Row80 Oct 29th

image

This picture is of Bryce Canyon in southern Utah. The orange cylinders are called hoodoos. Pictures never do this place justice. This particular scene always takes my breath away. I especially like this park because it’s great for all types. There are easy to access views as well as hikes for a closer view. It’s well worth putting on your bucket list.

THE GOALS

Time for a Row80 update.

Finish outlining Book 2. FINISHED! I don’t know whether to call this finished or not. It’s an ongoing process in a way, but I think I’ve gotten it to where it needs to be. I’m gonna stick with accomplished.

Read “The Fire in Fiction” and one fiction book. No New Progress. I have no excuses for this, I just haven’t done this. I hope to repent of this for next week.

Rework Book 2. Progress. It’s funny how sometimes you abandon an idea only to come back to it later. I love watching the evolution of my stories. I enjoy rewrites and edits much more now because of that. I can’t wait to see how these changes ultimately effect the overall story. And I’m just glad it’s getting there.

BONUS GOALS: # 1 Write at least one short story. No new progress. Although it is a bonus goal, so whatevs.

#2 Do further plotting for Codename Clemmings. No new progress.

Sometimes only making progress in one area is really all that matters that particular week. I do wish I had read more, but I’m still proud of the progress I did make. And the beautiful thing about goals is you can always do better tomorrow. I’m good with this.

How are things going for you? Have you ever fallen short but found you were okay with it?

Advertisements

Row80 Oct 22nd

zionpicThis pictures comes from the Weeping Rock of Zion National Park. Those colors are all nature’s doing. There’s also a lovely bit of water being “wept” out of the rock. It’s an easy hike, though a bit steep, and very well worth it. Beautiful colors everywhere in Zion.

THE GOALS

All right, a week has passed since I jumped in on Row80. What have I accomplished thus far?

Finish outlining Book 2. Progress. I think I’m close on this one, though I’ve realized it may be a bit of an ongoing goal as I sometimes have to stop and ponder and outline another scene when it’s giving me a lot of trouble. This book has been a struggle, but I think that just means it’ll be even better because it was so hard to get out.

Read “The Fire in Fiction” and one fiction book. Progress. I started “The Fire in Fiction” and put “Ask the Passengers” and “What Happened to Goodbye” on my Kindle. Hopefully I’ll have a lot more progress to report next week.

Rework Book 2. Progress. The outlining wasn’t exactly finished, but I felt like I needed to write anyway and so I did. I have a new start to the book which I think is a lot better. A member of my writing group thought my original first chapter seemed like a bunch of exposition and I decided he was right. This should be a little more exciting, plus I have opportunity to do a little foreshadowing and build in some other subplots. It feels like this round of rewrites will be very productive.

BONUS GOALS: # 1 Write at least one short story. No new progress. Although it is a bonus goal, so whatevs.

#2 Do further plotting for Codename Clemmings. No new progress.

Things are coming along. Again I do appreciate Row80 for making me feel obligated to report something each week. I may try the dreaded getting up early and writing before work. It benefited my last book quite a lot, but the early is tough. We’ll see.

How are you doing on your goals whether for Row80 or personal? When you write, do you have to stop and brainstorm or do you just keep on writing until something comes out? Have you ever had a piece you struggled with and what did you do to overcome the struggle?

You’ve Gotta Work At It

I work at a business college of sorts when I’m not gallivanting off to take people on vacations, so I’m around a lot of 20-somethings. And these 20-somethings are the might-still-be-18 or just-turned-20-somethings. Young is my point. Sometimes they seem really young.

But as I writer I think it’s supremely important to eavesdrop on as many conversations as you can, more especially when they occur in your vicinity and you didn’t even have to seek them out. This particular conversation wasn’t hard to eavesdrop on, not only because it was happening behind me prior to the beginning of a forum, but also because they were loud talkers.

It was a girl and a guy. The girl spoke of her high school years, which happened waaaaaay back in 2013. She was the star athlete of her tennis team. She had actually transferred to that high school, but because she played tennis so well, they put her on the team and she was the top player.

She mentioned how her school probably, like, totally sucked. Like, they just wanted her because she knew how to play and that made her look good in comparison.

I truly believe she believes she wasn’t that good at tennis in a general sense, but she was probably hamming it up a bit to feign modesty for the guy she was trying to impress.

But it was something she said that really struck me that almost made me turn around and correct her, but a) then they’d know how much I’d been eavesdropping and b) I doubt they would have cared what I had to say anyway.

She said something like:

I’m honestly not that talented. I just worked hard. I practiced like 4 hours a day and practiced really hard and that’s why I was any good at playing. But I wasn’t born with talent like some people.

I won’t do the all caps on you, so just imagine this next bit is me yelling passionately, but I wanted to say to her: talent is nothing without effort. Do you really believe someone like Serena Williams got to where she was today because she picked up a racquet and discovered she was suddenly a pro tennis player. She may have had a natural ability to learn quicker than most, but I can guarantee you she was out there busting her butt, probably harder than anyone before her to get where she is today. True talent comes from hard work. You’ll never be very good at anything if you don’t put in gut-wrenching effort!!!

I know this is an attitude prevalent among our society. That anything you have to make effort doing means you lack that talent. I know for a fact there are many aspiring writers out there who believe they just write and liquid gold pumps out of their keyboards onto the screen. We probably all still have that attitude a little bit when we scoff at editing our work. Even though I know editing has made my writing a bajillion times better than before, both then and now and in the future, sometimes I still just want to be lazy.

But even to get as far as I am today, I had to work hard at it. And the thing is, if you put in efforts to magnify whatever talent you have, you increase the amount of it.

So my dear 2013 high school graduate, the fact is you are talented at tennis precisely because you worked at it.

You’ve gotta work at it. You’ve gotta work at anything you want to be the best at. Many articles say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something, which means unless you’ve already spent 8 hours a day for 5 years of productively doing something, you can’t call yourself a master.

Sure, there are people who haven’t put in this time who get far or in a writing case, get published. But if they truly want to master their craft (and they should) the improvements should continue on. My own personal goal is to always do better than my last project, which is honestly why Book 2 is killing me. But I’ll get there, because I’m working hard.

Hard work is the answer. Hard work gets us there. Hard works makes our talent shine.

Have you noticed an attitude of ‘born gifted’ around you? What would you have said to Miss Tennis Player? Have you noticed your own talents improve because of the hard work you put in? Anything else you would add?

Row80 Oct 15th

grandcanyonjaeOnce upon a Row80 I would post Fall pictures. I may do that again, but I figured a few pics from the travels for a time sounded more interesting. This is that Grand Canyon everyone talks about. And that there is the Colorado River. Honestly, if I took a laptop and a chair out to the rim of the GC, I think I could get a lot of writing done. There was so much serenity for me in that scenery.

But I liked each of the three siblings of the Claron formation (Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon). They all have their own appeal and beauty. This photo, by the way, taken with my Samsung. Camera phones are getting awesome.

THE GOALS

Seems like goals are the only way to get things done for me these days. That and having some accountability for them. Thank you for that Row80. Anyway, here are the goals I’m jumping in on this round with.

Finish outlining Book 2. I wrote a version of Book 2 of my SHADE series last NaNo, but a little while after I finished I decided the book needed to be split in two. Not my favorite decision by far, but a good one nonetheless. So Book 2 needs some major upgrading, and I’m outlining before I hit the ground running. It’s just how I roll, being a mostly plotter.

Read “The Fire in Fiction” and one fiction book. No ideas what this one will be. I’ve got a long list waiting on me though, so it may be according to what’s available at the library first.

Rework Book 2. This comes after the outlining has finished. I’ve been looking forward to this for some time.

BONUS GOALS: # 1 Write at least one short story. This may be a little ambitious of me. We’ll see.

#2 Do further plotting for Codename Clemmings. I’ve spoken about this project before. I feel like it’s a strong story, but originally I’d only plotted for a short novella. I think this needs to go novel, and I had a fluid plot in the early summer, but it’s been on the shelf since then. This is what I’ll do if I need a break from Book 2.

Those be the goals for now. I just need to get back to writing, either way. I’m hoping The Fire in Fiction will help with that. I never finished reading all the Anton Chekhov short stories either. If only we had more time. Or a TARDIS. Or both.

What are your goals? How are you coming along on them? Why do you participate in Row80? If you don’t participate, do you set yourself goals to accomplish in your life or writing? Feel free to add your thoughts or advice below.

Things I’m Doing

I recently finished a new draft of Book 2 in my SHADE series and now that I’m done I’m getting that, “so now what?” kind of feeling. I’m trying to decide whether the book needs to go into cold storage for future editing or if I should try and fix things I think may need fixing. But I go through this with every novel, every major draft.

Book 2 got split into Book 2 and Book 3, which means Book 3 is practically finished already. Woot! I think I’ve discussed this before, but have you ever had to do that? It was a super hard decision I fought for a month or two. This must be the outliner/plotter in me that when a draft has been completed, it’s completed! Luckily I’ve done enough revisions over the last couple of years the logic side of my brain comes out to remind me all the goodness that awaits in revising.

But there can be too much revising, or rather too much at the wrong time. I’m a firm believer that drafts need to rest. The cache needs to be cleared.

The odd thing was when I started new draft, I had no motivation to write it. I was still fighting that old splitting decision. Now that it’s come to an end, my motivation demands more writing. It’s a nice feeling.

So I’m turning to project codename CLEMMINGS. Originally I’d only planned it as a novelette at best. Now I’m trying to figure out a novel’s worth of plot. Sometimes it’s tough in the beginning. For me it always seems to help if I ask myself a bunch of questions.

  • Who is the apparent villain?
  • Who is the true villain?
  • What’s the main goal?
  • Can I make characters that seem like they are good guys be bad guys and vice versa?
  • What’s the point of the whole story?
  • How would I like for the main character to arc?
  • If this person is the villain, what does that mean for everyone else?
  • What do my characters believe about their world and how does that move the story forward?

Stuff like that. Sometimes I type it, sometimes I write it in a notebook. The nice thing about physically writing things like this down is you can see the progression of your thoughts. It is possible to see that digitally, it’s just more apparent physically. Many an outline has started that way, though I organize all those thoughts digitally in the end. It’s hard to keep my notes straight after a point, the way I write them.

OTHER THINGS I’M DOING

I decided to save on gas and improve health I wanted to purchase and use more often a bicycle. It takes around 45 minutes to bike into work (mostly depending on me) and it’s not super easy, but I’ve noticed my happiness factor has increased since doing it. That doesn’t mean I never have bad days, but they certainly seem easier to cope with.

Yesterday I went out to a trail that’s an old railroad route. Utah’s natural state isn’t typically much more than prairie grass and sagebrush in the valley. And while there is that along this trail, there was also lots of trees, marshland, wildflowers—even a tunnel and a couple of creeks. And though several cyclists passed me by frequently (we have a high concentration of legit cyclists, both of the road and mountain persuasion), I kept reminding myself to enjoy the ride rather than keep the pace.

It really helps clear the cache. I’ve been trying to walk, too, in order to keep my feet conditioned for tour guiding. I feel like it’s making me a better writer, all this exercise, for how much it alleviates stress. Sometimes I think about my stories, sometimes I don’t.

It just seems stopping and smelling the roses so to speak has helped me maintain some balance.

MY OTHER DISTRACTIONS

Candy Crush Saga and the farm one (most of you know what I’m talking about) have also occasionally been pushing their way into the horizon. But I think it’s important to know yourself. And while there are times when I probably play a little too much of these games, I find them also to be good cache-clearers while I’m writing. Sometimes when I was stuck on a certain scene, all it took was a game or two and I had clarity again. And if that didn’t work, the walk or the bike ride.

Curse those stinkin’ jellies!

Whether games, exercise, TV shows/movies (and I consume plenty of these as well), I think if done in good measure can be helpful to our mental health and our writer health.

So, with all that being said, what are some things you do to keep up mental/physical/writer health? Are there things you definitely can’t do? Anything you’d recommend that has worked well in your life? What things help you through difficult scenes? What things help you through difficult moments of life?

Late Bloomer Appreciation

Hello friends! I know I’ve been significantly absent as lately. I’m still trying to sort out life, but I haven’t forgotten about you, the fabulous WP community (and really the fabulous blogging community overall).

I recently went to New York. You see, many of us struggling writers need a day job and while I enjoy graphic design and will probably still keep doing it part-time, I’ve been investing time in starting another career. It’s called tour directing, but essentially I take people on vacation for a living. And in New York I led a group of students through the city, many of them for the first time.

View from the Top of the Rock. The bright area is Times Square.

View from the Top of the Rock. The bright area is Times Square.

I’ll probably do another post on that later, but it’s a lot of fun, it’s just a bit hard to get into. I’m not sure why I’m attracted to the difficult careers, but it is what it is.

My point in mentioning all that is tulips. Why tulips? Well, in Utah just before I left was the pique of tulip blooming season and tulips in Utah look good!

A small cluster around town, but go to Thanksgiving Point or Temple Square and times this by 1000.

A small cluster around town, but go to Thanksgiving Point or Temple Square and times this by 1000.

Anyway, off to New York I went. I saw a few tulips and a lot of daffodils, but nothing quite like the focused view I can get in Utah. But hey, I’m in NYC, where’s the need to complain?

By the time I got back, most of the tulips had been trimmed down or were wrinkled shells. Basically I had missed it.

But at my own house which is next to a mountain and where the sun doesn’t shine as fully as in the valley, we had several very late bloomers. They bring a smile to my face every time I see them. I count them as a blessing that I didn’t have to completely miss tulip season after all.

But it got me thinking. Suppose those late tulips had thoughts? Suppose they worried, knowing it was well past the time for the majority of the tulips to come out and they were running late?

It made me wonder in life if sometimes we think we’re running late because things aren’t happening according to our time schedules. Maybe we think we’ve missed the boat on a relationship, a job, a writing career, whatever it is. But maybe our timing is exactly as it should be. Maybe we’re not meant to run according to one timetable because we’re on a better one, one that will bring joy to those who see us when whatever it is we’re working on comes to fruition.

I’ve been working on writing for a long time. And there has been many times I wished I’d been published or been envious of someone else’s success. But maybe I’m just on exactly the timeline that I need to be. I have to admit, over the past couple of years I’ve learned a lot about writing, and I’m not sure I would have learned it if I’d had my success early on.

So I say, here’s to the late bloomers out there. Keep on doing what you’re doing, trusting that if you make your best efforts you’ll emerge exactly at the time you’re needed.

Cheers to the late bloomers!

Cheers to the late bloomers!

For the Sake of Story

Back in November for NaNoWriMo, I put together a sequel for SHADE. (And I won myself a discount on Scrivener. Holla!)

Anyway, I had used most of October to meticulously plan out the novel which is what made it really easy for me to write. Once I have my idea outlined, it’s more or less a paint-by-number, though I do leave room for my muse to take me in other directions should it choose.

December came and looking over my nice little rough draft I realized something that I would fight against for months. Book 2 seemed more and more to be me trying to cram two books worth of story into one.

ALL THE THOUGHTS RUNNING THROUGH MY HEAD AT THIS REALIZATION:

But the plot twists!

Another murky middle to deal with?

Splitting a book in half is too hard!

But then all those other moments get pushed to Book 3!

Can I really make this split work?

What about the children? Is anyone thinking of the children for goodness’s sake?

Thankfully, I’ve faced these hard moments before. When it came to Book 1, after a writing conference in New York I knew I had to make substantial changes, not unlike the changes I’m probably going to make now.

DON’T FEAR THE REVAMP

For some of you rewrites are not any kind of problem. It may be your curse. But for some of you the idea of having to majorly revamp your book scares you like Reevers scare Captain Mal.

For the sake of story, suck it up, and do it anyway.

How do you know if you need to revamp the story? The easiest way to find out is beta readers. And some of the best ways to find beta readers is going to writer’s conferences and networking. Your fellow writers will appreciate a beta read themselves, so offer to exchange chapters or even full novels, get feedback and see what’s working and what isn’t.

Another way is right here on the WordPress community. We’ve got some of the best people on here who have loads of experience who can help.

Hopefully it doesn’t come as news to you that golden ink doesn’t drip from your pen—or keyboard. Think of it as getting the translation of the story in your head right. I’ve often noticed while some things in my stories change substantially, the essence tends to remain the same.

And I’ve probably said this before, but revamping or splitting books can often bring about creative discoveries you might not have stumbled upon otherwise. I created a character from a book split I doubt would have come to me any other way—and he’s one of my faves.

If you really want a story that’s going to be significantly impactful to your readers, it’s going to take some work, and often that work will be uncomfortable and hard. But you owe it to your readers and to your craft to present only the best possible.

It is my own personal goal to make every book I write better than the previous. My hope is that my skill will continue to grow and be illustrated in my writing as it goes forward.

What do you do for the sake of story? Have you had to make substantial edits or changes to a book that you didn’t want to make at first? What are your personal goals for your craft?