NaNo Update and Next Steps

I never posted an update from NaNoWriMo! For no other reason than I was distracted and forgot, so apologies! 

NaNoWriMo went well and despite having a tough time through the month, I hit my goal of 25K words. Not only that, but I’ve hit some big milestones on this manuscript which is inching it ever closer to a completed draft. Now, this raises some important questions about said manuscript. 

Throughout the time I’ve been working on this project (The Halfway House), I’ve been keeping it in my Fluff Project folder and treating it exactly like any other personal project, written purely for my eyes only without any concern over what would and would not make it commercially acceptable. This has been fantastic for stoking my adoration of writing back to a roaring fire and my productivity has shot through the roof. Not only am I doing loads of work on the manuscript but I’m also producing accompanying art and other creative ventures. It’s all very fun and exciting.

However, if I keep up the pace that I’ve been going, I’m probably going to have a beta ready manuscript before the end of the year (which was always the goal but I wasn’t particularly confident I would be achieving it with this particular brand new story). I know one person who is very keen to read, but it has made me acutely aware that this story wasn’t written for going through the whole process. It was really supposed to end once I had written it to a point that I liked it. The idea of cleaning it up properly through multiple rounds of edits has certainly been playing through my head, as well as the idea that I may not want this story to exist only on my hard drive forever.

I think for this one, I’m going to wait until I’ve heard back from this one reader (though if I have additional friends interested in reading about my disaster demons, let me know!). That way, I’ll get an idea of whether or not there might be other people out there who this story appeals to. If there is, I might consider upgrading this one from a personal project. If not, then that’s fine too. I wrote this one for me. I refuse to let that go. I think it’s important for creators to create for themselves as much as they can, and I’ll stick by that opinion for as long as I create.

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2021 Update

Well, it’s been a while. My last post was about a bad mental health episode which unfortunately got way, way worse before it got better. But better it has gotten! Kinda. We’re getting there. Anyway, the short version is that I decided I would sign up to Camp NaNoWriMo this month to jump back on the horse, and it’s the halfway point now so let’s do an update. 

This month I set myself a goal of 25k worth of edits on The Halfway House, including finally finishing off those pesky additional scenes I wanted to add in. The good news is that I’ve finished off those additional scenes (though last night had a brainwave over a new one that I’d like to add…). The bad news is that I might have been ambitious signing up with even a 25k goal.

My poor graph didn’t know what hit it.

That said, yesterday I had an EPIC catch up session that left me incapable at performing basic puzzles in the new game I’m playing my way through, but it DID mean that I caught back up to where I should be – and then some. I did over 8k, which was double my total word count for the rest of the month. Phew! Goodness knows what those words actually look like but at least now I have a handful of scenes that aren’t just dialogue and punching.

No wonder my brain was mush.

Life is difficult and sometimes it’s not even possible to hang onto the few things that keep us going. Coming back to them always helps boost me up further though once I start getting my head above the water. I like NaNoWriMo because it gives me a goal to aim for and something to focus on that feels productive while being fun. Signing up might have been ambitious, but I have no regrets.

NaNoWriMo 2020 Post Mortem

So, how did NaNoWriMo 2020 go? Well, I’ll have you know that I actually wrote a (very brief) post to put up midway through the month but I was so caught up in writing my novel that I completely forgot, despite the post already being written. This year I had my best NaNoWriMo ever. I wrote over seventy thousand words and, for the first time since the very first time I did NaNoWriMo eight years ago, I completely finished the rough draft of my story. This has been the fastest ever that I’ve made it to 50k (made it on the 15th!) and all it took was stubbornness, a story I’ve completely fallen in love with, and bribery by food. 

At the end of October I made the decision not to continue on with the story I was planning on and instead switch to a different project. Given the year 2020 has been, I decided to switch to a project that was going to be pure fun. Full of tropes and nonsense, just something that I was writing purely for myself with no intention of ever showing anyone. This was how I started writing and how Twyned Earth came about all those years ago. I completely let go and just wrote whatever I wanted. I created the project in my “Fluff Writing” folder, where I keep my stories which I have no intention of ever doing anything important with. It was freeing. The project is still living there and yet I already have a bunch of revision plans for it and ideas I want to squeeze in. I’ve even done art of the main character (and have plans to draw his love interest next)! 

I think that at some point, after I had the realisation that I would like to become a published writer, I became too worried about avoiding things that were too tropey or self indulgent. If we can’t be self indulgent in our writing then what is even the point? I need to re-embrace the sacred art of not giving a crap what other people think when I’m drafting again because after just 30 days I have ended up with a whole new, finished draft and let me tell you – I’m in love.

NaNoWriMo 2020

Like so many other people, my year started out on a strong note, creativity wise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that had gone more or less out of the window by the time May rolled around and the rest of the year has been like wading through treacle. Looking back at my original goals for the year, a lot of them are going to go unmet. Given everything that’s happened, I’m trying not to let that bother me too much but it’s not always easy. It’s been A Year.

No matter how bad things get though, there always seems to be one event that kicks my brain back into overdrive. That’s right, it’s the 1st of November and NaNoWriMo is back, baby! Given the nature of the year, rather than carrying on with a project that I’d already started as I had planned, I’m instead going to be starting on something new. Why, you ask?

This year has been hard and, while Monarch Necrotic is a story very dear to my heart, writing something that has a character severely suffering from the mental illnesses I share with him might have been a bit heavy. I want to have fun this month and pour out words with gay abandon, rather than dissecting myself on a deep emotional level. I want to write something invigorating, not exhausting. So that’s what I’m going to be doing. 

Trashy? Possibly. Tropey? Definitely. Banter? 98% of my word count this November. And I can’t wait!

Be kind to yourself, even if that just means writing disaster monster friends causing chaos in some rich dude’s mansion.

A Very Brief April CampNaNo2020 Update

Trying to do NaNoWriMo in the middle of a pandemic has been an interesting experience, definitely. It wasn’t helped by my addictive personality and a wonderful gift from my partner for my birthday which devoured a lot of time. I’m not regretful of that at all, to be honest. If people ever needed a good distraction it’s now, and it is a great outlet for creative energy too – and probably one that I’ll talk about in another post. Working from home full time is difficult enough. Maintaining concentration past that to keep writing has been a huge struggle.

With five days left, I have a third of my word goal left to go. Uh oh. The actual numerical value is, on paper, something I’ve smashed out easily in normal times. These aren’t normal times though and I’m determined not to beat myself up about it if I don’t hit that goal. No matter what happens between now and the end of the month, I still have ten THOUSAND more words towards a full draft of this novel and that feels like a lot. 

I guess my point is, celebrate your successes and don’t sweat the small stuff. 

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020

It’s quite amazing how much a person’s life can be turned upside down in the space of three weeks. It becomes an even stranger experience when you know everyone in the whole world is going through the same thing, maybe a few weeks sooner, maybe a few weeks later, but we’re all being effected by this one gargantuan event that has swept the world.

I’m a very introverted person and I’m also very happy staying at home with my various projects, hobbies and games. On that side of things, I’m pretty well set. The issue for me comes from my anxiety disorder(s, as I recently found out) and I’ve been struggling on and off. Mostly I’m fine, but I have off days every so often. I haven’t been doing much of my creative ventures which normally help keep me sane, but I’ve been lucky with the release of a couple of very mental health friendly games (Nintendo always has my back, I swear).

It has made me call into question whether I want to attempt Camp NaNoWriMo next month. Do I want to put that pressure on myself? This is a question I’ve had to ask myself many times over the last few years and the answer has always been the same. I don’t like things beating me and stopping me from doing the things I love is beating me.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a good event to remind myself that I can always work on my projects because it lets you set your own goal. Even doing a tiny goal feels like participating and gives progress to one of my many beloved writing projects. A goal of 15,000 words will let me write the small number of 500 words per day which, on a good day, I can knock out in about 20 minutes. It also gives a sizeable chunk of a novel at the end of the month.

Due to the circumstances surrounding us, I’ll be continuing work on my very unmarketable passion project Monarch Necrotic, which still doesn’t have its own page on here yet. I’ll fix that, I promise. If there was ever a time to work on something just because you love it, now is certainly the time.

As I said at the beginning of the post, I’ve got my struggles like everyone but I am and will be okay. I cope with things by forcing myself to work on my creative projects, because that’s what I love and what I refuse to give up. If that isn’t your process, that’s okay. If you can’t create right now, there’s nothing wrong with that. Find your own way to survive and don’t let other peoples’ methods bring you down.

I hope the rest of you out there are hanging in there and if you’re not, reach out to people. We’re all in this together, and we won’t let it beat us.

A Decade In Review

You don’t really think about how much happens in just one decade. It’s hard to think of it like so many posts out there have as one big chunk of time because there were so many different states and transitions. It can’t be thought of as one entire entity, at least for me.

At the start of the decade, I was still in university. I was struggling. I struggled all the way. I only got through it the way I get through most things. With bullheaded determination. I didn’t have a natural talent for chemistry. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like I have a natural talent for anything I enjoy. But I fought and struggled and I made it. During this time, since the start of university, I didn’t write. I was too busy or exhausted to write. If I was doing something like writing or reading, it felt wrong if it wasn’t university related. I had barely done any on the build up to to university because I was working so much to save up the money. 

It wasn’t until 2012, five years on (in Scotland degrees take longer than some other places), that I started writing again. I started with a rewrite of a shockingly bad fan fiction I wrote in school. Unsurprisingly, my writing hadn’t improved much. That was the year that a friend told me about NaNoWriMo. I was so excited about it that I couldn’t wait for the main event and when I heard about the Camp event in August, I was sold. I thought all day about my story (I worked on a production line at the time, which was convenient for plotting purposes) and when the month came I poured it all out. By July the next year, I had full rough drafts of the Twyned Earth trilogy and a rekindled passion for writing that even the most difficult of periods couldn’t quash – even if they could slow me down. 

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I still have my original drafts of everything. I like to keep stuff archived, so that I can go back and make sure I haven’t removed anything important or otherwise useful for the story. Comparing the original 54k word draft of Through the Black to the current 96k word one, it’s clear to see that my writing has vastly improved (another good reason to keep old drafts, if you can handle the cringe of reading them). It also goes to show that, as with all writing advice, the “cut 10% when editing” spiel is not as cut and dry as it appears. 

Since that first Camp NaNoWriMo event, I have participated in and one every official November NaNo since, along with 7 additional camp events (with 2 participates and misses on top). That feels like I’m missing some as well – the website is a touch buggy at the moment. The 10’s were absolutely the decade where I not only reaffirmed my love of writing but took it to a whole new level. 

It may not be immediately obvious about me, but when I was a child/young teenager, art was just as much a part of my life as writing. I loved it and I was decent enough at it that I even sold a few pictures at school events. That stopped at the same time as the writing, when university just devoured everything that wasn’t itself from my life. That was a lot harder to get back into. My skill level seemed to have plummeted a lot more on the drawing front and I felt too demotivated whenever I tried and failed. It was only within the last couple of years, since 2017, that I started trying properly to push past my insecurities and accept that it’s okay to start from the ground up again, that it’s okay if I spend the next several years just learning how to draw again so long as I wasn’t avoiding something that I loved. Hardware held me back a lot but since getting a new tablet last October, I’ve been drawing and studying and I’ve done more art in that time than I have in ages and it feels great. 

It’s made me think a lot about a silly fantasy I’ve always had, to combine storytelling telling and art. It sounds daft but I don’t know if I’ve ever actually voiced my desire to draw comics before. It’s just always felt so far out of reach – both the artistic and storytelling telling skill required to do comics is immense. Even being able to say out loud that I’d like to try it someday is a big thing for me. 

Since leaving university, I have moved way too often and been through the hardest times of my life. I worked a plethora of jobs before finally landing in the field that I wanted. Some were okay, others were horrendous. I had a severe mental health incident that I’m still not fully recovered from. I finally understood and came to terms with my sexuality and gender. All in all, it’s been busy. 

In the 00’s I abandoned the things that defined me in the pursuit of something that would benefit the rest of my life. In the 10’s, I have taken what I gained from university, my degree and my partner, and clung to those while rediscovering the self I left behind. I am now a partner, a scientist, a writer, and an artist. And coming to that realisation that at the end of the decade I am all of these things, wow, it actually feels kinda good. 

A NaNoWriMo Confidence Boost

It’s over! November 2017 is done and dusted. THANK GOODNESS. With the 30th came my sixth consecutive win of the official NaNoWriMo. It was, by a long shot, the hardest year yet and I’m going to need a few days to recover. I never got that safety buffer and every day felt like a real struggle.

NaNo2017

Between my current situation and the addition of family visits, plumbing problems and a whole dental saga (really, wow) it has been an uphill battle from day one. But I have succeeded. It’s one of the few things I can cling to right now as an achievement. NaNoWriMo certainly isn’t for everyone, and even if it is something you try, if you write any words at all you’re still a winner really. The whole point is to get words on a page and not to discourage people for being unable to hit some arbitrary number within a month.

That said, after everything this year and everything else that’s happened this month, getting that 50k was a big boost for me. One thing after another has just been a defeat after defeat after defeat. I really needed a win on something. Anything. And I’ve got it. So now I’m going to cool it on the writing for the weekend and then, on Monday, Through the Black revisions begin.

It’s on. March 31st, here I come. I’m gonna be ready for you.

I’m Back! With Updates!

So sorry about the complete lack of activity on here. Things have been a little hectic and difficult lately but now it’s time to get back on track. I’m going to be working hard on catching up on posts and getting back to regular service! So here’s a quick update from me.

1.) It’s that NaNoWriMo time of year again! I’m doing a rewrite again because I have too many open projects to start drafting a new one guilt free. I’m working on the Fishperer because it’s great fun and I’d love to be able to get it to a readable point somewhere in the near future. I’m currently a little behind but no where near as behind as I was a couple of days ago, so that’s something. I’ve never missed 50k on an official NaNoWriMo and I do NOT intend to start now.

2.) Writing has still been going strong, despite the lack of blog posts. Things have been a bit tough and it’s one of the things that’s been keeping me going.

3.) That said, very recently I came to a realisation about myself. For the past few years, I’ve been letting things other people say restrict some things that have been… let’s just say a massive part of myself since I was very young. With that realisation, I’ve decided to re-embrace that part of me. It feels as though I’ve reached the end of a four-year long identity crisis I didn’t know I was having. Not only is it hugely helping my mental health but I’m also hoping to channel it into certain side projects. Exciting times ahead.

4.) I’ve still been attending my writing classes and have been getting some really nice feedback on the assignment pieces and free writing exercises we’ve been given so I’m hoping to post a few of the ones I’m more happy with. That way posts will have some more flash fiction and not so much of me waffling. What’s not to love?

5.) Now finally, THE MOST EXCITING NEWS OF ALL! Which, unlike the majority of my exciting news, is actually pretty exciting for me. In the light of recent beta feedback and with a date set by my partner to stop me dithering for eternity, THROUGH THE BLACK will be QUERY READY by March 31st. That’s right. I have a deadline and I’m serious about hitting it. As of December 1st, things will be full steam ahead. I’m excited and terrified and I definitely need some more tea over here right now.

Books

NaNo Reflections

winner

Another NaNo down! And I won (just) for my fifth consecutive year. This was the closest I’ve cut it that I recall but I made it in the end. And, as I was doing a rewrite of the very project that got me into writing again after my long, university induced hiatus, there was a lot of cringing along the way. Really.

On the positive side, it let me see that I’ve improved a huge amount at writing over the past five years. I already mentioned just how many words I was cutting in my progress post and that trend continued. At least six full scenes got completely binned, as well as others getting merged and whole paragraphs of absolutely nothing being skipped as well. There was so much superfluous, unnecessary and boring guff in there. There’s also the prose itself which is, in my opinion, miles better than the original even in its NaNo-form. If I ever get to the stage where I can edit this it might even become readable!

Practice really is the key to anything. I’m so much happier with my writing now than I ever have been – and I know there’s still massive space for improvement. I still don’t consider myself “good” (but will I ever?) but I’ve come leaps and bounds. It makes me so glad that I’ve stuck with it, even through the low moments. It’s like with art – I would love to improve at it but I always get disheartened when I try. Things never work out the way I’d like. I stumble and struggle and eventually end up taking long, substantial breaks from it and every time I do I end up back at square one. It needs a lot of time and a lot of practice. Unfortunately time isn’t something I have in abundance.

The only difference with writing is that I’ve stuck with it even through the hard times. From scenes I just couldn’t write, things that sounded awful, bad plots all the way to crushing beta feedback and rejections. Time and practice has brought me to where I am today. And I’m happy with where that is, even though I hope to keep improving as I go. If you love something and want to get good at it, stick with it. No matter the setbacks. Keep at it. Some people say you need to write every day but I don’t think that’s true. Just keep it regular and don’t let your skills slide.

Now if only I had more time for art too!