’ve finally broken the 50K mark. Progress is still moving slow but the entire month of August will be devoted to getting this first (practically second) draft in good shape. I know what I want the finale to look and feel like but translating that is harder than I anticipated. But I can’t slack off on this one because I know once the first book is out in the world it will be way too easy to get distracted by sales (or lack-there-of) and reviews and book tours and everything else that goes along with publishing a novel. So this is it. I have to figure out a way to make it happen and I have to do it now before anyone else’s opinions can get in the way.

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Speaking of other people’s opinions, writing isn’t the only thing on my agenda this month. Now that I’m steadily approaching the publication date of my next novel there is so much to do! First things first, I’ve got to finalize the blurbs for the first two books, then I have to finalize the cover art, then I have to format the first two books for all the major online retailers, then I have to send out hundreds and hundreds of emails to bloggers begging them to read my book, followed by hours and days and, possibly, weeks of agonizing over their responses, and then I have to get promo and prizes ready for giveaways and interviews and teasers. And oh my gosh I totally forgot about teasers! This will mean one more quick skim of my favorite chapters before plucking out a few gems that have to be powerful enough to make people want to keep reading. And on top of all of that I have to stay focused on finishing the third book in the series as well as getting the fourth to a semi-okay place. And I have to do all of it blindfolded while juggling chainsaws!!!! Just kidding, but you get the idea. Basically what I’m trying to say is that August is make or break for me and I hope, with everything in me, that it’s the former.

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Indie Life 07-09-14

Self Publishing, Writing Process

It’s time for another edition of Indie Life, hosted by The Indelibles. You can sign up by clicking the graphic! IndieLife7

It’s my return to Indie Life! While I wish I could say I’ve been slacking on these posts because they no longer apply to me and I’ve just signed a million dollar contract with some fancy New York agent, the truth is being indie is the very reason I’ve hardly had time to keep up with blogging at all. Because being indie means financing all of my own projects and since I’m not selling thousands of copies of my books a day, that means I have to work. A lot. I took on a second job in the Spring, bringing my total hours to just shy of 60. And that brings me to today’s indie gripe–the unpredictability of life.

I know this is a law of the universe that effects all of us but one of the most tedious and important parts of being an independent artist is being organized. There are a lot of spontaneous artists out there who rely on divine inspiration rather than deadlines and who create only when they feel like it, abandoning it as soon as it starts to feel like work. But the success and the fulfillment doesn’t come to those who quit. Those things are reserved for finishers and if you’ve been doing the indie thing for any length of time, you’ve probably got finishing down pat.

See, I have a formula for finishing and it goes a little something like this: writing every day+reading every day=books. Pretty simple, right? When I’m living my life within the parameters of this routine a magical kind of momentum is created and it’s the secret to how I’m planning on finishing four novels this year. FOUR WHOLE BOOKS that will be the hard-earned result of extreme dedication and a devoted work ethic. But despite my diligence and despite my deadlines, there is always the chance that something will go awry and sometimes that something isn’t small. Sometimes that something is big and important and needs your immediate attention. Sometimes you will have to set your art aside and find a second job shelving library books just so you can pay your bills.

It’s a sad truth but a truth nonetheless. Because unfortunately for us indies, there is no amount of want or need or hard work or deservedness that can make pursuing our dreams a totally seamless endeavor. Even when we put the work in every single day, without a huge publisher behind us or a huge readership, there will always be the chance that things will go wrong, or other responsibilities will stand in our way. That’s just a part of being indie. We are in a constant state of choosing, swapping out needs and responsibilities based on what we can physically and mentally accomplish that day. Sometimes after a long day of working our regular 9 to 5 job, we only have enough energy to do laundry and our manuscript gets pushed to the side. On other days we might have to make the hard decision to miss coffee with friends just so we can meet a self-imposed deadline. But regardless of how stringent we are when it comes to doing what we love, let’s be honest, until we’re paying the mortgage with our writing, that time will always be up for debate. Not because we don’t believe it’s important but because we’re only human and there is only so much we can do.

So maybe this week’s indie gripe isn’t really about being indie at all. Maybe it’s really about the modern day juggling act we’re all trying to master, the balance between surviving in this world and thriving in it getting harder and harder to achieve. Today was one of those hard days. But even though I have several looming deadlines and the thought of not making any progress on my WIP today ties me in a knot, I will forgive myself. Because I’m indie. Because I’m human.

WIP Wednesday

Writing Process

I feel like I just wrote one of these posts and after visiting my blog for the first time in weeks I realize that it’s because I just did. I haven’t been blogging much and it’s partly because I haven’t had very much time but it’s also partly because I’m afraid of documenting my snail-pace progress for all the world to see and also of reading about all of the amazing things other people are accomplishing that I’m not. I guess you could say I’m in an intense state of hibernation these days working on this series but the strange thing is that the more I work on it, the more work there is to do. Every time I peel back a layer of disfunction there are two more hidden underneath and when I make a significant change to the plot I don’t just have to make sure it works within that particular novel, but I have to go back and weave it through three other books. I’m not sure what I expected. I knew writing a series wouldn’t be easy but I also didn’t anticipate that almost an entire year would go by before I published something post Breathing Ghosts. I know that writing them back to back was the right decision for me, especially since this is my first series, but eight months without putting anything new out into the world has definitely made me more gun-shy when it comes to this next project. Hence the hiding in shame.

But seeing as this monthly check-in is supposed to hold me accountable, I’ll be honest and share the fact that nothing much has changed since my last WIP Wednesday. Book 4 was supposed to FINALLY be complete this month but after several delays and going out of town last week that’s just not going to happen. Luckily it’s just awaiting some minor changes to the ending and one last copy edit before I can set it aside for good.

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As for the sequel, I’m slowly working my way through those revisions now. Tragedy struck for one of my beta readers and all of her notes were deleted and although (thankfully) she was willing to re-read the entire thing again, it set me back about two weeks and after going out of town I just haven’t had a chance to gain the momentum I really need to get through these changes.

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I was supposed to be editing the third book this week, but due to the aforementioned setback I won’t be getting to those revisions until next week.

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The almost good news is that I’ve still been making somewhat steady progress on the last novel in the series and just hit 41,000 words, which is just about halfway. The bad news is that my deadline is just two weeks away and there’s no way I’m going to meet it.

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But the real good news this month? On the drive back from my trip I had an epiphany about my NA Contemporary novel and when I re-write the entire thing from scratch this fall it might actually be interesting.

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I was tempted to delete this post instead of publish it but that wouldn’t exactly be fair. Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery and I definitely have a problem focusing right now. But for the sake of my own sanity I can’t keep dwelling on all of the things I didn’t do this past month. In fact, let’s all just pretend like the month of May didn’t even happen. Let’s also pretend like it’s not my 23rd birthday this month and that, just like everyone else on the planet, I’m not immune to getting older.

Everything Else is Extra

Mental Health

This month I officially started working 60 hours a week and do you know what’s more motivating than having a job you hate? Having two jobs you hate. I’m being a little over-dramatic. The truth is I don’t hate my jobs. I’m grateful that I’m finally making enough money to not just survive but…oh I don’t know, maybe see a movie or buy an ice cream or something. The truth is that the stress of working so many hours is much more endurable than the stress of not being able to pay my bills. So I don’t hate working, I just hate not writing.

It’s only been a week into my new schedule and already I’m fighting off that negative self-talk and all of the terrifying “what ifs” that seem to plague me every time I’m not living up to my full potential as an artist. I’ve let feelings like this cripple me in the past, the doubt so intense that I just stopped writing altogether.  But I’ve made a promise to myself that I’m not going to let that happen this time. Because I’m not going to feel guilty about working or about wanting peace of mind. And more importantly I’m not going to buy into the falsehood that only writing in my free time means that I’m not a “real” writer.

I’m not ashamed to say that I don’t make enough money from book sales to write full time and I’m not ashamed of the fact that the jobs that do pay my bills are ones that don’t fulfill me in any way other than financially. What I do is not who I am, and that doesn’t just go for my day job but it applies to my writing as well. I write. I am a writer. But at my core, in my essence, I’m not defined by any of these things. What does define me? The effort I put in to my work, especially when I don’t feel like doing my best or when no one’s watching. The way I treat people and the way I treat myself. Things that measure something even more important than success but that measure my ability to be human. I want to be good at that because everything else is extra. The money and the success and the recognition, none of that is guaranteed, and yet I always overwhelm myself with this pressure to achieve it and end up feeling like a failure even though I’m anything but.

Writing is what I love and it is absolutely what I want to do but how much I write, how well I write, and any success that may come of it is not what will define me. I will define me, in ways big and small, tangible and intangible, not based on what I received in this life but on how much I was willing to give.

WIP Wednesday

Writing Process

Is anyone else having a heart attack over the fact that it’s already May? Sometimes it terrifies me how fast time moves when you’re not really paying attention and now that I’ve been living in the real world post-graduation for a while I can absolutely see how so many people forget to not only stop and take a vacation but to just stop and breathe. I had a lot of things planned for the month of April and while I did manage to accomplish some things, Spring has been less about rushing for me and more about slowing down. Not in the way I work but more so in the way I approach it. I shifted things around heavily this month, something I anticipated doing even back when I was writing February’s check-in, and have finally come to the conclusion that having a little breathing room is good not only for my creativity but just my psyche in general.

Book 4 is still where it was last month but I’ve set a deadline and plan on completing the FINAL draft in about six weeks, so…mid-June I’ll finally have something amazing to celebrate.

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I’m still waiting on notes back for book 5 but hope to have them by the end of this week, which means the fourth draft should be/might be completed by the end of the month.

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The second draft of book 6, and the third novel in my YA series, has been sent off to one of my alpha readers and depending on how quickly I get a response and/or how atrocious they thought it was I’m hoping to have those edits done by the end of the month as well.

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It’s no secret that my 7th novel, which is also my latest Contemporary NA has been…a struggle to say the least. But luckily I managed to mostly stick to my word count goals this month and have brought the first draft up to almost 60k! There are still about six chapters that need to be written but I’ve decided that regardless of how short I am to my overall goal, I have to let this project go at the end of the week. I really feel like I hit my stride in the past couple of weeks and I’ve made some huge developmental progress but this manuscript is still a complete mess–one I won’t have the time to sort out until my YA series is closer to completion. So, that being said, I’m going to let this novel sit for a while and will hopefully start the first round of edits sometime at the beginning of August.

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Book number 8 is finally underway! HALLELUJAH! The first 20k-30k of every first draft I write tends to move at lightning speed and this one is no exception. It’s not as clean as the other first drafts I’ve written for this series but at least it’s something. I’m planning on this novel being sort of epic, both in scale and in length, which means I’m devoting some extra time to it through the summer. Right now it’s sitting at about 26,000 words and if I can keep up with this pace hopefully I’ll have the first draft done by the end of June.

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Bringing so many things to an end this summer is no doubt going to be exhausting both emotionally and mentally but it’s also going to be incredibly gratifying. It’s easy to get distracted by the end goal and to get so caught up in the anticipation of it that I forget to live in the moment and/or I prolong the moment altogether by just avoiding writing out of fear. But finishing shouldn’t be something to fear, nor should the possible potential of failure. Like I always say, they’re inevitable in some form or another but I can’t let that get in my way. At this point I can’t let anything get in my way. I’ve spent too much time and energy and it’s time to do this. To really do this. Wholeheartedly, epically, bravely, definitely. I will finish and by the end of the summer this dream won’t be just a dream anymore.