JulNoWriMo on the Road!

I have to start off by saying that I met my JulNoWriMo revised goal to get my historical romance up to 50k words.

How I got there is a convoluted comedy of errors.

The hubs and I just got home yesterday from a week and a half long vacation around New England, and since I anticipated having a nine-hour drive on the first travel day, I figured I’d get a lot of writing done. I’d managed to get myself up to about 42k words by Tuesday evening, and figured that with all that “captive audience” time, I’d have my work done before we ever reached Bar Harbor, Maine, and I could spend the rest of vacation enjoying the fact that a) I was on vacation, and b) I had met my goal.

This was not meant to be, however. My husband had an A/C inverter that was about ten years old. (Side note for those of you who don’t know what an inverter is, it’s this little gizmo that you plug into the charging outlet in your car (or cigarette lighter if your vehicle is that old), and the D/C power from your car’s battery is inverted into A/C power for any electronic gadget you wish to plug in). We’d used it before, but admittedly it’d been a while. I started off trying to work off my netbook’s batter, but because of the power save features the screen was too dim to see thanks to the glare of sunlight. So I set up the inverter, got my A/C power and brighter screen going, and went to town.

Only to discover in short order that, for whatever reason, the inverter was toast. It shorted out the fuse for that outlet. We tried it on another, wondering if it was just that outlet and we knew the other one worked. Shorted that one out too. So we had to make an unscheduled stop at the Walmart in Montpelier, Vermont, to buy new fuses.

Which turned out to be the wrong size. So we had to go to Autozone, and thankfully they had the right fuses, and my husband had to become a contortionist in order to get the fuses changed. Because I drive a Honda, and Honda doesn’t make anything like this easy.  He also bought a new inverter, which did not short anything out, and I was able to get myself within 4k of my goal before it was my turn to drive.

We camped in Maine, so there wasn’t much opportunity to do any writing. Plus, you know, there was all the hiking and whale watching and eating lobster. (Excuse me. Lobstah. Gotta say it right to sound like a “Bah Hah-bah” native.) However, we had a five hour drive or so to Newport, Rhode Island on Monday, so I hammered out about 3300 words. Only 700 to the finish line! But again, no time for writing in Newport. Too busy sight seeing and checking out Gilded Age mansions and carousing the length of the Cliff Walk.

Our last official stop on the trip was New Haven, Connecticut, and I told the hubs I HAD to get those last 700 words done. So once we got back to the hotel after dinner, he putzed around on the first “real” internet connection we’d had in almost a week while I went to town. And I blew that word count out of the water.

So I’m left with about 30k to finish before the end of the summer, and then I’ll let the inner editor out of her box. In the meantime…

JulNoWriMo goal met!

success baby

New Year’s Writing Resolutions

In general, I don’t “do” New Year’s resolutions.  I’ve had years where I’ve made lists of grand goals and ways in which I was going to completely change my life, but by the end of February it’s all pretty much fallen by the wayside.

Come to think of it, I’ve only had about three resolutions, ever, that I’ve really stuck to.  Last year, I resolved to get healthy and fit, which involved monitoring what I was eating and trying to stick to a semi-regular workout regimen.  And you know what, I did it.  Did I hit my weight loss goal? No.  But a year later – a year that included two months when I wasn’t even allowed to workout by my doctor’s orders – I’m only 4 pounds short of my goal.  So that’s not bad.

The other two resolutions I’ve managed to keep in my life were writing related, and I think dated back to my 2005 resolutions.  I had started writing the sequel to the “magnum opus” when I was in college, and it was fluttering about in limbo until I sat myself down and said, “Look.  You need to finish the draft of this thing in 2005.”  And I did.

That same year, I said I was going to go back and start the rewrite of the “magnum opus”, and it didn’t look good for a while. Mainly because we weren’t talking about just revising.  We were looking at completely scrapping the original MS and starting over. But literally on New Year’s Eve, I wrote the first sentence of the first draft of the rewrite.

Seven years later, that rewrite is in the revising/editing/submitting stage.  It’s scary. It’s awesome. It’s scarily awesome.

So really, other than my healthy lifestyle changes, the only resolutions I can seem to keep relate to writing.  And I’ve learned that those goals can’t be ridiculously grand and must be revisited periodically.  So here’s the list of writing resolutions for 2013:

  1. Finish revisions to the HFMO (that’s Historical Fiction Magnum Opus, in case you didn’t figure it out already) Part 1, by the end of January
  2. Continue submitting HFMO Part 1 to agents and small pubs (ongoing)
  3. Finish Chick Lit Romance (hereby referred to as CLR) first draft and distribute to critique group(s), by the end of April
  4. Finish Historical Romance (HR) first draft and distribute to critique group(s), by the end of August
  5. Revise/edit/submit at least five short fiction pieces, by the end of August
  6. Begin revisions to HFMO Part 2 and distribute to critique group(s), by end of October
  7. Research self-publishing options, just in case, by the end of December
  8. Look into necessary steps to start up proofreading/editing services, by the end of December

See, giving myself deadlines right there in the resolutions is going to help. If I get to the end of February and it looks like #3 and #4 won’t happen, I can adjust.  Et cetera.  You get the gist.

By the way, in case you were wondering, I’m in Submission Limbo right now.  I blame the holidays – Christmas got the better of my time management.  But my first submission to an agent ended in a form rejection.  Via email, within three days, so it was a little like ripping a  Band Aid off.  I’m okay with it – I was aiming pretty high with that first query.  After all:

“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”  ~ W. Clement Stone

Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo (vlog)

Did you survive NaNoWriMo?  Learn anything while you were at it?

Motivated, but no energy

I got this brilliant (okay, maybe I’m the only one who’ll think it’s brilliant) idea for a short-ish story about, oh a month ago. And I even set myself a deadline – because we all know how I am about deadlines.  I outlined about half of the story, though the other half is pretty well complete in my head, wrote the first scene…

And then sat on it till, oh, Sunday night.

Why is this bad?  Because the deadline I set for myself is October 13th.  Which is this Saturday.  Why?  Because there’s a bit of a contest/submission call-out I want to enter, and the deadline for submissions is October 15th.  So I’ve been furiously typing away for the past two days, determined to finish because my writing software says I’ll make it if I can hammer out about 4000 words each day.

No problem right?

Well, slight one.

See, I would totally have chalked this one up to the “oh crap I didn’t plan my time well at all” thing, as normally I spend 6+ hours a day teaching a bunch of 7 and 8 year olds how to, you know, read and stuff.

But then I had to have surgery on Monday – minor, everything’s good – and needed to take at least two days off work to properly set myself on the road to being mended.  And I thought, “Hey, I can get a lot of writing done!”

Well, yeah… About that…

Being semi-supine on the couch for two days (actually three, since I’m not quite feeling up to wrangling the second graders tomorrow) would contribute to a lot of word count bad-assery. At least, one would think so.  But though I’ve got this killer idea and lots of motivation to make it happen,  it turns out that even having minor surgery makes one tired, unable to focus, and

SQUIRREL!!!!

on the internet.

I shouldn’t complain too much.  Looks like I’ll be better enough to make it into work on Friday, and my word count stands at around 6500, which, according to my software’s calculations, is about a third of the 20k words I’m aiming for. So I guess we have to see what happens.

It’s Not My Fault

So I opened up my writing software program and discovered that I haven’t written a single word since October 4th.

This is bad.

It’s certainly not from a lack of motivation or desire or ideas.  I’ve got plenty of all three.   So it begs the question – what’s keeping me away from the keyboard?

It really is a matter of not getting on the computer, honest.  At least, not getting on for the purpose of writing.  I know part of the issue is that my husband is taking two MBA classes this semester, both online, and he’s had to get the point where he’s using the desktop and his work laptop at the same time in order to keep track of all the different files and windows he’s accessing to do his work.

I don’t begrudge him the computer for that at all.  And it’s just rotten luck that the two courses he’s taking this semester are work-loaded and surprisingly challenging and probably haven’t translated well to an online format.

In any case, that’s just one of the things that’s kept me away from the computer recently.

We’ve had a couple very busy weekends.  Columbus Day weekend we were out of town for a wedding and had to leave right after work on Friday.  For some reason I’m blanking on what I did last weekend but I know we weren’t around much.

Okay, so the week after Columbus Day I should have gotten a lot done, because my husband was out of town on a work trip.  So the computer was all mine.  But I did nothing.  Whenever he has to go out of town on a business trip, my urge to do anything goes right out the window.  We won’t discuss what I had for dinner the five nights he was gone.

I had reset my deadline for October 31st, but it’s not looking promising at this point.  Probably the only way I can valiantly pull this deadline through is if I put full 12 hour days in this weekend.  And I don’t see that happening.

So my intentions are good.  I just haven’t been able to get going in three weeks.  It always seems like something gets in the way.

Maybe it is my fault……

The Incredible Changing Deadline

Deadlines are tough.  We can all admit to hating deadlines of some sort, at some point in our lives.  How many of you had times in college when you were scrambling to finish a paper the night (or the morning) before it was due?

*raises hand*

I have deadlines at work from time to time.  For example, there’s a deadline for retention letters in the spring.  We have a deadline to return the paper that says we plan to continue teaching next year.  I give my students (and their parents) “soft” deadlines to return permission slips and yearbook order forms and admission money for our zoo field trip.  But that’s really it.

Since I’m still an unpublished author and thus do not work with editors, agents, or publishers, I don’t really have a deadline for my novel.  At least, not a deadline that anyone important cares about.

I’m about nine and a half chapters away from being completely done with my novel rewrite.  I started the rewrite in 2006, shortly before I met my husband, and it’s gone through several long hiatuses since then.  After riding on the euphoria of newlywed-dom and getting a whopping twelve chapters done in about six weeks in the summer of 2009, I decided to set myself a deadline of sort.  I “hoped” to be finished by the end of 2009.

Of course, my momentum came to a crashing halt as soon as school started that September.  I was lucky if I got a chapter done in a month.  December 31, 2009 came and went, along with my deadline, and I was nowhere near finished.

I realized rather quickly that my self-imposed deadline was rather lofty and ambitious. I should have known better, especially after two attempts to complete a NaNoWriMo novel in 2005 and 2006, neither of which got past 15,000 words.  (If you don’t already know, NaNoWriMo takes place in November, perhaps one of the three busiest months for a teacher.  Anything not pertaining to report cards, superintendent’s conference days, and parent/teacher conferences really gets thrown by the wayside.)

Still, I refused to let my deadline let-down get the better of me and my novel.  I continued steadfastly plugging away whenever I found the time and the means to break through my writer’s block.  I sketched scenes out in the airport when we were waiting for our connecting flight to Texas last spring.  I wrote an entire chapter in two days when we went to my in-laws last Thanksgiving.

When I reached an approximate halfway point, my husband asked me, rather off-handedly, when I thought I might finish.  I thought about it.  I really gave it some serious thought.

See, this novel has, in some incarnation, been a part of my life for almost 18 years now.  I started writing it in 1993, when I was in seventh grade.  I never had a deadline, per say.  I always figured it would be done when it was done.  At some point, I decided I needed to completely rewrite the damn thing, because editing just was not working.

So I started from scratch again in 2005.  I still had no deadline.  I still felt I could simply let the words pour out and what would happen would happen.

Just before that massive chapter-writing-marathon of Thanksgiving 2010, I wrote out a detailed outline for the remaining chapters.  It was a little scary to see my plot on paper like that, but it helped.  It focused me. I had a tangible direction.

I decided to finish by the end of April 2011.

It didn’t happen.  April, incidentally, is another of those months that surreptitiously steals teachers’ time.  Again with the report cards and conferences, and the knowledge that, upon returning from spring break, it will be STATE TESTING TIME.   April 30th came and went. I decided to set another deadline.  June 30th.

June is also a time-sucking month for teachers.  Are you starting to get my M.O. here?  I pick end-of-crappy-months-for-deadlines deadlines.

The deadline continued to be pushed back, a couple weeks here, a month there.  Some personal and family things got in the way (and they were important and had to be dealt with).  And today, I pushed my deadline back again, as I’m nine and a half chapters from the end and August 31st is Wednesday.

So I’m shooting for September 30th now.  And praying I meet the deadline with a big fat “THE END”.