Past vs Present

Manuscript News

This last weekend I had the most perfect opportunity for writing. My three littles were spending a few days at my mom’s, leaving my partner and I with a freakishly quiet house. There was also a terrible cold front Friday night, encouraging us all to stay in where it was warm, and, more particularly, in my favorite writing spot, also known as my bed.

I decided I was gonna get a hell of a lot done with this precious time. I challenged myself to write 5000 new words by the end of the weekend. I was feeling inspired, having finally reached the point of the manuscript where events start rolling downhill toward the climax, so 5000 seemed lofty but not unattainable. Not at first anyway.

So I settled into bed with my ambient noise app, a soda, and a bag of candy and was ready to work. I booted up my laptop and, well, thirty minutes later after troubleshooting why the darn thing was running so slow I realized it had probably caught a virus and needed a reformat.

In the end, I saved all my documents, but lost a lot of time. I wound up with about 2000 new words instead of 5, but I’m okay with that, really.


The Weekly Struggle

tense

Here’s another fun little tidbit about me: one of my writing hobbies of my younger years was roleplaying. I used many different mediums over the years, but where I really found my stride was in online gaming. I won’t bore with the details, but one thing that I took away from it was a love of writing in the present tense.

Present tense made sense in the context of roleplaying in these games, because the things we were writing were supposed to be playing out in real time. However, even as I phased out of that hobby, present tense permeated my other creative writing projects. I really loved how it injected a sense of urgency into my writing. If these things are happening right now, then they require one’s immediate attention. It didn’t even occur to me, at first, how jarring it might be to someone who is has never experienced it before.

When I first began work on Border Towns, I didn’t even think about it. Present tense just flowed out of me. However, somewhere toward the end of November, I stumbled on a Twitter thread discussing the pros and cons of past and present. In that order. And then, suddenly, this was me:

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I’m used to self-doubt, I think all writers are to some degree, but this was a new facet my anxiety-riddled mind hadn’t explored on it’s own. Yet.

I’m comfortable writing in past, I’m just more comfortable in present. I don’t feel particularly strongly that this story must be told in present, that’s just what I happened to use by force of habit. Now I’m clocking in close to 60,000 words and wondering if revision is going to require a change of tense, along with everything else.

Okay, maybe “require” is a strong word. But I do find myself wondering more and more if this will be a manuscript that will be passed on out of hand simply because of its tense. Or, perhaps, the arguments I was reading are out of date and not keeping with modern publishing trends. I don’t know. But I didn’t wonder before, and I now I do.

The net result of all this has been constantly telling myself “carts and horses,” because the reality is the tense of the manuscript is just a fart in the wind until the whole damn thing is finished and ready to go.

Carts and horses, Kerry Ann. Carts and horses.


What I’m Reading This Week

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I put out a call this week on Twitter for some help finding some potential comp titles for whenever I finally get this monsterpiece finished. And lordy, did yall deliver.

I’m starting with Six of Crows, a fantasy heist novel set in the Grishaverse. With multiple POVs and worldbuilding to make a fellow fantasy writer (hello, me) jealous, Six of Crows is a book I’m annoyed to have missed the bandwagon on. Definitely grateful to have been rec’d it and pleased to be able to rec it to anyone else in return.


That’s it for me for this week. May your struggles be few and your words aplenty!

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The Siren Call

Manuscript News

Since late November I’ve been pretty much exclusively drafting longhand. I personally find it creatively nourishing, as well as convenient for a busy lifestyle, since I can take my notebook in my purse to work, gymnastics practice, etc. After NaNo was over I no longer felt the need to actively transcribe my day’s work into my word processor, which took a little bit of my writing workload off my plate at a time when I needed reprieve.

Well, I finally got around to doing that this week, and the sum total of December’s efforts is… 5000 words.

Yep, I did just a hair over 50,000 in November, and followed it up with a tenth of that in December. Actually, probably even less than that since some of the pages I transcribed were written after the New Year.

And, you know what? I’m pretty proud of that. It would be easy to let myself get down about it and stress myself out again to the point of not wanting to write at all, but in the end it’s more than what I started with and that’s what counts.


The Weekly Struggle

ron-ideas

We’ve all felt it: that itch to create. That sudden seizure of a new, wonderful idea. Characters form in your head, setting shapes itself before your very eyes, a plot arc too tantalizing to resist calls out to you.

Problem is, you’re in the weeds of another project at the moment.

So, what do you do?

That is the question I have been asking myself this week.

I’m a percolator, personally. I like to let an idea simmer on the backburner for a couple years before sinking my teeth into it, using that time to focus on whatever project is presently at hand. Lately one of those ideas has come up due. It has been relentlessly nagging at the back of my mind, even as I struggle through the middle of the first draft of my current WIP, Border Towns.

I have heard some people have the ability to juggle multiple projects at once, surging ahead in whichever fickle inspiration has deemed worthy at the moment, and then returning to those left behind when the mood strikes.

If this sounds flippant, I don’t mean it to. Indeed, I’m ravenously jealous. Because I, dear readers, am quite the opposite. Once I turn away from an idea, I may as well consider it dead. I can never seem to recapture the magic of a story left by the wayside, and if I do manage to compel myself to take it up again, I typically have to start all over from scratch in order to rediscover the excitement that drew me to it at the very start.

In any case, even if I were to give in and crack open a fresh notebook, there would still be a Great Soupy middle to muddle through, there would still be new and exciting ideas calling out to me, and there would still be a pile of unfinished manuscripts waiting for me to return to.

So, for now I will jot down bits and bobs of ideas as they come, but Border Towns, come hell or high water, is my priority.


What I’m Reading This Week

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Circe by Madeline Miller

I have a couple of Greek-inspired stories brewing, including the one that’s been vying for attention of late, so this book came to me at the perfect time. One might think it would be the worst thing to read whilst trying to fend off the tantalizing idea of greener pastures, but actually it helped me suss out some things I do and don’t want to do with my stories.

But enough about me.

Circe isn’t just Greek-inspired. It’s not just Greek mythology based. It’s practically historical. It is a retelling and reshaping of the mythology of the titular goddess, most commonly remembered from Homer’s The Odyssey. But don’t think that this is a 300 page rehash of the famous epic. Circe spans hundreds of years, features Greek myth across the spectrum, from the obscure to the well known, and cameos more gods, goddesses, demi-gods and everything in between than I could count.

I consumed it. If you’re a fan of Greek-inspired fiction… well, chances are you’ve already read this. But, if not, it is worth the buy.


That’s all from me this week. I hope you all are powering through your own struggles, whatever they may be. Until next time!

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Writing with a Day Job

Manuscript News

It took me a while to really get back on the wagon with writing. Even though I promised myself I would start up again on January 2nd, I didn’t actually get any words down until the 5th. Without the enthusiasm of a fresh start or the punishing schedule of NaNo to have to adhere to, I found it all too easy to make excuses not to write (some of which is the topic of today’s post, see below).

Honestly, I think I was a little bit nervous about burning myself out again. NaNo was pretty brutal for me, and had the unintended side effect of getting me to believe that I had to do five pages a day for it to count as progress. When I realized I could just do five hundred words and be done for the day, I felt the cloud kind of lift.

While I do think I need some of the more rigorous writing workouts to keep me on schedule (a self-imposed, completely arbitrary schedule), I wasn’t ready to jump into the deep end quite yet. So, for now, I’m content with a page a day. And when I’m ready, I’m gonna run for the hills again.


The Weekly Struggle

work work work

Unless you’re lucky enough to write professionally as a full-time career, you probably have a day job, so I hope many of you can relate.

Let’s all agree right now: writing when you have a full time day job can be really, really hard.

Winter is the busy season in my industry, to the point where my company actually has a vacation day blackout between November-January. This year, my office had it’s busiest November/December since I’ve been in this job (we’re on pace for a similar January, something I’m very excited about).

The sum effect of all this has been a great deal of take home stress. This was a large part of why I decided to take a short writing hiatus last month, and I think it’s the entire reason why I have so little energy for writing at the end of the day even now that the holidays (the other motivation for my hiatus) are over.

Stress isn’t the only thing throwing off my groove either. Before things picked up at the day job, I was able to sneak in one or two hundred words on my breaks, more on my lunch. Since I’ve been pretty much working through those, I’ve lost some of my most productive pockets of time, leaving me with pretty much just the time between my kids getting in bed and when I finally faceplant into my own bed. Yesterday, a particularly hard one at work, that time was approximately 37 seconds.

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Mine is not a unique situation. We all, at some point, have to find a work-writing balance that works for us, and one person’s method might not be helpful to someone, or maybe even anyone, else. I’m still trying to find that midpoint. I’m also trying to determine where Not Writing stops being laziness and becomes self care, and vise versa. Coming off my hiatus, which I needed, and still struggling to write isn’t something I had anticipated.

Best I can do, for now, is try to take these difficult times, these stressful work days, and turn them into motivation to complete my novel so that one day I can quit my effing job.


What I’m Reading This Week

I’m finishing up my semi-yearly reread of my favorite book of all time, Pride and Prejudice. I know one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read a bunch of new books, and I did sign up for a Book Bub account pursuant to that, but I really needed old faithful last week with all that was going on. I’ve got a couple of fantasy novels lined up, so I’ll have something more interesting next week, I promise.

What are you all reading, and, more importantly, which Bennett sister are you?


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New Year, New Name, New Goals

Happy New Year everyone, and, for me, personally, it is not a moment too soon. To get personal for just a moment, 2018 — again, for me — sucked ass. And that’s all the looking backwards I will do.

Suffice it to say, spoons were in short supply this holiday season and so I made the judgment call to lay writing (including Twitter and this blog) aside for a few weeks to recharge and reprioritize.

I’m a sucker for new beginnings. I even have a phoenix tattooed on my back. I thrive at the New Year, but, like many (even most) people I tend to drop off after the initial fervor. So, this year, I’m going to take the lessons I learned from NaNo and apply them to all my goals for 2019.

Most pertinent of which: accountability. The idea of admitting that I hadn’t successfully completed NaNoWriMo was a huge motivation for me in the waning days of November, if I’m being honest. I wanted to give up so badly, watching my daily word count creep higher and higher, well past the point I thought I was capable of achieving, but the idea of letting down my writing friends, and certain family members who had been egging me on… that, to me, was unforgivable.

It’s funny how the human mind works, isn’t it? I set a personal goal that didn’t cost me anything (other than sanity), certainly didn’t cost anyone else anything. It was a commitment of time and effort, sure, but in turn I wasn’t sacrificing anything unreasonable. But I didn’t want anyone to think that I couldn’t do it. I’m still not sure if it was personal pride or anxiety. In any case, it worked.

Honestly, I know I’m just another struggling writer in a sea of struggling writers. But if one person cares enough to check in on me (and there have been more than a few since I’ve started this journey) then I know my own mind well enough to believe that’s enough to push me forward.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of GOALS for 2019. Help me slay ’em, yall.

  1. Finish Bordertowns, my novel.
  2. Revise.
  3. Revise again.
  4. Repeat as necessary.
  5. Start querying process.
  6. Blog once a week.
  7. Buy domain for said blog.
  8. Make more of an effort to establish relationships via social media.
  9. Read 25 new books.
  10. Say the words “I’m a writer” out loud to another human being.

Bonus: attend the SFWA Nebula Conference, finances permitting.


One last note: I wrote a few weeks ago about my struggle with deciding on a professional name. I realized after posting that I was probably overthinking it. So, I decided that when I came back from my little hiatus I would just bite the bullet and make the change.

So, sort of contrary to what I said just up there, I’m no longer Just Another Struggling Writer.

I’m Kerry Share.


Next week I plan to start playing with the format of this blog while I continue working to find my formula. Thanks to everyone who has followed me thus far and who sticks with me going forward. It really, truly means a lot.