DFWCON Recap

Okay so, for those who don’t follow along on my Twitter, this weekend I had the privilege of attending my very first writing conference. I’m not sure what I expected, and I was more than a little nervous, but the experience was absolutely invaluable. LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.


A Natural Introvert In a Room of 400+

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I, like many other writers, am a natural introvert with a degree of social anxiety. I find it very difficult to start conversations in most situations. Yet, one of the most surprising things about this weekend was 1) how easy I found it to talk to people and 2) my regret on Sunday evening that I didn’t manage to talk to more people. It turned out that after my initial anxiety was surmounted, I had a thousand questions I wanted to ask everyone I came across.

Is this your first time? Where are you from? What do you write? Is it finished? Are you pitching? Who are you pitching? What else is in your back catalog? What writing program do you use? Pantser or plotter? What classes are you going to?

It got to a point where I almost wish I had a microphone and a podcast to blame my incessant interrogating on. But, I couldn’t help myself. It was the first time I had the opportunity to be around other writers. It was so nice to be able to talk about things like word count and genre nuance with people who get it, and that relief was the biggest factor in overcoming my anxiety.


Classes, Lectures, and Panels, Oh My!

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I was telling people by the end of it all that my brain felt like a sponge that had absorbed as much water as it was physically capable, and all I wanted to do was get home and squeeze it out all over the page.

There was so many great classes to choose from that I was driven into a panic because I couldn’t actually pull a Hermione and go to all of them. I will say I came away just a little disappointed, not in any of the classes or presenters themselves, but in my own inability to streamline what I wanted to get out of the conference. I bounced around from topic to topic based on a whim, whereas I felt I probably would have gotten a lot more out of it if I had really considered what would be the most useful to me at this precise moment in my writing career. Oh well, lessons for next time.


Community

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This really goes without saying, but the writing community is rad. It just is. I mean, I knew that before the conference, just based on how welcoming and supportive the online space has been. But for an introvert with social anxiety, moving those interactions into the physical realm came with new bunch of questions and fears. Sitting amongst all those fellow aspiring and successful authors, I found myself often wondering if I even belonged there. I don’t have a completed manuscript (first draft notwithstanding), I don’t have a back catalog, I’ve never queried or pitched. At 31 years old, I have as much (or less!) experience as an 18 year old.

And yet, no one ever made me feel that way. Even as I admitted, somewhat shamefaced, that I only just finished my very first first draft but a short two weeks prior, I was greeted with congratulations and high fives, even from some who had 12 books under their belts. It never felt condescending or placating, but spoke to the universal truth that writing is hard and in that little conference center, we really were all in it together.


All told, I left on Sunday creatively invigorated. I couldn’t wait to get back to the page. I had a hundred thousand ideas I wanted to get to and I still found myself pushing for more. I felt even more determined to make this the year I start treating writing as a job so that one day it will be my actual job. I found myself wishing there could be a conference once a month (my wallet would never survive) just so I could soak myself in that determination any time I felt low.

Thank you so much to the DFW Writers’ Workshop for putting on such an amazing experience. I’ll definitely be back next year.


That’s all from me this week. I’ll be back next week, probably with that previously promised post (how’s that for alliteration?) about Writing For Yourself. But! If you lovelies have any ideas for some topics you’d like me to tackle, be it authors behaving badly, craft, or even how the weather affects my writing, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter.

Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Obsessed With Outlines

Manuscript News

I know, I know. I’m supposed to be taking a break from Border Towns in order to be fresh and ready for the meat of revisions. But, what can I say? I feel a little nervous about the tight timeline I put myself on this year and I’m afraid if I lollygag in my preparations for draft two then I won’t get it done in time.

So, suffice it to say, I’m not drafting. I’m really not. But, I’m doing everything I can to stay engaged with my story. I know this means that by the end of September I’ll probably feel ready to take this novel behind the shed and shoot it, but I’ll cross that event horizon if it ever comes.

What exactly am I doing? Well, read on…


The Weekly Struggle

Let’s talk outlining.

Nine months ago, I wasn’t sure where I fell on the plotting/pantsing spectrum. I even wrote a blog post ruminating on the subject. Now, one completed first draft later, I think it’s fairly safe to say that I fully identify as a plotter, and that is largely thanks to how much I truly enjoy the outlining phase.

I’m a freak, I know.

I had tremendous success with my pre-first draft outlines (yes, I said outlines with an s), though it didn’t always feel like success. The first outline came out to a very thin, rather pathetic sixty scenes. So, I started a new one. A second draft… of the outline. Sadly, outline #2 never actually got completed because I simply ran out of Preptober time. I was committed to starting NaNo with everyone else, and so when November 1st hit, I just got started. Outline #2 was on pace to be 85 scenes.

So, confession. One of the things I chafe at when reading discourse regarding pantsing vs. plotting, is the idea that plotting is too rigid and leaves no room for creative discovery. (For the record, I know that people who say this are usually only referring to themselves, but the anxiety monster in me internalizes it anyway.) But, for me, that was absolutely not the case.

I try to think of writing as a road trip of sorts, where the goal is to get from Point A to Point B. The outline is the map. It might show you the most efficient, direct route to complete your journey, but that is just one option among dozens of others. If you get detoured by construction (a character going rogue), or if you find an interesting landmark you want to visit that wasn’t on your path (a sudden plot idea you want to include), you still have you map to guide you back to the highway when you’re through.

For me, the outline was instrumental in unblocking me at one particular point during my first draft. In essence, late in the second act, my main character jumped the gun on a plot I had slated for the second and third books in the series. At first I just went with it, as I had in the past when things like this happened. However, afterwards I encountered some serious blockage. My characters were no longer cooperating, largely because they had to deal with this major bombshell that had just been dropped on them, while I was trying to usher along the main story plot.

After a great deal of fussing around, I went back to my outline and, with it, I was able to pin point the exact scene where I went wrong. Though I was initially hesitant to change anything, I eventually made the tough decision to strip out 2500 words and start fresh from the trouble spot.

It worked. I no longer felt blocked and was able to move along with my story until I eventually finished two weeks ago.

Which leads me back to this week’s activities.

I’ve been kind of at a loss as to how to tackle revision. I’ve never made it to a second draft before, and I don’t know what my process is or what will work. I’ve known for a while I want to do a fresh second draft, without the first draft sitting in front of my face to directly reference, but I also don’t want to go into it completely from memory either. While mulling it over on Twitter several weeks ago, I realized I could utilize my obsession with outlines once again. If I write up an outline based on the first draft, I can then do a second draft outline based on that, without getting caught up in the minutiae of the prose itself.

And that’s what I’m doing this week. I’m calling it my post-mortem outline. It’s given me an impetus to get through the necessary, if cringe inducing, task of re-reading the first draft, as well as help me form new ideas for what I want out of draft two. So while it might not be for everyone, it’s absolutely already been worth it for me.

Honestly, I can’t wait to get started on the second draft outline.

I know, I’m weird. But that’s okay.

weird


I know I said last week that this week’s post was going to be about Writing For Yourself, but I’M JUST SO PASSIONATE ABOUT OUTLINING YOU GUYS. Next week I’ll be back with a post previewing my very first writing conference. Actually, it’ll probably just be 800 words about how nervous I am. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!

Kerry Share

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Crossing the Finish Line

Manuscript News

Wow, it’s been another long, unintended hiatus. I’m really, really sorry about that. However, my time away from this blog hasn’t been a complete waste. In fact, the reason I haven’t had much energy to write new posts here is because I’ve been spending pretty much every creative iota in my body on my manuscript. I finally hit the downhill slope going into the third act and my every waking thought was bent on getting it done.

I’m pleased to say the focus paid off. On June 1st I was able to write “The End.” I then promptly crossed it out and wrote “To Be Continued” because it is the first of a trilogy, but I also wanted to say that I wrote those two words to cap off a year long journey.

It’s still kind of crazy to me that it was only a short 365 (+change) days ago that I made the decision to really forge ahead with writing. Part of me thought I was going to flame out again, especially after I got sick and had to take a very sudden break, so soon after that choice. When NaNo rolled around, all I could think about was all the years before I had tried and failed before I’d even crested 10k.

But I made it. I won. For the first time in my life I won NaNoWriMo. And yet, still I doubted myself. After all, 50,000 words only put me at halfway. There was still so much work to be done, and with my mental health struggles rearing their ugly head, part of me was resigned to chalk this whole effort up to another failed experiment.

Even at the end, after I had reconnected to my story idea and the words were coming so easily, when my daily word count surpassed even my NaNo pace, it was still really hard. The last week or two I found myself close to tears when I sat down to write, simply because I was just so damn tired. I wasn’t creatively blocked, because, again, I knew exactly where I was going and how to get there, and the words were coming, but the labor of putting it all on the page took so much more out of me than I ever expected it would.

Writing is work, yall. Hard work. It’s draining emotionally, mentally, even physically (oh my god I don’t even want to talk about my hand and wrist). And I say all this knowing that this really is just the first step in a never ending cycle. I know that there is still so much to do if this manuscript ever has a chance of seeing the light of day.

So, in the end, is it worth it? Is it worth all the angst, the pain, the exhaustion? Is it worth the constant distraction from every day life? Is it worth pouring so much of yourself into something with every possibility of accomplishing so little?

My answer? Hell yes.


The Weekly Struggle

So, now what?

Well, that’s what I’ve been asking myself since Saturday. The obvious answer is revision, of course, but all signs point it being a very bad idea to start right away. Knowing how much drafting took out of me the last month or so, I figured I should probably give myself a break before diving straight into draft two. After asking and reading around, I decided one month should be sufficient time and space.

And yet, every day since I finished I have literally forgotten that there’s no writing to be done. I get my notebook and my pens out and… do nothing. Even knowing that some time off can only be a good thing for both me and the project, it still feels just plain wrong to allow myself to be idle. Couple that with some deep seated fears I have about the revision process, and… yeah. I’m extremely restless.

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Live footage of me all month.

 

I’m trying to combat all this nervous energy by doing some light MS-related work. I’ve sought out character and world building worksheets to play with. I’ve continued with transcribing my back log of words (seriously, I’m about 30k behind, it’s pathetic). I plan to create some new outlines based on the first draft and what I hope to get out of the second. All told, I hope I’m ready when July rolls around to really dive into revision.

Because, and this is important, I’ve decided that this year I’m going to continue to push myself in my writing. I have heard before and can accept the fact that my first manuscript is not likely to be very good (and it’s true, at least for now; this first draft is point blank terrible). I probably won’t attract agents or offers with it. I’m fine with that. I’ve heard before and can accept the fact that I need to write a whole hell of a lot more if I ever want to be good enough to be published, which means I can’t spend an entire year on every single MS I hope to write. I have heard before and can accept the fact that this is not going to get easier just because I now can say I have one completed draft under my belt.

Last year was all about accomplishing a ten year old goal. I have proved to myself that I can do it. So, this year will be about hitting new milestones and exploring the parts of writing that I’ve never been to before, like revision and juggling multiple projects at once.

I’ve drawn up a very ambitious schedule for myself. The gist of it is, by this time next year, I want to have both the second and third drafts of this current MS done. I won’t commit to being query ready by then, because I know there’s a lot more to revision and editing than just drafting and redrafting, but I would like to be at least ready to send out to betas.

I’m also going to dive into a new project for NaNo, which I’ll talk more about another time, but it will mark the first time I’ll have to divide my creative energy between two ideas. I’m somewhat nervous, but I’ve been nervous every step of this process, so really, what’s the difference?

And that’s the update. Thanks to everyone who’s followed along this far. Looking forward to another incredible year.


What I’m Reading This Week

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

What I look for in a book these days are things that inspire me to improve my own craft. Just a few chapters deep into The Priory of the Orange Tree and I knew I had miles to go in my world building. The history is so lush and rich in this story, I actually felt called out for not giving my own project that level of attention to detail. Every night I read a chapter so that I can get up in the morning freshly inspired to tackly my own lore’s shortcomings. Awesome, really awesome.


That’s all from me this week. Next week I’ll be back (I promise) with a new post discussing my ideas for my next project and what it means to write for yourself. Until then my lovelies, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share


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