I wrapped up my MA program on Monday morning (my time), and I have to say it’s a little surreal. It’s also a little sad to be out of a program where I was able to hang out with a bunch of other writers and supportive, helpful professors. Suddenly though, I have…free time. My husband and I celebrated my degree completion by ordering pizza and playing the Borderlands Pre-Sequel. It was glorious. [Side note: playing Claptrap is both hilarious and infuriating, especially when using your action skills because you never know what is going to happen. You’ve been warned.]
The fact of the matter is, although I feel like I have all of this time now–and I really do in a lot of ways–I also really don’t have that time available to screw off. Even though I finished my program and submitted a thesis that met all the assignment requirements, I still have an incomplete novel on my hands. I also have a major deadline coming up at the end of May. That deadline? A baby. Not a metaphorical novel-baby, but a real-live human baby that is going to demand a lot of my attention.
So with that in mind, my goal is to have a working draft of my novel completed by the end of May. Currently, I’m not sure how long this novel is going to be. Since it’s fantasy, I am aiming for ~100k words; however, I am also wondering if this novel might be best split into two or three shorter novels. That wondering is only going to be answered once I get the entirety of the novel out and can see where I need to split it up or even if I need to split it up at all. I have not quite 27k words written, so I definitely have my work cut out for me.
I recently discovered an app called Write-o-Meter which gives me the ability to insert a writing project, set a deadline, and work within realistic goals. It also prompts me to write at a certain time each day, which is great for someone like me. I still have to decide to respond to that prompt, of course, but it’s been a nice way to keep track of things and follow where I’m at on a graph since I’m something of a visual processor.
As I’m working towards this deadline, I do hope that I will remember to post here and on my other social media platforms more regularly. Sometimes I forget that I exist elsewhere on the internet, honestly.
I am not sure I know any writers who live for editing and revising their work. It’s not that there isn’t a huge amount of satisfaction to be gained by polishing a scene or a section of dialogue, but it is a tedious process filled with a lot of rewriting and moving things around and slashing what you once thought were brilliant moments. You might, as I am doing with my current writing project, end up taking a completely different approach and focus to the general story. This makes for a good deal of extra work, which I hope will be worthwhile in the end. (I will say this: I’m quite pleased with my thesis at the moment.)
How I usually feel about the revision process.
One of the textbooks for my thesis course is Walter Mosley’s This Year You Write Your Novel. I highly recommend this book! It’s a great resource, and it’s easy to absorb. In the mini-section “when am I finished rewriting?”, Mosley says:
Never. The novel never attains the level of perfection. No matter how much you rewrite and rewrite again, you will still find places in the book that don’t do exactly what you want. You will feel that some characters are hazy, and plot connections unsure. There’s a subplot that will seem to get lost and a fairly important character that will change but not as much as you might have wished.
This is true for writers in all forms. Books are not pristine mathematical equations. They are representative of humanity and are therefore flawed.
“So when will I know to stop rewriting?” you ask.
When you see the problems but, no matter how hard you try, you can’t improve on what you have. That’s it. You find yourself reading through the book for the twenty-fifth time, and as you see problems, you try to fix them, but the attempt only makes things worse….Then you know you’re finished.
Congratulations. You have a novel. This one is good. The next one will be better.
So there you have it.
For someone like me who is an admitted perfectionist, I felt so much relief reading this passage. Writing, like life, does not need to be perfect. Isn’t that great?
The following short video includes some of Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on writing, especially on the importance of writing in order to become a writer. He also touches on reading, first drafts, and more. The audio is from a Nerdist podcast, but the video was put together by YouTuber Brandon Farley.
I’m working on my thesis right now, and since I am majorly revising a prior draft, I have been including many more details and fleshing the story out as I go. As a direct result of this slowed down process, I have been doing a lot of research. Tonight, I have searched for and learned more about the following things:
morphological traits of predatory fish
fish eyes (and octopus and shark eyes)
color names of opal variations
how long it takes for blood to dry or congeal outside of the human body
This search resulted in subsequent searches about rigor mortis, which led to further discovery of “lividity” and an understanding of what congealed blood inside the body looks and feels like. (Apparently, it’s like red currant jelly?)
how far a “league” is
how far the human eye can perceive a candle flame
Fun fact: a league is about 5.5 km, and a human eye can see a candle flame at about the same distance because any further away would drop the flame below the horizon due to the curvature of the earth.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why writers’ search histories are odd.
It’s been a very long time since I last posted Sunday Links, so here are a bunch of links to things I found on the intertubes that made me laugh, think, and otherwise engage in the world around me. Enjoy!
I like a good food/recipe blog as much as the next person. I also really enjoy summer fruit. This post by Butter, with a side of Bread has a compilation post of summer fruity recipes. Check them out here!
OK Go has a great music video–of course!–for their song “The Writing’s On the Wall.” You should definitely watch it. 🙂
I love cats, and I wish that our apartment was large enough to accommodate more things for our two felines. Things like this creative kitty home made out of sturdy shelving!
When you’re writing, do you ever have questions about how to create a believable character? Maybe you’re writing about someone who has a completely different background than you, and you have no idea what it would be like to be an alien robot queen from Alpha Centauri. Or maybe you want to make sure you have accurate relationship dynamics or you want to avoid tropes in fiction or…whatever. Over on Tumblr, you can follow The Writing Cafe and get access to a ton of information on pretty much anything and everything that has to do with writing.
“We don’t see things as they are,we see them as we are.” Anaïs Nin
I came across that^ quote, which resonated with me.
Share your own finds from the week in the comments below!
The rate at which I am completing this 30 day blogging challenge should indicate what this post will be about: procrastination. More specifically, an inability to complete things. Some areas of my life–work and school–I can still complete tasks more or less on time. Deadlines are essential for me. However, in areas that are “non-essential,” I definitely don’t take it as seriously and sometimes get distracted to the point where I just want to drop it all and move on with my life. Continue reading →
I have let my posts fall by the wayside lately, but I believe with the power of my fantabulous new planner combined with a slightly less cerebral course load this term, I should probably post more often. Also, I want to develop more discipline when it comes to my writing, so having a daily goal should help me find the time and focus to write–I hope. I found a fairly interesting 30 day blogging challenge via Pinterest, so if you want to know what I’ll be writing about, you can get a sneak peek here. I will start Friday.