Telling Yourself the Story

Manuscript News

Honestly, I’ve had a great writing week. I hit 65,000 words — a milestone for me, because that was my very first, completely clueless, word count target for this novel. Looking back that’s an absurdly low count for a fantasy novel. I knew it was then, but I tried to rationalize it as this story is technically a low fantasy, the setting wouldn’t require that much description as the focus would be on the narrative.

Yeah, I don’t know what possessed me to think that a custom built fantasy world wouldn’t need a lot of description, but I was dead wrong.

Anyway, I hit a good stride this week. I slowed down a little yesterday thanks to my anxiety and a smash cold taking over my sinuses, but I’m hopeful to get back into it today. I’m just about to crest a hill and start hurdling down the other side toward the end, and I’m so NERVOUS. AND EXCITED. NERVICITED.

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The Weekly Struggle

It’s not all been sunshine and roses, though. The latest three or four scenes have flown out of my pen as if it had a mind of it’s own. However easy the words have come to me, they have also put me in a bit of a bind narratively. Not only have I committed the cardinal sin of telling, instead of showing, I have jumped the gun on a conflict I intended for the sequel.

When I realized what I had done, I admit, my enthusiasm deflated a little. The majority of the 5000 words I have done this week will have to be either be rewritten or cut completely. And that’s kind of a bummer. I was really proud of the work I had put in and really felt like I was propelling myself along nicely toward the climax. To realize it would all be for nothing… yeah. I took a little break after that.

And it’s a good thing I did, because I was laying in bed, gloomy, wondering if I should just tear ten pages out of my notebook and start fresh, when I remembered my second favorite writing tip.

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. – Terry Pratchett.

Oh my gosh, the relief I felt. The weight that lifted, the joy that returned. If I could, I would have tattooed those words on my eyelids so that I would never forget them again.

It’s okay that my character is literally telling her friends things that I really should be showing in the narrative, because these were things I was figuring out as I was writing them. It’s okay that I wrote myself into a corner that I’ll have to cut and paste somewhere else later, because getting the details figured out now can only help me foreshadow them for the future.

I am telling myself the story, discovering it’s nuance and it’s flavor as I go. None of this time is wasted, because I am learning so much from it. All of this is a perfectly normal part of the first draft phase and I really shouldn’t be beating myself up over it.

Maybe it’s because I’m an inherent plotter that made this truth such a struggle to accept. I have always tried to keep an open mind about my outline, allowing it to expand beyond the borders I originally drew for it. But, for better or for worse, I always thought I knew where I was going and how I was going to get there. This latest sequence of scenes was a curveball I hadn’t been prepared to deal with.

Writing a novel truly has been more of a learning experience than I ever expected, in more ways than can be counted. This latest lesson has returned a sense of joy I had lost as I got bogged down in the Great Soupy Middle. I had forgotten that this was meant to be a journey for me, too, not just my characters or the people that one day might read the story.

Cheers, Terry.


I’ve been remiss in my reading this week. I’ll try and get back on the horse next week! That’s all from me for now. Time to get back to writing.

Kerry Share

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The Right Tool for the Job

Manuscript News

It’s been an interesting week.

First thing’s first: no, I did not go to that write-in on Friday. I really did have plans with my partner on that day. As early as Friday morning those plans still had a non-zero chance of falling through, so I was keeping my options open for the evening. However, our plans went ahead as scheduled, and thus the write-in was skipped. I’m still looking forward to getting out there sometime, maybe even this week.

Also: yesterday I hit a big milestone. I reached the last page of my pretty flower notebook. That baby helped me get through NaNo. She came with me, shoved unceremoniously into a purse really too small for it, to family functions, gymnastics practice, the day job, road trips and everything in between.

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At only 70 pages I know it doesn’t sound really impressive. But I average about 550 words per page, and if you add it all up, it comes out to about 38,500 words. That’s a HUGE chunk.

I’m really proud of myself, if I’m being honest, which also feels kind of silly. My manuscript isn’t done yet, so even though I filled up a whole notebook, there’s still so much more work to be done. But it does feel a little awesome and not a little satisfying. To be able to flip through the pages and watch the kaleidoscope of different colors from all the various gel pens I managed to burn out whiz past is just… a really cool feeling.


The Weekly Struggle

Which brings me to the main topic today, which isn’t really a struggle per se, more of a realization I came to when I finally closed that notebook for the last time.

Every writer is different. I know that, of course, but yet I somehow hadn’t really internalized it. I would rail at writing tips that offended my own writing style, and yet I still tried to adhere to them, subconsciously or otherwise. I binge listened to Rachael Herron’s excellent podcast How Do You Write, seeking out tips on how to improve my own writing process. Yet, even though each guest would have wildly different ways of getting their work done, I somehow held on to the thought that there is a right way to write.

Despite the fact that I extoled, what I consider to be, the virtues of longhand writing in a blog post dedicated to the subject, drafting this way was almost a secret shame. It is not as fast as typing, and it even creates extra work, as those words you write on the physical page will then have to be transcribed onto the digital one. It’s kind of hippy-ish, and certainly lacks the numerous tools programs like Scrivener offer.

But the truth is, I can get really locked up when I sit down in front of the word processor and see a blank, white screen with the insistently blinking cursor taunting me. For whatever reason, I really can’t pinpoint why, that doesn’t happen to me with a blank page. The tactile feel of the pen and paper, the indentations of writing on each page, the notes scribbled in the margins… taken together it creates something that my brain finds creatively stimulating.

So, what do I take away from all this? It’s simple really: stop trying to force myself into a process that just doesn’t work for me. Embrace the methods that do. Stop looking for things to act over and start enjoying the process a little more.

The feedback I got on Twitter after posting a little video of my completed notebook was honestly incredible. It helped me take pride in my choice of medium in a way I hadn’t before. So, honestly, thank you everyone for that.

I’ve just started my next notebook, another 70-pager. I’ve got my crappy middle-school gel pens all ready to burn out after only four pages. And I’ve got roughly 40,000 more words to write before I can call the first draft of this MS done.

Time to hit it.

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What I’m Reading This Week

I’m still making my way (slowly) through Tree of Ages. My plans with my partner this weekend completely eliminated my reading time. But, I am takings recs for what I should tackle next!


That’s enough rambling for one week. Til next time!

Kerry Share

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Writing While Introverted

Manuscript News

The key word in this blog’s name, and the central theme all around, has been the struggle. I’m not under any illusions that this process was ever going to be, or ever will be, easy. Some people think that talking about your struggles is poor marketing, or that it might damage your “brand” but, hell what do I know? From the very beginning I had decided that I was going to on this journey with anyone who might care to join me. Ups and downs included.

So, to the point. Writing has been especially hard for me lately. It’s entirely psychological, but there it is. I haven’t been able to recapture the magic I feel I had back in November. I’ve tried, as anyone who has read this blog might know already, all sorts of carrots and sticks to spur me back to productivity, and nothing has really stuck.

I can’t be the only one who thinks about their unfinished manuscript with a sense of… contempt, almost. Not at the words themselves, but at the work required to complete the project. I’m in that stage where part of me is wondering, “Why the hell would anyone ever write a book? Why on earth did I even bother trying?”

This phase doesn’t last forever… right?

It’s a good thing I’m too stubborn to give up entirely at this point. Though, I don’t think stubborn is the right word. Self-consciousness is more accurate. The embarrassment if I don’t finish…

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The Weekly Struggle

So, this week I have been struggling to reconcile a facet of my personality with potential events that could prove tremendously helpful in my writing journey, even if they might run afoul of said personality trait.

I am an introvert with social anxiety — that much is an undeniable truth. I prefer to be at home, on my couch and in my jammies, with reruns of Mythbusters playing in the background while I do my writing. I have always been this way, as long as I can remember. I have a few close friends who can pull me from my fortress of solitude on occasion, but my natural inclination to stay homebound coupled with the task of parenting three young children means that the majority of my socializing is done digitally. And I’m fine with that.

However, I’ve been starting to think quite seriously about local writing groups. I see their virtues extoled online and the reality is joining one, at this stage of my infant “career” (are you even legally allowed to use that word if you haven’t finished a MS?), a group can only be a benefit. I live in a sizable metro area and just a quick google search brought up numerous writing groups within a reasonable driving distance. One such group is prolific enough to put on a conference every year (more on that in another post entirely.

Perfect, I thought. And then the anxiety set in.

What if I get turned away because I’m only on my first draft? I find myself wondering. What if I submit for critiques and I cry in front of everyone when given negative feedback? What if I’m on the only genre fiction writer, or worse — what if they don’t even want a genre fiction writer?

And from there I go down the rabbit hole. I make excuses — this group meets on a designated non-writing day so that’s out. This one meets on nights when I have my kids, so can’t do that one. Already had plans to stay home and do nothing on that day, so I guess I’ll skip this monthly meeting.

I know the only way I’ll ever get through this mental paralysis is to, well…

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But, in my experience, getting over that first hump is the hardest part.

My first opportunity to try out a group is this Friday. It’s a weekly write in at a café, which really is perfect because there’s minimal socializing required. It’s all the writing I’m already going to do, just…near other people (there’s the option to chat after the writing hour is up, of course).

I’m trying to battle past the anxiety (what if I show up and no one else is there??) and the excuses (well, my partner and I had tentative plans to play video games that night so…), because I really do think it would be beneficial to get out of the house and rub elbows with other writers.

Fellow writers, if I may ask, what has your experience been with local writing groups?


What I’m Reading This Week

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Tree of Ages, by Sara C Roethle

I’ve had this book in my Kindle library forever, but for whatever reason I only just started it this weekend. And let me tell you, this story has an incredible hook. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. [insert wink emoji]


That’s enough babbling from me for one week. Until next time!

-Kerry Share

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