Busy with a Baby :: Writing Page by Page

Surprising news: it’s hard to write with a baby.

She has her bad days, where she cries and whines, and needs to be held and rocked and read to. Even on the good days she holds tight to your arm while PBS (or, let’s be honest, something on Netflix) plays on the TV, she finds today’s favorite book and wants you to read it again (and again and again) or grabs your hands because it’s time to practice walking again.

I’m not complaining (ok, maybe a little bit); I love to hold her and play with her and listen to her laugh. Still, all of this interaction leaves little time for writing during the day. I cram a few paragraphs in while she naps, and try to get some writing done when she’s down for the night, between spending time with my husband and getting some actual rest. While this helps me relax (going to long without writing makes me feel itchy) it always feels like too little. A page or two, a few days a week — how much am I really writing.

A decent amount, it looks like.

Proof of the writing I've done, page by page, word by word

I usually write by hand, a benefit of which is when I feel stalled up in the story, I can take a break from writing and type up the chapters, getting myself back into the story. I’ve hit my second snarl of this write-through, so I began flipping back through my notebook to find where I’d last started up my writing.

And flipping back and flipping back…

I can see by the way I’ve gone through my outline some of the progress I’ve been making as I sit at the desk, hunched over my notebook in the glow of the baby monitor. But seeing this chunk of pages is an actual measurement of what I’ve done, of how far I’ve gotten as I move forward inch by inch.

 


Bonus content: I’ve always had problems fitting in my writing, the baby is just the most recent excuse.

Writing Updates: April 2016

QKNVDENHQPAfter getting comments back from my critique partner and a couple of people from the fantasy critique group I’ve joined, I’ve been spending the last couple of months editing my middle grade story. I think I’ve finally got it polished up to the best of my ability, and had planned on getting it ready to send out now….

…but, things never work out how we want. I haven’t changed the main plot, but I’ve made alterations to some character motivations and reactions, and I want to make sure they work for people other than me. So, off to the group for one last go!

Hopefully I’ll be able to get this out to agents in June, so while I’m waiting for comments I’m going to work on my query materials: the letter, the synopsis, the list of agents that I hope against hope will accept me.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my new adult WIP that I put aside a few months ago, to let it stew, so it’s probably about time to pull it out again and fix it up. Maybe I can get some comments on that this weekend, too.

I’m also trying to keep up with two posts a week on this blog. It’s been working for a little while — but I need to do a better job of coming up with content, and of writing posts ahead of time so I’m not struggling to get one out.

That’s what I’m writing — other writers, anything new for you?

Writing Updates March 2016

I keep thinking this is going to be a regular thing for me, and then I go several months with nothing.

Anyway, here’s what I’m working on now.

Since the end of February I’ve been working on edits for Becky, which I’ve been coming back to off and on for a little while now. I got some critiques back from my main Critique Partner, and also the critique group I recently joined, and I’ve been doing some partial rewrites and some slight rearranging. I was hoping to be done with it after this edit, but I’ve changed juuuuuuust enough that I’d like to get eyes on it one more time before I give it a final polish and then begin to query. Hopefully there are no more big changes I’m inspired to make…

I’ve also begun writing a rough draft for another middle grade fantasy story. I had a good luck with the first third/half, just writing like a fiend most days, but I’ve slowed up a little bit. I’m struggling a little bit with the direction the story’s going, which is normal, but I’m also getting worried that it’s not exciting/original enough, which I don’t think is a healthy thing to think about right now. It’s just a rough draft, after all, so it’s going to be 90% problems that I’ll have to fix, or rearrange, or remove altogether. Best to just get it done, and see what I have to work with after that.

I’m also getting the urge to go back and work on another work-in-progress of mine, a new adult (I think?) supernatural story. My feelings about this story are weird, where I feel like I want it to work out more than anything else I’ve ever written. So many things make me think of the story, music and movies and books, in a way that doesn’t always happen with other things I’m writing. The main character is super precious to me, and I’m extremely worried that I won’t portray her as wonderfully as I see her in my head. I’m also worried that the last portion of my plot doesn’t make sense, but that’s not nearly as important as getting this character perfect.

So that’s me, working on and thinking about too many things. But having all these projects swirling in my head gets me excited, and I actually spend more of my time writing and brainstorming because of it. I guess I’m just one of those people that functions better when there are multiple things to work on?

Writing Problems: Keeping Inside of It

During this time of editing my current story, there are times — when I’m actively working on it, when I’m not in it — that I find myself thinking about it. Not just what I can do, where I can take the story. That’s fine. That’s productive to me. No, instead I find myself obsessing over how impossible the whole thing is.

I start to worry that the whole thing, it just won’t work, that whatever plot problems I have are unfixable. I’ll never hit the right tone, I’ll never make my character complicated but understood by a reader. Really, I just can’t do it.

I still make myself pick it up. I read over the chapter, find the parts I marked for rewrites. I edit, and I create new scenes. And I love it. I love my character, I love the place I put her in, I love the challenge of twisting the dialogue and narration just enough so that I get those moments where I feel like my words actually sing. I straighten out the plot, sew in my new words, and suddenly everything feels a couple of steps beyond what it was before. I’m filled with the idea that this story will eventually work.

Sometimes things just don’t work. The plot wasn’t going the right way, or you just weren’t at the skill and experience level required to bring that idea to life. But if the story feels right to you, then maybe you need to keep inside it, work on it, until you feel you’ve actually exhausted all your possibilities.

 

Writing Updates: March 2015 (#PitMad)

I did it! I finished the rough draft of my newest novel, which I think is a supernatural (not romance) New Adult. I think.

Crocus flower buds.jpg
By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
While I let it sit, I’m going back to my older novel, which predates the one I’m currently querying. I’ve been stewing on the comments my critique partner sent me, and now I think I see how I can fix things, bringing the aspects of the story that are unique more to the forefront. I’ll have to read through what I have first, to make sure I remember it right, and maybe I’ll see where thing can be altered or amped up as I go through.

On the querying front, I decided to take part in #PitMad, a day where you send your novel pitches on Twitter, and hope for favorites from agents. The whole thing is hosted by Brenda Drake, and the entire explanation can be found here on her blog. You can post twice an hour for 12 hours, and the pitches need to be slightly different so that Twitter will let you post them. I’ve gotten them all written, tweaked, and scheduled, which has actually left me pretty exhausted. It was fun, though, to figure out how to describe my novel so concisely. There are other authors who have found their agents through #PitMad, so hopefully something works out from this.

I also found a breakdown of an actual, successful, well-done query letter on Writer’s Digest, so when this is all done I may rework my own query.

So much to do! What are you writing?

Writing Updates: February 2015

Even monthly, I forget to do this!

I feel a bit guilty. I’ve been doing a terrible job keeping up with reviews. But! I have what I’m going to say is a good excuse.

Amelita galli-curci.jpg
Amelita galli-curci” by Bain News Service, publisher via Wikimedia Commons.

The rough draft of my current work-in-project is going really well. I hit the climax, and now I just need to do the wrap up before this thing is all written. (I keep wanting to add on the qualifier “but I’m going to have to rewrite most of it”, which I should quit, because it’s a rough draft, if I don’t think I have to rewrite most of it then I’m not thinking right.)

Once that’s done, and typed up, I’m going to set it aside for a couple of months, to let some of the preciousness wear off, before I do a reread and figure out what needs complete rehashing, or has to go entirely. While that’s fermenting, I’m going to go back to the old middle grade fantasy manuscript I started doctoring up last year. I gave it out to some friends, and their criticism is trickling back in, so maybe with some other perspectives sitting at my shoulders I can really amp up this story.

I am running into another problem of wanting to do too much at once, though. I had written a middle grade contemporary also, which I liked, but I couldn’t figure out how to make the emotion, which I felt sat super flat through the whole thing, to come to the surface. (Also, it was way, way too long.) I have been reading some novels in verse recently, a format I really, really love, and I started wondering if that would be a better fit for this story. I’d like to give it a try, at least.

So now to decide…what the heck do I work on?

That’s me–writers, what are you working on right now?

Writing Updates January 2015

Apparently I can’t do this even every two weeks, so let’s try for once a month and see if I actually remember.

A dark forestI struggled a little writing my current MS over the last couple of weeks. Part of that was due to the holidays — baking, wrapping, eating, drinking, forcing my siblings to play Munchkin, these things take up a lot of time — but I was also just struggling to get emotionally into the scene I was trying to write. So much so that I even spent a few days rewriting it, to see if I liked it better from an entirely different angle (I didn’t). I think the basic shape of it’s there, it just needs more heart. But at least it’s out, so when I go back to a complete rewrite in a few months it will be there to be rewritten.

Even with that out, I’m still in a bit of a rough spot, not entirely sure what the next step in the plot is. So I’m going to my old fall back: type up what I’ve handwritten and hope that gets me back into the groove of the story. It’s worked for me in the past, on this and other stories, so I’m pretty confident it’ll help me out again. I’m also going to spend time reading, both nonfiction with the specific intention of giving me inspiration, and just other books that I can hopefully get myself lost in.

I’m also going to be working on a little more blogging, but I’m always saying that, aren’t I?

So, fellow writers, how’s your work going?

Writing Updates 12/11/2014

Now that NaNoWriMo is done, I’ve been able to get back into writing the novel I’d started before November. I typed up the handwritten pages I hadn’t put in the computer yet to get myself back into the story, and now I’ve gotten back to writing some new material again. I did worry that such a long time away would make the story a little harder to return to, but it certainly helped that I never really stopped thinking about it, and what I hope to do with it.

Really, this novel is the most fun I’ve had writing in a while. Hopefully that translates to a story that’s more fun to read in the end.

I’ve definitely fallen behind on my reviews, which I feel bad about. I’m going to try to attack my pile and get something out before Christmas, but we’ll see how that goes.

Writers, what are you working on? Have you ever had to set a story aside for a little while before going back to it? Did you have any problems?

Writing Updates 11/13/14: NaNoWriMo (What Else?)

NaNoWriMoSo, obviously NaNoWriMo has been keeping me a bit busy over the last couple of weeks. I got off to a slow start with it partly due to a wedding I was in the first weekend, but I pushed myself to go beyond the daily minimum when I can, and as of last night I was a full day ahead! I’m going to lose some of that lead today and tomorrow, I think (stupid job) but it’s nice to have that buffer, so I won’t be scrambling too much if I have a couple of bad days in a row.

I have been working on my other novel that’s in its first draft stage still, though minimally, with only a few more pages added in the notebook. I want to keep poking at it through the month, though, since I really love the idea I came up with for that one, and I don’t want to lose my motivation and momentum with it.

On The Fandom Post, my contribution to the 10 Years Later anime series was put up. I wrote about the anime Beck (or Mongolian Chop Squad, as it’s also known), a show I really enjoyed when the DVDs were coming out, all the way back when I was in college. Take a look to see what I thought about rewatching it, or look at the other Ten Years Later posts.

Writers, what have you been working on?

Writing Updates 10/31/14

Back from my vacation! Gosh I’m exhausted.

I’ve mentioned before that writing on vacation is hard for me. Still, except for a couple of days towards the end, I made myself get up early, poured my coffee, and sat down to write, getting at least a couple of pages out each day. Basically I made sure I kept the momentum going, and because of that the manuscript I’m pushing through now is probably getting close to the end. I spent some time dwelling on the plot as well, and I came up with ways I may change it when I finally go back for a second draft.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to work on that one, though, since NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and I actually plan on participating this year. (Maybe a page a day on the first story?) Adding to my stress, I’m not sure what story I’m going to work on yet: the one I spent time preparing but then wasn’t in the mood to write it a few months ago, or the one that is fresher in my mind but I’m not sure I have enough story to reach 50,000 words? I may just go with the first one, since I have buckets of notes for that already.

So, my writing friends: what are you working on?

Stolen view from a hotel.