Friday, November 6, 2020

October Update: No More Progress

 Well, after a couple of stellar months in the progress department, it all fell off in October.

I'm not sure what happened, really. I started off fairly well, as I mentioned in the last post. I worked on edits for that Cafe short story. I brainstormed for a romance novel. And I even poked at SP. Then, Jack and I spent a weekend camping, and I did some writing by hand for my writing date with Rachel. I actually got over 600 words written on the romance novel I'd brainstormed for.

But that's all I did last month.

I got to feeling like I was only keeping writing dates with Rachel to keep her working. I wasn't getting any enjoyment out of attempting to write, and she always seemed to be looking for an excuse not to write, so I didn't press. We even talked about starting writing again once November hit. Doing our own "secret NaNo" as it were. But. We haven't done that, either.

I just haven't felt like writing at all. Or editing, for that matter. It's been a huge load off, not worrying about NaNo this month. And it's also been a really freeing feeling, reminding myself that I don't have to be a writer anymore if I don't want to. I don't have to remember quirky things I see to maybe incorporate in a book, or try to find the words to describe a beautiful scene. I can just be and enjoy the moment.

I've been thinking a lot about my future the last few weeks. I've spent the last decade or so intently focused on writing and editing. I wanted to write and edit fantasy novels for a living. I had hopes that I might be able to quit my day job to do those things within ten years. I looked forward to trying to make that my whole life.

And now? I don't know. Maybe it's the disillusionment of having two novels rejected completely by the publishing world. Maybe I have gotten tired of the imposter syndrome any time I have to edit anything. Maybe it's realizing that, after twenty years of writing, I'm not really all that good at it. It was the same with the clarinet. I played that damn thing for fifteen years and was never better than passable at it. It was easier than I expected to quit it entirely.

Now, I don't see myself ever quitting writing entirely. But. I think I've settled into the idea that it's a hobby. When I don't feel like doing it, or don't have time to do it, it's okay. I don't have to. I no longer have a self-publishing timeline. I don't have to spend thousands of dollars to try to self-publish a mediocre trilogy about vampires and vengeance. I don't have to torture myself to write a sequel to a book I don't love, or finish books I've put down because I've lost interest. I don't even have to try to be funny and quirky with my fantasy adventure series unless I'm really feeling it.

Now, did it feel good to finish those two short stories? Hell yes, it did. Does it feel amazing to go back and read something I'm really proud of? Definitely. So. Yeah. I'll keep writing and editing for myself. But forcing myself to write when I don't feel up to it is a great way to snuff out that writing flame, as I keep saying.

It's entirely possible this is part of a midlife crisis, but I think I'm going to take my life in a new direction. I am tired of trying to be an editor. As much as I love certain aspects of my job, I do not actually like what I'm doing most of the time. And I get very anxious when I have to do actual editing for it. Still. Even after five years of doing this. So after a lot of thought and internet searches, I have tentatively decided to aim for a career change over the next few years. I want to do something with nature. Something that gets me outside. Because that's always been the hardest part of being a writer. After spending all day long in front of a computer for work, it was sometimes difficult to make myself sit at a computer for a few more hours to work on writing.

That's all I'll say about that here, since this is a writing blog. But. As I enter my 40th year next year, I may start updating this blog quarterly, or when I've had a good writing/editing month. It may be time to retire this blog. This blog I started when I turned 30, with the goal to have a book published by my 40th birthday.

I did not meet that goal. Not really. But. With the help of this blog, I did work toward that goal fairly diligently for the last decade. It kept me accountable. It kept me hopeful when I'd given up hope. It reminded me that I love writing, even when it's hard or seems fruitless. Writing is its own reward. And by letting go of my ten-year goal of being published, I can go back to the days where I wrote for the sheer joy of putting words on a page. Nobody ever has to see what I write, anymore. And I'm giving myself the space to pursue other things.

And maybe I'll make a new blog to focus on my new journey to work outside. I do hope that within the next ten years, I can make a living doing something with forestry. New decade, new goals.

I know I've said before that I might stop updating here, and I keep coming back. So I haven't given up on this blog, yet. I won't make any promises of updates or lack of updates in the future. I will play it by ear. And as the months march ever onward, I will continue to be a Prospective Writer.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

September Update: Incredible Progress

I've tried to sit down and write this blog a few times so far this month, but I just wasn't feeling it. Not that I don't have plenty to report or anything. I just haven't been in a blogging mood.

But, I need to get it done, because we're a week into October now.

So, first up, I finally finished my old Cafe story, got it edited, and posted it to the Cafe. That was my biggest accomplishment for the month, and boy did it feel good. Now I feel like I have finally closed the "book" on the Cafe, so to speak. I know I didn't owe it to anyone, but I felt I owed it to myself and my project of eight years. Plus, I really wanted to get that third story of the Witch's Daughter series finished up. I even brainstormed some ideas for the next story! Maybe I'll write another one next year and, I don't know, post them on this website or something. Or at least link them. I guess I probably can't put any more stories on the Cafe, since we're closed. But anyway. That's a future Sara problem. I'm not in any hurry to write the next one. It's just nice to know what comes next, if I ever decide I want to revisit that world. I've often thought it might make a good novel, although for now, I like that it's just stories from her life rather than a cohesive book.

Also, I've started tracking how many words I write each month that are actual story words rather than brainstorming notes. I'm still counting brainstorming notes in my overall totals, but I was curious how much forward motion I was actually making. And I wrote almost 11k words last month! That includes finishing up my Superhero Shane story, finishing up my Witch's Daughter story, and getting a good chunk of words written on the next Sally Prescott story.

So yeah, I had a really great month. I think Rachel did, too. She broke 35k last night, so she's finally over halfway.

This month, I want to keep poking at SP. I haven't been in much of a writing mood, but I've been trying to at least read over it and put a few paragraphs on it when Rachel and I meet. It's slow going, but progress is progress.

I also wrote out some notes for a romance novel I may write someday. But that was this month, not last month. And while it's a few thousand words, it doesn't count toward new content. So, I'm hopeful I can keep up my writing momentum this month. Or get back into it. I'm not sure I'll finish SP or not, but I'm going to try. That's my main goal.

But, if I honestly can't get back into it, I may poke at other projects, see if anything else captures my imagination. I've got Chain Letter Choice, Nightmare of Sleepy Shoals, and Once We Were Witches that are all floating around in the back of my mind. There's also the second Druid Wars book, but I'm fairly convinced that'll be a next-year project. I only have maybe one, one and a half solid writing months left this year, so I'd rather use my energies to add to things I've already started rather than start something completely new.

If nothing else compels me to write, I may just shift back to editing. I have plenty of things to edit, so that might be a better use of my time if I can produce words. I'm just not sure I'm ready to dive back into MystWatch yet. I want to really miss it before I go back, so I have plenty of enthusiasm to do the things I need to do with book 2 and with the Shane story. Book 3 is still very much a back burner, project for the future right now. Hopefully my siblings will understand. It's taken me this long to get back into writing after swearing it off utterly last year. It's still a delicate flame that I'm guarding as protectively as I can, doing my best to nurture it without snuffing it out. Once it's back to a well-established fire, I will share with others that I'm back at it. If I get there. But now, I'm still staying quiet about writing and treating it with as much awe and delicacy as I can.

Which means I am not planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year. It will be the first time in 15 years I haven't at least attempted it. I do plan on trying to write through November, with Rachel like we have been, but I will not be using the NaNo website to do any tracking, nor attend any of the events. I don't even plan on logging into the website. I left them some fairly scathing feedback, expressing my disappointment at their change in direction, and told them I had no plans of returning. I feel like this year, the best thing I can do is keep that promise by not giving them any site traffic. I may feel differently next year, but this year, NaNo does not exist for me. It is dead. A part of my past I want to move on from. Which is a complicated mess of feelings, but mostly I'm looking forward to a November that I write on my own terms without being harassed by emails from HQ or MLs or newbie writers or writers that steal my creative energies. Like I said. Delicate flame. None of that will feed it, only work to extinguish it.

Anyway. I have three weeks left this month to make some writing progress. Hopefully I can wrap up with SP adventure, since I had originally hoped to write two a year so I could eventually start putting them out. But, as long as I get one finished this year, I'll be happy. I'm writing them mostly for myself right now, anyway.

That pretty much wraps up this update. Apparently I did have a blog post in me after all.

Friday, September 4, 2020

August Update: Better late than never!

I called myself out last post about how I should do these blogs when I'm thinking of it rather than waiting. I thought about doing it Friday the 28th but decided to wait for Monday the 31, but...I should have known better. It was mom's death day, and I ended up not even getting on the computer at all.

I really might just go back to doing these at the beginning of the month rather than the end. Mostly because I never know how the month is going to shake out until that last day, and sometimes, that last day has me staying up late to finish up projects.

In this case, I'm glad I waited. Because last night, I finished up the Mystwatch Shane short story I've been trying to write for years. I'm not completely in love with how I got to the end, so it may change, but at least I can say I have a complete zero draft. Can't edit something I haven't written yet.

So that's my big accomplishment since I started working on it again on August 27th. The last time I'd added words was back in February. It feels good to have it done. It's about four thousand words more than I intended (the Makai short is only 3k and this is just over 7k), but I think it needed to be. The Makai one was more just to get a glimpse of what goes on in his head and some backstory on how he got his scar (and what his relationship to Lindsay was). Shane's story is actually a cohesive story, where Shane goes out and does something on his own. So it needed more words, I think.

Anyway. I've finished one of my outstanding short stories. I also finished my outlining pass of Mystwatch book 2. It took a lot longer than the "few days" I predicted last update. It took almost all month. After nearly 17 hours of work, I've got another 13k word document full of the chapter outlines and all the things I want to do in each chapter to make the plot and character motivations more cohesive. It's somewhat discouraging, since now I have a TON of work to do on this book that I thought was good enough. But I want to do it. I'm, well, not excited to do it, but I am eager to make it the book it deserves to be. I just needed a little break from editing. I've been in the mood to write, so that's what I'm going to do for a bit.

I thought I needed a break from the Mystwatch world, but the story I really wanted to work on was Shane's. Now that that's done, I have a few other things I want to poke at. My biggest goal for the next month is to wrap up the Witch's Daughter short story I was supposed to publish to the Cafe a year ago come October. It bugs me that I never did finish that story or get it up there. I know I don't owe the Cafe a thing, but I always meant to finish this story and post it, so that's what I'm going to do next. One of these days, I might revisit that character and that world and either put together a collection of stories about her, or just outright write a novel for her. I even found a cool cover on Selfpubbookcovers for it.

Oh! Speaking of covers from that website. I actually bought a cover I've been coveting for awhile. I can't remember if I mentioned this or not, but Rachel talked me into buying the cover for the first Druid Wars book. I've loved it since I first saw it, so I dropped a hundred bucks last month and bought it. Which means, of course, that I need to get cracking on book 2 one of these days. I do have about 100 words written on it, and they're good words. I like the beginning, and I can hear Osiris's voice in my head. So. That will come before too much longer. Maybe spring next year when I get past my winter slump where I tend to do better with editing.

I'm doing better at recognizing my cycles. When fall hits, I am in the mood to write. Late spring to early summer, too. Late summer and the doldrums of winter I do better with editing. So I'm trying to map out the projects I want to work on according to those rhythms. Rachel and I are still meeting online a few times a week to poke at our projects, so I am making slow but steady progress these days. The worst thing for me is to sit down for writing time and have no idea what to work on. That's why I started the writing project spreadsheet all those years ago. Not as a publishing schedule, but as a way to make sure I always had something lined up next. It got overwhelming and detrimental when I started treating it like a deadline thing, where if I got behind, I was never going to make it as a writer. I've actually started using Mywriteclub again to track my projects, for now. Maybe I'll go back to that spreadsheet if Rachel and my writing times continue to go well.

They have been going really well, though. They're low-key, no pressure, celebratory of our progress, no matter how small, but forgiving of the slower, less progressive days. And if we need a break, we don't meet. It's really everything I need in a writing date. And once the world isn't ending anymore, maybe we'll start going places to meet in person. Or maybe not. It's nice to be able to write without pants or a bra and be able to wander to the kitchen for a snack if I need one.

Anyway. That's my update for the last month and my plan for the upcoming month.

Beyond that, I'm thinking I might try to finish the next Sally Prescott adventure, since I've been trying to write at least one of those a year. I had thought about calling that one quits, but I read back through the last few adventures and found myself laughing outloud, excited to read the next one. They're fluffy, fun reads that don't matter. Published under a pen name, I can enjoy the money if people like them but not worry about people refusing to read my other work if they don't. But. That's a long ways down the line. Mystwatch and probably Druid Wars come before SP. I need at least three seasons written before I start publishing them, anyway.

The only other thing I wanted to note is that, right now, I'm no longer committed to having Mystwatch book 3 ready for Christmas. I think what I may tell my siblings is that, I want to self-publish these. To wait for the re-reads and the final book for when they have been through an actual editor. Actually formatted. They've waited this long. What's another year and a half, two years? And they may disagree, and maybe I'll give them cleaned up book 1 and 2 for Christmas and tell them I expect book 3 to be ready sometime next year. I am thinking about editing it in January/February when I'm itching to edit something.

But. That relies on me having book 2 ready by the end of this year so Rachel can read 1 and 2 in order to beta read 3. My plan right now is to do my book 2 fixes once I've gotten over my writing mood. Probably November/December. I think for September and October, I will keep writing. If I get through SP, I might even work on Once We Were Witches or Sleepy Shoals. Or Druid Wars. Or maybe something new!

I'm excited (and a little overwhelmed) to have so many options. But, I know I will be able to keep plugging along, because Rachel and I have a good system. Any fatigue is short lived. We get each other excited about writing, and encourage progress in a relaxed, no-pressure way. We're going to do this. We are doing this!

I'll let you know how it's going once October hits.